Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book List

A couple of months ago I decided I wanted to stop being lazy and read more.  I made a commitment to read at least one book a week forever.  So far so good.  Here's what I've read/listened to since September along with a a few highlights of each book (though I can barely remember anything other than the book I'm currently reading):

  • Freakonomics
    • An economist's view and analysis of a few issues in society.
    • Having a backyard pool is much more dangerous than having a loaded gun in your home.
    • Roe v. Wade was the cause of the huge decline in crime rates across America in the 1990s rather than new police tactics.  Babies that would have been born to those most likely to get an abortion (young & poor & uneducated) weren't born, so they couldn't grow up to be criminals in their prime in the '90s.
    • Nature, not nurture, most affect a child's intelligence & grades.  Unfortunately, we parents do not have nearly the influence want to have over our children.
    • The higher up you go up a corporation's ladder (or elevator), the more likely you'll find cheating and stealing (of bagels, in the example).
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
    • Listened to this on our way back from California on our vacation. 
    • Greatest books ever!
  • Twilight Series
    • I'm listening to these while I run & while I drive the bus to and from basketball games.
    • I'm on the 3rd book.
    • I'm not ashamed to admit that I like them very much.
  • Tipping Point, Blink, & Outliers
    • 3 books by Malcom Gladwell.
    • The best books on this list (or at least most interesting.)
    • If you haven't read them, you must.
    • Tipping Point is about how and why fads and trends happen.
    • Blink is about how and why our gut instincts about things and people are often more correct than our carefully thought out decisions.
    • Outliers is about how and why certain people are successful.  It takes a lot of luck, opportunity, and 10,000 hours to become an expert and one of the top in your field.
  • The Evolution of God
    • A History of Religions
  • Born To Run
    • Great book if you enjoy running - about a hidden tribe of Mexican elite distance runners.
    • Says that we are built how we are, so that we can outlast and run farther than any other animal on earth, so go do what you were born to do.
    • Also, makes me think I could run an ultra marathon.
    • Also, makes me feel stupid about buying fancy running shoes and insoles and making sure I do all the right stretches.
  • The Road
    • Great book about a father and son in a post-apocalyptic America traveling across country to the ocean by the author of "No Country for Old Men" Cormac McCarthy.
  • The Most Famous Man in America (Henry Ward Beecher Biography)
    • Definately my worst choice, but it won the Pulitzer for non-fiction, so I thought it would be good.
    • It was okay, and I learned a lot about the mind of a preacher.
  • The Lost Symbol
    • I was really looking forward to this one because I loved Da Vinci Code & Angels and Demons, and it was good, but not nearly as good as his other books.
    • It's a like a mix of the movie "National Treasure" (about Washington DC & masons) and his other books.
  • Have a Little Faith
    • This is a nonfiction book about the author's childhood rabbi & a 400 pound black pastor. 
    • It was okay. 
  • Olive Kitteridge
    • Great collection of short stories about a retired school teacher in Maine.
    • Though depressing, extremely well written & thought-provoking.
  • Thanksgiving 101
    • History of Thanksgiving.
  • The March
    • Novel about General William Tecumseh Sherman's Union Army's March from Georgia to North Carolina during the Civil War.  By E.L. Doctorow.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stopping To Smell the Roses - Quiet Time & Family Time

Well, only 2 posts, and I'm starting to slack off on keeping up with my blog.  I assumed this would happen.  Many times have I decided to start a journal only to give up or forget about it or get too busy to keep it up.  I wanted to use this blog as a type of journal, since I can't seem to keep a journal, but chances are the result will be the same as this - hopefully not.

This past week was really the first bump in the road I've had in my half marathon training.  Kasey and I are using Hal Higdon's Beginner Half Marathon Training Plan from because it says you're a beginner until you've been running consistently for a year.  I've been running consistently for almost 3 months now, but I am so competitive and obsessive that I can't stand how little running the training plan calls for.  It basically tells me to take every other day off, but I can't do that, so I run every day, and I run farther than it tells me to.  Therefore, I can't say I was terribly surprised when last week after running 12 miles on Sunday, my legs felt like they weighed 500 pounds each when I went for a run on Monday.  I finished, but it was the worst run I've had since I started running.  I took the next couple days off, and finally felt close to normal again the next time I ran.  I guess maybe these "experts" know what they're talking about.  My biggest fear is that I'll get injured before our Little Rock Marathon in March that we're already sign up for and I'll lose my $65 race fee I've already paid.  I don't fear it enough to skip running every other day.  I figure if, or when, I get hurt, I'll take that opportunity to start training for a triathlon.  I still just can't believe how much I enjoy running - even when I don't want to go do it that day - if that makes any sense.  I enjoy being forced to go out into nature with only my thoughts.

Thursday my basketball team played at Bergman, and we played awful and lost.  Also, Thursday Kasey's friend from Little Rock, Jillian, came, with her 3 kids, to visit until Saturday.  I took that opportunity to go to West Fork on Friday night to scout, deer hunt, and go to the Razorback football game.  Hunting was good.  I get a wild hair to hunt about once every 2 years.  Usually it takes more than once to get it out of my system, but the one time I went on Saturday morning did it for me.  I got up at 5 am, and went to my Grandpa Doyle's field.  I didn't see any deer, but I did enjoy relaxing and getting still without people or TV to occupy my attention.  It was beautiful to watch the sun come up over the beautiful scenery even if there were no deer there.  I'll go again in a couple years.  I have so many hobbies, it's hard for me to justify going hunting very often, especially when I have to make time to run on weekend mornings usually.  It was great though just to spend some quiet time enjoying nature.

After hunting, I went to the Razorback game with my dad and got to stand on the field for the game.  I had a great time.  My dad and I talked more than we had in a long time, so that was good.  He's a lot like me in that he usually needs TV or some activity to fill up his time, so we don't just talk very often.  I wish I wasn't like that, but I have a hard time relaxing and just enjoying where I am and who I'm with.  Instead, I'm usually too busy trying to DO something or I'm worried about some stupid game on TV.  I'm slowly getting better in that area (very slowly.)  Kasey's family has been a great example in that area.  We love going there for Sunday lunch after church because during and for sometimes hours after everyone has finished eating, the entire family just sits at the dinner table telling stories and jokes and talking and enjoying each other's company.  I often am the first one up from the table and instead of just relaxing and enjoying spending time with the people I love and getting to know them better, I am too worried about some stupid football game or something I feel like I need to be doing.  Because of this, they probably think I don't enjoy that time, but I enjoy it immensely, I'm just not used to it or good at it, but I'm trying to follow their example (especially Kasey's dad - he's great at "stopping to smell the roses.") 

I was able to visit my family, Kasey's parents, and my grandparents.  I was able to have some alone time with my dad.  And I was able to have some quiet time running and hunting, so it was a good weekend for stopping to smell the roses (until Sunday, when all I did was sit in front of the TV - oh well, I'm a work in progress.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Exercise & Diet - A History

One of the reasons I wanted to do this blog is because my wife does a blog relating to her running and her healthy eating, and she seems to get a lot of motivation for both by holding herself accountable by putting her goals and successes and failures in writing and by getting encouraging comments from her readers.  I don't expect anyone to read this blog other than her, but hopefully I'll be more motivated in my running and in my healthy eating by putting it down in writing.

I have gone through various phases in my life in every aspect, including my exercise and eating habits. My parents have always been relatively healthy and active.  My mom didn't exactly cook extremely healthy meals, but she stayed at home while my dad worked as a policeman, so she did cook homemade meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner most of the time, so I probably ate healthier than many people.  Growing up, I was always very active and involved in every sport I could be involved in.  My parents built me a concrete basketball court with a light in our yard, so I could, and did, play basketball day and night growing up.  They were also always more than willing to appease my desires to have footballs or baseballs thrown my way, so I could run and dive after them, and then do it over and over and over again all day every day.  So, with the help of my loving parents, I was very active as a child.  Also, my dad coached all of my baseball and basketball teams until I started school sports in 7th grade.  Sports were always very important to my family and extended family, so they were important to me. 

Once in school, I played basketball and football and ran track, and when I wasn't playing those sports, I was watching them on TV day and night. For as long as I can remember, my dad has gotten up every morning before 5 am and ran and lifted weights.  Once I got to high school, I too got interested in lifting weights.  My senior year, I was lifting 2 hours per day after school and eating 7 huge meals every day.  I would eat 30 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbs with as little fat as possible at each of the 7 meals.  I feel bad now, but I would make my mom make egg white omelets for me every morning.  Most moms wouldn't do that.  I was very lucky.  Because of my hard work in the weight room and my disciplined diet I went from a skinny little kid to 195 pounds and none of it fat by the time I graduated high school. 

Once I got to college at Baylor University in Waco, TX, I did really good at keeping up with my lifting and diet for 1 semester, but then I got lazy.  The 2nd semester I pledged the Sigma Chi Fraternity, and that, combined with my studies, took up too much time for my diet and lifting.  I never lifted or ran for a couple years.  And I went from being huge in a muscle bound way, to being huge in having a beer gut or freshman fifteen kind of way.  Not only did I not exercise or lift, but I had a pass for the cafeteria for brekfast, lunch, and dinner, and let's just say I got my money's worth everytime I went to the cafeteria.  Right before I got married, I started lifting again.  I lifted legs for the first time in years, and then played basketball the next day.  Not a good idea.  Because my leg muscles were so tired and sore, when I went to plant my foot for a lay up, I tore my left ACL.  I had ACL surgery and walked down the aisle in my wedding less than a week later.  Our honeymoon cabin had a hot tub, but we couldn't use it because my leg wasn't allowed in the water. 

I have since gone in and out of phases where I will lift weights for a few months and then I won't and then I will like most people I assume.  However, a little less than a year ago, I started lifting 3 days a week with my weightlifting class that I teach, and I've kept that up since then.  Now that I've started running, I only lift 2 days a week.

I've never been a runner.  I ran track in high school, but never distance.  My dad always ran a little.  He ran 2 half marathons and 1 marathon (without training for it and about died.) And my mom ran for a while with him.  I thought he was crazy for running and I never thought I would run.  This summer, though, my family and I went on a 5 week vacation, and because my wife was training for a 5k and because we were in a bunch of strange places, she forced me to run with her.  And I do mean forced me.  We about got a divorce over her forcing me to run with her.  Not only did I have to run with her (3 miles 3 times a week), but we were on vacation, and I (who was not the runner by the way) had to push a 2 year old and a 5 year old in a double jogging stroller.  And at times we were at over 10000 feet of elevation.  We got back from our vacation and she made me come to the Tontitown Grape Festival 5k with her to watch, so the day of the race, I decided I might as well run as well since I had been running anyway and since I had to be there anyway.  Well, since then, I've been hooked.  I never thought I would say this, but I enjoy running.  Sometimes I don't want to do it, but I feel great afterwards.  My wife and I got a half marathon training plan off the internet and decided we would train for the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa, OK.  We've since run another 5k and a 10k, the half marathon is the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and we recently signed up to run in the Little Rock Marathon in March.  I am now a runner. 

My wife started eating very healthy about a year ago, and because of she cooks all our meals and buys our groceries, I started eating healthy too.  She makes almost everything we eat from scratch (even our granola and bread.)  I am extremely lucky to have such a good cook for a wife and a wife that wants to keep me and our kids heatlhy.  She doesn't buy any junk food, so when I'm at home I do a great job of eating healthy.  Unfortunately, I'm not always at home.  I try to eat a small amount every 3 hours, but I haven't done very good lately.  At least I'm trying to eat healthy though.  Kasey has decided that she is now a vegetarian because it's healthier than eating meat, so when I'm home, I guess I'm a vegetarian too.  I don't have anything against eating meat (and I do now and then), but it does seem healthier not to.

Well, I'm sure even Kasey won't have the time or stay awake long enough to read all this it's so long, and I know no one else would read this entire post, but oh well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why "The Kane is Able" as my blog title?

I wanted to choose a blog title that was specific enough to say who I am and what I wanted to do on this blog, but general enough that I wasn't bound to stick to a specific topic.  "KaneIsAble" is my usual screen name for everything I'm involved in, but it was taken, so I had to use "The" Kane is Able. 


Why KaneIsAble if Kane isn't even my name? Kane is my middle name and my 5 year old son's name.  "NolanIsAble" doesn't sound quite as catchy.  So in place of "Kane" in the title, you could insert "Nolan", but in many ways you could also insert your name or any name because . . .


Anyone and everyone is "able" to do anything they put their mind to.  The "able" in the name, because of the inclusion of Kane, is, of course, a play on the words "able" and "Abel" (Cain's brother in the bible.)  So "able" can mean that I and Kane and anyone else are "able" - able to do anything and everything they strive to do.  Read as "Abel", KaneisAbel speaks to the duality in all of us and in all things.  Cain and Abel had the same parents (Adam and Eve) and therefore the same genes and upbringing, so they couldn't have been that different despite the one event Cain is notorious for.  So KaneIsAbel is a reference to the fact that there's good (and bad) in all of us, and hopefully more good than bad. 

So, hopefully, the name "KaneIsAble" is a reminder for us (and especially me) to strive for that good part of us, the best in us, so that we really can be "able" to do anything and everything good and worth doing.