Friday, January 20, 2012

Still No Meat

I am still not eating meat. It is getting better. It was actually not to bad until a friend of mine (Kevin) offered me J Dawgs and then I went for a week straight of cravings. But I'm doing better now. I am starting to want meat that I normally never ate. But I am holding strong. I can tell a difference in my body and I can tell I've lost weight and I feel better. I would like to continue this, but I just like meat. I think I am going to try and cut back severely, though. Have almost no red meat. (Eat it very rarely). And limit other meats to only once or twice a week. I want to hold on to the habits as best I can and I think I may make a rule not to eat meat at work or school. That will help limit myself and will help me to eat better and plan better meals.

My book reading hasn't really worked out. I haven't been able to get into the books I got at the beginning of the year and so I am going back to two of my favorite books to get me going. Hyperion and Slaughterhouse-Five. I think this will help me quite a bit.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ramadan Is Over Before It Began

So, in considering the implications of not eating during the day, I had to remind myself of what my life would be like in February. I would wake up at 4am, bike to work and eat and eat and eat until Sunup. I would then not eat, bike to school, go to classes, eat what little I could bring with me on my bike after the sun goes down, bike home, and then eat. That is if I didn't pass out. I think that until I am out of school, Ramadan is a bust. And so here are the new and improved goals:

January: Eat no meat. I'm going to try and become a vegetarian for an entire month. This one will be one of the hardest, I think.
FebruaryBe in bed by 9:30 pm every night. This will be harder than I think.
MarchRead the New Testament.
April: Do all shopping at small businesses.
May: Recycle everything that can be recycled. Hopefully, this one will continue on.
June: No surfing the web and no T.V. (I would say no computer, but I'll be in school and will need it for that, however, the important thing is no entertainment from those sources).
July: Listen to only classical music.
August: Bike: 1. From Orem to Kamas. I'd start at about 4am and bike up Provo Canyon to Heber. There I will be picking up McKay and we will proceed to Kamas. 2. Summit three peaks: Squaw Peak, South Fork, Sundance. 
September: Consume no sugar. This one will be difficult, and I'll probably need to set some parameters because so much stuff has sugar, It'll probably be no candy, drinks junk food, etc.
October: Meditate 20-30 minutes a day. This may not seem so bad, but true meditation is really hard. Just can't clear my head.
November: Write a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo. Also, say a pray of thanksgiving everyday.
December: Read Jesus the Christ and the Christmas story. I need to focus on the meaning and cause of Christmas, and so, I am hoping this will help.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Science Fiction vs. Fantasy

I think these two genre's get mixed too often. From the outside viewer they are the same. Focusing on what we would see as fantastic or not accurate according to our view of the current world. However, I feel that there are major differences between the genre's and in fact they should rarely (if ever) be mixed or confused as the same thing.

Some time ago while determining the major differences between these two genre's I thought of the story telling techniques. Or rather, what authors of either genre focus on. This seems to be the major difference, despite catalysts of the story. Fantasy focuses on creating worlds. Science Fiction focuses on creating ideas.

Let me explain.

But first, I will admit that I am solely a science fiction fan. There is some fantasy that I enjoy and love, LOTR, Harry Potter, Neal Gaiman stuff, but for the most part I don't touch it. And so, while I may have a somewhat biased opinion, and may not be as familiar with fantasy as many others I feel that with what I have read (and I've read more than the above list, but didn't enjoy them much) this is an accurate view and I will try my best not to bring biases into it.

OK. Fantasy focuses on creating worlds. Right now I am reading a fantasy book called Orcs. (I think it's three books in one, so lets call it Orcs trilogy). The Orcs trilogy  is different than my typical reading. The language is different, and the focus of the story is much more straight forward than what I typically see in sci-fi. Or rather, it is presented early one with little or no guess work having to be done by the reader. (I don't say this negatively, but factually). I feel that many fantasy books are eager to get the ball rolling and to get on with the exciting parts, because with that comes the world. You introduce strange characters and new worlds filled with horrors and beauty, both. Great detail is often incorporated into what things, objects, and people look like. Often times dress is describes as much as a distant landscape of bustling city-town. Authors have gone to great lengths to insure that there world is complete and coherent. Many times maps are included at the front of the book to give the reader an idea of the world in which the characters live.

I think we can safely say just from those examples that fantasy, for a large part of the majority, is meant to suck you into a mystical world and take you through an adventure that could never happen in this current world we have. I recently read Neverwhere by Neal Gaiman. A modern day fantasy book in where the main character, Richard, is brought into a world underneath London. It has all of the typical fantasy elements and is full of adventure. Little explanation is given or needed as the reader is meant to accept that something strange is going on.

Fantasy builds worlds. It gives characters and readers a medium in which to explore and experience.

Science Fiction, however, does not focus greatly on creating worlds, or universes, if the case may imply. While locations, people, etc. are described, rarely in great detail, it is never the focus of the writing. Rather, the reader is meant to understand generals about the characters surroundings, or looks, and from that imagine the rest. Rather, because of situations the author is able to bring about specific ideas or philosophical reasoning's to underline the events of the story. The stories are driven by really issues that seem far more important and more of a major theme than issues and ideas proposed in fantasy reading. I feel that a major reason for this is that sci-fi, through the science involved in the writing, focuses greatly on the human condition and how science and technology play against it or are incorporated with life.

And so, we see ideas spawn through story lines in a way to show the reader where we can go in the future, or show them different possibilities because of science and technology. Ideas in cloning morality, or consciousness, time, and many more are common and found in most (good) science fiction writing. And it is a major focus of the writing. Action sequences, and adventure often take a lower precedence to the importance of underlining the human condition through futuristic ideas. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick, is a great example of what it means to be human, or rather, what it means to be alive as the protagonist must question if he is human or an android, and if one or the other make him an less conscious.

While both genres have important qualities, I think it is important to understand the differences that each brings and how they are each different from each other. Personally, I am drawn more towards science fiction as I enjoy the philosophical and moral issues that are brought up and written about. The stories, because of the style of writing seem more original to me with less overlap in a story line. The language is clear and concise and does not fall into over stretching dialogue because of a need to describe and show a persons character right off the bat.

However, I am sure someone who likes fantasy more than I do could argue against me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The First Month

So, as it is the first month of the year, I am starting my first goal. Going Vegetarian. There is a reason I am going this. For the last . . . two years, I've wanted to be a vegetarian. It wasn't a strong desire, rather something I just wanted to try with little expectations in keeping up with it. (Mostly because I could not part from sea food). I have never been able to fully do this because I don't want to force it on anybody else. I'm not a big fan of waiving my own dietary choices, or lifestyle choices in peoples faces. And, I don't want to force my kids (or wife) to do something as drastic as not eating meat, just because I am doing it. And so, it is a one month goal, and after that I will stop.

I am excited about it. I've wanted to try this for a while, and now I get the chance. But I am a bit nervous about some aspects. I work a lot, and eat what I can while I am there and one thing I try to focus on is eating the right things to help me have energy and help me in my biking. Protein is a big one. And now, with no meat I have to find it other places. My wife was very concerned about me eating the right amount and getting the nutrients I need and calories I need (I burn about 1000 calories a day, and if I don't eat right I will be hurting my body). And so last night we worked together to make a bunch of batches of smoothie. Basically enough for about 6 days, and froze it. This should help with protein and energy stuffs, and now I just need to find things to help me through the day and meal substitutions.

I'll probably be having a lot of fruit and vege's and pb&j's. I think the really hard part will be every Saturday when I work at Gandolfo's. I'll be resigned to eating their vege sandwiches. Not great, but I've had them before and their not too bad . . . I guess.

Anyways, I am really excited about this and am hoping that I am able to keep it up. I have my family supporting me and that should be enough. I'd like to say that this is all easy for me and I'm happy to give it all up but I'm not. I bike by burger joints that smell amazing, daily. I love anything seafood and constantly want it. And my family (my wife and kids, parents, wife's parents, etc.) are all still going to be eating meat. And I am someone who still likes meat. And so it will be difficult, but I am determined to do it.