This is my ever eternal struggle illustrated…

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Tacos are just too damned tasty and when I eat them, I eat far too many of them. Still, I strive to do better.

Managed to have a small streak of blogging going and then ran out of steam so here’s what I’ve been up to instead of blogging: Apartment hunting. Which is just a shitload of not fun.

Our lease is up at the end of May and we’re anticipating that they’ll raise our rent by another $100 which we just can’t afford. Our rent has gone up by almost $300 in three years and I’m almost paying as much for our two-bedroom town home as I did for the three bedroom we initially moved into. So we’re looking around to see what’s available out there. Right now it’s looking like we will have to leave Ann Arbor as all of the more affordable apartments are either in bad neighborhoods or at places that are in need of some serious renovations.

We’ve found a promising complex in Whitmore Lake that’ll give us two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a washer/dryer in the unit (stacked, but better than nothing). Pros are it’s a newer complex (about 10 years old), cuts my commute time in half, will allow us to keep our 2 cats, and is about $200 cheaper from where we are now (and probably even more assuming our rent is going up). Cons are it’s in Whitmore Lake which is a much more Conservative community than Ann Arbor is. And we have to pack up all our crap and haul it to the new location which doesn’t have a basement like our town home does.

Looking back, we probably should have followed through on our plans to buy a house last spring seeing as the alternative plan of using the money to try and get healthy has had very (very, very) modest success so far. That said, any of the places we were looking at would’ve been as difficult to afford on just my income as the place we’re renting now so I would’ve just been trading one financial difficulty for another.

Still, we trek on through this thing called life doing the best we know how.

A new meta-study shows Homeopathy is still bullshit.

It boggles the mind that in 2015 there are still people out there who buy into the idea of Homeopathy.

Homeopathy demotavational poster.

That’ll be $150, kthxbai!

As a refresher, it’s an “alternative medicine” predicated on the belief that “like cures like” and “water has a memory.” In short, if you take something that causes the same or similar symptoms in an ailing patient and dilute it in water and then feed it to them it’ll cure whatever their ailment happens to be. Here’s the best part though: The more diluted the solution is the more powerful it becomes.

I shit you not. Here’s an explanation of the dilution process from the Homeopathic “Educational” Services website:

Each substance is diluted, most commonly, 1 part of the original medicinal agent to 9 or 99 parts double-distilled water. The mixture is then vigorously stirred or shaken. The solution is then diluted again 1:9 or 1:99 and vigorously shaken. This process of consecutive diluting and shaking or stirring is repeated 3, 6, 12, 30, 200, 1,000, or even 1,000,000 times. Simply “diluting” the medicines without vigorously shaking them doesn’t activate the medicinal effects.

It is inaccurate to say that homeopathic medicines are extremely diluted; they are extremely “potentized.” “Potentization” refers to the specific process of sequential dilution with vigorous shaking. Each consecutive dilution infiltrates the new double-distilled water and imprints upon it the fractal form of the original substance used (fractal refers to the specific consecutively smaller pattern or form within a larger pattern). Ultimately, some type of fractal or hologram of the original substance may be imprinted in the water.

If you have half a brain you should already be questioning the intelligence of the people who dreamed this bullshit up just based on this little snippet of nonsense from this one website.

What all of this gobbledegook boils down to is this: Homeopathy is a way to sell you expensive water that isn’t going to do shit to heal whatever you problem is. If you get better after using Homeopathic medicines then you would’ve gotten better regardless of whether you had used them. This has shown to be true in study after study, yet these cranks are still out there peddling their bullshit and trying to weasel their way into being covered by insurance plans and health organizations.

Now Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council along with an independent company (to ensure there was no bias) has done a meta-study that involved analyzing over 1,800 scientific papers and more than 225 medical studies that determined (emphasis added):

There was no reliable evidence from research in humans that homeopathy was effective for treating the range of health conditions considered: no good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than placebo, or caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment.

For some health conditions, studies reported that homeopathy was not more effective than placebo. For other health conditions, there were poor-quality studies that reported homeopathy was more effective than placebo, or as effective as another treatment. However, based on their limitations, those studies were not reliable for making conclusions about whether homeopathy was effective. For the remaining health conditions it was not possible to make any conclusion about whether homeopathy was effective or not, because there was not enough evidence.

And their conclusion was:

Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.

Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner. Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner and should keep taking any prescribed treatments.

In short, the shit don’t work. When you sit down and read what promoters provide as the explanation for how it supposedly works this shouldn’t come as a surprise. For starters, they love their buzzwords: Fractals, holograms, nanopharmacology, the Principle of Resonance, the list goes on and on. The idea seems to be that if you toss enough buzzwords at people they’ll assume you’ll know what you’re talking about simply because the have no idea what you’re talking about.

Alas, that works and you can find all manner of Homeopathic products at your local drug store as proof. Why do the stores carry them if they don’t work? Because they make decent money off of people who don’t know any better. Capitalism at its finest!

For those of you interested in reading the study for yourself you can find it here. *PDF File

 

Jesus Christ tells man to steal an ambulance. Man complies.

Jesus Christ, what a kidder. Whether it’s drawing crude artworks of himself in bakery products or telling folks to do something really stupid, he can’t seem to stop yanking people’s chains.

His latest jape was to convince some poor idiot down in Houston, Texas that he should steal an ambulance:

Jesus was my co-pilot! And co-conspirator! And the brains behind this operation! It's all his fault! Really!

Jesus was my co-pilot! And co-conspirator! And the brains behind this operation! It’s all his fault! Really!

Suspect arrested: ‘Jesus Christ told me to steal an ambulance’.

The Houston Fire Department said the ambulance was stolen from 2121 Main Street near West Gray Street around 10 a.m.

The ambulance was recovered about 30 minutes later at Waugh and Gray Street, where it crashed into a 3 Men Movers truck.

“I was upstairs working and I heard a loud bang,” said Randy Bingham, a witness. “I’ve never seen an ambulance involved in a collision like that, especially the way that it happened.”

[…] “Lord Jesus Christ told me to steal the ambulance,” he told a KHOU 11 News photographer.

The article is brief and doesn’t mention where Jesus told the man to take the ambulance or what he was supposed to do with it once he got there, but when the Son of God tells you to do something then, by God, you do it.

No word on who the suspect was or what they’re doing with him, but I suspect he’s probably undergoing psychiatric evaluation right about now and therein lies the point I’m about to make for the upteenth time: Why would anyone who believes in God automatically assume this guy must be crazy to think Jesus would tell him to steal an ambulance?

definitionofreligionThe Bible contains several examples of God instructing his followers to do some pretty crazy things like drag your kid up the mountain and slit his throat and build a big fucking boat and load up two of every kind of animal because I’m about to piss all over humanity’s parade like you’ve never seen before. Sure, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for God to ask some random dude to steal an ambulance, but it probably didn’t make a lot of sense to folks watching Noah at the time either. Who are you to say God didn’t command him to steal an ambulance? How would you know God didn’t demand it? What kind of divine punishment will you be bringing about by stopping this guy from stealing that ambulance?

That’s the problem with saying you buy into the nonsense in the Bible. You lose all credibility in situations like this where someone lays claim to acting on divine instructions. You can’t prove that his isn’t. You can’t know for certain that whatever stupid thing he claims God demands he do isn’t something God wanted him to do. If an action dictated by God is good by the very nature of the source then punishing him for stealing the ambulance would be wrong. How can you justify it given the nature of the stuff that God has asked people to do in the past?

First attempt at penguin flight ends badly.

flying_penguin

 

This is why most penguins swim. Landings are tricky.

I’ve been in SCCM 2012 training all week and haven’t had a chance to do a more substantial blog post so I give you this. The SCCM training has been in a virtual classroom so I’ve been able to work from home. There’s more material than can be reasonably covered in a week, but I have picked up a better understanding of SCCM. More specifically I’ve learned that SCCM 2012 is much better than the SCCM 2007 we use at work.

Dave and I are still going to do a podcast soon, but he’s been sick so it hasn’t happened yet. That means there still time for you to suggest topics for us to comment on if you’ve thought of one.

 

I present to you: The official SEB otter.

If you’re looking at this on Facebook then you’ll need to click through to see it in motion:

angry-otter-table-screaming

And now: A cute story about a little girl and her pet fish.

 

I can totally relate to this.

ishouldprobablyexerciseYou may recall that back in October I took on a challenge my employer put out to walk 8,000 steps a day for 20 days in the month in order to get a Fitbit Flex for free (normally $99). My hope was that if I could complete the challenge it would become a habit and I’d be on my way to returning to the slim figure of my youth, or at least not as fat as I was.

So the bad news is that with the arrival of winter my time spent walking has slowly dropped off to the point that I only managed to get out and walk once in January and haven’t done it since (and I didn’t even make it to 8,000 steps that day). We’ve been in the grip of a polar vortex for a few weeks now — not to mention being sick as a dog with a nasty cold two weeks ago that kept me in bed — and it’s just more than I can muster the motivation to overcome.

The good news is that what little weight loss I have managed, about 10 to 15 pounds, has stuck with me. I was 300 pounds when I started and my weight is currently hovering between 281 and 285 (my last weight as of yesterday was 282.2). My fancy wi-fi scale tells me that I’m down 13.9 pounds in 9 months. I expect it has a lot to do with the healthier meals Anne and I have been eating as of late because it’s sure not from exercise.

Once the temps around here start averaging above terrifyingly-ball-shrinking levels I am determined to get back to walking regularly and I hope to see the losses increase. For now, I’m slightly healthier than I was. It’s nothing to celebrate, but it’s better than nothing.

 

In memory of Bill Owen.

I was digging through old photos to scan in for Throwback Thursday when I was reminded that my best friend, Bill Owen, was killed 12 years ago yesterday. It’s been three years since I last posted a memorial to him so I thought I was past due for taking a moment to remember a man who I’d known for over 20 years and who was like a brother to me. There are still things that will bring him to mind from time to time like a movie trailer for something the two of us would’ve been excited to see or a new video game I know he would’ve loved to play. Every now and then I still dream about him. He stuck with me through thick and thin and never hesitated to tell me when I was being an asshole. I will miss him for the rest of my life.

This is the photo that reminded me of this sad event. It’s from one of my daughter’s birthday parties in the mid-1990’s. He’s sitting with his then wife, whose name I don’t recall how to spell properly so I’m not going to try. He’s happy and that’s a great way to remember him.

Bill Owen

I still don’t get poetry.

I’ll be 48 this year and I still don’t understand any poem more complex than the ones about that fellow from Nantucket.

That’s all I wanted to say.

I’m going to revive the SEB Podcast.

fightwithmyselfI checked the SEB Podcast archive this morning and realized that it’s been almost three years since the last one (May 8, 2012) which is really weird because it totally doesn’t feel like it’s been three years. So I rang up Dave Hill of ***Dave Does the Blog fame, who has traditionally been my co-host on the podcast, and asked him if he was interested in getting back into it. He agreed it was about damned time we did another one and so we’re figuring out what our weekends look like to try and get one in the can soon.

Three years is a long time and these days all the cool kids are doing their podcasts via Google Hangouts so you can see the people who are talking and Dave suggested we try that route for our next outing. I thought that was a good idea even though my current desktop placement is in my basement and my current backdrop consists of a shitload of boxes full of crap from the last time we moved that we never got around to unpacking (which is probably for the best considering I’ll probably be moving this May). So my first task will be rigging up something to hide the ungodly mess that would otherwise be visible behind me.

Traditionally we’ve asked the readers of our respective blogs to submit any topics they’d like us to chat about. I’ll be honest, with as infrequent as my blogging has been lately I don’t know if there’s enough interested parties to make suggestions, but if you’re still checking in here and have something you’d like to hear us express our semi-informed opinions on you can either leave a comment on this entry or send me an email and let us know.

Yes, this is an attempt to get back into blogging/podcasting more often. Something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile. This year may also be the year that I finally get around to trying my hand at vlogging, something else I’ve been kicking around for years. Though right now I’ll be happy if I just manage to get back into blogging a couple times a week at a minimum.