Monday, May 23, 2011

The Times They Are a-Changin'

I am writing this on Monday, May 23, 2011.  Today I am trying to get back into blogging....again.

It seems that I am having trouble making a habit out of this.  Actually, I never intended on it to be a habit, but I did think that I would be using it more than I have.  So, I am going to try again to share my thoughts and experiences on here.

I have been catching up on a lot of reading recently.  One of the blogs that I follow talks about minimalism.  I went into my Facebook account and deleted any "friend" that did not pass my theoretical friend test.  For each person, I asked myself this question "If this person was to receive an urgent message from me in need of help, would they immediately come to my aid?".

This resulted in me removing ex-girlfriends that I no longer communicate with, old school classmates and acquaintances that I no longer keep up with, and people that I met at some event but never ran into again at other similar events.  My Facebook friends count is now 27 and I am very happy with that number.  I am honored to know 27 people that I would consider a true real friend.  I have "un-followed"  most of the people I had followed on my Twitter account.  Remaining are 7 very solid resources that I want to read everything from so I will no longer have to browse the Twitter feed for something I actually want to check out.  My next step is to clean out my Facebook photo albums.  I want to fine a single place to store my photos for online backup and sharing purposes.  My first thought is to use Picasa by Google.  I will give this a try and report on my findings.

My email has all been centralized to gmail, so I am happy with consolidation of email accounts.  I only have one phone number, which is my mobile, so I am happy with that.  Email communication, communication, check.

I switched from Wells Fargo to Chase about 2 years ago and I have been happy with Chase so far.  I have one username that can see my personal checking, personal savings, personal credit card, business checking, and business credit card.  That is extremely helpful.  I have 2 other credit cards that I keep open to help my credit score.  One is only used for gasoline.  The other is only used for food.  This helps keep 2 open credit card accounts in low use of available credit and also helps in tracking expenses by category.  These 2 additional credit cards do require 2 more sets of un/pw to remember, but I must keep one open since it has over 10 years of positive credit history. 

I am thinking of closing out the other additional card, but that would increase my credit utilization ratio, so I am still trying to decide the best option on it.  I want to think that keeping the old card and moving activity from the other non-Chase card to my chase card would make things better by reducing the number of un/pw combinations to remember, but that would be closing out an older, higher limit card for a newer, lower limit card, which could shorten the average life and increase the utilization ratio. 

Do I trade what should be better on calculating my credit score for what should make my life a little more minimalistic?  It is a difficult question that I have not yet determined the answer to...if there is one...

So, I have taken the minimalist's cleaver to my Facebook friends list, my Google reader subscription list, my Twitter follows, and my financial institutions and accounts.  Everything is in either Dropbox or Evernote now, no more Google Docs.  I see the use for Google Docs, but my primary need is file synchronization across multiple devices and Dropbox is the best solution I have found.  Evernote is perfect for taking a small clipping to save for future review or reference.  Together, these 2 solve all of my digital document storage/access needs.

Going forward from today, I will be using both my Twitter and Facebook accounts for updates.  I use TweetDeck, so I can make one update be broadcasted to both services.  So, whether you are a friend on Facebook, or a follower on Twitter, you will be getting all of my updates.  If you want to follow me on Twitter, my handle is @RichMcCollum

That is it for today's update.  I am not promising daily updates from now on, but I am going to try.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden

With the news of Osama bin Laden's death today, I wanted to say a couple of things.

First of all, I want to give my respect to the man.  I know many will not understand this, but I have to believe that this man honestly followed what he believed to be the Truth.  It may not align with our beliefs, but he did PASSIONATELY follow what he believed.  Do we follow our beliefs with the same passion?

From all of the evidence that I have seen, I must conclude that Osama bin Laden was not a hypocrite who preached one set of rules, but lived by another.  You may choose to hate him because you label his actions as evil, but you have to respect him for his giving of his everything for his beliefs.  The man fought for the religion that he was raised in and taught to believe as the one and only real Truth by his parents.

On another note, as we gripe about how many bad decisions are made by our government officials, I must give them a thumbs up on the burial at sea.  I understand that no country was prepared to take him for burial in such a short notice, but I see another reason that burial at sea is actually preferred, in my opinion.  One news article stated "Another concern expressed by U.S. officials was that bin Laden's grave site would become a shrine -- a practice Campo said bin Laden detested but nevertheless likely would have occurred."  This article actually used the word "prudent" to describe the decision and I would agree.  He was our #1 enemy, but we still did our best to respect his wishes around the proper burial rites of his religion and specific personal wishes of his grave site not becoming a shrine.  I applaud or military service men and women for maintaining the honor of a true warrior.

This is a major event that will be added to our collective history books today.  We will all remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news.  Many are celebrating this day.  Some must be mourning this day.  Many feel closure, but how may think things have only just now begun?  The obvious question is "What now?"  What Now? Lemme tell you what now...

What do you think?  What now?  Where do we go from here?  Is al Qaeda any lesser of a threat now that bin Laden is dead?  Are they more of a threat?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Progress Update: 2001-04-03

The first quarter of 2011 is over. Yes, time flies. How have you been doing on new years resolutions? Mark Sisson recently wrote a post about checking in on your first quarter status, so in addition to this being my scheduled April update, I would also like to address some of the subjects in his post.

First, I'll summarize my current status. My current status is: All is Well. I feel better than I have in about 10 years. My mind is sharp and clear. My soul is peaceful and happy. My body is healthy and fit. My overall, general disposition is positive and I am not just simply happy with my life; I am truly thrilled with my current life and I am excited about all of the potential paths that lay in front of me to choose from for my future.

Clothing Sizes:

With the return of warm weather, I had to get out my shorts the other day when we had high's in the 80's. I have not worn any of them since last summer and, as expected, they all fit looser. The pairs that fit comfortably loose last year don't fit at all now. The pairs that were borderline too tight last summer fit between just right and a little loose now. I've been anxious for the season change because the pairs pants that purchased last fall are slowly but consistently becoming looser and have went from just a little loose to at least a full size or two too large to the point that I have to do the belt-cinching thing and that doesn't look too hot. I'm wearing my shirt's un-tucked now for a completely different reason than before.

I was hoping to make it to summer so that I only needed to buy new shorts and can wait out the new pants purchases until this fall when I should be settled into a waist-size that doesn't continue to shrink. Of course different cuts and styles fit differently, but in general I have dropped form wearing 34 inch waist pant to 32's.

For another positive note, I am Medium again. When I went to get some new workout pants a month ago, it was so nice for the waist of mediums to fit right. The larges are too long in the legs for me resulting in having to roll up the bottoms or have them taken up. At 5' 7" I find it much easier to find proper-fitting pants in length now that I can fit my waist into the mediums. Jeans are not that difficult because they make them in different waist and length combinations, however things like motorcycle leather suits, workout clothes, sporting equipment and such sometimes are only made in limited sizes of S/M/L/XL/etc.


I liked all of the recent articles I've read talking about concept of "Paleo 2.0" from those that I read.  I agree that it can get ridiculous when you take your food selection criteria basis so extreme as to become dogmatic.  That is getting away from the spirit of what all of this is about.  I generally eat in a LeanGains style IF pattern with my evening meal being the largest and I do my best to not consume refined sugar, wheat, and industrial-age vegetable oils.   A new hash tag that Sean Croxton is using on Twitter is #JERF, which stands for Just Eat Real Food.  I like its simplicity and this is basically the point that I have come too as well.

No more caffe mochas every morning now, but I am beginning to enjoy a good Americano with heavy cream and a little cinnamon.  I have given into the occasional urge for ice cream a couple of times, but I no longer crave cookies, brownies, or cakes.  It seams that the combo of flour and sugar bothers me much more than fat and sugar so ice cream get a pass every once in a while.  Pies still have a little siren song left in them.  Nobody can deny the amazing combination that is warm pecan pie with vanilla ice cream on top.  I know that it is not healthy to consume deserts on a regular basis, but I think a once per week treat just makes life much more enjoyable than complete abstinence.

My favorite meals recently have been:
  • Steak medium-rare with steamed broccoli and carrots
  • Half of a Rotisserie chicken and a baked sweet potato with butter and cinnamon
  • Grilled Pork Chop stuffed with smoked Gouda cheese and bacon with baked slices of sweet potato
  • Chipotle: 2 steak tacos with pintos and hot sauce and 2 carnitas tacos with black beans and hot sauce all on soft corn tortillas
  • Home-made chili
  • Steak and chicken combo fajitas
I recently went to a new place near my house that just opened.  The Braza Dancante is a Brazilian-style churrascaria.  If you have never been to a churrascaria, I highly recommend it.  All of the different meats were cooked perfectly and it was a wonderful dining experience.

Data Comparison:

Well, its time to take a look at the numbers.  Below is the updated data table:

7/1/2010 8/1/2010 1/1/2011 4/1/2011
Weight 195 185 170 165
Body Fat (Scale) 22.4% 20.8% 18.9% 18.2%
Body Fat (Calipers) 17.3% 14.2%
Exercise Max
Chin Ups 0 4 8 10
Pull Ups 0 2 4 5
Standard Push Ups 10 25 40 50
Diamond Push Ups 4 10 20 30
CVS Minute Clinic
Fasting Glucose 69 83 71
A1C 5.6% 5.6% 5.6%
Total Cholesterol 237 200 333
LDL unable to calculate 145 250
HDL 45 45 37
Triglycerides < 50 < 50 96
TC/HDL Ratio 5.3 5.3 8.9
Blood Pressure 121/86 118/80 100/72
Waist 36 35 31
Framingham Risk 3% 1% 1%
10-yr Heart Disease Moderate Risk Low Risk Low Risk


All numbers seem to be going in positive directions except for the lipid panel test results.  I have been listening to many different opinions on lipid panel tests and interpretation of resits, so I will keep a watch on these numbers at the next test in 3 months, but for now they do not concern me that much.  I feel healthier than I have in years and I think that counts for much more influence on perception of my current health than one single test result which some experts argue is not really a valid test for what it is used to measure.

Additional Info:

I didn't get around to taking photos at the time this was written and I am just now, a month later, getting this update posted.  Currently, I am I little leaner that the last photos, but there has not been significant visual changes so I have chosen to delay photos until next month.

As of today, May 1st, 2011, I am still following the same general nutrition and workout rules and I still feel great.  One of the things that I am wanting to convey by tracking my progress as I am is that I am not undertaking any extreme lose X pound in Y days plan.  I am just eating real food that our ancestors would recognize and avoiding things created by people in the last couple of generations that are created in factories instead of by nature.  I only workout about twice per week.  These are very intense workouts, but only consist of 15-min warm-up, 30-min intense, then 15-min cool-down.  On other days I do get some kind of physical activity in, but more in a style of casual play than intense workout.

I will get more blood work done in a month on 2011-06-01 for a mid-year report.  I will also post updated photos at that time.