I’ve had many posts I’ve been wanting to write, but I haven’t because I want to put so much into them. I’m taking a different approach now. I think it’s better for me to just write down a little bit to get it “out there”.  I can always go back and add more later. So, let’s get started…

The Vienna airport in Austria is quite good great!

It may not have butterfly gardens or koi ponds like Singapore (I may post more about this later), but there is one thing it does have: convenience for tech travelers.

It is the first airport I have been in that had dedicated desks for laptops without being inside an airline lounge.

Also, they have comfortable “beds” so you can actually have a nap without shoving some chairs together like a homeless person.

Finally, their WiFi is fast and to the point! You log in and it immediately takes you to a page that shows the the status of flights in order of take-off time (ascending).

Thanks for being Awesome, Austria!

airport_beds airport_desks austria wifi portal

The Rules

Let’s have a real talk here. Don’t get caught up on the specific numbers, or on the easy excuses.

History

I am 6’1 (186 cm) and 28 years old. At my peak weight I weighed 265 pounds (120 kg). I had very poor eating habits, and was also very sedentary. I sat in front of a computer for work, and also for my hobbies at home. The only good thing about this is it paid the bills.

I was never happy with my weight and I always made excuses. I went through a rough time in my life, and I decided I was going to make the change for good. I changed my diet and exercise habits; over the course of about 16 months I lost about 100 pounds (45 kg). At my lowest weight I was 165 (75 kg). From there, I focused a bit more on my diet and now maintain myself around 175-180 (79-82 kg).

I am not a dietitian, nutritionist, personal trainer, doctor, nor am I in any way certified to give out advice on health or nutrition. My only “credential” is that I’ve been heavy, and I’ve lost weight. All of my information comes from researching in books and web articles.

I have been wanting to write this for a while, but I’ve procrastinated because I was worried people would not like what I have to say or pick it apart. Overall, I think this writing will do more harm than good. This writing is just my way of thinking when it comes to weight loss.

Here are some pictures of approximately “before and after”. As you’ll notice, I’ve omitted any shirtless shots (for both of our benefits)

Before 1 After 1
Before 2 After 2
Before 3 After 3

 

Budget

As you grow older, you get a concept of which things are expensive, and which things are cheap. Once you get the hang of this, you can worry a little less about the specifics and still keep your budget on track. You know that you can buy a pack of gum without checking the price. In contrast, you learn that if you’re in an expensive looking store you need to think twice before buying a purse.

Why do we treat food any differently? Do you know your caloric “budget”? It’s probably not 2,000 calories despite what the back of that cereal box tells you. Similar to the purse scenario, you need to be a bit more careful about what you throw on your plate when you’re at a pizza parlor than when you are at a salad bar if you want to stay within your “budget”.

Debt

You can be in debt financially, and you can also be in debt calorically (overweight). The nice thing is that your body is much more forgiving than your bank. You can overspend your daily income by a few thousand times if you decide to go buy a Ferrari. Your body is configured well enough that you cannot possibly absorb more than a few day’s worth of calories in a single day. But in both cases, you can overspend by 5-10% for a few years and then it will come back and bite you – hard.

Excuses

Let’s get the excuses out of the way. There is a little thing called the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy. It means that you cannot create mass from nothing. To really blunt – it means you gain weight because you take in more mass (food) than you convert into other forms (mass and energy) through bodily functions and exercise. If you do somehow find that you are creating mass from nothing, I suggest you immediately nominate yourself for a Nobel Prize in Physics. But be warned, you’ll probably be getting a free autopsy – for Science!

Math

They told you in school, and it’s true: math can save your life. It’s actually REALLY easy to use math to lose weight. Here is how I think of the equation:

Weight Change = Input – Basal Metabolic Rate – Extra Effort * Personal Multiplier

Let’s break these things down.

Weight Change:

A pound of fat is roughly 3,500 calories. Please note I said roughly. Apparently some people are very passionate about this not being 100% accurate. Whether it’s 2,500 or 4,500 – I think 3,500 gets us in the right ballpark, and the right mindset.

So, if you want to remain the same, the weight change number should be 0.

If you want to gain weight (even muscle), the number needs to be above 0.

If you want to lose weight, the number needs to be below 0.

Input:

This is everything that you eat or drink. Yes – that soda you’re drinking is PACKED with calories. Are you sure you’re enjoying it as much as you should?

The nice thing is this is really easy to calculate, and also easy to find when food advertisements are flat out lying. I don’t know all the intricacies of how they get away with it, but let’s just say that when something says 99% Fat Free it doesn’t always mean it.

Your body can only break down certain types of material, and nutrition labels break it up into a few categories. Each of these categories has a generally accepted amount of calories that a gram represents.

1 gram of Carbohydrates is 4 calories.
1 gram of Protein is 4 calories.
1 gram of Fat is 9 calories.
1 gram of Alcohol is 7 calories.

Clif Bar - Chocolate Chip

Let’s take a look at an example:

Total Fat: 5g = 45 calories

Total Carbohydrates: 45g = 180 calories

Total Protein: 10g = 40 calories

Total Calories: 265 calories*

* Why is this different than the calories on the label? Because Dietary Fiber is sometimes not counted as calories because your body can’t digest it and obtain its caloric worth. Is this worth fretting over? NO! Should you use this as an excuse to eat another Snickers bar? NO!

Next time you’re in the deli section of the store, pick up a pack of pre-sliced meat and count the calories in the protein. I often see packaged meat with 90 calories per serving and only 10 grams of protein (40 calories) per serving – and it’s marked as 99% Fat Free!!! I don’t know how they get away with this, but does it matter? I’m the one who gains weight if I don’t know what I’m eating, so I have chosen to learn to calculate how lean meat really is.

Using these basic calculations, you can figure out about how many calories is in something and if it is worth it. You would be surprised that sometimes two similar items (e.g. a muffin) can be at least 200 calories different from each other based on what the ingredients are. Considering this could be 10% of your daily budget, it’s important to know! Does this mean you can’t eat the muffin? Absolutely not! It just means you have to know what you’re doing and make sure you enjoy it!

A special note on Input and Protein

The numbers are all over the board on this one, but there is a guideline of how much protein you need each day. If you want to maintain muscle you need 1g of protein per pound that you WANT to weigh. If you want to gain muscle, you may need more.

I weigh 175; my caloric “budget” is around 2,300 calories per day; I want to gain muscle. This means that I need to eat at least 175 grams of protein (700 calories) each day. This means I still have about 1,600 calories to play with. So I can choose to eat protein rich food and vegetables (around 900 calories) and then gorge myself on about 7 Krispy Kreme Original Glazed donuts. Or, I could eat food that is about 30% protein the entire day. It’s my choice, and I can tell you honestly that I have done both.

 

Last note on Input

Yes, calories are calories. There are plenty of examples of how people have lost weight eating nothing but Twinkies. However, it’s also about HEALTH. You can be thin and unhealthy.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):

This basically means this is how many calories you would burn if you were in a neutral (not hot or cold) environment and didn’t do any physical activity (e.g. sleeping). This is your baseline amount of calories and doesn’t include exercise. You “earn” more calories in your budget through exercise. There are some guides on how to calculate your BMR, but I hope you understand that you shouldn’t expect a web page to be able to calculate anything about your body 100% accurately.

www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm

Extra Effort:

This is all the extra work you do, big and small. This is choosing to walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.

This is parking at the far end of the parking lot and walking for 5 minutes instead of driving around for 5 minutes looking for the closest spot – seriously, why do people do this? Especially at the gym!

Last but not least, this is also exercise. Again, you can use websites to get an estimate of how many calories you’ll burn doing an exercise. And again, you should not trust a website to tell you exactly how many calories you’re burning. It can’t see how hard you’re actually working!

Personal Multiplier:

This is the “wildcard” I give everyone. I’m sure there are plenty of medical conditions that make weight loss more difficult. But I’m going to go back to my Conservation of Mass statement and say that it’s impossible to create mass from nothing. So what does this mean? It means that for some people, the same amount of effort doesn’t get the same results. It may be HARDER for you, but NOT IMPOSSIBLE.

Some people have naturally higher or lower metabolism. But your BMR is what your BMR is, so all you can control is how much exercise you need to do to balance out your equation if you’re choosing to eat pizza. You can also choose to eat healthier and maximize your budget so you need less exercise to even out the equation.

Tips:

  • Don’t get sucked in with the “free” when it comes to food. ITS NOT FREE! Would you spend $100 on a package deal when you only want a $20 item in it? NO! So why waste your calories on deep fried breading when all you want is some delicious chicken? It may not cost you more money, but it will cost you more calories!
  • Don’t burn yourself out. It’s not a sprint, it’s a MARATHON. It is a way of life that you need to WANT to live. I’ve seen people execute very healthy diets, absolutely PERFECT – for one day.
    Ease yourself in, but also make the mental switch.
  • Make the change soon! Yes, I dropped about 100 pounds. On the surface, it looks like a success story. But I can tell you that there is also an ugly side. To my great shame, I still have extra skin and fat on a few areas of my body. Based on what I’ve tried and researched, there is no healthy way to remove the fat – and no way (except surgery) to remove the extra skin. The more “debt” you gain, the harder it will be to work off and the more irreversible damage you will do to your body.I’m happy with myself now – and I do think about the surgery at times. Though, I also think that there must be a better way to spent $15,000 than on a little bit of extra fat and skin. Maybe my superficial side will get the best of me one day.
  • Set your goal with your eyes, not the scale. Once you’ve met your goal, use the scale to help you keep on track. Pants a little tight? Time to back it off for a few days!
  • Accept that you probably won’t get six-pack abs unless your body is genetically and physiologically pre-dispositioned to this. You should be aiming to look in the mirror and be happy with yourself and look healthy.
  • Take out the Low Hanging Fruit: Chips, Fried foods, and Soda. Making these easy changes will chop a large amount of calories from your diet.
  • Find good substitutes. This goes hand in hand with the low hanging fruit – I found that most of the time I was eating bad food was because it satisfied a craving, not because I wanted that specific food.
    • I wasn’t craving chips, I was craving something I could pop in my mouth and was salty and crunchy. Hello Dry Roasted Almonds with Sea Salt! A great source of Protein, Calcium, and Vitamin E. However, as with most nuts it contains a lot of fat and is relatively high in calories. This is why I recommend shelled nuts like Pistachios as well.
    • Gaining a taste for zero-calorie, zero-fake sugar, carbonated water is a great and healthy alternative to satisfy the desire for something fizzy. And you can use those calories you saved to eat something you’ll really enjoy!
  • Find exercise you’ll enjoy. Maybe it’s taking the dog for a walk, playing soccer with your kids in the park, or even picking up a manual hobby.
  • Lift weights. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR is. Lifting weights helps you burn calories while you’re lifting, and the muscle you gain helps you burn calories even at rest!
  • You’ll only cheat yourself. If you’re going for weight loss, don’t tell yourself that you only ate 1/2 of the burger so it doesn’t count. It just means you took in 1/2 the calories of a burger.

Most of all: (Responsibly) Enjoy yourself!

Does this mean you can’t eat ice cream, french fries, and all of your other favorite foods? NO! It means you need to be DELIBERATE when you do it.

Are you enjoying the bread on that sandwich? Is it amazing and exactly what you wanted? No? Then why are you eating it?!

I eat bad food from time to time (my favorite is Taco Bell Doriotos Loco Tacos!). I don’t eat them on nights I work out, and I make sure I’m really enjoying it.

Especially if you’re in America, you need to learn to be OK with throwing food away as you are making a positive change in yourself. The portion sizes and quality of food here are atrocious.

Perhaps with time, more places will offer lean and healthy food. Until then, it’s up to you to seek it out or make your own modifications as necessary.

Remember: The most effective diet and exercise plan is one that you actually do!

Dictionary

It isn’t until recently that I have learned the value of words. I found myself frequently disregarding many words because I thought they were of little value to me.

Specific names to problems, laws, programming design patterns, etc. are all just “Words, words, words” to me. I don’t care what they’re called; I want to understand the idea behind them. I want to know what polymorphism is – and I don’t care what you call it. Discarding this type of information can save brain-space, but it has a fatal flaw:

It’s not all about you!

I read an article once (the name of which I have ironically discarded) that said the age of the individual invention is over. Gone are the days that a single person will stumble across a new element, or invent a new fuel source. These days, inventions are not the product of a eureka moment – but the product of teams of scientists and/or engineers spending countless hours trying to solve a problem.

What does this have to words? Communication.

The more words you use, the less value each one has.

It doesn’t matter how much you know if you cannot, intelligently, communicate with others. I would sound insane if I described things without using any sort of vocabulary.

With vocabulary: Have you considered iterating through the items?

Without vocabulary: You know that thing that lets you do the same thing many times to many of the same thing? Have you tried using that thing?

Vocabulary is a wonderful thing. Vocabulary is the difference between having to implement a sort function in C and using MyArray.Sort(); in C#.

Take the time to learn the vocabulary with the subject matter. It will make it easier for you to communicate with others, and for them to communicate with you.

P.S. – Don’t use big words just to sound smart.

P.P.S – Don’t belittle people who don’t know the words.

P.P.P.S – Remember, it is possible to understand something without knowing what it is called.

As usual, I’ve had a lot of thoughts swirling in my head recently. It is interesting in this age of technology how many of the constraints are man-made.

Betamax vs VHS

Betamax vs VHS

There was a time when market forces dictated which products would win or lose.

The need to remain competitive created independent research & development contributed efforts which then created many competing technologies. These technologies were different at a physical level out of necessity. For example, a Ford engine and a Chevrolet engine.

In the technology and information age, it seems that many of these difference are imposed by the developers to prevent cross-compatibility. Why?

I think the basic thought process is “Why compete in the same market with your competitors when you can create your own market?”

By creating a very closed-off market, under the guise of high-performance and compatibility (Apple, Betamax, et. al), you can create an artificial barrier to entry (and exit). The key to this strategy is convincing consumers that you have something special that is worth the extra cost, and loss of control.

Another way to protect these fabricated markets is DRM. When you cannot block it physically, you can block it at the software level.

The latest example of this is Phillips implementing DRM on Lightbulbs. As usual, I’m sure this is under the guise of “ensuring a high performance system”. Also as usual, the end-users are not stupid and see it for what it is.

In my opinion, companies who do not have something truly of value to offer will protect what they are selling to try to maintain their hold on the market they have created.

The companies that listen to their consumers,  or offer true advantages, will do far better than those who try to create their own markets and strengthen their walls in an effort to keep their customers (and profits) in.

I’ve often had an internal complaint about modern-day big cities. I see all the issues with them (high cost of living, unemployment, underdeveloped infrastructure, etc.) as entirely man-made. There was a time when location was critical to a business and there was no option but to crowd. For example, if you are moving large quantities of material it is beneficial to be close to a body of water for cheap transportation. If you sell lumber, then being close to a large forest where you can cut wood is also imperative.

Let’s take a look at the tech hub San Francisco. There is almost no reliance on the natural resources of the area. All of the desire to move there is intellectual rather than physical.

It wasn’t until I was working on a project budget that I understood a big advantage to a big city. If I have a small project, I cannot afford to have specialists in each discipline full-time. Furthermore, I must pay a premium to have those specialists support less than full-time. How does this translate to a big city? Food!

I love 拉面 or “la mian” – hand pulled noodles which are very common in China. In the US, I am a minority for this. I cannot personally fund a noodle shop with just my love for noodles. So, what happens if there are millions of people around me? All of the individual desires add up so we can have la mian, dim sum, shawarma, crepes, sushi, and so on. So, based on how hungry I am, I am more understanding of big cities now…

 

Derek making La Mian

Derek making La Mian

Where to go?

 

As I’ve traveled, I’ve noticed a few things that make me realize my love for travel.

Ask yourself these questions. Depending on the answers, you may be afflicted with wanderlust.

My friends are encouraged to add to this list 🙂

  1. Do you know where your passport is?
    • Is it in your backpack?
      • Is your backpack within 10 feet of you?
    • Do you know the numbers by heart so you don’t have to get it every time?
  2. Do you have an international phone?
    • Do you have an international SIM card?
      • Do you put the country code on all your contacts?
  3. Do you catch yourself randomly checking travel websites for good deals?
    • Do you set alerts?
  4. Do you reserve time off work without a destination in mind?
  5. Have you ever booked a hotel while sitting in the airport?
    • Have you ever booked a hotel while sitting on the plane?
      • Have you ever booked your return flight while in the airport or plane?
  6. Do you have a universal power adapter in your backpack, just in case?
  7. Do you have multiple time zones set on your phone / watch?
    • Do you know the time zone offsets by heart?
      • Do you relate most things to UTC time?

 

To say I’ve been busy would be an understatement.

Many things have changed for me in the last few months – but one has not: I still have the travel bug.

I’ve been incredibly busy on a project here in Israel, and I’ve managed to see many things on the weekends.

However, I wanted to get out to a few more countries while I”m here!

I finally booked a flight to Croatia. A hotel / car-rental booking soon followed. All of this is on my new Chase Sapphire card, of course. I’ll report how well the points / features work in other posts.

I’ve also updated my Couch Surfing profile and reached out to see if someone would like to host me or show me around.

  • Flight cancellation / change is covered by Chase Sapphire Card
  • Car Rental can be cancelled within 24 hours, and insurance is provided by Chase Sapphire Card.
  • Hotel can be cancelled within 24 hours.

So – this trip is booked and planned (for under $800), but could be cancelled with very low risk or costs!

This may seem like a bit of an advertisement for the Chase card – and it sort of is. That’s partially because I’m pretty upset with their competitor (Barclaycard) for some shady dealings they put me through.

But really, this post is a hint that there will be more posts soon.

Walking in to Petra with Blue Sky

I took a tour to Jordan while in Israel and I wanted to take some time to “give back” to the wonderful Jordanians by telling others about it.

First, I’ll give the short version for those who want just the details, and then I’ll give the long version.

  • I toured with Desert Eco Tours, and they were AMAZING.
    • If you don’t leave from Eilat, you can also talk directly to Jordan Experience which is their Jordanian counterpart.
  • I drove to Eilat from Ashkelon, which took about 3 hours.
  • I stayed in the Blue Hotel for about $60. It was a nice hotel with an OK breakfast, and OK WiFi.
  • Desert Eco Tours picked me up at 7:05 AM the next day and drove me to the border.
  • At the border, we were the first in line. There was an Eco Tours person there to help us through the process
  • We walked through the border and got on a tour bus.
  • The tour bus drove us by Aqaba and the guide gave us some interesting information about Aqaba, and Jordan overall.
  • It took about 2.5 – 3 hours to get to Petra – we arrived a bit before 1 PM.
    • This is partially because they are great about making stops for pictures and bathroom breaks
    • This is also partially because one of the other members of the tour had passport issues at the border and we had to wait for them
  • If you are on the 1 day tour, you need to leave Petra at 3:30 PM and you don’t get lunch until then.
  • If you are on the 2 day tour, you need to leave Petra around 4:30 PM and you get lunch in Petra at about 2:30 PM.
  • We did the 2 day tour, so we walked to the Jordan Experience office from Petra at about 4:30 PM. It was about 500 meters away.
  • They arranged a Taxi to our hotel and checked us in.
  • We walked around the town at night and enjoyed the food and WiFi at the hotel. Dinner was quite good, and the service was excellent.
  • The driver for Wadi Rum arrived at the hotel at 8:30 AM
  • We left for Wadi Rum and arrived at about 11 AM.
  • We took a break at the Visitor’s Center and then continued
  • We arrived at a Bedouin camp at 12 PM and enjoyed some of their tea
  • We drove around stopping at various sites, took many pictures, and enjoyed the stories from our Bedouin guide.
  • At 1 PM we arrived at another camp where our Bedouin guides prepared lunch. We ate at 2 PM. The food was awesome.
  • We drove around more, took more pictures, and enjoyed more of our guide’s humor.
  • We left Wadi Rum and drove for about 90 minutes to the Israel border, arriving at 4:40 PM.
  • We crossed the border, and were greeted by Eco Tours staff and a Taxi.
  • We were back at our hotel by 5:30 PM
    • This was despite the hard time Israeli customs gave us
  • We left for Ashkelon and arrived at 9:00 PM.
  • I would highly recommend this to anyone!

Jordan – The long version

No, not a person – the country.

What comes to mind? Something like this perhaps?
desert plant

Yes, Jordan is mostly desert – but it’s not all spiky and ugly.

I was a bit nervous about traveling to Jordan while I was visiting Israel. I think we have The Media to thank for that. My advice regarding to travel to any country is that you must talk to locals, or people who have traveled there for true information.

My advice? You should absolutely go to Jordan. If you are in Israel, going via Eilat is a great way. If you hook up with Desert Eco Tours (Eco for short), they have the entire thing planned out for you. All you need to do is get to Eilat and enjoy the wonderful nightlife for an evening.

eilat at night 1  eilat at night 2eilat at night 3 eilat at night 4 eilat at night 5

You have to buy your hotel the night before, but this gives you the ability to save some money, or enjoy a very nice room.

In the morning, Eco picks you up and takes you to the border. They have someone there waiting to help you through the process. On the other side, they have another ride waiting for you.

You get to enjoy a little scenic drive through Aqaba and then on to Petra. They provide water, and plenty of rest stops. I was quite surprised at how accommodating they were by making stops for pictures, bathrooms and snacks. You’ll drive by some pretty striped mountains, and stop at a rest stop with a great panoramic view:

striped mountains

pre petra panoramic

The drive to Petra is a few hours, and then a brief stop at the Jordan Experience (Eco’s partner in Jordan). If you are staying overnight, they give you the opportunity to leave your stuff in their office. Petra is just a few hundred meters from their office.

When you enter Petra, you will be greeted by a few shops. Shortly after, you will be greeted by a plethora of children offering to sell you post cards, and other trinkets. The rules here are the same as traveling in any other country, so be wary.

Our tour guide did a great job pointing out things in Petra and explaining the archaeological significance of many of the carvings.

After a while, you arrive at the image that everyone knows: The Treasury.

derek at petra treasury

After this, you will continue walking and realize that Petra is GIGANTIC. There is NO WAY you can see it all in one day, or even a week. This panorama gives a slight idea of the size of it.

petra panoramic

There’s not much point in me posting the pictures I have, because it doesn’t scratch the surface of what is there.

When you reach the end of the tourist area there are some buildings. One of which is the place with the lunch included in the tour. It is served buffet style, and it is quite good. I had meatballs, falafel, spicy couscous, and many more things. Don’t forget to try the dessert!

petra lunch

After this, we walked back to the Jordan Experience office, taking pictures as we went through Petra. They got us a Taxi to our hotel and checked us in. We decided to walk back down to the tourist area for some of the shops and a pub we passed. Unfortunately, the pub only served one kind of Jordanian beer. I decided to go a few shops down and try a local dish: Makloubeh.

Makloubeh

Next, we went back to the hotel and I tried the food there too. The food was very impressive for a hotel in a foreign country. It far exceeded my expectations, especially considering it was included in the price of the tour. The hospitality of the staff at the hotel rivals the best of any country I’ve been to.

The next morning, our Bedouin driver arrived at 8:30 AM to take us to Wadi Rum. Words and pictures cannot describe the beauty of this place or what an experience it was to hear about life from a Bedouin man.

There are endless beautiful rock formations and mountains. Every turn produces another unique and awe-inspiring monolith.

derek at wadi rum 1

wadi rum visitor center panorama

We saw countless sites, enjoyed some off-road 4×4 in the desert, met Bedouins in their camps, and enjoyed a lunch hand-prepared by our Bedouin guides. The food was delicious and fresh.

bedouin lunch

After lunch, we saw a few more sites and then went back to Aqaba.

We said goodbye to our guide and went through customs. From here, a taxi took us back to our hotel and we drove back to Ashkelon.

derek and muhammad

It was an amazing trip that I find myself struggling to write more about because there is just so much to say.

In short, you have to go experience it.

One of the great things about travel is that it not only lets you see new things, it also gives you plenty of time to reflect.

Long flights, bus rides, and the occasional 4×4 trip through the desert give a lot of time for self-reflection.

On this most recent trip (which I promise to write about), I had a realization about my passion for continuous improvement.

I’m not sure if it is my upbringing, or simply a part of my DNA. In any case, I always think things can be better. Anything can be improved. There is always something that can be tweaked or re-worked in order to gain some benefit. This insatiable desire for improvement has been a valuable asset of mine, but I’ve also found that it leaves me unhappy.

I have finally realized why. I’ve put the term “satisfaction” on the happy/unhappy scale. You see, “satisfied” can mean relatively happy, but it can also mean that something is “done”. As in, “All the criteria have been satisfied.” For me, the idea that something is “done” is rarely true.

I believe that I have avoided happiness in my avoidance of being “satisfied”.

So now, my challenge is to find a way to be happy, while also recognizing that things can always be better. Perhaps the trick to this will be smaller goals, and more celebration of them.

I was preparing to write a blog post when I logged in and saw I have 1,500 comments marked as spam. My blog is nowhere near viral status. In fact, I only have one post that is linked by another website. And yet, 1,500 spam comments. It led me to the following idea:

The web is a horror movie

  • There are spiders and creepy-crawlers everywhere. They’re just waiting to latch on to you and suck your blood.
  • Trust no one. You may think it’s your friend e-mailing you a cool picture, then you wake up in a scary place wondering how you got there.
  • There are body snatchers, well – identity thieves, who are trying to take everything you are with their too-good-to-be-true promises.
  • There is blood, violence, and gore aplenty. (and gratuitous shower scenes to go along with it)

but most of all:

If you are brave, pure of heart, and avoid all temptation – you can find what you’re looking for and make it out alive.