Author: backuphill

Desperately seeking direction, or not

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Ever feel that way? Sometimes definitely maybe almost always?

So, it seems I have come to a crossroads and I am looking for some genuine feedback.

I haven’t had much of a “focus” on the blog and as a result, I think, growth has been slow. I haven’t been able to find a correlation between the posts that do well or and those that do not. One thing that hasn’t made sense to me is the writing I think is good and actually addresses something of substance, doesn’t seem to get a lot of interest; but, the posts that don’t really address anything of a serious nature seems to score higher with views and likes…which is perplexing.

So I am going to make an appeal, to you the readers (if you really exist), what do you want to see more of or less of? What direction do you think I should go? Should I find a place of focus, a niche, if you will? Or, should I keep doing what I have been doing?

This may take some work on your part, but I think it’s the only way to get a good picture of what you like/dislike (unless you have a fabulous memory). So, if you are so inclined, please take a gander at past posts and give me some feedback. I’d even be willing to do the same for you if you find yourself in a similar funk.

Accountability of Weight: Update #4

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This is the fourth update for the year-long project of returning my physical self to a much lighter, and healthier, version of the past.

I’ll try to keep it short so as to not bore you with lots of details and try to just cover some of the lowlights and highlights, cutting to the chase at the end.

Lowlights:

Not much has changed since the last update, including the weight loss. I have not gained and I have not lost any weight.

I am still not as active I should be. I know that at this point I am not going to get much more loss in the weight department unless I really cut back on the caloric intake OR unless I add more physical activity. Physical activity is hard to get motivated before, especially if it is outside of my normal routine at this point. Getting up early in the morning isn’t working, so it appears that I am going to have to make an adjustment somewhere to my evening schedule. The question is where/when will that have to take place?

Also, I haven’t been able to get out and go hiking since the last time I went.

Highlights:

  1. I haven’t gained anything and, despite feeling like I am eating too much at times, I haven’t gained any weight, which is a bit of a surprise. A good one surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.
  2. Despite not making a lot of progress on the weight loss, I have been really consistent on recording the calories I am consuming and have been able to record them in the app I use (LoseIt)consistently for over 100 days. *not a paid endorsement, I just use it and know it* 
  3. I am do a better job of drinking water when I am at work rather than when I am home, which is weird but true.

So, that wraps up this portion of the show. Let’s cut to the chase…

The Chase:

210.0  = official starting weight 2/15/18

    6.8  = pounds lost as of the morning of 6/10

203.2  = current weight

Thanks for you thoughts and encouragement as the journey continues! Progress feels good and that encourages further progress. It may be an uphill climb most days, but the view at the top is usually worth it!

A Liberal Double Standard

**I first published this five, almost six, years ago, while I was teaching senior high school students. I am no longer a teacher, but the subject is still relevant so I am reposting it today.**

Let me first start, right from the top, by saying that this has nothing to do with political parties and everything to do with the small erosion of our rights.

Recently in class we have been studying the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments added to the Constitution in 1791. This is a yearly occurrence in my classroom with seniors and I try to get them to think about their rights in a different ways. I also try to point out areas in our society where the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights, makes the news almost on a daily basis. I try to impress upon them that this is still a living and active document. Some days are more successful than others.

The 1st Amendment has five clauses: freedom of religion, press, and speech; the right to assemble and petition the government. We focus on all of these, admittedly some more in-depth than others, but the one that usually makes me ponder more deeply about the state of our society is our “Freedom of Speech.” Because of our discussions in class, I can’t help but notice that our freedom seems to be getting eroded piece by piece, making this natural right harder and harder to use. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the government is taking away that freedom, we are actually doing it to ourselves.

It is generally believed that the only real limits to our speech are those that pose an imminent danger to society (i.e. shouting fire in a theater), statements of libel, or when there are certain national security interests involved (though there has been a flood of classified info on the government/national security in print lately). With these limitations in mind, why do we censor ourselves and others in society? The discussions with my seniors always make me wonder this. They believe that it is wrong to utter words that hurt someone’s feelings or that offend the sensitivities of others. They have all bought into that old adage that our mothers used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.                     – Voltaire (though attributed to Evelyn Beatrice Hall, his biographer)

Our debate in class usually begins with a discussion about the quote above. Based on the discussion, I can gauge that it appears to make sense to them and yet they still want to qualify it. They get stuck on the idea that something that may be offensive and, yes, even hurt someone’s feelings still shouldn’t be spoken. Have we gotten to be that sensitive, that thin-skinned, that mere words can hurt? What happened to the old “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” chant we used to hear on the playground? OK, yes, I admit it. Words can hurt. We all know that truth and I am sure we all have experienced it at some point in our lives. However, no matter how much they hurt, or are offensive to someone, don’t we (or they) have a right to say them if we choose to do so?

As of now, many of the words that have been CENSORED from society are still legal to say. We have taken it upon ourselves to declare them socially irresponsible, thus socially “illegal.” (Plug your ears or cover your eyes if you are sensitive because I am about to be socially irresponsible and politically incorrect). “Oh, that’s gay!” and “Man, that is so retarded.” There are other words out there but we don’t need to get into all of them. I think you understand my point. Now, we have seen our society jump all over people in the media or celebrities for using these words and typically there is an apology issued because of the pressure put on them via social media, etc. If directed at an individual and intended as an insult, these statements would obviously hurt an individual’s feelings or offend. If said as a general statement of disgust or disappointment, someone may get offended but in general there was no specific hurt intended or group targeted. This is the where the first part of Voltaire’s statement applies – “I disapprove of what you say, but…” Many people will say things that we don’t like or approve of. Many of us will be hurt by what others say or hurt others by what we say ourselves, but that is the crux of our liberty. We have the right to do so, if we choose, and we shouldn’t be made to censor ourselves because of someone else’s sensitivities.

This is one place where a liberal double standard comes in. In general, liberals are all about being open and permissive. “Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do?” “I’ll do what makes me happy.” “Hey, live and let live.” “It’s MY truth.” We can see this attitude in our society as things that once were seen as unacceptable have become, increasingly, more acceptable. The list is long and I won’t even try to make it complete but I offer a few examples: abortion, tattoos, divorce, same-sex marriage, legal marijuana, assisted suicide, casual sex, atheism, nudity and cursing on television. As our society has grown more open and permissive in most areas, we have become more restrictive in others, language being one of them. So how far do we go in accepting these limitations? How much erosion of our freedom of speech can we tolerate? If it hurts someone’s feelings (and we are all a bit too sensitive these days), it is now off limits…I disapprove of what you say, but…

Let me be clear, I am not condoning the use of offensive or hurtful language. No one has a compelling need to use their words in that manner and certainly we should work to hone our own internal filters when it comes to the use of language. However, I am condoning a careful examination of the external censorship we allow others to exert on us. I have a right to say what I please and I have a right to choose not to talk that way. It was bestowed upon me at the foundation of my country. However, others do not have the right to tell me what I can and can’t say. The freedom of speech, as written in the Constitution, wasn’t intended to be abridged. There wasn’t supposed to be a limit on it, ever. Infringing my rights, or the rights of others, lets others censor us in the name of stamping out insensitivity. That sounds callous, I know, but the fact is that even in callousness there is freedom. “…but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

It is better to be angry than to be silenced.”  Megan O

The quote above is from one of my senior students. She reworded and summarized Voltaire’s statement with a rather profound statement of her own. She realizes that being angered by someone’s voice is better than not hearing their voice, no matter how much she may disagree with what she hears. She understands that as soon as she silences the voice of another, her voice could be silenced as well. Her voice, as of now and into the future, isn’t something she is willing to give up.

Baseball and the BFF

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Safeco Field, Home of the Seattle Mariners, Seattle WA

Do you have one of those people in your life that yo just connect with? Someone who knows what you’re thinking without having to voice it? A friend that you can not see for an extended period of time, but when you’re together you pick up right where you left off as though you were never apart? I hope you do! Because IT.IS.AWESOME.

So, one way I like to celebrate is to take in some baseball. I don’t usually get a chance to actually go to a park during the weekend (usually it is on the radio while I work in the yard) so this was a nice change for once. AND, to top it all off, my best friend was there too! So, it was a weekend of record!

First, let me tell you about my best friend, since that is really who this is all about. We have been friends since we were 7 or 8, not really sure but it has been for a long time (considering we are both 46). We love sports, we love food, we love hanging out together and talking about stuff. He is one of those friends that you can tell anything to and not feel judged and he is one of those friends that you can not see for a long time but when you do it feels like you didn’t miss a beat and you pick up right where you left off. He moved across the state when we were in high school but we stayed in touch and now we meet a couple times a year for baseball games in Seattle. We make a weekend of it since travel is easier to do it all at once rather than many little trips. Anyway, he has been a constant in my life and I love him dearly. He is just like a brother, only better! LOL

The first game, Friday night was fun. The Mariners won a one run game and we saw James Paxton pitch (he threw a no hitter in Toronto not too long ago). We spent the evening getting caught back up and enjoying the evening. The second game was more epic than the first.

Game two, Saturday night, started with early entry into Safeco Field. We get tickets from

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(People you can see, L to R: Daniel Vogelbach, Nelson Cruz, Ichiro, Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger

a season ticket holder who splits them out so it was one of those occasions where season ticket holders get to enter the park and hour before the regular gates open. That means there are very few people in the park and it gives the possibility of interacting with the team. So, down to the field we went. We watched the team go through their stretches and warm up. Nearly all the starts were there (except Robinson Cano since he got suspended for PEDs). But otherwise, we were real close to the action.

Then came batting practice. Now, one thing we always try to do is get there early enough to see batting practice and hope to catch a ball hit off the bat of someone. I could be anyone, we don’t care! Mostly because it is just something that doesn’t happen and when you are a baseball fan, it is just something that is fun to participate in. So, our regular seats are a the top of the wall in right field but we decided not to go there and instead try for the first base line, near the foul pole in right field…basically to get balls that guys hit foul but just barely. It really is a guessing game because when you watch there always seems to be a part of the park that the teams hit the ball the most and it always seems to be where we have chosen NOT to stand and watch. It is crazy how it seems to work that way.

IMG_4705Mariners legend, Ichiro (#51) was participating in the full pregame workout, so he was in right field chasing down fly balls, line drives, and foul balls. You know, shagging balls like all the other guys on the team during batting practice. On Saturday, he was running to catch a fly ball and it was straight at me as I stood in the stands above him. As he caught the ball I yelled his name, “ICHIRO!” and held up my open glove (yes, I still take it to the park). He looked up, running at full speed, but not at me. He was looking right at my best friend and I am thinking, He is gonna get this ball from Ichiro! Only, instead of flipping him the ball with an ever so slight underhand toss, he flipped it right to me. That sneaky fellow duped us both! I was so surprised, but it was really cool to have a team legend toss me a ball. (You’re probably thinking what a nerd…but it’s OK, I just love baseball and if you do too, then you understand). And, just for a moment, I was the envy of all the people around me. LOL

Anyway, game two got under way and the teams were battling it out. It was a good game that ended up going into extra innings. The Mariners ended up winning that one also, only in the 12th inning with a walk-off HR by Mike Zunino. It was an epic night!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention dinner! One of the great things about going to the ball park, at least at Safeco, is the ballpark food. You really can be a foodie and get good stuff there (despite the prices being stupidly high). So, of course there is the standard hot dog and a beer. I am not sure when I last had that ol’ favorite. So, I like to try new stuff. This time it was an ice cream sandwich, which we saw on Friday night as we were walking to our seats. We had to try it! So, we found the location in the stadium and built our own. (It is kind of the Coldstone-esque style where you tell them what you want and they build it for you.) So, for mine I had a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookie, Toffee Coffee Chip ice cream, a chocolate brownie, and then everything dipped in Butterfinger and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup candy. Let me tell you, it was AWESOME, and it was only $8!! It was, however, more than I could eat so I didn’t finish it.

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All in all, it was a great couple of days. I love spending time with my best friend and it always go by too quickly. But, we always have a good time and we always look forward to the next time we are together.

Oh, one more thing…this weekend was Memorial Weekend, meaning we took time off from work to celebrate and remember the people who have fallen in the line of military service to protect the freedoms we all hold dearly (and probably take advantage of). I hope you took some time this weekend to pause and reflect on the lives that have been lost so that you (and many others around the world) might live free. They gave all and we owe them a debt of gratitude. God Bless America!

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Restored faith in humanity, for now.

I saw this video on another blog (though it can be easily found on YouTube) and thought I would share it. To some degree, I think we all need a little something like this video to restore some faith in humanity as the world seems to wobble off its axis on a regular basis.

Is there any redeeming value left in humanity? I often ponder this. Maybe it is my natural tendency towards cynicism and pessimism that bogs me down because the value gets harder and harder to find. I know its out there, and I know it will come back some day. At least I pray that it does.

Thankfully, the video below, “200 Wallet Honesty Test,” will help restore some of that faith in humanity again. Albeit, it is something small and maybe isn’t the best indicator that there are still lots of good people out there, but it is something and for that something I am thankful.

So, after watching it, does it restore a little faith in humanity for you too? I hope it does. Now, let’s band together and go out there and do something good for someone today!

Accountability of Weight: Update #3

This is the third update for the year-long project of returning my physical self to a much lighter, and healthier, version of the past.

I’ll try to keep it short so as to not bore you with lots of details and try to just cover some of the lowlights and highlights, cutting to the chase at the end.

Lowlights:

This is an uphill and downhill battle! Just when you start to think you are making progress, you get on the scale and you see you did exactly the opposite. AND, just when you think you aren’t making progress because you over-ate a couple of days during the week and are feeling bloated, you some how make progress. It’s a mystery on how this whole thing works, I tell ya!

Anyway, there really aren’t any lowlights for this update. Well, to be honest, there is still that pizza Friday thing in our household that is killing me, but I keep telling myself that everyone needs a cheat day, right? So, I will just use that as my lowlight this time around.

Highlights:

  1. Getting up earlier than normal sucks, but the payoff will be worth it, right? I normally get up at 5:30am to get ready for work. I have, since the last update, started getting up at 4:30am to get a walk in before the day starts. My reason for doing so is that there isn’t much I can do in the morning at that hour. However, if I wait to do it in the evening after work, I get distracted by the other things that need to be done…pay bills, mow the lawn, hang out with the kids & wife, etc…so, the morning seems to be the most logical time. Anyway, it sucks. But on a positive note, I do get more steps in for the day, get the heart rate up, and it has kick-started the metabolism to a degree and there has been some weight loss!
  2. I got my butt out on a trail this last weekend. I took the old saying, “Take a hike!” literally and busted out a hike that was just over a 1000′ gain and just over 4 miles. I ended the day with nearly 20k steps! Now that felt good! The intention here is that I can do this on a more regular basis and I intend too. I haven’t done any hiking or backpacking in a long time but it felt good to get out and just go. So, that is what I did!

So, that wraps up this portion of the show. Let’s cut to the chase…

The Chase:

210.0  = official starting weight 2/15/18

    6.8  = pounds lost as of the morning of 5/14

203.2 = current weight

Thanks for you thoughts and encouragement as the journey continues! Progress feels good and that encourages further progress. It may be an uphill climb most days, but the view at the top is usually worth it!

Randomness & pre-update

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Good morning all!

The sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Spring has sprung and the rain clouds (at least for now) have gone away. The Pacific Northwest is the best place on Earth this time of year! There is green everywhere, the mountains are snow-capped, and the sky is blue checked with white puffy clouds…and those April showers have brought the May flowers (ok, we have a Tulip festival here in town in April so there were flowers then too).

Two random things on my mind this morning…

First, I am considering the purchase of a new car. Like BRAND spanking new, which I have never had before. The current vehicle is a little commuter car with 230k miles on it. I bought it because I knew I would run the wheels off of it and I know there is still like in it, but having better gas mileage would be even a better things. Currently I get about 33mpg, but I have to fill up about every four days and that is a drain. So, I am looking at two hybrid cars that get 50+mpg. I am considering the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq and the 2018 Kia Niro.

  1. Anyone out there own these cars already? If so, what do you like or dislike?
  2. Are there other hybrid cars that others have that they would recommend or not? Why or why not?

Second, the other random thing on my mind this morning isn’t all that random. Let’s call it a “pre-update” to an update for the goal I set at my 46th birthday. Anyway, now that the weather has taken a turn for the drier and warmer, I have started rolling outta bed an hour earlier each day to begin the day with a walk. Let’s just say, 4:30am is a killer. I am motivated to get this done and I am starting to see a little more progress…anyway, I’ll talk more about that next week with the official update!

  1. What things, at least when it comes to exercise, motivate you to get out of bed?
  2. When do you like to do your workouts, morning or evening and why?

Well, that is it for today. Thanks for stopping in and pausing, if only for a moment, with me. Now, off you go! Go make the day a great one!

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An apple tree in the yard, full bloom!

I got nothin’…and maybe that’s somethin’.

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Well, I ain’t got nothin’. I got nothin’ to say this week because I haven’t really had my focus on blogging. Maybe it’s because I am having a hard time motivating myself to write. Maybe its because I have been focused on other things. Maybe its because I haven’t had the time I would like to write. Probably, it is all of those.

The last week, well maybe two, I have been working on getting the new Facebook account for @Stupidboard set up and running. I have placed my first “ads” out there and have been getting some interest, so that is exciting and I will continue to play around with that. I don’t know, its exciting but it has been taking time to feel my way around it.

I have also added two new links to the menu, up at the top of the blog. One is for the website I created for my classroom many years ago, Grenz History. It is the place my students would go to get their assignments, download handout outs, and generally just be my place to to centralize things – especially for students who were absent. It made things easier to keep track of and the students all knew that is where they needed to go. I am having a hard time letting go of it. I don’t have a classroom any longer, but I spend hundreds of hours putting it together and I think I could probably make it useful at some point again, but for now it just sits there. Take a look if you like.

The other new link at the top of the page, in the menu, is for my Teachers Pay Teachers store – Learn ’em Fast History. I no longer have a classroom, but after 15 years of teaching I have a lot of lessons and units and handouts and stuff I think could be useful to others. Now that I am not using it and have a little time, I am adding more and more things to the store. I started the store about four years ago, but there were only a few things out there and so there wasn’t a lot in the way of sales. Over the last year and a half, I have added more and more of my content (and will continue to add more) and sales have started to pick up. This month has been the best month in my store’s history, so that is kind of exciting too! If you are inclined to check it out, or recommend it to a teacher friend, I would be grateful.

So, there you have it! I an’t got nothin’. Or maybe I do…

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Stunning and astounding doubt

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The above comment was left on my blog a couple of weeks ago and I have been struggling on what to do with it. I have my blog set so I can approve the comments and I marked this one as spam, not because I didn’t want a negative comment on my blog but because I didn’t want to give someone who is a Holocaust denier a voice.

The last part of that previous sentence resounds in my head – “…didn’t want to give someone who is a Holocaust denier a voice.” Why does it echo so loudly? Well, because I value the 1st Amendment and the right to free speech. Therein lies the struggle. Do I give this person a voice and try to convince them that they are wrong, or do I just pretend it didn’t happen and move on? My initial reaction was to just pretend it didn’t happen, but it has been nagging at me for the last two weeks for two reasons: 1) it is completely off base and should be countered; 2) by ignoring it and not giving the person a voice, I am going against what I believe is an important part of our society, regardless of whether it is offensive or completely wrong. People should be able to voice what they believe.

So, with it nagging me in the back of my head, I have sat on it and debated with myself about it. I posted it on my Instagram account and asked what they thought I should do. One very succinct response was that it was easy to counter because the claim is so far off base. The best part of the response was “If [he] died tomorrow, there would be less evidence that [he] ever existed than there is to prove the Holocaust was a historical fact. Yet, I doubt he would deny his own existence.”

That leaves me to pose two questions to my readers and fellow bloggers:

  1. What do you do with negative comments to your blog? Do you allow them AND ignore them by not responding OR do you allow them and respond?
  2. What do you think is the right approach for dealing with this particular comment? How would you respond?

I would appreciate your advice. What would you do?

Accountability of Weight: Update #2

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This is the second update for the year-long project of returning my physical self to much lighter, and healthier, version of the past.

I’ll try to keep it short so as to not bore you with lots of details and try to just cover some of the lowlights and highlights, cutting to the chase at the end.

Lowlights:

This loosing weight stuff is hard!

This month has not been filled with much success, if any. I have continued to watch and track what I eat, but this month has been filled with birthday parties, and parties at work, and my wife trying to cook new foods…all that to say that keeping my calories down under the projected daily goal has been difficult at best and impossible at worst. Each day was near or over the goal, not under like it should be. So, progress isn’t a word I would use to describe the last month.

Physical activity hasn’t ramped up over the last month either…which I am, each day, keenly aware. A change is coming in that arena.

Highlights:

I guess to be honest there isn’t much to highlight. With little success or progress, it is hard to highlight what is going on in this journey.

However, one good thing that came out of the last month is we took some of the tax return to an outdoor retailer and purchased hiking books for the kids and my wife. We also visited a store that sells lightweight waterproof rain shells (we live in the Pacific Northwest, it never stops raining here) and bought all three of them some new jackets as well. Why not me? Well, I used to do a bit of hiking and backpacking in my “pre-married with kids” days. So, we will be venturing into the hills more now that we are properly equipped. My wife is excited, the kids not so much (they are teens).

The Chase:

210 = official starting weight 2/15/18

  4 = pounds lost as of the morning of 3/16

206 = current weight

Thanks for you thoughts and encouragement as the journey continues! Though I have gained a small amount back from last month (1.2 lbs), I have found that getting into the habit of tracking my intake is getting easier.

But, let’s hope the next month is better than the last.