Sunday, May 22, 2011

Time for a change

Last week I was at a friend’s place, partying for my 26th birthday. The next morning, after an ice cold shower to wake myself up from the bottle of American Honey, several Canadian Clubs and several Bundys of the night before, I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror. What I saw was a massively overweight, pudgy faced, dour looking guy with man boobs. Apart from some awesome tatts and a beautiful head of hair, I was unimpressed. I am 26 years old, and I have the physique of a 50 year old man who has let himself go. The time has come to make some serious changes to my life.
Inspired by a blog my friend Gabe has started; it’s time for me to get on the health kick. No more excuses, it’s time to change. I weighed in at 140kg last week, with higher than desired blood pressure, a slightly higher than desired pulse rate and breathlessness after climbing stairs. I don’t want that – I want to be healthy.
But I know it won’t be easy. I’m not going to be running marathons in 2 weeks; I probably won’t be running them in a year. If I try to do too much too soon I’ll burn out and give up, or might even do serious damage to my body. I need to take things slowly. The idea is to allow my body to cope with the changes.
So from now on I’ll be
-          Eating healthier - No more chocolate,  lollies, soft drinks, fatty foods (except the odd Dr Pepper – if I couldn’t have that, I would kill people)
-          Exercising more – When I get home from work, I’ll go out for a walk. Maybe even buy a cross trainer exercise machine, the only exercise machine I’ve ever liked.
-          Keeping a diary of my exercise and diet – weekly check-ins to track my progress.
The only good thing about my physique is that I’m quite strong. That’s not bragging, it is just a fact. Years of on again/off again weight lifting plus carrying around a large body frame has left me with more strength than the average guy. All that means now is that I don’t need to incorporate weight lifting into my exercise scheme. I can concentrate solely on cardiovascular fitness.
My limited experience in psychology studies tells me that healthier people tend to be happier people – they perform better in their work, they’re able to participate in more activities, even their sleep is more restful than the rest of us.
Hopefully in a year I’ll be a fitter, happier, more active person.
Hopefully not dropping dead from a heart attack as you read this,
The Reverend Doktor Bob
P.S. I don’t intend to let my new lifestyle get in the way of my sceptical activities – The good Reverend Doktor will still be seeking the truth and fighting the good fight whenever possible.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A message on Rev. Dr. Bob's birthday

The following was transcribed from a Ministry of Harry Kenwell  meeting. To be imagined in a Southern US preacher style voice, or James Brown in the Blues Brothers.

On a crisp and clear morning, in a big white tent in the middle of a green field. Dozens of people are seated in pews facing a stage. On the stage there is an organist playing softly, Deacon Geoff and The Reverend Doktor Bob.
Deacon Geoff, from side of stage: “....and now a sermon from our very own Reverend Doktor Bob!”
*Enter Rev.Dr. Bob from left side of stage, walks to centre of stage*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “Now people…now people.”
*crowd murmurs with excitement*
Rev. Dr. Bob: “When I woke up this morning, I saw a bright light!”
*crowd excitement grows a little*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “When I woke up this morning, I heard an unusual sound!”
*Organ music rises in volume*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “And what was that light and sound? Do you want me to tell you?”
*Organ music rises in volume even more. Cries of “Tell it, preacher!” and “Show us, Reverend” come from the audience*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “The light and sound belonged to Him. To Harry! Can I get a Harrylujah?”
*Crowd calls out “Harrylujah!”*
 Rev.Dr. Bob: “I said ‘Can I get a Harrylujah?’”
*Crowd calls louder “HARRYLUJAH!”*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “Alright, RAmen. Now people, I wanna tell you – Harry spoke to me!”
*Crowd cheers*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “And do you wanna know what He said to me? Do you want to hear His words?”
*Organ music rises to match a rising volume of cries from the audience. Calls of “Tell us, Reverend!” and “Testify!” come from the crowd. In the front row, a man collapses, fainting from the love of Harry*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “Harry spoke to me. He said ‘Bob – you’re 26 today. It’s time for you to give back to the community after you have been given so much.’ Now, let me tell you people, I couldn’t gaze upon that far shore, that wonder, without being struck dumb. I wanted to ask him how, but couldn’t find a way to make the words come out.”
*Organ music tempo increases as The Reverend Doktor’s speech gets faster. The excitement of the crowd builds with each passing second. Cries of desire for Harry come from the audience. People are on their feet, reaching out to their fellow Kenwellians as they feel His love*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “Harry kept speaking to me. I felt as if my head would explode with the power of his words. He said
‘Bob. On this day, the 26th anniversary of your birth, I charge you with the task of spreading my words. You will not be alone. Others will join you in celebrating my existence.’
While I could not speak, Harry knew what I wanted to ask. I wanted to know what His message, what His command, what His Words would be.
 ‘Bob,’ He said ‘There have been others that were thought to be divine. Others who claimed a ruling over mankind. These false gods may have had some good messages, but they were usually combined with rules that were pointless and restrictive, as well as, more often than not, baseless prejudices against fellow creatures.’
His words struck home for me. The history of the world is full of such tales. He went on.
‘The world is a busy place. Everybody is too swept up in life to follow the ideals that have been laid down by so many. So I have provided a philosophy that is easy to follow, that is fair and equitable for all mankind.’
Do you people want to hear that philosophy? Do you want to hear his words?”
*The crowd cries out in unison “Yes!”*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “Ok people. Here is his message to us all.”
*The music stops abruptly. The crowd hushes, all leaning forward in expectation of The Message. The tent goes silent, in stark contrast to the frenzy that was in progress just seconds before*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “Be Generally Awesome.”
*The crowd lets out a collective sigh of pleasure upon hearing his words. Many fall back into their seats exhausted, as if having run a marathon*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “How much better a philosophy can you get? I know of none greater. When you wake up in the morning – Be Awesome. When you go to work – Be Awesome. When deciding anything in life, from what drink you should have to what can be done to make the world a better place – Be Awesome. If we all Be Awesome to one another, there will be no ill in this world!”
*Crowd cheers. Cries of “Harrylujah!” and “Praise be to Awesome!” are heard*
Rev.Dr. Bob: “Now people. He wants you to go out there and spread his message of Awesome! Go! Now! Smile at a stranger, hug a friend, love a lover and be Awesome to one another! Go!”
*The crowd rushes out of the tent, chanting “Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.”*

Monday, May 2, 2011

Brief Report on Skepticamp Sydney, April 2011.

On April 30th, 2011, Australia saw its first Skepticamp, held at the University of Technology, Sydney. Organised by a group of highly un-organised sceptics based around Sydney and sponsored by various groups such as the Australian Skeptics, the Western Sydney Freethinkers, and, the event became a successful grass-roots based conference which shall be talked about in the sceptical community for years to come. I’ve previously blogged about the concept of Skepticamp here
The day started (for the Unorganisers) at 0900, with the unloading of cars and the setting up of tables, equipment, IT related gear and luncheon requirements. A quick briefing by Jason Brown and the Unorganisers were sent to perform their duties for the day. Duties included –
·         Manning the registration table
·         Organising speakers
·         Directing attendees to rooms
·         Setting up lunch and CupCakeCamp
·         Timing speakers and running IT for the day
The doors opened to attendees at 10am for registration, with talks to begin at 11am. After a quick cuppa and some early morning networking, Jason Brown and Dave The Happy Singer gave the keynote speech in their usual flamboyant manner, with lots of jokes and innuendos. They went through the rules of the day such as how much time each speaker was allocated, how you should be spreading the word about Skepticamp, what the official Skepticamp hash tag was on twitter (#skepticamp) and the most important rule – be awesome (funnily enough, also Harry Kenwell’s most important rule…just saying).
There were some brilliant talks throughout the day. Some speakers were old hands at public performance (such as Peter “Ratbag” Bowditch) and some were, like me, noobs to giving talks. The topics covered were extensive. A random selection from the day are:-
·         Peter Bowditch– Keeping your scepticism out of court
·         Joel Pittman – Experiences of a (former) youth pastor
·         Jo Benhamu – A brief history of nursing
·         Alan Conradi – Neuro-cranial restructuring
·         Rachael Dunlop – Diagnosing by Dr. Google
·         Dan Summers – The Gospels according to George Lucas
·         Maureen Chuck – Clinical trials
All of which were to special in their own right to try and explain, I recommend looking for them on YouTube, as most of the talks were videotaped (I will post links on a blog post in the near future).
My own talk was about nursing and woo, a variation of a blog post I put up earlier this year. During the question and answer time of my own talk, Jo Benhamu assisted with fielding some questions about nursing that required a bit more post grad knowledge than I have (though I’ll get there one day….hopefully). During the flash talks (5 minute, minimal preparation) section Alan Conradi and myself gave a talk about Harry Kenwell and his awesomeness.
Lunch was provided to all attendees, paid for by donations from the Australian Skeptics (thanks!!!), and catered for omnivores, vegetarians, vegans and the gluten intolerant. Lunch was swiftly followed by Cup Cake Camp, a competition in which attendees bake cupcakes that are consumed and voted on. Ruth Ellison won with her Chocolate Baileys cupcakes, but the rest were still awesome. I personally liked the Jaffa cupcakes made by Bronwyn Pinchbeck.
After the conference some money went over the bar at the Clare Hotel, which opened its doors specifically for us. As the night went on, the beer flowed and the tab got swallowed up by the crowd (anyone can hang out with the sceptics, but it would be hard for a teetotaller – we spend so much time in pubs!). Throughout the night people got together with friends, old and new, to discuss how the day went, how the night was going and how to plan for the next skepticamp – so far I believe it’s going to be in Melbourne, sometime around August/September.  Most of that night is random flashes of memory for me – Fred Kotze talking about motorcycles, a Tom Waits sing-a-long with Jason Brown and Alan Conradi, discussing Medicines Sans Frontiers with Maureen Chuck and Rachael Dunlop. I did end up at another bar down the street drinking whiskey (information received from FourSquare). All I know is I woke up the next morning in the Riverside Manor with two ladies in my bed….and me on the floor L.
Thanks to everyone who organised Skepticamp and thanks to all who participated. It was an epic day full of great talks and great company. I cannot wait for the next one, but if it is in Melbourne I just may be a participant, not an unorganiser.

Some photos from the day can be found by searching for “skepticamp” on Flickr and more blogs about the event can be found by searching the hash tag #skepticamp on twitter.
That's all I can really remember anout Skepticamp. Im sure more memories will float to the surface of my brain jar soon.
The Reverend Doktor Bob