Tuesday, November 29, 2011

See me? I am important!

I have this old friend that I've known since we were both about 9 or 10 years old. I remember when we were little, he didn't care much for me, but I thought he was OK. We sort of got along, but we weren't the best of friends.

3 years later, in high school, we were reunited. It started off slow. He still didn't care much for me. I thought he was OK. But we gradually became good friends and for 2 years he was one of the best friends I ever had.

And then he started to change. Weird things began to show up in him. He'd show me a drawing and say "I created this. I made it up." I'd look at it and immediately recognize it as a copy of something I'd seen before. I'd say "I've seen that. You copied that from ..." whatever he copied it from. Then he'd confess. Yeah, he'd copied it and claimed it as his own creation. He did it with songs, too, trying to impress girls by singing songs and saying "I wrote that." They always busted him. They always knew the song and that he didn't write it. It was obvious.

He was highly intelligent in a memorization sort of way. He could remember anything he'd ever read. His brain was like a vault for memory. But I began to realize that as far as creativity went, he had absolutely none. I also began to realize that he resented the living hell out of my creative abilities.

He destroyed an original drawing I had spent hours on and then rather glibly apologized. "Oh, I'm sorry. You worked hard on that. And it was pretty good, too." It was more of an I'm-sorry-that-you-have-the-ability-to-do-that-and-I-don't than a real apology.

A few years later, he and I both had taken up the guitar. I was trying desperately to learn to play like Jimmy Page, a super lead guitar soloist, and he was trying to master classical guitar. I never understood why. But he did learn all the rules of music far better than I. As I said, anything he could read, he could remember. A few more years later and he asked me to come jam with this local band he was in. I told him I'd be glad to, but that I only knew the songs that I knew and he'd have to show me the rest if he wanted me to join in. He assured me he would.

And then I said, "I don't know how to play in key, like E or A, right, I just know how to play a song after I hear it and pick out all the chords and stuff." He said that was fine. No problem.

I arrived with my guitar and amp and sat down with him and the band. The first thing he did was say "let's play 'LA Woman' in A. And they began to play. He was looking at me and playing and singing, knowing full well that I didn't know that song and didn't know anything about what he was doing, so I couldn't join in. I blew it off, figuring he'd have his laugh and then I'd join in the next one. But it kept on, song after song, he showed me nothing, never asked what songs I knew or I wanted to play, simply stuck to what he and the rest of the guys had rehearsed and left me hanging there. So I got up and left.

Years later, I'm writing things on the internet. I acquire a small following, nothing much. I tell him and the rest of our mutual friends at a reunion of sorts with him and a circle of friends that we both hung with back in school. So our friends get on the computer and look up my writing. They tell me they are impressed. And then they all begin their own webpages, too.

A few of them were as popular as I was. And by popular I mean they had more than 10 people who followed them. The rest were only followed by the group itself.

And then there was my old friend. He began writing in 2005. The things he wrote were dry, to say the least. It was not what you'd call creative or entertaining. He's been writing non-stop ever since, and most of his writing consists of something along these lines:

"Here is a picture of me in Paris. See me? I am there because I am important at my job and they sent me there."

I'd say that's about 90 percent of what he has written over the years - 'here is me in some city. See me? I am important.'

Another 5 percent would be a quote from someone else, some deep thinker or creative person. He'll quote someone else's thoughts and then say "this makes me think. What does it make you think of?" And no one leaves any comments. After 6 years you'd think he'd stop asking "what does it make you think of" because no one is responding, but it doesn't seem to register with him that no one is there. Or perhaps it doesn't matter?

The remaining writing is about his family. He is proud of his family. I can't blame him for that. He has a nice family and they seem very happy as far as I can tell. It's certainly something to be proud of.

His then-wife set up a forum for all of us in this group of old high school friends to talk to each other. We'd talk about this and that, joke around. It was fun. And then he'd post something, and it would be totally inappropriate. It would go something like this:

ANN: I am really struggling these days, but thank God I have all my friends around me. :-)

KAREN: We all love you. We'll be here for you.

HIM: You probably wouldn't struggle so much if you weren't such a slut.

THEN-WIFE: My God, what the hell is wrong with you that you say things like that?! Stop being such an asshole!

I'm not joking. He would make comments like that, cutting comments that were obviously intended to carve his closest and oldest friends into pieces. And he would say it to all of us. Everything that came out of him was either a direct or back-handed insult.

I know his ex-wife or used to. She began the forum, after all. We talked after their divorce, after I tried to reach out to him and received what I'd have to say was the oddest responses you can imagine. She told me there were problems, not the marital kind but the kind that related specifically to him. I had suspected as much. Beginning when we were about 17 I began to notice him transforming from the greatest guy I knew into a strange petty, untrustworthy person that I didn't recognize. It was worse in college. I didn't know who the hell he was anymore.

I'm just rambling here. I don't have a deeper point. I just ran across him, just now. He was posting about where he'd just been again and reminding whomever happened to pass by that he is important. It made me think about all the oddities. I think it's odd to have absolutely no original thoughts, no creativity whatsoever. But then again, I know another guy, a great guitar player, who once told me that he was impressed by my ability to write what I considered stupid but original songs. He said he could play anything anyone could write, but he could not write his own music. So maybe it's not that uncommon? I don't know. To me it is odd. Zero original thought. Zero creative ability.

I should take a step back. Before my old friend began to change, he WAS creative to some degree. We once sat down together and wrote a story just off the top of our heads, winging it and laughing at the stupid things we were creating with no plot and no clear ending in mind. It was fun. I still have that ability. But I don't think he could do that again if his life depended on it. And I don't understand that.

I also don't understand the constant need to say "see me? I am important." It's not just his personal webpage that he does this on. It's everything. It's Facebook and professional links between us which I know his employer sees. If he's updating his status on anything it is generally to say "here I am in Helsinki. I am important." I realize that he is more successful than I am. He makes twice my salary, or did before they laid him off. But he found another job, once again working at a high level of management and making something similar to what he made before. So it isn't as if he has suffered for having no creative talents. But why the constant need to say "See me? I am important!"

Do you see me? Hardly anyone reads this blog, yet I really like the handful of people I've met here. I am not important, but I am creative. You might not know it from the posts I write here. They're mostly about my workouts, but that's not all I write. It's just most of what I write here. And I don't need to tell people what I do, how much I make doing it, or demand that they acknowledge that I am important. I guess I don't understand people who do. I guess my old friend transformed into my polar opposite, and I don't know what to do with that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I went to the gym on Monday and did a chest and triceps workout. It wasn't much, but I'm just getting back into it. I think this is only the 2nd time I've done this workout in about a year. I guess I didn't push it hard enough because I haven't been sore from it like I was the last time I did this.

I think I must be frowning while I'm working out. People keep getting out of my way. Except this one black kid who seemed to want to be the alpha dog in the gym. He's too young and too skinny to be the alpha anything, but that's the thing about youth, along with the abundant energy and pride comes an abundant stupidity. Anyway, I didn't clash with him, but it was close. I'll just say I considered it.

And that's the thing about maturity. You think about whether or not a fight is worth the trouble and weigh all the factors. It has to be worth it to go to that much trouble.

I'm about to head home for Thanksgiving. We have no special plans except to try and relax. We don't plan to see anyone or do anything or go anywhere.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gray Leg Day


Yesterday was a Monday in every sense of the cursed word. It was gray and rainy and dreary. I was tired and depressed and not feeling at all like going to the gym or working out. I knew I needed to go anyway. Exercise actually makes your brain and body release chemicals and hormones that make you feel better. And oh how I needed them!

Over the weekend I went to a meeting of FCA people. That's Fellowship of Christian Athletes, if you didn't know. It doesn't really matter. Anyway, almost everyone there is either a triathlete, an iron man or iron woman competitor, or some sort of rock climber. And then there's me, the former track competitor who now just sort of does odd athletic events for the hell of it (can you say 'for the hell of it' at an FCA meeting?)

The other athletes

Everyone looked like a fitness instructor or model. Some were still in their fitness clothes after having worked a half-marathon event earlier that day. Some ran it, others ran it in the sense that they organized and helped put the event on, even handing out water at stations, etc.  One of the women, the wife of a guy I went to school with years ago, looks like a movie star.

And again, then there's me.

Then there's me
I definitely don't look like any fitness model or marathoner. I look more like the guy you call when you can't get your computer to work (Don't call me, that's not what I do.)

The great American mystery

I'm currently reading a book, I can't remember the title exactly but its something like "why we get fat" or something. It details how certain events can trigger a slight change in the way your body handles calories, shifting things slightly towards fat cells so that the proteins, carbs, fats and sugars you take in which normally would go to your muscles to replenish them and then to your fat cells when your muscles don't need them, now move just a bit more into your fat cells even though your muscles need them and are trying to get them. This causes weight gain which no amount of dieting can do much about. This was my exact experience following knee surgery. Every year, 5 more pounds appeared even though I was stricter with my diet and kicked up my exercising to try to stop the gain. 20 pounds of useless fat cells later, it stopped and held firm. Again, no amount of exercising or dieting made any difference. It wasn't going anywhere.

Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor not a dietitian!
I went to a doctor. He told me what I described was impossible. I went to a trainer. He told me I needed to pay him for more workouts and just come in more often. I talked to a dietitian. She told me that perhaps I needed to take in MORE calories because my regular diet was too low for my height according to her charts and diet doesn't always work the way people think it does.

You're fired!
I fired my doctor and my trainer.

You aren't baffled by my totally incorrect explanation of thermodynamics?!

To be fair, my doctor was a cranky old ass whom I probably would have eventually fired anyway even if not for the screaming argument we had in his office in which he told me that the laws of thermodynamics state that what I was experiencing is simply impossible. I informed him that my field of expertise gives me greater understanding of thermodynamics than a family doctor and tells me that thermodynamics has absolutely nothing to do with the problem.

Stop calling me Fonzie
My trainer is another story. He was ... how can I put this ... crazy. No, no, not crazy. But he was having some sort of crisis and it seemed to cause him to say things which a person not having a similar crisis might interpret as being crazy. Or at the very least, annoying as all hell. I'll just say this, most of the insane crap the "Occupy Wall Street" communists were shouting about Zionist Jews controlling the big international corporate banking institution and capitalism being the devil and all that stuff coincided exactly with the training advice he was giving me and I was paying him for. Needless to say, or perhaps not needless if you are a communist, this advice about Jews and bankers and conspiracy theories was unhelpful to my efforts to build muscle and burn fat. I saw little reason to pay for it. So we parted ways.

Leg day

So yesterday I went to the gym and did my leg day workout. I'm dropping Bodypump Class for now because I did it for over 6 months and I felt like I needed to change things up. Technically, you're supposed to change things up every 6 weeks, but I am a stubborn man and I waited all this time before switching to a strength-focused free-weight routine for awhile. I did my legs. I was not in a happy mood. I don't know what the expression on my face was, but I think people in the gym could tell that I was not in a happy mood because they got out of my way a lot. Overall I did a good workout. I stayed focused. If there were any good-looking girls there working out alongside me I did not notice them. I kept my eyes on the weights and my mind on the workout and tried to clear my head. And then I ran a mile as a cool-down and showered.

And I forgot to stretch.

I am drowning in work at my job. Apparently at the end of the year there is some sort of big push to get everything finished and out of the way so that we can do it all again next year. I'm not sure the reasons, but I'm guessing it makes sense to people in accounting and not so much where I am. Whatever the case, my stress levels are up and my need for good workouts is up with it.

Oh, and I haven't played my guitar in nearly a week. But the last time I had it out I learned half of a cool AC/DC song that I like, which was fun. Except that I currently play it like you might hear if you had the song on vinyl and could set your record player speed to 16 instead of 45. Do you know what I mean?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just This and That

OK, I'm a bad fitness blog writer! I didn't go to the gym on Monday. My mom had car troubles and she was all freaked out so I helped her out. I consoled myself by saying "I'll go on Wednesday and make up for it."

Tuesday I went to lunch with a friend. We argued about whether or not he's a girl because he drives a Toyota Camry with a 4-cylinder engine and got all huffy when I told him a certain female person in my life refused to even test-drive a 4-cylinder Camry because she wanted more horsepower. I told him there is a new Camry out this year with over 250 hp, but I didn't think he could handle it because it has a V6 and also he's a girl.

Wednesday came and my sister emailed. "Want to do lunch?" Yes, as a matter of fact I do. I don't really, but it means I can skip working out all alone at the gym while college girls try not to make eye contact with me for fear I might speak to them. Oh heavens to Betsy, don't let the man look at meeeeeeee!

I am swamped at work, as in having people expect me to do 3 critical things at the same time and somehow get them all done even though they are all unrelated. Yes, that does not work well.  But it has helped me to see, once again, that I need to better organize myself at work and keep things that way.

I had some thoughts about Stifler's Mom accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment and hiring feminist scheister Gloria Allred to be her lawyer, but I've mostly forgotten what I was going to say. The stress at work erased all the good jokes about that from my brain. But seriously, this woman looks EXACTLY like Stifler's Mom from American Pie. How could a professional shit-stirrer like Gloria Allred not have noticed that and convinced the bit... er, woman to change her hairstyle or at least do SOMETHING to make herself not look exactly like Stifler's Mom, the child molester made famous in a series of popular movies that the whole world saw?

Person of Interest - I've got no interest
Beyond this, I don't have much. I saw the latest Nielsen Ratings for American TV for the last week of October and I was shocked. The show "Person of Interest" was in the top 20 with 11.62 million viewers. I watched the first 2 episodes and I swear to God they were both the same episode exactly. In fact, I think every episode of that show is the same. It's just Batman without his utility belt and cape running around beating up white males who are conspiring to keep women and children down. It's so lame I almost thought I was watching the first season of "Chuck" only without the laughs. Don't get me wrong, I like the actor playing Batman on "Person of Interest" in most of the roles I've seen him play, but this show is crap.

OK, that's it. No gym time so far. I'm being a lazy loser.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Football - LSU vs Alabama

We can both run the ball
I just watched "the Big Game" between #1 ranked LSU and #2 ranked Alabama. Both teams were undefeated and most people seem to believe that the winner of that game is going to be the national champion at the end of the season.

I haven't seen many college football games this year, so I can't say much about all the other teams currently playing this season, but I have seen a lot of football over the years and I definitely have some thoughts on this one.

First of all, during the overtime, when the TV cameras were showing Alabama fans in tears because their team had blown a field goal attempt and they knew that LSU was probably going to score and win, there was one unmistakable fact about all of them.

They were all super drunk.

Then again, this is Alabama we're talking about, one of the biggest party schools in the nation, so that should be no surprise to anyone. I was just surprised that the network chose to show it, and not just once but over and over again. I think they must have thought it was funny. I know I did.

Anyway, the second thing I wanted to say is, after all the hype and all the talk about how great both teams are, I was shocked at what I saw.

Sure, both teams have killer defenses. Sure, both teams have great running games and strong offensive lines.

But one thing I have never seen in a national championship-winning team is a weak quarterback. And let's face it, Alabama's current quarterback throws fluffy balloons instead of passes. Those suckers just float up there and leave his receivers exposed way too long to get any yards after a catch.

Last year, Auburn had a quarterback with an arm that could rocket those passes to his receivers. They won the national championship on the strength of that arm, which was complimented by his running ability and the whole team's overall strength. But his arm was crucial. And even with all that, Oregon almost beat them.

The year before, Alabama had a quarterback who could throw passes like a laserbeam. He threw like Drew Breeze. They won the national championship because of that arm, along with a great running game and overall great team. But that arm was critical.

LSU is only marginally better than Alabama this year. At least LSU tried to throw, even if it did cost them 2 interceptions. But those interceptions indicated something about LSU's throwing quarterback. He isn't that great. And his arm isn't that much stronger than Alabama's weak-armed QB. Worse still, he isn't their only quarterback. They have 2, so neither one gets as much playing time as he needs to really develop out there. That just won't cut it.

I'm going out on a limb here and predict that LSU isn't going to end its season undefeated. Someone is going to frustrate their running game and eat their weak passes for lunch. I don't know who that someone is going to be, but I'd be shocked if there isn't anyone out there better than what I saw tonight.

Yeah, I'm sorry that Alabama lost tonight. It a was every bit as tough a game as predicted. But both teams were less impressive than I expected. I don't think either team, if they don't improve quickly, could make it through this season undefeated and win the national championship.

Sorry, if this upsets anyone, but it's true.
Floats like a butterfly, which is really bad for a pass

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Friday

I started to write a post here and then suddenly stopped and dumped it into draft. I hate when I do that. I had a thought I wanted to write a short post about, but I got off track and wandered into a forest of random ideas. Blah. That post will probably never be finished.

I'm sore from my workout Wednesday. And I'm fat from all the deserts left sitting around from our Halloween party on Monday. Who leaves multiple cakes and pies sitting around in the break room right next to the coffee maker? That is just evil!

So yesterday I think I just about ate myself into a diabetic coma or shock or whatever happens to a person who eats way too much sugar.

Last night I was heading out to hang with friends when I looked in the mirror and saw a gut hanging out with my name on it. It was me. I mean, I was wearing a shirt that had my name on it and that was my gut under the shirt with my name on it.

I looked in the mirror and almost didn't go. This is what happens when you eat a bunch of cake and you already look like ass, though. So I went out anyway. It turned out that most of my friends had gone home early and I ended up hanging out with some older guys who also have guts and couldn't care less about mine.

We talked about electric guitars and football.

And that was my night. What an exciting and dangerous life I lead!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

10 Things About Me (cause 100 is too many)

Seeing as my blog has been mostly about working out, and seeing as I haven't been to the gym for awhile due to illness and thus haven't been able to blog about working out, and seeing as I stumbled on a post in which a blogger posted 100 things about themselves which was surprisingly interesting, I decided to try posting just 10 things about me. I have no idea how this is going to go, but if it isn't at all interesting to me then you'll never see it anyway.

1) I currently live in the great state of Alabama. There, I said it. Don't judge me. I'm not in the Klan, have never seen any sign of the Klan, and don't know if there is any such thing as the Klan anywhere near here. We do have a lot of engineers, though, and they can be pretty anal and annoying at times, but mostly in a bitchy khaki pants and baby blue shirt kind of unmanly way.

2) I used to be a highly competitive runner and overall athlete. But running was always my greatest asset. I was faster than almost everyone else in every sport I played which helped compensate for my not being as skilled in some of those sports. As I have gotten older and more injured, the speed has declined somewhat and now I don't play any sports that require another person's participation. As I write this, it occurs to me that I really should do some sprinting soon. I haven't done a sprint workout in a long time and that is an ability that fades fast.

3) I am not a big fan of fantasy football, or fantasy sports in general, but I have played in a league at work for the past 3 years, coming in second or third the first two years. But this year looks to be an Epic Fail year for me. I barely even know the players I have on my team, and I must confess, I barely care to learn who they are. I guess I drafted really poorly and I don't know that I can recover from that. I am getting stomped this season.

4) I am trying to relearn the guitar. I am truly shocked at how much I once knew and have since totally forgotten. I thought that once I started up playing again most of the old knowledge would return, including the songs I used to know how to play, and especially the songs I wrote myself. Well, it hasn't happened. I can't remember any of the old songs and only partially remember one song I wrote which was funny at the time, but would seem really creepy if I were to perform it now. It's called "Jailbait." I wrote it about the hot younger sister of a friend of mine. At the time, I was 18 and she was 15 or 16. It was kind of funny back then. Today, she works at the same company as me, has no memory of me at all, and for a man my age to sing about wanting jailbait would probably get me beaten up and arrested. Somewhere there is a recording on a cassette tape of me performing it, even saying her name in the middle of it, but I guess I don't care enough to search for it. And I definitely don't want her to ever hear it.

5) I am anticipating needing to buy a new car within the next year or two. I'd really like to buy something cool, such as a Mustang GT or Dodge Challenger. But I fear with my current driving needs I'm probably going to end up in a Volkswagen turbo diesel Jetta or something similar. If necessary I will buy a red one, but that's about as exciting as it gets with a diesel Jetta. FML.

6) I think I have a very real health problem which I tried to get my previous doctors to figure out, but 2 of the last 3 were just unwilling to try and the other one was, I suspect, too crooked to even be trusted. My current doctor I know little about, but I think I may need to bring it up and see if I can get any help with this. According to what I have read, in order to be the height and weight that I am, and have been for the last few years, I would have to eat around 3000 calories every single day. I track my diet and calories and I average about 2000 calories. No matter what I do, no matter what kind of trainer I hire and work out with, no matter what, my weight is locked in and won't move for anything. Except up. That ain't right.

7) Some days I feel like I'm still 20 years old. I just volunteered to roll a fellow blogger's yard in response to something he did to another blogger. It was a good 15 minutes later that it occurred to me that people actually get arrested for doing that these days. How would I explain that one to my boss? "Well you see, I have this blog, and well, this guy in the next town over was messing with a blogger friend of mine ... no, I've never met either of them in person. Anyway, so I offered to roll this guy's yard. Yes, the Auburn football signs were my idea. War eagle! So anyway, it made perfect sense at the time ..."

8) I'm struggling with Google+. There are people on there who know me, but they don't know that they know me because I haven't had a chance to tell them about my blog and my name here. Oh, don't act so surprised. Did you really think my name was Epic Fail? Or Emile Humongous Buttocks? Seriously??

9) I seem to have picked an epically bad time to start this blog, as the whole blog world feels like its in a state of decline, much like the entire Western world. I really like the people I have encountered on The Blog, but no sooner do I start to follow someone than they seem to either call it quits, go private and don't invite me (Onion Gypsy), or take a break and maybe never come back. What's up with that?

10) I began this blog with the intention of writing one quick thought every single day. That didn't last long. Work is always hitting me in waves, leaving me no time to write down what is on my mind until it is too late and the thought is lost. My personal life is in a bit of chaos. And my access to The Blog is somewhat less regular than I expected. Some days I just can't get access to it until after 10 o'clock at night, and by then I just need to go to bed and get ready for tomorrow. So much for good intentions.