Dr. Squatch Natural Soaps

Another bright Idea

As always this will be a down and dirty type of review, or clean as the case may be. It will be based in real world terms, not fancy marketing hype. Ready or not, here we go.

Disclaimer: None, the soap was not provided to me by the manufacturer, I obtained it myself, as I am a direct customer of theirs.

Common Background: I workout a lot, therefore I sweat. Let me restate that I workout and I sweat a lot. That’s more accurate. As a result I shower frequently. I’m always looking for that better product. One that works better, smells nicer, lasts longer, and is still gentle enough for those days that I need use it multiple times. I have tried many different brands of soap. Bars, powders, and liquid in my pursuit of cleanliness.

You may not have ever heard of Dr. Squatch (http://www.drsquatch.com), if you haven’t, read on and maybe you’ll find the surfactant  you’ve been looking for.

Dr. Squatch offers a wide variety of natural soaps all with classic manly scents. I prefer the Gold Moss Scrub bar as it has scent that reminds me of the the North woods.Right So let’s get into the good, the bad, and the other

 

GOOD:

All Natural: Being handmade soap, the glycerin is retained in the bar, and they use non GMO coconut, hemp, soy, and olive oils to help keep your skin moisturized and soft.

Cold Processed: Cold process soap has no need to add harsh chemicals or preservatives. That means it’s safer for your skin and the environment.

Scent: All of the soaps have great scents. the moment you open the shipping box you get hit with it. Don’t get me wrong it’s not overwhelming, but it is very present.

Lather: Being natural soaps loaded with glycerin these soaps have plenty of lather-ability

 

BAD:

Size: All of their soaps are square blocks, not the standard rectangle shape so they won’t fit in a standard carrier if your taking them on a trip.

Cost: I won’t lie, their soap isn’t cheap. It costs about $7 a bar. but if you get on their subscription plan it gives you a price break.

Durability: For the average person that showers everyday a bar will last about 2 weeks.

 

Other:

Uses: Because it’s all natural I actually use these soaps instead of shampoo. My hair is softer and smoother than it has been in years thanks to these products.

 

Conclusion:

In my opinion Dr. Squatch makes a fine product, one that I would happily recommend to friends and family. The cost is a bit high, but the quality outweighs the cost. If you are looking for a great soap that will leave you clean and smelling manly Dr.Squatch is the product for you.

 

Banana Bread

What you need
2-3 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup of sugar (can easily use 3/4 cup, or drop it down to 1/2 cup if you want it less sweet)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
Or 1 1/2 cups of all purpose

What you do
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Butter and flour  a 4×8-inch loaf pan. (I use a stoneware bread pan)
In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until smooth.
Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.
Mix in the baking soda and salt.
Stir in the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.
Mix in the flours.
Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes (check at 50-55 minutes), or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.
Remove the banana bread from the pan.
Slice and serve.

 

IMG_20160117_203254

OrangeMud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 Review

Another bright IdeaLike all my reviews, this is a down and dirty, no mumbo jumbo review using my real world experience. Continuing in a new direction today, this will be a non-tech gear review. Today we will be looking at the OrangeMud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2

So, you’ve never heard of OrangeMud (www.orangemud.com)? Yeah I hadn’t either until last year when a good friend and fellow runner (Yeah you, Ed) introduced me to their stuff by giving me his Double Barrel HydraQuiver.

I will say this before I get into the review, if you are into buying American designed and American made (As a note, OrangeMud is based out of Corona California) products, like I do, you need to check them out. OK enough chit chat let’s get to it.

Disclaimer: None, the manufacturer did not provide this to me, though I wouldn’t turn down anything from them (hint, hint Josh).

Pros:

Breathability: The VP2 is made from a mesh patterned synthetic material. It’s lightweight, allows plenty of airflow when in use and so far has proven to be extremely tough.

Weight: Weighing in at 9.4 ounces without the included bottles, and 14.7 ounces with them (that’s 264 and 416 grams respectively for my metric friends). This thing is light. Which aids in the comfort aspects

Durability: I’m not going to lie, I’m rough on gear, but the VP2 has proven to be just as rugged as the Double Barrel Quiver it replaced. I’ve had it for a while now, and put well over 500 miles in while using it. It’s been in the woods, and the city and has had zero issues.

Storage: The VP2 has plenty of storage space (198 cubic inches). Two (2) shoulder pockets that can accommodate smaller items like protein bars, gel packs, and energy chews and two (2) front pouches that are big enough to hold items like my phone (I use either a Nexus 6 in a case or a Note 4 in a case) with no issue. All of the pockets are made of a nice stretchy material so you can jam-pack them if you want. I routinely carry 3-4 gel packs in each shoulder pocket, my phone in a front pocket and whatever snack I want quick access to in the other front pocket. If that isn’t enough space for you you can buy an optional accessory pocket that can go in the elastic lashing straps between the bottles.

Hydration: The VP2 comes with two (2) 20-ounce bottles but can fit bottles up to 24 or more ounces thanks to the adjustment straps on the bottle sleeves.

Adjustability: The VP2 has 2 adjustment points. The side straps ,which you should set & forget and the chest strap which you should use for your fine tuning. Basically you put the thing on and make the side straps snug, really snug. Then you use the chest strap to find the right tension to keep it in place.

Comfort: The VP2 is very comfortable to wear, like the Double Barrel I have worn it for hours at a time and never had any issues with discomfort or chafing. The design of the mesh allows plenty of air flow and does not retain moisture.

Neutral:

Fit: OK, I’m a big guy; more than a couple of people have called me a Sasquatch. I’m 6’3” and anywhere between 235 – 250 pounds depending on the time of year. The VP2 fits me but it’s a little small in my opinion. Not small as it it’s hard to get on and off or adjust; small as it the bottom of the pack falls in a spot that feels a bit awkward for me. I’ve let OrangeMud know that I would like to see a Plus sized version of the Pack and Josh Sprague (the owner and all around nice guy) has said that it is on the road map. If you’re 6’ or under and of a medium or slighter build this will be great for you. If you’re bigger in the chest region, or of a larger build, like I am, you may want to look at the Double Barrel HydraQuiver, though you do lose the front pockets with that model.

Bottle Placement: I’ll admit it took me about 10 runs with the first HydraQuiver I had to get used to it. It takes a bit of finesse to reach behind your head and grab or place a bottle from the sleeve, though once you get the hang of it, it’s no big deal at all. In the beginning I probably dropped the bottles half a dozen times trying to put them back. They held up and are still in use today.

Bottle Sleeve: I’m listing this here because the Double Barrel had a fit that held the bottles a bit snugger than the VP2 does. I’ve been told that people requested a looser fit because they wanted it to be easier to get the bottles out. OK I can deal with that; I use a spray on adhesive (the stuff used to make rugs less prone to slipping) to make the sleeve grip the bottles a bit more.

Cons:

Price: At $149 MSRP the VP2 is expensive, but like most things you get what you pay for. The VP2 is well constructed, and is made by a small American company. Factoring in that I’d say that it’s a little high but not outrageously so.

Other:

Warranty: OrangeMud provides a 90-day money back guarantee, a one (1) year warranty on the workmanship of their accessories and a limited lifetime warranty on the packs.

Summary:

So looking at the HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 , you can see the PROS outweigh the CONS. The pack is durable, lightweight, and good for road running & for trails. It has plenty of storage, and won’t chafe you, even after hours of sweaty use. Sure it’s a little bit on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for. Also your purchase is with small company designing and manufacturing quality products here in the USA, and that’s always a good thing. I can wholeheartedly say that the VP2 is Rob approved.

HydraQuiver_VP2_Front_Black_web_1024x1024HydraQuiver_VP2_Profile_Black_web_1024x1024 HydraQuiver_VP2_Side_Profile_Black_web_1024x1024

Carson Footwear Iguana Racer Review

Another bright IdeaLike all my reviews, this is a down and dirty, no mumbo jumbo review using my real world experience. We are taking a new direction today, this will be my first foray into non-tech gear reviews. What are we going to see today, what has the dubious honor of my first tech-free review? Carson Footwear’s Iguana Racers.

If you’re not familiar with Carson Footwear (http://carsonfootwear.com/) I can’t say it’s your fault. They are new player in the footwear world, but at 2.5 years old they are definitely making their way into this ever-burgeoning field.

I will say this before I get into the nitty and the gritty, if you are into buying American designed, American made (As a note, Carson Footwear is based out of Milwaukie Oregon), and almost entirely American sourced products, you need to check them out. If you like to buy from the underdog, the small guy, the hip new upstart, check them out as well. OK enough chit chat let’s get to it.

Disclaimer: I contacted Everett Carson after a mutual acquaintance introduced me to the product, and he was gracious enough to agree to let me have a pair of his premiere offering for review. This will not influence my review, but in order to have full transparency I want to let you know.

Pros:

Breathability: The upper of the shoe is made of a tough, synthetic fiber in a tight mesh weave. It’s lightweight, allows plenty of airflow when in use and so far seems to be pretty tough.

Weight: These shoes are light. I have big feet (size 13 or 14 depending), and shoes normally list the weight for a size 9-10. I can tell you that these are probably the one of lightest pair of shoes I own. 10.3 ounces is what the postal scale shoes the size 13 weighing at. Pretty light.

Durability: I’m not going to lie, I’m rough on footwear, but these have been pretty darned good so far. I’ve run a couple hundred miles on the trails and the roads (combined) as well as walked around San Diego during Comic Con with these guys. They have also pretty much become my go to casual shoe, so they get a lot of mileage on them.

Sole: The sole on these is pretty nice, aside from the lug pattern, which is good on the trails it’s made from lightweight polyurethane instead of your typical EVA. From what I have read this material wa created especially for Carson with the help of BASF. I’ve also read that it helps to dissipate force horizontally as well os vertically so it can be thinner than its EVA counterparts.

Designed, Built and mostly sourced from America: For some of you that might not be a plus, but for me it is. I like supporting smaller, independent manufacturers and if they can add more to their local economy as opposed to somewhere in China or Bangladesh, even better.

Trailability: The PU sole with its unique lug pattern is great on multiple terrains. Dirt, gravel, sand, muddy areas; they performed admirably under most conditions. The one area where I saw a dip in gription (grippyness and friction) was in wet surfaces. They can be a bit slippery on wet stones and grass. Not terrible by any means but it seems to be their weakest point.

Neutral:

Zero Drop: I won’t mislead you; I like zero drop footwear. Inflated heel height is not natural and you shouldn’t stand for it (pun intended). I know a lot of people either don’t know the difference, don’t care, or think it’s weird but having the front and rear of your feet at the same point is where it’s at for me. For those who don’t know zero drop means that the front and the rear of the shoe are the same height. Typically running shoes have anywhere from 4mm – 16mm of difference between where the forefoot and the heel are in relation to the ground.

Stack height: Measuring in at 10MM the Iguanas fall squarely into the mid-range stack height for me. My work shoes are zero drop, .5mm stack height VivoBarefoot RAs and my marathon shoes are Altra Paradigms with a whopping 34mm stack height.

Don’t let the stack height fool you though, I have run 6-8 miles courses in these and they are as comfortable as some of my shoe with 18-24mm stack heights for the same distance.

Price: At $100 they fall right into the upper price point for non-professional runners, but factoring in the fact that they are manufactured and assembled here in the USA it’s a bargain as compared to most other companies that have everything made overseas.

Cons:

Fit: These run a bit smaller than I am used to. Truth be told I probably need a size 14 in them. They have a narrow toebox, and crowd my caveman toes together a bit. Luckily though the upper material is stretchy and they expand on the landing portion of my stride to allow my toes to splay a little bit.

No Rock Plate: Every shoe has to make compromises, weight for cushioning, breathability for waterproofing, or in this case no rock plate for flexibility. I get it, It’s not a huge negative but I wanted to make sure I let you know, being a minimalist shoe, they are very thin and flexible, which means no protective plate. For me that’s no a big deal but for some people it may be.

Other:

Warranty: Carson provides a one (1) year warranty on the workmanship of the shoes. You’ll get a nifty warranty card with the serial number of your shoes when you get them.

Packaging: like most shoes, they come in a box, but in that box is a nice bag to store your shoes in. In a world where companies like to give you less and less, it’s a nice touch.

Summary:

So looking at the Iguanas as a whole, you can see the PROS well outweigh the CONS. The shoes are durable, lightweight, good for road running, and great for trails. They are a little bit on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for, and really don’t you want your feet to have the best quality you can get for them? If you have wide feet consider getting a size larger than you usually wear. Don’t worry there are different patterns for the shoes, so you don’t have to have reptiles on your feet if you don’t want to. After a couple hundred miles and my daily life I can say that Carson Footwear is Rob approved.

20150804_142809 20150804_142758 20150804_14273520150804_142745 20150804_14274120150804_142730 IMG_20150608_173407 IMG_20150608_173357 IMG_20150608_173343 IMG_20150608_173312 IMG_20150608_173301

Rob’s Chocolate Rum Cake

mAs7QCake Ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces, reserve 1/4 cup
1 1/2 cups boililng water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup gold rum, Bacardi

Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar (I use sugar in the raw for a deeper flavor)
1/4 cup water
1 stick butter
1/2 cup gold rum (I use Bacardi 8 for a more complex flavor, for more ummph use 1/4 cup Bacardi 151 & 1/4 cup Bacardi 8)
NOTE**The glaze needs to be prepared approximately 10 minutes before cake is ready.

Directions for Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray a Bundt pan and spread pecans on the bottom of the pan.
Whisk the cocoa powder and 1 1/2 cups boiling water in a medium bowl until smooth; set aside.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until combined.
Add the eggs, vegetable oil, sour cream and vanilla and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the cocoa mixture in a steady stream until just combined.
Pour in Rum, then finish mixing with a rubber spatula. (The batter will be thin.)
Pour into pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.

Directions for Glaze:
Melt butter in saucepan and add the sugar and water, bring to a boil.
Once it starts to boil, take off the heat and add the rum.
Pour into a large measuring cup that will hold that amount or more.
Set Aside.
Once cake is ready, take out of oven and leave in pan.
Gently prick holes into the cake with a skewer.
Slowly pour half of the glaze over the cake making sure to fill in all the holes.
Once the cake has soaked up the glaze, turn cake over, removing pan, onto the base that the cake will stay on.
Gently prick more holes on other side and slowly pour other half of glaze over cake.
Fill the center of the cake with reserved pecans. Let cool and enjoy.
The cake is best if left at room temperature.
NOTE** Make sure you have plenty of paper towels underneath the base as the glaze will run down the sides of the cake.

Cranberry Torte

mAs7Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups fresh cranberries (2 -12 oz packages)
  • 2 cups sugar, divided into 1.5 cup and .5 cup amounts
  • 2 cups flour (standard, almond, or coconut)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch Sea salt

 

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 or 325F. (Explanation later)
  2. Rinse the cranberries and put in to lightly greased 13×9 glass pan
  3. Sprinkle .5 cup of sugar over cranberries and set aside
  4. In a medium bowl beat the eggs (low speed)
  5. Add 1.5 cups of sugar and continue beating
  6. Add melted butter
  7. Once incorporated slowly add flour in .5 cup increments fully incorporating each before adding the next.
  8. Slowly add water to mixture until it reaches a smooth, batter like consistency
  9. Mix in walnuts
  10. Pour mix over cranberries in 13×9 pan
  11. Let sit for a couple of minutes to make sure the batter fully covers the cranberries
  12. Bake for 70 minutes at 300 or 60 minutes at 325
  13. When the torte is golden brown remove from oven and let cool completely.
  14. Serve and enjoy

Store refrigerated or freeze to enjoy later

Baconized Meatloaf

 INGREDIENTS

• 1 lb ground pork
• 2 lb ground beef
• 1 cup almond flour
• 2 eggs
• 2 cups marinara sauce (from a jar or homemade)
• 10 slices bacon
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

PREPARATION
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 F.

2.  Mix the ground meat with the almond flour, eggs and half the marinara sauce together in a bowl. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3.  Form two loafs in snug fitting baking dishes and cover the loafs with the bacon slices.

4.  Put in the oven to bake for about 45 minutes, until well cooked.

5.  Put the oven on broil for another 10 minutes to crisp up the bacon.

6.  Remove the loafs from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

7.  Heat remaining marinara sauce on the stove top.

8.  Slice the loafs, serve into plates and top with hot marinara sauce.

Meatzza

This is an almost Paleo pizza. If you leave out the cheese it is, but I like cheese.

 

INGREDIENTS
Crust
• 1 lb lean ground beef;
• 1 lb ground pork;
• ¼ cup onion, finely chopped;
• 1 clove garlic, minced;
• 1 egg;
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Topping
• 6 slices bacon, cut into pieces;
• ¾ lb button mushrooms, sliced;
• 1 cup bell peppers, thinly sliced;
• 1 cup sugar-free tomato sauce;
• 1 tsp dried oregano;
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;
• Shredded Cheese of your choosing, I prefer an Italian blend

PREPARATION
1. Preheat your oven to 450 F.

2. In a bowl, mix the ground meat with the egg,salt, pepper, onion and garlic.

3. Spread the mixture on a 16-inch pizza pan and bake for 10 minutes.

4. While the crust cooks, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the bacon for about 5 minutes so it’s still a bit soft.

5. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they are almost cooked.

6. Add the bell peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

7. Remove the crust from the oven and pour out the juices which can be reserved for other recipes. At this point the crust will have shrunk a bit.

8. Preheat your oven broiler.

9. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the crust and spread the bacon, mushrooms and bell peppers on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with the oregano.

10. Put the Meatzza back under the broiler and broil until to top starts to brown.

11. Distribute cheese over the meatzza and return to oven until cheese is bubbling and starts to brown.

Jambalya

I’m a bit of a foodie. I love experimenting with food preperation, creating and tweaking recipes. To that end I present my spin on a New Orleans classic. This recipe has been used and found tasty by a few people.

I hope you like it.

Rob’s Jambalaya: feeds A Whole Mess Of People

3 bay leaves

5 pounds ham, diced

1 gallon water

Oil, for sautéing

3 pounds chicken breast, diced

2 pounds shrimp, deveined

1 pound crawdad tails

5 onions, chopped

2 pounds celery

5 green peppers, chopped

1 cup green onion, chopped

5 tomatoes, diced

2 cups tomato paste

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

4 ounces garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 pounds smoked (andoullie) sausage

3 pounds brown rice

Salt, to taste

Rob’s Spice Mix* to taste

1.       In a boiler, add bay leaves, diced ham and water. Let boil for 1 hour.

2.       In another boiler pan, heat oil.

3.       Add diced chicken, onions and celery. Saute until tender then add peppers, onions and diced tomatoes.

4.       Add tomato paste, chopped parsley, crushed garlic, dried thyme, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, shrimp and smoked sausage.

5.       Cook for 10  minutes.

6.       Add crawdad tails

7.       Cook for 5 minutes

8.       Add Rice to first boiler, and boil until tender

9.       Add cooked rice to jambalaya in second boiler.

10.   Salt and spice to taste

* Spice mix

2 tablespoons part fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons part cayenne pepper

6 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning

2 tablespoons mesquite seasoning

2 tablespoons garlic power

2 tablespoons onion powder

Hope you enjoy it.

Rob’s Paleo Mayo

mAs7Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Ingredients:

1 large egg yolk (2 if you like it yolky)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white vinegar
3/4 cup macadamia nut oil or avocado oil or walnut oil

**All ingredients should be at room temperature**

Place all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl and whisk until the yolk is thickened and the color brightens (around 30-45 seconds).

Add 1/4 cup of the oil in a slow steady stream while whisking vigorously (~1 minute).
To keep my bowl in place, I put it on a rubber mat. If there’s someone else in the house, recruit him or her to slowly pour in the oil while you whisk.

After the oil is incorporated, slowly add the second 1/4 cup of oil and incorporate it the same way as the first (~30-45 seconds). I

Add the last 1/4 cup of oil all at once and whisk it to emulsify the mayo completely (1.5 – 2 minutes).

Music, what I’m listening to these days

Ever wonder what kind of music I listen to? Well it varies from day to day, but here are a few of the artists I’ve been listening to lately… Hope you enjoy.

Alt-J – Tessellate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg6BwvDcANg
White Denim – Pretty green http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMCoiehkH8U
MS MR – Think of you (Haerts remix) https://soundcloud.com/msmrsounds/msmr-think-of-you-haerts-remix
Lorde – Tennis Court http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8Ymd-OCucs
The 1975 – Chocolate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfBKqaVk2Co
Tinashe – Vulnerable http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha5vw3OlMx0
Of Monsters and Men – Dirty Paws http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pWlvu0MyKM
Bastille – Bad blood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrXnXpCD8Ps
Strange Talk – Falling in love (Chris Alarcon remix) https://soundcloud.com/strangetalkmusic/falling-in-love-chris-alarcon/s-d3Q0t
Young the Giant – Cough Syrup http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAsTlnjvetI
American Authors – Best Day of My Life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y66j_BUCBMY
AWOLNation – Kill your Heroes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4MzF53je5M
Fast Times – Bodytalk http://vimeo.com/60901749
Flogging Molly – Worst Day Since Yesterday http://vimeo.com/8009720
Kodaline – All I Want http://vimeo.com/41579051
The Night IV – Fears https://soundcloud.com/thenightvi/fears
Grouplove – Ways To Go http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGvHnDeS12o
M83 – Midnight City http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX3k_QDnzHE
Alt-J – Breezeblocks http://vimeo.com/39435342
J. Roddy Walston & The Business – ‘Heavy Bells’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc_6nRP-jC0
Broken Bells – Holding On for Life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBlRcLfHVAk
Django Django – Default http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDjpOrlfh0Y
Capital Cities – Kangaroo Court http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJinWua98NA
Dirty Heads – Hiphop Misfits http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grFasdatldU
Hollywood Undead – We Are http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocXjr9nPnvg
Artic Monkeys – One For The Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN7gSMPQFss
Warpaint – Biggy https://soundcloud.com/warpaintwarpaint/biggy-1
Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band – Bubblegum http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btrc15wfY7Y
Vampire Weekend – Unbelievers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_qKmTLbEPc

The measure of true fitness – I’m a Work in progress

Let me preface this post by saying, I’m still working on my true fitness. I am in no way near where I want to be, but everything takes time. Maybe someday I will be truly fit, until then I’m a work in progress

Crossing the finish at the warrior dash

The thing that most people fail to comprehend is what true ‪‎fitness is.
It’s not a specific weight, a body type or even an appearance, but rather a measure of ones capability.

True fitness doesn’t come from having the physique you see in magazines, being able to lift the most weight, or from the number of reps you can do in any given exercise. True fitness is being the best you, that you can be.

Overcoming your personal obstacles, out performing the you of yesterday. True fitness is a measure of your endurance, you capacity for change and your ability to accept the things that you cannot change.

Having rock hard abs and the perfect V shape would be great, don’t get me wrong, but they are not the true measurement of your fitness. Running two miles when you used to only be able to one, is a much better measurement.

Recognizing your stumbling blocks, both mental and physical, and working to correct and eventually overcome them is a better measurement of your true fitness.

Being physically fit is only a part of your true fitness, the greatest aspect of true fitness is mental. it’s not hoping, or praying that you are able to do something. It’s not being afraid to try, even if you do not succeed at first.

Having the mental attitude of “I believe I can do this” or better yet “I know I can do this” that is the biggest part of true fitness.
When we can look at ourselves and say “I give you permission to fail, so long as you have given your best effort”, that is when we are at our best.

Once you allow yourself to get over the preconceived notions of what fitness is, you can focus on raising your capabilities and your functional abilities.
When you give yourself permission to move past the obstacles that you have placed in your own way, and allow yourself to live up to your potential, then you will know what true fitness is.

True fitness is functional fitness, not physical fitness.

“Brownies”

mAs7QToday’s kitchen experiment: “brownies”

1 stick butter melted (or 2/3 cup ghee)
2 TBS walnut oil
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup raw sugar
2 Tbs agave nectar
2 Tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 package dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

in a small container mix sugar, agave, maple syrup, oil and butter
in a medium bowl mix coconut flour, cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla, pecans, chocolate chips
Add sugar mix to flour mix and stir until fully combined
add to greased 9×9 pan

either bake for 45-50 minutes at 325 degrees or microwave for 6 minutes
let cool
enjoy

20130707_141345

Calculating Calories Burned: How I do it

Hey Look It's Me

Hey Look It’s Me

It’s been a while since I have posted anything so I figured I would go over something.

I have been asked before and some of you may be wondering how I figure my calories burned, well here is my method:

It begins with heart rate monitors, these wonderful and frustrating devices are the crux of any method of figuring calories burned.

I use two different HRMs one is a Polar FT4 with a rigid chest strap (http://www.polarusa.com/us-en/products/get_active/fitness_crosstraining/FT4), the other is a Scosche Rhythm with an arm strap (http://www.scosche.com/rhythm/). I use both of these great devices to record my numbers for my various exercise routines. When I finish a routine I then add the results from each HRM together and divide the sum by 2 to get an average (the results from each device are pretty close to each other but never the same).

Next I take this averaged number and then subtract my Basal Metabolic Rate (the calories I would have burned just sitting around on my arse in the same period). You can find a rough estimate of yours here: http://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html

Take the number you get for a BMR and divide it by 1440 (the number of minutes in a day) and that is how much you burn per minute just sitting on your butt doing nothing.

For me that number is 1.5 (well actually 1.4868 but I round up) so if I do 30 minutes of exercise and burn 600 calories I would need to subtract 45 calories from the result (30 minutes x 1.5 per minute) because I would have burned that amount of calories even if I was just being a bum, that leaves me with 555 calories burned for that routine.

I am the only guy I know that uses a calculator at the gym, but I feel it gives me a more accurate set of numbers, which will be better in the long run. I hope this makes sense to you guys and perhaps you will start using this method for yourself.

Yet another trip around the Sun

Hey Look It’s Me

Well Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of my arrival on this, our home planet. It’s a small blue marble floating around in the vastness that is space. Light years from anything of real interest, far removed from the hub bub that lies in the center of our galaxy, let alone our universe. What did I do to commemorate such a momentous day, you ask? Well I’ll tell you, in a nice timeline format.

4:30 a.m. – woke
4:35 a.m. – brushed teeth, got dressed for gym
4:40 a.m. – ate breakfast
4:50 a.m. – out the door
5:10 a.m. – at the gym for my Tuesday workout
7:10 a.m. – hit the showers
7:25 a.m. – off to work

BIG chunk of day gone

4:55 p.m. – head home
5:35 p.m. – off to the mall (wife was supposed to pick up some clothes that were being altered)
6:15 p.m. – TO DINNER! (at a great local restaurant that specializes in american comfort food)
8:00 p.m. – back home doing a little bit of work remotely (checking on a big data transfer)
8:15 p.m. – geeked on the computer
10:00 p.m. – called it a night

Exciting stuff I know, but it was a good day.

Since you’re here I might as well expand upon my workout routine as well. My Tuesday workout? well as of late I have switched it up a little bit. Here is what I have been doing for Tuesdays:

Strength:
30 Dips
10 Overhand pull-ups
10 Underhand pull-ups
10 Front grip pull-ups
30 Crouched row 110 pounds
30 Tricep extensions 55 pounds
30 Push ups
40 Sit ups, ledge style* (10 front, 10 right, 10 left, 10 front) 15 pounds
30 Bar dips neutral grip
30 Renegade rows with should press 70 pounds (35 pounds per hand)
30 Crouch and punch 15 pounds each hand
30 Mountain climbers
30 Lunges 70 pounds
Typical time 40 – 45 minutes
Typical Calories Burned 250 – 300

Cardio:

5k run 7.5 mph
10 mile bike ride
Typical time: 50-60 minutes
Typical calories burned: 1200-1700 depending on incline and and other variables

*this is done with a piece of equipment or hanging off the edge of a platform so that your whole upper body is just hanging out in the wide open with no floor, so that you can get a wider range of motion.

It’s been working well for me, I’ve noticed I’m getting more definition in my arms and my stomach area is starting to tighten up a bit, which is a good thing as I have a lot of excess skin to deal with.

On a related note I discovered a new brand of exercise clothing that I really like. Hylete makes a nice collection of workout and competition gear for cross-trainers/cross-fitters and other exercise enthusiasts . I liked the shorts I got from them so much, that I applied to and was accepted into their athletes program.

Basically they help to sponsor me with gear for telling people about their stuff. It’s a simple premise, I tell people about the gear I like and direct them to the Hylete web page, if people use me as a referral when they buy stuff, I get money to buy gear at a reduced price (which helps me save money to pay for more races and such). It’s a win for everyone. Hylete gets more customers, I get more gear, and my friends get high quality gear from a small company trying to make it big.

So if your in the market for some workout clothes give them a look. If you buy something and use me as a referral, great; if you buy something and don’t use me as a referral that’s fine too. I’m just trying to help a small company get their product seen by more people. In the end it isn’t about me getting stuff, it’s about someone building a business that will provide a quality product and employ more people right here in the US. If I get a benefit from it I’m all for it, but even if I don’t I hope see them succeed. Our economy can use all the help it can get these days.

That’s it for now.

Go.

Do.

Be.

Rob

Warriors Dashing, Mudders Toughing it out, and other things I’ve been up to lately

It’s been a while since I wrote anything of any substance, well intrepid readers don’t worry, you’ll find no real substance here. So, you can continue to breathe easy. This is a light post about things I have been up to as of late, nothing too heady, or heavy, just a nice easy jaunt down recent memory lane. Lace up your running shoes, grab your water bottle & let’s hit the road…

stolen from http://experimentinginhappiness.files.wordpress.com

As some of you may know I’m a bit of a workout guy. 4 days a week, 1.5 – 3.0 hours, about 1500 calories per workout, depending on what I’m doing. I have been on a maintenance course lately, just keeping my weight in check and getting more fit. I had ulterior motives though, while not insidious by any means, some people may think them a bit kooky.

I was training for the Warrior Dash (http://warriordash.com) and the Tough Mudder (http://toughmudder.com). If you are unfamiliar they are obstacle course runs. The first being a 5k run with 10+ obstacles to over come to get to the finish line. The second being a 12 mile course with 21+ obstacles standing between you and the finish line. When I tell most people that I do these for fun (and to help raise money for charities) they look at me funny and I know that they are mentally scratching their head and saying “This dude’s cheese must have slid right off his cracker.” while that assessment may or may not be accurate, the fact remains that I do enjoy the grueling punishment that these courses afford me. They push me to do better, run harder, get stronger and generally prove to myself that I am still alive.

I participated in the 2012 Wisconsin Warrior Dash on 8/18. I used it as my primer for the Tough Mudder that I ran on 9/8. It was great. I finished in just over 31 minutes. 36th in my age bracket (out of 600+ runners) and 253rd over all (out of 6510 runners). I also raised over $350 for ST. Jude’s Hospital. The course was great and I was in an early heat so as to avoid the hot mid-day sun. I had set my go to finish in 40 minutes, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I was well below that time. I’m not one for Timed races, as I care more about completing the course than competing on it. which leads us nicely to the next run.

Crossing the finish at the warrior dash

The Tough Mudder, I ran this in the first heat on 9/8. 12 miles of varying terrain littered with many obstacles. Unlike the Dash, this is non timed course that focus more on camaraderie than on time. As fate would have it my cousin, who was supposed to run it with me, was forbidden to do so by his physician. I was a team of one, or so I thought. About 1 mile in I met up with a 34 year old Fireman from Milwaukee named Kevin. His teammate was out as well, due to elbow that got broken in a MMA match. He asked if I wanted to team up and I was happy to do so. He had run the Mudder the year before and was glad to find someone to run it with.

Being 7 years younger than me, a fireman, and a previous runner in the Mudder, meant that I would have to keep up with him, as his pace would no doubt be faster than mine (you do remember me saying I like to be challenged, right?). Well his normal pace was a bit faster than my normal pace, but I stepped it up and kept up with him (except on a couple of hills where he slowed to wait for me.) We ran at about 6.5 mph for the first 5 miles where we happened to meet up with a third guy, and I knew this one. Tom is a guy from my gym whom I have talked to a few times. Here I am just plodding along at about mile 5 when I turn and see him just jogging along as if it’s no big deal; I started talking to him and he gladly joined our twosome. Now a threesome we were like a team, 3 different guys, with different strengths to compliment each other. It turns out the Tom was supposed to be in the 9 am heat, but like me he decided to go early, to beat the heat.

So picture the scene if you can, 2 guys that are younger and in better shape then yours truly, trudging along the mud laden, obstacle filled course with about 7 miles to go. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in OK shape, I run, I lift, & I bike, but these guys are not former fat guys with loads of spare skin flopping around, I looked a bit out of place next to them, but never the less here we were, 3 guys, out to beat this course. As it turned out I was kind of built for this type of thing. I’m tall, fairly strong, and can run for decent amounts of distance without really slowing down. I could grab the tops of the tall walls with just a slight jump, I was tall enough to hop over the smaller barriers with ease, and limber enough to go under the others with little difficulty.

I surprised not only myself but my teammates by being the pace setter at about mile 9. Both Kevin and Tom started to get worn out at that point and I had to take point and keep them motivated. That was easy, seeing the old man of the group plodding along at the same pace he had from the get go, does wonders to get younger guys going.

I was in my zone, the place I go when I exercise, be it biking, hiking, or running. I get into a mental state where I have a sort of tunnel vision, all I see is my end point and I focus on that. I was there; running through smoke and fire; the zone; Climbing up an incline and jumping off a 27 foot tall platform into water; the zone; running up a steep hill, then dropping down a sheer dirt cliff; the zone; running through the muddy forest area, and dodging barbed wire; the zone; swimming through water and getting shocked by up to 10000 v of electricity yep, the zone. At one point Kevin turned to Tom and said, “this guy is like a machine, he just keeps right on going without stopping”. It’s funny the guys I go hiking with have said the same thing. It’s the zone and it is my secret weapon to conquering the course.

Even though the Tough Mudder isn’t timed, I started my HRM when I crossed the starting line and stopped it when I crossed through the “Electroshock Therapy” obstacle. Yeah you read that right 2 obstacle both involving water and electricity. The first one was called the Electric Eel, where you crawl and swim through water with live wires danging down so that you cannot avoid them. ZAP! ZAP! ZAP! I got one to the forehead in the eel that made everything go black for a second. You want motivation, getting shocked will motivate you to move your arse faster. The second electric obstacle is the very last one on the course, no crawling this time, you’re running through an archway laden with over 1000 wires. Random wires have a live charge and will zap the unlucky. I got 3 zaps running through; more motivation. In total I clocked in at 01:58:02 from start to finish. Not too shabby for a guy who less than 2 years ago only ran to kitchen to get a snack.

So Rob, having run the Dash and the Mudder what are you going to do now? I’m going to Disney Land!
Well not really. I went to Kentucky, for a few days of hiking in the Red River Gorge Geological Area of the Daniel Boone National Forest. I hiked a lot, I took a lot of pictures, and generally relaxed for 4 days in one of the most scenic places I have been. Want to see my pictures? There are over 300 of them, most of trees and rocks and other nature stuff…

Suspension Bride over the Red River

If you ever get the chance go to the Red River Gorge and the Natural Bridge Parks in Kentucky. I was once again awed by the beauty and power of the world around me. Nothing can make you feel small quite like seeing the enormity of the world we live in up close.

Now I have had to return to the real world, where there are project, deadlines, and problems to be fixed. It’s amazing how much can pile up in a 6 day absence from work. I have servers to repair, new switches to put in place and a 24TB Equalogic ISCSI SAN to implement as well finishing up the office remodel that I am overseeing. I keep the memory of my recent obstacle course in my head along with the pictures of my visit to KY. Filed away to remind me that there are better things waiting for us, just beyond the doors and walls of home and office.

I have about a year to get ready for the next Tough Mudder, Spartan Beast, or maybe the Zombie Run. Who knows what lies around the next corner, just waiting for me, you, hell all of us, to grab hold of and run with. Adventure waits for us, and will always be there when we are ready for it.

Rob

Update If anyone would like to see me get zapped in the Electroshock Therapy obstacle at the end of the 2012 ToughMudder, here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MqJneBi_kk&feature=youtu.be

The secret to my success

I was recently asked if I had any tips or tricks to help out a new member of MFP (myfitnesspal.com). Below is what I wrote to them, it applies to all of us so I decided to share it with everyone. I hope you enjoy it.

There really is no magic to my success. I eat less than I burn, I eat better foods, and I exercise a lot.

Food:
I buy better foods, I mean that, I have switched to more organic, and less processed foods. I eat more “whole” foods, less canned foods. For example I buy a whole chicken, instead of just breast meat (for the most part), because it is less processed. I eat less pasta, bread, and processed sugars. I use all natural sweeteners when I use them (agave nectar, raw sugar, etc)

When I buy veggies, I buy fresh or frozen. I buy organic and local meats (when possible). I eat a lot of fruit and I drink a ton of water. If you look at yesterday’s log for food, I drank 19 glasses of water.

Exercise:
I exercise 4 days a week for at least 60 minutes each session. I run, I lift weights, I run some more, I ride my bike, I ride the stationary bikes. When I run, I run at least 4 miles at a time, always with an incline (when on a treadmill). The incline is the key to burning big calories. If you are just starting off and you can’t run, walk, but goes as fast as you can on an incline when possible. Most treadmills will incline to at least some degree. If you are walking outside, walk like those people you see in the mall, all serious and determined, walk with speed, with determination, with purpose.

Mentality:
Be positive, you’d be surprised how many people neglect this aspect. A positive frame of mind will help you achieve more than you ever imagined. I can’t wait to get to the gym on the days that I go. Do I love lifting weights, and running and sweating like a wildebeest in the Savannah? Absolutely not. Do I love the feeling of accomplishment, and the results working out brings?Absolutely. The positive frame of mind will carry over into other parts of your life as well, causing everything to seem better overall, which in turns, makes you feel better about yourself, which then leads to better outcomes.

Goals:
Set a goal. No matter how big, or small always have a goal. I’m not talking about your end goal. I’m talking about intermediate and small goals. Like: Today I will walk an extra 500 steps, or I will lose 3 pounds in the next week, or I will not eat a candy bar for 7 days. Small steps, near term goals, little victories. They all add up to long term success.

Dieting:
Remember that you cannot expect a diet to work. Diets are short term plans of action, that are not correlated with long term goals. To be successful, you have to change your lifestyle, change your eating habits, and change you way of looking at food and exercise.

Support:
Find a mentor, a role model, a friend, a workout buddy. Whether that person is live and in person or only accessible via the the ephemeral confines of the Internet, you need a mentor and a role model; someone whom has had success and is willing to share their plans, their routines and their insights with you.

Surround yourself with friends, I’m not talking your go to a bar or movie friends, I’m talking about like minded individuals that can relate and share in your struggle. By joining MFP you have taken the first steps in that part. No one can understand what you are going though, or what you will achieve better than someone who has been there, is there, and is struggling with the same (or similar) issues as you are. We all need support, and while our IRL (in real life) friends and family may be empathetic, unless they are on the same journey as you, they cannot truly understand.

Find an IRL workout buddy, someone who can help push you along, pick you up when you falter, be there when you fail (and you will fail along the way). Find someone that will not let you stop when you hit that wall, won’t let your failures be the death of your ultimate success, someone that will support your effort, or kick you in the ass to get you moving again. You need someone that won’t accept “I Can’t” as an answer.

Acceptance:
Push yourself, If you are capable of running 1 mile, don’t settle for that, push yourself to go 1.25, or 1.5 miles instead. Never accept your comfort zone as your top end. Push yourself to achieve and you will achieve. if you can lift 25 pounds try 30. Do not strive for good enough, strive for better than you have ever done. You are a piece of evolutionary genius. I’m not talking science vs religion here, I’m talking human adaptability. You are built to excel, made for success. You are not a static being, you are ever changing and your goals should follow suit. Set your dreams just beyond your grasp and then reach for them.

Recovery:
Sleep, rest, recharge. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, 8 if you can get it. Take a day off between workouts to rest. If you are pushing yourself, you will need the time off. Your muscles, while marvelous, need to rebuild after hard work. Take a break from workouts. I routinely take a week off where I do not do any structured workouts. That’s not to say I am not exercising, I’m just doing things like hiking in the woods, trekking up a mountain, chopping wood, swimming in a lake, rowing a boat. This is how I recharge, getting away from society and getting back to the pioneer spirit.

That’s it, you now have been given access to my toolset. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.

The Trail – a poem

The trail

I love the trail
It doesn’t judge or care how you look or feel
It doesn’t care if its your first run or your millionth
the trail doesn’t see you as an adversary or a friend
it doesn’t even know you are there but it rises to meet you every time
The trail is quiet and listens to your cadence and rhythm
it offers no commentary or advice
It just gives you want you seek
A challenge, a reason to run, a goal to meet
the trail is the one thing you can always count on to give you nothing and everything whenever you need it

At My Core

Hey Look It’s Me

Since turning 40, I have taken some time and reflected on my interaction with the world around me. Some might say that this is my midlife crisis, some might say this is me coming to terms with the eventuality of my own mortality. Call it what you will.

NPR used to have a segment that was called “This I Believe” where people would write down what was at their core, belief wise. It was a cool segment and there were essays written by celebrities, as well as ordinary joes like you and me. It was one of my favorite segments, I haven’t listened to NPR in a while, and I’m not sure if they ever play those anymore, but if they do, you should take a little time and listen. The essays are insightful, well written and some were downright brilliant.

Mine will not be. What your are about to read will be raw, unpolished, unrefined and most likely offensive to the sensibilities of a lot of people I know.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how wrong or generally misguided it may be, myself included. While you may not agree with everything or anything that I am about say; I ask that you read it all, as it will give you some insight into who I am. If you are an old friend this will by no means shock you, however if you are a newly acquired friend or acquaintance you may find yourself a bit dismayed by some of what is to follow, so please be warned.

I grew up poor, welfare poor, with a mother who could be best described as a grifter. If you don’t know that word I suggest you get a good dictionary (think Oxford English). Growing up with a person like this at the helm of your childhood can lead you to think differently about the world around you. I learned at an early age that there was really no one who you could rely on other than yourself; as everyone out there was either predator or prey. People were things to used and discarded when no longer deemed useful. While this sounds horrible (and I assure you upon reflection, it truly was) it did foster a sound sense of self reliance, and believe it or not self assurance.

Growing up with a grifter as your main parental unit also means that you move around a lot. Take a second to absorb and take that in, because you probably don’t grasp what I mean unless you grew up the child of a military person. When I say we moved a lot, I mean a whole lot. By the time I was 12 I think I had lived in at least as many states and probably two to three times that in terms of actual places where I would lay my head at night. This meant that I never had really good friends, because I wouldn’t be anywhere for more than a few months at a time. Why bother getting to really know people if you were just a transient being in their lives. Living this way actually fed into the whole people as a commodity mentality. While I didn’t know it at the time the nomadic lifestyle we were living was actually doing me a service. It taught me to not be shy, I was that kid who would arrive somewhere and instantly find people to hang out with and be “friends” with. It also led me to be loud, gregarious, and brash. I was that loud kid whom everyone liked immediately. Unfortunately I was also that kid that every parent felt a deep sense of pity for when they learned about my mother. Needless to say I tried to not let people meet my mother for as long as possible.

Growing up the way I did didn’t foster a great sense of morality. When you have a parent whose main objective in life is to see how much they can get from people, you are starting life aiming low. As a child I never knew that this was not the way things were supposed to be. I thought everyone was just like good ole mom; only looking out for themselves. To this day, I honestly believe that my mother did not have my best interests at heart growing up. I, like everyone else she encountered, was just a tool, a commodity to be used. I was another instrument in her plans for the confidence game she called life. I happened to be a rather useful tool, as my dad paid a monthly amount of money that was supposed to be helping pay for the things I needed.

I can remember when I was about 8 meeting a kid whose parents were together and had always been, and thinking that his family was weird. They had lived in the same place for longer than he had been alive. Both of his parents worked actual jobs. That’s not to say my mother didn’t work, she just never really worked. She would have a part time job so as to look like a semi-respectable member of the community. I mean she didn’t want to be seen as the gold digger that she really was.

I think that given the circumstances of how I was raised I have turned out pretty OK. Sure I’ve had my moments where my moral compass has been off, and I still have a duck and cover kind of response to some things, but all in all, I think I have become a well rounded and decent person. I don’t generally shy away from a challenge and I tend to take most things in stride. I would like to believe that as a whole I turned out alright, and have had a positive impact on the world around me. I try to be fair, I try not to take more than my share, I try to help out people when I can.

I honestly feel that how I was raised has a lot to do with my views on religion. I lived in a lot of places where kids shouldn’t live, I had more “dads” than any kid should ever have. I saw a lot of the dark and seedy things that young, impressionable children should never be exposed to.

I saw people who gave 10% or more of their earnings to their church, when I was living right next door and could have benefitted from that money far more than the institution that they were giving it to. I can’t count the number of nights that I went to bed hungry, or cold, or lonely or scared. On more than one occasion I can remember thinking that if there was a god, why was he making me live like this. All those times I went to bed with a sense of fear or hopelessness seemed to strengthen my belief that there was no real purpose for life, there was no great and benevolent creator looking out for us; because if he was out there and he let me go to bed with too little food, or not enough money to have heat, or whatever, then he was a cruel and heartless creator ans I had no need of him. If this was the truth I would rather believe that there was no great power looking down on us, rather than one who, like a kid with a magnifying glass aimed at an ant hill, would sit back and watch us suffer. Don’t get me wrong, I looked into several “flavors of religion” as a young person, and always came to the same conclusion.

I became a militant atheist at the ripe old age of 18. I had seen enough, and heard more than enough of the religious rhetoric to form my opinion and I was damn sure going to let everyone know. I knew plenty of “bible thumpers” growing up and I became the antithesis; I was a “science thumper”. I would try to systematically teardown everything people believed about religion and force them to see my point of view. I can remember looking at a bible, no studying it really, to find all the paradoxes and hypocrisies. I would debate, or more aptly berate, any religious person who dared to spar with me. I remember on more than one occasion bringing other kids to tears because I would make the fight personal. This phase lasted well into my 20’s; I remember I had a neighbor once who walked up to me and asked with sincerity “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior” I bluntly said “No”. I asked him if he thought his religion was the one true and correct one. When he said yes, I then proceeded to lecture him on why his brand of religion wasn’t the correct one. I was a complete ass; I realize this now that I am older and have seen more in my life. Needless to say I have mellowed as I have gotten older. I am no longer a militant atheist, nor have I found religion. I’ve come to realize that I don’t care. I personally don’t think that there is a god out there, I’m more apt to believe that we are some weird science experiment for aliens or a completely random coincidence than to think that there is one all knowing, all seeing creator. That’s my opinion and you’re welcome to agree, disagree, and/or not care about it, as I have decided to not care what your belief may or may not be. I do not say that preceding statement with any intended malice, I truly do not care what your beliefs are. If you are a decent person than we can be friends, regardless of how misaligned our beliefs may be.

I will not push my beliefs and values on you, and I ask that you do the same. I have come to the realization that what you believe shouldn’t predicate whether or not we can be friends. I have a very close friend who is a devoted Christian (he and his family are what I consider the best example of how Christians should be.), I have another who is a non practicing Christian. We have decided to agree to disagree about that one aspect of our lives and move on. Life is too short to get hung up the small stuff and yes to me that is a small item.

Below is the cliff’s notes version of my beliefs. Many of which have equal bearing whether or not your are a religious person. Please take them for what they are. A means to gain a little bit of insight about me, nothing more nothing less. As I stated This was not meant to offend anyone, but if it has, I understand. I hope you can see past it. If not, again, I understand.

Things I believe:

An intelligent persons does not need the promise of a heaven to do what is right.

Character is doing the right thing even if you would benefit from doing the not so right thing.

Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your actions do.

Ones beliefs are like ones genitalia, it’s great that you have it, but no-one needs to see it.

There are good Christians, there are good Muslims, there are good atheists just as there are bad Christians, bad Muslims, and bad atheists.

People are people, judge them on what they do, not what they believe, not what country they come form, not how they look, nor by the color of their skin.

Children are born scientists, uncoupled from belief. Their minds are wide open to all possibilities, we indoctrinate them into a closed minded belief set when we saddle them with our beliefs. We should let them explore, and decide on their own what they want to believe or disblieve, and love them in spite of any choice they make, not chastize them for it.

All people are created equal, it is our beliefs that determine their worth and ultimately burden them with inequality. If we cast away the baggage we were given by our predecessors and see people for what they are or could be, we see that we are all, at the core, the same. We all just want to be loved and accepted for who we are, not what we believe.

In the end I hope to be remembered for all I did to help others and to make this world a better place, not for what I believed or did not believe in.

We should all strive to know more about the world then we knew yesterday and to try to lessen the suffering of others. (this was paraphrased from a quote be Neil deGrasse Tyson, but it is part of what I believe he just said it better.)

________________________________________

I look forward to any comments that you may have.

Rob