Friday, November 25, 2016

choosing to be temperate

on my six mile walk this morning, i was reflecting on the amount of food i ate yesterday (thanksgiving holiday) and how i felt ill from all the food.

to be honest, i don't feel i ate all that much.  but i did get a headache after the big dinner.  i drank lots of water after eating, but still the headache persisted.

my next thought was: i get headaches when i don't eat and when i do eat; so why not simply choose not to eat (so much) and endure the headache anyway; why the need for the double-injury?

i won't die if i eat so little.  i can choose not to eat.  i can choose contentment when presented with food.  simply put, eating won't make me happy.  like charlie brown, lucy and the football - i know i'll be betrayed for eating.

spend time reading a book; walking; playing chess; playing with your children; listening to music.

there is so much to do with time rather than spending it in the kitchen "wallowing in pickles, sweets and sauces."

eating does not make you good.

restraint and moderation are virtues.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

thoughts on temperance

Temperance
be discrete
avoid excess
be organized
be modest
be self-discipline

a man who has great self-discipline or restraint isn't someone who feels no inkling of desire but someone who overcomes his cravings, by abstaining from acting upon them.


Monday, October 10, 2016

a good human

what makes a good human?

in summary, i think a good human is someone who strives to become virtuous (wise, just, courageous, temperate).

the choice of hercules demonstrates the life of virtue is a life of happiness.

donald robertson excellently describes hercules' choice

Zeno was reputedly inspired to study philosophy after reading the second book of Xenophon’s Memorablia of Socrates. This actually begins with a chapter in which Socrates recounts a story known as “The Choice of Hercules” (or “Heracles” to the Greeks), attributed to the highly-regarded ancient sophist Prodicus (Memorabilia, 2.1). Antisthenes, the Cynics, and the Stoics apparently all agreed that Hercules, the greatest of Zeus’ sons, provided an ideal example of the self-discipline and endurance required to be a true philosopher. The story symbolises the great challenge of deciding whom we actually want to be in life, what type of life we want to live, the promise of philosophy, and the temptation of vice. Zeno himself was perhaps compared to Hercules by his followers and we know that his successor Cleanthes was dubbed “a second Hercules”, on account of his self-mastery.

The story goes that Hercules, when a young man, found himself at an isolated fork in the road, where he sat to contemplate his future. Uncertain which path to take in life he found himself confronted by two goddesses. One, a very beautiful and alluring woman, was called Kakia, although she claimed that her friends call her “Happiness” (Eudaimonia). She charged in front to ensure she spoke first, promising him that her path was “easiest and pleasantest”, and that it provided a short-cut to “Happiness”. She claimed he would avoid hardship and enjoy luxury beyond most men’s wildest dreams, produced by the labour of others. After hearing this, Hercules was approached by the second goddess, called Aretê, a plain-dressed and humble woman, though naturally beautiful. To his surprise, she told him that her path would require hard work from him and it would be “long and difficult”. In fact the path Hercules chose would be dangerous beyond belief, he would be tested by many hardships, perhaps more than any man who had lived before, and have to endure great loss and suffering along the way. “Nothing that is really good and admirable”, said Aretê, “is granted by the gods to men without some effort and application.” However, Hercules would have the opportunity to face each adversity with courage and self-discipline, and of showing wisdom and justice despite great danger. He would earn true Happiness by reflecting on his own praiseworthy and honourable deeds.

Hercules, of course, chose the path of Aretê or “Virtue” and was not seduced by Kakia or “Vice”. He faced continual persecution, from the goddess Hera and her minions, and was forced to undertake the legendary Twelve Labours, including slaying the Hydra and ultimately entering Hades, the Underworld itself, to capture Cerberus with his bare hands. He died in the most extreme agony, poisoned by clothing soaked in the Hydra’s blood. However, Zeus was so impressed by his greatness of soul that he elevated him to the status of a God in his own right. Of course, the Stoics took this all as a kind of metaphor for the good life: that it’s better to face hardships, rise above them, and thereby excel, than to embrace easy-living and idleness, and allow your soul to shrink and deteriorate as a result. It would therefore make sense if Socrates retelling of “The Choice of Hercules” was indeed the part of the Memorabilia that inspired Zeno’s conversion to the life of a philosopher. However, it may certainly have served this purpose for later generations of Stoics.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

case studies in stoicism: the short friday that turned into the long friday

on thursday afternoon, while reviewing my calendar, i noted that friday, september 9 was looking to be a great day.  i was going to play basketball and then casually walk into work, read a bit of email, attend two morning meetings and then ease into the weekend.

friday morning at 4am, my alarm sounded.  i got up, assembled my things, got into my truck and drove to the gym.  i started my routine of 30 minutes walking on the treadmill followed by walking downstairs to the basketball gym and began warming up to play basketball.  as the other players walked into the gym, i noted that we would have 5 on 5 and be able to play on the full court.

i played well.  wednesday morning ball was really good for me and i was hoping to have another good day.  we played several games and i felt really good.  i had good shots, was aggressive and played solid defense.  it was a good day of basketball.

after cooling off and cleaning up, i headed to the office.  the morning started off as expected.  then things began to change.  two meetings turned into several.  i had expected to interact with just one customer on friday, but as the day progressed, i ended up fighting several fires for four of my five customers.  and these were not minor issues.  all of them had big issues that needed to be dealt with - and all the issues needed to be dealt with at the same time.

i remained calm and focused.  i tried to remain indifferent about the entire situation and tried to cooly and dispassionately assess the issues and deal with them accordingly.

by 4pm, the last of the issues reared its head.  and while my co-workers were starting their weekends, i was just beginning to settle the final issue of the day.  after the initial wave of the issue passed, i got off the phone and began my analysis of the problem.  by 5pm, i was ready to send an email to the managers when one of the called.  he was suggesting that we meet saturday to discuss, but i informed him i had completed my analysis and that we could meet immediately.  we reconvened in the 2nd manager's office at 520pm.

while walking over to his office, i mused how a year ago, if i had been in this situation, i most likely would have been a bundle of anxiety and fear.  however, after a year's experience on the job and after trying to consciously practice stoicism, i realized i felt calm amid this seemingly big storm.

the meeting lasted about 90 minutes and after much discussion, the managers' concerns were settled.  i was leaving work at 7pm on a friday evening and i still had my calm.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

case studies in stoicism: the $1M issue

while enjoying my vacation in colorado, i would occasionally log into my work email and check my inbox.  most emails were low priority, but there were two issues that appeared to be brewing.  one, i could manage when i returned to work.  the other had the potential to impact a project budget by $1M;  to put it in context, a $1M issue is somewhat of a 'big deal' with the project manager.

the issue was complex enough that i did not immediately react to the email, nor did i respond to the email.  i decided i needed a clearer head and that the issue was not so urgent that it could wait until i returned.  then i put on my stoic glasses and tried to view the issue in context.

was this anything in my control?  should i worry about this for the remainder of my vacation?  was the $1M 'real' or was it a non-issue?

i decided it was not wholly in my control and even if it were a real issue, i would still need to gather second and third opinions to confirm before any communication up-line to project managers and management.  i focused on enjoying my vacation.

when i returned from vacation, i re-read emails, talked to people and held meetings to fully understand the issue.

as it turned out, it was a non-issue.  it was a 'behind-the-scenes' accounting task that was not going to cause the project to go over by $1M.

the pre-stoic version of me would have worried and stewed over this email all during my vacation and up to the point of confirming it was a non-issue.  the stoic version of me was able to focus on the present (my vacation) and had less worry.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

seneca: dialogues and essays (john davie) - on providence

"i shall restore you to good relations with the gods, who are best to the best men.  for it is not Nature's way to let good ever do harm to good; between good men and the gods exists a friendship sealed by virtue.  friendship, do i say?  no, rather it is a bond of relationship and similarity, since undoubtedly a good man differs from god only in the sphere of time; he is god's pupil and imitator, his true offspring whom that illustrious parent, no gentle trainer in virtue, rears with severity, as strict fathers do.  and so, when you see good men of whom the gods approve toiling and sweating, with a steep road to climb, and bad men, on the other hand, enjoying themselves, surrounded by pleasures, consider that our sons please us by their self-control, but our house-slaves by their free spirit, that we restrain the former by tighter discipline and nurture the latter's boldness of manner.  it is no different with god, let me assure you: he does not pamper a good man like a favorite slave; he puts him to the test, hardens him, and makes him ready for his service." (4)

"adversity's onslaughts are powerless to affect the spirit of a brave man." (4)

"[man] conquers [external forces], and as a man who in all else is calm and tranquil of mind he rises to face whatever attacks him.  all adversity he regards as a training exercise." (4)

"excellence withers without an adversary: the time for us to see how great it is, how much its force, is when it displays its power through endurance.  i assure you, good men should do the same: they should not be afraid to face hardships and difficulties, or complain of fate; whatever happens, good men should take it in good part, and turn it to a good end; it is not what you endure that matters, but how you endure it." (5)

"it is a father's heart that god shows to good men; he loves them in a manly way, and says, 'let them know the pain of toil, of suffering, of loss, so that they may acquire true strength,'" (5)

"you have passed through life with no antagonist to face you; no one will know what you were capable of, not even yourself.  for a man needs to be put to the test if he is to gain self-knowledge; only by trying does he learn what his capacities are." (10)

"true worth is eager for danger." (10)

"you would come to know a ship's pilot in a storm and a soldier in the line of battle.  how can i know with what strength of mind you would face poverty, if you abound in wealth? .., disaster is the opportunity for true worth." (11)

"and so it is that god hardens, reviews, and disciplines those who have won his approval and love; but those whom he seems to favor, whom he seems to spare, he is keeping soft against the misfortunes that are to come.  you are wrong if you think anyone has been exempted from ill; the man who has known happiness for many a year will receive his share some day; whoever seems to have been set free from this has only been granted a delay." (11)

"shun luxury, shun good fortune that makes men weak and causes their minds to grow sodden, and, unless something happens to remind them of their human lot, they waste away, lulled to sleep, as it were, in a drunkenness that has no end." (11)

"would it not be better to endure unending misfortune, having enlisted the help of virtue, than to burst with limitless and extravagant blessings?  men meet a gentler death through starvation, but explode from gorging themselves." (12)

"surely you don't suppose that spartans hate their children when they test their character by means of public floggings?  their own fathers encourage them to endure bravely the blows of the lash, and ask them, mangled and half-dead though they are, to continue offering their wounded backs to further woulds.  what, then, is remarkable in god testing noble spirits with severity?" (12)

"fortune lays into us with the whip and tears our flesh: let us endure it.  it is not cruelty but a contest, and the more often we engage in it, the stronger our hearts will be: the sturdiest part of the body is the one that is kept in constant use.  we must offer ourselves to Fortune, so that in struggling with he, we may be hardened by her: little by little she will make us a match for her, and constant exposure to risk will make us despise dangers.  so the bodies of mariners are tough from the buffeting of the sea, the hands of the farmers calloused, the muscles of soldiers strong to enable them to hurl the javelin, the legs of athletes agile: in each case the part of the body exercised is the strongest.  it is by enduring ills that the mind can acquire contempt for enduring them." (12)

"it is expedient even for good men, in order that they may be fearless, to spend much time in fearful pursuits, and to endure with a patient mind things that are bad only to the one who bears them badly." (13)

"toil summons the best men." (13)

"good men work, spend their energies and have them spent and all without complaint; they are not dragged along by Fortune but follow her and match her pace." (13-14)

"we should endure everything with courage, because it is not by accident, as we suppose, that everything happens, but by design ... what is the duty of a good man? to offer himself to fate." (14)

"as fire tests gold, so misfortunes tests brave men." (15)

"the soul that is earth-bound and sluggish will follow the safe course: virtue takes to heights." (15)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

2016.08.14 morning walk

when i play basketball, i go not only to raise early in the morning and welcome my day, but i go to exercise my body.  and when i play basketball, i will go with a social mind.  miss a shot - leave it be; no need for loud grunts.  a moving pick - move around it the more quickly.  a bad call - exercise virtue; self-restraint.

i go not only to play basketball and to exercise, but i go to keep my mind tranquil.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

2016.08.13 morning walk, thoughts

do not let the burdens of debt hang over you like gloom.  this is not a misfortune, but it is good fortune to demonstrate your commitment and ability to practice courage.  it will not last forever.  make a plan; execute the plan; be happy.

order your life.  order it at work.  order it in the family.  order it in the present.

spend time with J, Em, B, Er & C.  commit time with them; teach them order.  understand what makes them tick.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

the caine mutiny by herman wouk

queeg playing with his balls while testifying in the trial
i read the caine mutiny by herman wouk over my vacation last week.

good book - held my interest the entire time.  i don't know if the experience of willie keith or any of the other characters, was typical of the wwii sailor or not.  the book was quite popular when it came out in 1951, just a few years after the war ended.  shortly after the book came out, it was made into a movie with humphrey bogart.  with this in mind, it must have hit a collective nerve with the nation.

the movie has a 92% freshness along with an 87% liked rating.  i watched the movie from amazon after i finished the book.  similarly to the book, the movie held my attention, but i don't think bogart did a great job of portraying queeg.

the plot does a pretty good job of making the reader guess what is going to happen.  i could feel the 'set-up' when keith didn't like captain de vries (the first captain of the caine).  so it wasn't too surprising when keith seemingly wished de vries was the captain instead of queeg.  naturally, i felt that queeg was crazy - not clinically, but rather he was just a crazy captain in the sense that he was incompetent.  i would imagine that many people have seen other people similar to queeg.  queeg was "never wrong" and made any excuse possible to demonstrate he was right.

i was cheering when mayrk finally commandeered the caine and relieved queeg.  i felt confident mayrk would be acquitted ... until greenwald explained the nature of the situation.  the trial was the best part of the book.  i often wondered if "a few good men" received its inspiration from the caine mutiny.

the most shocking part of the book was when greenwald excoriated keefe.  i didn't see that coming.  i imagine that was put into the book to satisfy military meat-heads.  from a civilian perspective, mayrk did what any normal person would do.  but from a military perspective, respect for command is supreme.

after the trial, the book seemed to drag on too long.  the wrap up of the keith - may wynn relationship was kind of dumb.  they don't even get together at the end of the book.  in the movie, they seem end up together.

one other note - keith's dad was not in the movie.  but in the book, he seemed to play a quasi big role in persuading keith to stick it out with may wynn.  i particularly liked the letter his father wrote to him.

in summary - good book!  i'd give it 7 out of 10.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

meditations 2:16

from meditations book 2: 16:
The soul of a man harms itself, first and foremost, when it becomes (as far as it can) a separate growth, a sort of tumour on the universe: because to resent anything that happens is to separate oneself in revolt from Nature, which holds in collective embrace the particular natures of all other things. Secondly, when it turns away from another human being, or is even carried so far in opposition as to intend him harm - such is the case in the souls of those gripped by anger. A soul harms itself, thirdly, when it gives in to pleasure or pain. Fourthly, whenever it dissimulates, doing or saying anything feigned or false. Fifthly, whenever it fails to direct any of its own actions or impulses to a goal, but acts at random, without conscious attention - whereas even the most trivial action should be undertaken in reference to the end. And the end for rational creatures is to follow the reason and the rule of that most venerable archetype of a governing state - the Universe.
in summary, the five key points to remember are:

  1. amor fati; do not resent your lot in life, rather love your unique circumstance and perspective
  2. love others
  3. do not assent to pleasure and pain
  4. be a genuine person
  5. act with reason; have a goal in mind whenever you act; be conscious - do not act like an animal

Sunday, June 12, 2016

green & love wage war on weight

the nba finals are in full swing (well, it might be over soon, actually, if the warrriors beat the cavs in game 5), this article is a very good read and extols the virtue of self-discipline.  we would all tend to think nba players are special and super-human, but in fact, they face the very same issues we all face - trying to increase the virtue of temperance.



Sunday, June 12, 2016
How Draymond Green and Kevin Love wage war -- on their weight

CLEVELAND -- Kevin Love fervently believes you are what you eat. In fact, he literally counts on it.

"Not 10 almonds, not 18 almonds -- 14 almonds,'' trainer Rob McClanaghan says when discussing Love, his most dedicated client. "Kevin is exactly on point. If he's supposed to eat every two hours, then on the days when he wants to sleep in, he'll wake up, eat and go back to sleep.''

Love has so drastically altered his eating habits that his teammates heckle him on social media. He switched to a plant-based diet in 2012, with salmon and grilled chicken as his preferred entrees. He eats five to six small meals a day, and when he was traded to Cleveland in 2014, Love hired a full-time chef who prepares menus that feature organic egg whites, beet juice, shredded wheat with almond butter and protein shakes.

During a team breakfast before Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Cavs players were devouring pancakes, waffles and bacon.

Not Love.

"Kev had two bran muffins and a banana with skim milk,'' Cavs forward Richard Jefferson says. "He eats like an 80-year-old lady who's trying make sure she's regular.''

Love often transports his own meals -- a pair of kale salads and grilled chicken -- on the team plane rather than be tempted by a postgame spread that might be high in calories and carbohydrates. The ribbing, he says, comes with the territory.

"They look at [me] kind of funny when I walk in with a Whole Foods bag or something,'' Love says. "That's not generally the best thing to do when you've got a group of teammates that'll clown on you.''

But Love recognizes he needs to eat this way -- especially as his Cavs prepare to play their 101st game of the season. There's a misconception that NBA players can ingest whatever they like during a long, rigorous NBA regular season that spans six months and 82 games and optimally another two months of playoffs -- yet all that toil and sweat and training does not translate into a free culinary pass.

NBA players, in truth, are just like us. They count calories. They crave late-night snacks. They drink wine, margaritas or a frosty beer, sometimes excessively. When they're stressed, they turn to comfort foods, whether it's the homemade meatballs their mother made when they were young, or the chicken fettuccine Alfredo that Love's mom has perfected.

"People definitely think athletes can eat whatever they want because they run it off,'' says Dr. Mike Roussell, a nutritionist who works with numerous pro athletes, including Lakers center Roy Hibbert. "Even in the front office, some have that belief. I was blown away by the number of [NBA] athletes who were buying chicken fingers at the arena before a game or going to Subway late at night after the game. They are literally just like everyone else.''

But players are now beginning to embrace the notion that proper nutrition provides an edge.

Consider Draymond Green: The Warriors forward dropped to the 35th pick in the 2012 draft in part because his body fat, vertical leap and conditioning were subpar. But after his rookie season with Golden State, Green dropped 20 pounds by eliminating what he called the "bad carbs,'' including his beloved tacos from a Vargas & Sons Tortillas in Saginaw, Michigan. Green says his lighter build has alleviated chronic knee pain, improved his stamina and enabled him to him cut down on mental errors.

Even LeBron James, whose chiseled physique is the envy of many of his NBA peers, has undergone what some would call a dietary transformation, turning heads in 2014 when he released pictures on social media of his slimmed-down frame. It was the result, he said at the time, of a low-carb diet.

Golden State center Andrew Bogut dropped 22 pounds after the Warriors won the championship last June by eliminating processed sugars. The catalyst, he says, was an Australian documentary entitled, "Is Sugar the New Fat?" After watching it, Bogut began checking boxes for content. He didn't alter his workout, just eliminated the sugars -- and the "energy crashes" that accompanied them. Bogut says he used to mock "label readers."

"Now," he says, "I'm one of them."

CHARLES BARKLEY SAYS there is one NBA truth that is indisputable: "You can't make a living playing basketball if you are fat or out of shape,'' he says.

Barkley knows all about the slippery slope of weight gain. In fact, he might be the only NBA player in history who purposely packed on pounds to sabotage which team would select him in the 1984 NBA draft.

When Barkley, who at Auburn was aptly nicknamed The Round Mound of Rebound, visited with the Philadelphia 76ers a month before the draft, he weighed 292 pounds. Owner Harold Katz was enamored with the power forward and told Barkley he wanted to draft him, but Katz expected Barkley to slim down before they'd select him with the fifth overall pick.

"Harold said, 'Let's see how dedicated you are,' '' Barkley recalls. "When you come back two days before the draft, I expect you to weigh 284.''

Barkley went to Houston, trained every day, cut out sugars, limited his alcohol intake and loaded up on fruits and vegetables. He whittled himself down to 280 pounds, but a few days before draft, his agent, Lance Luchnick, informed him the Sixers were over the salary cap and would only be able to offer him a contract worth $75,000 (no rookie salary cap existed at the time). Barkley panicked. He didn't want to be shortchanged on his first NBA contract.

"I decided," he says now, " 'I'm going to make sure the Sixers don't draft me.' "

Over the next 48 hours, Barkley says, he and Luchnick embarked on what can only be described as an eating bender. They found a Denny's and gorged on double orders of the Grand Slam breakfast -- two pancakes, two eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and bread. Then, for good measure, Barkley ordered an extra stack of flapjacks. For most of the afternoon, Barkley guzzled soda and milkshakes and feasted on lobster rolls. At dinner, he ordered two T-bone steaks.

"Then we got up the next morning and did it all over again,'' Barkley says.

By the time he arrived at the Sixers' facility for his weigh-in, he had ballooned to 301 pounds. "[Katz] called me every name in the book,'' Barkley says. "He was so mad. Nobody knew about my crazy eating binge, but I figured, 'Hey, it worked.' ''

“People definitely think athletes can eat whatever they want because they run it off. [But] they are literally like everybody else.

”- Dr. Mike Roussell, nutritionist On draft night, a smug Barkley sat back, waiting to see which unlucky player would go to the Sixers instead of him. He recalls with clarity hearing newly minted NBA commissioner David Stern uttering the words, "With the fifth pick in the 1984 NBA draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select ... Charles Barkley!"

"I'm sitting there f---ing shocked,'' Barkley says. "I can't believe it. I say to my agent, 'Oh, great. Now I'm fat and broke!' ''

Solutions emerged: The Sixers freed up some cap space, and paid Barkley $2 million over four years. And Barkley discovered a lifelong mentor in Moses Malone, who quickly informed him that being fat and lazy wouldn't be acceptable. A chagrined Barkley slimmed down to 255 pounds, and within two seasons was named to the first of 11 consecutive All-Star teams.

FORMER PHOENIX SUNS center Oliver Miller loved pizza.

Danny Ainge, who played with Miller in Phoenix, says the 10-year veteran, who at his peak weighed over 375 pounds, ate so much of it that the Suns took drastic measures, including hospitalizing him and hooking him up to IV fluids.

"But then they found out he was ordering Domino's from the hospital," Ainge says. "They had to put a security guard outside the room.''

Barkley also played with Miller. "When we were on the road, we'd see the [pizza] boxes piled up outside his room,'' Barkley says. "I never understood when guys were making all that money why they couldn't stop eating. It seems crazy to me.''

In his current role as president of basketball operations of the Boston Celtics, Ainge has dealt with players who similarly struggled with weight: Glen "Big Baby" Davis (whose contract with Boston included a weight clause); Jared Sullinger; even former Georgetown big man Mike Sweetney, whom Ainge believed had the skills of a 10-year NBA pro.

"First of all, I don't think anyone that is overweight wants to be overweight,'' Ainge says. "They want to be in great shape, and most of them work at it, to some degree. A lot of big guys, like Oliver and Big Baby, were good players who could all play heavy. That was part of the problem. They could be somewhat effective, but they were never as good as they could be.

"And, eventually, it catches up with you.''

BUT IT'S NOT as easy as simply losing weight. Becoming lighter, in many cases, often doesn't translate into peak performance.

Roy Hibbert, for example, dropped nearly 30 pounds at the request of former Pacers coach Jim O'Brien, who favored an up-tempo playing style. He figured if Hibbert lost weight it would make him faster and improve his performance (it did neither). But when the Pacers hired Frank Vogel, who preferred physical, smash-mouth basketball, in 2011 he asked Hibbert to put the weight back on.

By then, Hibbert, who in his early years ordered from fatty, late-night hotel menus, had hired Roussell, who counseled Hibbert on how to gain back what nutritionists call "clean weight.'' A main tenet of Roussell's plan revolves around one question: Could you eat this same meal in two hours? If not, Roussell says, the portion is too big.

"The hardest thing is when I'm left to my own devices,'' Hibbert says now. "That's why I've taken it out of my own hands.''

Today, Roussell plans all of Hibbert's meals and has them delivered to the team hotels when he's on the road. Occasionally, Roussell will even attempt to satisfy some of Hibbert's cravings. Roussell has, for instance, created a healthy chili cheese dog by finding a chicken hot dog that has only three grams of fat and eight grams of protein ("I spent months looking for it,'' he says), extra lean ground beef, reduced-fat cheese and a high fiber non-refined grain bun. Roussell also devised a healthy lobster macaroni and cheese (whole-wheat elbow noodles are the key ingredient).

Yet even the best nutritionist can't transform everything into a healthy option.

"There's no such thing as a low-calorie red velvet cake,'' Roussell says.

NBA VETERANS, LIKE most everyone else, eventually come to the same conclusion: The older they get, the more diligently they have to watch their diet.

When Jefferson was young he ate steak three nights a week on the road. Those days are over, he says, adding that he also has banned Doritos from his home. "I'm going to be 36 in a few weeks,'' Jefferson says. "I can't afford that stuff anymore.''

In 1988, Brian Shaw was a Celtics rookie whose typical pregame meal included a Big Mac, fries and a soda. In 2014, then the head coach of the Denver Nuggets, Shaw was aghast to see pizza and nachos in his locker room before the game, and blamed his team's slow starts on the greasy grub. He swept it all into the trash and replaced it with salads and chicken.

McClanaghan says his client, Derrick Rose, took the NBA by storm and won rookie of the year but was fueled by fast food. "With Derrick, it used to be a Burger King pregame meal,'' McClanaghan says. "The first two years he wouldn't even look at a salad. But now, as he's growing older, he's eased into it.''

Breaking those habits, says Shawn Windle, the head strength and conditioning coach of the Indiana Pacers, requires that players view their on-court performances as by-products of what they consume -- something Windle says is a constant struggle.

"One of the frequent conversations I have with our players is, 'I had pizza before the game and I had 25 [points]. Tell me how it will be different if I eat salmon and broccoli,' '' Windle says. "You try to explain to them they might not have the same energy or stamina, or that the pizza might not show up in the box score tonight, but it may tomorrow.''

Even LeBron acknowledged before Game 3 of the Finals that he has adjusted his diet as he has gotten older. His latest concession? Cutting out junk food.

"But it's very difficult to be in a household with three kids when they run around and put [the junk food]) in your face,'' James says. "Every now and then I dab in it to make them happy -- but actually it makes me happy.''

DALLAS MAVERICKS COACH Rick Carlisle says the one thing he has learned in his 27 years in the league is not to judge a player by his body type. Mavericks guard Raymond Felton, for instance, is more diligent about his diet than Russell Westbrook, yet you'd never know it by a simple eye test. Two basketball players -- two entirely different bodies and skill sets -- can follow the same diet and do the same workouts and still have dramatically different results, simply based on their genetics.

Roussell says LeBron's "genetic gift" is the reason his so-called "low-carb diet" in 2014 generated such quick and startling results.

"They were touting this low-carb eating plan -- except it wasn't low carb at all,'' says Roussell, who has not worked with James. "His 'low-carb' salad had a mango plopped in the middle of it. It had chutney. It had carbs and sugar like nobody's business. But that's not unusual. Even people with the best resources get terrible advice when it comes to nutrition.''

And while genetics certainly play a role in dieting and a players' ability to gain and lose weight, the temptations on the road also bring undeniable challenges. Limiting nightlife is a formidable obstacle to health during the season. Alcohol, a staple of NBA nightlife, has calories and often leads to poor late-night food choices, not to mention a penchant for missing breakfast the next morning. The "after-hours" cycle, two team general managers interviewed for this story admit, is one of the most difficult for their players to break. "If I could keep my guys in at night after games, we'd add five wins to our season,'' one Western Conference GM said.

ALTHOUGH THE CAVALIERS enjoy teasing Love about his meal choices -- "he eats like a woman's fitness champion that needs to be in a bikini flexing,'' Jefferson cracks -- they are quick to add they respect Love for the discipline he has displayed in his efforts to remain lean.

Love didn't always exemplify such dietary diligence. He was once an easily winded, lumbering big man at UCLA who weighed north of 270 pounds. When he first came to the NBA, he admittedly shied away from setting up in the post because he was worried his limited lift wouldn't allow him to get his shot off.

“If I could keep my guys in at night after games, we'd add five wins to our season.

”- Western Conference GM, on the late-night NBA cycle, which often includes unhealthy eating decisions McClanaghan says Love is more explosive now, better able to create space for himself with his step-back jumper and is a better ball handler, a direct result of improved mental sharpness and reduced fatigue from dropping 30 pounds.

Now during their offseason workouts, Love can train for a solid 60 minutes without bending over, a significant departure from his early days at UCLA and in Minnesota, when his added weight required a change of shirt and shorts hourly because he was sweating so profusely.

"When he first got to the NBA, he'd be shot at the end of games,'' McClanaghan says. "Now he has the same energy the whole time.

"Kevin has made a serious effort with this. He looks at it as an investment. I'd say he achieved it with his [$114 million] contract.''

Love has been counting almonds for more than five seasons now. Bogut has avoided all processed sugars for 11 months, but still craves Cadbury chocolate and Australian Mars bars, a treat he'll allow himself during the offseason, he says. Green, for his part, struggled in the early days of his low-carb crusade, but admits now that's it's simply part of his routine. "Just like eating bad was normal," he says, "now eating healthy is normal.''

As for LeBron, chutney or no chutney, anything that strengthens his game -- low-carb, high-carb or somewhere in between -- should send potential defenders scurrying for their own low-carb program -- sans mango, of course.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

* exodus by leon uris

* i found a stash of my high school and college book reviews. any askterisked titles denotes a book review from this period.

february 21, 1994

exodus, by leon uris, is an exciting book about how the jews gained their freedom after hundreds of years of persecution by the russians, germans and many other countries, that tried to exterminate the jewish race.  anyone who reads this book will gain an understanding of the jews and see why is was so important that they should fight for a homeland of their own.

the novel starts out on cyprus with a reporter meeting up with a nurse and old friend - kitty fremont.  kitty was on vacation in cyprus, but later went to work in a british detained persons camp for exiled jews after world war two.  she later meets a man by the name of ari ben canaan, who is a leader of a jewish organization.  together with the report, mark parker, they get an old ship, the exodus, and train children and prepare them to go to israel.  mark writes a story about how the jews are treated by the british and sends it back to london in order to get the world on the side of the jews.  finally the british let the boat go to israel.  when they get there, the organization gets the children into camps and cities called kibbutzes.  kitty also goes with the children, but mainly for the reason of a girl named karen clement.  karen went mainly for a boy named dov landau, who was an excellent forger.  when karen and dov arrive there, karen stays with kitty and dov goes and joins the maccabees, a terrorist group fighting for the freedom of the jews.  later on, dov and a man by the name of akiva, who was ari's uncle, are captured by the british.  ari goes to the maccabees and helps them get akiva and dov out of th British jail.  their plan succeeds, but akiva dies and ari is shot in the leg.  at about the same time, kitty and karen were preparing to leave to the united states.  when kitty hears that ari is injured, she goes to him and nurses him back to health.  after all this time, the united nations votes on the issue of the jews obtaining a homeland or not.  the jews get their homeland.  the arabs did all that they could do to keep israel from becoming a state and they end up fighting the jews to do so.  the jews put up a miraculous fight to keep their homeland.  they end up keeping all their homeland at the end.

the theme of the book is nothing byt to show the world what the jews went through to get their state.  leon uris, just as his other books, puts fiction with reality.  in this book, he uses flash-back to tell the story of the jews before, during and after world war two.  the graphic disgust of what the germans did to the jews is also portrayed in this novel.  if there were any lesson to be learned from the book, it would be the reminder of what the jews went through and how no one should ever go through what they experienced.

exodus is an excellent book to read if one wants to lean the story of the jews.  leon uris is probably one of the best sources for this subject.  he spent many years researching, reporting and travelling through the countryside of israel.  exodus might also perhaps be one of the best books about the jewish story.

mr. puckett gave me a 46/50; with the comments, "don't tell so much of the story and devote more time to response and reaction"  reading this again, i vigorously agree with his assessment!

* fahrenheit 451 by ray bradbury

* i found a stash of my high school and college book reviews.  any askterisked titles denotes a book review from this period.

february 14, 1994

Fahrenheit 451, by ray bradbury, takes place in a distant future of the 1990's.  guy montag is a fireman who burns books rather than saving houses and other burning buildings.  one day he meets a girl who is carefree and looks at the simple pleasures of life.  she ends up talking to montag, almost every day, about the little things like looking at the dew on the grass in the morning or the smell of burning leaves.  montag starts to change from being a slave to the society to becoming an individual for himself.  later on, guy finds out that the girl and her family disappear and he becomes suspicious.  guy also starts to take books from the houses he is burning.  capteam beatty, the head of the firemen, comes to talk to montag.  beatty knows that montag is starting to question the society in which they live.  beatty ends up explaining the reasons behind burning the books.  guy ends up killing all the firemen in his unit during a burning and then goes on the run.  he escapes and just when he gets to a camp of runaways, just like him, another war breaks out and the city he left was obliterated.  the story ends with the runaways walking back to the city.

this book is well-written and has an excellent meaning to it when it talks about censorship and how far it could go.  this book also shows the change in guy montag at the end of the story.  at the beginning, guy was just another person, but as the story progressed he gradually changed from being a common villain, to a hero who has beaten the corrupted system.

the theme of the book is all about censorship.  ray bradbury's whole point was to avoid the censorship of anything pure.  he protests the whole idea of shortening plays and writing condensed versions of plays and books and whatever else is written by original authors.  he is against anything that cuts, destroys, or makes anything of the work, other than itself in its original form.

fahrenheit 451 is one of the best books that has been written by ray bradbury and has an excellent message that every person in american should learn and remember.  every person is himself and no one else should judge how he should express himself or take away the right to do so.

mr. puckett gave me a 49/50 on the report; with the comment 'a little too much story-telling but not bad.  what is the significance of the title?'

Monday, February 22, 2016

read two things related to stoicism and food today

a little context first ...

i did a fabulous job losing weight from march to august of 2015.  i kept the weight off from august to november.  but then from thanksgiving until today, i've been gaining about 0.4 lbs a week.  so, last night, while i was trying to fall asleep, i was meditating and thinking of ways to eat less and eat better.

then today, while reading, i came across two food-related stoic thoughts.

first, in reddit, this post discussed food meditation.

and secondly, while reading stoicism and the art of happiness, i read this:
"here's a novel idea ... try eating a more healthy diet for the next week.  there is an important 'stoic' twist, though.  when you're trying to stick to your plan, rather than motivating yourself by thinking about some desired outcome, such as losing weight or improving your health, etc., focus instead on the inherent value of developing self-discipline. losing weight or improving your health isn’t guaranteed with any diet; it’s not directly under your control, but partly in the hands of fate. it’s also something that’s off in the future, a ‘hope’, a consequence of your actions rather than something happening ‘here and now’. by contrast, prudent self-discipline is good and praiseworthy in itself, whatever the long-term result.

you don’t need to imitate an ancient stoic or cynic diet, just challenge yourself to eat more healthily for a week or so, using your own common sense to guide you. for the record, though, the stoics followed the advice of socrates that we should ‘eat to live’ rather than ‘living to eat’. in his lecture on food, musonius rufus argued that mastering one’s appetite is the very foundation of training in self-control. he says stoics should drink only water and avoid gourmet meals, preferring vegetarian food that’s nourishing but cheap, convenient to obtain, and easy to prepare (for example, milk, cheese, honey and certain fruits and vegetables, etc.). he says Stoics should eat slowly and with mindfulness, exercising moderation and self-control. for some modern readers just having still water for a week, instead of other drinks, might be a good initial challenge.

remember, the goal is to improve your self-discipline and related ‘virtues’ or character strengths, rather than to lose weight or gain physical health. if you’re exercising self-discipline and perseverance, though, it makes sense to do it in a healthy direction, doesn’t it? stoics refer to physical health and fitness as something ‘preferred’ but ultimately irrelevant, or ‘indifferent’, in relation to true happiness and fulfillment. cultivating a healthy character, is infinitely more important to them than cultivating a healthy body. nevertheless, we develop self-discipline precisely by trying to do healthy and appropriate things in the world, whether or not they turn out as we’d have preferred."

Monday, January 25, 2016

the car battery and the manager

during the week of january 17 to 23, i noticed my truck would hesitate to start.  being almost 4 years old, i sense the battery was about to die.  i figured it would last a week and i could get a new battery on the weekend.

friday came and after i finished work, i decided to leave a little early and go to the shop to replace the battery.  however, the truck did not start and i knew the battery was dead.  i needed to be at my son's flag football practice by 4:30pm.  it was just before 3:00pm and i was an hour away.

i contacted the site security and asked if they had jumper cables; they said they didn't and in fact, it was campus policy that vehicles cannot be jump started on the premises.  i needed to have my truck towed off the campus.  so i called a wrecker service and they said they would be there in a the next hour or so.

next, i sent an email out to the parents of my flag football team to let them know to either carry on without me or to just cancel practice.

then i waited.

it was at this point that i felt completely calm.  it was unusual because if these circumstances had happened to me in 2014 or 2013, i think i would have been a complete ball of anxiety and worry.  but in 2016, i was calm and welcomed the time to my self to sit in my inner citadel.

this is what stoicism has done for me.

on monday january 25, i attended an all-day meeting with a manager and his leadership team.  this manager is known for his deliberate and very meandering and over-detailed meetings.  i was there to share some financial data with him and his team.

as i presented the data and began answering questions, it became evident that i had committed an error and that the manager had made an error in his assumptions which impacted the data as well.  in that situation, i calmly fixed my error and was able to keep a very clear head as i addressed the manager's concerns.

had this happened to my in 2014 or 2013, i most likely would have been sweating and quite flustered.  but in 2016, i was able to keep my cool and address the situation dispassionately.

life continues to get busier and more stressful for me; but i have never felt calmer and more in control than i have this year - the year i have embraced stoicism.

in a conversation with my wife, she acknowledged that i am handling the extreme stress of my job and all the other demands of life.  in 2014 or 2013, i would have been very grumpy and moody.  in 2016, i am even-keeled.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

thoughts from this week

as i listen to meditations every day on my commute and as i try my best to practice stoicism, i keep thinking that i ought to do as marcus did and simply write my own version of meditations.  perhaps sometimes i can tweet my thoughts while others i can write on my blog.

two recurring thoughts from this week:

one
the impermanent nature of things; change is constant.  the brand new campus, on which i work, will one day be abandoned - therefore there is no need for awe.  everything new that is being built now, will one day be old like much of the roads and buildings i see today.

as marcus said (and i'm paraphrasing here), a 40 year old man has seen it all.

marcus also quotes epictetus who says (again, i'm paraphrasing) when you kiss your child at night, think that perhaps they will die the next day.  this helps to focus your thoughts on what's important now - in the present.  i did this this week with my children.

two
focus on the present.  i'm in a bad habit of leaving work on friday and immediately feeling depressed because i know the weekend will end soon and i'll be back to work on monday before i know it.  not only does this rob me of the present, but it seemingly defeats the purpose of having a weekend away from the normal monday - friday work.

to myself, i say, organize yourself friday afternoon and leave urgent affairs in a good position.  be prepared for monday and then leave work for the weekend; both physically and mentally.  then focus on the weekend and the matters of the weekend.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

things i'd like to accomplish over the holidays

just putting some ideas down about what i'd like to have accomplished over the next two weeks during my holiday break.

  1. list out stoic practices (see here) and create terms for them that are meaningful to me
  2. develop a cadence for practicing them and writing about how i practice them
  3. play at least 7 chess games (30 0); play lots of blitz and solve a lot of problems on chesstempo
  4. start recording my own audio book of meditations (so i can listen to it every day during my commute)
  5. plan and begin creating lessons for the sunday school class i teach (for 2016)
  6. finish reading and creating book reviews for the obstacle is the way
there might be others that i think of and add to the list

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

practice being in need of only a few things

while perusing a stoic blog today, i came across this post.

in that post, there was a quote.  i searched this quote and found the full quote at this link.

here is the quote by crates of thebes:
practice being in need of only a few things, for this is the closest thing to god.
for the gods need nothing.  but, so that you may learn more exactly what is involved in having few needs ... reflect that children have more needs than adults, women than men, invalids than the healthy, and, in general, the inferior everywhere has more needs than the superior.  therefore the gods have need of nothing and those nearest to them have the fewest needs.
it is a worthy pursuit, in all aspects of life, to need little.  in possessions; in entertainment; in clothing; in food.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

make your life count

in reading meditations this morning, i came across this passage:

people marrying, having children, falling ill, dying, fighting, feasting, trading, farming, flattering, pushing, suspecting plotting, praying for the death of others, grumbling at their lot, falling in love, storing up wealth, longing for consulships and kingships.  and now that life of theirs is gone, vanished. 
similarly, look at the histories of other eras and indeed whole nations, and see how many lives of striving met with a quick fall and resolution into elements.  above all, review in your mind those you have seen yourself in empty struggles, refusing to act in accord with their own natural constitution, to hold tight to it and find it sufficient.  and in this context you must remember that there is proportionate value in our attention to each action - so you will not lose heart if you devote no more time than they warrant to matters of less importance. 
so where should a man direct his endeavour?  here only - a right mind, action for the common good, speech incapable of lies, a disposition to welcome all that happens as necessary, intelligible, flowing from an equally intelligible spring of origin.

i have just completed an enterprise leadership training course.  to say the least, it was inspiring and insightful.  i feel changed and now i am change.  no, that is not a typo.  i did not intend to write "i am changed", rather "i am change."  my paradigm has shifted from passive to active.

to help further explain, allow me to use a couple of seemingly cliche clips from dead poets society.





this one life, is all we have to live. weather we believe in an afterlife or eternal life or not, that does not matter. for the response to either belief is the same: that we have one life to live; one life to prove what we are worth.  and should we live a life of pleasure, devoted to hedonism?  should we eat, drink and be merry all the days of our life?  the stoic says, no.

the stoic believes in living a right life; a life of virtues; a life of improvement and in helping the common good.

so, what will you do?  how will you seize the day?  what verse will you contribute to the powerful play?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

178.8 - a new 20 year low

In March this year, I was bouncing between 215 and 213 lbs.  I set a goal for myself to drop to 180 lbs.  I went to work by developing two habits.

First, I developed the habit of waking up between 4 and 4:30am every weekday and going on a 4 mile walk (1 hour).  I had been developing this habit for the last two to three years.  This year, I simply didn't let myself off the hook.  I'm at a point now where I simply can't live without going on my 4 mile week day walk.  It's like sleep - I just do it.  As a side tip, I leveraged the "Alarm Clock Xtreme Free" app to ensure I get up and stay up in the morning.  In order to turn the alarm off, I have to solve 6 complex math problems, which require me to get up, sit at my computer, open the calculator and punch in the numbers.  By the time I'm done solving the problems, I'm too awake to go back to bed.

Second, I developed the habit of weighing myself before and after my 4 mile walk.  I have a "weight record template" I print out and hang on my closet wall, right above the scale.  I love recording my weight and seeing how it drops.  It's basically positive reinforcement for walking and eating well.

Along with those two habits, I developed a system that works quite well for me.  This system allows me to enjoy eating the foods I love while still losing weight.  The system goes like this: Monday through Friday are "work days."  It helps to have a very busy life and work schedule to keep your mind occupied.  Sitting around being bored at home causes boredom eating.  During the week days, the only food I eat (and the only food my mind and body really need) is as follows:

1. Isagenix Cleanse mix + Crystal Light (caffeinated) + 90oz of ice water.  I drink this on my commute to work.

2. Isagenix Refresh (like Gatorade) + Crystal Light (caffeinated) + 90oz of ice water.  I drink this during my first two hours at work.  I also take an Isagenix metabolisim boost pill.

3. 90 oz of ice water. I drink this during the latter part of the morning.

4. Depending on the day, I may eat lunch with co-workers.  But on those days when I don't eat lunch, I eat a 30 calorie Isagenix wafer.

Now, at this point, you're probably freaking out about the lack of food that I'm eating.  And you're probably wondering how this is even possible.  Believe me, I've tried lots of different systems (eating breakfast, lunch and dinner; eating six small meals, snacking on veggies ... I've tried a lot of different systems).  But, for many different reasons, those systems just didn't work for me.  The weight would stay on; I would get tripped up on trying to keep track of calories; my mind would be fuzzy, I'd be sleepy ... there are many reasons why those systems didn't work.  The bottom line is, this system works for me on many different levels.  I have energy.  I have focus.  My mind is clear.  I'm not so sleepy.  It is sustainable.

5. After commuting home, if I didn't eat lunch, I will have a small, healthy snack and then make myself an Isagenix protein shake.  One scoop of ionix and two scoops of the strawberry protein mix with iced water.

6. After the shake for dinner, I drink 90 oz of water.  And then I'm pretty much done ... I feel full and I don't think of food or eating.

That is my routine during the week.

Then on the weekends, if I feel so inclined, I will allow myself to indulge a little - go out to dinner.  I also allow myself to eat my favorite indulgence: frozen greek yogurt (usually blueberry or peach).  I also double my miles on Saturday and Sunday.  I will walk 8 miles each morning.  So, 4 miles each weekday, 8 on Saturday and Sunday equates to about 36 miles a week along with normal walking.  Per my FitBit, I average about 13,000 steps a day.

And that is pretty much it - that is my system that works so well for me.  I love it!  It's sustainable!  And I don't anticipate any changes to my system anytime soon.  I think the weight will stay off for a long time.

So what has this system accomplished for me?  I weighed in at 178.8 this morning.  According my my records and estimates, that is the lowest I've weighed in about 20 years.  That is even lower than when I did the Shangri-La diet 9 years ago (see this post).

The next habit I want to develop is getting into sit-ups and push-ups and bi-cep curls.  I'd love to be able to do 100 push-ups and 200 sit-ups in one session.

But for now, I'm basking in my achievement!