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Day 365: Things Are About To Change

We are coming down to the wire to celebrate what is left of the past year 2014.

If you’ve read my posts earlier, you know that I am not the kind of person who makes new year’s resolutions, after all, it is simply an arbitrary date on a calendar.

There are things to do, however, in the new year.

I will share soon.


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Looking Ahead: Did You Realize That It Is Almost 2015?

I’ve pretty much lost track of the days. When you don’t have to be anywhere specific at any specific time or day, the days sort of just blur together. It is quite addictive and enjoyable. Me and The Kid have been sort of doing a whole ‘lot of nuthin’, watching television and working on projects. Generally sleeping late and have great breakfasts and then doing whatever.

I have to admit that it has meant some missed showers and I am in serious need to becoming blonde again (haha, that means my roots are showing). Some days I feel like I should be doing more, but most days it is just about enjoying the day. Each and every day.

So, I will probably go back to work after the beginning of the year, but I am going to be very selective as to where. I have my fingers crossed that my last job will recall me… you know, a new year and a new budget. I was really very happy there and it didn’t have anything to do with the salary. Which, by the way, was the highest I have ever made in KC. But we’ll see what happens then.

I was in a interesting conversation today about new year’s resolutions. I really stopped making them a long time ago, recognizing that January 1st is simply an arbitrary date on a calendar. New calendar, yes, but arbitrary nonetheless. I think this was somewhere around the time I decided to quit smoking, and a good friend of mine had a New Year’s party and at the end of it, all of us – four married couples – all made the vow to start the year smoke-free. Out of the eight of us, six actually made it. But not me. It was a bit stressful at the job I had at that time and I couldn’t quite drop my primary stress release mechanism. But, in March of the same year, I smoke my last cigarette. That was nearly 30 years ago.

Looking back, what I learned, was that it really didn’t matter what arbitrary date on the calendar would affect how I was to make changes in my life. What I really understood, is that I needed to be ready to make those changes in order to be successful.

So, for me, its a great big fuck you to December 31 and all its gallantry. I tend to avoid holidays when the great, unwashed masses are imbibing anyway, so I probably will be turning in before the “ball drops”. And while forgetting to put “/15” on dates will probably happen a few times, there will be nothing spectacular about the first day of January.

I have three days that I do want to celebrate this year. Special days. First, I am coming up on my 400th post on this blog (and 200 on my other blog). Its a real milestone for me. The second one is February 6. On this date I will be 20,000 days old. And the third? May 5 – which as some of you may know – is my birthday. And on 5/5 this year, I will be – wait for it – 55. (God damned that sounds old!)

Alright, I’m done. [getting off the soap box].



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A Direct Message to You (You Know Who You Are)

Its Christmas morning. Doesn’t mean a whole lot to me, but I’m guessing it does to you. And my best guess is your pretty unhappy because you’re not spending it with your kids.

So, you think its time to ramp up the retribution. Or whatever you want to call it. I am guessing that on different days it has different intentions. But I think today, you’re making it about some sort of punishment.

The time has come to end this silly game of signing me up for useless internet crap. In the beginning, it occasionally was useful and interesting sites on the web. But more and more it is just annoying internet crap.

I think that over the past three-ish years, it has gone from you missing me and our mutual love of all things computers and internet to you being unhappy that I’ve gotten past all of the useless bullshit. And now it has simply become a imagesgame of how many worthless sites you can sign me up for. Like I said, some sort of ‘punishment’ for the way that you have fucked up your life and want to blame it on somebody – anybody – and that means me.

But in the end, you need to place the blame securely where it belongs. And that, my former dunderhead, is you.

Do something a little more useful with your time and stop wasting what is left of your life with this juvenile retribution. Because not only does it not make me miss you or think of you fondly, it really just does nothing. A few minutes every day to undo what you have done and that’s it. Its almost become some sort of game as to how many accounts you have signed me up for each day… sort of a backwards kind of lottery!

So, continue to sign me up. It doesn’t bother me in the least. But know that with every one that you do, I only feel more pity for the pathetic wretch you’ve become.

Oh, hope you’re enjoying your Christmas. Alone. Loser.

Former Friend, Lover and Confidante.


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Early Retirement? Best Part of My Life.

So, I haven’t been working. Its been about 3 weeks since I finished my last contract and you know what? I am loving this! I mean, I figured that nothing would be getting done – not really anything important – in the time frame between Thanksgiving and New Years. So, why not just enjoy the time and not stress myself out with the endless repeated phone calls with the head hunters.

I got lucky though. Did my investing by accident about 20 years ago and managed, quite happily by accident, to build up a nice little retirement fund. Anybody check the stats lately on AAPL? I’ve all but stopped checking and stopped opening the monthly summaries so that I am not enticed to sell off any shares. Things are managing quite nicely right now, thank you very much.

Yesterday, I spent the whole day with The Kid. What an awesome day! He is so smart and funny and charismatic and he can charm the socks off his ol’ Mom. We have the same sense of humor and for the most part agree with each other on just about everything. He’s not shy around me and talks to me about things that I dared not talk to my mother about. And we have the same interests in computers and gaming and all the crazy things technology brings to our lives.

There are so few years remaining, it seems, and I want to spend as much time with him as I can. And maybe now I should be focusing on that. There is a strong desire to be “retired” or, at the very least, partially retired. Is that semi-retired? When the good contracts roll around, work for a while and then take off more time to spend with my son.

Today, we are scheduled to go see the new Hobbit movie. Actually, we’re seeing all three in a movie marathon, one right after the other. Outside it is raining and cold and miserable, but I will be hanging with The Kid eating popcorn and licorice!

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What is Normal, Anyway?

I stumbled onto a page about BMI. How I did that, I’ll never know. It was an interesting article, which for the most part, I wholly disagree with.

But the comments were more entertaining than the website. One woman proudly declared “In my fifth decade and am 5’6″ and 161 pounds!” But the real kicker was her follow up. “Don’t tell me it is about metabolism or big bones or genetics. Just put down the food and go for a walk.” Or words to that effect.

Never one to let an opportunity for a snarky comment, I followed up with a cute remark about how she was technically 4 pounds from being bumped into the ‘overweight’ category. Four friggin’ pounds. That ain’t enough to be calling out the majority of America. Not by a long shot.

But that got me to thinking. There has to be something that prevents at least part of the overweight and obese in this country. I mean, think about people who have a real vested interest in being one of the “beautiful people”.

I’ve been watching this new Amazon Prime series called “Alpha House”. The star of the show? John Goodman. One of my all time favorites from way back when he was Dan Connor on “Roseanne”. And to think this well respected and talented actor is obese?

Surely someone like that, someone who’s career depended – at least in part – on how they look would be able to take the weight off and keep it off. Right? How about Kathy Bates? Consider Kirstie Alley. Or Kathleen Turner? Once knock down, take-your-breath-away gorgeous. Surely, simply eating too much and not exercising didn’t lead to any of these people from gaining weight. Right?

So, you look at my family. I have photos that go back as far as my grandparents’ grandparents on a farm in southern Sweden and guess what. They are big people. Not enormous, but considering that they were farmers and worked hard from before sun-up until after sun-down, surely it wasn’t that they weren’t getting enough exercise. And somehow I doubt too much ice cream and cake wasn’t part of their daily food intake and led them to their hefty demises.

From birth – being a premie (5 weeks early) I was a skinny kid. My “graduation from kindergarten” photo is almost one of those stick figure girls, with a triangle for a dress and two lines for legs coming down from it.

girl-clipart-stick-figure-Rcdoeykc9Somehow, from there I managed to acquire the Benson physique. I always felt like I was so much bigger than my classmates. Although in hindsight, I was about 140 pounds at high school graduation. What I wouldn’t give to be that size again!

But, like I said, I am a Benson, and we’re hairy and hefty. We are descended from Vikings. Well, at the very least we’re descendent from cold weather living, so I think everyone was blessed with an extra layer of fat. There’s no denying it, look at any of the photos of my family. Even my mother’s side of the family, which hailed from northern Germany, I come from a long line of “stocky” people.

And speaking from experience, I know what it takes to be a “normal” weight. When I was 27, I (along with millions of other people) did the Fen/Phen diet. I went from 206 to 138, loosing an incredible 68 pounds over the course of 8 months. Went from a size 11/13 (12/14) down to a size 5/7. You wouldn’t hardly recognize me. And how did I manage that? Other than the Fen/Phen, it was 500 calories a day and walking between 5 and 10 miles every day. And running stairs at the hospital I worked, on the sixth floor.

That wasn’t normal. Or right. Or healthy. It was an obsession and one that was obviously not good for me or my body. When I came off the ultra-restrictive diet, I managed to easily regain about 30 pounds. Even so, I felt good pretty good, but without the ultra-restrictive diet and the excessive exercise program, the weight crept back about 5 pounds a year.

Doesn’t seem like much, but when you think that it has been 20 years since I lost all the weight – well, I am right at about 100 pounds overweight. Just five little pounds a year.

Not to mention, my knees are shot (no cartilage in either knee), have continuous headaches – or as I have been diagnosed as having cluster migraines – and shoulder and back pain from the weight I carry out front. But with all of that, I guess the logic would be that I am just another lazy, couch-surfing good-for-nothing.

Nope. It is because of genetics coupled with injuries. And much as I have tried dieting of every kind over the years, nothing worked (with the exception of the prescription speed). And I don’t have to be on camera or in the public’s eye, like some of the wonderful folks I mentioned above.

So, get off your high horse, if you’re lucky enough to inherit “skinny” genes or an (over) active metabolism. Or a love of green vegetables and a dislike of calorie laden foods. Just be happy for yourself. You don’t need to run around making fun of others who haven’t been so lucky on the spinning wheel of gene selection. Just go quietly and enjoy your luck.

For it may be you next when you’ve made it through another holiday season and gain 5 pounds. Because that puts you squarely in the category of “overweight”.


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There is Never Enough Time for Regrets

Today was an interesting day. Only from the sense that for the first time in a long time, I had time to think. Time alone with nothing better to do than ponder life past.

Most of you are aware of the details of my childhood – just one kid in a gang of children: children battling for attention and love, let alone the basic necessities of growing boys and girls.

I think I knew early on that I didn’t want to live my long life and look back full of regrets. I was determined that every day needed to be lived fully.

And hard as I thought about it, as I drove 150 miles and back by myself – I couldn’t come up with anything. Long wanderings down highways past… the jobs, the bosses, the friends, the trips, the moves, the cars, the escapades… nope, nothing I regret. Some might look at past behavior and wonder why there isn’t something, but the way I look at it, I am who I am because of what I’ve experienced – good and bad. And everything in between.

And sometimes I think that I should write a book. Ha. I have lived a long and interesting life. Full of wonderful and questionable experiences. I’ve met and known some amazing people and seen some wonderful places and explored some fantastic destinations. Did some things that maybe I shouldn’t have, but looking back, don’t seem to be that big of a deal.

Now, I know that there have been folks in my life that have done the “wrong” thing but that is their cross to bear. Me, it was all part of the bigger picture. And now that I am on the other side of the top of that hill, its fun to look back.

Did I make mistakes? Should I have turned left instead of right? Should I have stayed instead of gone? Hmmph. No way to know now, is there? There is only what was and that can’t be changed. It is simply a way through and a way to keep going.

All I do know is that on my death bed, I won’t be wishing I’d done anything different. I guess maybe I will wish that it could keep going, but ultimately, we have to end somewhere.


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Not Really Bah-humbug, But We Don’t Do Christmas

So, I’m not working. Its not like I couldn’t be working, if I wanted to. And it isn’t that I don’t have anything to do, I do. I just choose to spend some of much needed time on me.

And one of those things I do is blog. I actually have two active blogs (and a couple of not-so-active ones). I also read other people’s blogs. And right now many of them are discussing the merits of the upcoming holidays and the benefits (or not) of all things that come with Christmas. And ‘Elf on a Shelf’. Thank heavens that I have better things to do than figuring out how to make this quirky little doll “do” all kinds of mischievous stuff.

And it got me to thinking. About how we do – or rather – don’t do Christmas in our house.

We used to do “Christmas”. Much like my parents used to celebrate. And when my son was little, it was fun. Fun for him and fun for me to watch him enjoy it all. But he has gotten older (as have I) and doing Christmas has become more of a chore than fun. And expensive.

A few years ago, well, to be honest more like a decade ago, I was racking my brain trying to come up with ideas for gifts for The Kid and just couldn’t. I mean, he has always gotten pretty much anything he has ever wanted, within reason. I grew up with virtually nothing save for the ‘roof over my head and food on the table’, but little else. So I was determined that my kid wouldn’t grow up experiencing that. Now, I don’t “spoil” him because I am not talking about buying him everything, but rather, buying him what would be good for him. Until he was 12, his toys couldn’t be battery-powered, they had to be powered by imagination. His imagination. And then, it was things that would be making him a better person in this world that we live in. So, computers and equipment, games and chemistry sets. Tools – real tools for wood working or metal working (did I tell you about the recent metal forge he built?) and books. Lots and lots of books.

So, when one year’s list of chores to take down and put away Christmas, I made a comment in passing that I wished we didn’t do the whole Christmas debacle. I had agreement. We didn’t go cold turkey, so to speak, but the following year we did a living tree (small and in a pot) and we drew the line on not putting up lights on the house. The next year was a little less and by about the third or fourth year, there was no Christmas of any kind in the house. And no one worse for the wear.

When I big into the Christmas thing, I think I was trying to recreate something that I thought I had had in my childhood. But to be honest, what my childhood Christmases were like were anything but happy and cheerful. Or spiritual. I grew up pretty poor. Like I said, I always had a place to live and food to eat, but outside of that, not so much. When you grow up in a big family, everything is stretched to the breaking point and rarely is there anything left over for “fun stuff”, you do a lot of wishing and believing that you were like everyone else around you. I think I tended to do that with Christmas, that we were this big, happy family singing carols around the tree. But to be honest, I think that those holidays were sparked with anger, fights, selfishness, rudeness, envy, disappointment and downright hatred.

And that was not what I wanted to “recreate” for my son. So, we did away with Christmas in our house. And we embraced its departure. And now with those days, we tend to spend that time together in more productive ways, even if that is just to strengthen our bonds with each other.

But this time of year, blogs are rife with the how-to’s of Christmas. And occasionally, I may find myself wanting to partake of the merriment behind it all. I will sometimes give in, but then give it away or sell it. But mostly, I love that materials to do my projects are cheap and plentiful. Its amazing how much of the basics of Christmas are great for year long decorating. For instance, I am planning on creating a new way-over-the-top girly chandelier and there are tons of cheap tree decorations that are just screaming to be taken apart for a new use. And everywhere are those ‘percent off’ coupons, bringing the prices right down to downright cheap!

So, yeah, here is my “non-Christmas” Christmas blog. Go do your own thing and have fun. I know I will be.


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