The Energizer Man

running, fitness, weight loss, health, humor, Modern PhilosopherI just came in from walking in a torrential downpour, Modern Philosophers.

Such behavior should not surprise you by now.  After all, you don’t lose twenty percent of your body mass by not exercising on days when the weather isn’t perfect.

If you think walking in the rain is nuts, then maybe I shouldn’t tell you that it was actually snowing when I left for my run this morning.

I ran 3.6 snowy miles before dawn because that’s what you do when you’re dedicated to getting into shape.

We’re currently engaged in a Wellness Challenge at work.  One of the other businesses in our building threw down the gauntlet on a step off.  They formed a team of nine people, and said they could collect more steps than we could over a five week period.

My office formed three teams of nine, and now every day, no matter what the time, you can find groups of employees walking in the parking lot.

It’s really pretty cool to see so many coworkers engaged in a fitness activity at a time of year when the weather is getting a bit intimidating.

We’ve got one more week left in the battle, and my team is currently in the lead.  That could be because I’m collecting 150,000 steps a week.

Because I never stop.

A coworker on one of the other teams saw me walking on my break today, and told me that I must walk in my sleep given the large numbers I post.

Don’t worry.  I’m not a sleepwalker.

running, fitness, weight loss, health, humor, Modern PhilosopherI just run five days a week, and try to get in 20,000 steps a day.

Like I said, I’m serious about getting into shape.

Here’s a picture of my out in the snow this morning.  It was just a dusting, but I intend to keep running even when more snow falls this winter.

I’m seven and a half months into this weight loss and exercise program, and I don’t want to blow it all by having a lazy winter.   I’m going to stay motivated and do my best to keep going through the snow.

We had out monthly company Wellness Meeting this week.  Obviously, I’m the Wellness Rep for my office.

We were discussing this Virgin Pulse program that we’ve been trialing since April 1, and my friend Dani, who is quite easy on the eyes, declared that she refuses to be friends with me on the app because there’s no way she can beat my weekly totals.

Then the HR rep who runs the Wellness Committee told Dani she understands what she means because we are friends on the app and she can never beat my score.  She did add, though, that she uses it as motivation to push herself harder.

Dani just shook her head emphatically and said she can’t keep up with me, so she’s not going to friend me on the app.

I was flattered to be singled out in front of the Wellness Committee in such a manner.  Just seven and a half months ago, no one would have been worried about keeping up with me.

I was fat.

Out of shape.

And rarely left the couch.

Now I’m out walking in the rain because I’m determined to get my 150,000 steps for tomorrow’s check in for our Wellness Challenge.

Was there ever a doubt I’d get that 150,000?

I’m at 153,000 right now.

running, fitness, weight loss, health, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe best thing about all this, aside from looking and feeling better, has been helping my coworkers get active.  I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy giving advice and motivating others to get into shape.

Next year is going to be rough because the cost of the company medical insurance is going up substantially. I’m ready to help my fellow employees take their personal wellness more seriously.

If we can stay healthy, maybe the cost of the insurance won’t shoot up again next year.  At the very least, we will all be in better shape.

I really like that creepy selfie of me out in the rain.  The raindrops were falling on my head, but I didn’t care because I was burning calories and melting fat.

It’s going to take more than a little rain to stop the Energizer Man.  I just keep going and and going and going…

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Free Food Always Helps

humor, comfort food, coping with stress, Monday, Modern PhilosopherI don’t know what day of the week it is where you are, Modern Philosophers, but it is definitely Monday here.

And it wasn’t one of those good Mondays, either.

If those mythical creatures even exist.

It was 20 degrees and gloomy when I left The House on the Hill.  Conditions at work weren’t much better.

I mean, it was definitely warmer since we have heat and all, but there was a definite gloom in the air.

The low morale probably had something to do with the mandatory meeting scheduled for 12:30, during which suspiciously perky members of the HR Staff were going to tell us all about the new, much more expensive health insurance plans for 2018.

Luckily, my pal Original Goat Girl (OGG) got herself pregnant a few months ago, causing her friends and family to throw her a baby shower yesterday.

OGG and Baby Vlad got a ton of nice gifts, but the best part (and I define “best” by how a situation affects me), was that there were leftovers.  Lots and lots of leftovers.

And OGG brought those leftovers to work to feed the starving, gloomy masses yearning to be distracted by comfort food.

Here’s what was left of the spread about twenty minutes after it was put out on the table…

Yes, I’m well ware the photo is extremely blurry.  That’s what happens when I try to focus while also shoveling food into my face hole.

I sent out an email that there was free food.  Two minutes later, there was a line of coworkers snaking through the office, with the leftover spread as the ultimate destination.

I’ve never seen my coworkers move so quickly.

And on a Monday no less.

Free food clearly has magical powers.

It can levitate morale.

Turn frowns upside down.

And even make you forget, perhaps only until the food digests, that your wallet is going to take a big hit in the coming year if you want to have medical coverage.

The food was delicious.

The dictionary definition of “comfort food”.

I spent the afternoon pestering OGG to bring in the leftover cake tomorrow.  Not for me, of course, but for my coworkers.

I just want them to be happy.

humor, comfort food, coping with stress, Monday, Modern PhilosopherAnd to understand, if only for a few minutes, that you can have your cake and eat it, too.

But if eating it leads to the onset of Diabetes, you’d better get your medications before the end of the year.  You know, because those prescription co-pays are going up in 2018.

Hope you all had a decent Monday.  If not, maybe try the free food option next week.  It definitely works!

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First Kisses Are Hell

short story, flash fiction, first kisses, time travel, The Devil, humor, Modern Philosopher“Looks like you’re really making progress on your time machine,” The Devil commented as he returned the blue prints he’d been examining to the living room table.

As always, my Sunday guest was dressed in an impeccably tailored suit, the cost of which was probably equivalent to how much I needed to pay for additional parts to complete the aforementioned time machine.

However, I knew it was highly unlikely he’d ever part with such a precious piece of his wardrobe and allow me to hock it for machinery.

“I’m definitely closer to completion, but I still need Doc’s help with some of the calculations and in securing a power source,” I replied glumly.

Building a time machine required a lot of money, technical knowledge, and scientific skills.  I wasn’t exactly flush in any of those categories, so I’m not sure what had possessed me to ever undertake such a project.

Oh, yeah…it had something to do with my life sucking big time, and wanting to go back to change things in hopes of making it better.

“I know there are so many moments you plan to go back to revisit once the time machine is ready, but I’d now like to propose a philosophical time travel question for your consideration,” Lucifer remarked with a devilish grin on his handsome face.

“I like those kind of questions,” I responded excitedly as I fished a bottle of Snapple out of the cooler.  “Hit me with it, Big D.”

The Prince of Darkness gave me a look, which I took to mean that he didn’t like being referred to as “Big D”.  I made a mental note to use that nickname again later when I wanted to get under his perfect skin.

short story, flash fiction, first kisses, time travel, The Devil, humor, Modern Philosopher“If you could travel back to your first kiss, what, if anything, would you change?” he asked as he stared at me intently.

I cringed a little at his stare.  It was making me uncomfortable, but I was too into answering this time travel question to let it throw me off my game.

I took a long sip of Snapple as I tossed around some Deep Thoughts in my brain.

“I’d change the person with whom I shared my first kiss, and I’d definitely make sure it happened years earlier,” I told him.

Satan smiled.  I definitely had his attention.  “So your first kiss wasn’t absolutely perfect?”

I shrugged.  “I wouldn’t say that.  It just didn’t happen until my senior year of high school, which I know now was a clear sign that I’ve never understood how to act on my feelings, or to be comfortable around members of the opposite sex.”

“Better late than never,” The Devil quipped with a soft chuckle.

It was a very judgmental chuckle.  Seventeen years old for a first kiss was way beyond late bloomer.  I considered myself lucky I even got that smooch before heading off to college.

“So who should have been on the receiving end of that monumental moment in your life?” he asked as he popped the top off a bottle of Snapple.

“Cathy {last name redacted by the blog’s lawyers},” I answered without any hesitation.  “I fell for her on the first day of fifth grade, and even though we were in the same class through eighth grade, I was too afraid to speak to her, let alone ask her out.”

“First love is rough,” Lucifer agreed.  “But even more so when you don’t act on it, or even give yourself any hint of a chance by, I don’t know…starting up a conversation just once over a span of four years.”

He didn’t actually say the words, but The Prince of Darkness had just called me a giant loser.  And I had been one.  Four years of longing for Cathy, and four years wasted because I had no idea how to approach her, or what to even say to her.

For someone who would grow up to be a writer, I clearly had not yet realized that I had the ability to use words to my advantage.

Or how to say something as inconsequential as, “Hi, Cathy”.

What a dork.

short story, flash fiction, first kisses, time travel, The Devil, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe sad thing was, I hadn’t changed much since fourth grade.  I still have a hell of a problem figuring out how to approach members of the fairer sex, and even when I finally, miraculously manage to get one interested in me, I seem hellbent on scaring her off.

“Maybe I’m better off leaving that first kiss alone,” I finally spoke after playing out the various scenarios in my head.  “With my luck, I’d screw up my romantic future, and find myself sitting here a virgin.”

Satan waited a very long time before speaking.  “I was going to disagree with your virginal version of the present day, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that you might be right.”

So from now on, I’m going with the story that it’s a damn good thing I never kissed Cathy back in grammar school.

Maybe I need to rethink this whole time machine thing…

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Thawing The Brain Stem

humor, stress, money, dating, Modern PhilosopherIt’s cold, Modern Philosophers.

I don’t know why that still surprises me after fifteen years in Maine, but Snow Miser and his icy minions seem to sneak up on my every year.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I went out running in shorts and a tee shirt.

Sure, I still go out running in that same outfit, but now it’s because I’m having a panic attack, stripped down to my boxers and undershirt, and sprinted out screaming into the freezing night to get away from the Stress Demons.

Because Stress Demons are real and scary as @#$%.

They also work for Snow Miser, my eternal nemesis.

My brain tends to frost over this time of year as well.  I have a well established case of Post Traumatic Snow Disorder, and remain under Dr. Jekyll’s care for this issue.

Last year, I wrote a series of posts dedicated to the 182 Days of Terror, which is how I classify the period from October 1 through March 31.  Those 26 weeks are when Snow Miser’s wrath is at its worst, and I spiral into a funk of malaise to pack on the pounds and lose all focus and ambition.

There’s something about Winter in Maine that disrupts the steady flow of my Deep Thoughts.  It’s as if in the meadow where my brain once functioned normally, the local children have gathered to build a thought snuffing snowman.

It’s no wonder I’m a mess over those 182 days.  My brain has been replaced by a snowman known as Parson Brown.

I’d like things to be different this year.  I’ve spent the last seven months losing over sixty pounds, and I refuse to let all that hard work go to waste.  Plus, it just wouldn’t be fair to the ladies.  Winter is hard enough as it is.

So the part of my brain that freezes over and forgets how to exercise and eat healthy is going to have to remain thawed out this time around.

I’ve also got the RAV4 to transport me this winter when I’m dashing through the snow, so the part of my brain that causes me to freak out every time I get behind the wheel should be able to take a long Winter Break.

If I can keep those two key elements of the Winter of My Discontent under control, Dr Jekyll might not need to keep me so heavily sedated until April Fools’ Day to combat my Post Traumatic Snow Disorder.

Which is a good thing because one of the items I’ve been stressing over is the increase in my healthcare premium, and the corresponding decrease of benefits.

I honestly don’t know if I will be able to afford my weekly visits to Dr J, or the cost of my multitude of PTSD medications.

humor, stress, money, dating, Modern PhilosopherI ran eight miles in the bitter cold this morning to make sure I stayed on target with my fitness plan, and to give my brain eight miles to obsess over my finances.

I came to the witty realization that if I had a dollar for every calorie I’d burned on my run, I’d be financially stable and fit as a fiddle.

How can I get someone to pay me for burning calories?  It would solve all my usual Winter problems and give me some extra time to flip off Snow Miser.

I’m going to have the interns research this.

It’s weird, but when I started this post a few hours ago, I pictured it taking an entirely different direction.

I guess my brain thawing plan is working because this turned out much more positive than expected.  You’re welcome, dear readers.  Hope you enjoyed the great thaw!

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The Windblown Ice Balls of Bitter Change

Maine, bitterly cold, winter, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe subtitle for this post, Modern Philosophers, is:

Holy $%^&, It’s Cold!

Maine doesn’t really mess around much with Autumn.  Summer slowly dies off, the leaves change color, and the air gets chilly enough to force you to wear a hoodie when you’re outside tossing around the football.

Then the temperature plummets, the winds howl, and the first blizzard of the year carpet bombs the state with little or no warning.

Last week was something like Fall.

This morning, however, the first snow of the season reminded us that the only time Mainers really use the term “Fall” in November is when it follows “Snow”.

When I woke up, it was 40 degrees and there was no precipitation.  By the time I got into the shower, rain was pounding against the bathroom window like it was desperate to get inside The House on the Hill.

Fifteen minutes later, I found out why the rain was acting that way.

It was snowing.

In about half an hour, the weather had changed that drastically.

Luckily, I was prepared to take on the snow with my new RAV4.  After a decade and a half of trying to drive through snowy winters in Zombie Car, I finally had a vehicle designed to deal with this kind of weather.

Maine, bitterly cold, winter, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe drive to work was a delight.  The snow wasn’t sticking, but I felt safe and confident with my four wheel drive.  Zombie Car didn’t have a working defroster on the rear window, but the RAV4 has that feature plus a back wiper.

I had the heat blasting and the wipers going on both ends of the car.  And the heat was definitely needed.

The wind was gusting over 40 mph and the temperature dropped into the mid-twenties.

With the windchill, it felt like the low teens.  I’m pretty sure my face froze on my afternoon walk.

Now I get why they refer to it as “bitterly cold”…

The weather made me feel bitter about living in Maine.  Not only was it ridiculously cold, but the high winds also made things stressful.

We’re less than two weeks removed from the Great Halloween Blackout, which was caused by high winds and torrential rain, so we were all worried about losing power again and having to get through the frigid night without any heat.

Thankfully, as of this writing, the power is fine, nothing has blown off or fallen onto The House on the Hill, and Cali and I are curled up on the couch with the heat basting.

As for the ice balls mentioned in the title of the post…

Well, Modern Philosophers, those were in my shorts the last two mornings during my runs.  Wednesday, it was 29 degrees when I left the house.  Yesterday, it was 21.

Maine, bitterly cold, winter, humor, Modern PhilosopherPraise Zeus that Friday is my rest day because I would’ve been battling arctic blasts and snow had I run before work.

As you can see from the photographic evidence gathered after yesterday’s run, I was not at all impressed with the weather.

Can you see how the cars parked on the street are covered in frost?

I was dealing with the same conditions down under, and I’m not talking about Australia.

All I can say is that I definitely run faster when it’s this cold.  It has nothing to do with better conditioning and having seven months of running under my belt.

The increase of speed is simply a matter of survival.

As I sit here with my purring kitty while the winter wind relentlessly rattles the windows of The House on the Hill, I can’t help but appreciate how soothing it is to know there’s no reason for me to get up off this cozy couch, that there’s a ton of great shows on the DVR waiting to be watched, and a whoopie pie in the kitchen with my name on it.

I survived the first bitterly cold snowfall of the season, and now it’s time to let the ice balls thaw and do absolutely nothing strenuous to celebrate.

It’s a long winter, after all, and I really need to pace myself before I shatter something valuable…

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The Dark Road Home

money problems, Monday, turn back the clocks, humor, venting, Modern PhilosopherMonday will never make My Top Five Days of the Week list, Modern Philosophers, but today was even Monday-er than usual.

When I left the office at the end of an exhausting ten hour work day, it was pitch black.  I’d forgotten about the time change yesterday, and the utter darkness caught me completely off guard.

Alas, it was a fitting end to the day.  Less than a week after finally regaining power, I was back in the dark again.

Both literally and figuratively.

We found out today that the cost of our medical coverage for 2018 was going to skyrocket, while the benefits were going to decrease.

This at a time when we’re all putting in mandatory overtime to try to catch up on all the work we fell behind on during the blackout.

It felt like something of a “kick ’em while they’re down situation”, which was only made worse by the realization that some of us might not be able to afford to pay for the medical treatment necessary after getting roughed up like that.

I try not to grumble too much about money during our adventures together in Blogland, but you all know I recently had to get a new car.

Zombie Car, I sure do miss your zero monthly payments right about now!

So I’ve been scrambling to figure out how to pay for that new vehicle, and working the maximum amount of overtime allowed along the way.

money problems, Monday, turn back the clocks, humor, venting, Modern PhilosopherEven with that, I’m barely keeping my head above water.  Now if you fill the tank with the additional cost of my medical insurance, there’s a good chance I’m going to drown.

After all, I’m a horrible swimmer.

You know I’m stressed about finances when I tell a friend that I miss my ex-wife because having that second income and someone to help me make the big decisions such as “Should I just decline the insurance and pray I stay healthy for a year?” was a big help.

I never go to the doctor, and I’m in much better shape now than I was six months ago, so it is tempting to go without the coverage.  I’m going to do some research on what the tax penalty is for not having insurance.

I do have some money tucked away in my Health Savings Account, so I would be able to cover minor emergencies should they arise.

The long, dark tea time of my soul (a little nod to the amazing Mr. Adams!) was not at all improved when I stepped out into the rain and realized it was now middle of the night kind of dark at five o’clock.

Of course, since I’m big on finding the silver lining lately (that quest might be the only thing keeping me pseudo-sane these days), I will say it was nice to be able to climb into the RAV4 for the dark, rainy drive home.

Yes, the same vehicle that has me deeply in debt was salvaging the day.

This post is apparently sponsored by Irony.

money problems, Monday, turn back the clocks, humor, venting, Modern PhilosopherI do feel much safer behind the wheel of my debtmobile, so the evening commute was stress free, but rich on brooding.

If only everything was free, and I were rich.

Ah, the wordplay.

Someone recently suggested that I use the blog to make me happy, so tonight’s post was all about venting and exorcising the bad vibes from my overcrowded mind.

Thanks for reading and making me feel like someone is out there listening to what almost made my head explode.

Not that anyone would’ve seen it happen.  You know, because it was so damn dark…

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