Monthly Archives: July 2011

30 While 30: Day 140 – On Wine, Passports, Trumpets, and Running for a Reason…

Hello All!

A small post today, with some significant list updates, and planning for things that I am really excited about!

1) Even though I consider #9 (Find a good table wine.) completed, I had the enjoyment of a spontanous gift from my wife, Summer, of a selection of wines to taste.  Placed in a nice little box, with enough wine for two people to taste in each miniature bottle, it was a fun experience.  I continue to solidify my feeling that I am a “sweet over dry” kind of wine drinker, but there were a few drier ones that were still appealing (as I need a decent red dry wine to have with red meat).

2) This week, I took a major step (for me) towards #18 (Invest in a cause greater than myself, outside the shores of the United States).  I completed and submitted my passport application.  We also have Summer’s renewal prepared, but are waiting for a certified copy of our marriage license before we mail in her paperwork.  Also investigating timing and feasability of getting ones for the kids as well.  Not real sure on where and when, but this process opens those doors.  Suggestions are always welcome! 

3) I am a Band Geek.  It’s ok.  I know it.  I’ve known it for some time.  Well, to indulge in my geekdom, and in an attempt to satisfy #17 (Attend a nerd conference), I have the esteemed pleasure of attending the Drum Corps International: The Masters of the Summer Music Games, a Tour of Champions Series event in Murfreesboro, TN this coming Friday.  I am pumped!  One would say that I might be “geeked out”!

4) As you read in the post from Monday, my races, to achieve #’s 5, 6, and 7 (Run in 2 5k races. Run a 10k. Run a Half-Maraton). 

What I am happy to officially announce today is that not only am I running in the Half-Marathon in Memphis TN (in December) to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, I am running for a reason! 

I have agreed to, and committed to fundraising a minimum of $500.00 in addition to my fees to run the race.  I cannot begin to say how excited I am about this.  Summer ran the full marathon last year, and the experience, as a whole, was amazing.  To be able to participate alone is an amazing honor, but to do more to contribute to the work done at St. Jude’s pours the honor on more.

If you are interested, they have provided me with a site to make the donations towards my goal.  I hope from now until race day to update my readers on my progress training, as well as fundraising.

Here is my personal fundraising site (sponsored and set up by St. Jude). 

I will update as this process develops, with as much functionality that they give me.

I hope you will particiapte with me in this.  Even a small donation is appreciated, as any amount helps in the development of new treatments for children, and ensuring that no child is turned away from treatment becasue they cannot afford it.

Tomorrow, I restart the book reviews from my list, strarting with Kevin DeYoungs, Just do Something.

_Thomas

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30 While 30: Day 138 – Never stop learning … because noone expects a Spanish Inquisition

Photo courtesy from shirtoid.com

(Because of some recent warnings from my wife on copyright issues with blogs, I am trying to be more careful on what I use here at Thomsthoughts.  If you are interested in the clip from which this phrase was used, simply search on Youtube for “Monty Python Spanish Inquisition” … It. Is. Hilarious. … in a British sort of way)

Recently read this story about the United States post office.  In short, based on usage, costs, and business model, the USPS could go down to as low as 3 days of service a week within the next 15 years.

This got me thinking.  Why is the Post Office having so much trouble?

Well, lets look at what services the Postal Service provides, and how there are many different ways to do those things today versus yesterday.

  1. Sending packages – Aside from the impeccable service that the USPS provides to our military personnel overseas, FedEx and UPS, both privately run, publicly traded companies, are increasing market share in this process, often doing it cheaper, faster, and more reliably than the US Postal Service.
  2. Paying bills – I just payed my last bill for the month.  Let me tell you how these played out: 1) Electric Bill – hand delivered.  2) Water – mailed.  3) At&t (Cellphone) – iPhone app  4) Charter (cable) – online  5) Mortgage – online. 6) Lease payment – hand delivered.  One … one out of those I place in the mail.  All of the other have a less expensive or more convenient option for payment.
  3. Sending lettersUm … anyone heard of e-mail?  In conversation with a friend at work, she shared that while e-mail has been reducing the need for stamped mail in comparison to a year ago, that there is a certain “feel” to writing a letter in your own handwriting.  Did you know that you can make your handwriting into a font?  Granted, you’re reading a post from someone who has specifically on his list to write 30 handwritten letters to people that have impacted him.  There is a “feel” to it.  Even so, “feelings” aren’t the best premise for business growth … well, maybe for TUMS, not necessarily the US Postal Service.
  4. Mailing of contracts or other important original documents – Aside from #1 above, with the fact that overnight and express mail has been mastered by other private enterprises, many important documents have been digitized.  Several times even in the last week, as I complete graduate school applications and fill out a leave request form, I sign my name digitally, using technology through Adobe.

The point?

At one time, the United States Postal Service was the best at doing what it did … At one time.  It isn’t anymore.

Also in the last few weeks, Netflix (a popular way to get media – movies and teleivion shows – for home veiwing) reported that they were going to be raising their rates, as reported in a story here.  Now lots of folks are upset by this change in rates (increase of about 60%), but I will allude to how ridiculous that is in a minute.

Also recently reported, Redbox (oh how I loooooove Redbox) is increasing in it’s market share (as in 35% of total DVD rentals), demonstrating an effective method of renting movies with almost no staff, and relying on almost total automation.

But I have a question for you:

When’s the last time you stopped at a Blockbuster or Hollywood Video to rent a new release movie?

Yeah.  Seriously.  Remember when about 10 years ago, it would cost you $5 for a 48-hour rental, that would beat you up on late charges if you didn’t get it back on time?  (As I alluded to earlier … you netflixers … the increase really isn’t that horrible, is it? – and if you don’t like it, visit a redbox … or soon, stream from one)

No one expects a Spanish Inquisition.

Now, some people have the skill to anticipate market and resource changes and can capitalize on them.  Life Coaching is a great example.  This is a profession, largely unregulated from it’s similar or related professions (counseling, psychotherapy, etc.), that has exploded in the last 10 years or so, all based on the premise of helping ordinarily well-functioning individuals plan for their life and reach their personal goals.  It is a lucrative endeavor.

It’s not just that.  It’s Google.  It’s Hulu.  It’s Thirty-One.  Name them.  Name the businesses, ideas, and advances that weren’t present even 10 years ago.

You can’t ever stop learning.

Read a book. Take a class. Learn a trade.  Apprentice with a master.  Experience new things.  Consider your purpose.  Always commit to learning.

I consider myself a life-learner.  As I prepare two graduate school applications for a late fall deadline, I have those good feelings creeping up again.  Feelings of excitement and anticipation of sitting in a classroom and of listening to someone about something I may know little about.  I love learning.  I have a growing list of books that I am trying to read in this year.  I have subscribed to about a dozen RSS feeds, and dozens of Twitter’ers (sp?) because for a while, I though I was capped.  Sure, that sounds arrogant, but when you have excelled to a degree of plateau in your profession (independently licensed in a terminal degree) you tend to think “you’re there”.

Well, you’re never “there”.

Don’t be Blockbuster Video.  Be the next Redbox.

Don’t be the Postal Service.  Be the next Fedex.

Don’t be the person you were yesterday.  Be the person you will be 10 years from now … today.

_Thomas

(Disclaimer – In no way do I mean to portray a disdain for the honor and diligence of the US Postal Service.  My comparisons are simply a result of their current operational and business paradigms, not a testament to their continuing work helping people communicate with others and get things where they need to be)


30 While 30: Day 133 – Breaking the Habit

Welcome to Wednesday!

First, a few list updates:

Races are planned!  Last night and this morning, I scheduled and registered for 3 races through the awesome site Active.com.  These will be used to satisfy #5, #6, and #7.

Sherry’s Run (5k) – September 10, 2011

This is a race dedicated to those fighting cancer, especially colon cancer.  This is not my first time running this race, as I completed it as my first 5k ever, last year, the story of which you can read here, from Summer’s blog.  My time last year was 45:37.  I know what you’re thinking …. did you walk it?  Well, no, I didn’t, but I did run/walk, but it was my first time.  My personal goal this year will be to be under 30 minutes, but hoping for much better time.  The pictures from the race will also show how my weight loss goals have been going.

Go Commando Half-Marathon and 5k (5k) – October 15th, 2011

This race is much closer to where I live and work, and runs through a local riverwalk area.  This race is smack in the middle of my extended half-marathon training, so will really just be intended to be more of a “warm up run” for my training later that week.

DH DASH 10K, 5K RUN/Walk and Kids Fun Run (10k) – November 5th, 2011

This will be my race for my 10k.  10k’s seem to be the red-headed step-child of races these days.  There are mountains of 5ks, and even seemed like more half-marathons than 10ks.  Pickings were slim, but this one looks like a fun one, with some sights in the Nashville, TN area.

All to culminate to:

St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon Weekend (13.1 mi) – December 3rd, 2011

Yeah …. so the half is full.  You are reading the face of disappointment.  Well, technically I can still run the half if I commit to raising 500.00 for St. Jude’s, or I can register for the full, and just run the half, but I can’t get in touch with anyone locally to even find that out.  So who would want to sponsor me if I did Run for a Reason?

——————

So an update on #2.

Total weight loss to date: 19.4 pounds …. and I am disappointed.  The fact is that my loss has plateaued, even though I can say my activity over the last 4 weeks has increased, both with Turbulence Training Intermediate Workouts and running (about halfway through my C25K program).  It is frustrating, especially reading about recent friend’s success stories, like my friend from college, Scott.

So, I want to share with you a story.  Maybe to help all my readers (cause there are lots of you) with how I feel I got to this point about my eating habits, and why they are so hard to break.

When I was 16, I started working with my cousin doing lawn care and maintenance over the summer.  We would work from about dawn prepping the truck, and would work until it was too dark to see, and sometimes later than that (the mowers had headlights).  In the summer, this amounted to about 12-14 hours a day, in most cases.  Let me share with you a sample of what I ate:

Breakfast – 2 Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuits from Hardee’s for breakfast + coke

Lunch – A large value meal from one of an assortment of fast-food burger joints.  Fries and large coke.

Dinner – Often a repeat of lunch.  I would often stop (like multiple times per week) at a mom-and-pop hamburger joint at about 9pm on my way home.

I don’t even want to count those calories.

To top it off … I didn’t gain weight …. I LOST it.  Almost every summer, I would lose 10-15 pounds (in the roughly 60-80 days of the summer).  During that time of my life, I weighed about 175 pounds, and was 6 feet tall.  I was lean.

Enter the college years.

My diet at that time consisted of the best of what I ate at home.  In the cabinets there was always macaroni and cheese, cheerios, Chef Boyardee (my childhood favorite) and eating out was always nice.  I was also known to eat a whole pizza in one sitting.

Did I gain weight?  No.  Upon graduation (and marrying Summer) I weighed about 185.  Now granted, my time in college was also filled with constant activity.  I played intramural sports, was in about 4 volleyball leagues in a given year, and lived a few blocks from campus (so I was walking all the time).  In my junior and senior year, I also started going to the gym for strength training pretty regularly, which I account to the increase in weight in those 4 years. 

But regardless, during that time, I ate for two reasons: 1) because food tasted good and 2) I needed lots of calories to maintain the lifestyle, and had not felt the impact of gaining weight to keep me in check.

Then, my first job.

I worked as a case manager for the Department of Children’s Services (TN).  My job constituted from driving from house to house, checking in on families, and coordinating services to assist in the care of their children (normally in response to reports of abuse, neglect, or the child’s unruly or delinquent behavior).  My county of responsibility was one hour from my home.

My life began a transition at that point, from naturally active, to naturally sedentary.  Because of travel, meals would often be eaten on the road, and there was little to no room for exercise.  Eating, especially in my time with a certain company also ballooned as a stress relief.  I ate because food tasted good, and when I worked for a company that kept me stressed, and at times did not have the balance to keep happy, food made me feel better.  This continued from 2003 to the present day.  8 years, and gaining almost 70 pounds.

So here we are today.  19 pounds down from ym top weight, but still so far to go.

This isn’t really a success post either.  Every day is still a battle.  The habit of eating food for the feeling is a very real one for me, even today, and is even worse by the sometimes guild after eating more than satisfies me, or backsliding and eating something I shouldn’t.

To be honest, I am not too sure what I am trying to get out of this post … maybe only to increase my accountability, and know that maybe others out there that share my struggle.  It is a tough habit to break.  Sure it isn’t smoking, or getting drunk, or crack-cocaine (though Oreo Sonic Blasts are what I think cocaine must feel like), but it is something that I am continually trying to change and master.  There has been a bible verse that has been helping me recently:

“All things are permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial.  All things are permissible, but I will not be mastered by anything.” -1 Corinthians 6.12

Some days it feels like a war against myself.  Some days I win, some days I don’t.  Regardless, each day is a chance to make right the choices of yesterday.


The underlying point (in regard’s to masculinity/femininity and gender in the church)

Today I am going to stray just a little bit from the intended posting paradigm to pipe in on a bit of internet controversy that has gone on the last week or so.  For those that don’t know (and to be honest, had it not been for this year-long project of mine, I wouldn’t have either) last week, Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, posted the following status on his facebook page:

“So, what story do you have about the most effiminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?”

The response … I am sure was not anticipated.  A flurry of posts from a variety of faith bloggers went out, culminiating, I think, to a point of Rachel Held Evans calling Mark a “bully” and rallying the troops as it were to write, call, and e-mail the elders of Mars Hill in order to correct Mark’s behavior for the sake of the population that his comment appeared to marginalize. Continue reading


30 While 30: Day 126(7) – Have a little help from my (blogging) friends…

(As it was mentioned over twitter, I am unsure about what happenned to this post.  Regardless, I am using it today as my Wednesday + “Book Review” post.  Enjoy!) 

Today, I wanted to share with you some of the blogs out on the interwebs that I am currently following (or attempting to follow).

In my progress on #26 and #27, I have greatly increased the amount of content I read digitally.  Not so much books (like I do with my Kindle app on my iPad – by the way which is awesome – especially while running on the treadmill … no annoying pages to turn), but moreso small batches of content, blogs, articles, and news.  All of this really in an effort to learn as much as I can in a short amount of time, find ideas for articles on this blog, and to increase my eposure to other ideas out there about personal development and change, especially as it relates to this year-long experiement I am enduring.

(Disclaimer: I do not endorse any of these officially, and to be honest, some of them are very new to me.  You are getting a real glimpse of where I am and what I am looking at, and at the stage I am at. Read: figuring out if these are even worth reading in the first place.  They are also in no particular order, and this isn’t even a complete list … yikes!) Continue reading


30 While 30: Day 124 – Stay on Target …. Stay on target!!

My apologies on my recent absences from the blog.  Time with the family, coupled with some other things going on broke the nice pattern that I had been able to establish.  I am proud to say that as of this morning, we are back on schedule.  Not only that, but to bring me back into regular posts …. I completed a goal!  To the post!

Ah, a classic.  Nobody remembers this poor sap from Star Wars (1977).  Maybe it could have been him that got all the glory and saved the day instead of that silly Skywalker upstart kid.  To do that though, he would have had to stay on target.  You miss the target, and no one remembers you.  (147 Cool Points if you can name the 3 speaking characters in that clip)

I am pleased to announce that today, I am able to mark something else off of my list:

8. Earn my carry permit / take a handgun course.

That’s right folks, I’m legal … well halfway legal, but to tell that part, let me tell you a little about my experience this past Saturday.  Early morning, I headed down to Greenbrier, TN, about one hour from where I live to participate in a handgun safety and proficiency class, designed to make me eligible to attain my conceal/carry permit in the state of TN.  Listening to a few radio stations in the area, and a quick internet search to rebuff what I had heard brought me to Guns and Leather. Continue reading