Obligations…

Stock Photo

We’re running with the shadows of the night
So baby take my hand, it’ll be all right
Surrender all your dreams to me tonight
They’ll come true in the end…*

Moving rapidly through the deep Texas night, navigating the wife’s ride along roads I knew intimately long before I could legally drive, I should be at peace.

I’m not.

We were inbound for the city, but miles away from even the hint of influence of its lights. Stars and nebulae shine strongly enough to light up the night.

Almost. There is danger. The shadows of the night are fluid and merit attention.

Off the edge of the map. There be monsters here.

Hours to go, carving through the lonely landscape under a glorious empty sky.

My soul feels the distance and the desolation and its insignificance against such vastness and cries for company. For a touch.

It’s being a pesky thing…since I have both close by.

I allow myself a glance toward the passenger’s seat and as always, my heart skips a beat when I see her. That gal that shares her life with me dozes as we fly along. It’s a sight I could take in all night…a cool drink for a parched soul, but I only take that single, instant glance. Just a sip.

I’ve obligations you see. I do not take them lightly.

I’ve already dodged one deer along this road, and spied several more along the medians. The speed limits out here are high and the roads are narrow. The car is quick and nimble, but its security is an illusion. We’re tearing through the night surrounded by nothing but thin metal and plastic. It’s a balancing act. How fast? How safe? There is no fixed answer.

That lady dozing in the seat trusts that I’ll get us there. To me it’s not even us that I ponder. It’s her. I’d end the world to get her there safe, if that’s what it took. Without hesitation. Burn everybody and everything in it. I don’t say that lightly either.

I’ve met the monsters in the world. I bear the scars. Most aren’t on the outside…but they teach. There’s little left I still fear. Maybe nothing.

But her trust in me…and my ability to live up to it, are what I ponder now.

It’s a big damn world. Piloting a machine through the perilous night is the least of dangers to be found in it. It doesn’t help my mood that our destination is straight into the grasp of the malevolent, high-order predator known as Dallas. We live there…and are comfortable with it…but safe? Maybe…as long as we’re more dangerous than it is.

That’s an even bet. So far we’ve passed the tests. Beaten, bested, or at least escaped the monsters unscathed.

Mostly…

But do I fear?

No. Maybe. Perhaps I’ve forgotten how it tastes…but it’s probably what I feel when I worry that somehow, someday, someplace…my skills, precautions, perceptions, and reactions may not be enough to fulfill my purpose. A missed clue. A mistake. Even if I do everything right it’s still possible to fail. That’s the definition of being human.

My obligation. My purpose. I have my passions, hobbies, works, and needs, but I protect her and keep her safe. This above all else.

The fact that she’s perfectly capable of doing both for herself doesn’t mitigate my obligation one iota.

Shortly I steal another glance. She hasn’t moved but she’s watching me. Reading me. She’s extraordinarily adept at it.

“A man that has nothing to lose doesn’t know how to live.”

I chew on that thought for a moment and glance at her again. She’s asleep. Perhaps I imagined she spoke at all.

Doesn’t matter though. The message was delivered. Fear? No. That’s not it at all. With her by my side I just know how to live.

And I’ll best man, monster, or god that tries to take that from me.

Ponderings for a deep Texas night.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

*lyrics: Pat Benatar’s “Shadows of the Night”

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The answer may depend on who you ask…

Me and my lady jumped into her strangely banana-smelling ride (that’s another story) and headed out to the movies Tuesday. Blade Runner 2049 was on the agenda.

Obviously a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner, it is pointless to view without familiarity with that film.

If you are familiar with the franchise, it is well worth your time. If not, check out the first film and then go catch this one on the big screen.

The original film and the world presented here are based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

A Blade Runner is a hunter…hunting down fugitive or “off baseline” manufactured organic humanoid’s that were created and sold as slaves, servants, and for hazardous jobs, called replicants. The universal view is that they are manufactured machines and not “alive”.

They may think otherwise.

Set in the same dystopian world, it is beautifully done. Subtle presentations of an epic landscape and rich, vibrant world full of intense characters serve only as a backdrop for the vibe of the entire film, which is simply, “What is life?”

The entire thing is succinctly summed up by one minor exchange between “K”, a young Blade Runner played by Ryan Gosling, and Rick Deckard, Harrison Ford’s character (now retired/hiding) from the original film.

K: (indicating Rick’s dog): “Is it real?”
Rick: “Ask HIM.”

A visual feast as well, if you enjoy brain-candy this one will lead you down the rabbit hole of deep-thought as far as you’d care to go.

The “R” rating is due to violence and nudity.

Obligatory:

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Side effects…

There were a few years in there where I couldn’t zip this jacket. Even before that it was always tight.

Nothing fits. Jeans are too big and I need at least 15″ taken out of this jacket.

Then I went to work on that problem. Lost some weight and some inches. Felt good about it.

But I wasn’t done…this year I embarked to actually “get in shape” and elevated myself to the top of my to-do list…and then cranked the entire process up to eleven.

It’s working…I’m in the best shape of my life at the moment…and still have a long way to go.

My jacket though…is problematic. With fall temperatures beginning to occasionally show themselves…I had to pull it out this week.

It’s a tent. A 35-pound, heavy leather tent.

With my initial weight loss, I had 8″ taken out of this jacket a year ago.

Now it needs even more gone…

I don’t think I can get ’em to cut it down another FIFTEEN inches…

Not sure what to think about that. I was trying to pinpoint when I bought this thing…well more than 30 years ago…it was the first “luxury” I ever bought for myself after I lost a home in 1981-2 ish?

If I recall correctly I paid the “princely” sum of around $90 for it…which would have been about a week’s pay after taxes in those days.

So I’ll just go with 35 years I’ve been wearing this jacket. I possess nothing else that I’ve had even remotely that long.

It’s been on fire, covered in mud, rain, ice, snow, dust, acid, diesel fuel, gasoline, and blood. It’s been scraped, stabbed through (me too–flying piece of a truck split rim), “refinished” with black spray paint, and has probably saved my life at least three times over the years (not counting just weather).

There’s a lot of memories in that leather. Quite a bit of pain too. Some may be best left behind me.

I suppose I need to go shopping…

Left: 427 pounds. Right: 172 pounds lighter.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Posted in Road Stories, Weight Management | 2 Comments

Have I?

My blood sugar…pretty much anytime I care to check it.

Have I beaten T2 diabetes?

Society says, “Piss off and die, you deserve it and it’s all your fault anyway you fat-ass…” ’cause, yanno, some people suck.

But…yanno…”the wisdom of the crowd” and all that…ends up being the mentality of a 2-year old dead squirrel, so we probably shouldn’t ask them. (pro-tip, ya don’t HAVE to ask them…they will tell you anyway. Loudly. Over and over again.)

So…the wisdom of the dead squirrels is out. On to the professionals! Let’s talk to the docs! They should know, right? Since it costs around $100/minute to chat with ’em and all.

Surprise! The medical community says, “No. There are genetic and ‘other’ factors ya see…” And in the very next breath explain in a used-car salesmen’s spiel that you still need to come see them at least 4 times a year, take these “other” drugs that treat things you don’t have, visit their brother the eye-doctor for a $300 special “diabetic eye exam” at LEAST annually and lab tests 4 times as often as others and so on.

It’s a permanent death sentence ya see…and a diagnosis means a permanent note in your medical file, stupidly un-affordable higher insurance rates (especially if they reverse the “preexisting condition” clause), In some states it also means a notation on your drivers license records (and thus…”the state” and anybody that asks “the state” has this information…you should see some of the junk mail I get)

Turns out I’m somewhat of a cash-cow. They are loathe to let me go.

That’s okay, I can tell ’em to “piss off” right?

Heh…yah…then you get the dreaded, “Non-compliant patient” notation in your permanent, transferable, all-but-public record. This can raise your mandatory, IRS enforced premiums (beyond the stupidly higher via “lifestyle surcharges”), cost you state licenses and freedoms for some activities, and with the way records are being bandied about so freely nowadays, I suspect cause difficulties in obtaining or keeping employment.

Are y’all getting the concept of “mandatory, government regulated medical coverage” yet?

All this would be terribly discouraging…if I gave even a little bit of a crap what the “wisdom of the crowd” thought, how fat my doctor’s wallet was, or what new things my government *thinks* they have the right to do to me.

Fortunately, I don’t. Annoyed? Sure. Discouraged? Hah. Piss off.

Anyway, what’s a disease that:
1) Has no symptoms.
2) Needs no treatment.
3) Has no risks/impact on the patient.
4) No test will show it exists.
5) Can only be detected, in fact, by reading an old notation in the patient’s file.

I would say that disease is a test for insanity…as in…should you insist it exists, you are, in fact, insane.

Pity about that. An entire medical community and the government that has mandated their involvement…insane. Poor things. Just who do we ask to get them some much needed treatment? Perhaps the IRS?

(can ya tell this is a pet peeve?)

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Posted in Weight Management | 1 Comment

I can’t?

Lessons in unexpected places.

I set a PR (Personal Record) in the dead-lift last week. This is not particularly remarkable, as I’m coming from a place that was pretty low, and building strength rapidly.

Translation: I’m at a stage where I’ll probably set a new PR fairly often for a while, because, yanno, I’ve got nowhere to go but UP. We’ll see.

But that’s not what this post is about. Mostly. Kind-of.

There was a lesson in that deadlift. A couple actually…one I’ve talked about already and will again (the head-game thing), and another related to aging and strength…and persistence. Of course, it’s not all that simple. They are tied together as well.

Seeing a pattern here?

First off: The lift. Heaviest I’ve done (hence the PR part yanno?). I’d already done several sets of 5 lifts of the monster (monster for ME anyway) and had rested a couple minutes and was setting up for the last set of 5.

I got the form right…got ready…took a breath…and lifted…momentarily anyway. Mere fractions of a second actually. I pretty much instantly shut down…no pain or such…but my brain telling me (that head-game again) that this WASN’T happening.

My trainer was observing and saw this. I’m curious what it looked like…the difference between the head-game and a physical limitation or strain, but whatever he saw…he knew.

“Get it out of your head.”

That reinforced the already forming “WTF just happened?” in my head and I immediately hit it again. And just like that, yeah, another set of five.

“Know thyself” is kind of a “thing” to this introspective writer…so later, I was pondering this shutdown and the subsequent successful lift immediately after. As in everything, there are lessons…often unexpected ones…to be learned here.

I realized that part of the reason my brain said that lift wasn’t happening was simply because it wasn’t…at least…at that particular instant.

I expect there’s some complex term or physiological explanation (or equally possible, I could be full of baloney) but I experienced something enlightening in that moment.

As a younger man, the strength I’m used to deploying, when near capacity, pretty much instantly came “on”. In a lifting situation or such, applying the strength, the peak was RIGHT THEN…on application, and faded somewhat immediately afterwards. In other words, peak strength was immediate. If I couldn’t do it then, I wouldn’t even a fraction of a second later.

This is not true today.

I expect it’s age and physiology, but it could be experience, but what I’ve learned now is that it takes a moment after ordering up “Full power Scotty!” for it to come “on”. “Ramp up” is probably a better term, and “moment” is too strong a word for the delay. Mere fractions of a second…but long enough for the brain to say, “Eh?” and shut you down, should you let it.

I believe I’ve mentioned before that the brain isn’t always on your side…

Get the form right, start the lift. If it doesn’t move, don’t stop. Ignore the “shutdown” command the brain is ordering up. Keep applying…and suddenly, almost instantly, there it was.

Part head-game, part age? Experience? Life’s lessons in persistence? Whacking my brain with a tuna-fish? I dunno…but it works.

A new thing!

I LIKE learning new things. Especially when those new things are sweeping away my limitations.

Anyway, while I know this kind of introspection is probably boring to many, I’m finding these lessons apply to other things in life, not just fitness.

Not just fitness. But it seems it shows up a lot here.

***

I’m long used to being the fattest guy in the room. I’m not anymore, but the strange thing is that is still…what I see in the mirror. But to those I’ve not seen in a while the differences are apparently dramatic.

I get asked what I’m doing to achieve this on a lot of occasions.

“Work my ass off.” is the most simply accurate answer…and the one nobody likes. It’s also WAY NOT that simple, but it’s a conversation starter.

But for many, when we talk specifics, the head-game kicks in. It’s telling…that just like in my dead lift, the head-game is limiting those folks even BEFORE any serious effort has been applied.

“Well this morning I was doing….” (insert whatever hard work here).
“I can’t do that.”
“I also did…” (this other thing).
“Oh yeah, my schedule…” (blah blah blah)
“And this helps…” (some sort of cardio)
“But I get dizzy if I breath hard on Fridays when there’s a full moon…” (or whatever).
“And training is important and can help ya overcom…”
“I can’t.” (time, money, schedule, desire, werewolves, whatnot)
“And you’ve GOT to modify your diet…”
“I won’t deprive myself. That’s just misery.” (no, it’s not…more on that later)

Make no mistake…there ARE physical limitations…but for the most part, they pale in comparison to the mental ones and can be overcome with ANY serious effort and the proper application of skill.

“I can’t.” equals “I won’t.”

Get it out of your head.

Can’t deadlift twice your body weight? Heh…neither can I (yet). But with instruction you can lift something. Can’t run on a treadmill? Then friggen walk it. Schedule won’t allow it? Neither will mine. I’m doing it anyway.

Get the form right. Apply the strength and skill…and the WILL. Do the lift. If it doesn’t come right away, apply a little longer. It’ll happen.

And I ain’t just talking about weights.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Maybe…

If, in late 2013, you had told my 427-pound self that I would be doing walking lunges before the crack of dawn today (LOTS of walking lunges…gad!) as part of a near 2-hour intense physical workout…

OR, had you even said the same to my Jan 2017, 327-pound self, I no doubt, would have said something abrupt and impolite…possibly accompanied by a wave that didn’t make use of all my fingers.

Well, I was, doing lunges and other stuff that is, and there wasn’t even a gun to my head. What’s with that?

I weigh 245 pounds today, and am wearing a pair of 36″ jeans. “Back then” I’d have told you that was impossible too. I couldn’t fit in 60’s (!!) in 2013…I might have been 20 years old the last time I fit in 36’s

-82 pounds this year. -182 from my peak.

A long way to go yet…but I’m starting to believe…maybe…just maybe…I’m doing it right.

Hell…I might even survive the process!

It’s a bit daunting to realize though…that one way or another…this is a lifetime’s pursuit. I’ll never be done.

I just wish I’d realized this 35 years ago.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Posted in Weight Management | 1 Comment

Round numbers…

I like nice, round numbers…especially negative ones.

-80 today (for this year)
-180 (from peak)

That’s 20 pounds to my initial goal for this year…

I think I’m doing it right.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Little things add up…

Stitch, the second Valkyrie, (so named HERE) came to me with some issues.

All were minor…this machine has (for a Valkyrie) very few miles on it, but little things add up.

Stitch

In this case, she had several “signs” of previous misadventures that were combining to give the machine a slightly “off” feel.

Those that ride know well that “feel” is critical. You must develop a rapport with your machine…controlling her must be second nature…or you’re going to miss a cue or incorrectly respond to one. Little irritations should be completely corrected to the point where the fit and feel of the machine provides NO distractions.

Some would say that this only matters in critical situations, and they might even be right, but there are a LOT of those when you are riding. In 20 miles of riding the Metroplex I may encounter as many as 100,000 cages. I need no “controllable” distractions to take my attention.

Oh…and her fairing…a Memphis Shades Batwing…was suffering from a VERY un-subtly bad installation. There are lots of adjustments to get the thing in the proper position, but they hadn’t been attempted. The brackets were clamped on the forks, and the thing was shoved into position. This caused extreme difficulty viewing the instruments, and also broke the trip odometer reset knob.

As a data point, I happen to know the fairing was installed by a Honda dealer. (sigh)

The result of all this (and some other minor things) was a glitchy, vaguely uncomfortable machine. That simply would not do.

A couple hours of tweaks took care of it. Fairing adjustment took some patience but was otherwise straightforward. Gauges visible. Reset knob cleared. Windshield at proper height (at your normal riding position you should be looking just over the top of it…this keeps the wind/rain mostly off you but provides required visibility in rain/etc).

As to some of the signs of misadventure?

Both of the driver’s foot-peg “clam-shells” were bent. These hold the rubber footrest on and give it some of it’s shape. Bent ones give the footrests an odd shape and feel.

The driver’s foot-peg “clam-shell”. The top one is new.

The clutch and brake levers were tweaked in multiple dimensions. Some subtle, some not. Again, changes the feel and comfort of the machine, as well as, on the brake side at least, dramatically changes the feedback.

Bent levers (bottom is new)

Subtle, but important. (Top is new)

Very uncomfortable. (Bottom is new)

Anyway, these and a few other minor tweaks and she and I are conversing at an entirely new level.

…and good communication is SO important when ya really need to dance.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Posted in Road Stories | 2 Comments

Non-negotiable.

For quite some time I’d been pondering, and frankly, struggling to articulate, a concept that relates to the things in life we simply MUST do.

On a direct note…I was pondering this in relation to fitness, but knew even before I’d completely formed the thoughts, that the concept applied to success in anything.

The Concept:

Some things, work/career as an example, are things that as a man, are expected and required of me. These things are also excused…tolerated…allowed…by our social structures, law, family expectations, and other relationships.

As an example, when a man has to say, “Sorry, I can’t do [insert whatever activity], I have to work.” he is basically excused. IF there is resentment by the others in his life, it is to the TASK…not to the man. Much like simple breathing, society just accepts that he will DO these things, and it seldom even occurs to others to demand that he stop.

After all, he’s just doing his duty, fulfilling his obligations to society, the state, and his family. It HAS to be done, and he’s the one to do it.

No one questions his motive or drives. There are allowances even in the law for these activities. Hardship drivers’ licenses, exceptions to curfews (I’m thinking age-related ones here), and there are other examples.

There are several things that can fall into this sort of category. Work, protection of his spouse/family, maintenance of his property, and others.

The problem comes in that there are things that should be in this category, that simply are not. There are things that must be done, that societal expectations and family structures pressure us to postpone…to move down the list in favor of other things.

I’d been struggling with what that category IS…as I had some things I needed to add to it. It was evident to me at least, that my very life depended on it.

The concept was that these things MUST be as required, allowed, permitted, and expected…as breathing. An easy description of the concept was for some reason eluding me.

Credit Where Credit Is Due (also, some good reading):

At this point I’ll credit Tom Nikkola’s blog post: The Non-negotiable Approach to Succeeding at Fitness (and life) for giving me the word. It also strongly illustrates the concept I’m on about, but I already had that…check it out though, it’s a good read.

That word is “non-negotiable”. As a concept it is self-evident.

Incidentally…more reading…Tom’s post: Five Simple Habits for Better Men’s Health is how I found his blog in the first place…and it’s a post I strongly agree with, and frankly, is working amazing things in my life. Pretty fundamental if you’re a guy…but sometimes life gets in the way and knocks us off kilter and we need those fundamental things pointed out to us (slapped upside the head might be a better term).

My “out of kilter”…has gone on for more than 35 years. Literally everything and everyone has been higher on the list than my health. Time to change things, yes? But HOW?

That brings us back to the point.

The List:

When embarking on this fitness push, I had to force a fundamental shift in thinking. It’s a difficult thing to do, but I had to put myself on the very, very top of the “to do” list. I’ve spent my life doing what I must and helping others…crawling out of poverty provides a very particular formative set of challenges and lessons.

Those lessons stick. My own health, fitness, and well-being never really came to mind. On the few occasions it did, the demands of all those other things always pushed it down into the “I’ll get to it someday” territory of the list.

We all know when “someday” comes.

It’s more than resolve…more than a simple decision. This is a MUST, or I will not succeed.

Thoughts began to gel when I began pondering the whys of my successes in other endeavors and the reasons for my abject failure in this one area. Three keys resolved themselves quite quickly:

I MUST be on the list.
I MUST be on TOP of the list.
I MUST STAY on TOP of the list.

It’s hard…mind-boggingly difficult in fact…to explain to family, spouse, the boss, whatever…that no, I will NOT change this [thing], even for you. Even just this once. ESPECIALLY if this [thing] is purely selfish…just for MYSELF.

I’m still struggling with the concept that it’s NOT selfish. My brain knows this. I HAVE to take care of me or I cannot take care of others. But my ethical and moral keys formed over a lifetime of fighting tooth and nail are quite difficult to ignore…or change.

I will NOT change this for you?

That’s not good enough.

“Will NOT” is a re-director. It puts the resentment on the man, not on the task. That’s a fast path to loss of needed support and a direct route to failure.

I CANNOT change his for you? There we go…

Moving this [thing] from “Will NOT change it” to “CANNOT change it” is shifting the [thing] into a non-negotiable status.

THAT, I realized, was what was required. Not just for society, spouse, friends, work, etc…but for myself. It would be too easy otherwise, to put it off, postpone, or skip it for other, seemingly more important tasks. I HAD to do this thing. It was not optional. It was…it MUST be…non-negotiable.

That is not “helpful” to succeed…it is essential to success.

The Addition:

When I made the decision to “win the war” in this push, I sat down with the wife and explained to her what I was about to tackle…and what it would take to succeed at it. I have failed at this thing for my entire life. There are lessons dispensed in abject failure. Even this thick head eventually begins to grock what those are and how to cope with them.

Non-negotiable is the key. The task is simple in concept, but quite difficult to actually DO. It’s not the hard work that’s the problem. I’ve never been afraid of hard work.

It’s the list of things in life to work on…that’s the problem. I’m simply not on it.

So fixing that is just adding something to the very top of the list. Something non-negotiable. Simple enough…as a concept. Far more difficult in execution.

That cute little short gal that for some reason shares her life with me has always supported me in my endeavors, but “non-negotiable” is a strong word. Then there’s the small matter of other family, bosses, and the like.

With some discussion about the concept (equating it to going to work everyday) we managed to modify the list.

The addition was simple:
1) I will learn how to get/keep myself fit (get training).
2) I will work-out at least 4 times a week (I’m usually managing 5 or 6).
3) I will eat appropriately to achieve my goal.
4) Once I achieve my goal, I will do whatever it takes to maintain it.

Whatever it takes…

These items are on the very top of my “to do” list. They are non-negotiable. I can’t barter them away, modify them, or change them unless it is appropriate to achieve the goal they were created for.

It’s a bizarre feeling/concept for me…I’ve literally never been on the top of my list before.

I know this will seem simple to some folks…but not to put too fine a point on it…most folks fail.

The vast amount of determination of success is a head game, and the head is the hardest thing to get into the game.

…and I’ve finally got my head in the game.

The question is…can I keep it there?

Invalid question. It’s non-negotiable.

The real question is what it will cost me?

Whatever it takes.

I’ll see you on the road (or at the gym).

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Gonna lead with that, are ya?

A bit back I ran into an acquaintance I’d not seen in a while…at the time I’d lost probably 50 pounds since I last encountered her…

“Oh my god! You’ve lost weight! Are you sick! You’ve got cancer don’t you?”

Me: *blinks* “Really? You’re gonna lead with that?”

That’s a hell of a world view…

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Posted in Weight Management | 2 Comments