Thursday, January 31, 2008

A father's blessing

Twelve years ago this weekend, we buried my father.

He was unlike any man I have ever known. My father poured himself out like a sacrifice for his family, his church, his community. He worked two jobs, three jobs for years. All the while he was a scoutmaster, a church elder, a devoted father, a faithful son, a committed husband. I can say now, though I could not have said it then, that my father was not perfect. He had secrets and flaws - private blemishes. I have learned a lot about blemishes in my own life. I don't hold them against him.

Dad loved Pennsylvania. He would pack us into our Dodge van and pack off to pitch a tent in the woods to hear the sound of the forest at night -not a sound we heard alot in Pittsburgh. He taught us to fish, we would motor out on the foggy face of a lake as the sun rose and the herons preened in the shallows. We caught some fish, but the time we spent on the water with my father was worth more than any treasure we could have pulled out of that lake.

We were Steeler fans. He was not insane over the Steelers, but he was a patriotic Pittsburgher and loved the team out of a sense of honor. He was alive when our city really was, as a nineteenth century wag once quipped, "Hell with the lid off." We grew up watching comedians on our little black and white television using our home as a punchline. There was plenty to be proud of in our smoky town, but the world didn't know it - not until Franco Harris plucked that deflected pass out of the air on that chilly winter afternoon. Suddenly there was something about Pittsburgh that wasn't funny at all. We had always been proud, now the world could see some of the reasons. A team of black men and white men, Italians, Poles, Irish, Rednecks, Scholars - as diverse and tough as the city whose name they claimed spent a decade claiming a piece of history, even as the steel industry collapsed around us. Those of us who lived through that time know what a football team can mean to a community.

Once the 'Seventies were over, we waited a long time for the Steelers to make it back to the big game. The 1996 team was a powerhouse, but in order to claim that "one for the thumb" they would have to beat the great dynasty of that decade. We wanted to believe that the Cowboys could be had, but in our hearts, we had our doubts.

The afternoon of the game, I talked with my Dad on the phone. He had survived a heart attack the year before. Years of too many jobs, too many midnight bowls of ice cream and too many cigarettes had taken their toll. He was scheduled to go into the hospital the next morning for a procedure whose name I don't remember. We talked about how things were going. I asked how he was feeling. "Frankly, I feel like Hell." It wasn't the kind of thing he would say. The year of living with his own mortality had worn him down in a lot of ways. Projects went unfinished. He grew increasingly quiet and sad. The burdens of a lifetime - burdens he had heroically carried for years - were breaking his weak heart.

We talked about the game. Both of us had concerns, but we were confident that Our Team could beat the odds. As game time approached, we wrapped things up. Saying goodbye was always a little clumsy for us. Dad was not an "I love you" kind of guy. For years I had tried to wheedle one out of him. We would hug goodbye and I would whisper "I love you, Dad." Sometimes he would say "I love you, too." but it always felt as if I had cornered him. After a while, I stopped playing the game. I knew he loved me. I could hear it in his voice when we spent time together on my rare trips back home. I said goodbye and was about to hang up, when he said it...

"God bless you."

My father had never, ever said that to me. He was not being casual. He was giving me his blessing.

The Steelers lost Super Bowl XXX, obscenely. I don't remember much about the game. I remember my Dad's blessing. And I remember the nest night when I cam home from work. My sister had called. Dad's procedure had not gone well. By nine o'clock my father was dead.

We buried him under the snowy Pennsylvania mountains that he loved. It is a beautiful spot with a view of the valley and the smell of pine trees and hardwood all around. The last time I was up there, I saw deer tracks in the snow around his grave. He would love it. I go there every once in a while to catch him up with my life. I have carried his blessing through some rough times, but it stays with me intact. And when we say goodbye, I always tell him I love him. It's ok. He doesn't feel any pressure to respond. And somehow I think saying it doesn't bother him so much any more.

God bless you, Dad.

I love you.



The icon of St Joseph and Jesus is from Bridge Building Images.

Our favorite lake, Pymatuning.

Smoke over Three Rivers is from the web site of GASP, the Group Against Smog & Pollution. They've been fighting to clean up the 'Burgh since Joe Greene was a rookie.

Warmer Pennsy -- colder Kentucky

This was a long awaited workout. Tuesday night I was sore and had blisters on my feet. Wednesday morning, I woke up with a little GI discomfort and feeling like I had a cold coming on.

I could have blown the gym off tonight, but I was afraid I might set my progress back. I really don’t want to hit the scale on Saturday and find that I haven’t lost weight.

So I went, and I’m glad it did. The weights went OK. I was a little weaker in my shoulders - the flies and the incline press hurt a lot, but I got through them.

It was great to walk. I got my heart rate up during the strength training, It was around 142 when I hit the treadmill, which is the lower part of my target range. I did the whole two miles and didn’t go much higher than 155. I could have pressed, but I didn’t feel really strong enough. Tomorrow I’ll feel better. I just wish I hadn’t missed a workout. maybe I can do two one day this weekend. I really like going at it for a while on Saturday.

The drive home was creepy. Freezing rain. We had a brutal ice storm in the Bluegrass in 2003. It shut most of the city down for more than a week. I haven’t looked at the cold Kentucky rain the same way since. We still just refer to it as "The Ice Storm". Nobody ever asks which one. The forecast is for snow tomorrow. I hope it gets cold in a hurry. Freezing rain is beautiful when you’re inside with nowhere to go. But when you’re outside watching tree limbs explode and crash to the ground, the poetry goes to a whole ‘nother place.

But that’s tomorrow’s trouble. Tonight I am safe at home with a lap full of cats and belly full of rice and beans. God bless the people who need to be on the roads tonight. Police, emergency responders, street crews. Keep them safe and bring them home unharmed. Amen.



There are more ice storm images at the Louisville NOAA website. I'm sure there are others, but don't feel real enthusiastic about finding them tonight.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

We need your best, not just the best you can do

This is a post I've had rattling around my imagination for a while. If you're following Fat Man Running , then you know that I have made some changes in my life -- changes that I hope will become permanent. The idea in my title is one of the things that I hope will keep my commitment alive.
Mrs P and I were sniping back and forth a few days ago - (yes, sniping can strike even the best of families) - and I was griping about the way she will complain about a thing like a pain or an old glasses prescription for months without doing anything about it. This makes me nuts.

Before I go on, I should tell you that there are two important parts of this argument. First, I was absolutely right. She does do that and it does make me crazy. Second, I do the same d@mn thing which makes me pretty vulnerable when I try to call her on it.

I resolved this conflict in classic American Male style by making it as forcefully and as loudly as I could. The advantage here is that my Bride can't get a word in edgewise - the disadvantage is that I will invariably say something so incredibly stupid that it dwarfs the original offense. Here's how I think it went...

"Why didn't you take care of X last summer when it started bothering you?"

"There were other things to worry about."

"Like what? What could be more important that X?"

"The cats needed meds, Molly needed tests, I was looking for a job, we were trying to sell that old car, your depression was getting worse..."

"But don't you see how dealing with this back then would have made all those things easier? You act like everyone else is more important that you are."

"Well, they are."

"Well, we need you. We need you with X. You're no good to us without X. We need you at your best, not the best you have at the time."

OK, if you have lived with someone for any length of time, you know that the only part of that last line that anyone hears is the part about "you're no good to us without X". That was a really stupid thing for me to say because a) it is not true, and b) it obscured the actual insight that I managed to squeeze out at the end.

Doing your best is just not good enough. Not when the best you have is a sliver of what it could be if you were a better steward of your own life.

I know that your house was decimated by last night's storm and you need help cleaning up, but years of cynicism and personal neglect have made me a lazy, unpleasant person who would do more complaining than working, so I'll stay home and pray for you. I wish I could do more, but that's the best I can do.

That might be honest, but it is worthless to your neighbor and to God.

I would love to tithe to support the church or the poor or the Children's Museum or whatever, but I have piled up so much credit card debt that nearly every penny is accounted for. I wish I could give more, but this is the best I can do.

Yeah, right. Look - if Mrs P needs me and I'm confined to my room because I stopped taking my meds or I've drunk myself into such a state that I can't stand up - rolling over and moaning, "I'm sorry Baby, I love you." isn't giving her my best. She isn't getting anything. I will have wasted the strength and health and intelligence that God gave me so I could be her partner. Those parts of me that should have belonged to her, I have chosen to spend elsewhere.

When she needs my best, I won't have it. All I'll have is what's left -- the remnant I call "the best I can do".

Well I don't want her to have to settle for the best of what's left of me. When my wife needs a husband, I want her to have my best. When the people I manage need a leader, I want them to have the best leader I can be. I want my employer to have my best, not just the best parts that I didn't trade for a few bottles of Rolling Rock the night before. I want the animals who rely on me to have my best. My neighbors, my community, my family - if I really value these people, I will make sure that when they need me, they will get the best God gave me -- not just the best of the parts that I haven't used myself.

So that's why I'm going to the gym. Not so I can "treat myself better", but so that when someone needs the best from me, I will be able to give it.

The life God gave me was a gift. The way I've treated that life has been a sin in many ways. I live today under judgment as a consequence of that sin -- but sin always hurts more than just the sinner. People need me to be better than I am today. My loss is their loss too.

When I eat something stupid or don't drink my water or skip stretches or stay up too late, then I can't walk as far or as fast on the treadmill as I need to. When I hit the red "stop" button while gasping for air, my lungs burning and my chest pounding after half a workout - I haven't "given it my best." I gave my best to David Letterman or Krispy Kreme. The gym just got what was left over.

Jesus' life requires more of me than the best that's left. If I want to be a Christ-like husband, neighbor, citizen, and friend, then I need to be ready to give the best just as Jesus always was.

Jesus went off by himself to pray. I go to the gym. I learn new computer programs. I listen to tapes and pick the brains of successful managers who have more experience and wisdom than I do. I put down the laptop and actually pay attention to my wife once in a while. The road to my redemption is paved by doing the work of restoring the best I can be.


Here's an intriguing post from Paul M. Jones on why "Do Your Best" is such a lousy way to manage people.

And Joe McCarthy out pennsy's Pennsy with this existential musing about doing your best vs. trying to do your best (among other things.)

Making Corrections

So, it turns out that it is “Forest Walk”, not “Alpine Walk” which would presumably involve steeper climbs, more cheese, and a family of cloying children, their grumpy Pappa, and their beautiful stepmother singing “Doe, A Deer” to her ostrich head umbrella.

I also learned how to adjust the maximum height to make the trip more of a gentle slope, so that went well. I still got my heart rate up to 163 which is a little high, but not that far afield of my usual walks.

On the weights, I increased the loads by 10 lbs and also added some new machines. So my weight training now consists of
Cable curls
Cable pull downs
Leg extentions
Leg curls
Close grip Lat pull downs
Chest presses
Shoulder press with barbell
Ball Squats.
And no, thanks for asking, I can’t think of a funnier name for an exercise than “Ball Squats.” This photo from is not of Pennsy. Pennsy is much taller. My trainer (his name is Jordan, I don’t think there’s any reason to keep calling him “My trainer”) taught me to put one of those big exercise balls behind the small of my back, lean against the wall, and do squats with a wide, forward stance. This apparently protects my knees from the damage associated with traditional squats. It also burns my thighs like crazy. It is by far the silliest and most difficult part of my workout.

On the bright side, since I only have to lift my own body weight, it should get easier the more weight I loose, right?

Today was a great workout. I ate right, sipped lots of water throughout, and felt a good kind of exhausted when I was finished. More “used up” and less “worn out” if the distinction makes sense.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why I’m going to the gym. I may carry that conversation over to Pennsyltuckian. That’s where I do my meditating. Over here, the Fat Man keeps moving.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekly weigh in and an early shower.

OK, so the incline thing on the treadmill was a good idea - jumping into one of the preprogrammed courses was maybe not.

I chose “Alpine Walk” which turns out to be a program that gradually increases the incline until the midpoint or your walk at which point you are at level 7 which must mean something to someone, but to me it just meant “ouch”.

I set the program for a 2 mile walk and actually made it half way before I had to stop to ease the pressure in both my lungs and my bladder. By the time I returned, the program had timed out. I finished the workout on a flat course which was fine with me.

The best news came after the exercise when I went back to the scale. I finally admitted it to Mrs P today, so I guess there’s no use hiding the truth - I weighed in last week at 405 lbs. Someday maybe I’ll blog about how that made me feel. Today it felt great when the beam stopped bobbling and my weight was 393. Losing 12 lbs in the first week is a great start. I know there are a lot more pounds to go, and they won’t all fall so quickly, but I really was encouraged----and a little stupid. i think I was dehydrated.

Drinking water is going to be important. I don’t remember it mattering so much when I was a kid, but I am decidedly not a kid. They gave us salt tablets and let us drink water as a reward. The trainer says that your body needs water to help it burn fat. I didn't know that. But mine sure needs water to keep my brain from turning to mush. Mrs P had to drive us home.

I don’t know if it’s imagination, but it seems to me that I can feel the consequences of how I have taken care of myself during the day when I hit the gym. Did I drink enough water? Skip a meal? Eat too much junk? go to bed late? When the answer is yes, then my performance at the gym is not so hot.

I guess the trick is remembering that at the beginning of the day. I really like doing well at the gym, and that is going to mean living better all day long.

Of course eventually, going to the gym will be so I can live better outside, but for the time being, heavier weights and longer distances will be my path to a better life.



The video is from 78MAN who is my new hero on YouTube. If you love old disks, check out his channel.

Back on The Horse

Felt good to be back after taking last night off. Maybe it was a cold, maybe skipping a meal (and sneaking a couple cookies in the afternoon). Whatever it was, I made last night my one day off this week. I’m trying to get six sessions in per week.

The weights still seem light at the beginning, but then I’m remembering the testosterone filled days of my youth when we puffed and yelled and encouraged one another to bench press the cement filled Sears bar-bells in the basement. This is a different kind of lifting for a different reason. Back then we were trying to get laid. Now I’m just trying to stay alive and out of the nursing home.

And by the end of the last set, they don't feel so light anymore.

The treadmill was a little bit of a struggle again. I trotted at 5 mph for about a minute, but running is still too much for my hips and heart. I love being beside someone who is running, and really want to join them, but not just yet.

i was thinking that maybe next week I’ll stop pushing the speed and try adding incline. That may be a challenge I can shoot for. I have a little twinge in my lower back today, and I’m concerned that it may be from trying to walk so fast.

I’ll try to get to the scale in the office today for a weigh-in. Every scale seems to be different. The one in the locker room says I’ve lost about eighty pounds since my weigh-in last week.

Doubt it.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Fat Man Walks

Last night, 4 miles in an hour. Tonight, weights and -- uh, well -- half a mile at 4.5 mph.

I may have burned myself out last night, or I may have just run out of gas because I worked through lunch. I should have stopped to eat. Now I know.

The weights still feel a lot like work. I won't embarrass myself by admitting how light they are. I just wish I could do my pull-downs without imagining the skinny little aerobics girls laughing behind me as they pile on more plates after I leave the machine.

I'm a little bummed about gassing on the treadmill tonight, but it still feels great to be moving.

I'll do better tomorrow.

Because last night felt really really good.


Monday, January 21, 2008

'Neath the cold Kentucky Moon

Today I did cardio and strength training together on my own for the first time. This felt like a work-out!

The gym has a very popular class on Monday nights, so the treadmills were all occupied when I arrived. I intended to warm-up with a walk first, then lift, but switched it around.

The exercises my trainer gave me are simple and the weights are very light, but then I haven’t lifted weights for about 25 years, so starting slow seems like a good plan.

When I finally got to the treadmill, my heart rate was already up to 143, I walked a mile at 4.5mph. It felt like two miles, but then I’m not used to going that hard. If I go any faster, I'll have to run. I don't think my joints are ready for pounding just yet.

I’m doing better at talking to people - chatting up naked strangers has never been my forte -- everyone is friendly, but I think the regulars are waiting for the New Year’s resolution crowd to shake out and see who stays.

I’m determined to be one of them.

The shower felt great and when I arrived home, I was greeted by the kind of full moon that can only happen on crystal clear Kentucky winter nights. It wasn't the Blue Moon Bill Monroe sang about, but it kep' on shinin'just the same.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Good Good Good Weekend

Came home from work on Friday feeling a little sore and tired, so I gave myself permission to take the night off.

Next morning, Saturday, the heel blister had toughened up and I felt much better. Frigid temps came to the Bluegrass at last. I spent almost half the morning in the gym.

I had my first consultation with a trainer yesterday. Sobering, to say the least. Turns out I underestimated my weight. Oh, well -- it will just make the “after” picture that much more impressive.

My trainer talked to me about nutrition, then taught me a strength/resistance routine. It isn’t much, but I could definitely feel it by the time we were through.

Mrs P (check out her new blog) had the car, so I walked some more on the treadmill till she picked me up. Got home, took a brief nap, then worked on the house for a few hours. Good to be productive. Good Good Good.

Today, I worked on a log for most of the day. (Charlie says a log is a big help) I’m doing it in Filemaker Pro for fun and to keep my chops up on the program.

Made it to the gym 25 minutes before closing and knocked out a mile at 4.4 mph. My fastest sustained walk of the week.

It will be a long time before anyone else can see improvement, but I can feel it already. I’m glad I lived to see it.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Tender Moment in the Locker Room

Oh, calm down. It's not that kind of gym.

I was the beneficiary of a handsome young man's kindness today.

After a difficult workout (tired, clumsy, distracted, shoe came untied, heart rate too high) I was sitting at my locker staring blankly into my water bottle. A fellow with a pony tail and what appeared to my un-bespectacled eyes to be a pair of Mickey Mouse lounge pants came in to get his towel.

"How ya doing?", he asked.

"I feel old," I grunted with as much of a smile as I could muster.

"Don't let it get to you -- it won't last long."

He could have blown me off, but he recognized a beginner having a rough night, and took the time to offer a kind word. That changed a lousy trip to the gym into a great one.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What, no jams?

Ok, so what do I take to the gym?

I have been packing enough crap to spend the weekend. I can hardly get it into my locker. Small backpack with shoes, shorts, shirt, towel, water bottle, iPod, ahampoo, body wash, puffy scrubby thing, deodorant -- and of course, a nylon bag to throw all the wet stuff in when I'm done.

This is stupid.

I went looking for gym bags on line because my first impulse when faced with a problem is to either read about it or buy something. Screw it. Tonight I just rolled some stuff up in a towel and left the luggage in the car. Wait, forgot my shoes. Back. Wait, forgot my little key tag bar coded id thingy. Back. Wait, I forgot my iPod. I left it in the player at the office. No jams!

The jams are important. Without my personal soundtrack, walking was more like work than before, though I managed to keep the treadmill running for the entire two miles (dragging your feet apparently trips a safety feature.) The cardio monitor was not functioning so I didn't have that data to distract me. I concentrated on picking up my feet and driving the belt back with each stride. Mrs P joined me. She made about half a dozen new friends. I grunted at a couple of guys I'd never met before. She's sort of the friendly one in the Pennsy family.

I listened to my breath, tried to ignore ESPN micro-analyzing the NFL playoffs, watched some people work on the weight machines. I saw a woman spinning a jump rope like she was trying to generate electricity. Some of these people intimidate me, but mostly I admire the work they put in and the way their bodies reward them.

It was a good day at the gym. I did miss the jams, though.


1/16/08, cold winter night
2 miles
30 minutes

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sweating and Forgetting

In a half hour on the treadmill today, I put in two miles - I worry that I'm not pushing the way I should, but my strategy is to increase my distance at a comfortable pace, then try to work running into the routine. And I really don't want to get hurt or discouraged in the first week - the mirrors do plenty of both.

What I noticed, or rather didn't notice, was that I got to the end of my workout and could not recall having a single thought. I wasn't re-hashing work. I wasn't planning or evaluating or even contemplating. I was just putting one foot in front of the other.

I find this conscious unconsciousness extremely gratifying. It feels great to put my legs to work and my mind to rest. I actually resent the distraction of the TVs hanging from the ceiling. And when I'm moving, I forget how fat and stupid I look. I see people around me working, pumping the eliptical machines, running, pedaling, banging weights.

It feels good to forget for a little while. I'm glad I'm doing this.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Tilting at treadmills

Taj Mahal, Blue Light Boogie, Honky Tonk Woman

I went to the gym at lunch today. It felt like the first "real" trip to the gym since it was during the work week and Mrs P was not with me and there were more people going about their gym-business.

I was really surprised at how good I felt after walking yesterday. I guess I expected exercise to improve my energy and outlook, so that's what happened. I hit the gym feeling really good about myself as I walked through the afternoon dusting of snow towards the glass door.

When I opened it, I noticed that the treadmill I used yesterday was jacked up on a milk crate and had a big "Out of Order" sign on it. For a minute I wondered if I had broken the thing because I'm so fat, but I put that out of my mind. That's the kind of negative thinking that makes a fat man eat. Bad plan.

I made my way to the locker room. Now I have been working in the theatre at one level or another since the third grade. I am accustomed to dressing in front of people. I even undressed on stage many pounds ago. When I entered the locker room, there were two men talking. We nodded and grunted at one another, and I shucked off my drawers. Not so bad. I managed to dig through my back pack to find the shorts and tee-shirt - got my iPod cued up - hung all my work clothes up in the locker, and grabbed my towel.

OK, glasses? No. Water bottle? I don't want to look like a dork, carrying a water bottle around, but then I don't want to look like a newbie passed out at the foot of my treadmill because I didn't have the sense to hydrate like I should. I pondered the bottle in my hand. It felt cool. I imagined myself chugging from it as I ground out the miles on my faithful treadmill. I pictured dropping it onto the belt, stopping to pick it up, and being flung backwards through the plate glass window and into the snow crusted mulch.

I left the bottle in my locker.

I made my way to the long row of treadmills, nodding and grunting my way past the other mid-day gym-rats. They were all dressed better than I and were much fitter than I and I thought to myself, "Well, if I didn't look so bad, I wouldn't be here now would I?" This thought made me feel better.

I walked past yesterdays wounded steed and chose a new machine. This one was in front of a TV broadcasting business "news". I fired up the treadmill like a veteran. Choosing an apropriate arm-up speed, I started my ipod rolling and I was off. Soon I was hiking along at my chosen speed, and I was pleased to see that my heart rate was much more comfortable today. I was swinging my arms, standing tall, and breathing deep as Taj Mahal crooned Honky Tonk Woman in my ears. Five minutes in, and feeling great.

Ten minutes in and I had broken a good sweat, but the heart was still at a nice 146, 147 bpm. I felt like I could go all day.

Fifteen minutes, my first mile, and I feel like a million bucks. It's crazy that I should feel this good after only two sessions, but things are clearly going great. I am feeling really good about myself.

At around 17:40 the belt stopped abruptly. I caught myself just in time to avoid striding into the console and grabbed the side rails to keep from falling. I looked down and the surface below me was rolling gently forward - not smoothly back as I had hoped. I clicked the stop button. It stopped. I clicked the start button. It labored back into action, but without any power. I also noticed that where just moments before the console had proudly proclaimed that I was speeding along at "4" of some unit of measure, there were now flashing lights repeating Err4...Err4...Err4 like a stammering dodgeball bully. I looked around quickly. Oh my God! I just broke another treadmill! Had anyone seen? Should I just walk away? Would the burly men with the shaved heads come burling up to ask me to leave quietly? Was I actually going to have to go tell someone that I had just broken a freaking treadmill?

No one had noticed. I tried the buttons a few more times, glancing around hoping that someone would come to my rescue. No luck. I had to go to the very pleasant woman at the counter and tell her.

"I just broke your treadmill. Am I too heavy for that machine?"

She never even seemed to take the question seriously. "Oh, I don't see how. They just get funny sometimes." I mumbled something about the "Out of Order" machine. She said something about a new belt. My vision was a blur of shame and sweat. We stood on either side of my second victim in two days. She pushed buttons while I wished desparately for a new rope and a stout beam. Finally she said "I'll be right back." and zipped away, leaving me alone at the scene of my crime. I could swear I smelled burned rubber as I stood there watching all the young beautiful people running, lifting, twisting. I could not have felt more clumsy or stupid if I had come out of the locker room without my pants on.

My kind friend returned with - a burly man with a shaved head. I imagined the look he would give me as he sized me up quickly before delivering a humiliating kick to some gelatinous bulge in my nether regions. Instead, he looked at the console and clicked the start button. The three of us watched as the belt purred into action, the ever encouraging lights letting the invisible runner know that they were sprinting along as a speed of "0.5". The burly man gave me a quick smile. "Working fine now."

"Well. I guess that's it then." the kind lady said and they returned to their posts--- and so did I. I finished my walk, two miles today -- though I noticed that my heart rate was a little higher after the break.


1/14/08, Snowing lightly
Walking, Treadmill, Flat
2 miles
Max HR 151
Resting HR 104

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Adventure Begins

I have avoided posts about myself because ... oh, I don't know. Maybe I just want to feel important and smart. It's easier to be cosmic than to be real.

Anyway, I've decided to break that policy in order to journal an adventure that I hope will last for the rest of my life. Mrs Pennsy and I joined a gym yesterday.

Let me put this into perspective - I am 47 years old, 6'-4" tall and weigh 374 lbs. That's a body mass index of 45.5. That number is not an accident. It is a consequence of a lifetime of choices - some good, mostly bad. A lot of destructive habits produced this body, and I sort of hope I can change the results by changing my behavior.

I will still bloviate about God, the Universe and All That from time to time at Pennsyltuckian. My relationship with my Creator is one of the primary reasons I have started off on this adventure. I'd sort of like to be able to tell God that I did something with the healthy, strong body I was blessed with besides filling it with chocolate and potato chips.

Actually, there are several things I'd like to be able to do. I'd like to live long enough to retire, for example.

So off I go. Maybe my story will inspire someone else, as I have been inspired. I certainly hope that by putting myself "out there" I can develop a sense of accountability to someone - even if no one else reads. I really want to succeed this time.


1/13/08, Rainy & Cold
374 lbs
Treadmill walk
1.25 mi
0:25 min
180 Max HR

Fat Man Running - the adventure begins

Today I am beginning a new blog project I'm calling Fat Man Running. I have avoided posts about myself because ... oh, I don't know. Maybe I just want to feel important and smart. It's easier to be cosmic than to be real.

Anyway, I've decided to break that policy in order to journal an adventure that I hope will last for the rest of my life. Mrs Pennsy and I joined a gym yesterday.

Let me put this into perspective - I am 47 years old, 6'-4" tall and weigh 374 lbs. That's a body mass index of 45.5. That number is not an accident. It is a consequence of a lifetime of choices - some good, mostly bad. A lot of destructive habits produced this body, and I sort of hope I can change the results by changing my behavior.

I will still bloviate about God, the Universe and All That in this space. My relationship with my Creator is one of the primary reasons I have started off on this adventure. I'd sort of like to be able to tell God that I did something with the healthy, strong body I was blessed with besides filling it with chocolate and potato chips.

Actually, there are several things I'd like to be able to do. I'd like to live long enough to retire, for example.

So off I go. Maybe my story will inspire someone else, as I have been inspired. I certainly hope that by putting myself "out there" I can develop a sense of accountability to someone - even if no one else reads. I really want to succeed this time.


1/13/08, Rainy & Cold
374 lbs
Treadmill walk
1.25 mi
0:25 min
180 Max HR

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What's in a Name? - The Holy Name of Jesus

On January 1, the eighth day after Christmas, we remember the day Joseph & Mary's child was circumcised and named.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
(Luke 2:21)

They obeyed the command that both had received from holy messengers. In Luke's gospel, the angel tells Mary
Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most high.
(Luke:30 (b) - 32 (a))

In Matthew, Joseph is told not to abandon his pregnant finace with the promise
Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
(Matthew 1:20 (b) - 21)

The name of the child was important enough that both evangelists tell us that it was given to his parents by angels. In English, we identify that name with the man Jesus of Nazareth, but to Jesus' own people, his name was filled with meaning.

The name that we translate into Jesus was Yeshua in Hebrew. It is actually a familiar version of the name Yehoshua. It means "Lord (or Jehovah) who is salvation)."

In English, we might call a child Faith or Godfrey or Regis if we wanted to give them a name that sounded particularly pious or royal. Any author chooses character names carefully because of what they say about the person who bears them. Oliver Twist or Billy Pilgrim are names that tell you something about the character before you even meet them.

So it is with the name of Jesus. It was not a rare name in Hebrew culture, but it was a special one.

If the life of Jesus is a story, then God is that story's author. God chose Jesus name deliberately so that "Jehovah" and "salvation" would be present in the mind of the listener whenever that name was mentioned.

In time, he came to be known as Jesus Christ, but Christ is not a name, rather it is a title, from the Greek christos which is the translation of the Hebrew messias meaning "anointed one." In the gospels, the evangelists refer to Jesus the Christ. After the resurrection, the early Christians transformed Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus into a single proper name, not unlike Julius Caesar.

So what's in Jesus' name? Not a magic spell that grants us wishes when we pray "in Jesus' name." Instead, his name honors both his heavenly father, and the world whose salvation he came to effect. Just as Jesus was both God and human, so also his name spans two dimensions - Jesus the man and Jesus the name are both links between the creator and creation. The name Jesus testifies to the radical love God has for the world.

Peace and Happy New Year!

The icon of the Circumcision is from the remarkable website Orthodoxy in China

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