Worldview: The Rambling Road: So, what’s this all about?

It’s sometimes hard to know where to begin an explanation of something that has been coming my whole adult life, so I will start with the event that triggered the birth of this blog.

A couple of weeks ago, I ended up in the hospital for almost a week as the result of acute pancreatitis brought on by a dangerous elevation of my blood-borne triglycerides. The condition was serious enough the doctors opted to reduce my triglyceride levels by removing them using a process called plasmapheresis. The whole experience was the most intense and painful thing I have ever experienced in my entire life, and I realized that I am willing to do extreme things to never have to experience it again.

That brings me to the reality of how I ended up in that state. The circumstances that lead to my hospitalization were not just the result of some unexplained biological malfunction, although there is also that element to the story. Instead, a large part of how I ended up in that state began decades ago when I, for a variety of reasons I suppose I may get into over the life of this blog, chose to stop taking care of my body.

In fact, over the past decade, I had pretty much given up on taking care of myself at all, most often with the excuse I had more important things to do. I didn’t. Instead, that excuse was worse than an excuse: it was a lie.

This blog will be my documentation of the refutation of that lie. Over the course of the next weeks and months and, perhaps, even years, I plan to document my journey away from the lie of not taking care of myself toward the truth of taking care of myself so I can do all the things I do better. I want to share this journey with anyone who cares to follow along for the accountability of it, for mutual encouragement, and to provide a place to document the things I discover along the way.

As to the name of the blog, once upon a time, I considered myself to be a rambler, or as the Irish call it, a rover. I tend to wander without being lost, and have long believed that the journey is more important than the destination. I suspect my journey back to health will follow the same meandering but purposeful path so many other parts of my life have.

So, this is all about finding my way back to a place I should have never left: healthy and productive. I invite you to join me on that road.


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Worldview: Seven Stone: The food that was trying to kill me

For reasons even science is struggling to understand, we are awash in an era of food allergies from the very real and sometimes deadly to the faddish and imagined. However, the idea that our food is making us sick is well documented enough that it should give all of us struggling with health issues pause.

I’ve been pretty sure that something I was eating was having an adverse effect on me for years, but the fact was that doctors just could not figure it out. As a result, about two years ago, I started trying to figure it out on my own, and this is what I found:

Soybean proteins were trying to kill me.

For a long time, I wondered if it was corn or wheat gluten, but three events and a whole bunch of research have convinced me that soybeans as they are presented in the American processed food diet are the devil.

First was an episode from years ago: on the recommendation of a doctor, I was using Slim Fast to try to lose weight. My local grocery ran out of the milk-based version available at the time, so I tried one of the soy-based ones. I was sick for a week and never drank one again, but never made the connection.

Second was a food log where I kept track of what I was eating and what was in it. Sure enough, every time I ate something containing soy proteins of any kind, two or three days later I would go through a few days of feeling ill. I still wasn’t quite convinced.

Third was that I eliminated any kind of soy from my diet for almost three months. I say almost, because the moment that proved to me that soy was the culprit was accidentally eating some saltine crackers containing soy meal toward the end of the third month. As the result of not having consumed soy for so long, I suspect my body was super sensitive because I was sick for a week.

I am not presenting this information in any way to suggest that people should eliminate soy from their own diets just because I did, but rather because I want people to pay attention to what they are eating. If you are struggling with your weight and feeling sick all the time, it is entirely likely because of something you are eating. Figure out what it is and eliminate it. You’ll be glad you did. I am.


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Worldview: Seven Stone: Calorie does not mean what you think it means

Most people, as a result of the junk sold to us by the media as dietary science, think of calories and nutrients for their body the same way they think of fuel and oil for their cars. As a result, they think, if they put in enough calories but not too many and keep the nutrients topped off, they should be healthy.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

I know plenty of people who will argue with me about this, but the actual science of diet is clear: it matters what kind of calories you are eating.

Before people read this and think I am advocating some sort of “eat only these kinds of calories” nonsense, I am not. What ends up being a healthy diet differs from person to person based on your own unique biology and lifestyle. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

That said, there is one rule: the more whole the food you are eating is, the less likely it is to make you fat. Here’s why:

Our bodies have very specific, unique mechanisms for dealing with nearly every calorie and nutrient we consume. These mechanisms often involve complex processes that sometimes themselves require calories and nutrients to function properly. It turns out that the necessary calories and nutrients needed for those processes to function can be found in the whole foods we are eating.

In fact, eating whole food is the most significant change I made toward losing weight over the past two-and-a-half years. I don’t really exercise more. I don’t really consume less calories. I simply eat less processed food and replaced it with more whole food, and as a result, I’ve lost 35 pounds and kept them off.

For me, it was really as simple as that change.


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Worldview: Seven Stone: About the farm

When contemplating weight loss, one of the first places people look is exercise, and if your work is exercise, so much the better.

I came into the undertaking of running a sustainable farm much the same way. Five years ago, I expected that working on Innisfree on the Stillwater everyday would function as a gateway to the weight loss I had struggled with for years.

I was wrong.

In fact, for the first three years I worked here, I gained weight, so much so that I put on another 20 pounds in the first two years I was here. What happened?

It turns out that’s a complicated question that I can only attempt to sum up. In basic terms, my body wasn’t ready to lose weight yet because some other things needed to change first. In specific, my diet needed to change before farm work could help me lose weight. As counter-intuitive as it was at the time, That’s what it ended up taking for me to start losing.

Since then, the work I do on the farm has functioned to help drive the weight loss, but it wasn’t the first reason, and still is not the primary reason, I am losing.


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Worldview: Seven Stone: an Update

A couple of years ago, I announced to the world that I was actively trying to lose weight and increase my overall level of fitness. That pursuit has taken me down paths I did not anticipate and that not a few people thought would not work.

Nevertheless, over the past month, I have stepped on the scale three times to have it show me under 300 pounds for the first time in years. That means, over the last two-and-a-half years, I have lost 35 pounds and, more important to me, consistently kept them off. That may not seem like a lot to some people, but for someone who has struggled with his weight most of his adult life, it’s a fact that borders on a miracle.

I grant that I have a long way to go, but it is good to see that the process I imagined actually worked and appears to be continuing to work. I will document that process here for anyone who might care.


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Worldview: The strange reality of getting what you want

I’ve wanted a library, lab, and studio since I knew what those three things were. In fact, one of my earliest verifiable geek memories comes from when I was about seven and I discovered a chemistry set in the Sears toy catalog. To this day, I remember being heartbroken for about thirty minutes when I got the, “You’ll shoot your eye out,” response to asking for one.

Thirty-three years later, I find myself in the enviable position of now having a library, lab, and studio. And, just like that, I have to figure out what to do with them.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I find it easy to dream. I think about things all the time, from the small and inconsequential to the massive and grandiose. So, it has been easy for me to daydream about what it would be like to have places to do things I’ve always wanted to do.

Now I have them, and it’s like my mind is blank.

That’s not entirely fair. I know what I want to do, but how do I pick? Seriously, there’s only one of me, only twenty-four hours in a day, and I have a wife and a farm. How do I decide what to do with these new-found assets in such a way that the rest of my life doesn’t come crashing down?

I’m thankful I can even write about having such a problem, but it still seems daunting for the moment. I’d better get back to the lab. Time’s a’wasting.


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Worldview: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Liberty, and Choices

Over the past several weeks, I’ve seen a lot of posts from a lot of people on the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Online Monday, all all the other money spending days before Christmas that have come to represent our holiday season.

I respect the sentiments of the people who want to salvage holidays and redirect the money spent on those days to other things. I also respect the liberty people exercise when they choose to work and shop on those days. Whether or not I choose to participate is irrelevant to what anyone else decides to do, and everyone should be at liberty to make their own choice.

But understand, that whatever you decide to do, you are making choices. Powerful choices.

You see, the most democratic action any person in the world engages in is how he or she spends money. In spending money, each person decides what, how much, and to whom his or her money should go. That choice reverberates with every person who touches every dollar someone spends and echoes around the world.

I could selfishly try to persuade people to spend money the way I think it should be spent, but the fact is that persuasion is just my opinion. Sure, I think people should shop as locally as possible, select merchants that treat their employees fairly and their customers honestly, and use their money to help their neighborhoods, communities, and states before anything else. But, I realize that opinion is just one among many.

I don’t care all that much if someone does or does not decide to shop on a certain day or a certain place so much as I care whether that person thought through what they were doing before they did it. What I want during this holiday shopping season–and during every other time anyone spends money–is for people to be aware of what their money is doing. As surely as I want people to vote with a full view of the consequences in mind, I want them to spend with the same way of thinking.

I suspect that, if people thought more about how they spent their money before they spent it, the world would look quite a bit different than it does. So, I challenge you: prove me right or prove me wrong. Think about it and be content with your choice.


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Worldview: Crowdfunding and risk

I’m a big fan of crowdfunding, that idea put forward by websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo that allows people with ideas to connect with groups of people interested in their idea to help fund it. I’ve helped fund a few ideas myself.

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about crowdfunding initiatives that have failed and the various amounts of ire felt by the people who helped fund those initiatives. Most of these articles leave me shaking my head.

What it seems that most people who engage in crowdfunding fail to realize is that it is simply another form of venture capitalism, one with usually lower dollar amounts and with the risk distributed among far more people. Venture capitalists will tell you that such initiatives are fraught with risk and that many, if not most, of them fail at their initial premise even if they eventually go on to succeed.

Crowdfunding is not some kind of magic elixir for success for ideas the Man won’t fund. Instead, it is venture capitalism for the masses, a mechanism to bring ideas forward that would not otherwise have a chance for all sorts of other reasons, usually profit margin.

In realizing that crowdfunding is venture capitalism, crowdfunders should realize there is going to be risk. A lot of it. Not a small number of projects are going to fail. Even after they are funded. Sometimes even after the product has been produced. There will be all kinds of reasons for these failures. They can’t be helped. They can’t be stopped.

And none of these things should stop dedicated crowdfunders from continuing to crowdfund. I know, for me, realization of this risk has made be a particularly discerning funder. I watch a lot of projects for a long time before I commit, and there have been more than a few successful projects I decided not to invest in because I was not sure. There have been some projects that I have invested in only to have them fail. That’s how the system works.

But, beneath all of those ideas, is the critical idea that makes crowdfunding worth it: giving life to ideas that might not otherwise succeed even though they are worthwhile simply because they will never make enough money to become a larger venture. Crowdfunding bypasses the court of the big venture capitalists and gives the little guys a chance.

Risk and all, that’s a venture worth supporting.


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Art: Reboot

Hello. It turns out that I am using art as a method of rebooting life. Why now? Why not?

My goal is to produce 365 works in four, 100 page Canson 4×6 sketchbooks. These will not necessarily be museum quality works. But they will be products. You can follow along here or at my Worldview weblog. I will probably also post to Facebook. Enjoy.


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Worldview: Be strong and perservere

I want to tell you a story. It’s a story about perseverance.

Tonight, my wife, mother-in-law, and I went to the Great Darke County Fair. If you live anywhere remotely close, I recommend you go. It’s one of the only real, old time county fairs left this side of the Mississippi, and it’s a blast.

At any rate, we got our food tonight at the Darke County Beef and Pork Producers, something that has become a tradition for us, and sat and ate while we watched the 9-11 year olds show their steers. There were five entrants in that category this year, including one boy who was probably 10 with a monster Holstein steer.

The boy was trying his best, but the steer was having none of it. He pushed the boy with his head. He reared back on his lead. He refused to turn. He started to kick a little.

But that boy stuck with it. At one point he wiped away tears. He got a little mad and yanked on that lead. He pushed the steer back. And he made it through the whole showing. He even walked the steer out to his dad, and walked out of the barn standing tall.

Sure, he probably found somewhere to cry. After all he’s ten and what just happened was terrible for a ten-year-old. But the fact is that he stuck with it. The judge said he finished fifth of five, but from my view he finished first because he didn’t give up even when he had every reason to.

Life can be a recalcitrant steer and more sometimes. It’s easy to give up and give in sometimes. It’s easy to throw up our hands and shout at heaven, “Why bother?”

But the fact is that the measure of who we are is what we actually do at those moments. Do we stand firm? Do we keep trying? Do we see things through?

Sometimes it takes a 10-year-old boy and a monster steer to remind us of the right answer. Be strong and persevere, my friends.


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