TEDx is Coming to Back to Seattle

TEDxWe thoroughly enjoyed TEDx Rainier last year, held at the University of Washington in Seattle. We had such a enriching experience there last year watching great talks from Rick Steves, David Horsey, and others along with our Seattle GiveCamp friends Felice and Glenna.

Well, we just signed up again and, if you live in the Seattle area, I highly recommend you apply to attend. It’s being held on Saturday, November 10.

And if you don’t live in the Seattle area, you can checkout the list of other TEDx events here.

Windows Keyboard on Mac

This summer I bought one of those super-duper high-end MacBookPro Retina laptops and so far I am loving it. Bear in mind, this is no small feat for a lifetime PC guy who mostly programs on the Microsoft platform. This was my first Mac (assuming one doesn’t count iOS devices that I own).


I use VMWare Fusion to run Windows on my new Mac. In fact, I write blog posts using Windows Live Writer, which is still one of the best (perhaps the best) blogging editor around even though Microsoft is rumored to be killing it. (Of course, that would be entirely short-sighted because this a great foot-in-the-door for Microsoft to show non-Microsofties that Microsoft loves them too and welcomes them into the Microsoft world.)

Anyway, one of the frustrations in using my new MacBookPro is in figuring out how to map the Mac keyboard to my Windows virtual machines in order to simulate keys like the Windows, Home, End, and Delete keys.

Interesting, I just installed a Windows 8 VM and talk about disorientation on top of disorientation…but I digress…

Fortunately, I have found some resources to help me sort out the keyboard issues. Hopefully, if you are in a similar situation, you will find them useful too…

Full Disclosure: I wrote this post mainly so I could easily find these links myself!

Simplify, Simplify

This is a great post about the need to move away from processed crap and towards whole foods!


“Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”


After secreting the third 100 calorie pack into the bedroom and knocking it back like a shot of  tequila I realized that I had a problem. It was 9pm and I was so hungry that I had gone into a frenzy pacing back and forth across the house. I was feeling guilty and bargaining with myself.

“Okay, so I’ll have one more pack of cookies and then go to bed and then get up early and run and run and run and then it won’t matter.”

It was pathetic really.

These frantic negotiations had been happening every night in August from the time I recovered from my first bout of illness at the beginning of the month until the time I came down with the flu at the end of the month. Since June I’d been on a 1500…

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Coming Soon: Paul’s No Fuss, No Gimmick Diet Plan

I am working on post where I share my dead-simple, gimmick-free, evidence-based diet plan and why I think it could work for you.

Stay tuned…


Since originally posting this, some additional posts…

Steal …Err… Buy This Book!

Abbie_hoffman_steal_this_bookWhen I was a kid, there was a subversive counter-culture book with the crazy title Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman. While I would never endorse stealing – it goes against my ethics – one of my siblings obtained (hopefully purchased or borrowed from a friend rather than committing the act endorsed by the book’s title) a copy. I have to say I was intrigued by the subversive writings in the book where one could learn how to shoplift, make Molotov cocktails and similar illegal and immoral acts.

cure-for-everythingAnyway, for some strange reason, I thought of that legendary counter-culture tome, when coming across the book I just finished reading, Timothy Caulfield’s The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness, and Happiness. Bear in mind, The Cure for Everything is not counter-culture and does not espouse anything remotely illegal or immoral. Still, I think everyone with even the most remote interest in health, fitness, or weight loss should get a copy of this book; but please don’t steal it because the author deserves every dollar for writing this wonderful book.

So why the ringing endorsement of this non-fiction work? Because in this book, Dr. Caulfield, a professor of health law and policy at the University of Alberta, manages to take a balanced, scientific, but decidedly non-academic, look at health, fitness, weight loss, medicine (both western and alternative), genomics, the corporate food and fitness industries, and the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, on each of the subjects, Caulfield also manages to share his personal experiences, all the while, reminding his audience that his personal experience should carry less weight than the results of the clinical trials and other research he discusses.

Dr. Caulfield takes nothing for granted and unlike the vast majority of books and websites on the subjects of health, fitness, and diet, he takes no point of view other than applying healthy skepticism and the scientific method to the analysis of these immensely important issues.

In this post, I hope to share the essence of this very-readable book.

On Fitness and Weight Loss

In the first chapter of the book, Caulfield makes an important assertion that I, for one, never believed:

You don’t lose weight from exercise. At least not from exercise alone.

For decades I chose to disagree with this fact, thinking if I just exercised regularly, I would be of normal weight. Now you need to understand that I’ve never been obese and have always considered myself athletic.

That said, I have cursed my mid-section for some time. In fact, while training for marathons (I ran my last one 4 years ago and have completed 7 in my life), I was still unable to eliminate my pudgy gut. Talk about frustrating. Furthermore, according to the standard BMI calculations, I was indeed overweight (though never by more than 10-15 pounds) for at least 3 decades.

On the subject of diets, Caulfield asserts that the only way to lose weight is to take in less calories, and the exact approach you take is immaterial. In fact, he goes onto share his personal experience by going on a diet for the book. (Interestingly, Caulfield, like me is an athletic middle-aged adult, although with a much better BMI than mine.)

His diet approach is incredibly simple and one I have followed with almost equal success:

  • Maintain a food diary.
  • Cut back on calories. Smaller portions. Get used to eating less because you probably eat too much now.
  • Eliminate poison foods. That is, “foods that are high in calories and so truly devoid of nutritional value that they simply are not worth eating. This list includes “junk food, fast food, highly processed products, and sugary beverages.”

Aside: I maintain a food & exercise diary on myfitnesspal.com. They have a great web-based tool as well as apps for all major smart phones, including iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone. I highly recommend using myfitnesspal.

On The Food Industry

According to Caulfield, the food industry likes us to eat. They pin the blame for obesity on personal responsibility and physical inactivity. So go ahead, eat that Big Mac and down it with a couple of Coca Colas. And then go ahead and exercise, because that will keep the pounds off and cure obesity. Never mind the fact that exercise alone doesn’t keep the weight off. But then if eating well was the answer, the food industry wouldn’t make money.

That’s why the food industry, including Coca-Cola, regularly sponsors athletic events.

On Exercise and Fitness

Exercise, while it won’t help you to lose much weight, is the recipe to fitness. But despite what you may have heard, low-intensity exercise doesn’t make you fit. You need to crank up the intensity to achieve fitness. High intensity interval training is best.

The author is especially fond of resistance (weight) training, claiming you will get the most bang for the buck with resistance training. Again, not wimpy weight training, but you need to work the weights hard and push yourself to the edge. IOW, “no pain, no gain” is true!

One more thing: spot toning is a fallacy. To get six-pack abs, you need to reduce your body fat to the point where your abdominal muscles are exposed so there is no layer of abdominal fat between your skin and you ab muscles. Oh, and for the most part, stretching is a waste of time.

And while exercise alone won’t help you lose much weight, it is helpful to maintain weight loss.

On Alternative Medicine

The vast majority of alternative medicine is based on faith and the placebo effect. Not the scientific method. Of special note, homeopathy is a croc. I mean the whole idea is to take drugs and dilute them to some ridiculously diluted potion and then have faith that it will cure your malady. Horse-pucky says Caulfield (I may have paraphrased him).

Aside: I had an overuse injury to the ball of my left foot several years ago caused by marathon training. A co-worker acquaintance at the time who had studied homeopathy at Bastyr University decided she would treat me. So for a number of weeks I took these homeopathic concoctions. They didn’t work; she finally gave up.

Big Pharma

And just in case you thought that Caulfield only has negative things to say about alternative medicine, he also has a mouthful for western medicine as well, especially the untoward influence of Big Pharma (the pharmaceutical industry).

Big Pharma influences research in big ways (amazingly, just like Big Food; surprise!) according to Caulfield. How, you ask? “In every way imaginable,” according to the author. By funding and not funding research, by ghostwriting articles, by underwriting medical conferences that are friendly to the company’s products, and by providing free samples to your family practitioner or specialist physician, just to name a few.

Caulfield (and I) believe that many scientists in the research community are fighting back against the influence of Big Pharma money but it’s a difficult battle.

The solution: independence. That is, don’t allow pharmaceutical companies to directly fund research. Like in the old days when the NIH (National Institutes of Health) were fully funded.

Steal This Book!

Not really, but go out and get yourself a copy of this book, either in print or electronic form!

Day of Caring

Today I was part of the United Way of King County Washington’s Day of Caring. Fortunately, my employer, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, like many other local organizations, paid me my salary while I volunteered at a retirement community in the area called Hilltop House.

Hilltop_GroupThe eleven us from FHCRC worked at this wonderful home to 120 seniors. We didn’t do anything too special: we dusted, cleaned carpets, blinds, windows, and bathrooms. Changed light bulbs, turned over mattresses, swept out front and spruced up their gardens and shared areas.

Part of the effort was also to engage with the residents who showed us their appreciation with kind words and big smiles. I was lucky enough to help clean two lovely women’s apartments, both lacking the mobility to bend over, reach high places, or lift heavy objects.

Caroline_Me_KatieIt was nice to be part of an effort that helps to keep senior housing more affordable and within reach of those who need it. Thanks go out to the other members of my team, United Way, Hilltop House, and Fred Hutchinson Research Center.

Seattle GiveCamp 2012 is Calling All Geeks

I am part of an amazing event that we are holding in October 2012 in the Seattle area: Seattle GiveCamp. I have written about our upcoming event elsewhere. Please take a look at the post and, if you are a techie living or working near Seattle, please consider volunteering. I guarantee it will be worth the effort. While I am currently knee deep in planning this year’s event, I will not be onsite at this year’s Seattle GiveCamp weekend, because I am marrying my soulmate in Tuscany the week before and we will be on our honeymoon at the time.

Why This Blog?

I am creating a new blog. A blog I call The Whole Geek.

You probably want to know why?

Because I feel I have something useful to say in the respect of wholeness for techies.

Here are the three basic categories of posts I anticipate covering in this blog:

  1. Fitness & diet
  2. Sustainability & the environment.
  3. Charity.

That’s it for now. Oh and I will try and avoid political discussions as much as possible.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I hope you find something here of use to you or at least something to laugh at.