M.R. Sellars's Blog
August 8, 2014
Yep… That was awhile ago.
It was a good song. I liked it. I wasn’t enamored of it, but I liked it enough that when I opened a shipment of CD’s at the VC store one day and ran across THE GOLDEN AGE OF WIRELESS by one THOMAS DOLBY, I purchased it immediately. A couple of things for you youngsters – A) Back then we couldn’t just buy one song. We had to buy the whole album/tape/CD and B) at this particular point in time CD’s were cutting edge. Not many places carried players and they ran in the 500 – 1200 dollar range. CD’s were scarce and 18 bucks apiece.
Still, I popped for The Golden Age of Wireless the moment it came out of the box, then popped it in a player and gave a listen. It was THEN that I became enamored.
That particular CD spent many a night spinning in my old $999 JVC CD player, with the repeat button glowing red. From beginning to end it transported me to a different place, different time, and different mood. Considering how many times I listened to it, one would think I’d have grown tired of the repeated tunes, but not so. The tracks still hold up today, and every time I give them a listen I am transported to those same places, times, and moods, PLUS a longing for those days gone by.
Of course, I have added Mister Dolby’s other works to my collection – The Flat Earth, Aliens Ate My Buick, Astronauts and Heretics, etc… And each of them spin endlessly as well, but for some reason I always return to The Golden Age of Wireless.
I suppose it’s because when you get right down to it, that Golden Age truly was golden after all…
February 3, 2014
My name is M. R. Sellars and I’m a fat guy. Well… sort of. I used to be much larger than I am now. In fact, at one point in my life I tipped the scale at just under 300 pounds, which isn’t really a healthy weight for a guy who is only 5′ 7″, especially when you take into account that I have shrunk a bit and at 52 I am now a mere 5′ 6″.
More recently, and by that I mean one year ago last week, I weighed in at 261. My secret to losing almost 39 pounds? I stopped eating fast food. Seriously. That was it. Of course, I suppose I should give you a little background: My time pushing the scale to the 3-double-naught range was several years back when I was still working a day job as well as writing. I spent 10 hours a day as a computer tech, so meals were on the run. Fast food for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner. Whenever dinner WASN’T fast food, it often came out of a box and was basically the contents of a chemistry set, molded and extruded, injected with fat, extra sodium, and then mixed with some dead cow just to make it sound like actual food. As crazy as it may seem, simply cutting that mess out of my life prompted my body to breathe a sigh of relief and drop close to 39 pounds without any other cajoling.
However, I was still at 261, which, as noted, isn’t a particularly healthy weight for a 5′ 6″ tall old guy. My knees hurt all the time, as did my feet. I had chronic heartburn. Stress. Other joint pains. My blood pressure was “okay,” but it was riding the line toward hypertension. My cholesterol was “okay,” but just barely. And finally, my CR-P level (an inflammatory marker) was high. Given that I lost both my parents to heart disease, things weren’t looking good for me. The doctor put me on a statin to bring it down, but being the oddball that I am I managed to have one of the rarer adverse reactions to it – in fact, I had the reaction that a whole crapton of doctors (including my own) refuse to acknowledge exists. I fell into a deep depression and had suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, I was clear-headed enough to info dump this on my wife, who in turn did a bunch of research and found studies about this particular side-effect, that while rare, actually does afflict some folks who take statins. She insisted I get off the pills, which I did, and that in turn lead to me being a much happier person. I was still fat, and still had all of the other issues, but I didn’t want to kill myself anymore, so that was a plus.
Then along came my annual physical. The doc looked at the numbers and wanted to put me on a statin again. I said no and he said, then lose 20 pounds.
I decided to go him one better. I decided to get back to my optimum weight for my height and body type, which is in the neighborhood of 165. That was, as I said, one year ago this past week. As of right now, I weigh 188.
I’ve been tracking my success on Facebook, tossing up road signs every time I blow past one. This has prompted people to ask me how I have accomplished this weight loss. Funny story that. Of course, when people see me I also get interrogated about how I’ve managed to lost the weight. Whenever I say, “watching what I stuff into my pie-hole and exercising,” I get this incredulous retort, “Oh, so you have to exercise.”
Anyhow, since I get asked and nobody seems to want to believe me, here’s EXACTLY how I have done it, in two basic steps.
STEP ONE: I started moving. Yes. Exercise. When I first started the process I cleaned the crap off the treadmill we had sitting in the corner and I got my fat ass onto it. Twenty minutes a day, lumbering along at a whopping 1.5 mph. By the end of those twenty minutes I was begging for death. Sweating my ass off, aching all over, and panting so hard I thought I was going to pass out. But, you know what? I got back on there the next day and did it again. And then again the next day. And the next… By the end of two weeks, I decided to push the envelope. I upped the speed to 1.8 and the time to 25 minutes. I’ll spare you a blow by blow, but suffice it to say, each time it started getting easier, I made it a little harder. Increased the speed, upped the time, added wrist weights, or even weights in a backpack. Now, I jump on the treadmill every morning and do a solid hour clocking at anywhere from 4.2 to 4.5 mph. Sometimes I even go for 75 minutes and add a few 5.0 – 5.5 mph sprints in there. Yeah, I know, not a marathon runner or the fastest kid on the block, but you know what? At 52 I am in better shape than I was when I was 32.
STEP TWO: I wrote down everything I was eating and calculated up the calories. Turns out I was consuming to maintain, but what I was maintaining was 261 – 265 pounds, which was a caloric intake of around 4000+ per day. For a guy who makes his living by sitting at a desk and writing books, 4K per day in calories is ridiculous, unless he’s 6′ 6″ and a lot younger. We had already done away with the vast majority of boxed crap masquerading as food and replaced it with the real deal. Vegetables, lean meats, fish, fruit, etc. However, I was shoving way too much of it into my face. So, I found myself a calorie calculator and entered my stats to find out what I needed to eat to maintain my optimum body weight given the amount of exercise I was getting each day. However, I didn’t stop there. I also calculated the caloric intake required for points in between where I was and where I wanted to be. I used 10 pounds as a mile marker, i.e. I was at 261, so I rounded to 250 and calculated my maintenance intake for that, then also for 240, and 230, and 220, and so on. Then, I started paying attention to what I was putting into my pie-hole. I would make sure to eat a balanced intake of proteins, fats, and carbs, but I would look at the calories, round them up (as in if a banana is 85 calories I would call it 100) and I logged whatever I ate in a little notebook with a total for each day. My goal for the day would be to eat no more than the maintenance calories required for whatever weight was closest to 10 pounds LESS than my current. So, at 261 I was eating as if I was maintaining 250. When I started getting close to 250 on the scale I started eating for 240. When I approached 240 on the scale I started eating for 230, and so on.
And that’s exactly what I have done. While I have been counting calories, yes, I haven’t been doing it in a “diet” fashion. I have been doing it in a way to train myself to eat healthier and properly. In short, developing a better eating habit. Sure, I still splurge now and then. If I didn’t I’d go nuts. However, instead of having a double slice of cake every night, I have a normal slice of cake at a party or something and leave it at that. I don’t need it every night, but I don’t deny myself on special occasions. I’m not going to lie, in the beginning I was hungry all the time, and for the first few weeks I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull it off, but it wasn’t long before my brain and body fell into synch, and I wasn’t starving. In fact, I would find myself not wanting to snack like I did before, simply because my body didn’t need it. It was starting to burn the calories I had stored as fat, and it was using the food I was taking in far more efficiently.
Now, let me say this – I’m not fat shaming here. I’m of the opinion that if you are active and aren’t actively over eating, unless you have a thyroid condition or something like that, your body will settle to the weight where it is most comfortable, and if that is on the heavy side, so be it. My problem was literally that I was shoving way too much into my face and moving way too little. Simple as that, and I have set out to correct that. I’m still losing at a rate of 1.5 – 2.0 pounds per week. I had some plateaus, and a couple of see-saws with holidays thrown into the mix, but that sort of thing happens. I didn’t let a bump of a few pounds discourage me. I just stayed the course and would eventually start shedding pounds again. By summer I should be at my optimum weight, and odd as it may seem, I might have to start eating more than I do now because I will be even more active with yard work and such. However, I will just bear in mind that all I need is a small steak. I don’t need the whole cow.
And there you have it. People have asked repeatedly and never believe me when I answer, “Eat less, exercise more,” but that’s the crux of it. Above, you have all of the details, and that’s the only magic pill there is.
Till the next time…
October 31, 2013
So… As you can see, someone threw a tantrum and messed up the room.
All good… Basically, there was a server issue and the backup was incomplete. My bad. At any rate, the good news is that the content in the SQL database is still intact. I just need to pick up the toys and redecorate a bit. As you might know, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I am in the middle of cranking out a manuscript and I am on a deadline. Therefore, the remodeling and such will have to wait. In other good news, however, once I get this project turned in and the remodeling done, I think I’ll start blogging here again. Much has happened that I can twist and distort for endless hours of entertainment.
You’ve been warned…
Till the next time…
November 26, 2012
Some years back I was speaking at an event and I mentioned the work I do around the house – lawn, garden, remodeling, fixing things, you know, the usual stuff. Several attendees were simply flabbergasted. They couldn’t imagine why I was doing all of these things… I mean, after all, I write books for a living. I must have money to burn, a private island, a yacht, two mansions, and three airplanes. Apparently, to some folks, all authors are automatically viewed as a cross between Rick Castle and Warren Buffett. Of course, I found this amusing and proceeded to explain in five part harmony, with full orchestration, how some of them probably make more money than I do. Hell, when I worked in IT I definitely made more money that I do now.
But, this is not about the low income of mid-list authors. This is about history and hard times…
[image error]Growing up in the 60′s and 70′s, I heard my parents talk about their lives growing up during WWII. I heard my grandparents talk about growing up and living through the Great Depression. I spent the better portion of my childhood on the family farm during the summer, as well as parts of spring and fall. I remember watching my grandparents – on both sides – canning food from the garden, or making jelly and preserves from a basket of fruit they picked from a tree in the yard. My parents did the same thing. It didn’t matter if all they had on hand was enough for one or two jars. If they weren’t planning to eat it before it could go bad, they would can it, or process it and freeze it. When the family would slaughter a hog, they packaged the meat, cured the hams and bacon, used the brains, made souse meat (head cheese), rendered the fat and made soap, and much more… The salient point here being - they wasted nothing. They had seen austerity “up close and personal,” so they learned how to get around it any way they could.
Watching all of this, I learned from it, too.
However, I have to admit, I spent a good part of my teens and young adult life during the “golden age.” Rising stock markets, rampant consumerism driving a ballooning economy… Sure, we had our moments of recession. I can even remember a long winter when the union where my father worked voted to strike. He wasn’t in favor of the strike, but majority ruled. He spent several weeks with only “strike pay” and what he could pull in working part-time loading trucks at a local short range hauler – and he was fortunate to get that job through some connections. I can remember peanut butter on Wonder bread being breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Still, for the most part, I had it easy. That “golden age” again… And, much to my chagrin, during that golden age I bought into the hype. I consumed, and wasted, and consumed and wasted some more, just like most everyone around me.
And that brings us to the “the times…” As the title says, These Are They… Perhaps it is my age – no longer young and indestructible. Perhaps it is the crash and not-so-great depression we’ve been weathering (that was NOT a recession, no matter what anyone says). More likely it is a combination of both. The thing is, this has brought me back around to what I learned in my youth. Waste nothing…
For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you know that I pulled out the pressure cooker and did some canning this year. Honestly, I had forgotten how much I missed doing that. In addition, we are lucky enough to own an upright freezer, so some of the harvest from our garden was processed and frozen. For the past few years, I have been saving vegetable scraps and freezing them. Whenever I have enough, I roast them, then add water and cook them down to vegetable stock, which I then part out into containers and freeze for use int soups and the like. The leftover mush goes into our composter, along with other organics from the kitchen, thereby creating fertilizer for our garden.
So… Am I no longer a consumer? Well, I certainly cannot say that, and anyone who followed EKay’s and my landscaping adventures this past summer knows that I’d be lying if I said otherwise. However, I can say this – I’ve seen my moments of austerity, up close and personal. They weren’t the worst ever, and there are plenty of people worldwide who are worse off, or have been worse off. The thing is, I’ve come back around… And, like we all do, I have become my parents, and in turn, my grandparents.
Am I suggesting you become an urban-hippie-composting-farmer? Not so much. I’m just reminiscing and looking forward at the same time, which, oddly enough, offers more clarity than you might imagine.
In case you are wondering what sparked this little missive, it was the four gallons of turkey stock (pictured above, right) that I just squeezed out of the Thanksgiving turkey carcass and a handful of vegetable scraps I saved from the preparation of the dinner itself.
November 23, 2012
[image error]Let me tell you the story of my trip to the kitchen for coffee, also known as The Day AFTER Thanksgiving Massa-Cree…
I needed coffee. One cup simply hadn’t been enough, and wingnuts were everywhere on Facebook. If I were going to survive, a healthy bolus of caffeine was an absolute must.
I knew I would be going into enemy territory. After all, it was the day after Gluttony Day… The Big L… No, not that L, the L-tryptophan L… But that wasn’t my greatest concern. No, not at all. Truth is, what frightened me the most was the pie. Sure, it was wounded, and hanging out in the icebox with its cohort in crime, whipped cream, but everybody knows that when a pie is wounded that is when it is at its most dangerous…
But… I had to have the caffeine.
[image error]I tiptoed into the kitchen, being as quiet as I possibly could. The icebox door was still shut, so that was a good thing. I refilled my coffee, then started to leave. I was fairly pleased with myself that I had evaded the pie. That was my first mistake. In my moment of overconfidence I was attacked by the soaking roasting pan and pie dishes in the sink. I had no choice but to engage. It was an epic battle, but I won, “cleaning up” nicely. I didn’t want to run the risk of a second attack, so I went on the offensive, even going so far as to hoof the kitchen compost bucket out to the composter for emptying.
[image error]I returned to the kitchen, confident that I had won the war. This was my second mistake. Same as the first, but still the second. Just as I finished wiping down the counter, the cornbread dressing and giblet gravy leapt from the icebox and engaged in a coordinated flanking attack. I was fending them off, but then a bowl and spoon joined the fray. Still, I continued to put up a good fight, right up until the microwave attacked me from behind.
And then… It was all over but the digesting.
July 2, 2012
June 7, 2012
June 6, 2012
I was younger than my own daughter is now. I had the same ravenous appetite for literature as she, and books were my escape from the bullying, as well as the sometimes overwhelming banality of the outside world. I had just returned from a trip to the local drug store with my mother. I had shiny quarters, nickels, and dimes in hand when we left on the excursion – my allowance earned by taking out the trash and other odd jobs around the house. Now that we returned the lion’s share of that allowance was gone, but now I held in my hand a paperback book from the spinning rack at the corner of the pharmacy. I had already devoured a chapter or two while my mother waited for her prescription to be filled and while on the ride home. This was a new kind of book. A new kind of genre. And it spoke to me.
Upon arriving home I showed my prize to my father, exclaiming with excitement that I had discovered a new type of book. One that he had surely never heard of before – Science Fiction. He looked at the paperback and scanned the back cover.
“You know, Science Fiction was around when I was a kid, too,” he told me.
I was in awe. This stuff had been out there? Why hadn’t I been informed? “Really?” I asked.
“Sure,” he replied. “H. G. Wells, Jules Verne… The list goes on and on. You know what? There’s a book I think you’d enjoy…” He rummaged around in the shelves and pulled out a copy of The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, then told me, “This was always one of my favorites.”
…And thus was my introduction to one of the greatest SF/Fantasy authors of all time.
I was fortunate enough to have met Ray Bradbury many years ago when I was still an “aspiring author in search of a publisher,” and he was on a book tour. I not only had him sign a book for me, but one for my father as well. I will always remember that.
Mr. Bradbury died this morning at the age of 91. He will be sorely missed, but he left this world a far more interesting place by being the man who illustrated it for us with his words.
May 22, 2012
One might think that I am referring to the May 5 astronomical event, in which the moon was at its closest point to earth in its egg-shaped orbit, AND was full at the same time. Full of what? Cheese, most likely. Although I suspect there is also a case to be made for Helium 3, but it’s too early to get into that right now.
However… No. I am NOT talking about that particular moon. I am talking about this morning’s moon. Odds are you missed it. The fact of the matter is, I caught it purely by chance, and it was a sight to behold.
You see, we have this cat.
Odd way to start this story, I suppose, but trust me, it’ll make sense.
Said cat is named Tiger. I personally call him Nachos el Tigre – or Nachos for short. Why? Because my daughter gets upset when I call him Almost Roadkill. Like any animal we have around the house, Nachos is a rescue. He came from the middle of the highway as a tiny kitten who was apparently washed out of his home during a flash flood (probably a storm drain) when he was on the order of 4-5 weeks old. I won’t go into the sordid details of us adopting him, suffice it to say he came to live with us, but while you can take the cat out of the feral, you can’t take the feral out of the cat. ‘Nuff said.
And so… Nachos has wreaked all manner of havoc throughout our house, up to and including ripping holes in the underside of our mattress foundation and using the resulting hollow as his “Nachos Cave.” His personal fort, so to speak. What does this have to do with the moon? Nothing. And everything. Yeah, it’s sorta like that.
You see, the redhead – yes, her worship Evil Kat – is none too pleased with his penchant for ripping up the mattress foundation. In fact, if he was… oh, I dunno… just some guy, and not a cat, he’d already be wearing one of her stilettos as a hood ornament. Then we’d have to change his name to Jimmy Choo the Unicorn. However, since he’s a cat, and not a dood, he gets a sorta free pass. Meaning, she just yells at him instead of stomping on him while she yells at him. Odd how that works. Maybe I should get myself a tail and some whiskers… But I digress.
And so, today was no different, or so I thought. Her worship was getting dressed for work when I returned from dropping off the o-spring at school. Upon entering the house I heard a ruckus, followed by the redhead screaming all manner of expletives at Nachos el Tigre. It was pretty obvious to me what was happening, or again, so I thought. The ruckus and screaming continued, so I went to investigate.
There… Below the horizon… as in down on the floor, clad in naught but her lacy undergarments, was the redhead, screaming at the dust ruffle while fishing around underneath the bed with one arm.
Let’s just say Downward Facing Dog does little justice as a description for the moon rising in the doorway. And I have to say, it was super…
Suddenly, the yelling stopped. A moment of quiet fell, then the redhead looked up. “Is this going to be a blog?” she asked.
My reply was simple. “It is now.”
April 27, 2012
Yep. I’m on Twitter. I’ve blogged about it before. Hell, I even toss a bit of flash fiction out there every now and again.
Recently, however, I was on a panel at a SF/Fantasy Con… Actually, I was on a crapload of panels, but that’s not the point. I’m talking about a specific panel – that being a “Social Media” panel. I was really the odd man out on this particular gig. All of the other authors seemed to know one another, whereas I had no friggin’ clue who any of them were, nor they me. So, they all sort of sat toward one end and left me to make sure the opposite end of the table didn’t float away. All good. Just to be sure, though, I checked – I DID use deodorant that day, so that shouldn’t have been a problem. Of course, it didn’t really matter much because 75% of the audience attending the panel happened to be close, personal friends with one of the other authors on the panel, so I probably could have stayed at the bar drinking beer with some folks. At any rate, I didn’t do that. I showed up, I tossed my opinion in there every now and then. Got a few blank stares from the other panelists. Engaged in one of those nifty marketing tactics by handing out some free books. Answered the question, “Why are you handing out free books?” Stared blankly back at them when they couldn’t grasp WHY I would hand out free books even after I told them why. You know, the regular drill…
I know… So what… Big deal. (2 points to anyone who gets that obscure movie reference…)
Okay, okay. So THE thing is, one of the other authors on the panel concluded, announced, and/or otherwise stated that one tweet a day is more than enough. In fact, she went on to say that she had made it a point to UNfollow other authors – whose work she enjoyed – because they had the unabashed nerve… the pure audacity… the unbelievable lack of restraint… and tweeted 12 times in one day.
[image error]12 times.
That being 24 hours.
24/12 = 2.
An average of one tweet every two hours.
I don’t know about you but that seems like a pretty laconic tweeter to me.
Even if we are talking about 12 tweets in the span of one hour, that would be what? One tweet every five minutes… Still pretty reserved if you ask me. However, that’s apparently still way too much. It interferes with the busy schedules of others – all that incessant chattering, ya’know… An absolute din of 140 character info bytes causing a “visual cacophony” in the glassballs…
But hey, whatever trips your trigger. Follow, unfollow, I don’t really give a flying rat’s whatsits. I personally see Twitter as yelling into the void and hoping someone hears you. Hasn’t stopped me from yelling into the void, of course, but I don’t really count on anyone hearing, or taking notice if they do. Just one of those things.
Still, for me, the anti-tweeter mentality sort of begs the question, if you’re so damn busy then why are you on Twitter so much? And moreover, why the hell are you counting other people’s tweets?