Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tueday August 31st 2010 - second post regarding freelance writing

I have posted four of my recent articles on my other blog . Here is my first article for the Examiner...

Homeschooled Online Advantage

Many opponents of the homeschooling option cite quality of education and socialization skills among students as arguments against the homeschooled. Today’s homeschooled students and teachers come from all walks of life and tend to be more mainstream than their predecessors. Many parents turn to homeschooling in frustration over what they perceive to be a collapsing public school education suffering from massive budget cuts, deteriorating infrastructure, and increasing violence among its students.

In a traditional school setting, teachers specialize in subjects from computer sciences to math to foreign languages. In the past, homeschooled parent instructors hired expensive tutors for courses that exceeded their capabilities or experience, but tutors are expensive and they tend to work on fixed schedules. There are literally hundreds of accredited online K-12 courses online that offer homeschooled parents an affordable and flexible alternative.

 Another concern of homeschooled opponents is the certification of instructors. While some parents are certified instructors the vast majority are not, but one has to consider the efficacy of a traditional teacher with 30 to 40 students as compared to a statistically well-educated parent with a deep investment in their child’s future. The addition of online courses can squelch those arguments by providing accredited certified instruction in areas of the greatest concern like English, math, and science. An additional feature of online course is transparency and accountability. While many of today’s universities and colleges consider standardized entrance exams to be a better barometer of a student’s academic prowess, the addition of online education transcripts can only help.

The second most common objection to the homeschooled option is the perception of stunted socialization. Homeschooled students, particularly online students, have more flexible schedules and can often meet with other homeschooled students of a wider variety in age than the public schooled for true quality time rather than sitting in a crowded classroom with limited opportunities to interact. Homeschooled students operating online have the advantage of organizing events and gatherings through homeschooled web and socialization sites.

The complexity of primary education has changed. Many students, including a growing number of traditional students, have grasped onto online instruction as a viable alternative or in addition to traditional classrooms. Do the addition of online instruction and the steady rise of the homeschooled spell the end of traditional schools? Of course not, but online course have certainly enriched the homeschooled and made them even more competitive against traditionally taught students.  

Tuesday August 31st, 2010 - The Examiner

My workouts have been temporarily suspended due to being overwhelmed with work. Tomorrow is jam packed so I won't see the gym until Thursday. I can't wait. I don't like the mushy feeling I get when I don't work out. As a result of my crazy schedule, my diet has gone to poop. I have had to eat when I can and whatever I can. Thankfully I did some real healthy shopping so I'm not stuffing my face with oatmeal cookies.

If only losing weight was as fun as gaining it. It is so discouraging to work hard and sacrificing yummy food for weeks to lose the weight and then put it right back on in a matter of days. However, one must continue to fight and accept gains where ever and whenever you can. I'm in it for the long run. It feels way to good to be healthy. I'll never let myself get so far out of shape again.

As previously discussed, I am trying to expand my schedule to accommodate additional freelance writing. Today I took a big step by accepting a contract position with My assigned subject matter in online learning. I love when passion meets practical like getting paid to do what I love... writing. DENVER BILLIONAIRE BUYS SF EXAMINER.(San Francisco Examiner): An article from: NewsInc

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday August 29th, 2010 - Survived Babysitting... barely

This past week was consumed with babysitting Rylan. They really shouldn't call it baby "sitting" because, when she was a wake, I was not sitting. Well, maybe I sat while she was eating. But then again, that was a whole new challenge because she's testing her limits and often refuses to open her mouth. 10 months old with attitude. My strategy was too let her finger eat pieces of cooked carrots, canned peas (her favorite), toddler puff snacks, and then shove cereal with either baby food apple sauce or more peas, or squash. Rylan is also at the stage where she loves to drop things off of her high chair. I could handle the toys and even the wash clothes, but the air born distribution of food was discerning. Nonetheless, we had a splendid week. I love that little girl like she was my own. We just play, eat, sleep, and poop. Lots of mutual giggling. I can't wait for the next time.

My own food consumption and exercise went to hell this week, but I'll be back in the gym tomorrow. I'm afraid to hit the scale because I'm sure I gained weight. When you only have moments to eat, you tend not to pay much attention to what is going into your mouth. At any rate, I think running after Rylan all week constituted exercise.

I may have mentioned before that the art world, which I rely on for income, comes to a complete halt during the month of August. So the major acquisition that I had hoped would close in August will not close. As a matter of fact, it may take many more months to close if it closes at all. This has cut my pay by 90% so I decided to aggressively pursue freelance writing contracts. I thought I had found my wind fall with but I was very wrong. I was bidding on over ten jobs a day, but I was either losing the bid or the job went to someone who would do a ridiculous amount of work for $30. Many of the article requests were being bid out at less than a dollar for 500 words. Plus, your expected to write 30 to 100 articles in just a view days. Basically your supposed to write 10 new original articles a day... for a lump sum of $10. Forget that. I can make more money doing surveys only.

But God is good and He has brought money back into our family financial needs. I really need to contribute about $3000 per month to the family budget. As you can see, ramping up to speed will take some time, but in the mean time God helped me obtain a substantial "front" from my NYC gallery and He has helped me collect film royalties from some of my more compassionate distributors. In addition, He surprised us with an oil lease contract signing bonus.

Since my grandfather died, we have kept up on the property taxes for three mineral rights sites. They were not producing. They were just sitting out there so I really didn't pay attention to the size of our stake. I assumed it was trivial but I continued to pay the taxes anyway. As it turns out I own 1/8th interest in 680 acres of high potential oil fields in north east Colorado. And it would appear that one of the world's largest oil exploration companies is very optimistic about finding oil shale and natural gas on our land. I don't own the surface rights, but everything below the ground. The Green River Formation in Northwest Colorado is said to be one of the biggest oil fields in the world. Maybe some of it bled over to our land. Who knows? The potential is there. We'll just have to sit and wait until they fully qualify the find. Could be real fun or at the very least, another source of royalties. If it paid my auto insurance and the cable bill each month I would be happy. So I guess the conclusion to this story is that the Lord has always provided for us in ways we could not have foreseen. I publicly thank you Lord. Now maybe I can continue my trek to better heath.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday August 24th, 2010 - Babysitting Rylan

This week I'm babysitting my cousin's baby. Rylan was born in October 2009. She is adorable and the happiest baby I have ever seen. Nonetheless, babysitting is exhausting. She has two speeds; awake and asleep. Not too much in between. She is crawling, but like a very fast tank. She will probably be walking soon. She has this speed racer car she can sit on an scoot, but she usually gets behind it and pushes. Sometimes she will reach out for things and kind of take a step. I wouldn't classify it as a real first step. More like a reach.

Rylan has liked me since she was born. Maybe I'm warm. Anyway, when I enter a room or peek around a corner she immediately drops what she's doing or whom she is sitting with and bolt towards me. I would like to teach her to say Uncle Chris or even Teddy (bear), but her words are currently restricted to da da, ta ta (our dog Tatum), and doggy. Everything else is more of a baby demand. My greatest concern right now is that she keeps calling my da da. All the time. She does call her dad da da, but it's awkward when she calls me too.

Yesterday I took Rylan out on some errands with me and she loves me to hold her through the store or place her in the cart, but its exhausting. Being a full time mom has got to be a killer. My wife and the other momthers just roll their eyes at me when I talk about how tired I am. Anyway, Rylan is like a built in gym. I can't go to the regular gym this week unless I go in the evening, but babysitting is some serious work and a good workout. My diet was not great yesterday. I over ate lunch and dinner. I'l try to be better today.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22nd, 2010 - Great Sunday

I always pound out the same concept. Weight loss and good health rely on everything. Today I went to service at a new church (same as last week) and thoroughly enjoyed it, but looking at the parishioners it was clear that the old saying that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week. True from my perspective. It inspired a new article. Not prejudicial; more factual.

My diet was okay today, but not great as far as calories go, but good healthy food. After church I changed clothes and went to the gym. Great circuit training and hard basketball. Went home hot tired and sweaty.

Managed to work on painting. Started two new paintings and worked on an existing project. All in all, a very good day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 17th, 2010 - Writings from Christopher

Today was my day to visit the gym, but I didn't make it. I spent most of the morning in the orthodontists office while my youngest, Bobby, had his new braces put on. He has a weird bite and upper jaw line which required widening. In order to do this they put this contraption called an expander on the roof of his mouth that is designed to slowly, over the course of 18 days, split his bone. Then they tie it off and wait for the jaw to heal and fill in. If it works as planned, he will develop a temporary gap between his front teeth like David Letterman. Needless to say, his pain today was monumental. We stocked up on soft foods and Ibuprofen.

Tomorrow I will work until 2pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in the Idea Box as usual. Hopefully I'll get some interesting school groups, but I think the only ones already in school are from Douglas County. Afterwards I'll be helping my friend Woody move to his new house. Woody has Cushing's disease and has recently found a large malignant tumor on his sternum. I suppose that will be my exercise for tomorrow. Then, of course, I have Thursday's gym scheduled which is probably the next time I will post.

While I have been busy managing my late father's film and art career, painting, and writing I have a bit of an unexpected gap in paychecks that has necessitated my new job search. I went to an employment support group at the church I attended on Sunday and came to the conclusion that I simply do not want a new career or employer. I also do not want to go back to car brokering or warehouse management, so I have determined my best course of action is to solicit contract work as a technical and/or creative writer. In order to do so I have joined the Society for Technical Communication and I've started another blog called to showcase my writing and to share my experiences writing and publishing my "Positano" book.

Most of my problem with employment has been the "too" syndrome. I am too experienced, too expensive, too educated, and, as ridiculous as this sounds, too old. I believe contract work will be less threatening to employers and hopefully allow me to continue taking care of the family while earning a descent "gap" earning.

How does this effect my weight loss? I suppose you have to take care of the basics in order to concentrate on  losing weight. The financial stress is enough to fall back into stress eating which is partly responsible for my current size. I think I will have to design a new website to display my writing portfolio. While I have some examples of my research essays and various technical writings and the Positano book samples, I will need to add any new work. If you have any written work or know of any written work contracts, please let me know. Thanks.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday August 15th 2010 - Vacation's over... damn

Yellowstone was wonderful. Not only were the sights fantastic, but the hikes and opportunities for vigorous exercise were limitless. You would think that with all the gym time I put in that a few hikes would be a cake walk, but I can tell you that each night we were very glad to be back in our hotel room. While it's not necessary, having a nice clean large hotel suite makes the whole experience just a little bit better. No. Actually, a nice room and a nice relaxing dinner each night makes everything better. Especially because I didn't have to cook or do the dishes. And I love someone else making my bed. I don't know about you, but I can't sleep in a bed that hasn't been tightly made. My wife thinks I'm a little compulsive about the bed thing, but I like the cool stretched sheets when I climb in the bed. I usually make my bed while its still warm. 

Back to the benefits of a nice active vacation. I think it's very important to escape the day to day at least a couple of times a year. It doesn't always have to be Europe although I am fond of Berlin (very clean city) and Paris (very dirty stinky city, but still cool). A nice weekend holiday just a short drive away can do the trick. Of course living in Denver right at the base of the Rocky Mountains allow us a great selection of get aways.

It's like I always say; becoming healthy and controlling your weight has to do with everything in your life. Your physical shape not only helps burn calories and makes you feel strong, but it also reminds you of your goal. Mental health is necessary because losing weight is 90% in your head. If you aren't ready to change your eating habits nothing can make you thin for life. Eventually a weak mind will allow you to regain the weight.

You can get stomach bypass or super dupper expensive frozen diet meals, but they all come down to the same thing... eat less calories than you burn. Simple. It's always about the calories. There is no magic pill that lets you eat 4 slices of pizza with a couple of beers sitting on the couch watching other people play sports. If there is, let me know because it is football season and I would love to eat like a pig and lose weight. Sounds funny, but many people fall into the trap of easy solutions when the only solution is calorie control. The products are just tools to achieve the same goal... calorie control.

One other element that I've left out is spiritual health. Regardless of your religion or beliefs, maintaining a positive and hopeful outlook on life is critical to weight loss. Happy people lose weight; depressed sad people gain weight or lose so much weight they become unhealthy. It's just better to be happy.

Today was great. I started the day by going to a new church and praying for direction and balance in my life. Afterwards I returned home just long enough to change clothes and hit the gym. I did my circuit training because it doesn't take as long and leaves me actually being stronger which feels real good to me. I like being strong and have great stamina. My training certainly helped me enjoy my Yellowstone vacation. I was ready and willing to go on any hike. This vacation was much better than my last trip to Paris where I was very out of shape and restricted in movement. Tuesday is my next gym day, but I think I will be helping a friend move tomorrow and everyone knows that's a bitch regardless of your shape.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday August 7th 2010 - The Van Gogh Complex

Okay. I am finally checking out for vacation which really doesn't mean much since my hotels have online access. Anyway, done for today and tomorrow.

I was invited to join a bipolar artist's colony When I get back from vacation I'll submit my dad's work. And I'll finish the three paintings I'm working on. Maybe even a segment of my book. Anyway, have a good day. I am going to a tail gate party for a Denver Bronco open practice. How cool is that?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday August 5th 2010 - Vacation

My wife is officially on vacation which by default places me on vacation. On Sunday most of the family will drive up to Montana and explore Yellowstone National Park for a week. I've been to 19 countries, but never Yellowstone which is literally a days drive from the home that I grew up in. I'm excited and eagerly preparing for the trip. I've asked my friends for tour advice and I think I would have to live there for a year to get to all of the suggestions. Nonetheless, I will purchase an actual book and try to tie these suggestions into a reasonable trip. Of course there are a large multitude of website guides, but I am frankly on Yellowstone online information overload.

This week has been a continuation of fitness training for the vacation. If there is a 10 mile day hike worth taking I do not want to be the party pooper. I had a great workout on Tuesday and a punishing workout today. I max pressed my circuit training and played basketball with a 19 year old man for 45 minutes. I can hardly move. That's an exaggeration, but I am sore tonight. I do not plan on working out any more before we leave on vacation for several reasons. First, I have a horrible history of injury. Don't want to get hurt before the trip. Second, I want my body to be fresh for the pending adventures. Third, I have a blister on the top of my foot from Saturday's intense hike. It's almost healed. I'll use some mole skin on my sensitive places in my footwear.

My eating has been fair to good, but I seem to be losing weight. I know my exercise regiment has increased, but as we know exercise is not a great fat burner. The simple recipe is always the same. Eat less calories than you burn and you will lose weight. No matter how people like to market their "miracle" weight loss plans, it really comes down to burning more fat than you consume. Either they squelch your appetite (to consume less calories) or burn calories (again reducing calories). The problem is more subtle than people think. Fat people are not eating ridiculous hoards of hot dogs or mammoth pizza's; they are eating 10% more than they should. It's that extra serving of potatoes or just one little extra piece of pizza. It's the 10% rule.

People need to watch skinny people. Yes, they eat the same food, but they eat everything on their plates and stop. It's the slightly larger bowl of granola in the morning; its the large fry at lunch; it's the snacks between. It doesn't matter if it's crap or health food. Too many calories equal weight gain.

Losing weight is a hard battle. I think it's one of the greatest addictions known to man. You can look at a meth head or a drunk and know their "issue" and you can send them to rehab and maybe you could try to send fat people to fat camps, but weight loss begins in the head not in the gym. Of course, as I always say, weight loss is everything; calories, sleep, mental health, physical health, exercise, and did I mention calories? I think I should try hypnosis as an experiment for this blog. Maybe the answer lies in dancing like a chicken in your underwear. Who am I to judge?  

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday August 1st, 2010 - Hiking my butt off... literally!

The past week has been wonderful for health, diet, and general wellbeing. As previously posted, on Tuesday the 27th I successfully completed my "Tuesday" circuit training. On Wednesday, I worked at the museum and completed most of my chores including grocery shopping with 30 minutes of shooting hoops in the sun. The vast majority of my purchased protein was seafood; shrimp, Prawns, Yellow Fin Tuna steaks, and crab cakes. I did buy some organic beef and free range chicken to grill for the family. I complemented my protein with a wide array of vegetables; primarily the grill capable. I like to put some olive oil and seasoning salt on a variety of squashes, carrots, potatoes, and corn on the cob in a foil pouch and put it on the upper burner of the grill. They steam well and come out flavorful and a little "al dente."

I am so satisfied with vegetarianism with seafood. A little cheese goes a long way towards curing cravings. Plus, I can have the main course once in a while and that was missed. This beats vegan hands down. Sorry my vegan comrades. I got soft.

On Thursday, I opted out of the gym in favor of a long hike in Roxborough State Park, Colorado. The trail my son and I choose was supposed to be 5 miles, but we diverted to another trail extending the hike to almost seven miles. I'm not sure exactly how long it took, but I would guess about 2.5 hours. I stop a lot to take photos. The trail is called "South Bowl" because it ascends up the small canyon to the crest and then follows it around a huge, wait for it, ... bowl and then you descend back to a beautiful meadow, but that is where we continued up another short incline and took the long way around to the car. At the beginning of our hike the weather was about 97 degrees Fahrenheit and bright. About half way through the clouds had mercy on us and we continued with the threat of rain, but the reality of some pretty good Colorado humidity which is nothing compared to the south or anywhere near sea level. Our altitude at the car was about 6,200 feet, but the crest was marked with a sign indicating 6,800 feet so it was a fairly steep climb but it was all in switchbacks at the beginning of the hike. Most of the hike was fairly tame, but long. Still, very good preparation for Yellowstone. One more note about Thursday: We went to the Mercury Cafe for a late night concert from my cousin's husband's band. They were fantastic and we closed the bar. I milked a couple of beers, but no hard liquor empty calories. Not that beer is health food. I don't think they had wine.

On Friday, I did a quick circuit working only my arms. My legs were still tired from Roxborough. As customary, I took my mom to the gym and she did great as usual. She has really gone through an unbelievable transformation. I haven't seen her this mobile for many years and she's so happy with her progress. The results of our hard work have far exceeded my expatiations.

On Saturday, my wife, my 19 year old son, and I went to Mount Falcon park for a hike. We picked a 3.5 mile loop called the Parmalie Trail and I thought I was in for easy street. Wrong! The descent on this trail was steep and it continued far longer than I had anticipated. We must have descended well over 1,000 feet. What goes down must come back up. Steep climb. It felt like a million stairs. The dry hot air practically evaporates sweat as fast as you can produce it, but I was a sweaty mess anyway. There was no even ground on this hike. Steep, hot, and fairly brutal. I pushed liquids as usual, but did get a surprise mild sunburn. I thought I had been outside enough not to burn, but the high altitude sun is very strong. Needless to say the views were awesome. I love living in the Colorado Rockies. I thanked God when we made it back to the car.

I was sure I was going to be massively sore, but this morning I felt pretty good so I hit the circuit training hard and upped my leg press to 430 pounds. I added weight at pretty much every station. Afterwards I aggressively shot hoops for about 45 minutes in the indoor gym. Not as hot and didn't hurt my sunburn. On Monday I hope to shoot some hoops outside, but not for long and I may bail out and go to the inside gym if my sunburn hurts.

So, exercise has been a hit and I'm feeling great again. As long as I keep this up there will be no trail to intimate me at Yellowstone. While my exercise has surely consumed many calories, it has the residual effect of helping control my eating. This week I lost almost 10 pounds without really thinking about it. A few more pounds and I'll be back down to 320 and then soon down to 313 which is my low for the past... 10 years? I plan on continuing my progress and eating healthy and staying strong. I feel pretty damn good today.