Month: January 2019

Rock Bottom

I am not a mental health professional, nor do I play one on TV. But I am a reasonable observer of human behavior. Since my work days are spent at a hospital I get to see a wide spectrum of the human condition. And in watching both my own behavior and the rest of the zoo around us, I’ve come to a conclusion. To make a change you have to hit rock bottom.

This applies to weight loss, exercise, alcohol and drug use, any sort of destructive behavior. To make a real change you first have to hit whatever your rock bottom is.

For some people rock bottom is finding out their favorite jeans are a little too tight. Others, it’s hitting 400 pounds and being unable to participate in life. One guy may make a drunken fool of himself at a party and decide that’s it. For another it may take being in the hospital detoxing and full blown DT’s.

The unfortunate truth about this is that the lower and further down rock bottom is… the harder it is to climb out. It can be done but the success rate gets exponentially smaller.

So what can you do about it? I’m certainly no expert, but I think that constant self-inventory is vital. Be brutal. Look at yourself naked in the mirror. Get on the scale daily. Can you do a single pushup? How many bottles of alcohol are you going through in a week? Don’t hide from it. Hopefully at some point you’ll decide that today is the day to make a change.

I’m sure plenty of real experts can offer better approaches. All I know is what I’ve seen and experienced myself. Until you hit bottom… and then go a little bit further down, you’re not going to make a change. Forcing a constant inventory may not be the best approach, but it can’t hurt. Easier said than done, I know.

The sooner you come to grips with your reality, the better your chance of success. Go watch some motivational weight loss stories on YouTube. Watch a video of someone going through DT’s. Right now, can you run up and down a flight of stairs without gasping for air? Are you truly happy with your current state?

Maybe today will be your rock bottom.

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What’s Your EDC Bro?

EDC. Every Day Carry. Crazy popular right now. Tons of sites and YouTube channels dedicated to EDC. What started out as primarily referring to daily conceal carry firearms and self defense paraphernalia (as opposed to your regular duty weapon and gear), EDC now encompasses everything on your person.

Most EDC YouTube channels will feature everything in your pockets, purse, and backpack. All the crap you carry around everyday. I’ve been hooked on these channels because I like gear and they have tons of neat stuff. Push button key organizers, titanium slim wallets, ultra-mini led flashlights, pocket knives, mini pepper spray dispensers, etc… I love it. And, I never buy any of it.

I’m cheap and I’m simple. My EDC consists of the following:

  • Old, very thin wallet with 4 cards and zero cash (I don’t remember the last time I carried cash).
  • Key ring with: car key, house key, mailbox key.
  • Handkerchief. What can I say? My nose runs. Constantly.
  • Phone.
  • Mini single blade pocketknife.

That’s it. I can’t fathom why you’d need anything else? When I worked in an office environment I added a small bag with a laptop and a few pens and a phone charger. When I go to work now the only additional thing I bring is a water bottle to hold myself accountable for drinking enough H2O. I laugh when I see my coworkers walking in with a full backpack or tote, a lunch bag, and a giant purse. What the hell is in all those bags that you can’t live without? And women, for gods sake what do you carry in those giant purses? Do you really need all of it EVERY DAY?

To the original EDC concept… I’m not opposed to conceal carry and have thought about it from time to time. Then I remember I’m exasperated when I have one too many keys on my keychain. I can’t imagine how annoyed I’d be remembering to put on a holster every morning to run an errand. Then again, I live in a very safe city. If I lived in Atlanta, Houston, LA, New York… maybe I’d change my tune. And when the zombie apocalypse hits, I’m definitely SOL.

So – what’s your EDC and why? Is it time I become more adult and ramp up what I’m carting around with me every day? I have to admit that titanium push button wallet looks very cool. And I’m enamored with the North Face Access pack. I just don’t know what I’d put in it. Like the Seinfeld episode, just crackers and a newspaper probably.

I Failed. And I’m Ok With It.

Last year I signed up for a race. 100 miles of gravel with some pretty significant climbs. I kinda sorta trained for it, but not like I should have. For my last training ride I rode about half the course. I realized that, while I think I could have finished, it would have been a complete suffer-fest. As race day got closer I agonized over what to do. Finally with my tail between my legs, I bailed. Forfeited the sizable entry fee. No t-shirt, belt buckle, no swag, no bragging rights.

Since then I’ve been getting frequent emails to sign up for this years race. I just got a new email offering a training camp ($$) to help ensure success. I also got notification to enter the lottery for another race that’s always been on my list, the Leadville 100. I’ve agonized over these – wanting to avenge my failure, to prove that I can do it. I’ve gotten my credit card out multiple times, ready to sign up.

What I’ve realized lately is that much of that is about my own personal vanity. The only reason I’m doing it is so I can post on the Facebook and Instagram, giving some self-deprecating comment but secretly wanting all the likes and congrats from the community. But you know what? I’m 53. I don’t give a rats ass any more what people think.

I’m going to keep training hard, riding my bike, running, and being active because I enjoy it – not because I’m trying to prove something. I don’t need a race t-shirt to validate my self worth.

I’m not knocking doing races. If you’ve never run a 10k or a marathon and you need to sign up to have a hard goal to work towards, that’s awesome. Do it! If you’re competitive and actually in the mix racing (as opposed to just trying to finish) then keep after it. I’m not either of those things and I’m ok with that.

I’m still going to work hard. We all have some level of vanity and competitiveness that doesn’t go away. My goal is to be that old guy that passes you on the climb on our local trails. And someday, if I get really crazy in shape and think I can be competitive for my age class… I’ll toe the line again.

But then again, I like beer too much.

Paying the Man

This is my new favorite saying. I blatantly stole it from Josh Bridges. Go look him up – he’s an impressive dude. The saying is a perfect encapsulation of how the world works. Nothing is free. If you want something, be prepared to work for it.

In Josh’s world it’s physical performance, but it applies to everything. Want to lose weight? You’re going to have to pay the man. Restrict calories, follow an appropriate diet, and work out. Don’t want to do that? So sorry, isn’t going to happen. Want to excel at work? Pay the man. Long hours, bust your butt, outwork your coworkers. Want to be a successful entrepreneur, artist, student? Pay the man.

I’ve started saying it to myself when I think about doing something. How bad do I want it? Am I willing to pay the man? Sometimes the answer is no, and that’s ok. I find it helpful to clarify in my head what I really want vs. what might be nice. I’d like to learn Spanish, be a better cook, and be better at my job… but right now I’m not willing to pay the man and I’m good with that.

It doesn’t mean you don’t do those things. It just means I’m satisfied with the current state. Being a better cook would be nice, but it’s not important enough to me right now to invest in reading, watching videos, buying supplies, and practicing.

It’s a simple phrase. Start applying it everyday and you’ll find it clarifies your thoughts and actions. Focus your energies on only those things you’re willing to pay the man for and you’ll be happier and more focused.

It Must Be True

Confirmation Bias – also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

If you haven’t been following the Nathan Phillips/Covington High School controversy the last few days… you’ve probably been living under a rock, and may be better off for it. If you have seen it, what was your first reaction when the story initially came out? Be honest.

The media showed a video clip of a high school student wearing a MAGA hat, with what looks like a an odd smirk, standing all up in the face of a native American banging on a drum. News reports said the high school students were shouting racial epitaphs and “build the wall”, and generally disrupting a peaceful indigenous people’s march.

Within nanoseconds the social media warriors had fired up the meme machines. White privilege, this is what a Trump supporter looks like, this is what white supremacy looks like, this is not my America, bla, bla, bla.

As Paul Harvey said, “and now the rest of the story”. It now looks like that’s not at all what happened. A group called the “Black Hebrew Israelites” seem to be the ones responsible for most of the racial epitaphs thrown at the native Americans. The high school kids were just waiting for their bus and began singing their school spirit song to drown out the inflammatory chanting. Statements by most of the kids seem to indicate they were all pretty confused as to what was happening.

And best of all… new video shows that it was Nathan Phillips, the native American drummer, who walked into the group of kids, got all up close and personal and began drumming right in one kids face. The kid just stood there respectfully and smiled.

Back to my question. How badly did you want the original story to be true? How certain were you that, of course a bunch of Trump supporting, MAGA hat wearing, kids exuding white privilege would do this? Because all Trump supporters are one step away from the Klan, right? There’s now several hours of video of the events and people are examining it second by second looking for evidence to support whatever side you’re on. I don’t really care about that outcome. The bigger point is that so many people rushed to pre-judge something that didn’t exactly happen the way it was portrayed.

Confirmation bias has become so rampant and damaging to society today. Unfortunately the news is helping to perpetuate it. Don’t be a part of it. There’s a difference between not agreeing with a policy or statement, and being so blinded by bias you read evil into everything. Wait to judge, take what you see in the news with a grain of salt, and stop being a part of the problem.

“We all see only that which we are trained to see.”

Robert Anton Wilson

Bring Me A Straw

I like wildlife. I want (*most) critters to stick around for the next generation. I’d wager that I’ve spent more time in the outdoors interacting with bambi and whatnot than a large percentage of the population. When it comes to the sea, I got my open water SCUBA certification when I was 13. Grew up surfing and sailing. I’ve paid my dues to the ocean gods.

Why do I tell you this? Because I love plastic. Plastic is one of the greatest inventions of the modern era. It is possible to equally embrace plastic and have an appreciation for the outdoors that rivals many eco warriors. The assault on plastic, while well intentioned, is outrage at the wrong problem. Seeing images of single use bags floating in waterways or piled in landfills, I get why you’d think banning them is the right path. But it may very well be that the overall environmental impact of forcing paper and reusable bags is greater than for plastic bags.

Regardless, trying to kill a very useful product after the fact seems pointless. We’re always going to have waste products that shouldn’t be dumped in the ocean or just buried in a hole in the ground. Selectively trying to ban “bad” things is an ineffective game of whack a mole. The real problem is that we need a more effective waste management solution.

I hate to break it to you, but plastic isn’t going away. Posting “I’m against straws” memes on the Facebook and public shaming restaurants/cities into completely ineffective bans that make virtually no impact is silly. Want to make a real change? Lobby to restrict foreign aid to countries with reprehensible waste management practices. Boycott cruise lines that simply dump their waste. Find out what your city/county’s 10 or 20 year plan is for waste management and publicly comment on it. Ask for more government R&D money for creating that 1.21 jigawatt plastics incinerator rather than funding research into the mating habits of the monk fish.

In the meantime, I want a goddam straw with my fizzy, tropical umbrella drink. And I need plastic bags. The hound poops at least three times every time we run and I have yet to see anything that beats the good ole fashioned poop bag.

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*Except snakes. Snakes can disappear.

A Start


Now don’t say you can’t swear off drinking; it’s easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.

W.C. Fields

Starting something is easy. It’s keeping the momentum that’s hard. Leading up to the new year, I’ve found myself inspired. And inspiration is far more powerful than simply making a resolution.

The inspiration came from a sudden realization. I’m 53. Barring some unfortunate wood chipper accident, I have 35+ years left. 35 YEARS. What the hell do I want to do with that time? I certainly don’t want to spend it on the couch watching Netflix and reminiscing about the good ‘ole days. There’s still my job that will continue for some time still. I’ll continue playing and being active. I don’t intend to be one of those 70 year old’s who can’t tie their own shoe or walk up a flight of stairs.

What remains is an itch that ebbs and flows, but has never really been satisfied. I’ve always felt a need to be creative. Writing, photos, a little video. I’ve dabbled, but nothing more than fleeting attempts. It’s time to be serious and see where it goes. There is no plan. Nothing but a fair amount of available time and the desire to do something productive with my remaining years.

It’s not my first foray into writing. I’ve been doing it sporadically for years. If interested you can find the old stuff here: https://troutdog.wordpress.com/A few good ones, most are mediocre at best. Similar with photography. I spray and pray. Every once in a while a decent one surprises me. Video… well, as the old saying goes I have a face for radio so I’m not sure if that’s a content model for me.

Why am I telling you this? Call it public journaling. Or public accountability. It helps make it more real if I tell someone rather than keeping it in my head. And frankly, I’ve reached an age where I don’t give a rats ass what anyone thinks about what/why I’m doing something. Don’t like it? Don’t follow. But hopefully I can provide something interesting enough that folks will follow along. I certainly derive plenty of inspiration, thought, and smiles from reading and watching the content of others… and every once in a while I’ve gotten a comment that someone enjoyed something I did. What a great feeling. I’d like to continue that.

Thanks for reading this far. I hope you follow along as we see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

– Troutdog