How I lost 12lbs in 30 days (and that's not the best part)

weightjuly2013 Recently I finished an interesting experiment. And as a result I'm 12 lbs lighter. But that's not the headline outcome, not by a long shot.

About a year ago I started my weight loss journey and I'm delighted to say I've managed to keep 50lbs off ever since. However in the last few months my diet lapsed a bit, I was traveling a lot, and embarked on a new career chapter - none of which are conducive to a healthy lifestyle. As a result, I gave back a few of the pounds I lost. Maybe 5 or 6, tops. But it was enough for me to reconsider my approach to food, drink, and exercise.

But instead of going back to the regimen that was so successful for me in the first place, I thought I'd try a body hacking experiment. What would happen if I adopted an ultra-strict regimen with no cheat days? What would the effect be on my physique, my mood, my sleep, my concentration? The results were fascinating.

I decided for 30 days I would have:

- NO white or refined carbohydrates (e.g. sugar, pasta, bread, potatoes, flour, etc)

- NO dairy

- NO alcohol

- NO red meat

- NO soda

- NO coffee

(For context, I drank 3-4 cups of coffee per day, at least one diet coke, and a glass of wine in the evening.)

The elimination of soda and coffee was to see the effect on my teeth and on my sleep and concentration.

Removing white/refined carbs, alcohol, red meat, and dairy was to see the effect on body composition and weight loss.

I wanted to see a) if I could even do this for 30 days and b) what the overall effect on my body would be.

I began the experiment on a Monday.

As I wandered bleary-eyed into the office on the first day, I instinctively lunged towards to the coffee machine but managed to catch myself before deploying the mediocre "americano" into my chipped and overused mug. I opted for green tea instead, a habit I maintained for the entire 30 days.

The rest of the day looked like this:

Breakfast: Protein shake first thing in the morning followed by fruit when I got to the office.

Lunch: The office salad bar (leaves, vegetables, hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon, tuna, etc) or cold grilled chicken and vegetables.

Dinner: All manner of chicken, fish, turkey, pork, eggs with every vegetable I could think of. Dinner was easy and satisfying every single time.

Snacks: Almonds, fruit, carrot sticks, etc.

Exercise: Nothing beyond my 4-mile roundtrip walk to/from work.

The first week was the toughest but not what I predicted. Giving up carbs, red meat and dairy was easy. It was the coffee and alcohol that proved very difficult. Coffee was such a habit that its absence in my daily routine was immediately noticeable. And I enjoyed a glass of red wine when I got home in the evening, especially after a hard day. But after the first week, the changes started to happen.

Immediately the weight started to come off. But I also had better concentration, more energy, no afternoon slumps, and the quality of my sleep had noticeably improved. The cravings also disappeared after the first two weeks as well.

I kept the routine up for a full 30 days, no cheat days, no cheat meals. And I dropped 12lbs and inches off my waist. I now wear a small size t-shirt and need a new belt.

But on the 31st day, something weird happened. I was finally free to eat whatever I wanted, drink a load of coffee, have a hunk of cake and wash it down with some wine. But I didn't want to do any of that. Instead, I had my protein shake, my green tea, a salad for lunch, and a protein heavy dinner. It was the weirdest goddamn thing.

I kept thinking, if I'm going to have a cup of coffee then I want the best damn cup I can find. So I waited until I had access to one, and it was totally worth the wait. Made it all worthwhile. Same with wine, red meat, and soda. I actually paid £3 for a can of Diet Dr Pepper imported from the US so the reward would be so much sweeter.

So ultimately here's what I found:

- for me 30 days seems to be what it takes to turn exception into rule, hardship into habit.

- it's easy to lose weight even with kids and an office job as long as you have a shred of discipline.

- carbohydrates are a dangerous addiction with almost no value.

- good food is worth waiting for. If I want something that's not so healthy, I'm going to find the most delicious, well made example I can.

I'm interested to see if I can apply this 30-day mentality to other challenges. Exercise, finance, learning, etc.

Weight Loss Update

I'm now down around 45 pounds. I flirted with 50 pounds and that's my ultimate (weightloss) goal but I'd like to get there on a steady, sustainable decline instead of a one off burst. It's been a weird journey so far. I've had friends and family not recognize me, I've had to buy an entirely new wardrobe (I used to hate clothes shopping but now I absolutely love it) and I'm wearing clothes sizes I've never even glanced at before. Not to mention the fact that I'm getting strange and unfamiliar attention from the opposite sex. My wife teases me mercilessly about this.

I thought it might be interesting to note down a few observations and surprises I've had since my initial post on the subject:

I've developed a real love of running. I never thought I would say that but I actually look forward to my daily runs. One of the things I'm struggling with though is my form. I'm definitely not a natural long-distance runner and my style of running is entirely graceless. As a result I think I'm expending more energy than I perhaps should be, and I am quite sore in certain areas in the next morning, especially my right hip for some reason. I'm lead to believe that this is all down to how I run and I have a horrible feeling I'm going to have to re-learn how to run. An extraordinary notion.

Fitness is a fascinating thing. In rare instances I'll go 4 or 5 days without running and assume that I'm really going to suffer when I go out for my next run when in reality it will be the easiest run I've ever done. I'm still not sure why, but I can only assume it's because my fitness is continuously improving and that the rare break of 4 or 5 days is restorative and beneficial to my overall fitness. And it's actually a pretty cool feeling to breeze through a run that would have broken me just a week or two before.

Nutrition is confounding. Recently I went to France for a week and ate so much of their wonderful bread and drank so much of their wonderful wine that I assumed my weight would skyrocket upon my return. Granted, I ran with reasonable regularity while I was there, but didn't think it would offset the carbohydrate explosion I indulged in while I was there. Net weight gain upon my return? 0 pounds. In fact in the subsequent week I dropped to my lowest weight since I was 17 years old.

Carbs = hunger. An interesting side effect of my French bread gorging was that upon returning to a protein-dominated diet, I found myself feeling a lot hungrier during the day and this lasted for at least a week until my "systems" returned to normal. This feeling seems to emerge even if I carb load only for day or two - I'm not really sure it's worth it.

Strength requires patience. I took my son to a playground recently and was goofing off on the monkey bars. Out of nowhere I did eight pull-ups without really even trying. Eight. At the start of this journey I couldn't even get close to doing one pull-up. I looked at my wife in stunned disbelief and all she could say is "'ve never been able to do that before." As soon as we got home I ordered a pull-up bar, one of those ones that slots into any standard doorway. It's the single best investment I've made in this entire process. Now every day I do three sets of 15 pull-ups and three sets of 15 chin-ups and I feel awesome afterwards. I think this further reinforces the really important philosophy of patience when doing something like this. I'm a very impatient person and get down on myself when I don't see instant results but I think this really shows that with time and patience and dedication you can get your improvement. Okay, motivational peptalk over.

Protein is your friend. I haven't really altered my diet much since my original post; I'm still heavy on the protein  and very, very light on carbs and white food. I've slowly been introducing whole grains and brown rice into my diet on a regular basis. I have also found myself "indulging" a little bit more frequently but these are one-off meals, once every couple of weeks as opposed to every meal, every day. That's how I became the "before" guy in my picture at the top of this post. Oh and I've had about six beers since June - I don't miss it nearly as much as I thought I would.

Biking is entirely addictive. I've really gotten into biking, but not in the way a lot of other people seem to. Many of my friends and family enjoy long distance cycling - 3 to 4 hour 20+ mile rides done at a consistent pace. However what I enjoy is 5 to 7 mile sprints, especially if there are hills involved. Using the awesome Strava app, I've created a few circuits near my house and my goal each time I do them is to knock several seconds off my time, especially on the individual hills. Don't get me wrong, I like doing the 20 to 30 mile rides as well but for pure cardio satisfaction those hill sprint circuits are pretty hard to beat.

I can see why weight-loss and fitness is challenging for people with office jobs. I'm lucky, I work from home and if it's sunny at 10:30 on Tuesday morning I'll go out for 45 minute bike ride. I get really frustrated when I'm traveling or not in control of my schedule and I can't get out and run or bike or lift weights , etc. So I can't imagine how frustrating it must be if your schedule is dictated by an office job or some other rigid workday schedule. But it *is* possible so don't get discouraged. It's a question of finding spots in your day, just 45 minutes here and there to knock out a quick run or some weights...that's all it really takes.

I ditched my gym membership. While I was in California for the summer I had access to a really great gym. But my nearest gym here in England is a fair distance and not nearly as well equipped as the gym I was a member of in California. It's also a lot more expensive and I just didn't feel like I was getting my money's worth ,so I canceled my membership. I replaced it with bodyweight exercises, the pull up bar, kettle bells and I'll soon be adding various free weights so that I can continue my weight training regimen.

What's next? I'd like to continue trimming fat, as I still have a ways to go in some areas of my body. Then it will be a question of continually increasing my stamina and fitness as well as  increasing my general strength. I keep reminding myself (and other people) that this isn't a diet or a's a total lifestyle change. I have no intention of ever looking like I did in my "before" photo ever again.


How I lost 30lbs

If you've seen me recently you might have noticed I've lost quite a lot of weight. 31lbs to be precise. I haven't been talking about it much except for the occasional gym check-in on Facebook. But for the first time in about 10 years, I feel "in shape." None of my clothes fit, I have muscle in places that were heretofore overrun with blubber, and I feel pretty fucking awesome. A lot of people have been asking how I did it so I want to share a few things I've learned so far on this ongoing journey.

Running your own company

I've been working for myself for two and a half years. I've been fortunate enough to work on a bunch of different projects during that time, both independently, with partners, and with other companies. The structure of those projects has loosely taken the form of my own startups/ideas, investing in and advising other startups, consulting to established companies, and speaking at public and private events. During those engagements I've learned a few things that I'd like to share.

Maj Gen A. G. Patterson CB DSO OBE MC - My Grandfather

My Grandmother sent me this article a few years ago, I typed it up because it's truly an amazing article. It's a fellow soldier's recollections of my Grandfather. My Grandfather was a Major General in the British Army and also a Gurkha. He was fearless and tough as nails and the more I hear about him, the more I wish I was able to get to know him better. This article really highlights his bravery and loyalty.

Head in the Sand

I just finished an interesting experiment. Based on Tim Ferris' concept of a low-information diet, I did not look at any news media for an entire week. No TV news, no radio, no newspapers, no internet news, no magazines, no current affairs blogs, no digg. Complete current affairs blackout. I couldn't even listen to my beloved Fresh Air on the way to work. Only non-fiction books and TV for the week.

Most of you know I'm an information fiend. I crave news and information. I need to know what's going on. I wake up in the morning and throw on the news, check the web for what happened in the 6 hours I was asleep, I read the newspaper cover to cover. I check the news sites throughout the day, I'm a digg addict and I have news ticker widgets on my desktop. I think it goes without saying that this was not going to be easy for me. So before I get into the results, let me explain why I did this. Well it was a couple of reasons. First and foremost, to see if I could. Secondly, it was an experiment to see what would happen to my life if I reduced the noise level dramatically. Would it reduce my stress? Would I sleep even better than I do now? Would I be able to concentrate better? Would I be able to cope not knowing what was going on? Would this sensory deprivation turn me into a social retard, unable to start or participate in conversations because I didn't know what was going on? Did I *need* to know everything that was going on? I was looking forward to finding out. But also scared shitless.

Well, I'm still alive so I deem the experiment a success. The first thing I should say is that it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. By reducing my information input from a fire hose to a squirt gun, I immediately found myself more relaxed and much more focused. By forbidding myself to check the BBC website every half an hour, browse digg, read the ticker, watch TV etc I found my productivity went through the roof. I had dramatically reduced my distractions and could stay on task without a bunch of background noise.

The second thing I noticed is that I *was* able to keep up to date with what was going on. No, I didn't cheat. But I managed to glean hours and hours of information and opinion in just a few seconds. I glanced at headlines as I walked past newsagents, I peeked over shoulders on the Tube to get a 3 second look at an article in Metro. I got everything I needed to know in a matter of seconds and moved on. Simple.

I also managed to get my editorial and opinion information as well. This was even easier AND it actually HELPED start conversations instead of the opposite. I just asked people at work or friends "Hey, what happened in the world today, I didn't get a chance to catch the news?" In less than a minute I'd have a world news digest AND 4 people's perspectives and opinions on the topics. Done. Simple.

I even got the results of two major primary elections without looking them up or asking anyone. My mom sent me a text message, assuming I saw the results, saying "What a bummer about Ohio and Texas! Think he can bounce back?" From that I knew that Hilary Clinton had won both states and that my mom was disappointed. I got my fact and my editorial in a 12 word digest.

I also felt less pissed off at the world. I never had an opportunity or need to go "Goddamn Fox News!! They make me so mad!" because I didn't let them get to me. No pundit on a news opinion show could rile me up with his or her viewpoint because I didn't hear it. I didn't need to hear it in the first place.

So no, I didn't feel out of touch or uninformed. In fact I felt more informed because I was given several layers of perspective to each piece of information I got and could then make up my own mind (or chose to discard the info) based on who told me what.

Since I finished this total immersion, I've slowly been allowing streams back into my life but only in a highly managed way. Still don't watch the news, still don't check the news sites more than once. I read the digg RSS feed once in a while but more because it always produces more funny and entertaining stories than hard hitting journalism. Plus it provides everything in short, digestible sound bites. I don't feel the need to click through.

We live in a total information age and I have been standing in front of the floodgates for a long time now. It was nice to step out of the deluge and take shelter for a little while.

Deanne's post on moving and stuff

Exciting isn't it! Whisked away to London with an amazing man? I am soo happy to go because it will be fun and new. I keep telling myself that but I am sure I will miss a few things like Carl's Junior, softball, the sun and oh yeah PEOPLE? Not like London doesn't have people, just not MY people. Friends and family are going to be the hardest to leave but I have been telling everyone to please please visit.In an effort to keep in touch we will have this blog running, or I might ressurect mine as well. Alex might not want this thing flooded with my mindless rants. Hopefully I will be good about this and I wish you all had blogs too. We will be busy when we get over there but I am more concerned about everything here. Christmas seems so far away but we plan to leave on the 26th or 27th (don't hold us to that) and then I think damn, ok. What to do, finish the house construction, pack, sell stuff, donate. Sounds easy but it is quite daunting. I already have about 15 boxes packed, maybe 10 more to go. Kitchen sorting has to be done next. It is all the stuff we can't take that is killing me! Sell Sell Sell.... cars, tvs, furniture then there is a ton of small stuff which is more of a pain. Yuck. So if you know anyone who needs plates, cups, dishes or a car, or a queen bed, or well geez anything, let me know. It needs to be gone like asap :) Cash only/You pick up is my craigslist motto! Anyway, the point is if I am aloof or preoccupied, it is because I have so much stuff to do and tons on my mind. I do need a slap every once in a while because I have a one track mind sometimes and I forget all of the wonderful things and people I will not see often anymore. Do they have taco trucks in London? If not I am going to buy a roach coach and open my own. The food will be good, cheap and 1 in every 100 customers will be garunteed food poisoning. Bunngggg. Yeah, I'm not going to fit in huh...

yeah, yeah, yeah, I know

*blows the dust off the blog*Wow, it's definitely been a while since I updated this thing. Rest assured, it's certainly not due to lack of "newsworthy" content, more due to a lack of time. The last three months have been unbelievable. We've had birthdays, travels, new jobs, notable firsts, and a whole lot more. I'll be back soon to update in more detail, but in the meantime... Trip to England First Domestic Flight in...Ages BGCGG Wine Festival Fishing Trip Reno Air Races Will and Cait's Visit Long Beach

Happy Birthday, fatty!

As some of you may know, I have been on a clinical trial of a weight management program through my employer. I have been quite coy about the program, partly because it's confidential and partly because I didn't want to jinx it; but I figured that the 27th anniversary of my glorious escape from the womb was a good juncture for an update.I AM KICKING ASS!! Ok...the program kicks ass too, but I have a lot to do with the execution of the program. As of today, I have lost 27lbs on the 27th day of the month on my 27th birthday. Yes, I had planned the entire thing like that. I am currently the lightest I have been since moving to California over 6 years ago. People aren't recognizing me, people at work who I haven't ever spoken to are stopping me in the corridor - it's a good feeling. I still have a few more pounds to lose before I reach my goal, but I'm moving in the right direction. Deanne has been incredibly supportive and I couldn't have done this without her - she's been my walking partner and my calorie enforcer. Anyway, I have resisted the temptation to look at a photo of myself, let alone have one taken, for fear that I might not see results. But the waitress at Black Angus snuck up on me with her Polaroid. I was very surprised with the results. I look like I did 6 years ago. Here's a before and after...or before and during, since I'm not finished: Before: fatalex.jpg During/After: AlexBday.jpg

Look what I got !!!

Disclaimer: Since I KNOW my mother will make a comment - Mom, this is not a flattering photo of me - my shirt is bulging out. I'm actually, much much thinner. In fact, I'm the lightest I've been in five years. I'll post pictures when I reach my goal weight. Void where prohibited. Not all applicants will qualify. Professional driver on closed course, do not attempt. alexcar.jpg I FINALLY got my car back. Almost three months to the day since the it was ripped my from my bosom. Hooray!! Well, kinda. There's a whole host of problems. And it's gonna need to go back to the shop for quite a long time. The worst of the problems is that the a/c just plain doesn't work. It's 97 degrees here. Plus there's a bunch of cosmetic problems and some other issues that just aren't acceptable. Oh and the horn now sounds like someone is strangling a goose. So I get it for the weekend and then it's back to the shop for more work. I was destined to never have this car. *sigh* alexcar2.jpg

My Grandfather - Rambo

My Grandmother sent me this article last year and while I was in the UK over Christmas, I typed it up because it's truly an amazing article. It's a fellow soldier's recollections of my Grandfather. My Grandfather was a Major General in the British Army and also a Gurkha. He was fearless and tough as nails and the more I hear about him, the more I wish I was able to get to know him better. This article really highlights his bravery and loyalty.It seems strange to me that I remember noticing Pat at Sandhurst in 1937. He was walking down the main corridor of Number 1 Company, looking ahead with a stern and purposeful gaze, hands in front of as though washing, and weading a red and white striped blazer with the isignia of a "blue" on the breast pocket. Later I discovered that it was a pentathlon "blue". He was a senior and we never spoke until he met me at Durgai, the railhead for Malakand, in January 1940, with a very warm welcome to the 1st Battalion. There the Batallion barracks were perched on a rocky eyrie on the lower slopes of the Himalayas. In the early, crisp, bright air, the British officers went oiiut for the first parade in muzri shirts and shining morning boots, with regimental swagger-canes tapping against their wide cardboard-stiff shorts. They visited the various weapon training groups; usually Vickers Berthier Light Machine Gun instruction with a non-commissioned officer shouting "rokhta" to show a stoppage. Pat sized the situation up pretty quickly, and although the most junior of officer, is reputed to have said "But this is nonsense. Surely the first parade should be more imaginative, with officers involved", or words to that effect. This, true or not, exemplified his attitude towards practices of the past. At every chance he cut away out-dated attitudes and brought reality. The years that followed involved operations in Waziristan, where he got heat-stroke rather badly; training for open warfare near Madras and training in combined operations off the coast near Bombay. Then we went south to the Nilambur jungles. There was a river by our camp, and a river-crossing exercise started to go horribly wrong when two rifelmen, with rifles slung, attempted to swim across. As we watched, it became apparent that they were in trouble and sinking. Before anyone else could respond, Pat leapt down the bank and dived to the rescue.

Then the Battalion went into action against the Japanese. We crossed the Chindwin in November 1944. There are two occasions on which I remember Pat particularly during our 9-month advance to the end of the War. The first was when we were across the Irrawaddy, returning from Minban Taung, a hill feature about 2 miles beyond the bridgehead which was being invested by the enemy. As we approached, Pat's company struck the Japanese position. He was forward, not in the relative safety of Company Headquarters, and without hesitation he charged with the leading platoon and overran the enemy. There was the rest of the spur to climb, so they went on, only to be met by heavy fire when they reached the summit. Twelve of the platoon were killed or wounded, including the platoon commander (Bishnabir). As reserve company i was sent forward, and to this day I remember so clearly the view of Pat standing on a large boulder, directing his reserves and telling me to get a move on. How he survived I do not know, because my leading scout (Punbir) was shot through the chest as soon as he looked over the lower part of the ridge above which pat was standing; and there was much lethal stuff exploding and flying around. That was Pat in action as a company commander. He enabled us to return to the bridgehead the next morning, without further opposition. The second occasion was Pat in action as a battalion commander. It was the last action of our war, and took place during the break-out battle. The Battalion's task was to destroy a considerable force of Japanese occupying the villages of Wegyi and Aukkon. There is a full account of the engagement in the Regimental History, but it does not tell of the amazing way Pat orchestrated the battle, with the field and mountain artillery support, a Sikh machine gun section, his own 3-inch mortars with high explosive and smoke, and his reserves. My main memory is of him in the final phase, stalking forward with the leading company commander (Nainasing) in the evening dimness, with attap roofs on fire around him and the chatterings of Bren and sten ahead, and the unrythmic clatter of the enemy machine gun. Once again there was no following behind at a safer distance in the Battalion Headquarters. Pat was not a person who really needed the company of others. He liked being with two or three, and with a drink in one hand, and a cigarette in the other (with his little finger tipping off the ash), he enjoyed pulling legs, joking gently, at the same time finding out what were the problems of others. He had a charity of mind towards those whom he recognised as straightforward people trying to do their best; but showed very firm intolerance towards those he considered untrustworthy, indolent or time-serving. I think that the stern and purposeful look that I saw at Sandhurst was of one who felt he had a mission in life as a soldier. And I had a feeling in later days, after he had retired, that he felt some disappointment in the fact that he had set out to defend the borders of the Empire, and then was eventually involved in their demolishing. But those he served and those he commanded, and the many that he helped, know that his was an extremely successful life. the Indian Civil Service and was educated at Tonbridge School and Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the the Gurkha Rifles in 1938. Before the war he served with the 1st Battalion on the North-West Frontier, including command of the fort at Chagdarrah covering the approaches to Peshwar from Afghanistan, and taking part in several affrays in Waziristan. The 1st 6th Gurkhas did not enter the war in Burma until August 1944 when the tide was turning against the Japanese. Patterson was by then a major commanding the Battalion's D Company, with which he won his MC in 1945. He had taken part in the assount crossing of the Irrawaddy, in January of that year. In the advance on Rangoon he was promoted to second in command and on three separate occasions took over the actual command of the Battalion, being mentioned in dispatches in that capacity at the Sittang battle. He had proved himself a tough, inspirational leader, and later showed that his strength lay in his training ability, based on his experience in Burma. On Indian Independence in August 1947, 6th Gurkhas was transferred to the British Army and took part in the long anti-terrorist campaign in Malaya. Patterson attended the Staff College, Camberley in 1949 and from there was appointed Brigade Major of the Brigade of Gurkhas, being appointed MBE for his services in establishing the Headquarters of the British Gurkhas in Malaya in 1951. He returned to England in 1954 to attend the Joint Services Staff College, whence in 1955 he was appointed as a GSO2 on Montgomery's staff at SHAPE. Patterson was given commander of 2nd Battalion 6th Gurkha Rifles, 1959-61, operating in the jungle of the Malay-Thai border. He was advanced to OBE in 191 after eliminating some of the last communist terrorist gangs in Northern Kedah. At the end of his tenure, he was given a brief spell back in England as GSO1 Western Command at Chester before taking command of 99th Gurkha Brigade in Singapore in 1962. In December 1962 the Indonesian inspired revolt broke out in Brunei. The 1st 2nd Gurkhas, the Queen's Own Highlanders and 42nd Commando, Royal Marines, were scrambled by air and sea from Singapore to crush it. Brigadier Patterson protested forcibly to the Commander Far East Land Forces about the deployment of troops from his Brigade, under an ad hoc headquarters, when his own was readily available. The untidy command arrangements were sorted out, Patterson's 99th Gurkha Brigade Headquarters took command of Brunei and the 4th and 5th divisions of Sarawak in time to handle the freeing of the Shell Oil Company's employees held by the rebels at Seria. Later, as reinforcements arrived and "Confrontation" was stepped up by the Indonesians, 99th Gurkha Brigade took over the most active front of all: the Western Brigade sector around Kuching. Patterson was awarded his DSO in 194 and twice mentioned in dispatches for his highly successful defence of the sector. He was also decorated by the Sultan of Brunei and the Malaysian Government. His tenure of command ended in late 1964 and he returned to England to join the Imperial Defence College course of 1965. The following year he went back to Malaysiato take over command of the 17th Gurkha Infantry Division, combined with the post of Major-General Brigade of Gurkhas. "Confrontation" ended in August 1964 and, instead of having to conduct further jungle operations, he had to contend with the jungles of Whitehall to help preserve the Brigade of Gurkhas. His last appointment with the Army was well chosen. He became Director of Army Training 1969-72, an activity at which he excelled (and for which he was appointed CB.) Yet characteristically, as soon as he retired he took over the Gurkha resettlement scheme in Nepal, into which he put his heart and soul. He returned home in 1976 and thereafter kept himself busy with the local affairs of Benenden in Kent.

Let's Review...

I want to take you through some of the photos I've posted recently that I never promoted on the front page of my site. Just to give you some context, as a lot of them mean a lot to me, or are of "historical significance." Let's watch!
This is Cranbrook, Kent in England.This is where I spent 7 years of my life at Dulwich Prep School and Cranbrook school for two and five years respectively.
This is St. Dunstan's Church in Cranbrook - I spent many a Sunday in here against my will. Not saying I didn't want to go to church but when you're 15, there's a lot more you want to be doing with your precious weekend.
This is Cranbrook School where I did 5 years of hard time. The main building (the big one) is from Elizabethan times and the school charter was given to the school by Queen Elizabeth I herself.
This is Crowden house - my boarding house for 4 of the 5 years I was at Cranbrook. It was a pretty decent place.
This is School Lodge, the first year boys boarding house. Interesting fact, the housemaster while I was there was actually the devil himself. Not many people know that.
Have you ever wanted to travel back in time? Well I did in December. From L to R, that's Emma, Becky and Sarah. Sarah is my (ex-girl)friend and Emma and Becky are two of her close friends. I hadn't seen them in almost 8 years. That's time travel. TECHNOLOGY!
This is my Grandmother - the legendary Grandmother. The world's toughest woman.
This is Burnt House - my Grandmother's house, and the center of my existence, simply because it's the only thing that hasn't changed in my 26.5 years on this planet.
We took my nieces to the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos a few weeks ago. It was really neat to be able to share my love of aviation with them. Incredibly, they loved it and there was no cries of "Uncle Alex, I'm bored, can we go now?" They loved it and asked a ton of questions, and were genuinely impressed by all the displays.

Three Years Ago

Three Years Ago Today:- I was preparing to recite my vows - My brother was nervously rehearsing his Best Man's speech over and over - My wife-to-be was recovering from having to share the couch with Jack, the 100lb Chocolate Labrador. - Relatives were continiously reminding Will not to set anything on fire with the candles - Everyone was marvelling at how lucky we'd been with the weather - The chapel was filling with friends and relatives I hadn't seen in years Three Years Ago Today was the best day of my life. Happy Anniversary, Deanne.

Long time no see

It's certainly been a while since I posted, and for that I apologize. Let me bring you up to speed with what's been happening.

50080394.1.jpgOur house is on the market! After three years in Tracy, it's time to move on. Deanne has worked tirelessly to make the house even more beautiful than it already was. Actually, it was briefly off the market last week when we got an offer and entered into contract but the buyer pulled out of the contract so we're back to square one. So if you need a house in Tracy, guess what, I've got one! Come buy it! Check out the MLS listing for details on the house.

DSCN4059.sized.jpgDeanne's Birthday was a ton of fun. We spent the day doing a bunch of things she loves doing that we just don't do often enough. We went bowling with Mike, Mindy and Lisa and then Andrew, Deanne and I played miniature golf. In the evening we got 30 people together and commandeered one of the rooms at Deanne's favorite restaurant, Sansar, and had a great dinner. Hey, you only turn 25 once and it was her turn for a big party. I've posted the pictures in my gallery.

DSCN3913.sized.jpgSince I last posted, we had our epic trip to Chicago. I'm sure all of you have heard by now but Deanne and I drove to Chicago and back for the Shaklee National Conference that I attended for work. I was due to fly but had a meltdown at the last minute and Deanne came to my rescue and said she'd be willing to drive with me to Chicago. We left Tracy at 6pm and drove for 32 hours without stopping throught California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and into Illinois. We traded sleeping and driving duties so we could maximize the time we were one the road. Despite having minor car trouble in Grand Island, Nebraska (go there, I dare ya) we made it to Chicago at 5am, despite driving around Chicago's very confusing surface street system for 2 hours looking for the damn hotel. We checked in and I slept for 45 minutes before I had to go to work, and deanne, incredibly, jumped straight on the shuttle bus to the airport and flew home. 4 days later, she worked a full day then jumped on a plane to Chicago, spent three hours meeting my co-workers and then got in the car with me and drove the 2300 miles home with me. NOW you can understand my previous post. I have posted pictures of the journey in my gallery.
DSCN3988.sized.jpgI took a couple of days off after Chicago and right before our house went on the market so we could get everything ready for our first open house. After four straight days of cleaning and prepping the house, we decided that on the last day we would do something fun and relaxing. So we crossed the San Mateo bridge to San Carlos and the Hiller Aviation Museum. I'd driven past it hundreds of times but never actually gone in; now I wish I hadn't waited so long. It's a fantastic museum and particularly interesting to me as it focuses on civil aviation, and in particular, civil aviation in the Bay Area. The highlights for me were the nose sections of a 737-200 and full front end of a 747-100, both of which you could get into and "play with." The 747 front end was from a former BA plane and sat in the cockpit was a retired Pan Am Captain who would answer any questions. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who's even remotely interested in aviation. It's great for kids as well. I have posted pictures in the my gallery.

Stunning Regularity

Wow, so it looks like my posting schedule has been reduced to once a month. Am I really that busy? Yes.........Yes, I am. Anyway, here are a some tidbits that I've been keeping in a safe place until I had time to post them:Paintball: paintball.jpgI've posted the photos from our latest paintballing trip. Andrew had insisted that we go paintballing while he was out here and I hadn't been for a while, so we gathered the troops and went out to the Sunol Paintball Field. Deanne, Andrew, Mike, Stephanie spent the day shooting each other with various colored paint. Stephanie was gung-ho from the moment we first walked onto the range and I don't think she missed an entire game. Andrew took out months of pent up agression on his jeans by rolling around in the dirt and going on several suicide runs up the middle of the battlefield. Deanne took a beating like I have never seen but remained upbeat the whole time...I had a feeling she'd be good at paintball. Mike tried out his new marker, as did I, and we regarded as the "experts" even though we'd only played a handful of times; suffice to say we still had our asses handed to us by a bunch of 12 year old kids who were armed to the teeth. Anyway, a great day had by all and paintball demonstrations continued throughout the weekend with target practice at Mike and Mindy's Memorial Day barbecue. Brilliant. Further Random Reading: After a lengthy absence I have started posting new content to the "Further Random Reading" section of my site. Located in the right column, under the random gallery image, this is a bunch of links to stories that I think other people might find interesting. Most of them are tech related but occassionally a random nugget of hilarity will slip through. One of the good things about getting to work so early is that I have a bit of time to read the news, check my RSS feeds, etc, and scour the internets for interesting news. I shall continue to deposit them here. Music: shawn.jpgLast week a CD was thrust into my hand with a "You lived in Hong Kong, you'll probably like this." It was a Taiwanese rap CD. In Mandarin. I was skeptical at first but then I listened. The sound quality was crap but the music was excllent. I asked about the terrible audio quality and I was told the background behind the CD. Apparently this kid, who spent several years of his life in LA, wrote and recorded the album in his bedroom, unbeknownst to anyone in his family. Sadly, he died of cancer about three years ago. He was only 23. While they were going through his things after he died, his brother found his demo CD. He sent it back to Taiwan and had it produced and turned into a proper album. The album became a huge success and is winning awards all over Asia. I'm enjoying it immensely and I can't even understand it. It reminds me of early Tupac - post Digital Underground. Here's a link to a flash version of one of his videos.
Oh but you look so much older: For those of you who keep asking......yes, I'm REALLY 25.