Ode To My Fitbit One

One day at work, an email was sent out about having found someone’s “Fitbit.” I think there was another email or two about people who really liked theirs and would hate to lose them or something. This got me looking into this “Fitbit” thing. At first, I wasn’t really interested. Basically just a pedometer that counts your steps. It just didn’t seem like something I would care about or use. Yet it stayed on my mind. I kept researching. Started considering the Nike Fuelband, Jawbone Flex and others. After a whole lotta internet reading, I decided the Fitbit One was the one I was most interested in for various reasons too long to go into here. Suffice to say, do your own research and see which one sounds best for you. One day I finally just decided to get one from Best Buy and try it out and judge for myself.

I’ve been shocked at what a difference it’s made. I definitely think it will work better for certain types of people, but it’s definitely worked to motivate me. Having that goal of 10,000 steps a day is constantly planted in my brain. I park further away or take a longer route somewhere to get those extra steps. I get home, and while previously I would have just parked my ass on the couch and watched TV all night, if I see that I still have a few thousand steps to go, I’ll go walk a couple of miles to hit that goal. If it’s raining, I’ll run in place while I watch TV. When playing gigs with my band, they have been known to look on in confusion as I do laps around a courtyard, parking lot or whatever is in the area to get my steps for the day, and it also makes me more active on stage, putting on a more energetic show. That simple little number drives me to try to reach it however I can, always encouraging those little extra bits of activity. On the one day I forgot it at home, I went home at lunch to get it because I didn’t want to lose those steps!

At work I set a timer and ever 25 minutes, I walk around the building. This actually serves multiple purposes* and usually nets me my 10,000 before the work day is done (or at least very close to it). Of course, I’m lucky enough to have a job where I can do that.

All in all, I think it’s definitely had a positive impact and at least doubled the amount of physical activity I get in a day, or more. It does have other function such as estimating how many calories you burn, showing elevation change (equivalent to how many flights of stairs you’ve walked up/down), tracks your sleep patterns if you want (though I am dubious of this accuracy), and more. And as silly and trivial as it is, I like the little positive message it gives me when I pick it up like “HUG ME,” or “YOU ROCK, HEATH.”

As I said before, it probably works better with certain types of people. Maybe more obsessive or compulsive people. If you’re like me, you’ll feel the need to hit that number. Other people might just ignore it and think “I’m at 4357. Eh, whatever.” If you’re competitive (I am not at all), then you can also add friends and see your comparative step totals as well. It’s also pretty small and versatile as to the places you can wear, keep or hide it. That’s one great reason I prefer it to any wrist worn devices. I highly recommend this little device. I give it 10,000 steps up.

*Aside form my step count this also falls in line with the “Pomodoro” technique or other similar techniques that claim you are more productive when you take breaks every 25 minutes. It also helps with the “20/20/20” idea to reduce eyestrain for people who work in front of computers, the idea being that every 20 minutes you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. In addition, it also is supposedly healthier to get up and move around every 20 minutes or so and not sit down all day. Many of my colleagues have gone to standing desks but I’ve also read that standing all day has it’s own adverse side effects and after much research, it seemed to me the getting up every 20 minutes was the best of both worlds and healthiest compromise between sitting or standing all day.

Dream Theatre #10

In last night’s episode:
I arrived on the set of a commercial I was working on to see my friend Suzanne Shaw Lyons for the first time in over 20 years. I think she was doing something on the crew side of things and I can’t remember if I was cast or crew. Later we met up with my uncle, Brown Cooper, who is a Director of Photography and who was shooting this commercial. We all chatted and he mentioned something about another big commercial he had lined up. We asked if he needed any cast and he said that actually they were casting for the main married couple in the commercial. Susie and I immediately grabbed each other’s hands and launched into an improvised “audition” as a joke, acting like a married couple and saying that he should cast us. I remember holding up her hand with her real wedding ring on it and saying (in character) something about how I’d got her this beautiful ring and thinking how fortuitous it was that she was married so we had that handy prop!

That’s about all I remember. Even in my dreams I’m working (doing what I love). No word on if Brown cast us or not.

Dream Theatre #9

In last night’s episode, my friend, Mark, had this awesome house (not his awesome real world house, a fictional dream house) with mostly glass walls to the outside and huge, sprawling multi-level swimming pool. It wasn’t so much one giant pool, but more like several levels and lanes that added up to one contiguous pool. Mark had given me a spare key and basically told me I could use the place whenever I wanted. I was over there early one morning and had just taken a shower when I heard stirring. It was only then that I realized that Mark was still there and was getting up to get ready for work. I had thought everyone was gone and so suddenly I got really nervous about getting “caught” in the house even though he’d given me a key and permission to use it. I somehow still felt like I was abusing the privilege or something.

When he came out I tried to play it all cool. Since I was wet and in a towel, Mark asked if I used the pool often. I couldn’t tell if he was just asking out of curiosity or if it was more a sort of annoyed interrogative tone. Not wanting to reveal that I’d just showered there as well, I made up some story about how I had just showered at my own place and then remembered some reason I had to come over and had just been so absent-minded and still half asleep that I didn’t realize I was still wet and just in a towel. Someone else had come over by this point (maybe our friend, Jesse, but I can’t remember for sure) and we talked about how cool the pool was.

Then we went horseback riding. I have only ridden a horse a few times in my life but I was really enjoying it. At one point Mark got off his horse to do something and his horse ran off. I volunteered to go search for it on the horse I was riding and I think I remember using my phone or some device as a GPS or something.

Later, in a separate mini-dream:
I was at a bar with Brian, Akasha and some other friends where this twin brother comedy duo was playing. They were very strange looking, I remember. Larger guys with very close set eyes and round faces. Brian was actually working behind the bar. As soon as the duo came on and started playing and making strange faces, Akasha kept trying to get Brian’s attention in that way when you don’t want someone to miss something you know they’d enjoy. Like the duo would make some face and Brian would not be looking because he was busy behind the bar and so Akasha would yell his name because she didn’t want him to miss that funny face they were making.

The Dark Corners of Our Minds

I don’t know exactly what propels me to write this. I suspect it’s at least partly because of Eddie. Eddie committed suicide a few years back (addressed in its own post here) and I’ve found it surprising how much I still think about him and feel his absence in this world despite the fact that it has no practical effect on my day to day life as I hadn’t spoken to him in many, many years or really had any active friendship for a long time. His website is still up (a little internet sleuthing showed me that it’s paid for through 2015, I believe). And I’m still sad that he got to some place where he felt like that was his only solution.

Now let me get intensely personal. I consider myself a generally positive, well-adjusted guy. Yet I have had many or my own dark periods. Periods when I kind of just didn’t want to live any more. Now, I do think that this is still quite different than wanting to kill myself. I never wanted to actively take action to end my own life. It was more like “You know, if I just don’t wake up tomorrow, if the universe wants to take me in the night, I’m good with that.” I’ve had random trains of thought about how I could just “disappear” or if one were to end their own life, how it could be done so that you just disappeared and no one ever knew what happened to you. We’ve all had dark times. We all have dark corners of our minds, but for many, they don’t want to admit that, even to themselves probably, much less to the world. It’s scary and people don’t want to feel freakish or worse yet, have others judge them as somehow deficient.

Now this is probably the most important part of this post. Why do I write this? It’s not a cry for help, or attention or for everyone to tell me how much I’m loved and would be missed or anything like that. I’m good, really, and I know all that thanks to all my wonderful, loving friends and family. I write this because if anyone reads it and has ever had anything even remotely resembling feelings like this…

You are not alone. You are not broken, or deficient, or crazy or a freak. You are human. People are scared to talk about darkness, especially inside themselves so you may feel alone or like no one could possibly know or understand. I am not a mental health care professional. I don’t really know what to say other than that. But much like Eddie, we all probably have a much farther reaching and profound effect in this world than we will ever know.

Dream Theatre #8

I’m finding documenting my dreams to be an interesting procedure. So many times I feel it’s kind of like trying to translate something from another language that doesn’t really have a direct translation. So much about dreams is hard to explain in real world terms. The internal dream logic that makes no sense out here, or the feelings or atmosphere.

In last night’s dream I encountered a person named Katie. This was no one real, but a fictitious dream persona who, in the dream, was someone I had met in England when I was still married and we were back there visiting my ex-wife, Jess’s family and friends. Katie was the roommate of one of Jess’s friends who we were visiting. I think Jess knew her in passing as well. When we had visited, she had hung out with us all as well and we had all got to know each other over the course of the evening.

Now cut to the present. I can’t remember if I was in England or if she was over here to begin with, but we had reunited to hang out and over the course of our evening, she had revealed that she had always found me really attractive and was very taken with me. The feeling now was mutual so there was smooching and holding her in my arms and general nice cuddliness. At one point she actually told me she loved me which surprised me, being that we really barely knew each other and I, in fact, told her that while I was definitely drawn to her, I didn’t really know her well enough to know or say that I loved her but it was all good and warm and fuzzy and happy (I’m pretty sure that part comes from the fact that I’m doing a scene from Manhattan for a UT class where there is a similar, though not identical exchange).

Then the dream cut to the next day. I was now at work (fictitious dream work, nothing from the real world) and someone had died suddenly. There was a funeral to take place that day and we were all preparing for it. There was a line of people in the hallway because for some reason, everyone going to the funeral had to meet here at the place I worked to fill out some paperwork or something. I knew Katie would be going to the funeral as well and now I was all nervous about seeing her. I didn’t know how to play it. I really wanted to see her but for some reason wasn’t sure how cool to play it. Like maybe she would be all cool and act like nothing had happened, or would be disinterested now. At one point I saw her in the line but pretended like I hadn’t seen her as I didn’t want to put her in a weird place or make her feel pressured so I figured I would give her the opportunity to approach me if she wanted.

I was wearing this really flashy, sparkly shirt that I have and thought that it probably wasn’t really appropriate for the funeral. Luckily I had another shirt that I changed into right there in the lobby. Then I noticed that the sleeve of my sparkly shirt had come all undone and the bottom half just sort of fell off leaving stringy strands dangling (much like the stage effect in the production of Spamalot I saw last night when the Black Knight’s arm got cut off and there were red strings hanging down, thus leading me to believe that’s the source for this particular dream ingredient). I was really bummed in dream, as I really loved this shirt.

I think it was around this point that I kind of half woke up and felt some sense of sadness that Katie wasn’t real. It took me a while to really wake up enough to discern what was real and what was dream and that I was feeling this sadness and why. I then went back to sleep and did some major catching up, sleeping almost 12 hours. I feel like there’s a tiny kernel of sadness that I will carry for the rest of the day from my whirlwind dream romance.

Dream Theatre #7

In last night’s episode, I was hanging out with Kevin Smith (the writer/director) at his house. It wasn’t his real house but my own dream version of his house which was kind of in the woods and elevated. He was telling me about this time when, just being goofy, he started climbing this tree. Then after climbing a bit he suddenly looked down and saw how high he’d climbed and became paralyzed with fear and didn’t think he’d be able to get back down. Luckily he did.

Then we talked about how the studio that produces Jeopardy had just moved into their new huge facilities built out in a desert as two adjoined complexes. We then talked about Alex Trebek getting to work in a transport pod that traveled on rails directly between his house and the studio. I can’t remember if we were wondering if that’s how he got there, or if we thought that’s how he should get there. We then theorized that he probably just had a limo that picked him up every morning.

Indiana Jones and the Egyptian Swamp Ass

After getting myself a new improved Indiana Jones Jacket recently, it made me think: He wears this thing in the jungles of South America and the deserts of Egypt? Now, true, it was made of a very light leather (much lighter than you would think), but it’s still a dark leather jacket.

The caption at the opening simply says “South America 1936”. The Amazon basin has an average year round temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 Celcius) with 90% humidity making for a heat index of 86F (30C) though the largest region (the Brazilian region) averages from 80F to 90F (26.6-32.2C) and again, the humidity will make it feel much warmer. Now true, the night time can be cool, again made to feel cooler by the humidity, but if he’s going on a trek after a fertility idol during the day, I would think he’d leave the jacket.

The Egypt scenes are a bit more plausible because when we see him walking around during the day, he does not have his jacket. The first time we see him wear it in Egypt is at night when he goes after the ark. Then he gets trapped in the Well of Souls by Belloq, and by the time he escapes it’s day again (which doesn’t seem to add up to me either, not to mention that he “escapes” by pushing out a loose stone that exits right next to an airfield the Nazis are using and yet they never checked what was in there…), and from there gets on a horse and goes after the truck with the ark on it. So I can buy that the desert gets cool at night and he wasn’t planning on wearing it during the day but then got stuck with through circumstance but even then he could have left it with Sallah and Marion before running off after the ark. That thing had to be hot in the Egyptian sun.

Lastly, I don’t know what kind of garment cleaning procedures they had in 1936, but that thing had to be pretty rank. I know how bad it can be just to be in the car with myself after an outdoor band gig, much less gallivanting around the Egyptian sun in wool pants, a long sleeve cotton shirt, Leather shoes, felt fedora and a lambskin leather jacket. I think the scene on the submarine where Marion is helping him undress and lay down in bed would have been more like, “Here, let’s get you…OH, GOD, JONES! You REEK! Do they have a shower on this sub? I mean, I’m all for sexy time but how about we begin in the shower?”

Dream Theatre #6

I thought I’d beat the “spring forward” lag by going to bed really early last night. Then I woke up at about midnight and couldn’t get back to sleep for a couple of hours, but by that point I had already had the following dream.

I came home to find Larry (one of my closest friends, creative partners and former roommate, now living in California) and Breanne (awesome person who I wish was closer friends with) lounging on my bed catching up. It was nothing romantic or anything, just the vibe of two really close friends hanging out and catching up (they never met in real life, as far as I remember). Why they were hanging out on my bed in my room is one of those mysteries that can only be answered with “It made sense and was normal in dream logic.” I was very happy to find them there as, in the dream, we had all been very close but I guess hadn’t hung out in a while or something. There was definitely a reminiscing kind of vibe. We all talked about how the period of time when we had all met had been so important and defining in our lives.

Breanne and I then reminisced about this personality test we’d had to take early on in our friendship and how we thought we’d have a lot of it in common but that I had thought that we would differ on the “Religious History” section. She hadn’t thought so and when we got the test back our scores were very close (167 and 160) and apparently I had made some joking comment back then about owing her 10 million dollars if I was wrong. I joked that I was working on becoming rich and famous so I could pay my debt.

Confessions of a Shirtless Yoga Dude

I started doing hot yoga at Sunstone Yoga a couple of years ago. I bought a a bunch of shorts and tank tops made for working out, made of “Duo-dry” material to wick the sweat away, I guess. Of course in hot yoga you end up completely drenched so there no amount of wicking in the world that can help you. Over the years there were maybe a few times when I just felt so hot or uncomfortable that I removed my shirt. Now, there are lots of guys who don’t wear shirts in class. Seems pretty common, but I always preferred to wear one, both out of consideration for the rest of the class who might catch a glimpse of my hairy and flabbier-than-I-would-like torso being contorted and compressed, despite their best efforts to just concentrate on their own practice, and because my own insecure body image issues.

However, a few weeks ago I had a turning point. I showed up to class and realized I’d accidentally grabbed 2 pairs of shorts instead of shorts and a shirt so my choices were to either just skip class and go home or do class shirtless. I found that not only was I much more comfortable but that I could concentrate on my practice much better as I wasn’t being distracted by a sopping wet, bunching up shirt. At that moment, I decided to try life as a shirtless yoga dude. Since then, I have definitely confirmed my experience and accepted my new role. It’s also been a good mental exercise on not caring what other people think (about my body or my choice to go shirtless) and to do what’s best for my own yoga practice and experience.

I still try to position myself in the back right corner though, out of consideration for my other yogis.

Previously on Dream Theatre

Since I seem to often have extremely vivid dreams, I’ve started a new category on my blog titled “Dream Theatre.” I figured I would update it with other recent dreams I’ve recounted to the friends involved. Three come to mind.

Dream #1:
My friend Akasha and I were in an empty classroom with a teacher. It was some kind of acting class. She and I were having some kind of discussion about the scene. The teacher came back and was ready to start again so I quieted down but Akasha kept on talking to me. I started getting nervous thinking the teacher was going to get mad but Akasha were determined to finish the conversation. The teacher kept waiting for Akasha to finish and then started to get annoyed and cleared his/her throat or something (at this point I can’t remember if the teacher was distinct person with a gender). Akasha just sort of put her hand up like “Excuse me, I’m finishing my thought here.”

Then the teacher started going over the scene. At this point in the dream Akasha was now the teacher and she was reading a male part opposite an actress reading the part of a little girl. I remember thinking “Why doesn’t the teacher have me read the male part instead of reading it herself? Ah, well probably because she is an actress as well and just enjoys being a part of the scene.” I figured she would then read the little girl part opposite me reading the male part.

Dream #2:
Akasha, Brian, me and a bunch of other people were at the pool of this apartment complex (felt more like a luxury hotel). Strangely, there were also some shopping aisles of shelves around the pool (see image).

Dream layout

As I looked off into the distance I saw some pictures drawn in the sky with smoke. The lower pictures were purple smoke while the upper pictures were black smoke. Clouds started to obscure the art so Brian and some of the others started walking down the road a bit to try and get a better view.

At this point I went down one of the shopping aisles (see image) and found Akasha laying curled up in a shopping cart trying to hide the fact that she was crying. She was wearing a short dress made out of of a raincoat-like material. I asked if she was OK, and she said yes. I reached out to touch her and comfort her but then became really self-conscious for a moment because my hand accidentally touched her boob. I very quickly then though “Eh, what’s the big deal? She’ll know that it was simply an accidental boob touch.”

Brian came back at that point and Akasha said “I told you they would hire a Mrs. before they would hire a Mr.” Turns out Akasha and Brian had both applied for jobs as leasing agents at the apartment complex and she’d got a call that she got the job and this is what she was upset about. Apparently she didn’t really want this job but had to take it.

I wandered off to leave them alone. Not long after they both came and joined me on the edge of this 5′ drop down to the road and Brian wanted all three of us to use our phones to take pictures of each other taking pictures of each other simultaneously because it would be so meta. Brian said he could never get his camera to work quite right though so I told him to let me take a look at it since I am the “Tech Whisperer” (a term I use in real life) and I’m sure I could figure out the problem.

Dream #3:
I had a show in this theatre space and it turned out the space was directly across from where my friend, Sharan, worked. She worked in an old 2 story house that had been converted to an office somewhere in a nice part of Austin (Hyde Park, maybe) shaded nicely by some trees . The 2 levels were separate spaces now and she was on the second level which was accessed via the external stairs up to the 2nd floor deck area where were two windows with a door in between them that had her name on the glass window filling the upper pane of the door.
I don’t think I saw her but there was someone else in the office I knew as well who came and said hi as I passed (I had to go up the stairs to house’s deck area to follow a connected walkway across to the other building/theatre space). Once across the walkway there was a stairway in a tunnel that curved downward into the theatre space.

That’s all the ones I remember/have documented descriptions of. I know there was at least one other with a bunch of friends getting together to play some games but that’s about all I remember of that one. I don’t remember any really remarkable details.

Dream #4:
Crappy night of sleep. Also I dreamed that Casey Cooper and I set off on an impromptu road trip to somewhere about 11 hours away (somewhere in NM I think). I think he lived in Dallas in the dream and I picked him up there first. Then about 10am I panicked, realizing I had to be at work and have 2 callbacks today and could never make it back in time but ran down to the bus station to see if they had a ticket to Austin. The clerks tried to let me use their automated phone system to get a ticket because that was free and if the clerk helped you book a ticket directly there was a small charge but the phone menu was very confusing and glitchy. Casey’s dad was also there now so he and Casey could drive the car back.