Welcome to Daily Boards

I’m going out on a limb here and trying something!  Pure Excitement!  I’m going to post one self-written (might employ a team of writers soon) medical school boards-esque question per day.  It is an effort to hone my question writing/reading skills, share knowledge, and create something novel and useful for the benefit of all.  Check out DailyBoards.

BIG JUICE

They say if you’ve got a gift, share it with the world.  Well, here is  my gift to the world.  Sadly, I cannot personally take credit for it.  I stumbled upon this recipe buried in e-books about weightlifting and mass building.  The recipe makes it easy to put ~700 great calories into your body post haste.  Without further ado:

BIG JUICE

(serves 1)

  • 12 oz pastured WHOLE milk
  • 1 Tbsp Almond (or peanut) butter
  • 1 scoop Protein Powder
  • 1/2 c. raw quick oats
  • 1 ripe banana

Fin.  Blend it up, and you’ve got a really delicious meal and then some, or, depending on your appetite, a between meals snack.  If you need a little something extra, have a DOUBLE BIG JUICE (multiply everything above by 2 – duh).  Make sure to drink it directly from the blender for added toughness.

Fitday gives us the following data for a measly single big juice:

~700 calories : 25 g fat, 80 g carb, 50 g protein.

A double big juice will get you 1400 cal, 50 g fat, 160 g carb, and 100 g of protein.  mmmmmmm

Link

In the words of Aaron Lewis…

…It’s been a while.  Not sure who Aaron Lewis is?  Look it up.  I feel compelled.  Driven.  And this seems like the natural way to get that OUT THERE.  Personal development is great, but connection with others is necessary in order to reach full potential.

It would almost feel like sacrilege to write something without trying to include something of value for the world out there.  Well, today’s (infinitely simple) piece of guidance is…

TAKE A COLD SHOWER.

You can find myriad websites online telling you to do this.  I’m not going to add much value to the discussion, other than a little anecdote which might make your morning and your life happier.  You may have heard that a cold shower “has been shown” (whatever that means) to alleviate depression.  While not clinically diagnosed, I am often feeling down at 6:30 AM when I’d rather be in bed.  It shouldn’t be so; we should wake up seeing the day ahead of us as another one to ATTACK and DOMINATE.  And a cold shower might just help you with that.

My cold-water reflex is singing.  Ironically, I felt like going with Cake’s “Sheep Go To Heaven,” exclaiming that “I’m not feeling all right today.”  But once the lines were uttered, I was feeling all right.

I must bid you adieu, and I hope everyone out there is feeling all right.  There is Bulletproof Coffee ™ to be made, and shelf exams to crush.

A Walk in the Woods

Last post, I promised to include a commentary/observation of an hour or so that I spent stolling through the woods behind my house. For a long time, it was just an aimless collection of fallen leaves and trees, but as I developed a fascination and appreciation for the natural world, it seems to have taken on a new living, breathing character. Relax, and enjoy.

4/1
It’s another warm topless afternoon. Even my pen appreciates the warm spell, exuding her ink with both grace and delight. Some red-tipped grasses detour me away from the brook, but that’s okay. Time is plentiful. I consider sitting on a rock to further inspect the grass, but an army of ants have already laid claim to this one, so I opt for one in the distance. Chipmunks try to chirp through the drone of jets overhead. They bare no politeness, hollering at the jets to quiet down, but to no avail. Woodpeckers join the fight, but with more indifference towards the noise and more desire for delicious insects. I feel the bugs creep along my bare back, hoping they will refrain from gnashing their teeth and gifting me with a venomous sting.

I pause for a moment, simply to watch all the bugs, enchanted by the sun, wake from a winter’s long slumber. Ants, big and small, traverse the rocks and leaves, and just above them, gnats circle about, proudly displaying the sun’s reflection through their wings. Every resident of the forest, from the mighty oaks, bared by the dead of winter, to the common spider, weaving her network of sticky webs, is happy to be outside today.

I push on towards the original destination to examine the deer’s corpse along the brookside.

For every hundred trees standing tall and proud, one has succumb to old age, disease, storm…the forces of nature itself. Some refuse to go down entirely, leaning on their brothers for support, in denial of the fates that lie below them. They will not go down without a fight, even if it means debilitating the lives of the living.

But even so, life wants to be, struggling to survive in the most unlikely of places. A new fern reluctantly pokes through the dead leaves around himself, not yet comfortable enough to unfurl and face the sun. A small divot at the base of a maple forms a swimming pool for fresh larvae. The moisture at her base, a catalyst for the moss, who carpets her westward base. A patch of grass, no more than twenty blades, furtively pokes through between two rocks, utilizing every nutrient in the miniscule patch of soil. But the luckiest creature of all must be the squirrel! Whether in the tops of trees or along the ground, the forest is a playground for this acrobat. No matter where he is going, he skirts about with joy and spryness, and has the luxury of falling asleep every night to the sound of the brook.

The carrion beetles casually continue to chew through the remnants of hide left on the buck’s skull. The bones are strewn about a carpet of fur; the vultures have had little regard during this feast. They lack the elegance of the beetle, who slowly and methodically goes about his work.

The area has a markedly different odor, almost of meat. My writing is interrupted by a visit from a fly, landing on the opposite page. He could fit inside the loop of my “p.”

But what’s this? My wandering eyes lead me to more bones. Two lower jaws laid neatly atop one another, as if placed. I’m so fascinated by them that I nearly overlook the rest of the skull, only a meter away. Another young buck, his fate the same as his brother’s, only a few yards away. But why? Perhaps a place for the predator to drag his kills. Perhaps coincidence.

Somthing is special about this spot. The way that the small brook has uprooted three of the grandest of trees. The two deer, who will never again feel a cool breeze blowing off the water. The new life – what were once threatening prickers are now softended by green buds. And of course, the sound and flow of the water itself. i shall call it Tritagua – the 3 waters.

The Wonder of NJ

Apologies for my hiatus. But worry not, I’ve been out doing the things I love. Hiking, biking, gardening, p90x, and among these things, making an active effort to spend less time in my chair, staring idly at the computer.

And, in my journeys, which have brought me as far as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (you were expecting more?), I have (re)discovered the wonder of New Jersey.

As a New Jersey citizen/resident, I’ve spent life in a defensive mindset, having to argue against ignorant outsiders who have donned this great state with the indelible sobriquet, “The Armpit of the Nation.” Most of these people have never been to New Jersey, and know what little they do from a combination of The Soprano’s and more recently, Jersey Shore. If you too are a New Jersey resident, I’m sure you’ve been in the position where you want to defend your beautiful home state, but lack the energy and desire, knowing that your adversary will refuse to understand your view without a visit, his dogged stance against our land ultimately unchangeable.

So, what has transpired to instill this deeper love for Jersey? No, it’s not my $31 tax refund, but rather a deeper exploration of the more natural parts of the state. You’ve heard the laundry list of perks before: close to New York City and Philadelphia, long coast line, respected learning institutions, billion dollar pharmaceutical companies. While all these benefits do make NJ a great place to live, its often overlooked natural offerings juxtapose nicely against the urban jungles of Newark and parts east.

A national park? In New Jersey? Surely we lack the grandeur of Half Dome in Yosemite, or Landscape Arche in Utah, but if you want to be in a place that replaces car horns with bird songs, head west to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and its neighboring park, Stokes State Forest. The Appalachian trail calls NJ home for a rugged 72 miles, stopping at such locales as Sunfish Pond and Sunrise Mountain. From the latter, look west over the recreation area and see nothing but green. You would be hard-pressed to find one man-made dwelling in this forest. To the east, the only residences you’ll see are the farms of Sussex County; bright green fields flanking bright red farm houses. The 4 mile hike from exit 4 on Route 80 (Dunfield Creek Recreation Area) will take you to Sunfish Pond, an all but deserted intersection point on the AT that has its own certain stillness and majesty. The acidity of the water makes it an inhospitable habitat, but some well-adapted fish still manage to call the pond home. The solitude that these parks can offer is right here at home, fully accessible, and free of charge. Atop the overlooks, you will probably have to remind yourself that you are still in New Jersey. “Where’s Route 1? Where are the noxious fumes? Where are the refineries that say ‘BEST HEATS OIL’?” Far from here.

Next time, I’ll put to press a journal entry from observation in the “deep” woods, so even if you can’t make it out there, you can close your eyes and feel the brisk forest air tickle the back of your neck.

And next time someone gives you heat for living in this tenement, this excuse for a state, smile politely, and tell them, “…if you only knew.”

Dreaming big

You’ve probably been posed the question before. Something a guidance counselor might ask you, and apparently, it’s supposed to tell you what to do with your life:

If you woke up tomorrow and had a billion dollars in your bank account, what would you do everyday? What would you wake up every morning looking forward to?

Your dream might be spending as much time as possible, in any context, with a particular person. Maybe it’s establishing a business, becoming a rock star, saving lives in Africa, competing in an exclusive event, or achieving the best shape of your life.

When you don’t devote the bulk of your time towards earning this income, the whole focus of “what to do” suddenly seems to shift. Unless you are already living your dream, the two (your dream and your current situation) might not coincide. Not to worry, as our options are nearly limitless. We live in an age and world of unfathomable opportunity to do/become pretty much anything.

The question is a hard one to answer. Most of us have become very programmed to earning, earning, and earning some more, and the reasons and driving forces behind the earnings are often forgotten. When asked what we’re saving for, we capriciously throw the label of “the future” on our hardship, and all is well and good. We pain and pain now for a (hopefully) better tomorrow. Unfortunately, tomorrow is often decades away.

Maybe your dream is to own (or at least drive) that gorgeous 1997 Dodge Viper. The blue one with the double white racing stripes. Nothing would make you happier. You finally save up enough money, but suddenly, spending this quantity of cash on your dream just doesn’t seem like a smart investment, and you opt for an 03 Corolla. Oops.

I am also personally guilty of over-saving and not spending money on things that I legitimately want. I’ve wanted to take drum lessons for some time, but always tell myself that I don’t need to spend the money on them. They will always be there in the future if I change my mind, and I can teach myself for now. However, as the years progress, my drumming has not.

Don’t run into the trap of ensuring yourself that the prospect will always be there for the future. Frankly, it won’t. If you really want to do/have something, go do/buy it now, and enjoy its company or the memory for the rest of your life. The longer you put off a dream, the less and less chance you have of acting on it. Don’t trade your entire life for misery and money so that you can spend this huge chunk of savings in the final, weakest years of your life. Do what you feel.

Take some time (it might be very difficult), and think, outside of earning money, what do you really want from the world. Cash, savings, retirement aside, if you could do anything, what would you do? What’s your dream, and what is stopping you from living it?

As a close friend once assured me, “If you follow your heart, you can never be wrong.”

The art of gift giving

Oh baby, it’s Christmas. An economy-bolstering holiday that has come to revolve around the exchange of gifts. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. After all, who doesn’t like receiving what he/she wanted all year? (Or in the case of Father and his new life-size Nutcracker soldier, something he has been waiting for since 2002).

Somewhere in the mix, I feel as though many people have lost the “meaning” of gift giving. It has become a game of strategy. Don’t spend too little (or too much), buy the right number of gifts, ensure that even exchanges are made with the appropriate people, don’t buy a gift card, gingerly guilt those who haven’t gifted enough, and don’t be caught dead showing up empty-handed when someone has a gift for you.

But, this is not what gift giving is about.

A gift is just that. A gift. Something that comes without expectation. A nice gesture that someone offers to you. Gift giving should not revolve around rules and obligations! If you want to get a nice present for someone, that is your own prerogative. If you want to spend $10 on it, by all means. $100? That’s fine too. Don’t get caught up in the fear of going to small, or coming off as ostentatious. Put some thought into it, and get that person something that you think they will like. It’s that simple.

Accept the gift graciously. Someone went out of their way to gift you. They took their time (and perhaps money), and turned it into something that they thought would make you happy. They didn’t have to. If you don’t like it (and the gift is returnable), show appreciation, but be honest.

Forget about any sense of entitlement or expectation. Remember, this is a holiday about happiness and togetherness. Receiving any gift should make you feel special, no matter how big or small. Falling into the trap of worry and desire will only make the holiday stressful and less enjoyable.

Don’t worry about anything. Do what you feel, and have a very Merry Christmas.