You aren't the only one reading this….

I will be the first one to admit that I have had my head in the sand when it comes to my own government spying on it’s own citizens.  There are two clear mindsets when it comes to this kind of thing:  The people that are completely paranoid of privacy and think everything is being tracked and traced and those who think that as long as you aren’t doing anything wrong, let the government find the bad guys and process them through the legal system.

I was certainly on the later spectrum, until I watched #citizenfour.

Now, there is a third spectrum, I still believe that the latter should be the right approach to how we deal with surveillance, but the fact is that the government is tracking everything that we do both as a collective as well as individuals to track what you do, how you do it and where you do it.  Sounds overly paranoid, doesn’t it?  The argument that I used to use against these types of doomsday arguments was pretty simple– sure the government can and does collect the “meta” data that we are all on our smartphones and we are all doing these kinds of things and as long as you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, everything is fine, because at the end of it all, the government doesn’t have the resources it would have to have to segment the data into something it could build up a case against someone in a court of law, given our laws set to protect us.

Except during the Obama administration, that has all changed.

That’s right Obama.

Obama has allowed secret judicial courts, outside of the normal judicial branch, to authorize search warrants that a normal court would reject on the grounds that it would be considered spying on its own citizens.  So its creates special courts that authorize such things in the name of national security, which supposedly allows them to use this “meta” data to find evil.  Take the brothers who off those bombs at the Boston marathon.  Those guys were caught and apprehended by use of the secret court system to authorize a data breach in order to find them as quickly as possible.  Still, they were terrorists, right?  An eye for eye, right?

What if this is just the beginning?  What if these secret courts continue to grow and prosper outside of the normal judicial process, extending what information they can gather and pull data from?  Computer information systems continue to get smarter by the ways that they are programmed for information, what was a massive pile of data just a couple of years ago can now be compiled to trace data right back to you, should the need arise.

Again, this all seems very doomsday to me, and it should.  The final layer for me is thinking about my own finances.  How much money do you have that is completely untraceable right now?  How much cash, real cash, do you have?  Think about that for a moment– if you were accused of any crime right now as you are reading this— anything that would warrant it– estimates that it would take 2-3 hours to have every electronic asset frozen through a search warrant.  That means that all of your banking, credit cards and payments are on hold pending an inquest– and if it is serious enough, that could be a long time, all those assets aren’t accessible.

Again, paranoia…. I know… But here is what is scary:  If you are in the right place at the wrong time and something happens and your particular profile in the meta data is pulled, your entire world could be frozen in a matter of hours.  Now to an overweight, white male like myself, I am not overly worried, but I can think of any number of people I know, Muslim or foreign folks, if I were them, I would only start dealing in cash.. but then guess what?  Yep, target.  If your profile suddenly changes and you go from me, where I pay most things on a piece of plastic to paying off all my cards and not charging anything and only paying the minimum amounts via a bank account, you could end up on a watch list– and as #citizenfour points out, once you end up on a watch list, everywhere you show ID becomes a hassle– especially an airport.

The documentary does a great job of pointing all of this out– its all right there in front of us but we ignore it– we don’t think it concerns us and maybe at this point, it is for the greater good, but we have given up so many of our civil liberties at this point, pieces of government that people fought for generations before us to make sure we had freedoms that made us Americans– so in the end, the terrorists have taken much more than just innocent lives from us– they are slowing taking our free government away and leaving us with a paranoid government that will continue to make up the rules as it goes along and we accept it and that isn’t acceptable… My hope is that House of Cards eventually covers this– then MAYBE we might start to pay attention.

Watch citizenfour. Consider it your patriotic duty.

The Work Place= The Worst Place

Trying to lose a little weight can making working in an office like you are playing Candyland 40-60 hours a week!!!

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Its all aligned with the holidays– note what time of year you are reading this blog post…. If you are reading in real time, we are in March… which means Easter is just a few weeks away… so the office is currently lined with Easter Candy… Oh so delicious Cadbury products will soon be making their way in… It starts with the Mini-Eggs and soon enough the Cadbury Egg will be here, not too mention the marshmallow Peep, all coming your way, marching like little fat calories…

 

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Oh, so you can resist chocolate?  Marshmallows are not a problem for you?

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How about cookies?  Even if you can resist the Girl Scout cookies, you can’t resist the Girl Scouts.  Everyone has the office co-workers with the little girls dressed in their uniforms selling boxes of cookies so that they can go to camp… You can resist the cookie, but you can’t turn away the coworkers kids!!!  I believe Archer stated it the best way… punkass_girl_scout_1040 …and the worst part… This isn’t the worst time of the year… Not even close.

 

 

 

 

 

Lucky for you, Easter signals the end of the candy season.  As we cruise into late spring and summer, we are holiday candy free until October when Halloween Candy starts showing up, in mini versions… Halloween junk Then, following almost right behind Halloween is the granddad of all Candied Holidays… Christmas.  The chocolate train starts its annual Christmas run around thanksgiving and goes through new year and there is some variety and the quality of the chocolate certainly improves– and so does the calories and fat! gingerbreadhouse jingle cookies Essential-Christmas-CollectionNow, to be fair, no one does this in a malicious manner.  We are all offering this up at the ends of our desks as a way to offer people a moment of bliss in their day– a reason to stop and enjoy some candy.. We all do it, particularly around the holidays when people are already indulging– who wants to be a Grinch??!?!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But wait, there is more… Its about mid-January before all of the Christmas candy makes its way out of the house, just in time for St. Valentine to drop into the office for another month of candy!

valentinesheart Now, these are just the sweets that come around that are holiday based… Honorable mention comes to the sweets that don’t need a holiday to be on someone’s desk… For example, once a week one of the local recruiting firms brings in several dozen of these little gems from Top Pot donuts, a Seattle favorite… doughnutsAgain, all of this is done with the best of intention, but it can have a devastating impact on your workforce that is watching what they eat.  More than once one of these delicious top pots has actually called to me from across the room because it needed to be eaten while it was still fresh.  Granted, donuts are delicious, but the combo of the two worst things for you:  Sugar and Flour make these little delights a disaster.  Who doesn’t have a favorite donut? Now I can picture a bunch of good friends of mine saying thinking the same thing– donuts are easy to resist– you know they are no good for you, so why bother eating them?  Well if you can resist the morning donut, how about Bagels?  Deep fried dough, tons of salt aren’t as bad as the donut, until you add butter and/or cream cheese.  Donuts aren’t too exciting so they don’t get their own picture. Point of this post:  Even if you are being good and sticking to your meal plan– temptation is abundant!!  It takes enough work to plan your meal, watch what you eat, but the workplace is riddled with these opportunites… and none of them are good.  Maybe I will stock a fruit bowl at my desk and people will get the point. 🙂

Step 2: Watch What You Eat

The Food Pyramid.  The thing we were all raised on.

It seems its a lie, but here’s why:  this chart assumes everything we consume is whole.  If that was the case, then you could follow this to a healthy lifestyle.  The thing it accounts for poorly is that the modern American diet is loaded with processed foods, so while you think you are getting a reasonable meal, say a delicious Frozen Yogurt Ben and Jerrys Cherry Garcia, you are actually getting a massive sugar bomb where the bad sugar far outweighs the good yogurt.  This is a worst case scenario, but the same idea applies to almost anything that is processed.  Food makers know that we go for foods that are either salty or sweet and easy to eat.  They package these foods with the nutritional information right on it, but what does all of it mean?!?!?!  How many of us actually read those labels?

Look at the food pyramid.  Fortified Cereal and Bread and Rice and Pasta = 12 servings?  Not anymore. If you watch what you eat, you will lose weight.  This is much easier said than done.  In the last week, I have learned that the calculation for a stronger diet begins with watching what you eat and what is in the food we consume.  Americans are quickly becoming the most obese people in the world– but why?  It’s because the majority of our food is heavily processed and processing food makes it less and less healthy.

My new dietician has put me on a 2200 calorie diet with 80 grams of protein to eat daily.  That is a mathematical calculation that seems simple enough, but its going to be complicated to get most of those calories in a healthy way.  80 grams of protein is also tough, unless I am just going to be eating protein the whole time— but again, I am admitting to you that I never looked at how much protein I was eating versus how much calories I take in.  Protein doesn’t have a lot of calories, but fat does — and protein doesn’t have much appeal without the fat.  I can eat as many veggies and fruit as I want, but it cant be processed— who wherever possible.  As spring markets open, this will be easier and  easier.

I will struggle the most with limiting potatoes and corn (starch) from my diet and I will struggle with portion control.  I need to relearn how to eat, when enough is enough–this will be another challenge.

Goals for Month 1:  Try to hit 2200 calories, 80g of Protein, cut bread and grain (pasta will have to be gradual), avoiding processed food– if it has a label, avoid it.

Problem #1: Our house has lots of boxes with these kinds of foods in them, so it will be a gradual process.

Total Weight lost: 8lbs

Next post:  Step 3: Managing your time.

 

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

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The State of Utah decided this week to bring back firing squads as a way to execute inmates on death row, specifically citing that recent botched executions of lethal injections brought forward the bill to bring back firing squads.

Firing Squads.

Five people standing together that each puts a bullet in the inmate.  5 guns shot wounds, close range, all aimed just above the heart.  Some Utah lawmakers seem to think this is a more humane way to serve capital punishment.

Firing Squads.

We shouldn’t shoot humans, we shoot animals.  If lethal injection isn’t working correctly, then executions should be on hold until they can get the cocktail correctly.  There is a ton of data out there to support that it is cheaper for states to keep people for life without parole than to execute them.

Utah has a particular history with capital punishment and I don’t see it going away anytime soon, but to kill someone by fire seems barbaric and least and out of date at best.

It just amazes me that with all of the technology we have in the world at our hands, why we would still be killing people by fire squad?  Is there not an App for that?

Step 1: Being Honest with Yourself

About 6 weeks ago, I injured my knee, badly.

Turns out it wasnt bad enough to require surgery, but it was a good wake up call that my joints were not going to keep carrying this weight around for many more years.  I need to lose weight and I need to lose a lot of it.  140 pounds is the recommended weight I need to look at over the next couple of years.  Most people weigh just a little more than that, but I need to lose that much.

Step 1: Being honest. I have a problem with food.  I like it — alot.  I love the taste of food, I love the sense of community it brings, bringing friends and family together– what beats having a good meal with people?  The problem with that I tend to over indulge — and knowing that I also tend to stave myself before a big meal, also a mistake.

So I went for a consult the other day based on my doctor’s recommendation and I met with a dietician.  We reviewed my eating habits and a lot of interesting things came out of the discussion, which is why I want to share it — because here’s the thing– alot of people seem to make the same habits when you work all the time.

Step 2: Start eating breakfast. Everyday.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

But why?  Whats the story?

Here is why:  When you are sleeping, your body is processing.  The machine is hard at work, this is why you sleep poorly when you drink alcohol because its a stimulant and its a toxin, so your body is working overtime to process.  You also usually eat breakfast after a night of drinking because your system cries out for replacement from all it has processed.  Regardless, your body needs more energy after burning through so much over night.

Breakfast is also key to get protein so your body can continue to build muscle– and build it from Protein.  Ideally, low calories and high protein, less sugar is what seems to have the most impact for people and that combo is particularly important for fat people like myself who for over 20 years have been eating when I percieve hunger and have eaten to fill myself up— hence why I tend to go for huge lunch and skip breakfast.

For the last week, I have been using the RAW FIT with Marley Coffee and adding a couple shots of Espresso to the mix.  It isn’t the most delicious thing, but it is drinkable and I find myself with a lot of energy in the morning, leading to my first actual meal around lunch.

So far, the struggle is real.  Once you start paying attention to all the crap there is out there to consume and how unnecessary all of it is, you start to look at food differently.  More on that next time….