Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kudos -- a game about recovering and finding life choices

Actually posted August 31, 2008, back dated to avoid conflicts.

Well, we got evacuated, so I'm back early.

"It's on April 24th, 2008. You are 20 years old and single. Tonight is your twentieth birthday. You live alone in a small flat in Slough, a suburb of London, England. Somehow you left school without any qualifications to speak of, and you have a dead end job with no future. What are you going to do with your life? and what will you have achieved by your thirtieth birthday?"

Kudos is the life-simulation game developed by Cliffski (Positech Games, Makers of Democracy). It's a game of social relationships and choices, available on PC and Mac.

Lots of kids find themselves about twenty or so, no direction, and being dragged down by the slackers and parasites around them that they have chosen over their family and loved ones. Flunking out of school, unable to even finish an American Heritage class.

This is a game that helps them think about where they are going with their life now that they are on their own and where they might have gone if they had made other choices. Great for your pre-teen when looking at life around them.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Angel Falling Softly -- A Review and Comments

I was sent a review copy of Angel Falling Softly. Most of this review will be about things that the book is not.

First, most people will have heard about the book because the publisher is trying to stir up some controversy about the lesbian sex scenes contained in an LDS audience novel. Sorry, not much there (in fact, first time through I just edited the scenes out as I read like any other fan service and didn't realize they were there, second time through, there isn't enough there to call it a lesbian sex scene in anyone's perspective other than a publicist's).

Second, it isn't really "Bishop's wife seeks to have child turned into a soulless undead monster rather than letting the child leave mortality in a more conventional fashion." Quite the dilemma? I don't see it. I'd give a lot to have my daughters back, but not as revenants, that isn't having them back, just evil possessing and riding their bodies. But, that isn't what is happening either in this story.

Third, it isn't typical soft porn romance novel with a supernatural Mary Sue figure as the lead character. That is an entire genre now, with its conventions, imprints (special publishing houses devoted to just that kind of novel) and New York Times bestsellers. I'd have soon tried to eat the garbage as read some of that, but that isn't what the novel is about, though the cover could well pass for an upscale version of that sort of book's cover. If you want one of those, go over to the grocery store, they'll have them with the rest of the disposable books.

The book is something entirely different, an exploration of the human condition with an LDS background (though for all it mattered, it could have been any group, kindly treated) and one of the modern vampire types who are likeable characters, with souls, generally either aliens, virus victims or mutatants (or sometimes all three) who just happen to have knowledge, power, wealth and angst.

Eugene Woodbury is the author, and if you slow down when you read it you will realize it has his touch.

Now in some ways, the book is too short, with not enough words. It verges on fanfic territory as it gets started (Mormon vampire fanfic !? ?!) with things like "bishop" and such sketched in as placeholders rather than explained. But at the pricepoint they had, 225 pages or so is probably all that they could squeeze in.

It gets beyond cardboard. Some eroticism, though Woodbury often seems drawn to that, but not graphic or intense, merely keeping consistent with the modern vampire (compared to the completely non-erotic drauger of times past). Much less than a normal novel any more, and no where near enough to justify any attention.

This is mainstrem writing, not fantasy, horror or erotica. In the end, the story is really about love, family, redemption and hope. The rest is just window dressing, or things that the novel really isn't.

Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury (Paperback - Jun 30, 2008)
Buy new: $11.96

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Facing my bad habits, growing

I've a bad habit of passing along what can best be described as positive gossip -- positive things people have said about others behind their backs. That, in and of itself isn't a bad thing, but I find myself tempted to reframe things slightly. I was reflecting on it today in church. Sometimes reframing is just that, changing the perspectives or illustrating the essential truth in better words than the original speaker used. But it can be tempting to go too far. I'm learning to watch myself to prevent that, gilding the lily only lessens the truth.

This blog grew out of an on-line journal I was keeping as a part of keeping my identity separate from grief. I may have had things happen to me, but I was determined that I would not become defined by those things. By writing I was able to put distance between what had happened and myself.

I was getting ready to quit the process when I discovered that what I was writing helped a small audience not really helped enough. So I continued.

I'm glad it is a small audience and only wish it were smaller, that no one experienced the death of a child. Of the things I've blogged about, the rituals and experiences of grief are the least interesting to a general audience. When I blog in that area, hits on the blog always go down.

I can easily double the readers or more by writing on diet. People seem to be drawn to SLD, and by November I will have been using the method for three years. I lost a lot of weight, then brought it back up to 189 and then stayed at that weight for over a year. Recently my weight has slipped down (177.6 this morning). It will probably slip some more, but weight loss isn't what I am really about.

But I have been thinking. It is eleven years since Robin was born and we just recently hit another stage of healing. I know my blog title was designed to make those who were grieving feel more at home, more comfort at being here, than they might have otherwise felt. But it isn't the way I am any more, even at a distance. So I changed it a while back.

That doesn't mean that I'm changing direction or that I'll start focusing on things that draw more attention and more hits. Rather, I'll probably blog about grief a great deal less here, and probably blog a good deal less all in all. I'm not sure I have much more to say. As for Mormon Matters, the group blog I'm with, the way it has become the round the clock gay marriage blog I'm not sure I have much to blog there about either.

Except to try to think of something positive about Ray (The Things of My Soul) and Hawkgrrl to say about them, behind their backs.

Friday, July 18, 2008

From The Religious Language Newsletter, etc.

Cleaning Up Bad Communication Habits," by Kibbie Simmons Ruth and Karen A. McClintock, online at

It begins with:

"Of the several negative communication patterns congregations practice, three
habits are particularly problematic: triangulation, pass-through communication,
and anonymous feedback. While these three may be strategies for getting needs
met, they all block rather than help healthy communication. Even if well
intentioned, they are deadly habits that in the long run allow people to
dodge accountability, gain power, and alienate others."

Persuasion principles

Much of persuasion and other forms of changing minds is based on a relatively small number of principles. If you can understand the principles, then you can invent your own techniques. It thus makes sense to spend time to understand these principles (persuaded yet?).

Alignment: When everything lines up, there are no contradictions to cause disagreement.

Amplification: Make the important bits bigger and other bits smaller.

Appeal: If asked nicely, we will follow the rules we have made for ourselves.

Arousal: When I am aroused I am full engaged and hence more likely to pay attention.

Association: Our thoughts are connected. Think one thing and the next is automatic.

Assumption: Acting as if something is true often makes it true.

Attention: Make sure they are listening before you try to sell them something.

Authority: Use your authority and others will obey.

Bonding: I will usually do what my friends ask of me, without negotiation.

Closure: Close the door of thinking and the deal is done.

Completion: We need to complete that which is started.

Confidence: If I am confident, then you can be confident.

Confusion: A drowning person will clutch at a straw. So will a confused one.

Consistency: We like to maintain consistency between what we think, say and do.

Contrast: We notice and decide by difference between two things, not absolute measures.

Daring: If you dare me to do something, I daren't not do it.

Deception: Convincing by trickery.

Dependence: If you are dependent on me, I can use this as a lever to persuade you.

Distraction: If I distract your attention, I can then slip around your guard.

Evidence: I cannot deny what I see with my own eyes.

Exchange: if I do something for you, then you are obliged to do something for me.

Experience: I cannot deny what I experience for myself.

Fragmentation: Break up the problem into agreeable parts.

Framing: Meaning depends on context. So control the context.

Harmony: Go with the flow to build trust and create subtle shifts.

Hurt and Rescue: Make them uncomfortable then throw them a rope.

Interest: If I am interested then I will pay attention.

Investment: If I have invested in something, I do not want to waste that investment.

Involvement: Action leads to commitment.

Logic: What makes sense must be true.

Objectivity: Standing back decreases emotion and increases logic.

Obligation: Creating a duty that must be discharged.

Passion: Enthusiasm is catching.

Perception: Perception is reality. So manage it.

Pull: Create attraction that pulls people in.

Push: I give you no option but to obey.

Repetition: If something happens often enough, I will eventually be persuaded.

Understanding:If I understand you, then I can interact more accurately with you.

The site these are extracted from has a lot more. Think about when you were persuaded last, were you manipulated?

GLIBIDITY, Slang. a condition
in which a person gives very glib answers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Speed Training

Ok, much of this is advertisement, but there is a lot of useful information in the links as well.
BTW, interesting data: users come from these countries:

United States 58.0%

India 13.3%

Philippines 0.9%

Other countries 27.0%

United States58.0%



Other countries27.0%

Less... traffic rank in other countries:


Philippines 298,675

United States 392,16243

Rotator Cuff Recovery

A version of this is where I start: except I'm doing the arm straight and across the body instead of up over the shoulder.

Next, the first stretch this guy does:

Then I do this stretch, though one arm at a time:

finish with up the back:

That is four stretches, done at least six times a week, each stretch held for at least thirty seconds.

The big difference? I wake up pain free in the mornings.

I put this together from the book below, which will take you from beginning to advanced and also provides exercises to do that really make a difference.

Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff
Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff by Jim Johnson (Paperback - Jan 7, 2007)
Buy new: $29.95 $21.56 23 Used & new from $21.34

Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.
4.7 out of 5 stars (14)

Also, thanks to Soldog:

Shoulder Savers: Part I
Shoulder Savers: Part II
Shoulder Savers: Part III
The Mobility Complex
Everything Push-Ups
Cracking the Rotator Cuff Conundrum
Short Topic: Get a Grip
The FFB Handbook
8 Weeks to Monster Shoulders

Also, for injuries and issues in general:

Neanderthal No More Part I

Monday, July 14, 2008

On Avoiding Television Appearances

If you've gone through significant grief, you can count on at least once a year being contacted by people who want to put you on television. We've been turning them down for a long time. You don't matter to them, they are just looking for a dose of pathos.

Either a news channel, for the yearly or half-yearly dose of bathos or some "good" organization that wants to stir up donors. If you let them, they will put you in front of groups, on television, and in fundraisers.

I never had the will for it. Sure, before the girls died I did television appearances for mediation. I also did a few for my friend Gary and TSR back in the day, long ago. Other stuff, sure.

But on grief, these days everyone has the message that we will say no. All in all, unless you have a cause that really means something to you, or someone you really owe, it is always best to say no. There is a blessing in not being known.

On the other hand, doing a television spot for something not grief related? I'm more than willing to do that sort of thing. Especially if it is to promote someone else.

My alternate photo, the one that is me on vacation, vs. me the rest of the year.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Responses to criticisms of the Shangri-la Diet

That much oil can't be healthy!
  • The oil people take on the Shangri-la Diet is less than the oil in a large order of french fries.
  • My triglycerides went from over 300 to 50, and stayed there. Obviously the net result has been quite healthy.
You were just lucky.
  • Except, the Shangri-la Diet (SLD) calories still make a difference. At three tablespoons a day I stayed at 189 lbs for almost two years. If I cut back, I start to gain weight. When I moved back up to four tablespoons of ELOO (extra light olive oil) a day, I started to lose weight.
  • Fifty years or so old is a bit old for a metabolic timing change.
Only calorie restriction/starving diet and exercise work!
  • For 2/3 of 2.8% (that is less than 2%) of the people who are able to do a diet with strict confirmation, there is success: defined at keeping 5% or so of body weight off for a year or so.
  • Compared to SLD where if you have forty or more pounds to lose, it seems to be successful for at least 75% of those who stick with it. Success = losing and keeping off thirty or more pounds.
  • Compare the numbers: less than 2% vs. more than 70%.
But you should enjoy food!
  • I do. I just feel like eating less of it, and if I eat more, my metabolism adjusts.
  • I'll note that most people who are really fixiated on that point seem disordered.
  • Lots of people on SLD actively seek new taste experiences.
  • I'd rather not be a slave to food.
I could never ...
  • Why not?
  • It is cheap and uses things that you have around the house.
  • You can even use the "midnight oil" approach and it isn't even inconvenient.
The reason almost everyone started with sugar water (two liters of water diluting a half cup of sugar) is that they had sugar around the house. Once that started working for them, they switched to oil, eventually extra light olive oil, walnut oil or flaxseed oil (for the health benefits).

It doesn't make sense!

Well, it is starting to. Seth has his theory (it was his paper on the subject that started the whole movement that resulted in the book). I personally think it has to do with the insulin cycle (which is why oil and sugar water seem to work well for the long run while protein doesn't). Taste/smell trigger the insulin cycle, without those it doesn't trigger and the body adjusts to incoming oils and sugars differently.

It is easy to try, simple, easy and cheap.

There are lots of threads about how to make the diet work better, additional things you can do, various ways to apply the principles. But just try it, remember that plateaus on SLD do not signal that failure is on the way (instead they are a natural resting point, I spent about half of my time on plateaus while I was losing weight).

Just ind a way to avoid flavor or intense food smells for two hours. In the middle, take a tablespoon of extra light olive oil, mixed with a couple tablespoons of water (oil and water don't mix, but if you drink it this way the oil slides down over the water and you don't feel it the same way). Do that for a week.

If your appetite goes down, good. If not, on week two move to two tablespoons and do that for a week. If your appetite goes down, good, if not, on week three move to three tablespoons. Repeat to up to four tablespoons of oil a day.

Adjust as needed, but make the adjustments slowly, once a week, using the same oil (your body needs time to adjust the enzymes that digest the oil, if you decide to change oils, make the change slowly). When you've lost a lot of weight, adjust the amount until you don't gain or lose weight. Then you just keep taking the right amount of oil to keep your improvements.

Yes, after about sixty or seventy pounds lost, you may need to tweak things. If you only have five or ten pounds to lose, I'm not sure it will work easily for you.

While losing weight, make sure to focus your foods on protein and vegetables so you get enough protein and enough nutrients. My secret ingredient is spring mix and carrots.

That is what I'd say if I ahd time to talk and to respond at length to the critics and the questioners. The truth is that the diet (or method, since it is more a set point adjustment method than a comprehensive diet program) works, and it works well.

Unlike a normal diet it isn't just holding your breath until nature takes over and restores equilibrium, it is freedom instead.

BTW, it is on sale at almost 70% off at Amazon right now.

The Shangri-La Diet: The No Hunger Eat Anything Weight-Loss Plan
The Shangri-La Diet: The No Hunger Eat Anything Weight-Loss Plan by Seth Roberts (Paperback - April 24, 2007) - Bargain Price
Buy new: List price $11.95 -- discounted to $3.99

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shangri la Diet Induction

In diet parlance, “induction” is a special regimen used to introduce a diet. South Beach, Atkins and many others have an “induction” section (at least in several iterations) which is basically designed to create dramatic initial weight loss. The alternate use of “induction” periods is for dealing with plateaus. Most of the time they are slights of hand, things like carbohydrate unloading, massive flavor and food changes that are not sustainable and not very palatable. The question is whether or not SLD should have one.

On the pro side, lots of dieters expect one.

On the con side, SLD doesn’t need one, an “induction” phase masks the fact that SLD really works, and people need to acclimate themselves to plateaus as normal rather than as signs of failure.

You can tell that the more I think about it, the more I think an induction addition to SLD isn’t necessarily a good idea and could well be a bad one.

That said, and reminding people to talk to their doctors first (!) (that is really important):

The easy induction diet goes as follows:


Nose clip.

Drink water.

Drink a shake made as follows:

1/8 cup protein powder

1 cup non-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons ELOO (this will get them used to ELOO and is a breakfast with about 300 calories).

Drink water

Take nose clip off.


Drink water.

Drink a shake made as follows:

1/8 cup protein powder

1 cup non-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons Flax Seed oil (this will get them used to oils that have to be noseclipped, but that are high Omega 3 and is a breakfast with about 300 calories).

Drink water

Take nose clip off.


Drink water.

Drink a shake made as follows:

1/8 cup protein powder

1 cup non-fat yogurt

½ cup vegetable fiber (alternatives, below):

1. Pumpkin (cooked, from can)

2. Broccoli (steamed, either fresh or frozen)

3. Cauliflower (steamed, either fresh or frozen)

4. Squash (a full cup to make up for ultralow calories)

5. Green Beans (fresh, frozen, dried or canned)

6. Carrots (fresh, frozen, dried or canned)

Drink water

Take nose clip off.

Drink no flavored soft drinks. If you need caffeine, either take it by pill or by caffeine water (available all over, basically water with caffeine in it) not by coffee or tea. Take multivitamin, fish oil and calcium with vitamin d as supplements.

First two weeks, just the shakes.

Third week, on Sunday, take the ELOO nose clipped in two fingers of water.

Otherwise eat normally on Sunday.

Fourth week, on Sunday and Saturday take the ELOO nose clipped in two fingers of water.

Otherwise eat normally.

Then, take ELOO or Flax Seed oil as SLD calories, adjust as needed, eat what you feel like otherwise.

Enough protein to prevent protein wasting. All the calories eaten are SLD calories so it ought to move the set point down sharply.

Fiber to prevent problems.

Acclimation for the oil.

Repeat for stubborn plateaus.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New York was pleasant, but I'm glad to be back in Dallas

Fulfilled an obligation and read a lot. Spent a lot of time on layovers, waiting on delays for closed runways, lightning storms, etc.

New Yorkers that I met were friendly and polite. Not at all as the stereotype goes. Had drivers from three foreign countries: Brazil, Ecuador and the Bronx.

I did a lot of reflecting. But right now I'm glad to be home, so very glad to be with my family, to sleep in my own bed.

I wish you all the same.

BTW, quoting from the SLD boards, the real source of obesity in the United States:

TV makes you fat.

Studies have shown that TV viewing is directly associated with obesity and weight gain likely because of less physical activity and higher intake of calories. Also, the participants in the study who watched more TV also tended to eat more red meat, processed meat, snacks and sweets, and fewer fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This eating pattern, the authors state, which is directly related to advertisements and food cues appearing on TV, may adversely affect diabetes risk.

How much TV children watch accurately predicts whether they will go on to become overweight, a study suggests.

Here is a link to the video of the show I was on in New York (it is very short)
-- it was nice to meet Seth and I've thought a lot.

And some comments on the show: comments (e.g. the publication the doctor cited is a student journal, some other things I did not know).

As for diets, how well do they really work: Alas, a blog, the truth ... (the number of successes looks more like 60% of 2.8%)

But what about the most successful group of dieters - those who managed to obey the seven separate diet restrictions this study called for, for all three years? (That’s a grand total of 198 dieters out of the initial group of 6,857, or 2.8%). Of this tiny, select group, 40% failed to meet this study’s extremely forgiving standard of “successful weight loss.”

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Being in bondage

I got this from a friend:

A poor self-image keeps us in bondage to self and makes it impossible to find true humility.

Also, from Seth Roberts:

This coming Wednesday (July 9), Stephen Marsh and I will be on The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet to talk about the Shangri-La Diet. (In the Bay Area, this show starts at 9 am on the FOX affiliate. It lasts one hour.)

I used to feel as if I were in bondage to food, now I don't.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fourth of July, Fifth of July, Sixth of July

First time at home for a long time.

This song has kind of come to be a second national anthem for a lot of people, and it still moves me.

Saw the American Girl movie last night (July third). It is set in the Great Depression and touches on all those themes. I've had times when I had nothing, not even enough food. I'm grateful for everything and for hope.

It is so different staying in town for this weekend, the first time we have done that in a very long time.

Honest Medicine