Monday, January 27, 2014

Joining the Gym

January is almost over and I am happy to say that I am still holding to my goal of drinking at least 28 ounces of water every day at work. That is about 28 ounces more than I was drinking and is about three cans of soft drinks less. Oddly, one thing I have found is the more water I drink and the less soda, the more my body craves the water. I've found myself going for the bottled water at home even more than for the coke, which is awesome.

I'd hoped to start slow, not cutting out any food or adding any exercise, just adding water. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before the doctor's visit messed that up and put me into high gear for weight loss and dieting. My diet isn't anything special. Right now it is simply cutting back on my portion sizes and not allowing myself to go back for seconds. I am also trying to limit myself to one or two sweets each week.

Tonight, I joined the gym that my sister joined last week. Hopefully paying the membership fee, joining fee and monthly cost, along with having someone to go with will be encouragement to work out, even on those frigid days when getting outside isn't on my agenda. I don't usually stay out late on work nights but will now be going to North Little Rock at least three nights per week, maybe more. This evening I arrived shortly after 5:30 p.m.and didn't leave until about 7:30 p.m. By the time I got home it was almost 8:3 p.m.

I do believe it is time to start eating sandwiches for dinner and eating leftovers for lunch.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: Coordinates for Murder

Title: Coordinates for Murder
Author: Darren Kirby
ISBN: 1470079100
Pages: 123
Copyright: 2012
My rating: 2/5 (below average)

Geocaching is one of my favorite hobbies, not only because it takes me to new places but because it often combines many of my other hobbies like camping and hiking. I don't get to do enough of any. As with most hobbies, I usually enjoy books and/or movies about the subject. I received a gift card for Barnes & Noble at Christmas this year and ended up searching for Geocaching, just to see if there were any fiction books around on the subject. Sure enough, I found two, one of those being Coordinates for Murder by Darren Kirby.

I didn't pay attention to the rating, reviews or even information about the book, other than the synopsis, when I made the purchase. (Now that I go back and look, there is none.) The book is the story of two friends who go camping in the wilderness of northern Wisconsin. While there they attempt to gain bragging rights of being the "First-to-finds" on a new multicache. But what they find is not what they were expecting.

The narration in the book switches primarily between the two main characters. That is tolerable but unfortunately it isn't quite as predictable as in some other series such as Ender's Game in which each chapter switches narrators. Usually when the narrator does switch in this book it goes back in time and tells the same events from another character's point of view. Most books I enjoy, the concept of narration is left behind as the images of the story block it out but in Coordinates for Murder the narration stayed most of the time.

Now, I can't say the book was all bad; it did have its suspenseful moments and I did actually read the entire thing, more than I can say for some. *The following sentence may contain spoilers. Highlight the text to view.* The end of the book was even a huge surprise and out of the ordinary.

I think one of the biggest problems for me was simply the age group the book was probably intended for. I probably would have enjoyed it more when I was in elementary school. Of course, I don't think some of the content is appropriate for children that age. But then again, in the past 15 years since I was that age, American culture has changed a lot. But for parents to decide, the book does contain some bad language and some mild (compared to a lot of movies) gore.

I personally give the book a 2/5 (below average) rating. I've read worse, but I have also read much better. Have you read the book? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Unexpected Outcome from Doctor Visit

Almost the first thing that I did after dinner tonight was take a call from my grandmother who inquired about how my doctor visit turned out. I told her, "The doctor said 'some people make a new years resolution to lose weight but for you its doctors' orders.'" I proceeded to laugh and told her it was only have true when she began to question about the diet. The thing is I've known I needed to lose weight and I've wanted to lose it for a while. I was thinking today of the Facebook status I wanted to post: "One of my new years resolutions for 2014 was to make myself drink more water. I cannot leave the office until I have drank a minimum of 28 oz of water. This is for every day I am at work and, so far, I have kept it. The thing is, if drinking more water and less soda doesn't help me lose weight, maybe the extra 500 steps back and forth between the other end of the building will add up!"

I went to the doctor after my headache, neck ache, back pain and some chest pain lingered for too long. Friday I came home exhausted and had a 102 degree fever. Luckily by Saturday it was low grade and by Sunday I didn't appear to have a fever at all. I returned to work Monday feeling much better than Friday. But the other pain when it hit made me wonder if I was still sick and what I had, although I continued to suspect sinus headaches for part of it. But just to be safe, I went to the Little Rock Walk-in Clinic on North University Avenue in Little Rock after work today.

What I didn't expect was for the nurse to take my blood pressure, ask me if it was always that high and then tell me to monitor it because they may need to put me on blood pressure medicine. I am 25 years old, too young to be on blood pressure medicine. Later the doctor also expressed concern about my blood pressure. He didn't put me on a diet, but it looks like its time.

I had set out to make one small step at a time with 2014, starting with more water and gradually building up to less calories, better balance and more exercise. Instead, it looks like I am going to have to tackle head on and drop the weight. Not that it is a bad thing, but there is definitely a difficult road ahead.

Monday, January 13, 2014

When Convenience is an Inconvenience

Sometimes in life we sacrifice things for convenience and simplicity. For the past year and a half,I have done so with my hobby of photography. In college I took a photography and photojournalism course. I bought an expensive camera so I could control more settings, especially aperture and shutter speed, during my freshman year of college. Sometimes I went to the park or other places just to take photos.

Since I returned from Spain, not so much. In June 2012 I owned my first smartphone with a decent enough camera I could use it to take photos. I didn't have much control and couldn't zoom very far but it was good for memories. Small enough to fit in my pocket, it was much more convenient than a large camera and the extra batteries to keep it running. And it was one less item to carry since it was my phone.

In November 2013 my phone was stolen. Highly inconvenient,yes; end of the world, no. Fortunately, I didn't own a smart phone until I returned from Spain. Texting is much simpler, even if I no longer use the phone for checking email and Facebook. Most of all though, if I want to take photos, I have to take my real camera -- the phone camera takes tiny pictures.

I began using the real camera again while hiking at Petit Jean State Park --stopping along the trail just to take pictures that I had taken 10 times before. Later I drove to Mount Magazine State Park and took a few photos. One of those photos, a picture of the sunset from the hang glider launch, I posted to the Arkansas State Parks Facebook page. They re-shared it and it received more than 300 likes and more than 40 shares. That wouldn't be possible had I only had my phone.

Phones, internet, tablets all make life simpler but one has to wonder how much will we sacrifice for a little convenience?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bringing in 2014

Facebook told me last week I need to get out more, more or less. Each year the social media site offers a summary of a user's top 20 moments for the past 365 days. A couple of items on my summary were pictures from Petit Jean State Park, but sadly one of them was a Bitstrip comic of me telling my niece not to touch my computer. Somehow I doubt the photos from New Years eve show up in my summary for this year but hopefully they do for the 2014 review.

Tuesday night was the annual bonfire and karaoke night. About seven friends and an additional five family members attended. This was about the fifth or sixth bonfire we've hosted where some of my college friends come down and some of them bring a few other friends. Most of the time we have at least two or three new people and many of them are international students. This year we had our second snipe hunt. And of course, we can't forget the karaoke until past midnight. Since it was New Year's we all sang a round of Auld Lang Sine at midnight. We will see if the event shows up in 2014, but regardless, I have got to do more this year.

January 1 is the time to set resolutions -- those things we never follow through with. I've gone so far as to set my resolutions the opposite of what I really want to do; either I will actually do what I really want or I will succeed for once in my resolutions. This year I am trying a third approach.

Get outside more
One of my favorite things about living in Arkansas is it truly is the natural state. City parks, state parks and national forests are all over the state with lakes to swim and trails to hike.

Write more, photograph more
I love writing. I love photography. I don't do much of either any more. In 2014 I would like to write a blog every other week and maybe the photos will help. If I ever finish one of my "novels" I might even post some of the chapters of them on here. Feel free to suggest topics.

Travel more/plan more
I've been a lot of places, but as far as leisurely travel, Branson is as far as I got in 2013. In 2014 I would like to travel more in the United States. Of course, that means I have to plan more in my personal life so that I can take the time off and make the best use of my time. Not only that, but it makes finding friends to travel with easier. If all goes well, some of us are traveling in the first or second quarter of the year to Texas.