A New Blog

I started a new blog this past weekend for a dear friend. He is on a journey to health and wants to share it with everyone. Go check it out: PaleoYoda. The design needs some work, but it’s a work in progress so things will change for the better as time marches forward.

The 8 Minute Meditation Official Pledge

Date: 9-13-13

I hereby agree with myself that, even if I am traveling, on vacation, under a million family obligations, or have any other “good” excuse not to, I will nevertheless meditate for exactly 8 minutes a day, every day, for the next 8 weeks.

[Escape Clause: If, for some reason, my day is so crazy that I honestly cannot find the time and miss a day, I will continue my meditation program immediately the next day. Note: This escape clause is valid for two uses only!]

(Signed) Mike Smith

The Quit and My Health

The Quit

I’m now working on Day 29 of not smoking. Almost one month complete! Woot! I did e-cigs for a couple of weeks. When those ran out, I switched to the patch and wore that for about 1.5 weeks. I’ve been nicotine-free for the last 5(?) days. Feeling pretty good, too!

I’ve also been eating Atomic Fireballs when I have bad cravings. Over the last week or so, I’ve noticed that I’m not really having any cravings, but I’m still eating the Fireballs. These things are great for fighting the craves and they have saved my life a number of times. But now that I’m eating them because I like them, well, that means it’s time to get rid of them. I have about 15 left. When I’m down to 5, I will save those in case I need them, but I won’t be buying any more. I need to purge myself of sugar now!

My Health

Along with taking the plunge on The Quit, I’ve decided that I need to start exercising again. I’ve been getting lazy these last few months since I haven’t been going to the CrossFit gym. As much as I like CF, my gym was far away and expensive. Since I’m no longer going, it’s time to step things up. I’ve decided to follow a more laid back approach and follow the Primal Blueprint Fitness plan. The quick and dirty of it is to move slowly, lift heavy, and occasionally sprint. So, for me, it breaks down thusly: 4 days of walking, 2 days of body weight exercises, and 1 day of sprints. That’s my week.

I started the walking aspect last week. One thing I love about living in the country, my walks are through some really nice areas with wonderful scenery. I’ve seen ducks, peacocks, cows, chickens, roosters, etc. I’ve also been taking some pics while I’m out and about. At any rate, I walked 3 days last week. The totals for each day were 2.7 miles, 3.1 miles, and 4.8 miles. I went out again today for 3 miles. Tomorrow I start the heavy lifting.

Combine that with eating a clean paleo diet, the weight should melt off of me. I hope. But, I’m not going to make any expectations. I’m just going to continue to do what I need to do and let the rest take care of itself. JERF! Just Eat Real Food!

An Update on the Quit

In the last 3 weeks, I have not smoked 400 cigarettes.

Back in the day, it didn’t seem like much: 20 a day, but then I wasn’t keeping track of them past the daily intake. Pack a day? What’s that? That’s average for most people. No sweat. If I went over, like a night out on the town (read: closing a bar with drinking/smoking buddies) when I would push 2 packs in one day… yeah, I would mentally beat myself up: I shouldn’t have smoked THAT many in one day.

But, when one stops to think about the total over an extended period of time, it’s ridiculous! 400 in 20 days! A pack a day for 20 days doesn’t sound that bad, but 400 cigs in the same time frame? Hell, just the thought of smoking 400 cigarettes over ANY time frame… 400! Oy vey!

What hurts even more: if I had not fallen off the wagon in ’07, I would have saved over $15,000 by now. My Scirocco would have been running this whole time and I would have relished driving it every weekend, including to the last 6 Cincy’s and I would never have felt the shame of parking on the KIA side and getting that look from Daun (“Another year at the Scirocco get-together without the Scirocco?”). We would have hardwood floors (or a cheaper laminate alternative ;) ). Hell, we might even have a paved and heated driveway! (Who am I kidding? We probably would have pissed it away elsewhere, but the Scirocco could have been running!!!)

But still… 15 grand. And to add to that, here’s an even scarier number: 43,829. That’s number of cigarettes that I smoked since falling off the wagon (assuming pack/day for the last 6 years). ~44K cigs.

Incredible numbers and things to think about. And I would spend more time thinking about it if I wanted to live in the past on past mistakes. I don’t want to do that. Instead, I will think of the now and the future.

Now: three weeks in, I’m breathing easier than I have in about 4 years, but I know I’m not out of the woods. I still have cravings, albeit minor ones. I also know that since it took me 26+ years to walk this deep into the woods, it just might take 26+ years to find my way back to where I was. As they say on quitnet.com, 3 miles in is 3 miles out. Fortunately, I’ve already started to feel the health benefits and that’s enough to keep me going.

I made it farther than this in ’07, but this time I am not going to falter. I will walk the path. I will make it out of the woods. For…

I am done.

I am quit.

I am Mike and I am awesome.

The Quit: Q-minus 32 hours and counting

I’ve set a date (Sunday night at midnight).

I’ve talked with some family (weekend with mom, brother, and sister inspired me).

I’ve reconnected with QuitNet.

While on the site today, I found something I want to post here, so I can come back to it from time to time.

Smoking cessation timeline – the health benefits over time

  • In 20 minutes, your blood pressure and pulse rate decrease, and the body temperature of your hands and feet increase.
  • Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. At 8 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood decreases to normal. With the decrease in carbon monoxide, your blood oxygen level increases to normal.
  • At 24 hours, your risk of having a heart attack decreases.
  • At 48 hours, nerve endings start to regrow and the ability to smell and taste is enhanced.
  • Between 2 weeks and 3 months, your circulation improves, walking becomes easier and you don’t cough or wheeze as often. Phlegm production decreases. Within several months, you have significant improvement in lung function.
  • In 1 to 9 months, coughs, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease as you continue to see significant improvement in lung function. Cilia, tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs, regain normal function.
  • In 1 year, risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack is reduced to half that of a smoker.
  • Between 5 and 15 years after quitting, your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker.
  • In 10 years, your risk of lung cancer drops. Additionally, your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decrease. Even after a decade of not smoking however, your risk of lung cancer remains higher than in people who have never smoked. Your risk of ulcer also decreases.
  • In 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack is similar to that of people who have never smoked. The risk of death returns to nearly the level of a non-smoker. 


I’ve been a smoker for over 20 years. About 6 years ago, I successfully quit for 3 months. I felt great. One day, I bummed a cig off a coworker after some happy hour fun. It’s a slippery slope and I slid right down it again. I’ve been at the bottom of the slope looking up for a long time. After spending the weekend with my family for my sister’s graduation (graduate school!), I decided I am ready to make the climb again. My brother flew out from Seattle and said he was hardly smoking anymore. That weekend, he smoked a lot. If I hadn’t been smoking, he wouldn’t have either. Big brother is a bad influence and I aim to change that relationship. Come tomorrow night, I’m going to try to kill that demon. It will be an epic battle, but I hope to be the one left standing.

If This, Then That…

This is just a test of a couple new recipes I have at If This, Then That. I really enjoy this site although I’m sure I’m not using it to its full potential. That being said, I had created a recipe that would send me a text message any time someone in my area made a “for sale” post concerning Concept2 rowing machines. After a year, I was notified of one in my price range and I bought it 2 hours after it was posted. IFTTT has saved me money!

While the rower I bought is an older model (Model B, last made in 1993), it’s in fine condition and I paid less than half of its true value. These rowers really hold up over the years if properly maintained. Another reason I wanted a Concept2, is their customer service and because they can be retrofitted with new parts. I ordered a few parts for mine (new handle, new foot boards, new seat rollers) and with that added cost, I’m still sitting lower than my rower’s true value. Fun times ahead!

Heritage Farm Park

Today, I finally made it back out to a course and played 18 wonderful holes of disc golf. My score wasn’t great (shot a +14), but it sure was nice to get out into the sun and throw some plastic around. Got some 3’s, too many 4’s and a couple 5’s. I also threw one OB on #6. This is what I get for having not played in over a year. I will not being going that long again. I miss this game!

sunny day

Hole #2

The drives were off in the beginning and again at the start of the back nine, but I was able to rein it in and get some nice straight drives after the 11th hole. On the 11th, I got some nice distance, but ended up throwing the drive to 12’s tee. Not good. :/

My approach shots were better, but I still had some that were either way too short or came in too hot and shot behind the basket. Many of them were spot on, though, and brought me close enough to close the pars.

My putts were far better than I would have expected given how long I’ve been away from the game. Made quite a few that were in the 15-20 foot range. I think one or two that were even farther.

There is definitely room for improvement and improve I will. I’m going to try to get in at least one round per week until the weather turns. Maybe even two. ;)

To top off the day, it was absolutely beautiful outside. Just about 70° with a slight breeze. Couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. I just wish MY birds were singing. Pars are nice, but bogeys (and even more so, double-bogeys) really suck. Time will improve my game!

¡Mike en Fuego!

Tonight, for a random reason, I logged in to a Gmail account that I don’t really use anymore. It was originally used for one purpose: to send and receive emails from a VW Scirocco mailing list. The list died a few years ago and since then I’ve only checked it a couple times each year. Usually, it’s because it occurs to me “Oh yeah, I still have that account. I’ll see what crap’s come in.” It’s mostly spam and rarely anything from any of the people I knew on the list; most of them are on FB or VWVortex anyway, so we don’t need the list to stay in touch.

Tonight, I logged in and was greeted with an email from “El T”. I had not spoken to him since last year’s Cincy (the anual trip to Scirocco “mecca”). Over 10 months. The email was only 9 days old. In it, El T said “I found something online that you’ve been looking for… for you it would unlock a serious gastronomical mystery!!” I hit the link and there it was: the cookbook from the owner of a dead Baltimore restaurant. When this place was open and I was working in Fell’s Point, I ate there 3 times a week. I always got the same order. I loved their hot sauces. I was never one for the hottest of hots, so I always got the one below it, which was pretty potent, but not too much. One day, by accident, they gave me the hottest. I was sweating profusely when I finished my lunch, but I knew that I was in love. Diablo was now my go-to sauce. Over time, I got used to it and it wasn’t quite as hellish as that first time, but still made me sweat.

One of the reasons I loved it as much as I did was that it had flavor. In my opinion, most truly hot sauces are just hot. While I like hot, I’ve never been into hot for the sake of hot. I like hot, but I don’t want it to override the flavor of what I’m eating. Diablo was just the sauce for which I had been searching all my life, even though I didn’t know I had been looking. It was super hot, but it had so much flavor behind it.

As I was a regular, I hounded the employees for the recipe. They wouldn’t give it to me even though I was on good terms with them and we had a mutual friend: El T. You see, he worked there before I discovered the place. Once I knew that, I would use his name to try to get the recipe. It still was kept from me. While they would let me bring in one large empty ketchup bottle on occasion and fill it with Diablo for a nominal fee, they wouldn’t give up the recipe. One day, towards the end of my year working in Fell’s Point, one of the cooks (and he actually looked over his shoulder before committing anything to paper) gave me an ingredient list, but no proportions. No real recipe. I think I still have it somewhere. But without proper proportions or the rest of the recipe, I never put it to use. I also now see that it was an incomplete list to boot.

About 2 years after I stopped working down there, I went by one day for lunch as I happened to be in the area. The place was gone. Closed down and the owner moved out of town. And my personal bottle at home had run out a year before (it keeps VERY well in the ‘fridge). I was distraught! I was beside myself with sadness. Never again would I taste the wonder of El Diablo.

About 6 months after that, I ran into the cook who gave me the list of ingredients. Or most of the list. He was working at a pizza joint across the street. After talking to him, he claimed he knew the full recipe but couldn’t remember it off the top of his head. I gave him my contact info and begged him to help me. I never heard from him. From time to time, I would occasionally see him around the area. I once even offered him $20 to save me. He never came through.

Tonight, El T came through. I’ve known this man for over 6 years. Once he moved away from the area (to MI and now DE), I only saw him for less than 48 hours over one weekend in early June each year. Cincy. While we are rarely in contact, we are always friends. We always have each others backs. At one Cincy, years ago, he was working on his car, on a not-quite-level section of lawn. Using a widow-maker car jack. He was slightly intoxicated. We all were. I quickly got his attention and made him sit up. While I distracted him, peppering him with questions and inane conversation, I silently directed others to place a thick piece of plywood under the jack and to put chocks behind the wheels and some other wood next to the jack to serve as a “jack-stand”. Then I let him return to his labors feeling all the better knowing that the car would not crush him if worst came to worst.

After seeing El T’s email tonight, I think his debt to me is paid in full. I like to think I saved his life that day (me and my ego). I think he saved mine tonight.

Thank you, El T. I will always be in your debt and I will always love your “Swedish” accent. ;)


grum.com – Still Tweaking

While I’m done with the blog for the time being, I’m still tweaking the rest of the site. Most of the content on it is at least 3 years old. When I got it back up a couple weeks ago, I didn’t take the time to update the content as I really just wanted to get the site live again with a refreshed look. Now that it’s live, I can take the time to go back and update the content. :)

Today, after finishing the “Grum” theme on the blog, I updated the Portfolio section. I added some more sites and graphics that I have worked on in the recent past. I also added an updated version of my résumé.

In the very near future (most likely before the week is up) I will be updating the rest of the site as well.

Skinning the Blog, Part II

Well sir, I think I’m done here!

I originally started out with a copy of twentytwelve. My thought was to modify the necessary items and make it my own. I worked on it for a about a day and noticed that I was changing a lot of HTML and PHP. I wasn’t sure I liked this as it was killing the widgets. I took a few days off.

Then, last Tuesday, I went to a Meetup of the FredWebTech group. The night’s presentation: building child themes in WordPress. How timely! I enjoyed the presentation and decided to scrap what I had already done and start over, this time only copying what I needed to from twentytwelve and overriding the original files with ones in my child them. It worked so well that I did it all this morning in about 3 hours.

The only HTML I changed was adding some custom stuff for the header to bring it inline with my site’s header and in the footer. I also added one tag to the sidebar files. The rest was all CSS updates. Adding an ID to the body tag made it easy to override the parent theme’s CSS.

Feel free to poke around. If you see anything amiss, please leave a comment on this post and I will fix it post-haste!.

After this morning’s work, I feel that WordPress themes are easier to work with than I anticipated. At least, building a child theme is. ;)