The symbolism of the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing was unmistakable - "We're going to blow you away because we're going to work together as a unit. Watch out rugged individualists."
No, I'm not a Commie. Give me a break. BUT. I was left asking myself, "Could we pull something that spectacular off in the United States?" Maybe we could. Maybe I am just not enough of a showman to understand how that stuff works. But maybe we all need to sit up and pay some attention to what's happening in China. It is not business as usual over there and the opening ceremonies underscored that for me. They were sending a message, and the message wasn't "Welcome Friends." The message was, "World, here we come." Yowza.
I'll try to boil-down what I learned and how it radically changed my weight, my waist-line, my energy level, and my general health:
1. It is all about controlling your blood sugar. Our American diet is so loaded with simple carbohydrates - grains, starches, sodas, juice, etc., that we are just shocking the heck out of our blood sugar. This causes our body to store fat, need a nap, and feel hungry. No, rice is not good for you. Whole grains aren't really that great either. Now don't misunderstand, this isn't the Atkins diet. Remember, you want "slow carbs" like veggies and fruits (which break-down slowly), not "low carbs" generally speaking. Stay away from potato chips - they're the worst! Eat grains sparingly. They don't have taste anyway!
2. Eat more LEAN protein (turkey, shrimp, chicken breast). Don't go crazy eating bacon. This isn't about on-going ketosis. It is just about giving your body fuel that revs the metabolism and gives you nutrients for more lean muscle mass. It also fills you up so you can't really over eat.
3. Don't skip breakfast. Breakfast starts your metabolism. If you skip it, your body holds on to fat. Period.
4. Eat lots of good fiber. It helps keep blood sugar low and helps you on "the throne" if you know what I mean. I eat FiberOne cereal in the morning and a big salad in the evening. Easy.
5. Probiotics (live culture) in yogurt are the real deal. I'm not talking about the Dannon yogurt that was pasteurized. I'm talking about the Trader Joe-type stuff that has the probiotics added AFTER pasteurization. Eat a cup of it in the morning with your coffee and FiberOne. Watch the magic.
6. Snacks - I almost forgot. When you get the munchies, go for almonds - chocolate covered if you must. One handful will KILL your appetite until the next meal and will give you good protein / fat in the meantime.
7. Be active for 30 minutes a day. Doesn't matter what you do. Just do something - anything.
The weight fell off of me over the course of a year. I don't binge anymore. I DO NOT count calories because the lean protein and veggies fill me up. I splurge every other day or so - and I don't gain weight. It is all basic body chemistry. Try it out. You won't be disappointed.
Last weekend I was in San Antonio, TX, for a business trip. I missed church in the morning because I was in transit, but I had the afternoon to myself. Since I had no commitments I decided to explore downtown - and as I did I stumbled upon one of the historic churches / cathedrals in the center of the city. It seemed very good and right to go in to spend time in prayer, so I went in to grab a pew and a kneeler and get to work...
Little did I realize that I had stumbled into five o'clock Mass. Rather than turn tail and run I thought it would be fun to at least observe since I don't often have that opportunity. Within minutes I was more than a spectator. What struck me first was the cruciform layout of the seats. The pews were arranged in the shape of a cross and the Table was at the center of the cross. "Cool," I thought to myself. Then we were called to worship by this young woman with the most angelic voice I ever heard. This was followed by Scripture readings, a confession of sin, beautiful hymns (not the stale 18-19th century crud in the Trinity Hymnal!), a recitation of the Nicene Creed, and the Lord's Prayer. I recognized I was being swept into this but remained pretty skeptical until we came to the Homily. Surely, I thought, they would stumble here. They didn't. The young Hispanic Priest preached a very fine sermon from The Gospel of Matthew. Very fine.
And so there I was, in a Roman Catholic church in San Antonio, TX, with a decision. Do I take the eucharist or not? I realized that if I could say the same creed, prayers, and worship the same Lord, not partaking would be an act of high-handed sectarianism. I wondered if they would want me, a Presbyterian guy, to come to the table. Would it be okay? What should I do? I frantically grabbed at the literature in the pew and came across this statement in their worship bulletin:
"Guidelines for the Reception of Communion - For Fellow Christians"
We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this eucharist will draw us closer to one another begin to dispel the sad divisions that separate us. We pray these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ's prayer for us "that they may all be one" (John 17:21).
That was all I needed. I got up and celebrated the eucharist with my brothers and sisters in the Roman church.
Go ahead. Call me an ecumaniac. Guilty as charged.
Iron Man - (Fantastic) I think this will go down as one of the all-time classic superhero movies. Well worth seeing and my 11 & 10 year old boys loved it.
WALL-E (Good) There is little question that this was quite a story-telling / cinematic achievement. Nevertheless, my kids were bored. It moved a bit slow and in some ways seemed geared towards adults. I'm a little weary of the hyper-environmentalism messages out there, but no biggie.
Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian (Good) I didn't come into the movie as a CS Lewis wonk or purist. Frankly, I had forgotten the story of the book, so I didn't view it through that lens. The movie worked well as a sequel and my kids and I liked it.
Kung Fu Panda (Good Enough) I like Jack Black so this movie had a leg up to begin with. The story was fun and moved at a pace that keeps you interested. The kids enjoyed it and it met my expectations.
Indiana Jones and the... blah, blah, whatever (Ok, I guess) Let's put it this way - it was cool to take my kids to a new Indy movie. It brought back memories of being their age - excited just to hear the theme music start. The film was pretty disappointing in several respects, but I kind of figured it would be, so...
My expectations have been met and exceeded by the Mac. Here's a list of things I love that are turning me into one of those raving Mac fans:
It starts and reboots very quickly. No more waiting just to use the thing.
The screen / image quality is awesome.
The feel of the keyboard / mouse is super-high quality and a large improvement over my PC.
The OS seems to be much more stable.
The "Finder" for the file structure is very intuitive and powerful.
I was able to network to a shared folder on my PC in no time and transfer files easily.
I am not being bugged to install all kinds of anti-virus / firewall / 3rd party software.
The included software is very useful and fun.
I don't feel like the update process is as intrusive or annoying as it did with Windows.
Video iChat is SO COOL!
I like the dock / stacks better than the Windows taskbar.
The "expose" function that shows all the programs you have open is very helpful.
I like the menu bar up top and the application palettes off to the side. More room to work.
The power cord has a magnet fail-safe so that if you trip on it your computer doesn't get yanked to the floor.
Battery life is excellent.
I decided to install MS Office because I am such a heavy Excel user. No complaints there at all. I may learn to use iWork overtime, but that transition may take a bit longer.
My only complaint so far is that the Mail program included won't connect to the Yahoo server I identified. This may be user error, but I can't figure it out. Other than that, everything works beautifully. If you use a computer more than an hour a day - or work on one most of the time, get a Mac. Trust me, you will NOT be sorry.