It Arrived Just In Time

When I proposed to Lintilla, I was a rube who didn’t have a row to hoe.  I could barely afford the wedding band, much less diamonds for an engagement ring.  I didn’t like it one bit, but Lintilla had a leftover diamond from a short-lived matrimonial “experiment”, so we bought an inexpesive gold ring and had the diamond remounted.  What could I do?  I felt the shame of one who cannot give his beloved what he feels she deserves.  But, it was that, or nothing.

I promised at the time that when our 5th anniversary hit, I would buy her a new ring, with just diamonds from ME.  I was as good as my word.  On our 10th anniversary, we upgraded again.  Then, we did it again on our 15th.

Well, July 10th is our 20th wedding anniversary.  And, as part of our tradition, we upgraded again.  We ordered from Gossage Jewelers on Charlotte Ave, and Lintilla needed something so specialised this time we had to special order it.  As you may know, she works with the elderly, the dying, and the otherwise fragile every day.  A typical diamond ring is a hazard in these conditions; mountings have a tendency to rip sensitive skin.  The ONLY kind of ring Lintilla can wear is a channel-set ring. 

Well, we’ve been married a while, and upgrading a while, so the diamonds are too big for channel set.  And Lintilla prefers emerald cut diamonds.  I have never, ever seen a semi-channel-set, emerald cut diamond ring.  This is what she wanted, so we ordered it.  We ordered it in May, and it took FOREVER.  Turns out, the people that made the ring made it once, and it was uneven, so they took it apart and started all over again.  Nevertheless, we were very worried that the ring wouldn’t arrive in time for our departure for Ft Myers on the 5th.

It came today.  What do y’all think?

Ring

 I think it is absolutely beautiful, and she won’t hurt anyone with it, either.  I am just SO relieved it came; I’ve been worried as can be the last few weeks.

NOW I feel like our 20th anniversary is approaching.

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, One More Time

Reminder:  tomorrow night at 8:00, X-Alt plays the last ever show (for anyone) at TBG Coffeehouse in Ashland City.

It is going to be a bittersweet night;  the folks at TBG have been so good to us, and they have been a great blessing to all of Middle Tennessee, and we want to celebrate that.

We have a heck of a set list worked up.  Two full hours; I won’t need to exercise tomorrow!  It’s some of our best stuff, and we’re pulling out some songs we haven’t done in quite a while.

Please come out tomorrow night and help us say goodbye to this dear old friend.

Take A Load Off (Your) Fannie

I am NOT a weight loss guru.  I want to make that clear up front.  Any tips that I post should always be taken with a grain of salt; you should talk to your doctor before starting any weight loss regimen, blah, blah.  Now, hopefully, nobody will sue me.

In fact, I feel like I should be the last person giving weight loss advice, because I’m not done yet with this particular round, and the fact that I have never kept the weight off longer than two years.  BUT – Eric asked how I lost what is fast approaching 50 lbs in six months.  I’m not ready to go in-depth yet, but I’m a firm believer that 90% of our problems (for those who consider them problems) with food and exercise are mental; if you can get emotionally in the right place, you can do anything.  So, today I’m going to outline some broad philosophical ideas, that you should mull over before beginning the weight loss plan of your choice.

First off, I’d like you to do the math.  Approximately 24 weeks, and 50 lbs.  That’s 2 lbs per week.  This is actually a decent, slow-and-steady goal.  The Redneck Canadian once told me, “You didn’t gain it all at one time, you won’t lose it that way either”.  Sage advice.  Some weeks, you won’t lose anything.  Some weeks, you’ll lose 5 lbs.  Some weeks, you might even gain a pound.  This is perfectly normal and you shouldn’t give it a second thought.  If you follow your plan, no matter what, it’ll even out in the end, and you’ll lose an average of two pounds per week, if you’re a man, probably 1 if your a woman (still 25 pounds in six months).

Let’s stick with math for a moment.  It doesn’t matter WHAT weight loss plan you follow, you’ll do fine IF it falls within this formula:

If calories eaten < calories burned then weight loss WILL happen (barring medical/thyroid conditions).  There are nutritionists who will argue with this; don’t listen to them.  If your goal is weight loss, and weight loss only, other nutritional facts (fat, dietary fiber, sugars, etc) DO NOT MATTER.  Of course, your goal should NOT be just weight loss, but that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about.  So, do your Adkins, South Beach, Weight Watcher’s, Grapefruit diet, whatever.  Just stay within the formula, refrain from starving yourself, and you’ll get the results you’re after.

Here’s an important point: everything happens and is measured over time.  Day to day does not matter.  If you weigh daily, I swear I’m going to come to your house and smack your fannie.  Also, your calorie counts daily DO NOT matter, it’s your weekly counts that matter.  In the past 6 months, while losing almost 50 lbs, I’ve eaten at the following restaurants:  Cracker Barrel, Monell’s, McDonald’s, Zola, Back To Cuba Cafe, Waffle House, Sylvan Park (meat and 3)…hmmm, I can’t remember them all.  I think the only one I fully avoided was Pizza Hut. 

OK, another aside, for another important point:  this is NOT Lent.  You are not paying a penance for past sins, you get no extra points for denying yourself, in fact you are hurting the cause if you do.  I can’t stress this enough.  All you are trying to do is fit your lifestyle into the formula, and even then, on a weekly basis.  I got fat because I ate at the restaurants listed above at least 3 times a week (may weeks, 5 times).  THAT busted the formula (and cost me a fortune).  Once per week is more manageable, and you don’t have to starve yourself the rest of the days to make up for it.

I guess that now I should tell you that I loosely followed the Weight Watcher’s flex plan. I say loosely, because after a while I was able to convert the cryptic “points” into equivalent calories in my head, and I DO NOT CARE about dietary fiber or fat.  It came out to about 1400 to 1800 calories per day, with about 1800 “flex” calories that I could have any way I wanted; I could snack on (Lays Light) potato chips every afternoon, or blow it all at one sitting at Monell’s.  It IS best to keep your calorie count to a decent level at the restaurants if you can.  Calorie counting books are wonderful.

I haven’t even mentioned exercise yet, and that’s half the equation.  Remember, the more you exercise, the more that “calories eaten” side of the equation goes up.  Please try to block out a set 45-minute time in your day, plus getting un-stanky time, at LEAST 3 times per week.

I want to talk to just the men for a second.  “Our” first instinct is to concentrate on weight training, and making aerobic exercise an afterthought.  Reverse that, guys.  You just can’t burn enough calories to help with weight loss in the early weeks of your plan with strength training, because you ain’t that strong yet.  In fact, do not even touch weights for the first month. (This is where the fitness experts line up alongside the nutritionists to kill me).  Assuming exercise has been a foreign thing to you for a while, start with 15 minutes aerobic activity (treadmill is best -make sure you go fast enough to breath heavy by the time you’re done).  The second and third weeks, 20 minutes.  The fourth week, move to 30 minutes, and keep it this way for about 2 months.  Do this AT LEAST 3 times per week. 

Once you’re a month in, pick up some light dumbbells.  I’ll post the actual routine later, but you’ll start with very light weights and a low number of reps.  You’ll STILL be sore the next day.  When you stop being sore, raise weight first, then reps.  Also, throw about 10 crunches in (at first).  Raise that each week as you can.

You WILL be pitiful at all these things the first few weeks.  Expect it, laugh at it, but for heaven’s sake, don’t get discouraged

Find a workout partner if you can, someone with the same goals as yours. 

Misc tips:

Pretend you’re a diabetic.  Get diabetic cookbooks.  Diabetics have perfected the art of tasty, low-calorie food.

Use the same scale every week, at the same time.  When you first wake up, after bodily functions, is best.  If you can’t get to your usual scale, DO NOT WEIGH.  This is basic engineering; your measurements have to be using the same instruments as your baseline.

The first few weeks, till you’ve re-trained your metabolism, write down everything you eat.  This keeps you from emotional / bored eating.

When you’re struggling to not eat something that’s very tempting, or having a hard time pushing yourself on the treadmill, visualise what you’ll look like when you reach your goal. 

There’s a certain insane woman who runs a whacked-out ministry, who also wrote a weight loss book a while back.  Read it.  Ignore the religious aspects (unless it’s your thing), but she has some good psychological methods for keeping the Weight Down.  Especially about training yourself to recognise the difference between stomach hungry and head hungry.  I also like her idea of always leaving something on your plate, even if it’s just a morsel.  You can probably just read the first half of the book to get the eating tips.

That’s enough for now.  I’ll post more specifics in the coming weeks.

If I don’t gain it all back on vacation.  🙂

Hey, Photographers!

Help me figure out what happened here.  What happened to make my daughter’s arm disappear? (click to embiggen)

Trillian Jump

It was a low light / high movement situation; probably not the best for a newbie.

The full info about the shot is here. Was it the flash? The sun? The settings? Could I do it again, on purpose?

I really want to learn the science of light. The art can’t come till I master the science. The engineer in me wants a formula: x amount of available light, combined with y aperture and z exposure causes xyz effect. I want a chart, a sliding scale table, something where I can do an equation to get the effect I want. I won’t be ready to set my inner artist loose till I’ve figured out what the heck I’m doing with the science.  I DON’T want to learn photography like I did music.

Anybody know a good book on the science of light?

That’s About Right

Can’t get to this from work, so this is the first chance I’ve had to check it out for Shoot The Moose:

Online Dating

Interestingly, my rating is based partially on the title of this blog.

An Interview With Julie Lamb

I recently had the opportunity to have a few conversations (via phone and email) with Julie Lamb, candidate for the Metro Council seat for the 22nd district (the Bellevue area).  She is the opponent of current councilman Eric Crafton.  For background, see this article in today’s Tennessean.

 

Full disclosure:  I attend church with Mrs Lamb, she taught my children in Sunday school, and I consider her a friend.  I wish I could have posted an audio interview, based on our phone conversation – Mrs Lamb is quite passionate when it comes to education and several of Mr. Crafton’s more controversial proposals. 

 

Mrs Lamb didn’t have to do this; mine is just a tiny blog originating from Nashville. It is my understanding that Julie knows Lindsay ; I cannot give her the exposure she would have gotten there.  Nevertheless, I give her what I can, and in return this helps me with my efforts to be a pretend-journalist.

 

This election will probably hinge on the public opinion of Crafton’s English First bill (which garnered national attenion).  Julie is taking a huge risk with this considering the current climate in our city about this issue; I know that I have felt quite lonely as a conservative Christian in the western half of Davidson county for opposing it.  But Mrs Lamb is steadfast, and I commend her for it.  Her biggest hope is that the people of Bellevue are tired of having a councilman who seems to be primarily a self-promoter.  Regardless, her views on English first (which I erroneously called English only in the interview) are reasonable to me.  And I am Mr Crafton’s target demographic, so he has reason to be concerned.

 

Editor’s note: Sorry about the formatting.  For some reason, pasting into WordPress from Microsoft Outlook causes all kinds of editing weirdness.

 

This interiew covers a lot of ground, so I won’t take up any more time with my commentary. 

 

Let’s start with a simple introduction.  Before we get to Julie Lamb, the candidate, tell us about Julie Lamb, the person.  

I am a person who sincerely believes I can work for our citizens and bring their voice to the council.  Much of what I have done for the last five years is strictly volunteer work.  In the past, I have worked for several banks and a few small businesses before I began as an Administrative Assistant (Office Manager) for Dengel Appraisal after moving to Nashville.   My husband and his partner purchase the company in 1991.  I could go on but in an effort to save a little space please see www.LambforCouncil.com  where there is an in depth bio about my life.   It explains much of my volunteer work.

A big issue in the 22nd district is the near-empty Bellevue Mall.  Councilman Crafton presented an ordinance that would rezone the area, essentially stripping the mall of a $10 million value to force the issue.  Do you agree with this tactic?  If not, do you believe are there other methods that can be tried by the council to facilitate a repopulation of the mall?   

I believe there is a better way to work with our business owners.   Patience, respect and open communication is a key to facilitating cooperation.  Down zoning will reduce the property taxes further, which have already declined due to the current income that the mall generates (comment – the mall was devalued when the tenants left, reducing the rental income which is a factor in determining the real property value in the assessment for property taxes).  The absence of retail tenants has affected sales tax collections too.   Down zoning would make the land usable only for single family residential housing, and the land parcels under the proposal are not the best location for homes, would further reduce the property taxes and totally eliminate the possibility of potential sales tax revenue.  Down zoning is not in the best interest of the community and the planning commission disapproved this measure.  Mr. Crafton only deferred the bill; it can come back for the third and final reading whenever he chooses.

I believe that our citizens want retail in the Bellevue area and do not wish to drive all over the county to shop.  I attended the Industrial Development Board meeting and the board agreed to see a completed proposal for the Bellevue Center mall.  I believe the current owners work with Foursquare Properties.  The current mall owners rezoned land from office to retail to try and lure restaurants, and they rezoned the Titan’s practice field site in an effort for Wal-Mart to build a store.  The current owners got Sears to move to the mall as they were not there when the mall opened in August 1990.  The proposal for the TIF financing will have plans for a rejuvenated site with retail vendors, the current anchors and restaurants in a new look (lifestyle center).  It will be several months before the community knows if Bellevue Center will “change”.   Only developers will remedy this situation, as the council person must work in good faith with the developer/purchaser to accomplish a quality product the community appreciates and values.  Determining the right tenant mix is essential for whoever purchases the property for its future success.  I hope they ask for input from the community before the final plans are completed.

One more question about Councilman Crafton. Do you agree with his English only proposal? 

  This past year, The English First bill wasted the council’s time and our tax payer dollars and this bill would accomplish nothing in the end except divisiveness.  There are more productive ways for our council members to serve our community.   The State of Tennessee has a law about English being our language and this passed in the 1980’s I believe.  The proposal would not address any significant issue and could have possibly prohibited the teaching of languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, and German) in our schools (one lawyer’s interpretation of the law).   We live in a global economy so we must be able to communicate. 

  This bill did not address the question of immigration or illegal immigrants.    I believe the Sherriff’s new plan is working to help with this issue.   We need more opportunities for legal immigrants to learn our language; offering more programs around the city will help solve this issue.   One more comment.  The English Language Learner students are taught English in our schools, they work to bring these students up to a level of competency in the language so they can move into required classes and graduate with a diploma, they do not teach them in Spanish as I often hear misconstrued.   

What would you do to help improve the education of Nashville’s children? 

 One of the most important issues for me is Education.  A community that graduates their students to become productive citizens will thrive and prosper because we will not have to invest in as many prisons cells.  The high school dropouts truly cost our community in many ways such as reduced numbers of available educated employees for hire, low paying jobs when they are hired, the need for public assistance and the continued need for affordable housing.  We must find a way to stop the constant cycle of poverty.   Education is the way out for many children. 

The responsibility of a council person is to help the schools receive the funding for such new programming without damaging the current curriculum that is working well in many of our schools.  Metro enrolls many students in programs like AVID- Advancement Via Individual Determination, which helps teach students good study habits and what they need to do in Middle and High School to be able to go to a four year post secondary school.   Programs like AVID are targeted to students who will be the first in their family to go to college.   Encourage the rigor of International Baccalaureate and Advance Placement classes and help the schools add more classes increasing expectations of students who should work harder to succeed, as school isn’t supposed to be a cake walk.   Honor programming should also be enhanced for the same reasons.  As a council person I will encourage businesses to partner with Metro Nashville Public Schools to help with the Small Learning Communities and the Big Picture School, facilitating opportunities, internships, mentoring, hiring students in a “work study” situation and possibly volunteering in a program, all in an effort to make these academies successful, with students seeing the reason for learning, and understanding where the education works with the real world after High School.  We have to help our teens see their future, “dangle the carrot” so to speak.

My opponent will hammer accountability issues with our schools.  The graduation rate formula was changed two years ago and is calculated on a student graduating in four years and three months.  Exceptions to this are English Language Learners and Special Education Student which are allowed five years.  The graduation rates improved significantly across Davidson County this year.  Pearl Cohn moved up 18.9% for the class of 2006 but these numbers are reported by the state for 2007.  Hillwood High School where my opponent graduated from moved their rate up 5.4%.   The accomplishments of the class of 2007 through this session of summer school will be the graduation rate for 2008, reported next spring.  The freshman academies instituted in 2006-07 will see the fruits of much effort given to making sure they succeed to their graduation in 2010, which will be reflected in the state released graduation rate for 2011.    No Child Left Behind has left the district very little wiggle room for not improving.  If a school isn’t succeeding, then the school is revamped by the state.   Then the school district starts over with a clean slate in the building, meaning the principal can change the personnel for the whole school if necessary, tenure does not count.   Test scores have shown improvement too.   The come in big gains, followed by a couple of steady years then another set of big gains will be reported.  An example is two years (2004-05) ago the district showed a huge gains, thus last year was steady slight improvement again (2005-06).  Test scores will begin to come in over the summer, and will be formally announced when the State allows the district too.  If you want more details since 2001-02, please let me know and I will try to get you the information.   I believe in accountability, but comparing our cost of education per child to that of Williamson County is not comparing apples to apples, but apples to oranges, due the significant differenced with the free and reduced population and the English Language learners.   

Also, anything specific to the Hillwood cluster?  

I believe as a council person, I will work locally with our community to help them get to know what great schools we have in the Hillwood Cluster, helping facilitate communications with local residents and realtors.  It is important that we build capacity in our existing buildings before we spend capital dollars on building new facilities.  New buildings cost the city a huge chunk of taxpayer dollars, thus increasing property taxes.  When Cane Ridge opens next year (2008-09) it will cost the City about $50+ million to build and to operate it with staff it will cost about $16 million annually (don’t forget inflation).  We must value what we have, which are some awesome schools in this cluster, many that have been updated this decade.

I visited the Bellevue High School picnic this past weekend.  Many of the former students lived back then in West Nashville, a few blocks from Cohn High School (Richland Park) but were “bused” out to Bellevue because back then it was a “county school” and where they lived was considered “county”.   I believe Bellevue finally populated a school in the late 1960’s with the building of the school which is now called Bellevue Middle School.  The middle school then occupied the old building for a while, with the High School occupying the new building, with about 600 students.  Again, this is what I was told by folks who lived this history.  The High School was closed in the early 1980’s due to court order and all students were sent to Hillwood, a school much closer for those in West Nashville than the long drive to Bellevue and the open fields.  Bellevue became a Middle School at the same time and the old building was demolished except for the gymnasium (our community center).   When our school buildings are consistently overflowing, then it will be the time to look at building a new facility, but the next question is where do we build it considering the hilly topography in the area?  High School sites need about 50+ acres and you need flat land for the school, sports fields, and football stadiums.  Blasting costs the city even more money, thus we have to ask the taxpayers for more funding. 

To facilitate building capacity, I will encourage local businesses to connect to Hillwood HS, in an effort to provide opportunities for our students to intern with them to learn the value of their education in the working world.  This typically motivates student to continue with post secondary education once they see where education will benefit them.  The Small Learning Communities need local business and community support to succeed.  I will work with our community to match resources to the school programs which are currently in developmentWe will need input in determining what direction Hillwood will go in the future with their Small Learning Academies.  This is a great opportunity for our community to become involved in determining what academies will be offered at Hillwood. The Gates Foundation is highly active with this concept.  For examples of this type of programming see these links….

 http://www.thehowardschool.net/  

http://www.chattanoogacentral.net/academics.htm

http://home.highertech.net/~james/bhs/index.htm

http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sslc/

http://www.irre.org/ftf/slc.asp

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/UnitedStates/Education/TransformingHighSchools/default.htm

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/nr/downloads/ed/edwhitepaper.pdf

Should Metro government work to keep the Predators or Sounds here in Nashville?  And on the more general question, what is your opinion on the relationship between local government and sports franchises? 

 

My belief is that we help provide a venue which also multi-tasks for our community for other events.  When it comes to providing guarantees for maintaining the 14,000 ticket average to be sold, or putting up more funding to make the deal happen, that is not the function of government.   If the council believes the sports teams benefit the community, it is our responsibility to help encourage our businesses in each of our districts to help support the sports teams, and this is what I will do.   The Titan’s have the community support; I believe the Predators are now realizing what our community will do to help keep them in Nashville.  The Predators do help contribute to the thriving downtown businesses on lower Broadway and 2ndAvenue.  A flourishing central business district is essential to sustaining growth in any city.  Ask these businesses how bad it was during the “Lock out” year.    The Sounds had a very good deal; the city again was going to double their contribution for annual maintenance on the proposed new facility.  I don’t know why it fell apart but a bank merger may have figured into the financing issue or it could be other underlying issues.  The proposal for a “music venue” on the old Thermal Trash Plant site will hopefully provide an opportunity for more Music in Music City.  The idea is very appealing and might reach a wider audience as fans will travel farther to see their favorite music act.  One more thought these folks also spend more dollars per person when visiting than a Davidson County Resident would at the same venue.   This contributes more to the sales tax revenue for the City and the State.

Since zoning is a large part of what the council does, what is your general position on growth (“smart growth” aesthetics, jobs vs. quality-of-life, that sort of thing)?  Will you work closely with the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, as well as other community groups that exist to restrain growth?    

 

 I am a firm believer in planned growth.  I will work with the local Chamber, the neighborhoods and our community groups when development is proposed.  Good will is essential for neighborhoods to thrive.  Smart growth provides what our city needs; it plans for traffic, sidewalks, green spaces and what residents look for in a community.   Bellevue must also plan for retail and locations for office which also lends to the quality of life which is important in preserving the community and property values.   I am for planned growth that includes a focus on improving our existing infrastructure.

 

Would you work to expand and/ or improve Bellevue’s greenway?  

 

Yes, I will work to enhance our greenways and add more cycling paths and sidewalks to help encourage more physical fitness, (one of my own personal challenges) and maybe a little less dependency on cars.   The community could use a good skateboarding park.  We need to work with MTA to make bus transportation available to more citizens including the handicap.  I support all the local sports groups that continue to enhance our family life.  (i.e.  The Steelers, HYSA, Bellevue Basketball and the Bellevue Baseball – hopefully I remembered all of these groups).  We need to make sure we maintain our community parks too.

Finally, think of this as your unfettered 3 minutes at the end of the debate.  Tell the voters of the 22nd district why they should vote for you.

 

I will keep this short as I over “talked” above.  I am running for council district 22 because I believe in giving the good folks in Bellevue a voice.  I have met many wonderful people who live in Bellevue, confirming why we chose to move here long ago.   We all want the same things for our community including the library which after this Capital Improvement Budget passes there will be $2 million set aside to acquire the land and begin the plans.   I will work with our citizens to provide a safe community.  I will support Education for our children and grandchildren.   I will be available to listen to our citizens and work toward solutions in a manner that benefits our community.   I appreciate your support of my candidacy and your vote.  Early voting begins on July 13th, July 18th in Bellevue at the Mall.  The Election is August 2nd.

Sad News From Ashland City

Ford has bad news about the place X-Alt is playing this weekend, the Truth, Beauty and Goodness Coffeehouse in Ashland City.  Our performance on Saturday at 8:00 will be the final show there, ever.  They are closing their doors, sadly.

TBG is my favorite place to play.  The middle Tennessee Christian music scene is losing a gem.

 Y’all come out this Saturday and help us say goodbye to this wonderful venue.