Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Would You Do?

via dickster1961
via dickster1961
I am in a bit of a quandary regarding a situation with my son.  For those that are not regular reader of this blog, my son is a special needs adult who attends school away from home.  He is considered completely disabled, and thus is eligible and has been receiving, Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) through Social Security.

He has been receiving benefits from the program for a few months now.  However, they have been reducing his benefit by 1/3 as Social Security has determined that he is receiving "in kind support" from us because he is not paying rent.

The purpose of the SSI benefit is to provide funds for elderly or disabled individuals with limited assets and income.  Due to his disability, he will probably never have any form of significant income.  We are to use the funds to provide food, shelter, and any other living expenses that he might need, including entertainment.

The benefit that he receives has been a tremendous help for us.  It has allowed us to use the funds to buy a lot of the things he needs on a daily basis.  For instance, he has a tendency to break his glasses.  We have had to buy several replacement pairs for him.  Again, because of his disability, we have a lot of expenses that we would not have if he wasn't disabled.  As helpful as the benefit is, we go through it fairly quickly.  In fact, the first few months he received benefits we spent significantly more than he received.

Which brings me to the quandary.  As I mentioned, Social Security has reduced his benefit by 1/3 of what he is eligible to receive.  In speaking with them, it is because he is living with us and has no rent expense, though we do buy his own food for him.  Social Security told me that if I were to write a letter to them stating that my son is paying rent, as well as paying for his own food, that they would consider raising his benefit to the full amount.

When I began working, I contributed to my family by giving money to my parents for "room and board."  Since my son never really had any income, we never really considered charging him rent.  I had always hoped that I would not have to ever charge my son rent, especially once we found out that he was disabled. If my son was in a group home, they would charge him rent, and he would get his full benefit.

If I were to charge my son rent, he could get his full benefit, which would help us a lot in taking care of him. Were I to take money out of his benefit for "rent," a portion of that would be used for my son as there would not be enough money left to cover the other things we have used the money for.  So if you were me, would you maintain the status quo, or should I charge my son rent to get his full benefit?

Join me and the rest of the dudes at DudeWrite for this week's DudeWrite lineup.
Dude Write
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Allen Pond-To HDR or Not To HDR

The following post is one that I posted on my new photography blog Dick Stone Photography. Please visit and let me know what you think of some of the photos.

When I decided that I wanted to devote more time to the hobby of photography, I started to do a lot more reading on the subject.  I was able to get a free subscription to Popular Photography magazine and I started to visit a lot of photography websites and forums.  One of the things that I started to see a lot of was the subject of high dynamic range imagery, or HDR.

The idea behind HDR imagery is to process a photo with a greater range of colors to more closely represent a scene as scene by the human idea.  In photos where there are a great deal of contrast, bright areas are often over exposed and shadow areas underexposed resulting in the loss of detail of those areas.  HDR is designed to even those out and bring out the details in the entire scene.

On the surface that would seem to be a good thing.  However, a major complaint of HDR is that a lot of photographers end up producing images that are not "realistic" and actually are more surrealistic.  I decided that I want to explore HDR a little bit so I have downloaded a trial version of Photomatix Pro 4.0 to give it a try before I decide whether or not to dive in to HDR.

The first step is to photograph a scene multiple times and bracket the exposures.  Then, all of those images are combined in the Photomatix software to come up with a final image.  I decided to use the following photograph that I took on a walk around Allen Pond here in Bowie MD.  This became my base photo at "normal" exposure.

Next, I create four more images by adjusting the exposure value (EV) in Lightroom 4.  I created duplicate images at EVs of +1, +2, -1, and -2.  I then imported all five of these images into the Photomatix software to come up with the image below.

You can see that the sky in the HDR photo is a bit darker and the clouds stand out a bit more.  You can also see a lot more detail and brightness in the trees on the right side of the photo that were very dark in the original exposure.  All in all, I am very happy with the results.  Below, is another version of the photo using one of the more artistic presets in the software.

Obviously, this is more of an artistic interpretation.  It is not something that I would do a lot of, but it is something that I would want to play around with every now and then to try to evoke a certain mood or feel.  I will continue to experiment with the trial version of Photomatix until I decide on whether or not this is something I want to explore more fully.
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Groomsmen Gifts

#KeyWest #sunset #seascape #nature #boat via d...
#KeyWest #sunset #seascape #nature #boat via dickster1961
I think I might have mentioned that election day happens to coincide with my wife's birthday and our anniversary.  Yes, we got married on her birthday.  It makes life easier for me as I only have to remember the one date and not two separate dates.  Just kidding.  If you follow some of my political rantings, then you can probably guess what I hope she gets as a gift that night.

Actually, if the truth were known, we have two anniversaries.  The first one is November 6th.  My wife and I took a vacation to Key West, and while we were down there, she decided that she was wanted to get married on her birthday in Key West.  We had been planning a church wedding for the spring which we had on May 2nd, albeit a much smaller ceremony than we originally had planned.  The November date is the one that we celebrate.

As I said, our church wedding ended up being much smaller than originally planned.  Originally, I had planned to have my two brothers serve as co-best men and have three ushers.  I still used my brothers as best men and only used one usher, my brother in law.  My wife only used her sister as maid of honor and had no other attendants.

 As is tradition, I needed to come up with gift for my groomsmen.  I really wanted to try to come up with some unique groomsmen gifts.  This was back in the days before everything was online and you could order whatever you wanted from an online site with a large selection.  Back then, there were very few choices of places where you could get those kinds of gifts.  Then, you were limited to whatever selection that the store was carrying.

Any gift that I bought, I wanted to be able to have personalized. I considered a wide variety of items to give the guys as gifts.  There was the ubiquitous hip flask.  I decided against it because at that time none of the guys were really into drinking liquor.  We weren't even into wine that much.  No, we were pretty much all beer drinkers.  So that is what I went with, but a typical beer mug/stein/glass wouldn't do.  I settled on a horned shape beer glass with a pewter plaque that was engraved with their initials.  Now, though, thanks to internet sites, there is so much more to choose from for gifts.

By the way, the photo in this post was taken on a sunset cruise in Key West during the vacation when we got married.

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National Plug In Day

2011 Nissan Leaf photographed at the 2011 Wash...
2011 Nissan Leaf photographed at the 2011 Washington Auto Show[D.C.] Auto Show]]. Category:Nissan Leaf Category:Red hatchbacks Category:2011 Washington Auto Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So I got up fairly early this morning because I wanted to run a few errands in the morning and wanted to have everything done so that I could take the missus to Red Robin for lunch and still be home in time for the Redskins game.  I was watching the local news while having my oatmeal and coffee.  One of the stories they were covering was that today is National Plug In Day, an event on the National Mall to promote the wonder that is electric cars.  It gives me a good reason to write this post that I have been intending to write for a couple weeks now.

I am not sure why I decided to do this, but a few weeks ago I decided to check out he Nissan Leaf all electric car.  I knew it would be something that was completely out of my price range, and I was correct with it $36k sticker price.  Hell, I don't think I can afford the $12k Nissan Versa at this point in time.  However, if price was taken completely out of the picture, I wanted to look at the practicality of owning an electric car in my day to day lifestyle.  I checked info on the Nissan website along with some car review sites.

First off, the Leaf is a completely electric vehicle, unlike the Chevy Volt which has a gas powered engine as a back up if the battery goes dead.  When fully charged, the Leaf is rated to get about 73 miles on a single charge.  The actual mileage can vary based on conditions such as cargo, passengers, and conditions.  My daily commute to and from work is about 63 miles, which depending on how much variance is in that 73 mile range would leave me with little wiggle room to do anywhere else, which would kill my part time pizza delivery gig on the weekends. I could also forget driving out to see my son at school as it is 60 miles one way.  I could visit but not expect to get back home.

English: Electric charging unit for the Nissan...
English: Electric charging unit for the Nissan Leaf exhibited at the 2010 Washington Auto Show (D.C.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Then there is the issue of actually charging the car each day.  One review that I read said that it could take up to 20 hours to fully charge the batter if you did not have a quick charging station installed, which would be an additional investment that you would have to make.  At this time, there is a scarcity of charging stations where you could stop on your drive to recharge you battery whereas there is a gas station on just about every corner.  Even if there were the infrastructure of charging stations, even the quick charge stations take an hour or so to charge the battery.  Quite a difference from the few minutes it takes to fill the gas tank.  Who has the time for that?

I am not adverse to the idea of an electric car.  They are being touted as the future.  They very well may be.  For me, however, they just do not seem to be a practical choice.  Unless one lives, works, and travels within a very small area, you would need to have a gasoline powered car to use for longer hauls or while the electric is being charged.  Maybe one day, the technology will improve to the point where they will not be limited to such a small range of travel.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's Going to be a Long Seven Weeks

Barack Obama
Barack Obama (Photo credit: jamesomalley)
As of today, there are seven weeks until election day.  If this past weekend is any indication, it is going to be a very long seven weeks.  It isn't that we haven't already been inundated with political ads on television and radio, but this weekend was particularly brutal.

Saturday morning, I was fixing myself some breakfast and had the weekend version of The Today show on in the background.  It was the time of the show where they have a few commercials, throw to the local affiliate for local news, and then more commercials.

During this particular break, there were two Mitt Romney ads, one Barack Obama ad, and one ad for and one ad against Question 7 that will appear on the Maryland ballot.  For those outside of the Maryland area, Question 7 is a ballot initiative to ad one more casino and table games to existing casinos.  Currently, Maryland casinos only have slot machines. Oh, and I almost forgot, there was one commercial from independent Senate candidate Rob Sobhani.

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...
speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 11, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In addition to the multiple television commercials, the robocalls have started in full swing.  I received a call from an organization encouraging voters to vote against Question 7.  Personally, I support gambling in Maryland.  I supported it when Robert Ehrlich proposed it, and supported it when Martin O'Malley proposed it.  Funny though, when Republican governor Ehrlich proposed it, the Democrats killed it, but when Democrat governor O'Malley proposed it, the movement passed.

In the past few weeks, these sorts of things had been heating up, but not quite up to the level of this past weekend.  I suspect that things are only going to get crazier over the next seven weeks.  I hope that I can manage to keep from throwing the phone through the television from the expected barrage of robocalls and television ads.  Though, now that I think about it, I could use a new television in the living room.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Music Monday-Eddie Money "Two Tickets to Paradise"

There is a new GEICO commercial that features rock icon Eddie Money as a travel agent. That commercial is below followed by Eddie performing the full version of Two Tickets to Paradise on Midnight Special.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More Money, More Fun

The following post is being submitted for this week's Dude Write lineup. Wow, the Dude Write dudes have been at it for 100 days. Check out all the posts and hopefully read some good posts. Then come back and vote for your favorites.

Massage (Photo credit: o5com)
Many years ago, I suffered from some very severe back pain.  It came from years of taking part in sports and just throwing my body around with reckless abandon.  I thought nothing of diving for ground balls while playing baseball and other sports.  Eventually, that wear and tear took its toll on my body.  I suffered various injuries to my shoulder, knee, and the back.

The worst pain that I suffered was the back pain.  At one point, my back problems became so severe that my body was kind of twisted.  When I looked in the mirror, my hips would be in one place and my torso would be a couple of inches to the right.  The pain was so bad getting out of the car each day that it would take several minutes of stretching to be able to move enough to walk from my parking lot to my office in the morning.

Eventually, the pain got to be so bad that I finally decided to bite the bullet and go to a chiropractor even though it was not covered under my insurance.  I had to pay the entire fee out of pocket.  After several months of treatment, I was able to walk and function like a normal human being again.  I still get the occasional backache, but nothing like what I went through in those days.

Prior to springing for the chiropractic treatment, my family doctor treated me in a very conservative manor.  Every time that my back would act up, he would prescribe muscle relaxers, heating pads, stretching and a week of bed rest.  Things would clear up for a few months and the whole cycle would start again.  As conservative as he was, I am grateful he never suggested surgery.

During one particular bout with my back problems, my doctor gave me a referral for three visits to a physical therapist.  The therapist started each session with some heat treatments.  This was followed up with a series of stretching exercises.  The session would end with some massage therapy.  After my referral ran out, I asked the doctor if he could give me anther referral.  His response was to have my wife massage my back.  Only one problem; at the time I had no wife and had no prospects.

So, I started to look around for a place to get a massage.  I saw a few ads in the Washington Post sports page and called around to see what the price would be for a massage.  Most of the places told me it was $40 for a half hour and $60 for an hour.  I had taken a class in massage at a local community college, and the instructor had told us that we could expect to pay around $60 for a full body massage.

Sorebun Institue Of Sexual Awareness And Massa...
Sorebun Institue Of Sexual Awareness And Massage Parlour (Photo credit: A.Currell)
I decided to check out one of the places advertised in the Post.  I had made plans to go check out some condominiums that happened to be near one of the advertisers.  I made arrangements to stop by for an hour massage between visiting the various condominiums.  I showed up and an attractive Asian woman in a short dress answered the door.  That should have set something off in my brain.

The hostess, proceeded to take me back to a room that had a massage table in the middle.  She took my fee and left.  A second woman then came back to my room.  She was also Asian and was wearing a white lab coat similar to what you would expect from a clinician.  I relaxed and laid on my stomach on the massage table.  The massage went on for several minutes.  The entire process seemed rather clinical.  That is, until the masseuse said to me, "You spend more money, we have more fun."

It was a little difficult to understand her through her heavy accent, so I turned my head to look at her and asked, "Excuse me?"  She repeated herself and said, "You spend more money, we have more fun," only in addition to the statement, she proceeded to open her lab coat, pull down her top to reveal her bodacious tatas, breasts, whatever you want to call them.

Yes, my friends, this was not a legitimate massage establishment.  I stammered something to the effect of that I didn't have more money, and that I just wanted a massage.  She continued with the massage for a few more minutes.  Afterwards, I got dressed and she walked me out to the door.  As I was leaving, I heard her exclaim, "Next time you spend more money, we have more fun! OK baby?"

Sports Massage
Sports Massage (Photo credit: amareta kelly)
There was no next time.  I guess it is safe to say that I was somewhat naive at the time.  Looking back, I should have seen a few warning signs as to the legitimacy of this location.  First should have been the hours the establishment was open for business, 7 days a week, and open late into the evening.  The second should have been the attire of the first women I saw, short, tight black dress.  I am sure there were other signs I should have caught.

As the old adage goes, "live and learn."  I really was looking for a legitimate massage experience at that time.  I never thought that a business advertising in the Washington Post would not be a "legitimate" business.  I was later able to find some legit businesses where I could get a massage.  One establishment went out their way to emphasize that they were a "real" massage business and nothing extra.  That's what I wanted.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Music Monday-Billy Joel "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant"

Today was one of those perfect weather days. Temperatures were in the low 70's with low humidity. I was able to drive home with the windows down, the sun roof open, and the radio cranked up. It reminded me of a line from this song that goes "riding around with the car top down and the radio on." So, Billy Joel's "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" is my Music Monday choice this week.
Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Another Cell Phone Ban Rant

Person using cell phone while driving.
Person using cell phone while driving. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
OK.  I feel the need to go off on one of my cell phone ban rants.  I have expressed my distaste in the past for singling out the use of cell phones while driving when there are just so many other things that cause a driver to be distracted while driving.  I am not denying that the use of cell phones while driving can cause some drivers to be distracted, but it is only one of many things that can distract a driver, and it is the only action that government is actively creating laws to ban their use.

A case in point is the news story that NBC4 in Washington was broadcasting this morning.  They were reporting the results of a study that showed that if you sing while driving that it increases your risk of being involved in an accident.  It prompted me to search for a link to the story on the internet and led me to send out the following on Twitter:

I am not trying to minimize the danger of distracted driving.  Believe me, I have been frustrated at being stuck behind somebody traveling slower than the speed limit only to discover them holding a cell phone to their ear once I was finally able to get around them.  My beef is that there are so many other things that can distract a driver and lead to accidents.  Only one of those behaviors is being legislated against when a general distracted driver law would be sufficient.

It is bad enough that government has banned hand held cell phone use and texting while driving, but there are some legislators and bureaucrats that even want to ban the use of hands free devices.  It's the nanny state run amok. So in addition to my sarcastic suggestion on Twitter to ban the use of car stereos, I would like to submit a number of other items that should be banned while driving.  Some of these could be made easier by telling car manufacturers to eliminate features from automobiles.

  1. Applying makeup while driving-car manufacturers can assist in this by removing vanity mirrors from all visors in new vehicles.
  2. Eating or drinking while driving-just imagine spilling a cup of hot Starbucks coffee in your lap while driving or the insides of a Big Mac falling in your lap.  Now that is a distraction.  Laws could be made banning cup holders and drive through windows at fast food establishments.
  3. Kids arguing in the back seat-is there anything more distracting that your children arguing in the back seat?  "Mom, Susie keeps touching me."  Simple solution, no driving with kids in the car.  Therefore no more back seats in the cars.  Sure, it will be inconvenient to get things done, but what's more important, convenience or road safety?
  4. Other passengers-by logical extension, if having a conversation while on a cell phone is distracting, so would be having a conversation with another passenger in the car.  Just try to convince me that you haven't had an argument with your significant other while driving. Therefore, all vehicles should be constructed to transport only the driver of the car.  This will also allow those pesky HOV car pool lanes to be used by everybody.  
  5. Maps and other items that can be read while driving-granted the use of GPS devices has rendered the old fold out maps almost out of existence, but I still remember seeing drivers with their maps, newspapers, or written direction in their hand, on the steering wheel while driving.
  6. GPS devices-much like car stereos, where you can push buttons or change a CD, GPS devices have their own share of distractions.  There is entering an address on the screen and then there is glancing at the screen itself while driving.  
There are just a handful of the things that I could come up with that could also be banned while driving.  All of these are things that could potentially distract a driver and lead to a potential accident.  Can you think of anything else to add to this list?  On second thought, why don't we just ban driving altogether?  There is no chance of getting distracted and having an accident if you can't get in the car in the first place.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Frugal or Cheap?

English: Compact Disc player carousel for thre...
English: Compact Disc player carousel for three CDs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The following post will be a testament to my frugality.  One might find frugality to be an admirable quality in a person.  For the most part, it would be, however, to Mrs. Dickster there are some qualities in my frugality that she finds just a tad annoying.  OK, they downright piss her off.  She might even go so far as to call me a cheap bastard.

I haven't always been a frugal person.  In my youth, I had a tendency to spend money that I did not have.  I was definitely what you would call an early adapter of technology.  When CD came out, I bough a CD player and converted all of my vinyl over to CD as quickly as I could.  In addition to technology, I was heavily into fashion buying nice clothes and more than one pair of exotic cowboy boots.

When I got married and started a family, my spending habits came along with me.  I wanted to provide nice things for my wife and my son.  For years, I was able to keep things going, getting all the bills paid and providing for my family.  Unfortunately, those habits eventually caught up with me, especially after getting laid off from one job and having to take a lower paying job.  A few years ago, I ended up in a bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy led to a great many behavioral changes.  I no longer have the latest technology.  There is no blue-ray DVD player in the house, and I am sitting here watching a 27" tube TV, thought I think I may have to spring for a new TV soon as the picture is starting to go on this one.  My fashion sense faded long ago, and is the genesis of this post, along with the occasional ire of my better half.

Cowboy Boots
Cowboy Boots (Photo credit: Andrew Scott)
In my hey day, I had a closet full of clothes.  I had a few good suits, several pairs of slacks and shirts, sports coats, and dozens of neck ties, all silk naturally.  I had at least three pairs of exotic leather cowboy boots made from elephant, shark, and cape bison. Those days are long gone.

These days, I have about three or four pairs of casual pants and a handful of shirts in my rotation.  For my casual weekend clothes, I primarily wear t-shirts, most of which came as freebies from promotions at Baysox games and beer launch parties at DuClaw's.

In the past, I was never hesitant to by myself new clothing if I needed them.  These days, I am very reluctant to spend money on new clothes, especially on certain articles of clothing.  There are just certain items that I don't want to spend money on.  Consequently, I wear what clothes I have until they can no longer be worn.
It is that trait that drives my wife bonkers.

I think nothing of wearing a shirt that has a few stains on it or is fraying in spots.  On more than one occasion, my wife has gotten on my case for putting on a pair of socks that has a whole in the heel.  My thinking is that they still comfortable, and besides, who is going to see the whole in my heel if I have shoes on?  In her mind, the socks have outlived their usefulness and should be replaced.  I guess I can see her point, but not enough to go buy new socks.

Underwear happens to be one of those items that I am loathe to spend money on.  Sadly, this past weekend I broke down and bought a package of new boxers.  To be clear, I did walk away from the display a couple of times before finally biting the bullet and putting a pack in my basket.  It was a good deal, as it was a bonus pack of boxers giving me six pairs of boxers for the price of a four pack.  What a bargain!

I have to explain the current status of my old boxers so that I can justify the purchase.  My old boxers have been in service for a few years now.  Some of them have gotten to be extremely threadbare, especially in the crotch area.  You could almost call them "crotchless" but trust me, they aren't sexy at all.  However, they still are in the drawer just in case I haven't done laundry and don't have a clean pair of suitable boxers.

The other issue is that the elastic waist band has lost a lot of their elasticity.  With my recent weight loss, I have been having a difficult time keeping my drawers up around my waist.  I do a lot of tugging to keep them up.  In fact, I often do not have to use my hands to take them off.  I just wiggle my hips a bit, and down they go.  So there you have my story. Sad but true.

I will be entering this post in the upcoming DudeWrite.  There you can find, hopefully, some entertaining dude bloggers.  Check out the fun.

Dude Write
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Food and Football

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Buffalo Wild Wings for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

bdubs_newlogo_black_hor.jpgSpectator sports have always been a big part of my family's life.  When I was a kid growing up with my parents and my siblings, we watched a lot of sports together.  Every Sunday in the fall, the whole family would camp out in front of the television watching the Redskins games.  On Saturday, we watched college football.  We watched whatever sports were on television throughout the year.

Now that I am married and have a family of my own, the love of sports has continued.  In fact, the first date that my wife and I went on was an opening day Baltimore Orioles baseball game.  Over the years, we went to a lot of different sporting events.  When our son was born, we started taking him to games as well as watching them on television.  Watching football games with my son was a lot of fun when he was little.  He used to sit on the couch with me holding on to his football.  He would jump on top of me and pretend he was tackling me.

Of course, whenever we would watch a game, there would be plenty of food and drinks around to feast on while we watched the games.  There is nothing better that chowing down with a plate of buffalo wings and an ice cold beer.  OK, I am the only one that drinks the beer.  For the longest time, chicken wings was about the only food that my son would eat.

That's why a place like Buffalo Wild Wings is the perfect place for us to go watch a game and have a bite to eat.  B-dubs is a sports bar with a complete menu that is a great place to hang out and watch a game with friends and family.  About the only problem with them is trying to decide which of their many sauces to have on your wings.  So, if you like football, food, and fun then Protect the football. Get to B-Dubs.


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Monday, September 3, 2012

Music Monday-Ringo Starr "Photograph"

I have been thinking a lot lately about photography.  It is a hobby that I have enjoyed over the years.  I really want to pursue it with a bit more energy than I have in the past.  I decided to start a photography blog called Dick Stone Photography.  I have already posted a few pictures there.  I am also considering signing up to take a photography course through the NY Institute of Photography to try to hone my skills.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Confessions of an Ex-Fat Person

myfitnesspal (Photo credit: oklanica)
Quite often, ex-smokers become the most vocal and ardent opponents of smoking.  I suppose that is understandable as they finally came to realize just how harmful their habit is and they want to, for lack of a better term, evangelize others to their side.  Still, it is almost like they have become too judgmental in their quest to get others to quit.

This morning, I hit two milestones in my use of MyFitnessPal in my weight loss goals.  First, I have logged into the app for 100 straight days.  Second, when I weighed in this morning, I hit the 40 pounds lost mark.  I now weight 190 pounds for the first time in years.   I still want to lose at least 10 pounds more, and perhaps another 20.  We will see how I feel once I get down to 180 pounds.

Hitting those goals is great for me from a mental point of view.  Continuing to see progress helps to keep me motivated to keep going.  But maybe more important than that is the reactions of some family members that I saw on Thursday that I had not seen in several weeks.  Their comments only further enforce in my mind that I am on the right path.

My youngest brother, who has never had a weight problem, asked me how much weight I lost.  When I told him, he said that pretty soon I would weigh less than him.  Right now, I am only 16 pounds heavier than he is.  My sister told me that I needed to go out and get all new clothes, which I don't want to do until I have finished losing.  My mother said I was now too skinny.  According to the BMI charts, 175 pounds is the upper limit for a "healthy" weight for me, which is why I may want to get down to 170.

Obesity Campaign Poster
Obesity Campaign Poster (Photo credit: Pressbound)
Later that night, my wife and I were attending the Bowie Baysox game.  As an aside, the Baysox won the game thus clinching a spot in the playoffs which begin next week.  At the game, we saw my brother-in-law and my father-in-law.  My brother-in-law told me he almost didn't recognize me.  My father-in-law asked about my weight loss and complimented me on doing so.

So what does the vocal ex-smoker's crusade against smoking have to do with my weight loss quest?  Thursday night, I had thoughts that entered my mind that made me think I may be becoming the same thing, only towards fat people.  As I sat in my seat at the game, I looked around and saw so many overweight people, many who were much larger than I was when I started.  I thought to myself, "My God! We do have an obesity problem in this country."

One thing that I will never do is be an advocate of the government stepping in and mandating behaviors in the quest of helping people. From my own experience, one must be mentally prepared to make the changes needed to lose weight.  For years I knew I was too heavy and needed to lose weight but just couldn't bring myself to do so. Education is the key to being able to make the right decisions to eat healthy.  It is one of the reasons I am such a fan of MyFitnessPal on my phone.  Having caloric information at my fingertips helps me to make wise food choices on a daily basis.

I have to confess that I was somewhat ashamed at myself for the thought because it was tinged with a touch of judgmentalism rather than thoughts of "there but by the grace of God go I."  It is one thing to make the observation about the obesity problem, it is another to think ill of those who need a change in their lives.  I never thought I would be that guy.  I also know that I could easily slip back into the behaviors that caused me get fat in the first place.  I hope that the realization that I have had those negative thoughts will help me to put them behind me.  I would much rather encourage and understand where others are at.

I haven't posted at DudeWrite for a while, so I am going to post this there as well.  If you haven't already, you should really check them out to see blog posts from other bloggers who happen to be dudes.  Read the posts and go back to the vote for your favorites.
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