learning from life on the road


P1480812.jpg

The trip that Tina and I just returned from was the best one to date. We saw and did a lot.   And by a lot, I mean a shit ton.

In France, We visited Paris, Bonnieux, Lourmarin, L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Gordes, and several other miscellaneous sights along the way. In Portugal, we hit Lisbon and Sintra. In Spain, we stayed in Barcelona, but knocked out a lot of sights in the city.

We ate and drank both the best and the worst of food and drinks. We toured like the best and worst tourists. I dented and scratched our rental car. Tina lost her phone in plain sight, searched frantically for it. We thought some Italian tourists in a camper van somehow swiped it while we were looking on. Eventually, after almost losing our minds, we found the damn phone in the bathroom beside the toilet.

Especially in crowded areas, we wore our wallets in front pockets, and I never kept my phone or cameras available for theft like that time in Rome when I was taking a photo in a touristy area with my phone in the big pockets of a rain coat.

We took risks in little shit restaurants. We pointed and grunted not knowing but a few words in Portuguese on several occasions. We paid one euro to use bathrooms in little restaurants only to get the money back by buying something, like a beer to walk down the street with.  Continue reading

Advertisements

Who is this Kent Dobson …


20180206Kent+Dobson+-+Portraits-156.jpg

Kent Dobson Photo by Ted Bingham 

I talked to my brother the other day on the phone and he recommended that I take a listen to comedian Pete Holmes’ podcast recorded with a guy named Kent Dobson. You can listen to it here.

In a nutshell, Kent Dobson is a friend of Rob Bell’s, the controversial pastor who lead Mars Hill church to mega-churchdom. Bell later removed hell from his personal views, maybe even heaven, and concentrated on the here and now. His blasphemy cost him his pastorship.

I read about Bell long after I had left faith. Hell was one of the first things I was able to let go of as being biblically unsound. So reading him was a little boring. Bell was late to the party.

From what I understand, Kent Dobson took over the church after Rob Bell was basically pushed out. Dobson also flew the evangelical nest and stripped lots of dogma from his perspective.

 

From listening to this podcast, his perspective(s) is/are hardly unique.  I wished that when I was going through my own period of stripping off the dirty, wet clothing of evangelical Christianity, that I could have known more people like Kent, Pete, or anyone else who is able to leave the ideas of our youth.
Continue reading

A link dump, a dumpster fire, and skating on thin ice, how nice.


When I took aim at blogging again with regularity, my goal was to reach back to what this blog used to be and that was a news aggregate of sorts. That hasn’t happened.

For the most part, I’ve been doing my best to stay away from consuming too much news. It’s like sugar, it tastes good for a few minutes and then you come crashing down after an hour or less. In this media market, there’s so much sugar that it’s causing a crash every second if I let it. So I stay away.

This video below is a metaphor for the mental state I’ve been aiming for, calm beautiful purposeful sounds that relax and encourage.

But occasionally the news of the day seeps in and disrupts my garden of tranquility. Below the fold, I’m going to throw a bunch of links to the shit that I would be posting and discussing more, but it puts me in a negative headspace.

So I’m considering this a link dump. I’m considering it a fire pit. A place where the news that sucks goes. Or news I might discuss and find some negativity about it. In this post, I douse it with gas, light a match, flick it on top and walk away.

If you descend into the link dump, come back to the top and refresh yourself by watching this video playing the sounds of skating on thin ice. Ah metaphors.

 

Continue reading

We’re nearing the end of the Whole30


Tomorrow marks 30 days of not consuming alcohol, sugar, legumes, dairy and grains. Not to mention junk food, sulfites, or — as I’ve found — nothing you can’t pronounce or identify as a food product.

My first Whole30 experience has been a good one. Positive. Mind expanding. Challenging and liberating.

The diet started with a bit of a laissez faire attitude. I could care less if I lost weight. If I quit drinking beer alone, I was sure to lose seven or eight elle bees.

I started the diet to support Tina, her cousin and her husband.

Now I’m wondering if I’m ever going to quit the diet ever. Yes, it’s that good. I don’t miss any of the foods we aren’t supposed to eat. I’m not missing alcohol, and this was my BIGGEST fear on this diet. I was this close to consulting an AA sponsor before we started. On day 29, I have very little desire to have a drink, and I didn’t need AA to do it. Yay me! Continue reading

Is there a good time for your refrigerator to die?


On Sunday morning, I woke up, zombie walked into the kitchen and could hear the refrigerator straining a little harder to keep itself cool.

I walked closer, thought, “Something is wrong.” I double checked the doors. They seemed to be shut. So I thought, crisis averted.

I peered back into the door and up at the temperature reading, and it was in the high 40s. It’s supposed to read 37 or so.

The freezer was reading well into the 30s. This sucks!

“Somebody left the door open. Probably Tina! And now we’re screwed!” I thought. Obviously the only culprit in the house for leaving open the door is her. But all will be okay, now.

So I went about my routine. Brewed a French Press of coffee. Did my morning mediation and stretch. Followed that with a warm cup of coffee and my journaling session. Mentally prepared for my Sunday work out.

Throughout the day, the refrigerator didn’t cool down. The temperatures rose. The ice melted. Everything defrosted. All our fridge items were souring. Not only is this bad timing in general, but we’re on the Whole30 diet which centers itself around pre-preparing parts or entire meals, so our entire freezer and fridge are dedicated to Whole30 success.

Around 8:30 that night, we panicked.

“Our refrigerator is dead. We need a new one. Our whole30 is at stake!” We exclaimed in bizarre unison.

Before bed, I filled drawers with snow from our porch and put in some of our more delicate groceries. I left as much as I could on the porch to freeze in the 10 degree temps.

In bed, we ordered a new $2000 refrigerator from Home Depot. The earliest delivery was Thursday or Friday. We chose Friday because we had an interiors job on Thursday. Tina had one of those “I’m a psychic. Thursday will postpone. I just know it.” I doubted her. “We can’t bank on your special powers of intuition.” So we went with Friday (a full five nights away!).

I’m a skeptic and she’s the damn goddess of prediction. 

Monday morning, our nightmare was still reality. We got a text that our thursday job postponed (Tina did the “I was right!” dance). I called my dad to ask him for advice. “Should I call a repairman or do you think this thing is dead?”

“If you can get it repaired,” he said, ” You could get another few years of life out of the thing, and not spend $1500 or more bucks, the better…”

I couldn’t help but feel guilty about throwing a 500lb piece of Millennium Falcon junk out because it happened to stop working and might be fixable. Tina and I went back and forth and thought, “This thing has been on the fritz. It’s dead. No dice. Let’s buy a new one.”

NEW STUFF IS FUN!

Tina went online to find a retailer with an earlier delivery date. I jumped in the car to pick up our studio mini fridge to use in the interim and run some other errands.

A text showed up while I was out that said, “I think the refrigerator is cooling off again. Am I crazy?”

I called. Sure enough, we were looking at the rough, metallic equivalent of a technological resurrection. Our fridge was Jesus’ing a Lazarus. Or vice versa.

It looks like we had  left a door open and it froze up its coils. The fridge shut itself down for 24 hours to thaw.

So for about 24 hours, Tina and I wasted a bunch of time troubleshooting a broken fridge that wasn’t broken. We’d like to thank the academy for our performance of freaking out. And for all your support during this time of stress and need, we appreciated your incessant prayers and positive vibes.

Oh, you didn’t send prayers? that’s weird. How did this fridge start working again, then?

What kind of Twilight Zone do we live in!?!

 

“It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.” Thank you, Mr. Ockham


When it comes to gear envy, the struggle is real. I’m a photographer, and if it’s shiny, and someone’s gushing over it, or it’s $200 off retail, or its promise is to make my life easier, better, more productive, I want it.

Want.It.

Crave it.

Obsess over it.

Some people look at porn like I look at new gear.

Just yesterday, there was an ad on my favorite camera store’s web site, B&H Photo & Video. It was for a light. A hot light. One that stays on all the time. And I wanted it. It was LED. New. Brand new tech. I stared at it for 15 minutes. Twenty minutes. There were no reviews, so I googled it to see if anyone on the internet had one and was reviewing them.

No luck.

So I googled comparable lights. When there’s one company making a light, that means someone else started it first. I found all kinds of information, but said and done, I don’t really need this light. It’s not going to make me go out and shoot more. Although, I want to believe that having more tools in my arsenal would somehow make my life soooooo much easier.

Said and done, keep it simple, stupid. Take it easy, Azizi.

That quote above from Mr. William Ockham (Occam) is a good reminder. For a long time, I use to reference Ockham and his razor when discussing religion. His razor is a problem-solving principle that, when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the one that makes the fewest assumptions.

Because you know what happens when you assume. 

There’s also a quote that I found in Tim Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors with a similar tone:

“Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.” –Robert J. Sawyer Hugo

Lately, I’ve had to eschew some news, even NPR, for the sake of peace. Like you and you, but not you, I’ve been Trumped to bits. Trump trump trump trump trump. Trump.

There’s not a corner you can turn in this media diet market when his name isn’t the focus or mentioned. In stories ranging from world markets to kitties stuck in trees, Trump. In stories about flu to venereal disease, Trump. Not even porn is safe anymore.

“The world is a vampire.” Thanks Billy Corgan. 

On top of my Whole30 diet, I’ve had to really take stock of the media I’m consuming lately. I needed to just take a step back and review what I’m reading, and how it’s affecting me.

This conversation I had a while back keeps playing in my head. It was about reading “both sides” of the issues. It was about balancing “liberal” web sites with “conservative” ones.

This person I was talking to said that Matt Drudge was left-leaning, and I almost spit out my turkey and stuffing. “Drudge is as conservative as it gets.”

“No,” sayest my friend, “He links to New York Times and other liberal sites.”

“Linking to those sites does not make the liberal.”

Clearly, it takes very little effort to see the bias of Matt Drudge, or any blog or website. His slant is clearly pro Trump, pro Republican, and anti Liberal.

If you don’t take my word for it (I’m not talking about you, because the whole world knows except this one fella), but take his word: “I am a conservative. I’m very much pro-life. If you go down the list of what makes up a conservative, I’m there almost all the way.”[38]

My point is: if you (or I) do not recognize something simple, how can we work from a level playing field. How can we discuss, say Politics, if we don’t recognize resources as what they are or are not?

If we’re sitting around celebrating NPR as the most fair and balanced news source in the world, because they’re neither conservative or liberal, but straight down the middle of excellent journalism, then we both suffer from the worst case of the Delusions that the world has seen.

That’s like reading Breitbart or WND and thinking, “I’m doing myself a favor!”

As I near the 30 day mark on my Whole30 diet — or reset — I’ve also had to revisit and diet from my media consumption. The stuff/words/food we put in our body is clearly going to affect how we view the world, our place in it, how we feel about it.

I’m going to do my part to encourage others, but I’m starting with me. And little old me feels fucking GREAT right now. Better than I’ve ever felt.

Whole30, day 12, from a guy who never planned to join the cult …


It’s day 12 of our foray into Whole30. I never planned on doing this diet. And I’m still quite skeptical of the whole thing.

If I met me, today, and heard the bullshit that I’m cutting out for 30+ days, I’d be yawning and looking at my phone while I talked to me.

You know?

No dairy, beans, soy, peanuts, sugar, alcohol for how many days? And why?

“Everything in moderation, my dear boy.”

“Cut one thing out. Not a zillion, my dear boy.”

“Give yourself a break once in a while, my dear boy.”

I’m suspicious of anyone trying to sell anything magical, and here I am conducting the damn magic train and dictating what happens back in the caboose. And everything in between.

What have I learned so far on the Whole30 diet?

  • Cutting out all those ingredients/foods is not as hard as I thought.  Even alcohol promised to be the bombshell blonde temptress calling me back with dirty midnight text message booty calls and I’ve managed to turn her down every time.
  • As they told us in the Bible book: “Quitting heroin is hard. Fighting cancer is hard.” Eschewing a list of foods for 30+ days, not as difficult.
  • Fasting from a series of different foods and replacing them with creative new dishes with amazing flavor profiles is a fun exercise.
  • Facing the diet head-on with a partner is much more satisfying and breathes life into a successful strategy and turnout.
  • It’s day 12, and I haven’t experienced better sleep yet. It’s getting worse, really. I don’t even think I’m that stressed out. Or if I am stressed out, I don’t realize what I’m stressed over.
  • I started the diet to support Tina and her cousin, but now I’m doing the diet for me.
  • My ambition is discover how different foods that are considered inflammatory have affected me both physically and mentally.
  • Overall, I feel calmer, more productive, more concentrated on life, clearer, open-er (sic), lovelier, etc.

Would I recommend Whole30 to a friend? Yes. Would I tell them it’ll change their life? Probably. Do I speak from any kind of authority? Not really. I’m only 12 days in. I’m a hack. I’m a tourist. I’m what people refer to as the shithead in the room.

My outlook, though, is positive. I’m like Scrooge McDuck swimming in a pool of his own money and gold … only I’m swimming in a pool of excessive more time and possibilities of being more productive.

Although, at the moment, I’m so fucking tired it’s hard to concentrate. I’m worried that my fatigue will dictate evil temptations.

Yesterday, Tina went through a swamp of negative feelings and attitude. I’m not sure what was harder: when I went through them personally or being patient with her going through them.

Think about it, for the length of your life, you’ve eaten a lot of different foods. All of the sudden, you put the brakes on about 60%-70% of what you thought was fine, dandy, healthy, supportive.

Because of high blood pressure and cholesterol (and a sincere artistic thrill and so I could have a glass of wine while doing it), I started cooking almost every night of the week about 11 years ago. Nine years ago, Tina and I joined a proper gym and have maintained an exercise regimen that isn’t dictated by New Year’s Resolutions. We’ve managed to start different New Year’s style resolutions, but keep them.

Over the years, I’ve cut back (and failed to cut back) on things like salt, larger meat portions, sugar, calories, etc. There were years where I kept to the “no more than two alcoholic drinks per day (for men) maximum and not every day.” But there were many more when I have not! I blame laziness and fear for the failure of cutting out booze. Fear. Fear because when you think you love something, you think you’d be empty without it. Those thoughts are the little guy in a red suit on your left shoulder whispering in your ear.

I’ve always been intrigued by ideas of why pregnant women can’t have lots of different foods, supposedly for the health of the child. But what the fuck are we eating them for if they are bad for babies?

But the fads are so mind boggling. There’s TOO many of them. I just read in Tools of Titans that there is one guy who decided to cut out all plant-based foods from his diet and he’s never felt more healthy. We are dog-sitting for a friend’s pup who only eats raw chicken. He’s in better muscular shape than any dog I’ve ever seen. And I’ve never seen him do a crunch in my life.

Honestly, I hate the concept of “diets” and especially of the people who proselytize them as superior.

“I’m a vegetarian! I’m saving the planet because meat-based products are ruining the environment!”

“I’m vegan because I want to one-up the vegetarians! I have a superiority complex!”

“I’m a carnivore, because my body needs what evolution gave it to make it walk upright, talk, reason, and invent marketing, capitalism, Hallmark holidays and religion!”

“I’m a Whole30-er, because I’m a sucker for fad diets and creating the most awkward of scenarios in mixed company!”

Joking aside, I’m glad I’m doing it. I think I’m learning something about myself. About the world. About my place in it. I’m rejuvenated with a sense of self-worth, of self-betterment success, of elitism vs humility and of superiority and inferiority.

Self challenges are the mental gyms evacuated after the new year’s resolutions deflate like party balloons. Tina and I tend to find different fads and stick to them. We’ve drank self-made smoothies for three years, cutting out cereal from our diets. Do you realize how shitty cereals are, even the good ones, for eating breakfast?

Eating real food. I think that’s the fad diet everyone should get on. Finding out what does and doesn’t work for you, that’s even more important. Being reasoned in choices, food and otherwise, that there is advice gold.

Here I am hating on diets, and I’m advocating one at the same time. I’m a hypocrite. Just like you. Hold my hand a while, and let’s listen to this podcast on Superiority together.

You’re welcome.