Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch
After the Fall 2016

Sunday, June 18, 2017

On Missing The Naked Bike Race

For a moment I entertained a glum thought when asked if my weekend plans included a visit to Fremont. See, it's the Solstice weekend, including a parade and the Legendary Naked Bike Race.


And, hey, while I was there I could also visit one of Fremont's microbreweries or...

The idea of seeing a few hundred nudies on bikes doesn't really float my boat. And I no longer drink. But I entertained the glum thought nonetheless, thinking back on my more adventurous life years ago.

I hope adventures still await.  Along with a good deal more money. But once the glum thought took its leave, after a stern mental boot to its butt, I looked forward to the quieter adventures of this weekend:

--The continued fight against ageism as I attempt to change jobs before my office moves to Renton.
--The slow, demanding work of typing the first draft of my WIP.
--The scores of challenges involved in producing a spin-off from an established series.
--The daily task of staying true to a demanding new eating plan
--The weekly task of adhering to a rougher, more strategic workout regimen

I know, I know. That sounds boring to you. And, for all I know, it may well be.



But there are internal adventures, as challenging and thrilling, as climbing the Alps. Or engaging in a cage fight with a bruiser twice your size. Staying sober, getting thinner, completing a tricky new book...To my changed way of thinking, these are at least as cool and worthwhile as watching naked bods on bikes.

But nowhere near, I'll still admit, mud wrestling with a goddess. 



Back to work. My mind's clear if not clean.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Breaking a 10-day Fast




Breaking a fast is an art, and a challenge, in itself. First, the stomach will have shrunk and it mustn't be overloaded. Equally important, the body will take whatever we put into it as a fabulous reward. So we'll suffer worse than indigestion if we start off with scones, chips, candy or other old familiar treats.

Some recommend taking up to 4 days breaking a fast, beginning with juices, then adding fruit, yogurt, yogurt topped with nuts, then advancing to whole foods gradually.
Wikipedia offers this detailed plan:

http://www.wikihow.com/Break-a-Fast

I modified this as follows: light juices on days 8-10, yogurt on day 11, etc.

Observations and conclusions:
1) It isn't that much harder to fast for ten days than it is for three. That is, on one condition: try to arrange it so that the first three days--the hardest--are dealt with when you're off work. For a longer fast, even arrange a couple of days off at the end, when you're starting to feel faint.
2) Weight loss has always been about ten pounds at the end of the third day. At the end of the tenth day, I'd lost 25 pounds.
3) Even a 3-day fast would be an excellent way for anyone who's overweight to kick-start a weight loss program.
4) Cravings create cravings...so cultivate great cravings. The long fast was, for me, a chance to reprogram my appetite. And it's been working wonderfully. I feel no sense of deprivation. I don't miss the salt-laden frozen foods I cooked. I look forward to fruit, cold oatmeal, salads and mainly veggie treats, a little chicken and/or cheese as a condiment.
5) A positive long-range plan is also a must. Any of my past attempts to become a Vegan or raw foodie or 100% vegetarian were doomed by my cravings for things that others ate...and which I had enjoyed. The hostility and ridicule I met with didn't help much either. But in the end, it was my show--and I couldn't sustain completely exclusive approaches. If you too have ever fallen off the wagon...

There's this book that's turned my thinking around:




https://www.amazon.com/VB6-Before-Weight-Restore-Health/dp/0385344740/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496608497&sr=1-1&keywords=vb6

It's misleading to call this a diet, it's not. The VB6 Solution would be more accurate: no calorie counting or forbidden foods involved. You don't become a Vegan but you eat like one until supper, or 6--then you're free to add, if you like, dairy and meat. Till 6-ish, you eat fruit, salad, whole grains...

This works for me because I don't need to avoid dinners with friends or family. And it works because following a plant-strong diet has erased the old cravings for starch, sweets, meat...

Ah, it's Sunday. 2 p.m. Time for a lunch of low salt lentil soup, salad and a meatless Burger.

In another week or two, I'll need to new pants, another size smaller.

Banzai!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

My Fast Has Slowed Me...Nicely

If you've ever thought about fasting, know this: It's much easier after the third day. And if you decide on a longer fast, there's nothing to it on the ninth--except for your moving more slowly. And needing a few extra naps.

But why would you want to fast, you may ask, for even a couple of days. Here are the best of all reasons for me:



and



Breaking the chains was my prime mover this time. In the past, I'd pulled off two long fasts like this. And the results had amazed me: from weight loss to improved complexion to an augmented sense of well-being. In each case, when I broke the fast, I found myself craving superior food--fruits and salads and natural soups--instead of SAD (the Standard American Diet). And in each case I'd lost about thirty pounds in 10 days. I ended up with my own law:

Cravings create cravings...so cultivate great cravings.

But in each case, I drifted back to SAD--a personal or family crisis...or too many little daily slips to pacify my friends (Go on, have a piece of cake!). Thereafter, my many shorter fasts from one to three days reflected the power of the chains. Also, the shorter fasts were compromised: undertaken to lose weight, not for the positive reasons that launched the last two big ones.

Lesson: successful fasting is not an act of Not, not eating things we enjoy:


Instead, it pays to turn our thoughts to all the foods we can enjoy--in just a few more days--once we've broken the chains of SAD...and our taste buds start to tingle at the thought of superior food. Think: there'd be no point in fasting for any length of time if we returned to the same foods that had run us down and fattened us and enslaved us for so long. 

My own ten-day fast ends tomorrow. I know from experience and research to break the fast lowly--3-4 days starting with juices, then slowly adding fruit...then yogurt...yogurt with chopped walnuts...then moving on steadily. So some weight loss will continue for that time.

But my steely sights are set on my master goal: finding and staying with the foods that are right for my body and soul.   And when I look, I see a mainly plant-based diet with meat now and then as condiment, not as the main course.



Next week I'll post my conclusions, plus tips and lessons I've learned through the years.

Today I'm enjoying the gifts of the fast:
--The right knee that's been stiff for ages is flexible again, pain-free.
--My metabolism feels slower. I feel relaxed and non-hyper.
--My concentration feels enhanced.
--I've felt a fresh surge in confidence with each day of the fast.

Till next week!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

On the Move Again

Some dreams take longer than others, as you already know. 30 months ago, I escaped from Charlotte, with a purple trunk and four boxes on board a cross-country train. Destination: Seattle.

My dreams: a studio or apartment in Capitol Hill





and a job at the Elliott Bay book store.



Things didn't go quite as planned. To get my feet, I took a studio in the 'historic'--old and sketchy--part of town known as Pioneer Square.


And, no job offer from the bookstore, I worked at a couple of loser jobs before finding an okay one in...Capitol Hill. Terrific, except for a couple of things: I'd grown tired of seeing throngs of Walking Dead homeless and drug dealers in Pioneer Square. And my workplace is moving to Renton in late August--a three-hour round-trip daily commute.



The time had come for action--the all-out, full-speed, damn the torpedoes kind.
1) At work I learned from a coworker of a studio just a few blocks from the office.
2) I viewed it and decided to take it the next day, though it's a few hundred bucks more than I've been paying. I could make up that difference, I figured, by no longer using Uber.
3) I completed the online application.
4) I reapplied at Elliott Bay Book Company, this time handing the application to a manager.
5) I gave the necessary 2-week notice on my month-to-month studio.
6) I began checking online for cheap but well-reviewed movers.
7) I started scrapping all furniture and furnishings except for the best of the best.

And on and on and on. Before the move to Seattle, I'd needed six months to pack and prepare. This time I have just a couple of weeks. 

Next up: a new job in Capitol Hill.

It's good to be back in action again.




Sunday, April 30, 2017

3 Sticks, a Cat and a Mouse

If you look like food, you will be eaten.
--Clint Smith




Live long enough and you'll soon start to see that you're looking mighty delicious to young jackals out roaming the streets. Mugging's the most obvious worry, since you're in no shape to sprint in pursuit. But money's just one thing you're likely to lose--the attempted thefts of dignity seem to come more often as your head starts to hang and your posture grows slouched. Hey, look, it's a Crinkly--charge!

 For a couple of months I'd been toting the massive Ten Shin walking stick put out by Steven Seagal.



44" long, it weighs about two pounds, and is made of nearly indestructible polypropylene. It can be used as a sword, a spear, a lance--even swung with the handle like an ax. No one troubled me when I carried this stick. Even cars were less likely to cut me off while I was crossing. On the other hand, it attracted a fair share of negative feedback ('You looking to bash heads today?") and even more negative vibes. The jackals were scared but they wanted to jump. I could see it in their eyes. Just as bad, it seemed highly unlikely I could carry the Ten Shin on a plane or bring it to most offices. Furthermore, it's too big to stow in most lockers.
Ten Shin score: one thumb up and one thumb down. Good for hikes and late night walks.

I mail-ordered an alternative: a classy wood cane I could take anywhere. Or so it seemed to me. But this is what I got. Length: 36". Shaft size 18 mm. Weight: .9 lbs.


Attractive but featherweight. And it projected weakness, inviting trouble--which it did. The first night I went home from work, I grabbed my favorite light rail seat at the end of a side bench. Another guy sat at the opposite end. This left room for an average-size person in the middle. But twice in the course of the ride bruisers looked at the opening, looked at me...and slammed themselves down into the too-small space, then started jostling for room. The finger-thin shaft of the cane had signaled easy prey.
Feeble cane score: two thumbs down.  

I had words with the two men, protecting my space. And yet I got to thinking: How could I look less like food at my age?  Or: how could I walk in peace and grace while reducing the risks and the hassles?

I brooded.

I Googled.

I ordered.

Result:



You're looking at the Bubba Stik. You can custom build your own on their website, choosing from a variety of styles, woods, with or without the name branded, And there's no charge for cutting the stick to your size. The shaft is 1". The stick weighs 19.2 ounces. And it's seriously elegant with rugged hardwood shaft and gleaming brass hame knob.
Bubba score: two thumbs and eight fingers up, with a rowdy Rebel yell.

Today, my first day with the stick, I can say: it can be taken anywhere, even on a plane (I checked). Combined with a strong gait and confident air, it commands attention...and respect. Twice, people ran out of their way to open doors for me.

Where I go, there goes Bubba now. Make your own choice, certainly. But whatever you do, as you grow older, make sure at all costs you do not look like food. The jackals are waiting for you, be assured.


Here's the Bubba Stik website if you'd like to check it out:

http://www.bubbastik.com/about.cfm

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Outrageously Sexy and Action-Packed Life

People often envy the thrilling life I lead. And I've learned to speak humbly about it.

The many fantabulous mountains I've climbed.



My bloody bouts of MMA.


My passion for riding the rails.


And, God help me, the insanely beautiful women I'm always making love to.



So, even on an average week I'm strapped for time to post here. But for the past two weeks my kicks have been curtailed by the sort of adventures I hate to describe.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've been holed up for the best couple of weeks--and not brawling or bedding or riding the rails or wrestling alligators. Holed up, I say! Like a lowdown lonesome scribe!


And what does that entail, if not yet another party at the Playboy mansion?

God forgive me:
--I've been proofing The Alcatraz Correction for Hold Fast Press to convert into Createspace format.  The second Boss MacTavin mystery will soon be available in paperback.
--I'm completing the outline for the fifth MacTavin mystery--one that takes the franchise in a brand-new direction.
--I'm also working 40 hours a week while looking for a new job before the present one moves out of town.

That's it, you ask? I know, I know. But trust me. I'll return to form soon, I promise. And once again I'll live the life led by all self-respecting Real Writers.

Reb MacRath, Action Hero.

This is my report.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Perception: Gaming the Odds


                                                                  ----------------


Here's a job search challenge you'll face one day, if you haven't faced it already.

Imagine that you're preconceived as being somewhat dated. Why? Let's say your last experience in the field that you hope to re-enter was fifteen years ago. And let's also say you've had several jobs since then.

With a chronological resume, your job skills might not even be seen.

40 years of reading resumes has taught me that most of them get less than a minute of review. The creative ones, the ones that yell out "Hey, look at me." are the ones who get more notice.
--John Jurkiewicz






You may try to better the odds, starting with your strong suit (way back when)--then flashing forward, as it were, to your present job and working back. But the jumpy timeline's as likely to leave employers dizzy as it is to work.

What to do?

And Double-Whoa what do you do if the company you're approaching has its own app form, requiring a chronological approach?




The MacRath Solution:

I decided to honor the company's requirements--while at the same time designing and ordering a simple but catchy attachment. And that attachment, I believe, will get me an interview: a 4x5 card on premium stock, giving the names of two bookstores I worked at for ten years. I provide my contact info and state 'Any hours/days, including holidays'. (That's a big issue in retail.)

Finally, on the back of the card, I added a little something extra that should further whet their appetites...and inspire them to see me as the brightest light.





Stay tuned for the results. I'll receive the attachment cards by 4/7 and hope to complete the application next weekend.

Come on, Lady Luck, goose Reb MacRath!