Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The MayDay Challenge - Players Are Lining Up!

Just a quick post to let you know that we have over 10 people in this thing now!  This is very exciting and will help to keep me motivated toward hitting my goals (quickly throws donut into the trash).   I hope this group challenge gets you fired up too.

I'll post something by Saturday that lists out all of our individual goals.  Feel free to gather in other people if you want.

Here's the link to the original post:

Big Clyde

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The MayDay Challenge! Who's In?


Okay Players, you ready?

Some of you know that Massive Marcus and I did a friendly challenge last week to see who could lose more poundage.  He lost 2 and I lost 3, but we both won (umm, but know, pounds).  I thought of him throughout the week and it helped me to stay (mostly) disciplined on my plan.  We've decided to do a Round Two.  Weigh-In Day is Monday.  Losing Harry is now joining us.  If you want to join in, leave a comment below and say that you are in, then weigh in on Monday and let us know how much you lost.  Plain and simple.

Now, for something a little more long-term, I have been thinking about a "milestone" goal.  I have lost 13 pounds since March 1st.  I would like to lose another 13 by May 1st, "May Day" as the kids call it.  For me, that would be 26 pounds in two months (and I don't even have a disease or a tapeworm!).

I also like the double meaning of the word "mayday".  This is the call for help when ships are in trouble and need to be rescued.  I follow several blogs and three bloggers this morning expressed some concern that they have recently lost some mojo and are now getting it back.  Maybe this idea of a "MayDay Challenge" can help all of us stay focused for a mid-term goal. 

Or if you are already in the zone, could this "MayDay Challenge" help you hit some milestone number for you that we can all celebrate? 

So, here are the two things:
  1. Monday's Weigh-In day - who will lose more pounds this week?  Me?  Massive Marcus?  Losing Harry?  Anyone else want to join us?
  2. Does anyone out there have a milestone # that they want to hit by May 1st?  I am pledging to lose another 13 pounds.   Cactus FreekOne Man's Trip to the HalfF DaddyTriciaAlan? Maybe for someone else it is 5 pounds or doing a 5k. 
Just claim it and I will find some way to post or track it for us.  

Big Clyde
P.S.  This is an open invitation to anyone following this.  Even if you want to be anonymous, just leave a comment with a fake name at the bottom and I'll track it.  Also, some of the people I have linked are already successfully doing their own thing and may not want to join in on this worries.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Weigh In - Week 4

Weight Change:  Lost 3 pounds

Total Loss since 3/1/10:  13 pounds

Today, I'm feeling:  Good, happy with the plan.
Here's what happened last week:
Food:  I ate very well this week, averaging about 1,700 calories per day, with only a couple of mess-ups.  Incidently, there are a lot of "tasty" low-cal foods out there.  To the right, you can see a picture of me enjoying a nice high-fiber lunch.

Liquids:  Tons of water, quite a bit of the Lipton Diet Green Tea with Citrus.  Those 2x4's can sure make a guy thirsty!

Exercise:  Some walks during the week.  Need to step this up.

Confessional:  Two mess-ups, the first was on Monday (The doctors at the asylum here call it my "dark-time").   Oddly enough, cereal seems especially delicious to me, right after a Monday morning weigh-in.  A LOT OF CEREAL!  But then, I shook it off and had a great week.  I was a cereal-killer on Monday morning (two good-sized bowls, so 4 cups?).  The second big mistake was noted in my previous blog about the Big Bowl of Candy.  Enough said.  Neither one sent me above 2,100 calories, but still.

Weight Loss Highlight of the Week:  No real highlight this week, except that I was extremely motivated by my competition with Marcus to see who could lose more.   Thanks, Marcus. 

My goals for this week:
Maintain a daily calorie count of 1,700.
Workout 6 times (at least w/ a 30 minute walk). Bike miles would be even better.

Thanks for the encouragement everyone!

Big Clyde

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Big Bowl of Candy

This has been a busy 24 hours. 

My daughter has a tiny fracture in her finger from her 2nd day on the volleyball team.  The doctor's report called it a "tiny avulsion fracture involving the volar aspect of the middle phalangeal base of the right fifth finger with intra-articular extension."  I am amused by the technical language but feel bad/proud that she actually has a sports injury (rare in my side of the family).  She'll be fine.

My boys, ages 11 and 8, had two buddies over for the "ultimate boys sleepover".  They wrestled, they roasted hot dogs outside, they played video games and watched movies.  It is amazing how many times I heard the words "you just got pwned" and the word "dude". 

And they brought candy...bags and bags of candy.  (See the "after" picture on the right.)  They poured Mike & Ike's, M&M's, Reese's Pieces, Skittles, sugared Orange Slices, Swedish Fish, Junior Mints and someone accidently bought something called "Almond Joy Bites" (which taste as bad as they sound) and threw it all into a big bowl.   They ate from this bowl of sin off and on from afternoon, into the evening until we finally pulled it.  Nights like this are exactly why the terrorists hate us.

Anyway, that big bowl of candy seemed to follow me, because I would remove it from them and it would end up in the kitchen, or on the breakfast table, etc.  This is the first time we have had candy in the house in a long time (except for months' old Halloween candy that no one dares to eat or ironically, throw away). 

So, I am struggling to avoid this big bowl of temptation as I try to maintain my low-calorie budget.  I have been solid nearly all week.  But I caved a bit on this 5th grade sleepover.  4-5 handfuls of candy, 2 hot dogs, and 2 days before my next weigh-in.  Guhhh.

On a positve note, I did entirely pass up the pancakes made for the boys.  Now, I'm off to a wedding, then getting ready for family to arrive tomorrow.  Think they'll serve carrot sticks and string cheese at the wedding reception?

I'll have to get some time in tonight to work off those handfuls of candy.  Weigh-in is Monday and I have challenged Massive Marcus to see who has the lower weight as of Monday, given that we were the same last week. 

Marcus, did you somehow set-up this sleepover for my boys as a strategy to win? 

And on a totally separate note, Marcus, Pizza Hut is selling all pizzas, any size for only $10!  Why don't you treat yourself to a XL totally deserve it!

See you Monday.

Big Clyde

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Shameless KettleWorx plug

I follow a blog that many of you might also follow, Endurance Isn't Only Physical.  Tricia has had an amazing transformation and is constantly spreading the word about new training tools, clothing, etc. that could be useful to others. 

When recently sidelined by an injury and told that she couldn't run or cycle, she decided to work on her arms.  Then, she seemed to drop out of site for awhile, until she posted a picture of her new and improved biceps holding a kettlebell.

I had never seen a kettlebell before, but became curious.  Now, she is doing a giveaway and I thought I'd enter.  The company sponsoring it is KettleWorx and their website is   Check it out. 

Please let me know if any of you use kettlebells as part of your training regimen.  I'd like to hear of your experiences.  Thanks.

Big Clyde

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Eating A Little (or is it TOO little?)

Not much to say this week, other than I have been very diligent on my calorie intake.  Just as some suggested, I have found foods that I like (and that fit into my schedule) that are low-calorie.  In the first week, I stayed pretty close to the range of 1,700 to 1,900 calories, but at times used some "bad foods" (w/no nutritional content) to get there.

Over the past week (wk 3-4), I have been actually trying to think what food type would be best for me (proteins, fruits, veggies, etc.).  I am also bringing my daily average down to around 1,600 calories per day.  I am likely missing out on some fats and grains, and need more veggies.   But I am experimenting right now and am interested in a healthy, but aggressive loss.  I have not felt a loss in energy due to the lower calorie intake...likely because I used to eat unhealthy foods in high many of those cals weren't really helping me either.

My question to you out there:  how will I know if I am eating TOO FEW calories?   I'd rather not find out on Monday (weekly weigh-in day).  What do you think?

Finally, just for fun, I am attaching the newest Geico commercial because it basically makes our entire family laugh everytime we see it.  Hope you enjoy it as well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weigh In - Week 3

Weight Change: Lost 2 pounds 

Total Loss since 3/1/10: 10 pounds

Today, I'm feeling:  Fine, determined to have a better week than last week.

Here's what happened last week:
Food: I did not stick to a strict calorie budget for about 4 days this week.  Ate at a relative's house and some restaurants and tried to stay close to my plan, when it was convenient.  Then, tried to "eat with moderation" at a resort without counting calories.    I rallied and was even lower than my budget for the past two days to get back on track.  All in all, for a guy with a food plan, I ate poorly.

Liquids:  Did not drink as much water during those four days.  I was preoccupied with a home construction project at my in-laws and a quick vacation.  I felt differently without all the water, but again rallied the last two days. 

Exercise: I was a hard worker this week, doing the construction project for two days, then doing daily exercise (walking, swimming and riding) for the rest of the week.  Worked out four days this week (light to moderate level).

Confessional:  Poor food choices, when I could have been more disciplined.  At the resort, I simply didn't want to count calories.  I just knew that I would be decent and get back on plan when I returned, which I did.  It's hard to be motivated at a place that has a "Lazy River" pool.

Weight Loss Highlight of the Week:  My wife bought me a cool belt in 2005.  I realized mid-week that it now needs a new notch!   In fact, I am notching down on all belts and feeling more comfortable in all clothes.

My goals for this week:
Move to a daily calorie count of 1700.
Workout 6 times (at least w/ a 30 minute walk). Bike miles would be even better.

Thanks for the encouragement everyone!
Big Clyde

Friday, March 19, 2010

Who is the World's Strongest Man?

Yesterday, I was watching ESPN2's World's Strongest Man competition with my two boys (ages 8 and 11). My boys kept pointing out that I could probably "win that thing".   As we watched it, they actually were talking it through saying, "dad could do what those guys are doing...maybe even faster".  My youngest even asked why I never tried out for it.  But they seemed happier that I was with them on Spring Break, rather than at the competition in Malta.

After thinking about it for awhile, I think it is because those guys in the competition look like me. They tend to be bald (like me) and have bodies that are shaped like barrells with legs. To the untrained eye, we might seem similar in size (until we all take our shirts off!). 

It's not like my boys have no discernment whatsoever.  We just watched the Olympics and they never pointed out that I could win the speed skating event, so they aren't making me the champion in EVERY sport. But they think I look like these guys:
These super-strong athletes are not household names, not famous at all.  I keep wondering if the people in their hometowns even know that these guys were in a competition to determine the World's Strongest Man. They look like guys that don't want to pick up a quarter if it rolls under their car. They look like guys that buy their belts at Casual Male Big & Tall stores. They look like guys who always enter the buffalo-wing eating contest at the County Fair.  To a degree, they look like me.

Until this past year, I wouldn't have even called myself an athlete, ever.  But I'm working on it now.  I have two awesome boys in my cheering section, so it'd be a shame for me to just sit on the bench and not try to do my best.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Okay, I know that this topic has nothing to do with anything health or fitness related (at least for humans), but there was a brief debate in our family yesterday and I would like your opinions.

Our extended family was doing this home improvement project at my in-laws and my sister-in-law came in and apologized for being late, because she was "at the emergency room".   We all stopped working and looked up and started asking "who was hurt, what happened?", etc. 

She said " real emergency, I just had to take Freckles in to donate blood".   Everyone just nodded and went back to work.

Freckles is their cat.  It's real name is not Freckles, but I don't know the real name and I don't care because it's a cat.  Her point was that the cat went to the emergency room to donate blood.

Without even thinking about it first, I blurted out "you can't call it donating, if you are taking her blood from's not like she signed a waiver and knew she was doing a good deed."   Still everyone is looking down and doing their work, more diligently than ever before.  Is this a hot topic?

She responded saying "it IS a donation, because I set down her little cat-carrying bag in the middle of the room and she jumped right into it...the only time I take her anywhere is to donate blood.   So, she was happy to get in the bag, happy to go to the emergency room and she is happy to donate blood". 

To me, this seems like the same scenario as when vegetarians decide that their pets will also be vegetarians.  That way, pet owner and pet are united in their conscious choice to eat veggies and whole grains only (except the animal doesn't really make that choice themselves).

My sister-in-law is awesome and I let it go...but it has stuck in my head.  I suppose there must be a need in animal hospitals for extra blood.  What about dog blood?!?  It obviously goes to good use, but......

Can I get a ruling on this one?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Farewell to Neighbor Ted

This is a sad time for me, friends.  Neighbor Ted is gone...out of my life. 
Neighbor Ted (early in the morning, with the sun in his eyes)

He has foolishly decided to move to South Carolina or North Carolina (I don't sweat the's basically far away from here).  He is making this move because his wonderful wife, newborn son and everything he owns has recently moved there and he wants to be with them...instead of being my neighbor.  That's fine.  He's made his choice.

You might recall mention of Neighbor Ted in past writings (It's NOT a Mountain Bike (So, don't call it that).  He received grief from some of you when he insisted on calling my new bike a mountain bike (which is untrue), then sarcastically called it the HUCC-B, which has somehow stuck. 

Of course, he did teach me a valuable lesson regarding cycling, fitness and life.   Read:  There Is No "Normal"

You also might recall that, because he pulled out of riding with me in the Casa Grande Century ride (to attend a family funeral), I had to move him down in my ranking of friends to a very low spot in My Top Ten (Casa Grande Century). 

To be fair, buying me breakfast on his final day in Tucson, did move him upward on my list.  But by driving out of our neighborhood for the last time, he has definitely moved himself back down to his lowly ranking.  Sorry Neighbor Ted, you did this to yourself.  Don't blame me.

I do want to show one more picture of something totally awesome.  This is a tire from Neighbor Ted's mountain bike, after a serious crash.  It looks very cool and he should display it in his garage at his new house.  It will show the new neighbors what your made of, dude.
Seriously, Ted, I know we will stay in touch and our families will see each other again.  It just won't be the same without you (until the new neighbors move in).  Enjoy reuniting with your family and godspeed!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weigh In - Week Two

Weight Change:  Lost another 4 pounds!
Total Loss since 3/1/10:  8 pounds
Today, I'm feeling:   Awesome, determined, focused.

Here's what happened last week: 
Food:  I averaged about 1900 calories last week.  My thanks to Tony, Sean, Fat Daddy, RockStar, GuinneMick, TriDiesel, and several others that have advised me on this.  Aside from a few mis-steps, it just was not very hard at all.  I feel like I will be able to do this for a long time.

Liquids:  I drank tons of water and Lipton Diet Green Tea with Citrus (cheap, tasty, healthy, available at any grocery/convenience store and 0 calories!).  I also drink a 4-shot Americano coffee each day.

Exercise:   I did almost nothing this week, regrettably.  I was basically lazy, until the weekend when I rode for an hour.    Not proud of it, but I'm not going to let it bother me either.  It was last week.  I need to focus on doing better this week.

My goals for this week: 
  • Move to a "no-exceptions" daily calorie count of 1700.  
  • Workout 6 times (at least w/ a 30 minute walk).  Bike miles would be even better.
Thanks for the encouragement everyone!

Big Clyde
P.S.  Larry, so sorry to hear of your friend's death.  Life is very precious and we should make the most of it each day.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Diabetes and the Ride to Remedy

Today, our topic is keeps coming up in my life.  God must want me to be more aware of it.  I do not have diabetes and I am not "pre-diabetic"...yet.  I know very little about it, but I know these very few critical things:
  • My friend Mike was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes (in December, 2009) at age 49.
  • My friend Tommy was just diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes (in January, 2010) at age 36 or so.
  • My friend Dan (age 55) has Type 2 and almost lost his leg because of it in a hospital on Christmas.
  • My mom has it.
  • My mother-in-law has it.
  • My late sister-in-law had it.
  • According to a recent Harvard study, approximately 24 million Americans have it, but 6 million of them don't even know it.  Which means that you and I know more diabetic people than we think.
  • And finally, about 90% of these cases COULD BE PREVENTED by simply doing these things:  keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking.
At the Tour de Cure race last Sunday, a young woman came up to me and introduced herself.  She is Courtney Benefiel and is now riding in every Tour de Cure race.   Her blog is
and she tells her story of how she is living a very active, adrenalin-filled, adventurous life, despite being diabetic.  I'm going to follow her blog and learn more.  The last words she said to us were "keep riding", which is a phrase I often use on this blog as well.  Keep Riding, Courtney!
I have been overweight most of my life and never too interested in sports or exercise (couches are more comfortable than exercise, right?).  A few years ago, my doctor told me that I would very likely have Type 2 diabetes "in five years", if I didn't lose weight, eat better and exercise.  I was alarmed...but I got on with my life and that "alarming" feeling went away. 
I even found myself rationalizing that when/if I get diabetes, I could just manage it with pills, the blood-sugar tests, etc.  It would just be something I could measure and deal with each day...not too difficult, not a major hinderance to my lifestyle.  Maybe it would even FINALLY help me get serious about my health.
Sound stupid?  Yes, well...that is me.  I really thought that getting diabetes might finally be that "thing" that got me to take my health seriously.   I know...I can be a moron (and lazy).
Well, God somehow gave me a better idea over the past several months.  Maybe, just maybe, I should focus on my health BEFORE I get diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
What I am learning now, is that eating well and exercise is just something that I need to measure and deal with each day...not too difficult, not a major hinderance to my lifestyle
Looks like I'm going to be managing something each day for the rest of my life.  So, it's better that I focus on the activities that will extend my life, rather than the disease (Type 2) that could end it. 
I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts or experiences on living with (or preventing) diabetes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Top 5 Friday* - Favorite Songs From High School

*Since Mondays have now become my weigh-in post day, I am moving "Music Monday" to every other Friday.  Also, it's now called "Top 5 Friday", so that the lists could include topics other than music if I want.  I like the blogging community and it has been fun for me to get to know all of you on topics other than exercise and food.

So, today's Top 5 Friday is a list of The Top 5 Songs From High School.  This is not necessarily what was on the Billboard Top 40 list at the time.  Just think back (off the top of your head) and tell us What were your Top 5 favorite songs during your high school years?

Here's my list, from the preppy years of 1981-84:
  1. Should I Stay Or Should I Go? by The Clash
  2. Back in Black by AC/DC
  3. The Stroke by Billy Squier
  4. What I Like About You by The Romantics
  5. Land Down Under by Men At Work
Now, it's your turn.  What were you jammin' to during your high school years?  Give me your list.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tour de Cure - My First Race with My Boy!

Last Sunday, I rode in the Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association.  I was especially proud to ride with my son, known here as Samson (looking cool after the race!).

We committed to do the 30k, which would be about 18+ miles and raised over $200 in donations!
This was a big ride for Samson, because it was his first ride and he had not ridden more than 7 miles in one stretch, but we both knew he could do it.

The weather report on Saturday forecasted rain and wind.  I thought that our check-in time for the 30k route was 9:30, but when we got there we found that the 30k race had already started much earlier, so we were the last to check-in.  The route was entirely flat and we were solid for the first 3 miles.  Then, we made the turn to get on Old Nogales Hwy, which was going to be about an 9 mile stretch, totally flat.  But the wind was strong that day, my friends!  According to, the weather was "Cloudy and windy. Temperatures slowly falling to near 49F. Winds SW at 20 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 85%." 

I was so proud of my boy!  The winds were so strong that there were times when I wondered if he could stay upright (but I didn't tell him that)!   We stopped a few times to take a break from the wind and question if Samson wanted to keep going.  But, he is a fighter and wanted to keep going.  After cycling for over an hour into 20 mph headwinds, a race marshall pulled up and said that they were encouraging riders to turn around and head back...the rain was coming, which made car drivers more distracted, conditions more difficult and dangerous, etc.  So, we headed back.  We completed 12 miles and it began raining as we were packing up.  Riders (from the longer route) were still coming in as they were taking down the booths.  If we'd started sooner, I bet we would have ridden all 18 miles (30k), but we were still pleased to have done this together.

A great day for us both, money raised for diabetes (more on that soon) and it made me want to get back to riding after a two week absence.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weigh In - Week 1

On March 1st, I started a new thing...counting calories.  Each day of this past week, I counted between 1700-1900 of them.   I tried to not waste any calories on junk, but I was not eating dirt and sprouts all week either. 

As for the poundage, I can say that my weight last Monday was as high as it has been for the past many years and I have never really been higher.   In fact, I once heard a comedian say that fat people shouldn't say that they are "overweight"...if they have been at that (heavy) weight for a long while, then they are just "maintaining"...that was me.  I have been "maintaining" my weight at a very high number for the past 5-6 years or so.

Can I just point out that I think that we Americans would be a lot happier disclosing our weight if we measured it like the British do, in stones?  I am weigh A LOT OF POUNDS, yet in Great Britain, I weigh less than TWO DOZEN STONE (no, they don't pluralize it...and yes, if you are that curious, you can go google the stone to pound conversion, while the rest of us sit here and wait for your OCD self).

Anyway, in the past week, I lost 4 pounds (about 1/3 of a stone...a small rock, really).  That is good...but for a big guy, that's almost like a party trick.  A big guy can do that over a weekend, if he works the digestive system correctly.

Now I have to do it again.  Stay tuned.

Big Clyde

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Food For Thought - an article on the 30-Hour Famine

This is a longer post today, but I hope you find it thought-provoking in some way.

About a month ago, I participated in the 30-Hour Famine at our church (30-Hour Famine post).  It was a stomach-growling, soul-wrenching event where we took some time to serve others, experience some short-term hunger pangs and learn how many people in our world are starving.  Depressing? Yes...but if you are fortunate enough to be reading this right now, I am guessing that you own a computer, have a roof over your head, have an endless supply of clean drinking water and that you never wonder where your next meal is coming from.  These simple things make us wealthy, compared to about half the people on the planet. 

At the risk of looking like an overly proud parent, I wanted to share an article that was written by my 14-year-old daughter about this event, for a school assignment. On this blog, she is known as BookGirl95 and these are her words.

Food for Thought
110 middle and high school kids. 30 leaders. 2 churches combined. 30 hours on an empty stomach. Does that sound fun to you? It did to me; it sounded like an adventure. I was anticipating a fun, life-changing, eye-opening, and amazing experience. I had other things I could do that weekend, but I went to my church and starved myself with some friends. My other friends thought I was insane, giving up a beautiful February weekend to do community service projects. Okay.  I signed up for the 30 Hour Famine anyway.

The whole point in doing the Famine was to raise awareness and funds for world hunger and malaria. We were mostly working for a village in Zambia, Africa, but we also did some things for homeless Tucson people. We went without eating to feel what it was like for people across the world.

The rule was that you had to stop eating by midnight on Friday. I finished dinner at 7:00 and didn’t eat again until breakfast on Sunday morning. I woke up on Saturday, and got ready to leave, skipping breakfast. I arrived at 8:00 a.m. at my church with my parents, who were both doing it as well. People slowly arrived and we played games for a while. We were put into “tribes”, groups with about 11 kids and 3 leaders each. We stayed in our tribes for the whole morning.

The first thing I did with my tribe was make sack lunches. We made 200 brown-bag lunches for homeless Tucson people. We filled each bag to the brim with sandwiches, Goldfish Crackers, water bottles, carrots, Oreos, and apples. They were simple meals, but looked pretty good to me, about 10 hours into my Famine. It took a whole lot of willpower for me to pack Goldfish into lunches for people I’d never meet. I was tempted to sneak one or two, but I didn’t. My stomach grumbled. 20 hours until breakfast.

When we finished packing our share of lunches, everyone in my tribe was handed a small Ziploc bag of hard candy.

“These are Random Acts of Kindness,” our leader LeAnn told us. “We’re going to Wal-Mart to buy as much food as we can with $1 each. Some people in third-world countries have to live on a dollar or less a day, and we’re going to see how hard that is to do here in the U.S. Once we’re done, our tribe will get points for how many servings of food we can buy. While we’re there, I want you each to give your bag of candy to a stranger.”

I never would have thought of doing anything like that, and I knew I’d have to step out of my small comfort zone to give a bag of candy to a stranger.

As we drove up to the Wal-Mart grocery store, I noticed that it wasn’t very busy for a Saturday morning. From the minute we jumped out of the van, everyone in my tribe was on the lookout for someone who might accept our candy bags. Some kids gave their Random Acts of Kindness to shoppers, people getting into their cars, the cashier, and others. My friend, Nicolle went to give hers to a couple of bikers on the way out. The bikers didn’t want it and wouldn’t accept it. I can sort of guess why. My tribe was made entirely of 8th and 9th graders. We must have looked like a rowdy group of kids, on a mission to confuse the rest of society. We weren’t trying to be weird; we tried to make a small brighten someone’s day.

We drove back to church, and our next activity was on a more serious note. We went to our next station, where we found a paper on the table. Our leader, Ronnie read it to us. It said that we were going to staple links of paper together, creating a chain. We learned that 2,000 kids in Africa die everyday of malaria. There were 2,000 strips of orange paper, symbolizing every child who had died that day of a mosquito bite. That would be like every student and teacher from my middle school dying each day... x 2.  As my tribe stapled the pieces of paper together, nobody said a word. There was no need for talking; the huge mountain of paper spoke loudly enough. 

We did other activities throughout the day, but one of my favorites was the puppet show. My church is pretty unique, in that we have a huge puppet ministry. The tribes dispersed and we were all signed up for other activities. I chose puppeteering with my friends Nicolle and Christina. We met new people who had also signed up for puppets, and together we learned from the Director of Puppet Ministries how to work the puppets. We had a script, a pre-recorded voice-over, professional puppets, and we were ready to go.

We took our traveling puppet show to three Giving Tree homes. My team hopped into a van as we set out to entertain the kids at the homes. I was so excited! Everyone in my van was bouncing off the walls, and we were all screaming and laughing. But the ones who probably had the best ride must have been the puppets. We each had one on our hand and were sticking them out the windows, making them wave to passing cars. I had Roobie the Rabbit on my arm and I made her wave out my window. We waved to a five-year-old girl in the backseat of her parents’ car. She pointed, laughed, and waved back. This was not nearly as awkward as giving out our Random Acts of Kindness candy bags. We waved at two little old ladies in a white convertible. They laughed so hard, and their smiles were the size of Tucson. Our destination was on the South side, and we drove past a tough-looking pair of men on the side of the road. Roobie the Rabbit waved at them as our van went through a green light, leaving both men doing a double-take.

We turned into the driveway of the first Giving Tree house, we were met with hugs and smiles.  Our first show went perfectly. All the little kids watched us, laughing, singing along with the songs, clapping, and smiling like crazy. Actually, all three of our shows went that way. It was a fun night.

After each of our shows, we took our puppets out from behind the curtain to meet the kids. I remember two kids in particular. One was the cutest five-year-old boy ever. He just had to meet all the puppets. I still had Roobie the Rabbit on my arm. That kid squeezed her so hard in a big hug. It felt like that blood pressure test that they do at the doctor’s. He hugged every puppet and his mom took lots of pictures of us on her phone. The 30 Hour Famine happens once a year, and the puppets participate every time. That may have been the coolest thing that kid did all year. I kept that in mind during the other puppet shows when I lost all feeling in my arm.

The other person I can clearly remember was a girl. I never learned her name. After one of our shows, all the kids had gone inside for dinner and we were packing up to move on to the next house. But this little girl had waited outside, and as I was taking Roobie off of my arm, she came up to me.

“I knew it,” she said flatly.

I was puzzled; what had she known? I asked.

“I knew it the whole time,” she replied.

“What did you know the whole time?” She was making me work too hard for this.

“I knew it was fake,” she told me. “I knew the puppets weren’t real the whole time.”

What do you say to that? You’re right, the puppets can’t really talk on their own, and that was my hand moving her mouth. No, it’s all real, I swear! Yeah, they’re totally pretend, but don’t tell the other kids.

Instead, I simply said, “You’re right. You’re a very smart girl.”

She seemed pleased and walked inside to get dinner. I don’t think she gave our conversation a second thought. I sure did. She seemed like she had wanted to prove herself, like I should be informed that she was not a little kid anymore. She knew what was real and what wasn’t. She must have been around my brother’s age, ten or eleven. My brother knows that puppets aren’t real, but he doesn’t point it out whenever he sees them. Any other kid her age would’ve played along with the puppet show. This girl lived in one of these group homes because she had nowhere else to go. Maybe she had previously been living on the street. I don’t know her story, but whatever it was, it was completely different from mine. She’s probably had to grow up faster than most kids. Maybe she’s never played pretend, and was thrown into the “grown-up” world too fast. The puppet show might have been a little reminder of all she had missed out on, and she wanted me to know that she was too big for things like that now. I wish I could have talked with her more. She really changed my perspective. Not everyone lives the care-free life I do.

When we had finished up our last puppet show, we headed back to the church. We spent the night there and woke up to the smell of breakfast cooking. What a beautiful smell... We had pancakes and eggs. It felt so good to have food in me again. It’s kind of one of those things that you don’t appreciate it until it’s gone.

When I finished my food, I went and stood outside of one of the four church services holding soup buckets for donations. We collected a lot of money, which all went towards buying bed nets (canopies) to prevent malaria in Africa. My friends also held soup buckets, and other kids held our orange paper chain that we had made the day before. I think that really hit home for some people, who put a little extra into our soup buckets. Between all four church services, we made $3,500.

If I went for 30 hours without eating and didn’t learn anything, what would be the point? But I learned a couple of things. Even though giving away Random Acts of Kindness can be awkward, it brightens people’s day. I learned about malaria and helped raise awareness and funds for it. I learned that puppets make everyone smile. I learned that it’s really difficult to go a full day with no food, and no one in the world should ever have to. In other words, the 30 Hour Famine was an amazing experience that I will never forget.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oh, Have You Not Heard?

I am mid-way through the week of counting calories and really being intentional about what I eat...and it is going well.  I know it is a long road, but I am feeling pretty good so far.  My knee was really hurting for some reason on Monday and Tuesday, but is feeling better now.

Riding in the Tour de Cure with my two oldest kids this Sunday, while my wife and youngest are at church.  I am so proud to be riding with them...their first race and my third.  This will be their longest distance and I could not be more proud of their willingness to take this challenge on. 

GuinneMick introduced me to The Family Guy...I have only seen one episode so far, but I laugh at it every time.  I don't know why I had not heard about the was, GuinneMick's understanding that everyone had heard...


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

3.2.10 Your Own Personal Countdown

Today, is March 2, 2010.  Joe, my clever 8-year-old boy, was heading off to school this morning when he said "hey Dad, today's date is three-two-one-zero!"  That is very cool.  I didn't see that coming.  I told him "that has never happened before and never will again in our lifetime".

Today, I talked with a friend who is struggling with tremendous financial issues.  I so much wish that I could help him, but my small offering wouldn't come close to making his problems go away.   He is wondering how (or if) he will ever overcome this.

He reads this blog and knows about my struggles with my weight and exercise.  Not that long ago, I also was wondering if I was just stuck for the rest of my life with my bad habits, my current weight, my pathetic fitness level (and now I might have some tendonitis in my knee)...would I ever overcome this?  Both of us were feeling down.

Back to my boy, Joe.  He seemed so excited about the numbers.  Throughout the day, I started thinking of it as a countdown to some blast-off.  Whether it is the launch of a space shuttle, or the beginning of a race, the action usually starts after the countdown, 3-2-1-0!

So, if you need a kick in the pants, or some reminder that the world starts over every day, then maybe today is your own personal countdown.  You can begin to change your life tomorrow, maybe even in a very small way, but it can change.  Even that space shuttle starts moving very slowly at the beginning of it's amazing journey.

3-2-1-0   GO!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Music Monday: Top 5 Songs That Should NOT Be Brought on a Hunting Trip!

If you happen to go on a hunting trip and bring your iPod (which apparently breaks some unspoken rule that bans entertainment from hunting trips), these are my Top 5 songs that you DO NOT want to play in the bunkhouse at night. 
  1. Dancing Queen by ABBA
  2. Kiss by Prince
  3. Macho Man by Village People
  4. I'm Too Sexy by Right Said Fred
  5. Love The One You're With by Crosby, Still & Nash
This might be a strange list, but there was a guy on my recent hunting trip that kept playing the "Pina Colada" song!  I'm pretty sure he was just joking around, but you can't be too careful when there are guns around.

Big Clyde