Whale Oil Lamps or Coleman Lanterns.

Free of charge, here is my summation of exercise fuel sources, their uses, availability.  Different intensities of exercise use different fuels.

First, the low intensity fuel source, what I call ‘the whale oil lamp’.  Think of the way an old whale oil lamp works.  It is unpressurized, smoky, inefficient, but cheap to operate.    It does provide light, but it isn’t a terribly bright light, and it can’t light more than a small area.  This means, then, in exercise physiology theory, you can only use this energy source to perform low-intensity exercises.  Hiking, walking, easy swimming, easy long distance running are good examples of this.

This first source is your body’s stored fat.  It will burn, but it only burns slowly.  You can go a long time on this energy source, because most of us have at least some stored fat.  This source has severe limitations.  It can ONLY provide a slow, but steady trickle of fuel for low-intensity aerobic demands on the body.

The beauty of the human body is that it has an automatic cut-over switch to a more efficient fuel system if the physical demand outstrips the energy supply from fat cells.

 This high intensity source is what I call ‘the Coleman lantern’.  It burns brightly, and will light a large area, but there is only a small tankful of fuel to use.  Pump the pressurization system, and the light will get brighter.  This second source is glycogen, which is energy stored in muscles. This source is perfect for high demand aerobic activities, and also anaerobic activities.  Sprinting, the middle section of most spinning/aerobics classes, mixed martial arts, boxing are good examples.

As you attempt to gain fitness at your anaerobic threshold, you are almost exclusively using the ‘Coleman lantern’ energy system.  The more efficiently this Coleman burns, the quicker you can compete and the quicker you recover.  The downside is you burn very little fat during this type of training.

If you need/wish to lose some weight that you consider fat cells, you must use the ‘whale oil’ system for the majority of your training.  This system, remember, is for use in low-demand but endurance situations.  You must try to keep your heart rate below 55% of maximum (or maybe 60%, but that’s pushing it).  Anything higher, and the body automatically switches to the ‘Coleman fuel’ system of energy supply.

By the way, once you’ve turned on the Coleman lantern, it will stay on for the rest of that exercise session.  If you want to go back to whale oil, stop that workout, rest for an hour or two, and start a new workout.  EASY, this time.

Finding God on TV

So, it was my turn to teach the high school Wednesday night program last night.  My topic was, and will be again on Sunday, learning to be compassionate and merciful and loving to the people of our tribe.  See the post titled Los Misericordiosos for that whole story.

Yeah, so I was racking my brain to find a perfect movie clip to illustrate my point about caring for people; noticing when they need us, ya know.  The Jesus movie, with Jeremy Sisto, was a home run.  I was sure of it.  It would still be great actually, because of the part when Jesus notices Mary Magdalene (Debra Messing) and asks her if she wants to come along.  Ok, well I couldn’t get the DVR/computer/TV to copy the clip right.  I moved on to Schindler’s List, the part where Liam Neeson (Schindler) is upset with himself for not being more careful with his money because he could have saved more Jews. Another home run.  But, upon further review, to do the entire Holocaust and Steven Speilberg’s retelling of it takes more than a four minute clip.

So, God, who we know has a sense of humor, showed me the perfect story while I was watching my favorite show – The Biggest Loser.  Yes, God is part of The Biggest Loser.  Coleen was sad that she only lost a few pounds on the show her trainer, Jillian just practically cried because she knew Coleen would be disappointed and probably voted off the show.  THAT is compassion. 

ABC (or whatever network it is on; I just DVR it and watch it later) pays her a LOT of money to train the contestants and help them lose weight.  She wouldn’t have to get invested in these people, after all, it has been six seasons, so ya win some, ya lose some, right?

Then at the end Coleen is pleading her case to stay on the ranch, and she is just totally at the mercy of the rest of the contestants.  All she had was, ‘please let me stay here’. 

I appreciate God’s message; find people who you care about and SHARE THEIR PAIN.  Sometimes that’s all that matters.

Los Misericordiosos

Yeah, it’s Spanish.  It means a combination of compassionate, merciful, charitable, grace-ful (as in full of grace), humane, even pious.  But all those words in English don’t reach me.  All of those words, to me, have other stuff associated with them.  Like Compassion International, charitable giving as a tax deduction, graceful swans or ballet dancers or “Days of Grace”, by Arthur Ashe.  Whatever king’s nickname was The Merciful, as in Ashot III the Merciful, King of Armenia.  The Humane Society.  Pious as in “holier than thou”.

The deal with hearing God in a foreign language is that all our cultural baggage is swept away, flicked off, denuded.  Music counts as a foreign language, by the way.  God, maybe the Holy Spirit, reaches us in a cleaner way because we are not distracted.  We use a different part of our brains to process foreign languages and music, so we have a chance to be affected.  It is too easy to stay insulated when we are totally in our comfort zone.  We’ve got to look PAST ourselves, SEE the miserable, and FIND A WAY to comfort them.

The Latin roots of misericordia are this:  miseri-wretched and cordia – heart.  I see that as literally having one heart with the wretched of this world.  To FEEL what THEY feel, and to suffer like they suffer.  Misericordia is to compassion/mercy as misericordioso is to compassionate/merciful. 

It means not walking by the kid getting made fun of.  It means defending a friend’s reputation when you hear someone bagging on them.  It means being NICE to that irritating kid (friend or not) who keeps bugging you about, well, anything.  It means patience when you really just want to scream. 

Treating your brother or sister as a special person, not an annoying pest.

Jesus begs us to be los Misericordiosos.

Welcome To Subway

But you could tell she was required to say it when a customer entered the store.

I’ve gotta say, maybe this idea, to say “Welcome To Subway” sounded great in the Dunder-Mifflin Corporate Office.  I just think they should have taken the idea on the road and asked a few employees to ‘try it out’ in the real world before they made it corporate policy.

I so wished I could have hopped the counter (and the attached sneeze guard) and helped our ‘sandwich artist’ finish our stuff (Seriously, PUT SOME JALAPENOS ON THERE!!!).  But, at the very least, it would have been cool to get her to have a happier day. 

Maybe she was just focused.

Saturday morning

Three things, all for filing under the Life is both hilarious and tragic, almost at the same time.  Many times we have had to stop doing the ‘life-changing stuff’ (My dad has concer, for instance) to take care of the mundane (I need lunch money, for instance).  The cool part of this is that we CAN shift gears back and forth – that is what makes life so fascinating!

The first thing – hilarious.  The Wichita Eagle (11/15/08, page 6A) had a blurb from Hormel about how popular Spam is now that economic times are tougher.  Apparently Spam is a great buy, when money is tight.  Spam is vacuum-sealed in a can and does not require refrigeration, and can last for many years.  Because of those qualities, Here is what Hormel said, “it’s like meat with a pause button.” 

I never knew you could PAUSE MEAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Second – tragic.  Also from the Eagle (11/15/08 news in brief) 3 high school students drowned in Illinois when they snuck out at night to take paddle boats out on the lake.  The camp management had already removed the floor plugs to winterize the boats.  They were on the last day of an 8 day leadership camping retreat.

I think about how quickly the normal can turn tragic for all of us, but especially us parents.  All the stuff our kids go and do and come home safely from, but that the potential for disaster is always there.  Talk about releasing our worries to God!

Lastly,  Krispy Kreme with my daughter this morning.  What a great day!  She ordered a plain, a chocolate glazed, and a ‘fall’ sprinkles.  Since I was there ANYWAY, I got a bold coffee (she made a fresh pot, after I whined that it wasn’t hot enough) and, uh, well, uh, ok TWO really tiny donuts – sour cream and pumpkin spice.  If it helps any, I didn’t really enjoy the sour cream one.

What we owe each other

As our kids grow up, and we grow together, my wife and I were just wondering out loud to each other, “What do we get out of these obligatory relationships?”  We are crazy about our kids, crazy about each other, and even crazy about all of our relatives/extended family.  Really!  We are truly blessed to avoid almost all of the awful stories you hear/read where families just scream at each other.

Still, it takes a LOT of WORK to keep a family moving in a direction that is healthy.  After we (meaning me and Ang) get through our ceaseless chore list and are reasonably certain that the house won’t fall apart/burn down/get repossessed/rot/flood/mold, we STILL have relationships to foster.  If we give our best effort at work, and the kids give their best efforts at school, what do we come home to?  What do we have left when we finally get to the house, pull up the drawbridge, and lock ourselves in our castle?  This world is exhausting!

My almost constant prayer these days (and believe me, I’m no holy man deliberately setting an example), is that we five people who live in this house can just LOVE each other.  So simple but it takes a mountain of resolve and a pile of good intentions and a vat of grace to see past each other’s unvarnished humanity and take care of us – better or worse.

Is it just us or is it tough for everyone?

P.S.  Remember the story from The Mexican?  Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts?  “How much is too much?  When do you say enough and that the relationship is over?”  “NEVER, Never is the answer.”  (or at least something like that)

What students want!

Another Wednesday night.  If you get a chance, talk to kids/teens/students outside of the formal meeting room – they are ‘real’ and unguarded.  There is a great chance at sneaking in a relationship with them before they even notice that an adult is talking to them.  Go ahead, be sneaky.  (Although it is funny to see them try to hide the cigarettes.  Like we can’t SMELL?)

In the meeting room, we talked about commandment 10, which is the one about coveting.  As an intro, we asked them to tell us “what object or thing they wanted that a friend or another person had”.

Here is what was on their minds last night:

  • I want my friend’s ‘itouch’ (next generation ipod which can convert into a phone/internet thing)
  • I want a PS3
  • I want a new phone
  • I want a lot of money
  • several girls wanted one girl’s boots

Pretty tame stuff.  Then, after we went around the room, almost all of them wanted to change their answers.  It is so easy to WANT MORE, and this 10 minute exercise with them was a graphic example. 

Now they wanted these things:

  • the ENTIRE Sony electronic library
  • a bigger bank account
  • I want Isabella’s LIFE (from the Twilight series – better read it, cuz it has lots of traction)

What was cool (and a little scary) was how quickly the greed grew. Reminded me of ME.

Our small group time, me and 4 guys, we mostly spent telling stories about bloody accidents that happened to us.  Yeah, I know, but I couldn’t get them to talk about anything else!  Hunting accidents, stitches, split foreheads…  wow.

And that is the lure of the kids; sublime, raw souls tempered with the hilarious!

On the minds of students

Wednesday nights, after work, we spend two hours at church, mostly with middle school students.  Most of the time they are like separate piles of uranium-235, situated just far enough apart that the critical mass reaction hasn’t happened yet, but James Bond would know it is time to leave the secret Soviet weapons factory because the explosion is inevitable.

Some of those nights we get through the entire lesson, even through a few discussion questions (“we can’t hear you unless you raise your hand!”), and then they start furtively checking the time on their cell phones (“I’ve gotta meet my mom right after!”).

It is at this point of the dance that the magic happens.  We ask them what their prayer requests are.  “What did you say?”, they ask.  Prayer requests, we adults answer, reminding them that we don’t make fun of anyone, and we try to remember these things during the coming week.  ‘We are a family, and we have to take care of each other’- our weekly mantra.

Here is what was on their minds last week (you can guess which ones weren’t told to us publicly):

  • her dad and brother got into a fist fight, so she thinks she’ll be moving soon (high school)
  • she didn’t have to wear a back brace after all, but they still have to fix something(middle school)
  • my friend’s parent has cancer (several)
  • I don’t want to trip on the risers at the choir concert; I’m the first one on the stage (middle school)
  • I’ve started looking at porn (high school)
  • I want to cut myself (high school)
  • I love someone who doesn’t know I’m alive (high school)
  • we are moving this weekend, and  there is lots of work to do (middle school)
  • my grandma died (middle school)
  • I am getting bad grades, I’m grounded, my phone’s been taken away (middle school)

I’m just sayin’, these kids need SOMEONE, ANYONE to tell them it will all work out fine.

Reclaiming the Holidays

Family.  Friends.  Health.  Vitality.  Babies.  Soul mates.  These are the reasons we celebrate our significant holidays.  We gather together to give thanks for each other, and to look forward to more precious time together.  One more year has passed, and we count the blessings that we have all shared.  We can’t wait to see that new baby, or meet the new wife/husband, or see Mom and Dad again.

If this is the first year you’ve been without a lifelong companion, take heart.  Invite your cherished family and friends to your place, and let them fill it with new memories full of laughter and tears.  Show them your sadness and let them weep with you.  Likewise, when the joyous show up, listen to their stories of happiness, praise, fulfillment, and soak in the healing.

If you are the one with joy, praise or excitement over a great year, make a point of attending the family reunions on the calendar.  There is a way to share all of you without gloating or just bragging.  Joy is unmistakable.  Joy is a sincere state of being; an observer can tell the difference between true joy, false happiness, and vicarious boasting.  Carry the joy around with you, and leave the rest at home.

Being with family, and being with friends who truly know you means getting to take the masks of perfection off.  Don’t we all wear them?  By the way, ask the teenagers who gather with you if they can guess how you really are feeling.  If you can get them to engage, they will speak truth to you.  They have a sense about people, especially those they love, and teenagers can’t be fooled.

Make a new friend this holiday season; go sit at the kids table.  Get the kids and young people to go around the table and tell a ‘high’ and a ‘low’ for the year.  Or, go with the ‘rose’ game.  Ask them to tell a rose (a good thing), a thorn (a bad thing), and a rosebud (something they are looking forward to).

Ignore the dollar signs of the holidays.  Embrace the deeper, tougher side of the next few months and make memories.