Church – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

BIG THANKS to every ALC Lifer that shows up every week. (I think I also mentioned today that people who showed up for church today “wanted to” and people who didn’t show up…”didn’t want to”! Your life has been changed by that comment, admit it.)”
Pastor Jeff Hennigan, Abundant Life Church, Plano TX.

I have never been much of a church goer. At least, I haven’t been since garnering some sense of independence from my parents. Growing up, I sampled a Smörgåsbord of religious denominations including Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran (but we don’t talk about it), Baptist, and others simply defining themselves as Christian. As a child, I had little understanding or appreciation for the church. Entering into adulthood my church experiences while not negative, had little impact on my life experiences.

My church visits were limited to holiday sessions–annual meetings celebrating Christ’s birth, and His resurrection. I made an effort over the years to find a church, and while I never attended regularly, I continued on my journey of faith.

Last year I started attending Abundant Life Church after an invitation from Ben. While I don’t sit in the pews every Sunday (I am trying to be better), it doesn’t matter. Let me clarify that statement, while Pastor Hennigan certainly challenges me to attend, he along with the congregation, have welcomed me at every turn. Technology also plays a strong part at ALC Plano (as called by its members). Big God Radio makes it easy for me to stay connected on the road with the ability to listen to Sunday services live via the Internet. ALC Plano also creates podcasts of their worship services. Pastor Hennigan maintains a blog, and even Twitters with the best of them.

But it’s not the Pastor, the congregation or even the cool technology, that has me up before 8AM on a Sunday. It’s the feeling, the one I always heard about, and saw acted out on TV, that envelopes me when I participate in the morning’s worship. For the first time, in a long time, I can say that I feel better after attending Sunday service.

Time Warner Cable To Meter Internet Access

It appears Time Warner Cable has decided to test the waters for metered Internet access. Starting in Beaumont, Texas, customers will be charged additional fees if they go over their monthly allotted bandwidth. The proposed rate is $1 for every gigabyte of bandwidth exceeded.

Time Warner spokesman Alex Dudley has stated that the new price plan reflects the impact of 5% of customers consuming a heavy amount of bandwidth. Michael Arrington from TechCrunch shoots back that metered access will stifle innovation.

I agree with the opinions that Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and other cable companies are simply extorting customers in areas where they are the only option for Internet access. It doesn’t surprise me that cable would make this shift given the availability and increasing use of media downloads via iTunes, Amazon, etc. The telecommunications industry has a better network to handle the bandwidth usage of its customers, and is not directly impacted by the consumer choosing to download an episode of Grey’s Anatomy from iTunes or versus watching it on cable.

I’m not sure how many customers will jump ship when hit with the new metered access plans. The unfortunate folks trapped with TWC or Comcast as their only option, will have to pay. For myself, I will quickly change providers.

I don’t see this proposal as a long term option in a competitive market. Hosting companies used to charge for the bandwidth usage on a metered basis, but many now have super-large plans or unlimited bandwidth. Same can be said for cell phones; competition recently spurred the new onslaught of unlimited plans.

MMA Review – Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson

EliteXC made their mainstream debut on CBS network television this past Saturday night (May 31). I was curious what changes (if any) would be in place for an MMA experience that previously was only available on the Showtime cable network. I think the sponsors will be happy with the Nielsen ratings, but there are definitely some improvements that can be made. Here’s my breakdown of the main event Saturday night:

– Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson –
Kimbo Slice has been making a name for himself on the YouTube circuit for many years now with a showcase of streetfights. Before his MMA debut on Showtime, comments were abundant about how Kimbo would fair in a true MMA arena. His first test was an unsanctioned streetfight against Sean Gannon, a former Boston Police officer trained in MMA. That YouTube video is one of the first known defeats suffered by Kimbo, however, controversy rose at the time due to Sean using his MMA skills. Brought to media attention by an online marketing machine it was inevitable that Kimbo would make his way into the MMA.

Kimbo came to this fight undefeated, a record that could be argued as being “light” in terms of competition. Listening to Pugs & Kelly (Live 105.3FM) this afternoon, it is clear that many have the opinion that EliteXC may be padding Kimbo’s fight resume, feeding the marketing machine in order to capitalize on this fighter’s story. It’s safe to say many expected this fight to end quickly, under some power-punches by Kimbo or perhaps a quick submission. Little did anyone know that James Thompson (coming off a few losses) would not easily submit the match.

In the ensuing rounds, James matched Kimbo blow-for-blow, and managed to take him down in the first round. Fans got more than they expected as most of Kimbo’s fights have been stand up affairs favoring his striking ability and power. Could Kimbo win on the ground? How would he fair in a strong MMA battle? The first round proved two things – Kimbo had worked a bit on his wrestling skills (ground game), but his conditioning needed A LOT of work.

The second round would prove to be controversial. Again the fighters exchanged blows, with Kimbo throwing more power-punches, and James trying to match. James once again took the fight to the ground, and Kimbo’s lack of MMA experience, and poor conditioning started to be painfully obvious. Even though Kimbo managed a few “pile driver” submissions, he couldn’t maintain the hold for long as James repeatedly freed himself. Towards the end of the second round, James had managed to smother Kimbo, pounding him with a barrage of elbows. In fact, with one minute & thirty seconds left in Round 2, Kimbo took roughly two dozen elbows & hammerfists to the head. If this were a UFC fight, it would have been stopped. Kimbo was doing a poor job defending, and while he may not have been hurt, he was clearly being outgunned by James Thompson.

Slow to get up after the bell, a winded Kimbo made his way back to his corner. Entering the third round, both men were tired, but Kimbo managed to get off a final assault of power-punches. James’ ear burst open, and after taking four headshots the referee stopped the fight. James was visibly upset, and pushed the referee, but the match was ended. Kimbo celebrated by laying down in the ring.

EliteXC did a lot for the sport with a network television debut. I have to agree with comments made on the Pugs & Kelly show that by running on network vs cable the fights were managed differently. I concur that the Gina Carano vs Kaitlynn Young, and Robbie Lawler vs Scott Smith fights would not have been stopped had they been shown on cable tv. Scott Smith clearly could have (and wanted) to continue, and while Kaitlynn was a bloody mess, she didn’t seem down for the count. (Gina demolished her last opponent even worse on Showtime, and that fight came to decision)

I heard somewhere that Dana White the President of the UFC stated he would pit BJ “The Prodigy” Penn (the current lightweight champion) against Kimbo if there were ever a UFC bout. After watching the match, I agree that Kimbo has a long way to go in his quest to become a respected MMA fighter. In my opinion, top on his list should be his conditioning. More MMA experience will only make him a better fighter, but I think Saturday’s fight only proved Kimbo would be vulnerable to a top-ranked MMA veteran. Brock Lesner made a similar appearance in the UFC, and lost due to his lack of complete MMA skills. While some consider the UFC the “bully in the schoolyard” I’m of the opinion that they have the best MMA brand right now. However, healthy competition from competing brands will only make the MMA fight market better.

UPDATEKevin Leong has an editorial on the flaws of this CBS debut, and Ben (the ultimate MMA fan/practitioner) chimes in.

Wii Be Not Fit

A hectic schedule, drinking, and poor diet habits, have led to a lifestyle that is a lot less fit than in my 20’s. While I wouldn’t consider myself obese, it wasn’t until a few months ago I realized just how much larger I had become. My friend Ricardo graciously offered to take some pics of Michelle & I just before Sydney was born. When Michelle & I reviewed the proofs, I was suddenly hit with the reality that I was heavier than I imagined (or not as skinny as saw myself daily). In fact, at 5ft 6in my weight hit a peak of 220lbs in January, but when I looked in the mirror I saw the beer belly that made me appear as pregnant as Michelle this past year. I didn’t notice how round my face had become or that I was slowly losing my chin as my neck had widened a great deal. The brutal truth had been revealed, and I could see what other people had been commenting on for over a year.

I had a chance to pickup the Wii Fit game released earlier this month, but had not set it up until this past week. I chose the Wii Fit mainly because the idea intrigued me, and I have already seen the benefits of playing Wii Sports. The game comes with with Wii Fit controller pad, which is a large floor unit roughly 18×9 inches. The unit is plastic, but felt solid and was fairly heavy. It’s powered by four AA batteries, which come in the package. Setup was a breeze, I simply inserted the Wii Fit game disc, and was walked through the process of creating my fitness profile.

In creating my fitness profile, I was asked to choose a Mii. This is the first game I have played where the Mii had hands & feet. That was not the only visual adjustment made to my Mii. After choosing the Mii you are put through a Body Test. You are asked questions about your height, age, and the weight of the clothes you are wearing. The test measure BMI, weight, and balance. The results of my first body test:

  • BMI 30.46 – Considered obese
  • Height – 5ft 6in
  • Weight – 196.5lbs
  • Balance – Poor (Afterwards, I realized the measurement is based on how quickly you find your balance)
  • Wii Fit Age – 42

Upon being told my Wii Fit age, my Mii character suddenly transformed into a heavier obese version. I was impressed and disgusted at the same time. Family & friends had chided me about my weight, but now the Wii Fit was piling on too. My results were certainly less impressive than when Ben Sanders jumped on his Wii Fit.

After completing the Body Test, I was asked to put a stamp on the Wii Fit calendar to mark my results. From there I had the option to go and try different workout routines. There are four main areas including Yoga, Strength Training, Balance, and Aerobic Conditioning. Keeping with the gaming theme, users are awarded Wii Fit points, which unlock various fitness games within the Wii Fit plaza. Being the first day, I simply went through a sample of each area.

I did well in the Yoga & Aerobic areas, but was weak again in Balance, which I attribute more to learning to master the floor controller, and my Strength was decent, but not great. You are led through the various routines by a virtual fitness instructor, and your overall fitness time is tracked to help create the graphs found in the Wii Fit plaza. I kept my first day pretty light, and worked out for about 45 minutes.

This morning was the second time I had used the Wii Fit, and upon entering the plaza I was told it had been 5 days since my last workout. The reminder can be encouraging or nagging depending on your mood when playing the game. I was asked to do another body test, and was surprised to see the following results:

  • BMI 30 – Still considered obese
  • Height – 5ft 6in
  • Weight – 193lbs
  • Balance – Good (Better since I understood how to take the test)
  • Wii Fit Age -31 (Yeah me! I’m 11yrs younger)
  • It was nice to see the progress graph after taking the body test.

Conclusion – My first impressions of the Wii Fit is that the game is well suited for anyone new to fitness. The instructions are clear, and the exercises are challenging, but not overly difficult. The gaming aspect is a nice touch to keep your workouts fresh & interesting. For someone who is active already, and in good shape, your opinion might be different. I think a fit person will initially enjoy the game, but soon become bored by the routines. However, I have not unlocked all the fitness routines, and I could be mistaken in that assumption.

I’m going to continue to use the Wii Fit to see if the routine can actually achieve some quality results. Not only am I trying to achieve good health for the sake of my family, but I was recently inspired by the CNN story on Muata Kamdibe who reduced his body fat percentage from 44% to 6.5%. His progress is documented on his blog “Mr. Low Body Fat.”

Update 6/6/2008Laura weighs in on the Wii Fit over at her blog.