Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I Need You to Think I'm Interesting

"I like change." Is a sentence I've said perhaps five hundred times within the past few months. It's often in response to comments about my facial hair.  After having a neatly shorn face for several years, I've been trying all sorts of crazy things with my facial follicles. And by "all sorts of crazy things"  I mean I grew a beard, shaved it into a mustache, and then grew a beard again. Yep, you may as well call me the Charles Manson of beard growing. I'm that crazy.

But here's the thing. After saying, "I like change" for the five hundredth time within the past few months (and probably the five kabillionth time in my life), I realized that I'm full of crap.

I'm fatter now than I was at 22.  That's a change, and it kinda sucks.  If all the oxygen on the planet was suddenly sucked away, I wouldn't be thinking, "Oooh, this is a BIG change. Today is awesome."

Instead of saying, "I like change", I should be saying, "I like change when I like it, but I don't like change when I don't like it", which is exactly the same as saying nothing.

And it's not just "change", and it's not just me. People say things like, "I'm an adrenaline junky" when what they really mean is, "I like bungee jumping as long as I'm double strapped into a harness by a trained professional and there's a giant net below me." I've never heard a self-proclaimed adrenaline junky say, "My two-year-old went missing for an hour yesterday at the mall. It was a killer rush, you gotta try it."

"I love the outdoors."  Really?  All of it?  The Gobi Desert? Antarctica? Space?  As long as it's not in a building, you love it?

"I love reading." Just reading? Anything? Ok, to be fair, this one might be true. If you're a pre-schooler. If not, it's more likely that you love reading specific things that are interesting to you.

Why are we so anxious to make these broad claims about ourselves?  It's like we're trying, in as few words as possible, to make sure we get cataloged as "interesting" in people's brains.  "Okay, Tyler. He's the change liker. Very interesting.  Sally? Hmmm. Oh yeah, she's the reader. Fabulously interesting."

The problem, in my case, is there's nothing at all interesting about "liking change".  Even if I step off my pedestal and admit that most people aren't going to take the statement "I like change" to a stupidly literal degree, it still doesn't say anything meaningful about who I am. I imagine half the people in the world would say they like change.  I may as well say I'm male. "Oh yeah, Tyler. He's the one who's male.  Soooo Interesting."

If I'm looking for distinction, making a ridiculously generic statement about myself may not be the best way to find it. So rather than trying to force feed people a version of myself that I think they'll think is Interesting, I'm just going to relax and let people think of me what they will.

I love adrenaline rushes... for about three seconds on roller coasters.  Then I get a headache and want go home and eat a taco.

I love the outdoors... as long as I'm escapably close to the "indoors". And there aren't any bugs. And it's not too hot or too cold.  And I have my iPhone.

I love to read... stuff that I write.  And I love to pretend I'm humbly accepting a Pulitzer prize for it.

Oh, and you want to know what's up with my various beard configurations? Well, the naked truth is that I'm desperately trying to make myself better looking, but nothing is working.

There, now you know some real things about me. "Okay, Tyler. He's the shallow, self-absorbed guy. meh."

But for the record, I really DO like change... though I prefer bills.

(Also, I love"dad" jokes.  Every. Single. One.)

Monday, November 18, 2013


Daryl laughed.  It was something he hadn't done before.  He had gasped, he had screamed, and - most often - had made no sound at all. But he had never laughed while dying.  The absurdity of it made him laugh even harder, but he died all the same. A thousand times he had been to this place.  A thousand times he had never left.

Again he stood at the gate, looking in.  The moon was overhead, but its light was subdued by a wafting black mist which enveloped the courtyard.  Daryl couldn't see past the stone fountain that stood, crumbling and waterless, a few feet in front of him.  No matter - he knew what lay beyond.

He could leave.  He should leave.  Just run away and never return.  But where would he go?  Where there was no danger, there was no life, and this pitiful, ravished world no longer held any dangers for him.  Save one.

He dropped his sword and reached for the slim silver dagger in his belt.  He had learned long ago that the sword was too cumbersome a weapon for this battle.  The creature was agile - unbelievably so, and speed was more valuable than power when tangling with it.

The eyes, He thought, if I can just take its eyes.  It was a guess.  Daryl didn't know whether the monster's eyes were vulnerable, but it was something he had never managed.  Besides, the thing had to have some weakness.  Nothing was immortal.

Stealing past the fountain, Daryl approached the ring of rotting corpses and decaying bones surrounding the inner court.  How many hundreds - how many thousands - had perished between the teeth of this beast.  Gods help him, how many of these corpses were his own?  He pointedly directed his gaze away from the carnage and toward the center of the ring where the demon would be waiting.  It wasn't there.

Daryl heard movement but was too slow to react.  The creature's talons sunk into his back and thrust him across the courtyard.  It was waiting for me. He thought dimly as he crashed into a pile of death.  How did it... Everything went black.

But then, his surroundings began to take dim shape from out of the darkness. He was still alive.  Daryl twisted his head slightly and could see the shape of his attacker approaching leisurely.  It thinks I'm dead! He thought. The thrill of his predicament quelled any worry about the bleeding wounds in his back.  He still held the dagger in his right hand and he clenched it tightly as the beast neared.

It was walking on four of its six legs, with the front two lifted slightly off the ground.  The talons of these were dripping with, he assumed, Daryl's own blood.  It was a beautiful creature.  Its silvery black skin seemed to luminesce in the foggy moonlight.  It bent its massive head to survey its kill, and Daryl thrust.

The scream was sickening.  Daryl's silver dagger sunk easily into the creature's left eye. Black blood poured from the wound as Daryl retracted with his knife.  He quickly stood and, dodging thrashing legs, backed away.  The beast was wounded, but not dead.  Daryl considered a strike at the remaining eye, but it was no use.  The razor-sharp talons attached to the creature's frenetic legs were too unpredictable.  One misstep and it would be over.  He would have to throw the dagger.  It was a small and moving target, but Daryl was well practiced.  One true throw.  That's all he needed.  He took careful aim.

"DARYL!"  A woman's voice made him jump.  He looked instinctively toward the source of the shout, and in that moment the angry beast was on top of him, tearing out his throat.

Again the voice.  "Turn off that game and come down for dinner!"

Daryl cried.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Did Sandy Cost Romney the Election?

Based on reported election data, about 50% of US voters are pleased with yesterday's results.  2% are strutting around self importantly for having belligerently defied the two-party system, and 48% are left to wonder what went wrong.

Pundits from both parties are pointing to various "game changing" moments of the spirited campaign.  (Incidentally "spirited" is the post-results replacement for any of the following words: bitter, venomous, vitriolic, damaging, embarrassing, caustic, negative, hostile, disgraceful.)

But, according to one republican voter, none of the gaffes or boons being mentioned is responsible for Mitt Romney's ultimate failure.

Sandy Thompson, a paralegal from Trenton, New Jersey, tearfully divulged to reporters early this morning that during the whole of yesterday's election she was, in fact, not wearing her lucky socks.

"I could have sworn I had them on.", Sandy sobbed to the news crew of WZBN.  "I put them out special on Monday night, but somehow I grabbed the wrong pair on Tuesday morning."

Sandy's friend and neighbor Steven Cooth recalled the moment Sandy realized she was wearing the wrong socks.  "A bunch of us were hanging out a Sandy's house last night watching the results come in.  We were all pulling for Romney, and Sandy was the only one who didn't seem concerned about what was happening.  Every time an update showed Obama pulling further ahead, she just looked at all of us with a knowing expression on her face.  But then, around 10:45 (PM), Beth made a comment about how cute Sandy's socks were.  Sandy looked down and screamed."

According to Sandy, her lucky socks - acquired in 2003 from a Macy's in Woodbourne - have been responsible for two Super Bowl championships, three raises, and a free roast beef sandwich from Arby's.

Sandy stated that she has already written formal apology letters to both the Republican National Committee and Mitt Romney himself.  "I know it's too little too late, but I need them to know how deeply, deeply sorry I am for this."

Concerned about the longevity of her lucky socks, Sandy plans to vacuum seal them in a plastic baggie and store them in her freezer until 2016's election.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Definitive Guide to Running

I am interested in running.  Very interested.  In fact, my interest in running may border on obsession.  Actually, psychologists are in the process of creating a new word that will be to obsession what obsession is to interest, and other psychologists are working on an even newer word that will be to the old new word what the old new word is to obsession.  This new new word will aptly describe my relationship with running.  (For the remainder of this post I will refer to the latter of the two future words as "new-new-word".)

And yet, I have only ever written one and a half blog posts about running. Why? Because there are already exactly 159 kabajillion runners out there maintaining wonderful, well-written, informative blogs about the subject.

So why now?  Well, due to my new-new-word, I have actually read all 159 kabajillion blogs about running - along with news articles, scientific studies, training tips, and everything else returned by a Google search on the word "running". (Incidentally, if your lawnmower has stopped running - try fresh gasoline and a new spark plug.)  Thus, I have inadvertently become the worlds foremost expert on running, and it behooves me to outline the sum of my knowledge for the betterment of all humankind.

Whether you are a full-blown Olympian or on the day's third bag of Cheetos thinking idly to yourself that it might be time to get in shape, this guide is for you.  It is based on more scientific studies, anecdotal hearsay, product claims, and out-of-context absolutes than I could ever possibly cite, so you're going to just have to trust me.

I may write more on the subject later, but in this guide I'll address four key principles that have historically been points of confusion among beginning and seasoned runners alike.

1 - Consistency
The first and most important principle of running is consistency.  Ideally, you will run at least once every day.  Multiple runs each day is best as your body was built to perform rigorously without the need of downtime (cheetah's never take a day off!), but keep in mind that your body needs rest.  Without rest, you run the risk of over training and burnout.  Rest is particularly important after a long race, such as a marathon - which requires a minimum of two weeks respite from running.  But again, be consistent because, no matter how long you have been running, your body will lose literally all of its conditioning in as little as two weeks.  But, a week or two off here and there won't hurt - in fact it can actually help.  Additionally, try not to be too consistent in your training regimen.  Inconsistency can create muscle confusion which accelerates improvement.

2- Nutrition
The second and most important principle of running is nutrition.  What you eat is your fuel.  You wouldn't put garbage in the gas tank of a sports car and expect peak performance [insert "Back to the Future" joke here], and you likewise can't expect your body to perform well when you fill it with less than stellar fuel.

Nature provides the purest possible fuel for the human body.  Your body can best metabolize whole grains and raw fruits and vegetables.  Stay away from gimmicky gels and sports drinks unless they are backed by scientific sounding claims.  Focus on consuming foods high in carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates are the fast-burning fuel your body needs for high-intensity exercise.  Also eat plenty of protein else your body will begin to feed off its own muscles when the quick-burning carbohydrates are depleted.

Remember, while running, your metabolism is like the furnace in a steam engine.  When it's stoked, you can put nearly anything into it and the engine will convert it to fuel, so just make sure you eat a lot of stuff.  But always keep in mind that between the glycogen stored in your muscles and the calories in your fat cells, you will never run out of fuel - even on extraordinarily long runs so, to prevent stomach problems, it's best to not eat anything before or during a run.

After a long run, if you don't consume the perfect combination of protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes within 30 minutes, your brain will dissolve.  The single best post-run fuel is chocolate milk, or a name-brand recovery shake, or sweet and condensed milk, or a Slurpee, but it's sometimes best to forgo the after-workout meal in order to train your body to more efficiently draw on its fat stores.

3- Hydration
Hydration is absolutely the single most important principle of running.  The human body is comprised of between 55% and 90% water, so it is imperative that you stay properly hydrated as you run.  Under hydration can cause headaches, nausea, confusion, seizures and even death, so drink plenty of fluids.  Over hydration can be equally dangerous, so don't over do it.  The key is to drink exactly the right amount.

Water is nature's truest form of hydration for the human body, so always drink plain water unless you have access to pickle juice, or a drink that has been formulated by a team of scientists to hydrate better than water.

4- Improvement
None of us wants to be a slow runner.  The single desire common amongst each and every runner on this planet, except those not concerned with pace, is to become faster.  But what is the best way to improve speed?  Simple, you just have to do aerobic base training and/or lots of hill runs and/or Intense interval training and/or tempo runs and/or proper cross-training and/or barefoot running and/or chi running and/or Yasso 800's and/or proper breathing techniques.  And remember, music is like caffeine - you should always/never rely on it to enhance your performance.


If this guide has failed to answer a question you have about running, please feel free to contact me.  I will do my best to tell you something that sounds like it could be true.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Who Then, If Not the Mayans?

As this fateful year moves forward, nudging the world closer and closer to its presumptive doom on December 21, I'm starting to suspect that the Mayans were full of crap.  Okay, that's not fair.  The Mayans didn't start all this hoopla about the world ending; they just made a calendar.  Okay, that's not fair either.  The Mayans did a lot of things.  They built enormous temples and pyramids, pioneered revolutionary agricultural production methods, studied advanced mathematics with a base 20 numbering system, and cut the hearts out of living people as sacrifice to idol gods.  They also made a calendar.

The Mayan calendar spans a period of 5,126 years and happens to end on December 21, 2012.  To many, this means that the Mayans had privy knowledge about the ultimate fate of the world.  To me, it means that Mayan calendar salesmen didn't have many repeat customers.

I have a calendar hanging on my wall that was created by a civilization much more advanced than that of the Mayans.  My calendar stops on December 31, 2012.  Well, it actually stops on January 31, 2013 if you count the mini January superimposed in the bottom right-hand corner of December.  Does this mean that the maker of my calendar is predicting the world will end next January?  Maybe it does, I've actually never met the man. But we probably won't see many big-budget Hollywood productions pop up based on his calendar.  Why then the Mayans'?  Probably because they carved theirs on a rock.

If people want to prove whether or not the Mayan calendar really is inexorably tied to the fate of the planet, why not check to see if the world began existing on August 11, 3114 BC?  I mean it must have, right?  That's when the Mayan calendar starts.

You may be thinking that I'm just out to bash all the lunatics jumping on the Mayan bandwagon, but I'm really not.  See, as common sense erodes my faith in the Mayans' ability to tell the future, I'm left with a problem.  Who really does know when the world is going to end?  I know a lot of people say we should live our lives as if every day were our last, but that's just not practical.  I certainly wouldn't go to work on my last day in mortality.  I wouldn't worry about retirement planning, exercise, taxes, or even bathing.  It therefore behooves me to find out exactly when the world is going to end, so I can know when to stop wasting my time with all those things.  But whom can I trust to make an accurate prediction?

That question was rhetorical.  Not because it has no answer, but because I already know how to find the answer.  And don't worry, this is scientific.

The current world population is roughly 6.8 billion.  If we have every person on earth make a prediction about the end of the world by picking a distinct day between now and 6.8 billion days from now, we'll have the next 18.6 million years covered.  When the world ends, we'll check the list and see who picked the correct day.  That person will be the person we can trust, and we can start making life plans around his/her prediction. 

But wait! What if the world lasts longer than 18.6 million years from now?  Don't worry. Each new day approximately 490,000 children are born.  As soon they're old enough to point to a number, we'll have them pick a date.  This will extend the number of predicted days by over 1300 years every day.  Using this system, we'll never hit the end.  I mean... until we hit the end.

So hurry up and pick your day because they'll go quick.  We'll reserve December 21, 2012 for the Mayans, and January 31, 2013 for the dude who made the calendar hanging on my wall.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012