I’m on Bing Maps


About two months ago, I saw a Bing Maps surveyor and decided to follow it for a bit because I thought it would be funny to eventually see myself on the street maps.

Well, tonight I checked the maps to see if they had updated them. They did.

But first, take a gander at the video I shot and posted on Instagram. I always have my camera going when I’m on my scooter because you never know.

Now here I am behind the Toyota RAV4, sitting at the stop sign.

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I guess I should have waved at it for maximum effect but I didn’t even think about it. Oh well.

To see the precise location, click here. Note that you will probably need to view it in IE since Bing is Microsoft, Silverlight, blah blah blah.

Run the Runway


Okay folks, first things first. My wrist is feeling a whole lot better which means I can use a computer keyboard to write again. Granted, I would prefer to be in my corner of the den with my laptop but ah, it shuffled off this mortal coil months ago.

Secondly, my new glasses arrived today and I can see much better. Call that a two-fer. They will come in especially handy when…well, I’ll talk about that when (and if) it happens. So with all of that out of the way, let’s go.

I was at a loss as to what I should write about but in reality dang it, I had plenty going on but just got lazy. I let my social media sharing tell the brief story instead of giving a full report here. Case in point: the Run the Runway event on March 31, 2015.

The event was just as its name implied: you ran on a runway. It may not sound exciting if you aren’t a runner but you didn’t have to be one. Participants could walk or even skip if they so desired.

The whole point of this event was to celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of Runway R25 at Long Beach Airport which had gone thought a major renovation. And let’s face it: should you ever find yourself running the length of a runway, there’s a good chance you’ll either be pursued by authorities or be run over by an incoming plane.

But not at this event, which is why I thought it would be fun to attend. When else would I get this chance? Without being shot at or splattered?

The run itself was not very long. From the Start/Finish line to where the airport fire truck was parked only measured a half-mile and once you reached that point, you had to run back to the Start/Finish line. A solid mile for fun on a totally flat course – for free. Not bad. But even at free, there was still a line where participants – limited to 1,200 invitees – had to turn in their waivers and get their free t-shirt.

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There were also a few cool planes on display, including this one that flies to beautiful Catalina Island (a mere 26 miles away).

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And yes, there was even a sheriff helicopter that I soon discovered didn’t have a lot interior room. (This, by the way, will probably be the only time I’m ever in ANY helicopter. I’m not good at heights or small, enclosed areas.)

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Then there’s the runway itself, all shiny and pretty. Just imagine how it looks now only a few weeks later.

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It’s also not every day that you can get some interesting camera angles on a runway.

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Waiting for the event to start. This is when you get in some stretching and your preferred exercise tracking app ready.

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Once everything was cleared and the horn blasted, we all took off and being it was only a mile, it was almost over as soon as it began. I finished at my usual mile pace of 10 minutes which is by no means fast but definitely steady. There were no medals, only a commemorative shirt to take home and the bragging rights that come along with running across a tarmac with 1,200 other people.

All in all it was definitely a memorable event and one that we won’t likely see again in the near future. Thanks to all involved for making it spectacular!

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I’m smiling here, but I had to work the midnight shift later that night. Ugh.

Finders Keepers, Part IV


Whether I’m running or riding, I tend to find personal items that the owners would probably want returned to them. I find so many of these things that I’ve decided to create a subject that will be dedicated to the topic of my findings, herein titled Finders Keepers. This is the third installment in what will probably be an ongoing series of blog posts.

But before I go into the few details about yesterday’s find, let me refresh your memory on the three previous incidents:

  • First incident, date unknown (not blogged): I found a small pouch containing a phone and money. I was able to get in touch with the owner who then picked it up and rewarded me with a gift card a week later.
  • March 2012: I found a Blackberry and returned it to its owner.
  • January 2014: I found a wallet that a local branch of law enforcement refused to accept.

And now, yesterday’s find.

I was scooting along on my way to work when I happened to see something lying in the middle of a residential street. If it were a busy street I wouldn’t have risked trying to retrieve it since, well, California drivers. The good thing about being on two wheels is maneuverability: you’re small enough to lane-split (which I love more than I can express) and you can pretty much turn on a dime. That was the case here when I saw the wallet.

Once I spotted it, I turned around quickly and picked it up. It was all documented by my trusty HTC Re Camera which I attach to my helmet in case something bad happens and I need evidence. (As of now, nothing has and I delete all the videos later.)

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Granted, there was a chance that the wallet would be empty because hey, people throw stuff out and who knows where it will end up. But after I picked it up I looked inside in the hopes of coming across something that would indicate ownership. In this case, there was about $60 and two movie vouchers but no form of identification.

Bordering on being late to work, I picked a house that was adjacent to where the wallet was found and knocked on the door. No answer.

At that point I figured I’d hold onto it and figure out things later like posting signs around the neighborhood.

I threw the wallet in the storage compartment under my seat and shut it. Just as I started up the scooter, I noticed a girl – she may have been around 11 or 12 – frantically looking around her property while her dad was crawling down the street in his car.

If this was her wallet, it would have explained the absence of an ID inside. I opened my “trunk” and grabbed the wallet. As she darted across the street to her dad’s car, I looked over at him and held up the wallet. Their faces of concern turned to relief when they realized I had found it.

Dad opened up a dialog with me, thanking me for finding it and returning it. The girl ran over, thanked me, grabbed her wallet and got in the car, smirking and hanging her head in embarrassment. She would have had one bummer of a weekend without her sixty bucks and movie tickets so I was happy she got them back. I told them it was my pleasure; no thanks needed.

An aside: remember when $60 and movie tickets were all it took to make you happy?

Anyway, I once again did the right thing because it’s in me to do this type of thing. If I ever lose my wallet or anything else of personal value, I would hope that the finder would do the same for me. That’s just how it should be because the universe sort of has a way of paying you back for making it a better place. Yeah, it’s that karma thing again. But I’ve learned my lesson with finding money: just keep it.

So I was feeling very satisfied with myself knowing I helped brighten someone’s day. No doubt they will have a story to tell at school tomorrow when they explain that some scooter-riding dork wearing a helmet with the Flying Tiger livery found their wallet.

Still feeling high, I arrived at work where that buzz was shot down quicker than (I can’t think of anything so use your imagination). Not cool, universe. Not cool at all. As for what happened at work, let’s just say it’s been an ongoing issue and I’m making a call to my union representative in the morning to go over it.

In the meantime, it’s off to scour the usual job sites after I finish up this week’s Coursera lesson which I’m happy to say I’m sticking with.

Better Luck Next Time 


Way back in July of last year, I boasted about the fact that I passed my written motorcycle exam which granted me a permit to operate my scooter, albeit with a few quid pro quos. 


That was then. This is now.

I had made an appointment with the DMV a few weeks ago to take my behind-the-handlebars exam and I was ready for it. After all, how hard could it be? It’s just riding in a simple serpentine pattern through some cones, going in a circle, then riding back through the cones. The second part is easier than that. 

Today I found out just how not easy this test can be because, despite my thinking that I would easily pass it, I didn’t. Oh, how I didn’t.

First things first, the exam is done on the property. The lollipop course is painted on the parking lot and tiny cones are put up by the DMV official. You are then given a quick quiz about where things like the horn, ignition switch, brakes, etc. are located on your bike. Easy enough.

Once that’s done and the way is cleared, you’re free to start the exam. 



And there are three simple rules to follow or you’re immediately sunk: your feet/foot can’t touch the ground, you can’t hit a cone, and you must stay within the lines at all times. Any one of those is cause for disqualification.

So I was ready. I eased my way through the cones and started to follow the circle. About a halfway through it, I noticed that I was slowly drifting outside the circle and tried to correct myself. In the process I lost my balance and my foot touched the ground. In most cases that would be the end of the exam.

But the DMV official gave me a second chance which I thought was nice. I made my way to the starting point again, took a deep breath, and hit the throttle gently.

I ran over the third cone and immediately turned around to meet the examiner. It was over this time — no third chances.

She marked up my exam sheet and handed it to me, telling me to schedule another appointment and to avoid the cones next time. I nodded, thanked her,  grabbed my paperwork, and disappointingly left the property.

And you know what sucks about not passing this exam? It takes place in the parking lot where people are waiting for whatever reason and where there is a line of cars with drivers waiting to take their exams. That means that unlike the car license exam, you’re exposed to a bunch of people hanging around watching you. You fail and everyone will know it — especially if you do something stupid like run over a cone. It’s really embarrassing.

So now I have to schedule yet another appointment to take the exam again. This time, however, I will make it a point to practice both serpentine ride and circle, ensuring that the exam will be easier next time.

Because I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to slalom through cones and ride in a circle while out and about in the city. 

Only It’s Not Coffee


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That's Good Drinkin'!

That mug you see is not filled with coffee as the quote from The Big Lebowski might imply. In fact I’m not sure it was ever used for coffee since my drink of choice at my last job was green tea with jasmine, one packet of artificial sweetener and a squeeze of honey added to kill any semblance of tea (and dignity) it might have had.

And I really wouldn’t consider any coffee I concoct to still be coffee for the same reason as the tea: the additives, only twice as many.

In either case, the current contents of the mug are not meant to give me pleasure but instead provide relief. It is filled with warm TheraFlu Nighttime Formula as I have been fighting off a cold for the last few days with today being the worst yet. While I was able to completely clean then den and then go to work yesterday, the only thing I did today was go grocery shopping at WinCo in the morning and it wiped me out. After lunch, I donned my pajamas and robe and have been roaming the house in sickly comfort. The family, as a result, has been avoiding me and I can’t really blame them.

Being sick sucks. I want to run, go for a 20-mile bike ride, anything to break a sweat. Instead I sit and do nothing. Blah.

So I just thought I’d post since they are so infrequent. My Facebook Vacation also continues but there’s more to it. It’s just not working for me with any browser and I can’t upload pictures from my devices via WiFi. I don’t know what’s going on but I don’t really miss it either. It’s an incredible time-waster.

I think that TheraFlu is starting to kick in. Goodnight.

Composed on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with the WordPress app

2014: My Year In Review


I know it’s a few days late but I like to wait until the year is over because hey, you never know what can happen, right?

Anyhow I bid you a very Happy New Year. And in keeping with what seems to be a new tradition since I’m always taking pictures of even the most minor event in my life with my phone, I’m going to share with you my photographic year in review* as I did last year. I enjoy doing these posts because I throw in a lot of crazy little things that I saw along with the big things, plus add often sarcastic commentary to go along with all of it.

Will 2014 compare to 2013? Will it be better or worse? You be the judge. So grab your choice of beverage, sit back, and enjoy the (possibly bittersweet) ride.

January 2014

We were invited to go to Disneyland and took the first of what would be, quite honestly, too many trips to Walt’s Magic Kingdom. It’s a long story I’ll slightly cover later.

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I found a wallet and tried to return it, which turned into one clusterfuck of an ordeal. (Note that the term “clusterfuck” may appear many, many more times in this post – you’ve been warned!) The coins were found in the parking lot next to the wallet but I kept them. Half-dollars are cool.

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We made another trip to Disneyland a few weeks after the last one. It’s already too much.

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I had two of my photos posted in the local newspaper which recently shut down after only 20 months.

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February 2014

I discovered that the local church has parking dedicated to corpulent parishioners.

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In an effort to cut costs due to unemployment, we cut the cable cord and bought Roku boxes and digital antennae.

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Speaking of unemployment, I got a job the day after my birthday at a local grocery store where I tend to take selfies in the freezer.

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And speaking of birthdays, I turned 45 without much fanfare as don’t have my birthdate visible on Facebook. (Those who know, know.) I’m not a big birthday person and only posted this cryptic image on Instagram for people to figure out. I think only one person did.

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I celebrated Chinese New Year the way I did last year, by riding in the Chinatown Firecracker 30-Mile Bike Ride. It’s one of my favorite events but sadly, due to my part-time status, all of my events for 2015 have been put on the back burner. I may not do any if I can’t get the money together for them.

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March 2014

I participated in my second Coaster Run but only the 5k. It rained for most of it and was probably the most fun I’ve had doing an event.

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I witnessed one of the most amazing sunrises in recent memory.

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We switched from MetroPCS to AT&T using my new Corporate Discount through work. That, of course, required getting new phones.

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I decorated (read: wrote on) my first cake while working in the Bakery.

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After around a week of building, I completed constructing The Simpsons LEGO house.

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We celebrated Anthony’s 10th birthday at a local pizza place where his grandfather showed him how to score a bunch of tickets playing the Blackjack game.

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April 2014

While out for a run, I saw the Amityville Horror house being built in a local park.

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You know. Korean Doritos.

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We took one of two trips to the tide pools, one of our most favorite local spots.

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Sadly, on my Mom’s birthday, my Aunt Mary (seated) passed away. This was taken a year earlier at Mom’s surprise 75th birthday.

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May 2014

We were invited to go to Disneyland’s 24 Hour event and I was the only person in our group to make it to sunrise on Saturday (after arriving around 4pm Friday). I didn’t blog about it; I only posted my pictures on Instagram.

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June 2014

We discovered that there’s a Hello Kitty wine, but we don’t like Chardonnay. I’m more of a Merlot person now that I occasionally drink wine.

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We took our final trip to Disneyland. This was meant to be a mini-vacation that was paid for by Ann’s friend which it was, but it was cut short by Anthony becoming sick and Ann having to unexpectedly go to work. This didn’t set well with the friend who hasn’t uttered more than one word to Ann since (and also unfriended me on Facebook). What can I say? Shit happens and her hotel room money was refunded. I guess some people don’t realize that the world can’t be paid to spin in their direction and have everything go their way and when it doesn’t, it’s best to throw verbal tantrums on social networking sites and post condescending witticisms [in]directly aimed at you. We did get Annual Passports as well, still good until June 2015, but we haven’t used them since and probably won’t. We don’t want to be reminded of this clusterfuck of biblical proportions where we felt completely unwanted by our hosts the whole time.

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July 2014

I got this really creepy lenticular Jesus picture sent to me from a church that was begging for money. I was on their mailing list for a while and got all kinds of weird stuff sent to me, including a communion wafer.

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The door of the baler at work came down and smashed my fingertips. They were numb for about a month or so but are fine now.

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In an effort to earn a few bucks since I was (and still am) only working part-time, we sold our extra refrigerator. And you know what? That turned out to be a big clusterfuck as well!

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Only 17 months into our lease, we had to say goodbye to the Kia Optima. Working a minimum-wage, part-time job just wasn’t enough to make the payments anymore. It felt like a kick in the gut but it has turned out to be fine in the end. It also gives me yet another opportunity to say that Kia financing is the worst on the planet. Read this post for more information.

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The day we got rid of the Optima also ushered in a new day of motoring for me: I bought my Yamaha Zuma scooter which I still love. Payments are 1/4 that of the Optima and it is ridiculous on gas (between 65-80 MPG), meaning I’ve never put more than $3 in it since I’ve owned it.

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I applied for a job at Disneyland. I had the interview and was shortlisted then later offered a position. I turned it down for many a good reason.

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I got a second job someplace near and dear to my heart, which I quit after only one day of training. I’ve never seen the paycheck. I quit for many reasons, the main one being their ultra-strict policy on personal items and phones. It pretty much granted them the right to search my locker, backpack, and phone any time they wanted with no reason or cause. I’m an honest guy but their policy was way overboard for me, so I left.

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After a month of studying, I took the written exam for my motorcycle license and got my permit.

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August 2014

Anthony got his parakeets.

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I hit 100 miles on the scooter.

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We took a trip to Mattel, across the street from where I used to work.

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We paid a visit to the Queen

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…and her neighbor, a Russian submarine.

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My friend commissioned us to refurbish the sign for his restaurant. Here is the Before shot.

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September 2014

My “promotion” at work became official. But I still take selfies in the freezer.

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I was reunited with some friends from my old Catholic school whom I hadn’t seen in over 30 years.

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Remember the sign we were working on? Here’s the finished project.

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How YOU doin’?

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October 2014

The job allowed us to root for our favorite local team in the MLB playoffs, so naturally I did.

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My mad art skillz came in handy at work once again when I was asked to conjure up a sign for a our seasonal caramel apples.

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Catastrophe. Just a few days before participating in another event, I dropped my phone and rendered it useless.

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That same day, my scooter was vandalized by local school kids who don’t understand what it’s like to have their property willingly broken.

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Anthony ran in his second Aquarium of the Pacific Kids Run

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..and I did my second duathlon the following day. I did it last year and rode the bike tour the previous four years.

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I replaced my broken phone with this, the Samsung Galaxy Skyrocket II. It was such a horrible phone that I returned it the next day.

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It was replaced with the HTC one M7, an absolutely amazing phone.

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November 2014

I got a new camera and started shooting quality photos again. My first trip was a Dia de los Muertos event.

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A few days later, we made another trip to the tide pools where I messed with the different settings on the camera.

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Anthony and I took the train to the L.A. Auto Show where the camera performed well in every lighting condition.

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December 2014

Well, outside of Christmas, there wasn’t much to speak of in December so I don’t have many pictures for that month. It looks like 2014 had its share of highs and lows but naturally, I took the good with the bad and moved on.

By the way, I’m still on Facebook Vacation and enjoying it. It’s amazing how much you can do with your time when you don’t give it so much attention.

Anyhow, there’s my second annual Year In Review post and I hoped you enjoyed it. Here’s hoping my 2015 is less phone-breaky, scooter-pushy, and wallet-findy and that yours is everything you wish it make it to be.

*Selected events, of course. You don’t need to know about my doctor’s visits.

Preparing for the New Year


Now that it’s December, I’m sure that many people are starting to think about their New Year’s resolutions. But I’m not.

That’s because I don’t make resolutions. To resolve to do something means that you are determined to do it, to settle something, etc. It’s a nice little word but it’s not exactly one I’ve used over the past few years and it sounds like a short-term solution to a lifelong problem.

Instead of making resolutions, I make commitments. One is committed to their religion, to pay their bills on time, or to their job. It’s something that you hold in high regard because it needs to be done, much like my weight loss and maintenance over the years. No, at this point the scale isn’t exactly where I would like it to be but I’m still nowhere near my starting weight of 300 pounds. That’s because I made a commitment to change my life by eating right and exercising.

Compare that to the resolutioner who will buy their gym membership in January and stop using it by March because it was more than they could handle. Running is always a kick at the start of the year because my running route and the bike paths are really populous but in a few months they are empty again. I’ve seen it happen every year.

Anyway, I’ve committed myself to doing at least three things in this upcoming year, my 46th year on this material sphere. They are as follows.

Commitment 1: Stay Active and Eat Better
As I had mentioned, the scale hasn’t been in my favor recently so I’m going to change that in 2015. No, I’m still not springing for a gym membership because I really don’t like the environment: parking, sweaty machinery and equipment, the loud boots-and-pants music booming from the usually awful sound system. Just not for me. Instead, my plan is to start eating better and getting much more exercise in. I’ve already started by simply walking rather than running and by eating right, that means not falling for those snake-oil cleanses sold through MLM people who knew nothing about nutrition before signing up for their scheme but now promise to help you lose ridiculous amounts of weight in a short time with their overpriced product (only to gain it all back just as quickly if not sooner). I may run a few miles while I’m out but walking is a welcome change, and change is good. I’m currently averaging 8 miles per walk which is good for burning at least 1,300 calories. This boosts my recommended caloric intake to early 3,500 so if I eat less than that, the weight will start to fall off again. That’s exactly what I need.

Commitment 2: Find a New Job
Working at the ol’ grocery store has been a good time but I’ve decided that I won’t make it to my one-year anniversary in the middle of February. The lethal combination of part-time hours and minimal pay are simply not the way a family should live and we’ve resorted to using credit cards again as a result. That’s not what we wanted to do but when you need a microscope to see your paycheck, you gotta do something. Additionally, the company is looking to hire 1,200 people. I don’t know where those people are going to get their hours if the ones currently working aren’t getting any themselves. Oh, and I found out via a random Google search that the location is up for sale because, as the description states, the company has “not achieved the desired sales at this location and has indicated that it may close the location or sublease the store.” In short, it sounds like our days are numbered to begin with. It would be nice if our management would maybe give us a little insight on this matter but nobody has said anything about it. In other words, it’s time for me to fly.

Commitment 3: Vices
We all have them. Perhaps my most painfully obvious one was my penchant for diet sodas which I know aren’t good for me, but my liking can be compared to Oscar Wilde’s thoughts on cigarettes.

“You must have a cigarette. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?”

I’ve tried to kick the habit in the past and failed miserably but when I decided to lose weight, I committed myself to avoid them and I did. Well, it’s time to do that again and replace it with water and tea. In addition to diet sodas, I have already taken the proper steps in kicking another of my vices to the curb. Without saying exactly what it was, I will say that it was not an addiction to chemical, tobacco, or alcohol nor was it entirely harmful to myself or anyone else. It was not damaging my health or illegal yet it was something that was slowly taking over me and got to the point where I had to think about what I was doing and put a stop to it immediately. In the end when I really think about it, it’s just silly and pointless and something that none of my lifelong friends would probably expect from me. Either way, I’m done with it and you’re not getting me to tell you what it was.

Commitment 4: Zen
I’m currently reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living, a book that covers the ins and outs of what zen is and isn’t. It’s yet another way that I’m trying to incorporate peace and a spiritual awakening in my life, something that I’ve been trying to achieve for a few years. Meditation is still working as are simple Buddha quotes (the ones that are real, at least). Buddhism and zen are extremely complex yet in the end, they come down to simple philosophies that I can adhere to more than any religion I’ve read about. Who knows? I may even commit myself to becoming a Buddhist by the year’s end and visiting temples to see what it’s like. And no, Buddhism isn’t all about reincarnation. It’s much more than that.

Whew, is that enough? Looks like I have plenty to take care of in 2015.