Going Paleo

Making good choices when it comes to food hasn’t been a “me thing” for the past thirty-something years. It’s not that I always made the worste choices, just they were tough to call good. The results are not supprising, I’m on the husky side and suffer heartburn (read – overweight and erosive esophagitis).

Last year my wife and I did a stint on the “Whole 30” program and saw positive results. In fact they were so good I stopped taking my over-the-counter antacids. A few months go by, food habits regress and I end up in the E.R. with a wicked case of GERD. Needless to say, this was less than fun. Since then I’ve been prescribed pills and submitted to a number of tests to make sure they are working.

While I’m a fan of modern medicine it bugs me that I need pills to take care of self-induced suffering. So Mary and I decided to hit Whole 30 again in March – and I hit it hard. Sure enough, all my symptoms went away and I started loosing some weight as well.

At this point it’s probably worth describing “Whole 30”. In short it’s an “eat your meats, fruits, and veggies” plan, stated a bit negatively its no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no sweeteners (including stuff like honey). It might sound draconian but when you look at a plate of “Whole 30” food it’s hard not to see how it’s good for you – like I said it’s meat, fruit, and veggies. Since most convience food doesn’t follow these rules it requires more cooking; so our family is now in the habit of meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking every day.

The goal is to eat following these “strict” rules for 30 days, then slowly try other things to see what makes your body unhappy (e.g. add back soy and don’t feel good then keep it off your diet; add back whole grains and feel fine then keep them). For me though this qualitative change in diet wasn’t so much about finding those one or two modern foods that throw my body off; it was a change in attitude. My diet should revolve around these obiviously health choices because the results speak for themselves – no heartburn symptoms and several pounds lost. So after our thirty days I made the choice to switch over to eating “Paleo” which is a recent diet trend in the same vein as “Whole 30”.

The most obvious differences between the two is that “Paleo” permits natural sweeteners (maple syrup and honey) but says no to things like white potatoes. At their core though they are both about making quality choices rather than quanity choices. I find that to be one of the chief things that make this stick for me. Being able to to say there is a yes and no bucket and then playing by the rules means less brain power for me than any counting strategy. 

So a few cookbooks and three months later and still no heartburn and I’m down about twenty pounds. I don’t want to speak too soon, but so far every temptation (donuts at work, free pizza or beer) looses out when I look back at my success. So heres to three more months, then six more, then twelve… And hopefully a few more pounds lost.

Going Paleo

Writing for Success

If you are reading this then you might have noticed there is almost an eight year gap between posts.

Sorry.

Not to you, but to myself. I had started this because I had a cute name for a blog and thought it would be worth sharing my post-collegiate thoughts with the world. Looking back at that motivation it’s clear that it wouldn’t last, which is sad because like many things (e.g. diet and exercise) it would have been so much better for me to have made it a good habit over the last eight years.

I work at Amazon.com, and there we pride ourselves on communication via N-pagers. Got a neat idea? Write 2 pages about it. Got a complicated system you want to build? Write 6 pages about it. The past few years has included many of these papers for me (not to mention emails).

This bit of my story makes me realize how right Jeff Atwood is when in comes to writing. Communication is important, writing is an important way to do that, so practice!

While the work writing allows me to be creative and is often in narrative format, I would like to one day write something in the realm of fiction. I think the only way to ensure I’ll get there is to practice.

So sorry for skipping eight years at writing gym. I’m hoping to bring this blog back, not because the world needs to know my “deep” thoughts, but because I want to practice writing in hopes of becoming a better writer.

Writing for Success

Amazon Video Direct – A Year Later

This is a post I shared on Facebook on May 10th 2016:

So back in the fall of 2014 I was wrapping up my fourth year at Amazon.com working in Kindle. I was starting to think I should look for something new to help me grow my career. That’s when a friend of a friend in the company reached out to me to ask if I wanted to join a new project in Amazon Video to open up self-service video publishing. I was intrigued but wasn’t sure if this was really going to be the thing I was looking for.

Well on the way home that I heard a story on NPR about the Toronto Film Festival. The big call out was that in Hollywood woman in directorial/producer roles only make up a single digit percent, but at the TFF they made up something like 20ish percent. The story went on to talk about how festivals open the door for diversity and it was on the car ride it hit me – I could help do the same.

So with all that, I’m happy to say that a year and a half later, many meetings, lots of code, lots of coffee (and recently lots of weekends) our little project is finally out and about.

https://videodirect.amazon.com

Amazon Video Direct – A Year Later

Stargate Universe: The Miniseries?

I’ve had a though.

I wonder if Stargate Universe might have been better received if “Air parts I, II, and III”, “Darkness”, “Light”, and “Earth” (maybe “Water” too) had been made into a week long mini-series rather than 5 or 6 weeks worth of episodes.

In the mini-series format it would have served as a single setup with the ending speech Col Young gives as the spring board into the series. Since there would have been no week-long gaps between the parts of the initial story the pacing would have felt better; for comparison imagine if the Battlestar Galactica mini-series had been the first 5 or 6 episodes of season 1 before “33” was aired.

Stargate Universe: The Miniseries?

The book I'll never write

So I’ve had this idea for a story; not a writer so it will probably never get flushed out but here is the gist of it:

Pitch Line: The story of Earths first interplanetary war

So the Roswell incident in 1947 was really the result of an accident during mankind’s initial attempt at a transporter device. The failure resulted in the death of 3 scientists; ultimately proving that only basic elements, atoms and the simplest molecules, can be transported via an energy stream over long distances.

Fast forward to the late 90’s. Fearing global climate change, over-population, and world-wide political strife a group of politicians from the lower levels of several governments have banded together with a plan to start over.

The plan is to immigrate to Mars; this is to be done in two phases.

First, exploit the dot-com boom to gather money. This money will allow them under the guise of “space tourism” to get the first group of colonist to Mars. This group will include a number of laborers and scientist as well as their families.

Second, via loose government regulations and exotic financial instruments raise a second round of capital. This money will then be used to leverage the “failed” transporter technology of the late 40’s in order to move a portion of the Earths oceans to Mars. The addition of water will enable a jump start to the terra-formation of Mars. (Since the technology can really only move atoms it will end up just moving the Hydrogen and Oxygen the comprise the water to Mars; this will oxygenate the atmosphere and power fuel cells which will generate water).

At some point, after the Earths oceans begin to recede, the governments of Earth will figure out the plot. This will lead to a war on two fronts; the war on earth between the “red separatists” (those wanting to immigrate to Mars) and the “terra prima” (those who are in favor of preserving Earth), and the war between those on Earth and those on Mars (the “naitive” martians are skeptical of the new “red separatists” and at open war with “terra prima”).

An artist rendering of Mars if it had an ocean

An artist rendering of Mars if it had an ocean

So that’s it, that’s my story. I haven’t decided how I’d like it to play out, but I imagine if I was in the story I’d find myself on the side of the “red separatist” – if only because I’ve always wanted to visit Mars.

Let me know if you have any thoughts, or if you work in television and want to pay me lots of money to actually make this into a mini-series 😉

The book I'll never write

God and the continuity of the physical world

Here is something to ponder for my theist leaning friends.

First a few presumptions so we don’t get led down rabbit trails. This doesn’t mean that these things are not up for healthy debate; simply that these are required to have the following conversation, and debating these would distract from that conversation.

  • God exists
  • God pre-existed the universe
  • God did create the universe
  • God is Omnipotent
  • God is Omniscient
  • God is Transcendent (exist above/beyond the real of this universe)
  • God is moral

When God created the universe; did he create the physical laws of the universe such that the system would be logically coherent, or did he simple create a system such that it would behave as he saw fit? In other words did God create the laws of physics the way the “had to be” or the way “he wanted them to be”?

The first option seems to have single large dilemma. If God was bound by logical coherency, then it would seems to follow God is in fact limited by some universal and metauniversal rules of logic. The dilemma being that this seems to be a direct contridication to his Omnipotence.

The second option seems more reasonable on the surface, but still raises some interesting questions.

  • Is the system logically coherent by coincident?
  • Does logic derive from the physical system God created?
  • Does God bare moral responsibility for the outcome of the system he created? (If it’s the way he wanted it to be, couldn’t he have wanted it to be such that people couldn’t get hurt?)

I don’t have this all flushed out myself now; it’s simply one of those passing thoughts that amuse me every now and then. Ultimately I believe that the answer will revolve around maxim “God is moral” – since God could not lie, he must do things in a consistent manner (inconsistencies would be akin to lies); out that moral consistency the “logical consistency” is derived which was a factor the creation of the physical laws of our universe. I guess the catch phrase for my supposition is that “because God is moral the speed of light is constant”.

Any thoughts? I always love a healthy debate, so please comment.

God and the continuity of the physical world

Star Trek

So on May 7th I came home from work, and my wife surprised be with tickets to the 7pm showing of the new J.J. Abrams version of Star Trek (she rocks, I know).

Now like most people I thought this movie was great! It had it all, a fun story, great characters, cool special effects, and most important it was true to the source material. All this you can find in the reviews out there, and I guess I’ll leave it to the experts to discuss it’s merits as a movie. I want to touch on something I found of particular interest in the story.

**SPOILERS**

So to recap, the gist of the movie is forking the Star Trek universe at the time of James T Kirks birth. In the “history” we know and love, Kirk was born to a career officer and eventually followed in his footsteps to become one of the greatest captains in the history of the Federation. In this “reboot” a Romulan from the future show up at the moment of his birth which results in the death of Kirks father. This change in the timeline leads Kirk through a rebellious and troubled childhood which turns into a rebellious and meandering adulthood. Kirk ends up enrolling in Starfleet in spite of, better yet, as a result of his rebellion. Despite his hardened and reckless attitude, he succeeds in breezing through the curriculum (passing the Kobayashi Maru in the same manner as the original timeline) and rising to the occasion; showing himself to be the capable Captain Kirk that we know from the original timeline.

What do I find so interesting? Well when we consider what makes a person, we normally look at genes and environment. The Kirk in this movie has an environment that is nearly 100% different from that of the Kirk from the original timeline. I find it hard to say that all Kirk is, his aptitude for being a hero, is in his located solely in his genes. This leaves room for two possible explanations. First, a third factor could be at work; a destiny, a fate, or maybe (divine?) providence. Second, that in all the infinite number of possible universes it just so happens that multiple environmental scenarios result in producing a person of the same stature.

Frankly, I find the second take to be very boring, basically roll the dice enough times and you’ll win big. I think it is much more interesting to look at James T Kirk as the character that would have to rise to the occasion no matter the circumstance, because that is the way the universe is supposed to be.

So internet, any thoughts? Do you believe that Kirk is always destined to be the hero, or that we now simply have the two possible universes in which he is the hero?

James Tiberious Kirk
James Tiberious Kirk
Star Trek