Time for another update (journaling in late September)

Can’t complain much these days. All has been going pretty well lately. Other than my car eventually needing some expensive repairs, life is pretty good.

Been saving up so that I can finally pay the IRS their blood money. Oh joy. Extensions make life easier in that department.

Have been working out regularly lately, typically 4 times a week at the gym and most of those days with my trainer. Was sore as a mofo the other day in my hip flexors/inner thigh area, so probably wandered around town looking like I just dismounted a horse. Ah well. It happens. Comes with the territory. Slightly injured my left elbow a week or more ago and so have been trying to let that heal up and focus on other muscle groups in the meantime. Didn’t do as much cardio this week; maybe next week I’ll feel a bit more motivated. Also got in some yoga after one workout with my trainer this week, so that was nice.

As mentioned on here previously, I put back on about 20 lbs. since the winter due to getting lazy for a while there (though it was a milder winter by Midwestern standards, winter conditions still make hitting the gym a PITA). So I got back up to a whopping 174 lbs., unfortunately, and my weight has stubbornly hovered in that range, particularly after I quit drinking alcohol and began craving other carbs as substitutes for all that beer my body felt deprived of. So…that’s been an irritating development. But it’s kicked me back into gear in terms of working out more and trying to watch what I eat a bit (at least some days). I’ve managed to drop back down to 170 lbs. (once again) and hopefully this time can keep the trend heading downward instead of yoyo-ing as has been the case for the last few months. I blame sunflower seeds and birthday bon-bons for some of this stagnation and have notified my former partner that I am no longer open to receiving big boxes of chocolates on future holidays. Can’t do it. Keeps my butt too big. Heh

Part of its muscle gain though too. Can’t discount that. My arms are looking better defined once again, which is wonderful. Just love seeing definition there, though the overall layer of fluff tends to obscure it. Was down to 152 lbs. last summer and miss that. But I was working out a lot more vigorously back then when my trainer’s own gym was still open. Oh well. We adapt. The new gym he’s now working at is a comfortable atmosphere, so I’m growing more bold there now too. Just gotta waltz in and act like I belong there and not let the super-muscular guys intimidate me. Not that it’s their fault — just that one can get self-conscious in their presence. Get to feeling like a dweeb playing with my little dumbbells in the corner sometimes.  lol  But c’est la vie. There’s a wide array of people at this gym, of all ages and skill levels, so there’s really no reason for any of us to feel out of place. And I love how much cheaper membership is there.

Wednesday I stopped by the local shooting range and signed the necessary waiver and watched the video required prior to gaining access. All of that is now taken care of so I am ready to finally officially start training with my handgun. Yay! They have a really great lady’s night special on Wednesdays that I look forward to taking advantage of, as well as 2-for-1 pricing on Fridays. american_smilie  That will go a long way in making that hobby more affordable. The place looked nice and the staff were friendly and helpful, so soon I will give it a go. This has been a goal in the back of my mind for a long time that I finally can take part in and check off of my list of things to do.  I consider it a reward of sorts for knocking off the drinking habit: allowing myself to go shooting at the range and exploring further weapons training. Really proud of myself for making this transition so that I can responsibly improve my marksmanship (wouldn’t allow myself to do much of that back before, and for good reason IMO). So yeah. Yay!  Good times.  biggrin_green  Already own ear and eye protection and ammunition and a carrying case for my firearm, so I’m ready to go.

Also been considering eventually purchasing a semi-auto to accompany my revolver, but that’s a ways off into the future. Have car repairs to worry about before then. Might even have to buy a different car since this one has such high miles that it’s really not worth dumping too much money into. And that might mean taking on car payments once again.  Oy.

What else? Been learning about the ketogenic diet lately. Not sure if I’m interested in going that far, but I definitely see the benefits in reducing my carb intake. Recently listened to the audiobook The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung and appreciated it. Would recommend it to others! Also discovered several YT channels that offer HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, which are reminiscent of the types of workouts we used to do in classes at my trainer’s former gym. Had a lot of success with that form of cardio before and look forward to trying it out again. Though I’m sure my downstairs neighbor won’t be too thrilled by what sounds like a water buffalo romping around overhead.  Ha!  Ah well. He’ll get over it. Will try to time my in-home workouts around his baby’s nap-time if needed. Will be good for me, especially once winter hits for those days I don’t feel like driving through snow and ice to get to the gym and then having to change out my snow-boots once there. Too easy to blow off going to the gym under those circumstances.

Feels good to remain active. Actually been in better spirits for a while now. Even my Grandma commented on that. She’s sooooo glad that I quit drinking. It’s now been 14.5 weeks. So that’s cool. Once I began working out again more regularly back over a couple of years ago my mood began to improve, and now it’s improving even more. SO nice not waking up with a headache and feeling ran over right out the gate. So nice saving all that money and no longer having to worry about DUIs/OWIs. Nice also to have more free time on my hands to do other things and in a functional manner. Like doing my nails (not worth attempting while buzzed or drunk). Been less grumpy overall, and it’s become really obvious over the last few weeks. Notice myself laughing more. And that also has contributed to getting along better with my former partner (as I refer to him on here since I don’t know what else to call him anymore). I haven’t felt as sensitive about the stuff he might say or as reactive, which is good. If he annoys me, I manage to laugh it off (at least more often) instead of getting hot-headed or feeling insulted or whatever else. That’s worth its weight in gold: improved relations with my people. And when I don’t get snippy or over-reactive, he then is less prone to do so as well, and contentment becomes possible. Obviously he still drinks a good bit and he did have that bad night back in July where he decided to be an asshole for no particularly good reason, resulting in us taking a few weeks apart. Since then he’s come back with a better attitude, and so I’ve decided to let bygones be bygones and to just roll on. Upward and onward. Bad days happen. Less drama = less stress = less opportunities to create further drama. Glad to see us in a better cycle for a change. Reminds me of what we originally enjoyed about one another’s company. He seems to be in much better spirits as a result too. Says he has no desire to tempt me back into drinking again, that he’s proud of me for recognizing how volatile it makes me and for letting it go. I agree.

Though, he did make a comment this week about how eventually he expects me to be able to handle drinking moderately. Told him I don’t really want to, that I think I’m better off leaving it alone in going forward. That’s maybe not what he wants to hear, but he’ll learn to accept it over time. Not all of us are cut out for continuing the drinking lifestyle. Lots of downsides to it, and increasingly so as time rolls on. We discussed the matter and he expressed feeling badly about being a bad influence on me over the years we’ve known one another, but I told him that I don’t regret meeting him and likely would’ve taken drinking too far even without his presence in my life. Was mourning the illness and then death of a family member and didn’t handle it well. Besides, I’m grateful to be where I am now, so whatever had to come before to teach me important lessons was likely necessary to create this outcome in the end. So I can’t really regret what all has transpired. Just glad to be moving forward.

Am also glad to be less of an emotional drain on my best guyfriend since he’s the one I talk to on the phone the most. Lord knows I’ve probably stressed him the hell out over the last few years with all my crying and struggling with my lifestyle. But he’s remained by my side as a solid friend regardless. Gotta love that guy. Wouldn’t know what to do without him in my life. Looking forward to going out with him to a movie and dinner on Sunday.

The book I’m currently listening to is Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Owned a print copy for many years (courtesy of my Dad) and never got around to reading it, so decided to order the audio version instead so as to have it read to me while I go about my day. Am enjoying it. Much more interesting than I originally thought it would be.

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Ten Jewish authors I appreciate

Since I keep hearing and reading online so much negativity blaming Jewish folks for everything under the sun, I figure now would be a good time to post up something positive and share a few of the notable Jewish authors in my book collection. In no particular order:

1.) Erich Fromm — Might as well begin with the most obvious since I’ve mentioned his works time and time again on here and my YT channel. Thus far I’ve read 12 books by this man (excerpts are linked where available):Escape_From_Freedom_Fromm

Not all are personal favorites, but as a collection unto themselves they’ve certainly served as interesting food for thought over time.

2.) Richard L. Rubenstein — His book The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future provided a lot to seriously consider when I first came across it about 8-9 years ago. Shared copies with friends, though I can’t say for sure if any of them actually read him.

choose-yourself_Altucher3.) James Altucher — His audiobook Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Makes Millions, Live the Dream actually proved useful during a very depressing spell a couple years back. His promotion of what he refers to as the “Four Daily Practices” (basically caring for our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health) are what I needed to hear at the time and helped improve my mindset and outlook. Happen to be re-listening to it this week for kicks and giggles — he’s a pretty funny guy. Originally came across him accidentally by way of his blog, as so many people do. He encourages people to routinely itemize ideas in lists of 10 or more (on any subject we fancy) so as to flex and expand our “idea muscle.” Good idea, James.  wink

4.) Steven Pinker — Earlier this year I completed the audio version (after initially receiving a print copy as a gift) of his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, which I did quibble over quite a bit and still am not sold on the data and arguments presented therein. But its content was worth considering. Still chewing it over. Perhaps it deserves to be mentioned that several years back I received a copy of his book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature as a gift as well, though I have yet to read that one (planning to listen to the audio version eventually instead, having recently loaned out my print copy).

5.) Yuval Noah Harari — Came across this author by random chance earlier this year and listened to his audiobook Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

6.) Richard P. Feynman — Originally I received as a gift a few years back a copy of his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, following that with listening to The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman and What Do You Care What Other People Think?: Further Adventures of a Curious Character. He offered up some very thought-provoking essays (along with quirky personal stories).

What_Is_Life_Margulis_Sagan7.) Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan — After first learning of their book What Is Life? on Dr. Corey Anton’s YT channel, I ordered a used copy online. Loved it and share it with others (especially young people — makes a great gift). Followed that with the audio version of their book Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature, which contains a couple stories that particularly stick in my mind and inform my imagination. So far I’m very impressed with what I’ve come across from this mother/son authoring duo.

8.) Dan Ariely — A family member first introduced me to his book Predictably Irrational. Later, I picked up a copy of The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves. Both are worth reading.

9.) Leonard Mlodinow — His audiobook Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior remains among my favorites. Following that, I purchased a print copy of his and Deepak Chopra’s book War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality, which I happened to find fascinating. Wasn’t a fan of Deepak Chopra prior to reading that book but came to see their viewpoints as not necessarily diametrically opposed to one another, despite initial outward appearances (even after watching footage of them debating). Can’t make a clear case for why I see it that way — it’s just how their written back-and-forth arguments resonated with me. I personally found both books valuable.

Deathbird-Stories-Ellison10.) Harlan Ellison — Can’t recall how I first came across his books, not being a regular reader of fiction, but somehow his collections of short stories crossed my radar. The two books I have read by him thus far are Strange Wine and Deathbird Stories. His writing skills are undeniably impressive, and it’s a pleasure to occasionally take time out to retreat into the products of his imagination.

Surely I could locate several more Jewish authors within my book collection (Elie Wiesel, Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Karl Polanyi, Karl Popper, Viktor Frankl, Isaac Asimov, Michael Pollan, Stanley Milgram, Jonathan Haidt, Robert Heilbroner, Steven Levitt, Ayn Rand, Thomas Szasz, Jared Diamond, etc. — come to find out enough to populate another list or two), but my goal today was simply to list the first ten that came to mind.

And perhaps presenting this list will serve as a deterrent to those online who might otherwise feel the desire to ask me, as someone did just yesterday, if I’ve considered “the Jewish question.”  ??  To which I flippantly responded about my appreciation for several Jewish authors (hence what motivated me to create this list in the first place) and for Mel Brooks’ films, on top of being an enthusiastic lifelong fan of Weird Al Yankovich who just so happened to marry a Jewish woman. So…there’s your answer, in a nutshell. And if being anti-Semitic is expected or required of those who align themselves with the so-called Alt-Right, well then, that’s just one more movement/political camp I need not concern myself too much with. Not a fan of movements of any kind anyway. Nor of categorically demonizing and scapegoating whole groups/classes/races of people based on arbitrary criteria so as to suit ideological ends. That’s not my bag.

“Waking Up With Sam Harris #42 – Racism and Violence in America (with Glenn Loury)”

Have now added the books mentioned to my Audible wishlist: On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman and Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy.