Thursday, June 30, 2011

Do This For Yourself.......

I Wanna Look Like John!
After beginning to settle in from our move to Knoxville, I began  looking around for a workout facility.  Over the years, I have   belonged to a number of such gyms, and while the results in terms of weight loss and muscle building have always been good, other factors often spoil the experience.
Workout Anytime!  24/7.......No Contracts.......$15 a Month
For one, these spas require that a contract be signed.  This is problematic, because something may arise that prohibits you from continuing your membership.  In such a case, you are out a good piece of change.
John's Beautiful Workout Batmobile
Also, if you want to work out at 10:15 PM, and the facility's hours are from 5:00 AM to 9:30 PM, you are out of luck, because the spa will be closed when you need it.  Or, if you want to work out on a holiday, and they are closed that day, you are again out of luck.

Weight Training Equipment
In addition, most of these workout clubs charge between $30---$60 a month for a membership---not a small amount.

And More Equipment
So, I was shocked when I ran across a workout facility near our home called "Workout Anytime".  This club is open 24/7.  When you join, you are given your own personalized key.  You can literally go there at any time, day or night, and let yourself in to work out at your convenience.

And More, and More........
Also, there is no contract to sign that locks you into anything.  And, my friends, the kicker here is that it only costs $15 per month to belong.  To put this in perspective....there is a pizza shop three or four doors down from this workout facility.  Their large, everything-on-it pizza costs $15.  Now, which is the best deal?---a pizza that will be gone in one meal, or being able to do something very good for your body every day for a month?  Kinda' a no-brainer.

Some of the Free Weights
This facility is owned by John Heifner.  John is a bodybuilder.  John builds his body without steroids.  All natural.  Good, wholesome food and disciplined workouts using cardio and weight training.  John is quick to point out that Jesus pilots his boat, and that the success of his business is due to his focus on God and following His leadings. 

Cardio Users Can Watch Any of Five Flat Screen TVs
John is a Registered Nurse, and for 18 years he rose through the ranks at Fort Sanders Regional Hospital, finally in the position of director over the Emergency Room, ICU and Respiratory Therapy.

A Few of John's Bodybuilding Trophies
But something was always on John's mind---the hospital was good at treating ill patients, but---like all hospitals---was not very good at prevention of health problems.

More of John's Trophies

John decided to try to help in that regard.  Several months ago he opened the Powell, Tennessee location of Workout Anytime.  So far, he has enrolled customers at a record pace.  When asked how he has accomplished such great numbers of enrollees, he shrugs and says "I haven't done anything more than anyone else in my position would do.......I am here most of the time, and I am friendly......but really, I look to God for guidance.  He is the One who gets all the credit."  Wow!---that's pretty darn refreshing to hear in this world of inflated egos and arrogance.

Now You Know Why John is Smiling
So far, after belonging to this club for about 5 weeks, I have experienced a consistent weight loss.  My muscle tone is very good.  I am building muscle mass in my upper body.  I feel really good, with more energy than ever.
If you're not working out now---this is the time to begin!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To Really Live, You Must Almost Die.......

I first called on M___ eight years ago.  He was the production manager of a large corrugated manufacturer, and I was the sales rep for a manufacturer of high speed corrugated equipment.  For several years, I only knew M___ on a business level.

One day, however, we decided to have lunch together.  Over our chicken salad and soup, I began get to know him on a more personal note.

M___ told me he was a marathoner---you know, one of those individuals who runs all the time and competes in 26-mile races several times a year. 

Well, of course, this fascinated me.  I asked him all about it.  He told me he rolls out of bed every morning at 4:30 and runs 10 miles.  Rain or shine, frost or ice, it didn't matter---he WAS going running.

I asked him how long he had been training like this.  He told me that 10 years ago, he was involved in a terrible car accident.  He suffered two broken legs, a broken back, and crushed chest.  The docs said he probably would not walk again---and if he did, it would be with great effort and pain.  They also told him he was lucky just to be alive.

In his hospital bed over the next few months, M___ began to realize how he had been wasting his life.  He was overweight.  He didn't feel good most of the time.  He was a smoker.  He also realized he didn't like himself very much.

Slowly, M___ became convinced that God had used that terrible car accident to speak to him about his life.  M___ told me he began to see that he had been living a bare shadow of the life that God had intended for him.  He vowed to stop smoking.  He promised himself and God that he would do all that he could to come out of the severe invalid state he was in and become physically and spiritually strong.

He said it was very, very difficult as he tried to walk, and then run over the next weeks, months and years.  But, every morning, rain or shine, he would struggle to rise from bed at an early hour and attempt to train.

At first it was all he could do to just walk.  The pain was terrible.  But, as he persisted, the pain began to moderate.  He tried to run a few steps, and slowly he was able to build a little distance.  He said he never ever considered stopping his training, no matter how bad the pain or how discouraged he sometimes felt.  He pressed on; and, as months began to evolve into years, his ironclad routine began to show phenomenal results.

He said when he became free of pain, it was like the world was opened up to him.  He decided to try to run one marathon.  He entered as a contestant, not sure whether he could finish.  He did.  His many friends and family were there to cheer him on.

Then came another marathon, and another and another.  By now, M___ was a picture of perfect health---a physical specimen, lean and glowing, looking much, much younger than his 45 years. 

As we walked to the car to go back to work, he said as an aside that the accident and near death experience was the best thing that ever happened to him.  He said it is a shame that, to really experience life at its fullest, he had to almost die.

I can't tell you what an inspiration his story is to me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Last week we decided to augment our daily workouts with an enhanced diet.  Not only do we want to tone our bodies, lose weight and improve our cardio, we also just plain want to be healthier.  So, we bought a juicer.

After using the juicer every day for several days now, I can report that we are thrilled with everything about it.  It is fast, quiet, cleans easily and produces fantastic tasting, healthy potions. 
The Jack Lalanne Power Juicer
We are now getting our vegetables and fruits on a daily basis with no fuss and we enjoy the taste---and the knowledge that we are really doing something good for our bodies.
It Comes With An Instruction Booklet With Recipes, But You Can Experiment and Never Go Wrong

We decided on the Jack Lalanne Power Juicer.  Cost:  $100.  It has an excellent reputation; big, yet quiet motor; surgical steel cutter; easy to clean design and so easy to use that even a man can do it.

So far, I have juiced various mixtures of broccoli, turnips, celery, carrots, strawberries, grapes, apples, oranges, blueberries, tomatoes and beets.  The combinations are endless.  Just think---to have that stuff runnin' through your bod every day has GOT to be good for ya!
This One Has Carrots, Celery, Grapes, Strawberries, Apple and Turnip  YUMMMMM!

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Animal Would You Be?......

A number of years ago, as part of my company's sensitivity training program for management, I was enrolled in a week long seminar conducted in Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania.  It was a wonderful experience, where about two dozen enrollees from around the country spent time together working on various projects and  learning how to better relate to others.  For me, it was an eye-opening experience.  I learned a lot.

One of our assignments was this question:  If you were to make a choice as to which animal you would be on this earth (other than a human being), what would it be?

This particular assignment led to some great conversation among the group members.  I pictured myself as an eagle, but the group saw me as a rabbit.  I was incredulous that they honestly thought that.  I couldn't believe it.  But, after explaining their reasoning, I saw their point. 

What animal do you believe yourself to be?  What animal do others see in you?  How different are those two visions?

Fundamental aspects of animal personalities are summarized as:

---Feeding.....Bird personalities require freedom, while sheep flourish under the direction of a strong dog personality

---Fighting.....This is how the individual controls his/her environment.  Carnivorous personalities are assertive and adventurous, while herbivorous personalities tend to be passive and cautious

---Fleeing.....How people protect themselves from each other.  The mouse personality keeps a low profile while herd animal personalities find refuse in the company of family and friends

---Sex.....Describes the way we interact with the opposite sex, from the brutal strength display of the elk to the seductive display of the peacock; all species exert control over their reproductive choices.  Some are monogamous; some are not

Here is a site where you can take a test to see what animal traits you may have.  How scientific it is I do not know.  I am a bumblebee.  Ha.  "The bumblebee commands great respect and will respond to a bad situation with a quick sting.  Bumblebees are serious and very wise".  Hmmmm.....not too, too bad!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are You A Self-Made Person?

I got to thinkin' last night---actually, around 2:00 this morning during one of my mini wake-up spells---about how so many of us think of ourselves as "self-made".  If I have heard that attitude from my friends and acquaintances once, I have heard it ten thousand times over the years.  And yes, there was a time when I, too, was guilty.

And why not?  It is understandable. I mean, after all, we do live in a society that has always preached self-reliance and rewarded those who persevere.  If someone works hard and overcomes adversity and reaps the rewards of that effort, they naturally feel pretty good about themselves and tend to see themselves as "self-made".

But, in my foggy early morning mind, something deeper occurred to me:  anyone who sees themselves as self-made is arrogant and not in touch with reality.

Not a single one of us on this relatively insignificant planet had anything whatever to do with the following:

---Where we were born
---When we were born
---To whom we were born
---The financial circumstances into which we were born
---The stability of the family unit into which we were born
---The vitality of our individual gene pools
---Our names

This list, of course, could continue.  My point is this:  without catching some pretty significant breaks here and there in life---breaks we ourselves had nothing to do with---where would we be?

What of God?  Do you think He deserves some credit?  Do you think God appreciates arrogance?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Joys Of Grilling.......

                          My Simple, Highly Efficient Grill

One of the true joys of manhood is the ritual of cooking outside on the ole grill, or "barbie" as they say Down Under. I am sure this joy is a genetic thing peculiar to men, dating back eons to prehistoric times when the men went out and hunted, killed, dressed and cooked dinner for the family unit.

Today, of course, we civilized folk have refined this process to a trip to the local meat market, where we (the mighty hunters) select the precise cuts of meat to grill over hot coals on the back patio. As the meat gets happy over the smoky embers, we masters of the culinary art stand guard over the barbeque grill, lovingly and expertly bringing our dinner to a precise and succulent end.

                         The Mighty Hunter Builds the Coals

Well, OK...not exactly. I did forget to mention that alcohol is usually a part of this tradition. As we sip on our spiritous liquors---be it beer, wine or booze---our minds occasionally wander---sometimes to the point that we forget we are grilling. This has on occasion produced disastrous results....totally incinerated meats which are not fit for consumption. In cases like these one is tempted to offer it to the family dog, but the dog has proven to be much too discriminating to be taken in by this ruse.

                                  The Coals are Now Ready

Then, there is the REAL problem that arises when the mighty hunter burns dinner---a highly pissed off wife. One would think the sweet, demure and highly ladylike object of our affections would simply say something like, "Oh, that's all right, dear...I'll just throw us a dinner together in the oven and have it ready in nooo time!

Love you so much!♥" But no---a palpable change comes over the spouse, and a tension begins to hang in the air. This never turns out well.

                The Mighty Hunter Has Incinerated the Chicken

I recall the first time my dad cooked out. He had asked a client to come to our house for dinner. Dad prepared the coals and then poured a toddy for his guest and himself. Pleasant conversation ensued. Another toddy was poured. The chicken was placed on the grill. Another toddy was interrupted by the shrieking of my mother, as thick, black smoke poured from the grill..."ED!! YOU'RE BURNING THE DARN CHICKEN!!!" (Note: she did not say "darn"). Long story short, the evening was a disaster. If you are gonna drink and grill, you better stay right there with the coals.

                      The Mighty Hunter Has Burned the Ribs

I have learned over the years that women and men have very different notions about what constitutes proper doneness of meat, be it fish, chicken, beef or pork. I can cook a good sized steak, for example, for 6 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other side over hot coals, and know it is done to my liking. The meat is on the rare side, but that's how I like it.

However, woman is most particular. Woman will insist on a close inspection of the meat, first visually, cutting it open with a knife to determine color, and then with a meat thermometer to determine temperature. Invariably, woman will return her meat to the grill. Keep in mind that, when this occurs, the man becomes somewhat emasculated. Remember now---the man killed the meat and he ought to be given free reign over it's preparation. I have learned, however, that discretion is the better part of valor in these situations, and it is best to just keep my mouth shut and smile at my beautiful wife. I employ the phrase "Yes, dear" quite often.


When woman at last pronounces "It's ready", the meat is lovingly collected from the grill and the proud hunter/master of the home delivers it to the dining table amid much fanfare and praise. Success! Yes, we eat well tonight! Tomorrow is another adventure....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Collective Nouns.......

We are all familiar with the names of certain groups of animals.  For  example, a "pack" of dogs, a "herd" of cows, a "flock" of birds, a"school" of fish are all well-known collective nouns that we use all the time.

But I'll bet you are not familiar with many other names for groups of certain animals.......such as:

---A GROUPING of aardvarks
---A CONGREGATION of alligators
---A SHREWDNESS of apes
---An ARRANGEMENT of armadillos
---A TROOP of baboons
---A SLEUTH of bears
---A SOUNDER of boars
---A RABBLE of  butterflies
---A COALITION of cheetahs
---A QUIVER of cobras
---An INTRUSION of cockroaches
---A BASK of crocodiles
---A MURDER of crows
---A GULP of cormorants
---A TEAM of dolphins
---A COTE of doves
---A CLUSTER of dragonflies
---A CONVOCATION of eagles
---A GANG of elk
---A GROSS of falcons
---A BUSINESS of ferrets
---A LEASH of foxes
---A COLONY of frogs
---A JOURNEY of giraffes
---A GAGGLE of geese
---A HORDE of hamsters
---An ARRAY of hedgehogs
---A BLOAT of hippotamus
---A CACKLE of hyenas
---A SHADOW of jaguars
---A MOB of kangaroos
---A COLONY of koalas
---An EXALTATION of larks
---A PLOT of lemurs
---A LEAP of leopards
---A RISK of lobsters
---A TIDING of magpies
---A CLAN of meerkats
---A LABOUR of moles
---A SCOURGE of mosquitoes
---A BARREN of mules
---A WATCH of nightingales
---A ROMP of otters
---A PARLIAMENT of owls
---A PARTY of peafowl
---A SCOOP of pelicans
---A ROOKERY of penguins
---A PUDDLE of platypus
---A PRICKLE of porcupines
---A WARREN of rabbits
---A NURSERY of raccoons
---A CONGRESS of ravens
---A CRASH of rhinoceros
---A MAELSTROM of salamanders
---A FRENZY of sharks
---A SURFEIT of skunks
---A ROUNDUP of squid
---An INTRUSION of stinkbugs
---A STREAK of tigers
---A KNOT of toads
---A CREAM of turkeys
---A BALE of turtles
---A SNEAK of weasels
---A WISDOM of wombats

Well, these are just a sampling.  Colorful, no?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Woman's Purse.......

Today, my peeps, I shall explore one of the truly baffling phenomena of our times.  It is a subject that is thoroughly and completely understood by women down to the smallest nuance.  It is a subject that is so utterly foreign to men that they have given up trying to explain it.  It is, as they say, what it is.

In my experience, virtually all members of the female sex possess and maintain the same type of purse---it is stylish and it carries more "stuff" than the laws of physics allow.  In fact, empty the  contents of a purse on a table and you will be agog at the eclectic, voluminous heap before you.

Try to separate the various items into some sort of logical organization.  It cannot be done. 

Now, I have had this idea for a blog topic for quite some time, but I realized early on that when the woman who shares my home saw the blog, there would likely be hell to pay.  So, I had to choose my time and place of emptying the purse very carefully.  This morning, as woman was bathing, I quickly and skillfully dumped contents of said purse onto the kitchen table and started photographing.

As you can see, this is spectacular.  There are car keys, a camera, $3.27 in loose change, several receipts, business cards, credit cards, ink pens, a pencil, eye liner, blush, lipstick, a container of cream from a fast food joint that has likely been in there for weeks if not months, a plastic fork and spoon, coupons for everything from toothpaste to tomatoes, breath mints, a book, a makeup compact, a little silver cross, two devotional booklets, a checkbook, a cell phone, a spare house key, a calendar, and soooo much more. 

Several random thoughts about a woman's purse---If she needs something, it is usually in her purse.  She usually cannot find it, however, without a lengthy search.  And, no wonder, because there is much to weed through.  If the man in her life needs something from her purse, she will say, "Honey, it's in my purse---go get it".  Now, the man is in real trouble because men are not genetically programmed to sort through makeup, check books, cameras, etc and successfully find what they are looking for.  Invariably, woman will come to the rescue and get what the man wants .

All of this is perfectly understood by women.   In fact, I picture them laughing about their superiority in this area when they gather.  I have heard some women say that they have everything they need in their purses but men are helpless, carrying around only a puny little billfold that has a few dollars in it and a credit card or two. 

Hmmm....... Good point. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011


An assumption is a belief or idea that we hold to be true, often with little or no evidence to support it.

This sounds a little dangerous, doesn't it? 

And yet, we make assumptions every day in all kinds of circumstances.  In fact, we make hundreds---if not thousands--- of assumptions every day.  Why do we do it?

Well, when I think about it, it would be completely impractical to live our lives with any continuity or flow without making many assumptions.  I mean, if we did not assume that other drivers would usually obey traffic laws, we would be too cautious and slow to ever drive anywhere---it would take hours to get to our destinations.

Where we get into trouble is when we make assumptions that do not pan out.  The light turns green and we proceed into the intersection and get T-Boned by a drunk driver who is unable to function........My wife says she will meet me at the restaurant at 7:00, but she doesn't show up because she assumed it was another restaurant (yes...this has happened).......My boss asks me to do something, but I assume it is a low priority.  It isn't.  You get the picture.  We've all been there.

I've been thinking about assumptions lately because it has occurred  to me just how really important it is to make intelligent ones.  Does government make intelligent assumptions?  No.  Look at the mess that causes.  Sometimes our doctor makes an assumption that is wrong---that can lead to really bad things.

Then, there are the assumptions we make on an interpersonal level.  Poor assumptions in this area can ruin relationships.  Not long ago we had friends over for dinner.  This was a couple we knew (we thought very well) from church.  Following dinner, we went to the living room.  I had the idea that it might be fun to play a simple little word game for fun. 

WRONG.  About two minutes after play commenced, the man and woman guests began arguing about which of them had the right answer to the last question.  This arguement continued to build for the next 10 minutes until there was an atmosphere of contention and animosity.  It got ugly.  I stopped the "game" and we never looked at them the same way again.  All because I assumed the game would be "fun".

Of course, I guess the absolute worst assumptions are those made between man and woman---especially early in relationships.  Sometimes our assumptions occur because we WANT them to be true.  This can be deadly.

What are your thoughts about assumptions?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Framed Pictures, God's Grace and What is Important.......

Artwork, Artwork Everywhere
I am alone in the house now.  Cindy has gone for her daily workout.  Yesterday afternoon I busied myself by unpacking the many types of framed artwork that we love, and now I am realizing in the silence that we have more artwork than wall space in this new home--- A LOT more.
This situation presents a challenge.  Since we have only so much  wall space, and since we have only so much storage space, we must decide which pictures and art to keep and which to give away. 
A Lot More
You know, it is painful to make such decisions.  We love our framed art.  Most of it is inexpensive, but it is the sentimental attachment that is troublesome.

I HAVE To Find A Space For This!
And yet, after pondering this subject for days, I realize what God wants me to realize---that these material things are completely unimportant.

Oh My!.......Even More in Cindy's Art Studio Closet!
What is important is storing up our treasures in Heaven, not on earth.  What is important is focusing on Him.  With all the misery that exists on this earth, my being concerned about a few pieces of material things is an insult to God.  I thank you, Lord, for all you have given me---our home, our health, our lives, our friends---all possible because of Your grace.  I don't really deserve any of it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Death In The Family (actually, two of them).......

Those of you who follow Cindy's blog are aware of the difficult week we have just experienced.  At the first of last week, Cindy's aunt Billie passed away at the age of 68.   On Tuesday, her brother,  James, died at 57. 
James, Cindy's Brother
Billie, Cindy's Aunt (Upper Left)

The dreadful experience of death(s) in the family brings to mind the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by James Agee ("A Death in the Family"---1957).   In this autobiographical story, Agee recounts the death of his father.  He goes on to detail the family politics, petty disagreements, religious differences of the family members and various other points of contention during the days following the death.  It is a truly masterful literary work.  In 2005, Time magazine selected it as one of the 100 greatest English language literary works.
Jimbo (James) and Cindy, Circa 1956
I mention this because the same petty familial disagreements and wrangling that Agee described in his novel are playing out right here in our own family.  Who should be mentioned in the obit?  In what order should they be mentioned?  Should there be a service?  Cremation or burial?  Who should officiate?  Uncle Joe and Aunt Dora and niece Berniece all have voiced their opinions and made it known that anything short of following their opposing wishes will result in a serious family rift.  The church was consulted and they have their ironclad rules, some of which do not meet the approval of the next of kin.  Everyone involved thinks someone else should pay for the services.

Honest to God, next to a marriage ceremony, is there anything that comes close to a funeral for raising havoc within the extended family?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Crop Circle!

Knoxville's First Crop Circle
As the rays of dawn streaked across the eastern ridge line, it became apparent that we had been visited by an alien being---there was a crop circle in our front yard! 

It was about 5 feet in diameter and absolutely no grass was growing inside it. 

Maybe we can get someone to come out later today to take some radiation samples.  This has got to be a first for Knoxville.

I Cannot Tell a Lie---I Chopped Down the Cherry Tree.......Or, at Least, I Paid Someone to do It
Oooops!.....mystery solved........breaking seems that the yard man I hired to cut down the Weeping Cherry tree in the middle of our front yard finally got around to doing the job.  Shucks.  An alien spacecraft seems like a lot better story.

Well, while I'm musing, do you remember all those hundreds of white rocks the previous home owners placed around the front yard?  I talked a neighbor into taking them off my hands.