Author Archive: Shawn

I’m 40!

I’m 40!

That’s not really news since I’ve been 40 for a little over 8 months. (Shit! I’m closer to 41 than 40 now?) But, because a good friend of mine had his 40th birthday two days ago, we got to talking about The Big 4-0. Turning 40 wasn’t a big deal for me.

The only birthday I had a problems with was my 25th. I was still in school, and felt like I was waiting for my life to begin, but had already wasted a quarter of a century! Turning thirty was fine. That doesn’t divide into 100 evenly.

My 40th was actually good for me. The last two years of my 30’s had some rough spots and as I was approaching 40, it felt like things were finally turning around and going in the right direction. I had a quiet birthday with a few close friends, but really didn’t do a lot of celebrating. I wanted to just focus on the really good things in my life and enjoy them immensely. Quality over quantity.

But now that my friend, Gary (not his real name because he doesn’t want me to tell his real age), turned 40, we got to talking about what it meant to us. For me, there were two realizations that came with being 40. I call them realizations even though I had thought about both before, but hitting 40 made them sink in.

The first realization was that since I remember when my parents were in their 40‘s and they were old then, I must be old now.

The second was that there were a lot of things that were never going to happen in my life. That’s the hardest part of getting older. I’m not sure that some of these were really things I wanted to happen, but it was nice to know there was the possibility of it happening. But, now that I’m older, even the possibility is gone. Here’s a partial list.

  • I’m never going to be a college or professional athlete. (Let’s face it. If it’s an activity you can learn and excel at at 40, then it’s not a real sport.)
  • I’m never going to have kids in my 20’s or 30’s.
  • I will never be an astronaut. (I guess this is ok, since I hate to fly.)
  • I’m never going to just up and move to San Francisco and work in a coffee shop or bookstore.
  • I’m not going to get married before I turn 40.
  • I will never compete in the Olympics.
  • I’m never going to be the “hot, young thing” walking into the gay bar. (Unless I go to the bar above Dupont Italian Kitchen.)
  • I’m not going to backpack across Europe for the summer.

I guess some of this is ok. I’m actually in some of the best shape of my life thanks to the gym and my trainer. I’m actually feeling more athletic than I ever have (more on this in a future post). I have great friends. I had two first dates this week, both of which went well. And when I finally finish school and pay off student loans, I may have enough money to have a kid on my own if I want to. (Is 75 too old to be a father?)

Overall, 40‘s looking pretty good.

It’s the Little Things That Make the Difference

My weight loss and exercise plans continue to move forward. Slowly. I’ve been losing about a pound per week. Even this past week, I lost 0.8 pounds and that was after I pulled something in my back and couldn’t exercise. I also relaxed my diet for 3 or 4 days, instead of one day a week like I had been allowing. So since I still lost weight while not being as strict, I felt like I could be less strict again this week.

I had the afternoon off and was heading downtown to run some errands. I was going to have a late lunch and decided to go to a Greek restaurant I like. They have delicious chicken kabobs which come with pita and fries. I figured I could splurge a little and eat some fries.

As I was walking out of my apartment, I saw a guy in incredible shape walking down the other side of the street. He had shoulders out to here! (Ok. You’ll have to picture it in your mind, but they were big.) And his arms and chest were also big and very defined. He was wearing a black tank-top and black pants and was looked like he was on his way to the gym.

That’s when it struck me:

This guy doesn’t reward himself with french fries!

It’s the little things that make the difference, especially in derailing goals. I could treat myself to french fries today and I’d probably still lose weight this week. But if I treat myself today, then it’ll be easier to justify treating myself tomorrow to a dessert, or a frothy coffee drink. Or pizza! (I miss my weekly pizza.) And next thing you know I’ve gained a pound instead of losing a pound this week.

If I want to stay on target, I need to avoid the creep that can occur if I start to give myself a little leeway. So I went to Potbelly’s and had a sandwich (530 calories – right on target) and a big container of water.

Tonight it was torture!

I would have treated myself to the french fries if I had known what tonight’s workout was going to be. The last two days have had a heat index of about 105 degrees. Today it was cooler with a high of only 93, so I was already sweating by the time I got to the gym.

After a warm up of mountain climbers and planks, he had me do a circuit of six exercises:

  • Barbell squats
  • Bosu-ball pushups
  • Romanian deadlifts
  • Incline chest presses
  • Side lunges
  • Overhead pulldowns

I had to do as many reps of each exercise before moving on to the next one. And I had to keep going until I reached 400 reps total. Four hundred!! It took the entire hour. By the end, I thought I was going to pass out. That was ninety minutes ago, and I’m finally starting to feel ok. I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow though.


A New Personal Record

Tonight at the trainer, I did 4 unassisted pull-ups. That’s a new personal record for me. Woo-hoo!! Last week, I did 2. Maybe it’s sad that 4 is a personal record, but I’ve never been that athletic. And I’m choosing to just focus on the positive aspects: I’m improving my strength and skills, and becoming more athletic.

About a year ago, I started working out with a trainer, again. It was the only exercise I maintained consistently while in school. Less than a half-dozen times I canceled, although I did have to reschedule quite a bit, especially around final exams. I went two to three months without swimming or riding my bike, but I kept the trainer appointments as much as possible. I’d even rush out of Criminal Law on Tuesdays, drive home, change, and run to the gym. And I got up Saturday mornings so I could eat breakfast and make it to the trainer by 10 a.m.

Over the last year, I put on 20 pounds, much of it muscle. I now have shoulders that stick out! Now that I’ve put on some muscle — and am no longer eating in the school cafeteria four times a week — I’m working on dropping some of the fat that goes along with bulking up. The goal is to drop roughly 22 pounds this summer. I started at 197 (2 pounds short of my all-time high weight). Goal is 175, although I’m not wedded to the number. It’s just a target to aim for.

I’ve been doing pretty well. The goal is 1-2 pounds a week. The second week was my med school 15 year reunion, and that week I gained 0.8 pounds (I blame the margaritas at Mad Mex, my favorite Pittsburgh restaurant.), but otherwise I have been dropping pretty consistently. This week, I’m down 1.4 pounds, for a total of 8.6 pounds.

The hardest part is the diet. It takes a lot of planning to eat healthy. You can’t just run out and grab lunch in the suburbs. And small changes in my diet have a bigger impact for me than changes in exercise. I was actually worried that I wasn’t going to do as well this week. It was Pride weekend, and I let the diet slip a little more than usual. I had pizza, a quesadilla, and key lime pie this week. Normally, I try to only have one “unhealthy” meal a week.

I’m going to the beach for a few days in two weeks, so I probably should tighten up my diet to maximize my progress before the beach.

Happy DC Pride!

This weekend was DC Pride. It was earlier this year, yet still managed to be one of the hottest days ever. I guess mother nature likes seeing the gays with their shirts off.

I have mixed feelings about Pride. It’s great to be out and proud. It’s clear that people’s views on homosexuality (such a clinical term!) tend to be more positive if they know someone who’s LGBT. But maybe we take it too far sometimes. If you’re into leather jockstraps, great. Just not sure I need to see it on a parade float. And no one needs that much body glitter. For many, it’s just an excuse to spend the day drunk. Walking home from the grocery store at 3 pm (the parade started at 4:30), I saw one guy stumbling out of Cobalt. His friends were barely able to hold him up.

Also, Pride has become very commercialized. Several beer companies and the local banks all had cars in the parade. While it’s great that you want our business, I’d prefer if you did some lobbying on our behalf, instead of just trying to get our business. Last year there was even an Idaho Potato car in the parade!

But this year, I went in with different expectations. Instead of wondering if the images we were creating were “good” or “bad” for the community, I went in with the attitude that everyone’s there to be who they want to be. And for some, that means dancing in a leather jockstrap. I guess if you can wear leather in temperatures near 90, God bless ya.

I was thinking about this after reading a great quote at Breaking The Illusion (a blog by one of the hottest men ever!). In response to a reader who was worried he would be seen as “too gay” if he does certain things. Davey’s response was:

It’s not your job to shatter every stereotype there is about gay people.

He then goes on to tell the reader that he should put his energy into being himself, whatever that may be. It was a beautiful thought.

At the end of the night, several of us were sitting on my roof deck drinking beer with a straight neighbor and his friend. One guy in my group said that he didn’t think people should take their kids to the Pride parade because it would lead to awkward conversations. My straight neighbor challenged him and said that’s why people should take their kids to the parade. It’s an interesting question. How would you explain to a young child what’s going on? “Daddy, why is that woman not wearing a shirt?” 

Here are some pics from the parade. (Click for larger versions.) The Festival was today, and wasn’t that exciting other than a delicious hot sausage sandwich (my favorite carnival/fair food). Since I’m trying to drop some weight this summer, that was a special treat. And I went swimming afterwards.

Hilarious Blog and Book

A few months ago, I came across the The Bloggess, a blog by Jenny Lawson. I found this hilarious blog when I stumbled across her story “And That’s Why You Should Learn to Pick Your Battles.” It’s a story about how a fight with her husband over towels results in her buying a five-foot high metal chicken.

And it’s one of the stories in her new book: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I pre-ordered the book on iTunes, so it downloaded as soon as it was released. I finally got around to reading it earlier this week before I started studying for finals. I loved it! And, based on the New York Time’s Bestseller list Combined Print and E-book Nonfiction for May 6 (It’s still April, right?), I’m not the only one. It’s currently ranked #1.

I won’t go into too much detail about the book, but I encourage you to read it. It’s a collection of stories about her youth, her current life, and her obsession with taxidermied animals.

It is hilarious. Several times I laughed so hard that I had tears rolling down my face. Some of my favorite lines include:

  • “Lisa giggled and stuck her hand up the ass of the dead squirrel.” in the chapter Stanley, the Magical Talking Squirrel.
  • “No one called me back, probably because none of them could find an elegant way to say, ‘You left your turkey baster in that cow’s vagina.’ ” in If You Need an Arm Condom, It Might Be Time to Reevaluate Some of Your Life Choices.
  • “Then one night we used the baby’s head as a bong.” (talking about a doll’s head) in Draw Me a Fucking Dog.
  • “Check your vagina. Does it look kind of broken? If so, you probably had a baby.” in My Vagina is Fine. Thanks for Asking.
  • “I thanked her, but explained that I’m not a hiker and was just looking around for dead bodies.” in I’m Going to Need an Old Priest and a Young Priest.
  • “I countered that it didn’t seem ‘common’ to have to protect your dead dog by going after a vulture with a machete. My mom said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Where would a vulture get a machete?’ ” also in I’m Going to Need an Old Priest and a Young Priest.

They’re EVEN FUNNIER in context.

So, go get the book and read it, and check out Jenny’s blog.

Spring Break Is Almost Half Over

Spring Break is almost half over and I’m just starting to feel relaxed. I took the whole week off work. I spent a few days relaxing in DC, and am now in Florida for a few days, before I go back and start my reading for next week.

I feel like I’m starting to relax. I find myself repeatedly exhaling deeply, and I think a nap under a tree may be called for after lunch.

I actually slept fairly well last night. For the first few nights, I didn’t sleep well, at all. I kept having crazy dreams. It was like my brain had all this clutter it needed to get out. The first morning, I woke up at 4:46, and finally gave up and got out of bed at 6:30. I had a dream that there was a fine in the dorm room above mine, which started when the guys living there decided to light their hammock on fire to see what would happen. The fire spread to my room. After the firefighters were done, my room collapsed in on itself like a Transformer, until it was about the size of two large bricks. Just as I was lamenting to a friend that I was going to have to buy new textbooks, I woke up.

What the hell was that about?

The next two nights, I had weird dreams, too, but I don’t really remember them.

This morning, I woke about 7. I find that I often don’t need much sleep when I’m on vacation. I guess when I’m not stressed, I don’t need as much time to recover. I also like being up earlier than everyone else. This morning, I watched the sun rise from the comfort of the heated pool.

How Much Does Spinning the Chamber Really Help?

Really? A math word problem in law school?

Ok, here’s a hypothetical problem for you: (Do not try this at home. Or anywhere.)

Let’s say it’s 1945 and you’re seventeen and  just sitting at the lunch counter with your 13 year-old friend. You’re bored. Television is just kicking off and the Simpsons are years away from being reality. So you start thinking. “Hmmm. What can two kids do to pass the time?”

“Well,” you say to yourself, “we can play Russian Poker,” which is more commonly known as Russian Roulette. Luckily you brought your uncle’s revolver and a bullet. So, you load the gun, putting the bullet in the last slot of the 5 chambers, point the gun at your friend’s right side and pull the trigger three times. It’s not going to fire until the fifth time. Right?. Oops. On the third pull, the gun fires, and two days later your friend dies.

Who’d be dumb enough to do that, you ask? Well, a kid named Malone. Commonwealth v. Malone, 47 A.2d 445 (PA 1946). This was a case we discussed in class tonight. Part of the discussion focused on Malone’s failure to spin the chamber in between trigger pulls, which is the proper way to play Russian Roulette, apparently. So, as I was walking to the trainer, tonight, I decided to figure out the difference in the odds.

Malone’s Odds

So, we need to calculate the odds of at least one of the three trigger pulls firing. That is calculated as:

=1 – odds of all three trigger pulls NOT firing

because if all three didn’t fire then at least one had to fire. So, in this case, that would be:

=1 – (0.8) (0.75) (0.67)

Why do the odds decrease each trigger pull? Because it’s sampling without replacement. So, first trigger pull, there’s an 80% chance the gun doesn’t fire. (It’s a five chamber gun, remember.) But, the second time you pull the trigger, there’s only 3 empty chambers out of the 4 remaining, so only a 75% chance the gun doesn’t fire this time.

So, the odds that Malone’s going to blow away a “vital part” of his friend’s body are:


Would Spinning the Chamber Have Helped?

So, the question was whether it would have helped if Malone had spun the chamber in between trigger pulls.

Well… First off, it probably would have given his friend a little time to reconsider his decision to tell Malone to go ahead and play the game. But, that’s beside the point.

In this case, the odds would now be calculated as:

=1 – (0.8) (0.8) (0.8)

Since each trigger pull would be an independent event (now we’re sampling with replacement), the odds of the gun not firing each time remains 80%. So now Malone’s odds of blowing away part of his friend are only:


Well, that’s on the right side of 50/50, at least. In fact, that’s a relative decrease of 18%. But, would that have been enough to change gross recklessness to recklessness and gotten Malone down to involuntary manslaughter?

Need Advice on a New TV

I finished my federal taxes on Friday and I’m going to use part of my refund to buy a new TV. I have a 32 inch picture-tube TV that I bought ten years ago. I’ve been waiting of fit to diet before I replace it, but the damn thing just seems to want to live forever. The picture went out once about 18 months ago. But, after I turned it off and back on, it’s worked fine since then.

Old TV digital picture Frame

But, I don’t know anything about the new flat screen TVs. So, I figured I’d ask for advice.

A few questions come to mind, but there may be other things to consider that I’m not even aware of, so I’d appreciate any input.

  • Do I want LCD or plasma? Why
  • Any special features I need?
  • Any special connections that will be helpful? (Right now, I only see hooking up the Wii and the DVD player.)
  • Any specific brands or retailers you’d recommend?

Thanks! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Semester 2, Week 1 – Done

Well, week #1 is done! Whew! As I mentioned in a previous post, it was kind of rough getting back into the swing of things. The week went pretty well, except in an effort to save my back, I only took one of my Civil Procedure books with me. Of course, we spent time reading directly out of the other two books. And, since I have to read them on the weekends, I can’t just leave them in my locker. Oh well. That’s why they invented chiropractors and massage therapists.

My Weekend

So, this weekend was about catching up, regrouping, and — hopefully — getting a little ahead.

A month ago, I had booked a reservation for Friday for Restaurant Week. Since Friday was the only night I could do dinner, the choices were somewhat limited, and I booked on OpenTable: DC Restaurants as soon as they announced the dates. I like to use Restaurant Week to try restaurants I wouldn’t otherwise spend that much money at. I’ve had great experiences at 1789, for instance. This time, my reservation was at Chef Geoff’s Downtown. I had heard very mixed things about it, so I ended up canceling the reservation.

I stayed in on Friday and got my reading for Civil Procedure and Criminal Law both done.

Saturday was the trainer (that’s why everything hurts!!), and a really wonderful second date.

Today, was reading for Rhetoric, as well as cleaning off my desk.

But It’s Not Over!

Wait! It’s a 3-day weekend! I get an extra day to enjoy.

Actually, tomorrow will be spent first working on my next Rhetoric writing assignment. Then, I need to run to Target and the grocery store. I’m going to cook some chili so I have something healthy to eat this week.

Speaking of healthy cooking, I started reading An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. I’ve only read two chapters, but it makes me want to cook in a very simple, filling, and tasty way. I’d recommend picking it up.

UPDATED 11/21/13: OpenTable asked me to update their link to go to the DC restaurants.

Contracts Grade – Day 34 – The End

We got our Contracts grade, today. Thank goodness this madness has finally ended.

I did pretty well.