Category Archives: Opinion

And Miley Sings…

I’ve long been a fan of Miley Cyrus, even when she became controversial. I didn’t know her until after her Disney run. Her cover of “Jolene” opened my ears to her ability to sing.

Hannah Montana aside, I find her voice to somehow echo something in my head when I listen to her sing. Her voice certainly isn’t angelic or pure.

And along came her single “Heart of Glass,” a cover of Blondie’s hit.

The first time I heard this, I felt like it was the way the song should have been recorded in the first place. Whether everyone else agrees with me or not, but somehow I understood the lyrics with her version.

It’s raucous, a little uncontrolled, and 100% one of the best covers I’ve ever heard. Broken voices always add an extra measure of something that I find compelling.

And then I saw the video of her singing live. I’ve honestly never thought of her as anything other as interesting and a singer with an amazing voice, one who constantly defies genres. Whether I’m supposed to say so or not, everything about her in this video is distilled sensuality. It’s hard to look away. I’m 54, but not dead.

I loved “Midnight Sky,” as well as “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart,” and “Younger Now,” too. If you want a treat, get on YouTube and give the Miley Cyrus – Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix) with Stevie Nicks a listen. She does a few other covers that are worth a listen.

I know Miley isn’t for everyone.

I hope she does a lot more covers, especially rock covers. Her voice bangs a gong in my head when I hear her wail.

A Subtle Truth, 3

You can’t control your addiction, your weight problem, or drinking? Tell someone. And then tell another person. Chances are you have someone in your life that knows exactly what you need to get through it or over it. Being cautious and secretive only blocks you from the possibility of others helping you. You might not want other people to know your secret. But they’re damn sure going to find out when your life explodes, aren’t they?

Pico De Too Much Good Food

Pardon my great photography.

This is a pound of pico de gallo, iceberg lettuce, Taj√≠n seasoning, and coarsely chopped aluminum-foil wrapped/baked lemon pepper chicken breast, along with two bags of Popchips. Of course. Grilled chicken is preferable, and if given a choice, I’d use shredded lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is less expensive and seems to last a day or two longer than shredded lettuce, especially once opened. Foil chicken is infallible to make, too. Since I don’t reheat the chicken, it’s very convenient, too.

Although I don’t count calories, it’s somewhere around 350. And it’s a LOT of food, so much that it is difficult to eat it comfortably. But because I’m dedicated, I, of course, devoured every bit of it.

I ate a very similar lunch yesterday, using Mr. Taco Loco chicken as the foundation.

I had a can of diced tomatoes, hot sauce, and tomato-chicken broth for my early meal today. It might sound ludicrous, but I can eat it on the go. It’s also inexpensive and impossible to make incorrectly unless you stick your tongue in the microwave outlet.

People are constantly surprised I don’t really get hungry.

Sometimes, I tell them outrageous lies just to see how they respond.

I experimented with variations of this until I realized how much of the things I might have previously thrown in there were superfluous.

I still take fiber and other basic nutrients apart from my natural diet too.

I’m evaluating everything I do as I go. And even if I make a few missteps, anything is better than when I had another 65 or more pounds on me.

I’m confounded by people who can’t get full without indulging.

An Exaggerated Truth

One of the ways you know that emotionality has seeped too far into your head is when you find yourself exaggerating. Often, when we’re lashing out, we take a small version of the truth and stretch it ridiculously. If we don’t have such a truth to work with, we either invent one or attribute a motive that we have no way of knowing. We villainize.

All of us hear dozens of vicious encounters in our daily lives, wherein people jab, snark, and exaggerate about the people they are currently upset with. That’s not going to end as long as humans are walking around.

For example, I’ve always had a real problem with fundamentalists or extremists, especially religious ones. Regardless of where I was on the spectrum about the existence of god or the futility of interventionist prayer, I’ve had a stable attitude about the foundation of people’s beliefs.

Any dogma, doctrine, commandment, or rule can be created out of whole cloth. It often is. It’s part of the reason no two religions or denominations agree on everything. Often, the divergence is massive, leaving no recognizable overlap.

My derision has always fallen on those who would demand adherence or obedience to the imposition of their chosen religious beliefs.

I distrust rigid authoritarians about religion; they can’t be trusted to honor the line of observance.

But, in anger or exaggeration, I’ve been accused of having a horrible attitude toward Christians as a category. That’s ridiculous. As with most religions and denominations, the individual observing it has massive leeway in how they treat others against the backdrop of spirituality. Many use it compassionately and intelligently; others would burn the world to get agreement. It is the latter that pisses me off.

It’s a small thing, but one which, if repeated unfairly, can grow to discolor the true nature of how I look at Christians and others.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed this sort of exaggeration in anger more frequently. It’s no great revelation, of course.

L.I.T.S.

To start, L.I.T.S. = “Life Is Too Short.”

Secondly, I may be a person on other people’s lists. I admit that fully. We’re all villains in someone else’s eyes; accept it. Yes, it will feel hurtful.

Since I started seeing a counselor, I’ve probably become more annoying in a few ways. If you missed it in my previous posts, anytime you change, even if entirely for the better or positive reasons, people often don’t welcome the change. Change requires adaptation and often new boundaries. As the difference becomes more substantial, so too does the likelihood that someone will take issue – and probably not directly.

I keep a few of these printed in my wallet. Instead of getting frustrated again, I take one out and hand it to whoever is trying to trap me in a situation with the person on my L.I.T.S. List.

For most people, this opens up a conversation about my motivation. At its most simple, it lets the person know that I take issue with how the other person engages with me as a human being. If the person inquiring is a good person, I will take the time to explain. If not, I short-circuit the encounter as politely as possible.

It’s also possible that handing out these might get me in hot water. But let’s be honest, dealing with narcissists or unkind people often lands us in hot water through no fault of our own. I won’t put someone on my L.I.T.S. List unless I’ve been unsuccessful in getting them to stop mistreating me.

There will be situations in which nothing can be done. Even so, at least people will know that I’d prefer to minimize my exposure to the person in question.

Life is too short, indeed.

Stay Simple, Stay Healthy

I don’t use shampoo or conditioner.

On my hair, I mean.

I’ve kept my hair very short for almost all of my adult life. That helps. I don’t have bad hair days as a result. “Bad face” days, perhaps.

I don’t use body wash, either, before you ask.

I despise lotion on my skin, though I will relent and use it a bit in exceptional circumstances. Not “Silence of The Lambs” scenarios, though. I’m eccentric but not crazy. Okay, I’m crazy but not a lunatic. Yet.

I even shave with regular bar soap and use no additional aftershaves, colognes, or other similar things.

I use cheap disposable razors. And not because they are cheap, but because now that I’m accustomed to them, the alleged ‘nicer’ ones cut me like Sarah Silverman at a roast. I keep some sort of beard mostly because I’m lazy. I shave my neck between 1-2 times a week.

Some of the above serve as a reminder that I’m a minimalist at heart.

I use antiperspirant and deodorant, of course, because I’d like to delay excessive body odor as much as possible. If I become more antisocial, I can always stop. That last part is supposed to be funny.

Having said that, I’ve discovered that a particular brand of fiber gummies gives me an INCREDIBLE amount of gas. I consumed a bottle of it a few months ago and attributed it to my healthier diet. This second round confirms my old suspicions: it’s definitely the fiber pills. My physical job helps disguise the aromatic and sonic symptoms. Mostly. My apologies to anyone paying the price of my gastrointestinal choices. Also, yes, I am aware that there are differences between types of fiber, as well as soluble and insoluble. It’s just this particular brand packs a wallop! I’m not mentioning it by name because I don’t want the trolls to pounce on me more than usual.

Sidenote: I’m amazed at how many people don’t eat enough fiber. It seems like something that only old people are concerned about, but probably should be on everyone’s radar. The joke is that it is largely to prevent constipation, but dietary fiber does so many other healthy things for your body.

For people interested in such things, you should search for “glucomannan” on the internet. I don’t have an opinion about it. I’m not supposed to say that, but I don’t. Several people have written to me to insist that I try it. I haven’t simply because I didn’t need anything other than healthy fiber – and I wanted to avoid supplements that I couldn’t sustain for the rest of my life.

It’s fun watching and reading people’s commentary and arguments for or against supplements, trends, diets, and health.

A few days ago, a TikToker commented on a health and fitness video, calling him an idiot. “Blah, blah, blah. Diets don’t work,” the commenter said, among other things. The poster replied, “Diets don’t work – and judging by your appearance, you don’t either.” Oof, that was harsh. Another commenter replied, “Diets don’t work. But neither doesn’t being unhappy or unhealthy. At least it is an effort, even if only 1 in 20 succeed.” I generally avoid perusing the comments. I’d rather have people post their own opinions and put themselves up for criticism and scrutiny. (Most won’t of course, in the same way that people won’t write anything themselves but will hold other’s feet to the fire when they choose to.)

Stay simple and stay healthy out there, whatever that means to each of you.

That includes your mental health, too, even if the circumstances you find yourself in are your fault.

It Is NOT Complicated

A few people hit me over the head about the ‘no exercise’ component of my weight loss over the last few months.

Naturally, I never advocated a ‘no exercise’ mantra for myself – or others. What I said was, “No additional exercise,” as in no gym, no weights, no byzantine series of micro-exercises that I wasn’t already doing. Part of my system was to avoid doing anything that I might not be able to do for the rest of my life. Having a long history of yo-yo weight loss behind me, I knew this would be a critical component to still be under 175 in a year. Not that I planned on it, but I also developed an alternate plan to take into consideration additional weight if I were to surprise myself and start weight training. Muscle weighs a lot more on your body, but it also burns more calories. It’s folly to compare all body types and exercise components as equal where weight is involved.

In my case, my job is very physical: lifting, walking a lot, and a wide variety of motions.

It’s true that I walk for pleasure. Given that the majority of my weight loss happened when I was not walking for fun, it’s a moot point. When I set out on my weight loss journey, I was experiencing a new foot pain that sidelined me. I could still work, but it wasn’t comfortable. The same is true for the intermittent shoulder pain and back pain that has accumulated. Weight loss has largely reduced all those pains. I try to be grateful that I woke up before my back or knees worsened. It’s a certainty I was headed for something terrible had I not.

Given the warmer weather, I have been walking more. It’s been fun this year, especially since I’ve done a lot of urban walking and seeing the places around me with new eyes. I walked a lot last year, it’s true, but I walked around with 65 extra pounds saddling me. It’s a substantially different experience and at times I feel like I’m walking on clouds. The difference is that striking.

The science is clear: walking is ALMOST as good long-term as running. You can also walk in bursts throughout the day. Science also tells us that doing bursts of exercise cumulatively yields the same health benefits as walking in a single, longer bout. This is also true for other forms of exercise. It’s a shame that most of us are hoodwinked into believing that exercise must be a long session in an artificial setting.

You don’t have to set aside an artificial amount of time for exercise, much less travel to a gym to do so. If you’re creative and committed, you’ll get results, even if you do a series of exercise bouts during your day. If “gyming” works for you, do it. I’m just reminding people that there is another way, one that won’t rob you of your time.

Another thing that always gets stretched when I mention it is that people try to say that I believe that exercise isn’t important. I don’t. It is. What I said over and over is that exercise isn’t viable as the primary component of weight loss and weight maintenance. Exercise has a lot of benefits, socially, physically, and psychologically.

IF you can do so, you can maintain your weight solely by consuming fewer calories than you burn. It’s simple math.

I don’t recommend it. I recommend that you be active. Were my job not intensely physical, I’d have to incorporate other ways to stay active. If I had an office job, I would walk in increments throughout the day. I’d do pushups or resistance exercises. Working from home, I’d do step exercises, walk on a treadmill, or get an exercise bike if that helped my knees and back.

Speaking out of privilege, I know that many people can’t simply eat well and exercise. Economics and social issues affect a lot of people, as do medical issues that make being healthy or weigh less a lot more difficult. One of the knee-jerk reactions I get on the internet is that people insist that I’m talking to everyone, or that my generalizations are for everyone. They’re not.

For those who aren’t restricted by those issues, all that is missing is for you to open your mind a little and recognize that your attitude is a lot of the problem. You don’t ‘need’ a gym, a lot of equipment, or even an hour a few times a week. You need a commitment and a change upstairs. You can walk a few times a day, or ride an exercise bike, one suited for your conditioning. You can eat less, or at least learn new eating habits. You can confide in a friend or family member, in hopes that you can work with someone needing to make a change like you.

You can choose supplements, energy drinks, or any of the thousands of systems out there to help you lose weight. You don’t need any of them, though, not if a commitment gongs in your head. I’m living proof. If a system helps you, use it. While you’re figuring it out, follow the literature and simplify your efforts. You’ll probably see that you’re going to have to choose a path that you can sustain without spending a fortune or spending a lot of hours that you could otherwise live differently.

You can achieve a lot through incremental effort. A word a day. One snack less. Choosing things you love that are also better choices. All of them hinge on something changing in your head. Once that happens, excuses stop being nooses.

Good luck!

Love, X

Dexter+ Vindicated

Since Dexter ended, I’ve told at least five hundred people, “The show will be back. I have no doubt about it.” Many fans were upset by how the show ended. Not me. I get it. The showrunners wanted Dexter to survive the original series.

Three times since Dexter ended, I wrote short pieces regarding my certainty of its return. As Hall opted for other series, I knew that someone would look at the metrics and dollar signs.

It’s a win-win. If you don’t want to ‘spoil’ the original Dexter, don’t watch the new Season 9. For the rest of us, it all hinges on how much creativity the writers bring to the revival.

A little over two years ago, I wrote another piece about the fact that I just KNEW Dexter would return. Turns out, I was right. We’re getting it later this year. My opinion is that its return is perfectly timed. We’ll be in a different frame of mind after the pandemic.

Here’s the blog post from early 2019: https://xteri.me/2019/02/14/dexter-returns-to-kill-us-all/

After all, I told you so!

The Transformation of Downtown Springdale

It was an unexpectedly cold morning. Even so, tulips were everywhere downtown, giving me splashes of color in bursts as I walked. It was beautiful to witness so many installations of canopy and outdoor lights in alleys and nooks and crannies.

There are places in Downtown Springdale that startle you with a mix of form and function. If the right people are involved, this could be amazing. I’m hoping that color finds a better home here.

Downtown Springdale is substantially different than it was a year ago. Entire blocks and buildings have surrendered to history, while others sprouted in their wake. It feels like the area is awakening. Even as the national economy falters, it’s difficult to miss the fact that Downtown64 (as it should be called, by the way) is the focus of a lot of energy and attention. Art, storefront displays, food, outdoor dining/drinking, public spaces, the Apollo Events Center, a trail, bike shops, lofts/apartments off Emma, a marathon, murals, and outdoor dining events; the area is markedly different than it once was. That’s a good thing.

The Arts Center of the Ozarks, often overlooked. Even though the picture is blurry, I’m leaving it, if only because I didn’t have my glasses on when I took the picture.

One of the many murals showing up all over Springdale. If I had a say, every wall would be covered in color and beauty.

Perhaps the ugliest logo in human history. Not quite the ugliest, but I still hate how this logo somehow made it through the process of becoming the city’s logo.

Don Guero’s is no Mr. Taco Loco, but it adds flavor to Emma.

Out of the last several times I’ve dined out, it’s been on Emma. Fair or not, living in East Springdale isn’t conducive to fine dining.

The one thing that is missing for me is a coffee shop for early morning. Such a place would bring visitors to Emma at an earlier hour. As the number of people working near Emma increases, it is inevitable. The question is who’ll realize the pull of such a place first. Art economies require copious amounts of both alcohol and caffeine. I included Bike Rack’s picture because the hours posted on the door don’t coincide with them being open. Trailside Coffee inside the Phat Tire Bike Shop is the other competitor, located off of Shiloh Square and Turnbow Park. Maybe we’ll get back to normal when the pandemic is over.

Speaking of ‘open hours,’ the barbershop adjacent to the Apollo had the same problem the other morning. Unless the clientele is vampire-oriented, someone forgot to turn the light off by 4 a.m.

That is a fox in the middle of the picture. I heard yipping and scampering behind me for at least a minute. I assumed it was a dog following me. It wasn’t. It was Mr. Fox. He was mostly unafraid of me. I took the picture near the intersection of Grove and Quandt, where the vacant church that should be a private residence sits. Years ago, I lived on Grove Street, near the Arts Center of the Ozarks.

I like Emma much, much better now that someone wisely installed multiple 4-way stops and mostly eliminated the one-way street nonsense that once plagued downtown.

Taken from the creekside portion of the trail approaching Huntsville Avenue.

Many people are unaware that there are loft apartments above James & James off Emma.

Storefront art installations; this one is across from The Odd Soul and Mr. Taco Loco on Emma.

Small house tucked away near the Apollo Theater. I love such residences, along with upper story apartments and condos in urban areas. A smart developer built a row of apartments near the old Washington Elementary building past the Community Clinic and near the Jones Center. I think it’s brilliant. (Little Emma apartments) They look sleek and modern. The picture I snapped of them looked terrible.

The old Layman building property. Except for the corner on Water Street, the entire block is gone. For Springdale residents, the absence of anything here is striking.

… as does the block that once held the Bank of American and HelpCard building, along the railroad excursion depot.

If you’re interested, you can still go back to 2007 using Google Streetview and ‘drive’ the old Emma and its old buildings. It’s worth the time to do so if that sort of thing interests you.

No matter how you feel about the changes to Downtown Springdale, you should prepare yourself for ongoing transformation. Millions of dollars will continue to funnel through this corridor. I predict it will be both functional and beautiful. That Springdale is building its new Criminal Justice Center within pitching distance of the Shiloh Museum and Turnbow Park is genius. It anchors downtown and adds an element of safety to visitors. It’s possible to walk for thirty minutes and witness millions of dollars of investment happening right in front of us.

If you’re a fan of Springdale, I recommend that you walk the area when other people are still asleep. It’s another world an done conducive to discovering new things about our common geography.

P.S. You’ll discover things about yourself, too.

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https://www.springdalear.gov/595/Downtown-Springdale

https://www.downtownspringdale.org/

https://www.facebook.com/DowntownSpringdale/