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it’s between you and God (and a few hundred other people)   Leave a comment

i have been exposed to some comments lately. some of them were in conversations i have had and some are just things i have seen people post on social media. they have been about God, and they were comments made by people that aren’t really into God. that is a weird statement i know. into God? can you be in to a certain degree? i mean… either you believe there is a god or you don’t. the ramifications of either side of the argument are HUGE. i think most people do not understand the stance they are taking by believing or not believing. but that is another blog.

if you DO believe… well then you must understand that your words and actions are not without consequence. you would live life with a LOT more incentive. is this you?

if you don’t believe… this one is tricky. if there is no entity to set the standards in your life (morals, values, etc.) then how do you justify your actions? your values? your value? why do you have any morals or regard for others? 

i don’t want to get too deep into this. that would pretty much avoid my real point. what i am getting at is people who “try” religion.

what exactly are you trying? let’s use Christianity as an example (mostly cuz that is what i know the most about, and that is what one of the comments was directed at)

the common misconception is that a thing like Christianity is a social club. maybe some religions are, but Christianity is not supposed to be that way. and yet it is. i will explain.

if i am a batavian (which i am), then i am of batavia. i am not a batavian if i hang with people who are from batavia.

i am a christian. the term “christian” was given to people who followed and emulated Jesus the Christ. so if one was to “try” christianity, one would NEED to know what Jesus was all about.

this is easy info to access.

we have about 3 years of recorded data on the life and death of Jesus. you can read all the stuff that he said and was said about him, or you can look at one little statement (biggest statement he ever made with few words).

what is IT all about?

He summed IT all up: Love God, and care for (love) your neighbors the same way you care for yourself.

So then… being a christian is to be like Christ, and that equals loving God and loving people. you might want to find out how to do that, but i think most people know how to love. if you know how you want to be loved then you know how to love. most people are not good at it but they at least know what is expected.

so if you are treated a certain way by a group of people who claim to be christian, but do not love you, well then… are they christians? perhaps. maybe they are just a bit self centered as we all are and are trying to mature and prioritize their “neighbors”. honestly… most people need to learn how to love. it takes practice because it takes fearlessness.

but my REALLY REAL point is that christianity is between you and Jesus. so you cannot say you tried it and didn’t like it based on the behavior of others. YOU are the one seeking to emulate the One who told us to love God and others. you cannot say it didn’t work for you, because YOU are the one with the work to do. 

Christianity is not a club in that you join and then receive benefits. YOU provide the benefits to those around you. if you are not receiving the benefits (love) then you need to keep loving and find others who are better at it than the ones you were associated with. but it’s still on you. 

whether you are or are not a christian is completely based on whether you love or do not love God and others. 

sadly… if you belong to a group of people who are simply charged with loving others, then you should be well loved. often this is not the case. like i said… loving takes practice. many people don’t try hard and never achieve any level of proficiency.

what about you?

my very last analogy… it is like joining a gym and then claiming the gym and the people in the gym did not work for you. 

i hope this is clear. i would be happy to elaborate on any part of this, written or implied.



Posted June 27, 2014 by john b in philosofickle, Uncategorized

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i don’t like the tone of your voice! (or your muscles. especially your muscles)   Leave a comment

new year! 

i decided to put a little info out there that i have amassed in my last 18 years of working out. (the last 8 years i have also been a personal trainer)

so, this is my opinion, and it is based on countless conversations and encounters with people and fitness marketing.


that stupid word infuriates me. it is a word that i first encountered in fitness marketing. products will tone you. what does that mean?

the thing is… usually the word tone  is associated with products that do not build any real amount of muscle, and neither does the product cause any loss in body fat. so what does the product do? well it tones you.    


so, people come to me and they tell me that they want to lose weight and tone their __________. (pick a body part. usually thighs, arms, belly)

through many conversations consisting of me prying for detailed info i find that what they mean is they do not want to jiggle, and they want to see some muscle.

fat jiggles. muscle does not. bones do not. on some rare occasions skin may. these people grasp the problem area and squeeze a sizable amount of jiggly material to emphasize and illustrate their point.

 so what they are asking me to do (when they say tone) is to reduce their body fat and make sure there is muscle there to see. 

here is the nugget. the gold. the steak on the plate… all people want to have less body fat. a “toned” person is a person with little body fat and some muscle. most people do not want large, veiny musculature. they want to look trim. lean.

fitness products sold in tv infomercials usually do not do that. you want a lot of muscle? you have to lift weights. heavy weights.

you want some muscle? you have to lift weights. heavy weights.

you want just a little muscle? if you do not have it already, you have to lift weights. heavy weights.

the word “heavy” that i am using here is relative. it refers to weights that you can not already lift.


i mean… you need to start doing something that your body cannot already do. your body is already shaped and able to do what you do now. you don’t want that. you want a body that is shaped to do bigger and harder things. why would your body change and adapt to your training regimen if it is already capable of doing it.

first piece of advice- learn the difference between the word Can’t, and the word Won’t.

hint: can’t is usually a lie. I get can’t all the time from people.

to have a toned body you need to get lean and have some muscle. 

toning is still lifting weights and eating right. there is no middle area called toning. 

exercise is not lifting heavy on one end of the spectrum and toning on the other end. it is all the same. 

all great bodies are hard work. you don’t want to work hard? that is fine. but it isn’t some process called toning.

Posted January 4, 2014 by john b in Uncategorized

Class of Spring, 2013   Leave a comment

Who doesn’t smile at the first Robin they see each year?
Oblivious, hopping about, respected, honored, saluted.

Warmer air… in walks the Robin, the Goose, the little colorful ones.
The class smiles. Some cheer! High fives, handshakes, hurrays (as if happiness rides their tail feathers in.

So also come the skunk, the possum, the raccoon.
The class groans.

Raccoon should have snuck in with the birds;
No one would have noticed.

Posted April 27, 2013 by john b in Uncategorized

I would carry you up the tallest hill   1 comment

her breathing was loud and rhythmic. each breath seemed like the ticking of a timer. counting down. for the first 15 minutes i watched the clock right above her to see what minute and second would be the last breath. after 3 hours of sitting and listening i gave up.

my mind wandered for a little bit. i was digging through the memories, trying to pull out and look at as many as i could to try to dim the one i was a part in creating in this moment. the one that is most vivid. the one where there is an oxygen mask pulled tight over her nose and mouth, her hair stringy and matted down, her head cocked slightly back and off to one side. a broken-down shell of a body that would finally completely break down in a matter of minutes, or hours.

i drifted off… i could see her face when she and my dad gathered us all together to tell us we would have a baby sibling soon.

when i was back in the room i realized i was tapping my feet and my hands to the beat of her breathing.

dad was a rock. i was a mess. i tried not to cry in front of the nurses and the doctor.

i wanted to touch her. i hadn’t touched her in years. this was my last chance. i put my hand on her forehead. and then got to the bathroom as fast as i could, and sobbed.

my sister got there. she drove 3 hours through the night, and snow, and wind. by now it was 3 am and i was so tired. i just didn’t know if i really wanted to see the breathing stop.

…I was very young. It was sometime before before ten years of age. I don’t know what my problem was but I was quiet and somber. That was unlike me. I was a happy kid. My mom noticed. Maybe everyone noticed but it was my mom who came to me one Saturday and said she was taking me to lunch. Just me. That had never happened before. With 4 siblings you just don’t go to lunch alone with mom or dad. She took me to Friendly’s on Ridge Road by the mall. She bought me a burger. I could have it any way I wanted it. I also got a milkshake.

…Mom owned a Chevrolet Chevelle. I think it was a ’74. I bought a ’72 Chevelle when I was 21. Mom got me into muscle cars. I remember saying once that I thought horses were dumb and I didn’t care if they all ran off a cliff. Mom asked me, “What if they were all Chevelles driving off a cliff?”

3:00AM Dad says I should go home and go to bed. He thinks I will be going to work in the morning. Not a chance.

…I was in the living room. I sat on something. I don’t remember what it was. Probably an ottoman. That day it was a tractor. Mom was in the kitchen. I was too young for school so I was home playing. My tractor was in front of one of the chairs in the living room. That way someone could get in the tractor with me. Mom left her stuff in the kitchen and got in my tractor. I got to drive.

I decided to leave. I got up, hugged dad and told him I loved him, I hugged my sister. I kissed my mom’s forehead. It was colder… much colder. I said goodbye very quietly. And left. I put my head down so the nurses wouldn’t see my crying. I passed their station quickly. They were all laughing loudly about some story one was telling.

I wish Jesus sat on a throne at the top of a very tall hill. I wanted to pick my mom up and carry her. I wanted to carry her til I had no strength left. I knew I would make it though. No one would have the strength and endurance it would take to carry her up. No one but her eldest son. I would carry her and place her at the feet of Jesus and give her to Him to watch over and care for until I would return some day. I wanted to do this so she knew that I loved her more than anything. Because I’m not sure she knew that. I wanted a chance to prove it. A trial. A test that all would fail, except her strongest son. She would know that I loved her as much as anyone in this world has ever loved her.

Christa, my sister stayed. At 5:19am my mom’s breathing stopped. Christa checked her pulse. Mom was gone.

It has been many years since the dementia started. At first it was using wrong words for things. Ultimately it would become silence, then her body would start shutting down. She was in her late forties when it started. I didn’t have my mom when I was an adult, but I had her when I was a child, and that is all that matters to me.

Posted February 20, 2013 by john b in Uncategorized

gotta know your weaknesses in order to fix them   Leave a comment

i work at a gym. in fact, i run the gym. dont get all impressed on me cuz it really isnt that impressive. i pretty much just schedule everyone to work and then try to make them actually work.

i like the gym. when i started lifting weights it taught me a lot about me and people in general.

why lift weights? well for me i had a few goals.

  1. i wanted to have muscles and be powerful
  2. i wanted to be hott for my wife, whomever she would turn out to be
  3. i wanted to be athletic so that i could do stuff with my kids, whenever i had kids.

i have since added a 4th element and that is that i want to maximize and sustain my athletic ability for hockey and sports in general.

one thing i learned from all of this is that in order to be good at something you have to identify your weaknesses and train them.

i think someone who succeeds in life is good at identifying their weaknesses. someone with low self esteem is at risk of glossing over those weaknesses and focusing on their strengths. i see that a lot in the gym. guys and girls come in and do what they enjoy the most or what they are good at but shy away from the harder things. instead of the gym being a place to make them better they use the gym as a place to bolster their ego or self esteem. that’s why i see guys bench-pressing much of the time.

the bench-press is widely regarded as a symbol of power. “how much do you bench?” frequently asked question. stupid question.

to a guy who is trying to build his body the weights are just tools. unfortunately it is more common to see the weights using the tools. get it?

if i am building a house, and the house is turning out nice, is it really important to you what size hammer i am using? you see, the numbers get in the way. guys and girls want to focus on their numbers, but really they want to focus on their numbers in relation to YOUR numbers. the numbers mean nothing if not compared to other numbers.

some guys that have low self esteem become the best bodybuilders. you see that many of the best bodybuilders in the world are short. it is somewhat rare to see bodybuilders over 6 ft tall. not to say all short guys have esteem issues. but it makes me wonder.

ok back to my original topic…

identify your weaknesses. i.e. what are your problems. how many times do we decide what it is we want and then justify that with excuses. i have known many friends who are like that. one got married for all the wrong reasons but justified it in his head because he wanted to enjoy that girl’s private parts, but didnt love her enough to even have a job, or any idea of who he was or what being a husband-father meant.

i deal with people every day who lie to me constantly. its unfortunate because if i could i would tell them, “look, i dont care in the least what you eat. i dont care if you come to my gym or not. all i am trying to do is help you attain your goals. if you want to be lean, and you eat crap all the time, but you lie to me about it, YOU lose. not me”.

for all i know those people lie to themselves. if you lie to yourself can you really even help but lie to others? what kind of reality is that? if your inner dialog is BS, then what do you think comes out of your mouth?

in my job there is nothing worse then going through the motions of training and talking with someone when i know they will not continue on, and if they do they still wont achieve their results, and will quit at some point. if a healthy dose of honesty was infused in our relationship then real progress could be made. i had a girl who finally told me her problem is that she needs to eat ice cream at some point every day. you know what? we worked around it and she made the progress she wanted to make. all she had to do was tell me.

this isn’t really about the gym. it is a decent analogy, but it’s life in general that is the point. what are your weaknesses? do you need to make them stronger? avoiding them actually makes them weaker.

Posted July 25, 2012 by john b in Uncategorized

Knock Knock! If I don’t answer, then maybe…   Leave a comment

I work at a gym. There are some interesting people here. Interesting? Not sure if that is the best word for these people. It could be the best word depending on your perspective. Entertaining? Sometimes scary? Sometimes repugnant? I get 2 points for the use of the word repugnant.

There is this one guy at my gym (no, its not the huge musclehead guy that growls, and belches, and flexs his muscles at the wall fan, and wears daisy dukes with loafers, and makes me play classic rock on tha radio all the time, no its not him) that comes in every day and wants me to weigh him. Sounds kind of reasonable right? No. No it is not reasonable. You see, he doesn’t really care. He isn’t dieting or working out. He comes to the Y and says hi to people and then I have to weigh him.

Some days it is just fine. Some days I say hi and goof around with him. Some days I hide behind some piece of workout machinery til he goes away, or I pretend to be intently helping someone who doesn’t actually know that I am standing near them pretending like I am helping them.

Today I was in my office on facebook  doing the deposits for the last 3 days. My door was closed. I could hear his voice through my door say to a nearby member, “Is John here?”

“Yes he is in his office”.

“Oh, the door is closed. Why is the door closed?”

“Oh no reason”

Knock knock. I took about 2 seconds trying to decide what to do. I had money all over my desk. He walks in. I stop him and tell him I am busy and will let him know when I am free.

After I was done with the deposit I went to get him, and weighed him, and kind of scolded him in a non-scoldish way. I told him that if my door is shut it is because I am either doing the deposit or I am in an appointment.

Sometimes I have to check a person’s body-fat percentage. I use pinchers (calipers). It sucks for everyone involved. I have had it done. Let me tell you, there is a certain awkwardness to having someone you barely know grab your fluff and pinch it and tell you how much fluff you have. It is kind of invasive. So privacy is important.

He is kind of special. He was in an accident years ago. It left him with physical issues and I think mental issues as well. His memory is pretty bad. And whatever it is internally that tells a person to knock first and then don’t just walk in, well that is broken.

Favorite music at the moment: The Panic Division

Worst song ever to make it to radio: Angel is a Centerfold

Posted May 13, 2012 by john b in Uncategorized

The REAL Iron Man goes to my gym   Leave a comment

I met the real Iron Man. He comes to my gym and works out and rides a bike. He wears a big khaki colored vest like the kind nature photographers wear. Or used to wear. I don’t really follow fashion trends in the photographing community so please forgive my lack of knowledge in this area. At any rate, he wears a big khaki colored vest with large rectangular things in pockets all around it.

I found out what those rectangular things are. They are batteries. For his heart. If the juice stops, his heart stops. I was told that I am NOT supposed to administer CPR if he goes down. So yeah, that weirded me out. He comes to my gym and works out and has batteries to keep his heart running while he waits for a donor for his heart transplant.

Apparently he can tell when the batteries are getting low and he switches to the spares so he can recharge the other dead batteries. Quite the life huh? And I don’t think Pepper Potts helps him with it. And I don’t think he can fly. Or run for that matter. Im sorry, what was that? Did you say something? Must have been the wind, but I swear I heard you complaining that your boss treats you bad? No? That wasn’t you? You weren’t just posting on facebook that people drive slow when you are in a hurry? You didn’t blow up at someone just yesterday cuz they were talkin crap? Huh. Clda sworn that was you.

Well it was me. I do that. I wonder how much I would let that stuff bother me if I had batteries keeping my heart running. I wish I could give him a never-ending power supply that looks like a glowing, neon door knob. But I can’t. However, I CAN be happy that God gave me a healthy body.

Posted May 7, 2012 by john b in Uncategorized