Some Lights Displays To Get You Into The Holiday Spirit

Photo courtesy of st-nicks.com

 

Being that Hanukkah is wrapping up,

Kwanzaa is around the corner,

and Christmas is exactly fifteen days from today as of this writing,

I thought it would be a nice idea to post some lights displays depicting the holiday season, in the name of having another post on this blog being aesthetically  pleasing.

Lights displays at this time of year are certainly aesthetically pleasing to me; I need this as much as anyone.

I hope you enjoy…

 

Photo courtesy of eventbrite.com

 

 

 

 

A nice Kwanzaa display; note the red, black and green candles. Photo courtesy of rd.com

 

 

 

 

I really like the (mostly) gold color scheme in these Christmas lights. Photo courtesy of timeout.com

 

 

 

 

This light display is from the Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of tripsavvy.com

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of losangeles.cbslocal.com

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of travelandleisure.com

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of travelandleisure.com

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com

 

 

 

 

Considering the way things are going these days, the message on the side of this house is perfect. Photo courtesy of finehomesandliving.com

 

 

 

Why Winter Has Become My Favorite Season

Photo courtesy of newscult.com

 

I recently came across an article from Newscult.com which listed the reasons winter beats summer.

Now that winter’s come upon us – even in Southern California, where I live, as it’s raining as I type this – I thought I would list my reasons why winter has become, more or less, my favorite season.

Which concurs with many of the points listed in the article…

1. PHYSICAL COMFORT

The older I’ve gotten, the less comfortable I’ve been with the heat of summer and early fall; as I have expressed many times, I HATE HOT!

2. WEATHER

Though being from the Los Angeles area and living there all of my life, I’ve never really seen snow, except for the times it has washed out my weekend pick-up softball games I’ve always liked listening to the rain while lying in my bed.

In fact, since it’s raining right now, I hope it’s coming down after I finish this piece so I can snuggle under the covers and enjoy its sounds; it helps me relax and sleep.

3. CHRISTMAS (and other holidays)

I particularly like to look at the Christmas light decorations in my neighborhood this time of year.

And of course A Charlie Brown Christmas is absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt the greatest animated feature ever made; it is being aired this Thursday night on ABC Channel 7.

Plus as is my personal tradition, I’m watching my DVD copy of Charles Schulz’s classic on Christmas Eve night.

I also like that other holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day is all grouped together with the day that is set aside to commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

4. FEWER BUGS

I concur with what the guy in the Newscult.com article said about how there are no bugs in winter, which is good news for those who strongly dislike bugs like me.

 

Whoa – check out this evening winter scene, the full moon shining its light. Photo courtesy of coindesk.com

 

5. OUTERWEAR

I like being able to wear my sweatshirts, hoodies, fleeces, and other outerwear that I have to put away from May through October. They’re comfy.

6. FOOD

Even though I’ve changed my eating habits due to my health, such as the fact that I’ve given up red meat and turkey because of my gout condition,

And have stopped eating certain other foods due to my hypertension,

That doesn’t change my like of yummy comfort foods eaten during the holidays; I just have to be a little more careful of not scarfing on seconds, limiting my candy intake, and finding healthier substitutes such as dark chocolate and chicken instead of turkey.

7. LACK OF SWEAT

A reason why I hate hot is because of the sweat that exudes from me at seemingly every occurrence and opportunity, like when I’m working out; it’s like I swam in my clothes afterwards.

The cooler temperatures during wintertime provides a reprieve from that discomfort.

8. SCENERY

Being from sunny Southern California, I don’t really get to see snowy areas.

But I really enjoy looking at pictures of landscapes covered with the white stuff; it gives me a relaxing feeling inside.

It tends to calm me down when I feel anxiety of agitated.

And I find myself wishing I was there.

 

WHOA! I LOVE this sunrise (I think) over these snow-covered mountains! Photo courtesy of grousemountain.com

 

 

 

THE LATEST ON THE PROGRESS OF “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”

Photo courtesy of young.lv

 

It has been a while since I’ve given any information on how the process of writing my book, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, detailing my experiences of being on the Autism Spectrum while being mainstreamed into the neurotypical world, has been going.

Well, to be honest…

Because I’ve been so busy with my sports blog, SoCal Sports Annals  – here’s the link if you’re interested: http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com

Including doing my recent annual Crosstown Rivalry football coverage of UCLA vs USC, which is my busiest time of the year on that blog,

I feel like I’ve been fortunate to have been able to even do some final editing on “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS” an average of once a week for an hour, as I have finished my manuscript, but haven’t fond the time to begin the process of self-publishing it and unveiling it to the world and to your hands.

However…

That will change within the next two weeks as I plan to some final, final editing tomorrow.

Then on the week of December 9th, because I have some important things to cover in SoCal Sports Annals, which for all intents and purposes is my business, the week before,

I finally plan to go to Lulu.com with my manuscript, which is on a hard drive, and begin turning that hard drive into a book and an e-book.

I’ve worked on my tales of my social struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome in a non-aspie world for so long, that I honestly can’t say exactly how many years I’ve been writing it – I believe it’s been roughly six or seven years.

I really want it all done by Christmas, which is why I’m setting aside the week of the 9th to tackle this project and, once and for all, get it finished.

I had stated that if this book is not done and (self) published by December 31st, then I would have failed in this whole endeavor.

So it’s time to do what I said I was going to do and finished this thing.

As always, hold good thoughts and prayers for me that I’m successful in the self-publishing process and that it goes smoothly without any snags or problems.

I know I’ll be praying for that.

 

Another illustration of what life was largely like for me in school and, in many ways, afterwards for a lone time, even to this day. Photo courtesy of ctsi.mcw.edu

 

 

My Biggest Struggles As A Christian

Photo courtesy of worldreligionnews.com

 

I was watching Joyce Meyer’s daily show “Enjoying Everyday Life” this morning, as I have done every day since I recited the sinner’s prayer and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior through that program about six years ago.

Joyce – actually, God speaking through Joyce, I believe – was talking about the four tests that God puts Christians through that are necessary to strengthen them in their faith, Joyce saying, “There’s no testimony without tests.”

When she mentioned those four tests,

  • Patience
  • Forgiveness
  • Faithfulness, and…
  • Submission To Authority

That really hit home, because not only have I struggled mightily on a pronounced level in all four of those areas, failing more often than not, throughout my life and to this day,

When Joyce mentioned the fourth test – submission to authority,

I was extremely convicted, saying to myself and God, “I’m so guilty of that, Lord, and I’m really sorry,” remembering once and for all that it was, in a large part, the refusal to submit to certain authority being a big factor in not being able to last for more than a year in any of the jobs I had during the last six years I was in the workforce.

While I was thinking about those shortcomings, I realized that it went, and still goes, a little deeper than just behaving on the job in a way that told my bosses to “f*** off”.

I’m convinced that the root of my failure to humble myself, my pronounced struggles to do so even at home sometimes,

Lay in my thoughts that those who are trying to exert authority over me see me as a lesser being, as not as good a human being as them.

In other words, they don’t see me as an equal person or treat me as such,

In fact, my thinking is, “Well, he/she sure doesn’t like me,”

Which not only offends me and hurt me in an emotionally excruciating way,

In my mind, being an African-American, they might as well be seeing me as a slave or calling me the “N-word”.

I know I will be told “That’s not the case!”

And I know that I will be told “You shouldn’t have taken it so personally”; I was told that a couple of times.

And they’re not wrong; I’m fully aware of that in the rational part of my mind.

 

 

I just like this photo, God showing His light upon this tree in the meadow. Photo courtesy of desiringgod.org

 

However…

Another root of these workforce failures of mine lay in something else;

I simply wasn’t happy doing what I was doing the last six years of being in the workforce.

In fact, I was never really happy working for someone else, as there are some people who are better off working for themselves,

Me being one of them, I know now.

The reason?

Throughout my entire life in the workforce, no matter how good the job was, how much I enjoyed it, or even if the boss was nice, considerate and treated me like an equal human being (I actually had a few bosses like that), I felt like I was walking on eggshells.

I felt like in order to not only last on the job, but to also avoid any criticism whatsoever (which I didn’t want), I needed to be absolutely, positively, 1000% perfect in behavior, performance, and everything else.

In other words, looking back I always felt that it was a “one strike and you’re out” kind of deal, two strikes at best.

That caused much anxiety, unhappiness, and depression to the point of suicidal thoughts, particularly at one job I had fifteen years ago; the details of that are in my book (which will be self-published soon), “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS“.

So perhaps God, in my struggles in the chosen field I was in, was telling me that it was not for me and that He had a better plan.

But that doesn’t change the fact that my biggest struggle has always been humbling myself and submitting to authority that I didn’t want to submit to.

Incidentally, before anyone thinks of me as arrogant and someone who sees himself as entitled or thinking that I’m better than anyone else, I’ve NEVER felt that way to any supervisor, as my struggles stem from wanting to be seen by them and treated by them as an equal partner, NOT as someone who’s better than them as I don’t think I’m better than anyone, nor do I want to think that way.

I feel that I’ve been better – not where I need to be , but not as bad as I used to be – as far as patience, forgiveness, and faithfulness.

But it’s failing to not think that authority in too many of the various workplaces I have been in is offending me and figuratively regarding me as/calling me a word that rhymes with “bigger” with an “n” instead of a “b” in the front in their interactions with me that has been a pronounced struggle.

And continues to be, I think, as memories of those days continue to cause some post-trauma in me.

I’LL BE HONEST:

I’d like to say that I know how to pass this particular test of submission, but that wouldn’t be the complete truth.

Which is why if anyone’s reading this who has some helpful hints from the Bible or personal experience, I’m all ears.

BOTTOM LINE: I’d really like some help here, because I really want to please God.

I suppose you can consider this as an appeal to the Good Lord.

 

 

Yes, I’ve been studying this; I’ve got a notebook that’s almost full of study notes, Biblical quotes, prayers written down, etc., to prove it. Photo courtesy of stjudechapel.org

 

 

 

 

Brief Thoughts & Musings Regarding the Recent Wildfires in California

Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu heading southbound into the smoke as the Woolsey Fire burns toward the sea. Photo courtesy of lacurbed.com

 

I’M SICK AND TIRED OF THESE WILDFIRES!

Like everyone else has said and noticed, these big fires destroying everything in sight are an annual event in my home state now.

Particularly in Southern California as though the Camp Fire near Sacramento was more overwhelmingly destructive, killing hundreds of people and nearly completely wiping out the town of Paradise, CA, near the Sierra Nevada Mountains, leaving 90% of those who survived homeless,

It’s the Woolsey Fire, not that far from where I live in Culver City, that has gotten more of my attention.

In fact, that fire has hit a personal note as I know two families that lost their homes, one in Agoura and the other in the Malibu hills.

Which of course broke my heart; when I saw the Agoura family this past weekend, I told them that I wished I won the lottery or hit a huge, $50 million jackpot in Las Vegas as I would have taken a good chunk of my winnings into a check to those friends of mine, ordering them to use that money to either rebuild their home. or put a down payment on a new house.

As Thanksgiving approaches three days from this writing, I know that those families who lost their homes and possessions in these fires, both north and south, have so much to be thankful for.

I only hope that this upcoming holiday season finds them being helped in a significant way, in the form of large insurance payments and solid places to stay, whether with relatives or elsewhere.

It goes without saying that I’m praying for them, and that I only wish my funds were significantly large enough to help them to a level that would make a true impact.

It should also go without saying that the Los Angeles Rams were wonderful in honoring the first responders of that fire, as well as the families of those who were killed in the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, which happened just before the fire, at their game – which they won, beating the Kansas City Chiefs 54-51 in an epic, Ali-Frazier heavyweight championship fight fashion – last night.

It has led me to wanting to buy a Rams jersey.

It’s great to see the greater Los Angeles area, where I live, coming together like this.

I think it will help make Thanksgiving that much better for everyone, not just those affected in Thousand Oaks, Agoura, Malibu, and everyone affected in that region.

 

Firefighters and responders from the Woolsey Fire leading the Rams out of the Coliseum tunnel before their game last night. Photo courtesy of abc7.com

 

 

ELECTION DAY THOUGHTS

Photo courtesy of welikela.com

 

 

FAIR WARNING: IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE A RIGHT-WING CONSERVATIVE, YOU WON’T LIKE WHAT I HAVE TO SAY HERE.

As we the people of these United States of America make some significantly huge decisions today,

For the record…

YES, I VOTED.

Last week, on Halloween to be precise.

By absentee ballot, which is how I have voted for the past few years as I got sick and tired of standing in line somewhere.

The last time I did that was at a VFW post; it was a bit-too-warm day and I found myself standing in line outside waiting to cast my ballot for over an hour.

The lesson I learned there:

Absentee mail-in ballots are the only way to vote.

I then signed up to have my ballots mailed to me and have never looked back.

 

 

Image courtesy of outwire757.com

 

As for who and what I voted for,

Without going into any real details – you’re about to be able to figure it out,

I was a completely blue voter all the way.

When our dear President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-On-This-Blog was elected and as time went on, I committed myself to bide my time for (now) 727 more days.

For all those who see President You-Know-Who as something akin to the Dark Lord in charge of the Evil Empire having taken over this land, remember this date:

November 3, 2020

That’s the day when I and we can do something about the general disrespect, disregard, and flat-out bigotry against all those Americans (and those trying to become Americans) who are not…

  • White Caucasians of European descent
  • Heterosexual
  • Male
  • Wealthy (or just plain rich)
  • Conservative
  • Christians – preferably Protestants and Baptists

That’s the day where that man can, through the voting booths be told something that he told many folks on his reality show…

“You’re Fired!”

Because contrary to what those worshipers of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named are stating, he has not been a president for all Americans.

Nor have the governors, senators, and other public servants who are committed to the Republican party whose fates are up in the air today.

They have only been leaders for those who are like them, the people who fit the descriptions I have listed above.

Personally, while I am certainly a Christian make heterosexual,

The fact that I’m not white, wealthy (not by a LONG way!), and conservative,

Meaning that the conservative community will not only never do anything that will truly benefit me,

Along with me, unlike far too many of those right-wing You-Know-Who supporters out there, not being a heartless person when it comes to the less fortunate,

Are the reasons why I’ll never vote for anyone in the GOP.

 

 

Whether this home of the Senate and the House of Representatives stays red or goes blue will be decided today. Photo courtesy of aoc.gov

 

 

I know I’ve probably made more than a few adversaries who will hold noting but animosity and contempt for me by saying what I’m saying in this article.

If any right-winger confronts me, I’ll answer them like this:

 

“I’ll make you a deal…

When I don’t hear any white person call any black person a n****r – or any racial slur for that matter – anymore, anywhere, anytime,

When not one more black person of African descent  – or any other person of color (i.e., Latinos) – who is unarmed and innocent of any crimes is racially profiled, imprisoned, and murdered by law enforcement for no other reason save for the color of his or her skin,

When I don’t hear any Latinos, Gays, Jewish people, or anyone else not white, male, Anglo-Saxon Protestant being called any bigoted derogatory names anytime, anywhere,

When every same-sex couple enjoys every right that every heterosexual couple has, including having wedding cakes made for them at ANY bakery anywhere at anytime,

When not one more child is ripped from their parents who are escaping h***ish situations to try to make better lives for themselves and their families,

When there’s not one more person sleeping on any streets, or parks, or anywhere other than under his or her own roof in this country whatsoever,

When every human being who doesn’t happen to agree with the Christian doctrine and chooses to worship God in a different fashion is completely embraced and loved as an equal human being – as Jesus would have certainly done,

Then I’ll consider becoming a Republican.

But NOT UNTIL THEN.”

 

All of this reminds me of a couple of passages from the New Testament:

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” – Acts 2:44-45

“…go and sell everything you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven…” – Mark 10:21

Gee, that sure doesn’t sound like what any far right-wing conservatives  that I know of would do, particularly the actions that the early Christians did in Acts.

 

Anyhow…

I suppose I’ve more than expressed where my loyalties lie in today’s election – and the next major election on November 3, 2020.

All those who have been negatively affected in any way under our President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s regime can do something about it today; flipping the House of Representatives, or the Senate, or both, would be an excellent start.

As well as having as many Democrats win as many state and local offices as possible.

But regardless of whether the red or blue supporters celebrate tonight, though there’s a big battle in this Second Civil War – and that’s exactly what this is – today, the bigger battle is in two years.

Which I’m sure everyone knows.

 

 

A map outlining the different political situations as far as deciding the House, the Senate,, and governorships today. Image courtesy of latestly.com

 

 

 

FOUR YEARS LATER: An Update on The State of My Health

Photo courtesy of holistichealthcarecenters.com

 

 

THE STATE OF MY WELL-BEING (at least physical, anyway) SINCE MY HEALTH SCARE IN 2014

It’s been four years since I visited the emergency room at Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles with the right side of my head feeling like a rubber ball being squeezed and not having much feeling in the side and bottom of my right hand.

Four years since I was told that a stroke may be imminent, my blood pressure being 300/200 as I was put on an IV with my arm being squeezed every 15 minutes to monitor any progress.

Four years since that stroke scare resolved me to change  the way I took care of myself once and for all.

For anywhere from four to six days a week since, I exercised like crazy, doing cardio and designating Wednesdays as my “Weight Day”, when I hit the Nautilus machine in the downstairs gym at the clubhouse in my townhouse complex.

I also said goodbye to goodies like pizza, hot dogs, cold cuts, burgers and other red meats as well as to places like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell.

Not to mention sweet goodies like donuts and candy except for dark chocolate, even though I allow myself a little indulging on holidays like Halloween (which is today) and Christmas.

And taking two types of blood pressure medicine and a cholesterol pill, as my levels were high there, too – three medications in all.

Make no mistake, that health scare motivated me for one simple reason:

I didn’t want to die.

 

 

 

I have been eating more of this stuff the past four years. Photo courtesy of 635.gtbank.com

 

 

OK, fast forward to 2018 – yesterday to be precise…

After getting some blood tests done the week before, I went to my doctor’s appointment at Kaiser to follow things up and to get a flu shot and a needed tetanus shot, as it had been a decade since the last one.

I had gotten my blood test results back a few days earlier, and they looked good, so it wasn’t like I felt I was walking to a diagnosis of doom and gloom.

The first thing the nurse did was weigh me, and after the four years of hard work in trying to improve my cardiovascular health;

Well, I’ll put it like this…

  • My weight on October 18, 2014:  330 POUNDS
  • My weight on October 30, 2018:  281 POUNDS

I had lost nearly fifty pounds in the four years that I have partaking in my health endeavors!

And I was fervently hoping and praying the previous night that my weight would be at under 300, because I wasn’t 100% sure!

When the nurse checked my blood pressure, well…

  • My blood pressure on October 14, 2014:  300/200
  • My blood pressure on October 30, 2018: 112/69

It just goes to show that the saying “Hard Work Pays Off” isn’t a lie!

The doctor and I chatted about my progress, I got a prostate exam (all clear there, too, which is good because my grandfather and my uncle died of prostate cancer) and my flu and tetanus shots, and went home.

The good news about my weight and my health have encourage and motivated me to keep going; today is my “Weight Day” as well as my stair master day, where I spend nearly a half-hour on that machine.

What has most motivated me to keep going in this health progress, as much as anything else if not more, are the pictures of me on Facebook taken during 2014 and before, where I look like Fat Albert, with my face all puffy like some king of obese monster.

My one predominant thought whenever I see shots of me during those days…

“Never Again”

 

 

A chicken and veggie bowl (which is my main choice) from Flame Broiler, a place that has helped me in my quest to get healthier and which I recommend. Photo courtesy of secretmenus.com

 

 

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not my intention for anyone to think of me as some kind of zealous health nut – I still partake in the occasional bag of potato chips, though I try to choose the lower sodium kind.

And whenever I see any ads from places like Tommy’s or In-And-Out, even though I gave up red meat, my mouth waters.

What has helped me is substitution, which I think is a personal key…

  • Sparking water – I prefer black cherry because it helps with gout prevention – instead of sodas
  • Fat free, sugar-free organic cookies (once in a while) instead of the regular, Chips Ahoy kind
  • Low sugar protein bars instead of the regular Snickers/Reese’s/Three Musketeers kind
  • Making sure I have some kind of vegetables every day, because I didn’t before.
  • Choosing to eat at places like Subway, El Pollo Loco and Flame Broiler, places that have healthy, lower sodium options rather than the Jack In The Box/KFC places

 

As for future goals, I’d like for my weight to ultimately be in the 250s to 260s pound range.

And for my blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels to not get as high as they were before I partook in this health and fitness program of mine.

I suppose there’s not much left to say, except to hold good thoughts and prayers for me.

And by the way, before I forget…

Happy Halloween!

Being that today is All Hallows Eve, you know I had to say that.

And yes, I’ll probably have a few of those fun size candies; I can’t lie there.

Though I don’t plan to have too many…

 

The fitness room that I work out in every week looks sort of like this, though it’s like a sweat box for much of the year and I look like I swan in my workout clothes afterwards. Photo courtesy of endofthreefitness.com