Category Archives: Opinions
In today’s Lowell Sun, Evan Lips wrote an interesting piece on the story around me getting the horns in my recent attempt to get reappointed to the Billerica Finance Committee.
You can find the story here. I encourage everyone to read it.
As I said in my failed campaign for Town Moderator, decisions made at the local level of government have more to do with your daily life than anything that happens on Beacon Hill or in Washington, D.C.
Local decisions affect the water you drink, the roads you drive on, and the schools you send your children to and the quality of the education they receive.
I also commented during the campaign that the Moderator’s ability to appoint people to key Town boards and committees, especially the Finance Committee, was an often overlooked part of the role that people should consider as they make their decision in the election.
And this week’s development is exactly why… while some might approach the Moderator position with the goal of establishing a well-intentioned and diverse committee of experienced Town Meeting members to provide advice to Town Meeting, that’s not what happened this week.
Clearly there’s more to the story, based on what I’m reading in the Sun article. I know I’m left with more questions…
If I won, I’d be the Town Moderator for three years. I would be able to appoint my replacement to the Finance Committee.
If I lost, I was at-risk of not being re-appointed to the Finance Committee because my former opponent is the appointing authority for the Finance Committee.
And, in case you aren’t aware, I lost.
I reapplied to the Finance Committee on April 26, 2012, less than two weeks after the election. I reapplied because I enjoy the work and I think I add value to the process. I’ve learned a lot about municipal finance in the last four years on the committee. I spent the last year as the Vice Chairman and previously served as the Secretary. I’d like to think I am a strong (and somewhat humble) contributor to the Committee.. not God’s gift to the Committee, in any way, but still doing good work and providing helpful advice to Town Meeting.
Well, it seems my services are no longer needed, based on the letter I received from the Town Moderator today. It looks like I’ll have about thirty or so more nights at home this year… at least my wife and kids will be happy to have me home.
You know what they say, “You mess with the bull, you get the horns.”
Best of luck to the new Finance Committee members and to my former colleagues.
But I think many gyms realize that this feeling keeps many people away from the gym and some companies like Planet Fitness are confronting the issue in a humorous way as seen in their “I pick things up and put them down” commercials.
But after working with a trainer at Fitness Together for about three or four months, I started to notice results… not the kind of results that will have me getting oiled up and posing on stage somewhere, perish the thought, but the kind of results where you feel a muscle where you previously didn’t feel one. Or a muscle that you can flex a bit where you couldn’t before.
In fact, I think that the first few months of weight training are all about developing basic muscle tone to activate your major and minor muscles so you can begin to target them with more specific exercise. My personal trainer put me through a couple of months of full body workout exercises before we ever started breaking up my workouts into upper days, lower days, and full body days and I think that was the right approach.
So for anyone just starting out or considering a weight training program, I’d encourage you to consider the following:
- Commit to at least four months of training for at least one-hour 3 days a week since I suspect it will take that long to see some real results. If you’re anything like me when I started, your skeletal muscle percentage is likely so low that you need to get to a normal level before you can really build.
- Feed yourself – don’t starve your workouts since it takes a good diet rich in protein to repair the muscles your ripping during your workouts. I like GNC’s Amplified Wheybolic Extreme protein. Protein is an important supplement to a well-balanced diet.
- Follow a plan – I love the Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises. It has great pictures and explanations of over 600 exercises and it organizes them into simple-to-follow exercises. I type the workouts into a Word document, print them, and carry the book and my worksheets at the gym to track my workouts and refer to the book to make sure I have good form. It’s also inspiring to see a guy I went to school with as the model for the Shoulders chapter. He was always a fit kid but it’s great to see the results Damon Weeks has achieved as an adult. If he can do it, so can I, though it might take me ten years to get into amazing shape like Damon. But I can live with that. I need something to work on so why not my health?
Despite what some people may think, people who carry a book at the gym and write down their workouts are cool, in my opinion, because they are the ones seeing results. By tracking your exercises, weights, and repetitions, you can keep pushing yourself and make sure you’re doing balanced workouts. And that leads to great long-term results.
The people who walk around without a plan and notes do the same workout every time I see them and the repetition isn’t necessarily bad for them but it’s not as helpful as changing things up every four weeks since your body won’t see the same benefit if you don’t change things up. The Men’s Health book is smart since it changes your program every four weeks so your body never gets bored.
In my own experience, the fun doesn’t end after the first few months. I still find myself noticing something new every four to six months. For example, my triceps are really starting to pop out a bit in the last few months. Seeing the results inspires me to keep up the work knowing that I’ll see other noticeable results in another six months or so.
Having faith that hard work and commitment will produce results in time motivates me and I hope it does for you, too. Hang in there, commit to four months, and then you’ll begin a great cycle of improvements.
Feel free to post comments and share your experience. I’d love to hear what’s working for you.
Disclosure: I work for Microsoft Corporation, a Ford Supplier and partner in the Sync software in Ford vehicles. The work I do for Microsoft is unrelated to the Ford relationship. As a Ford Supplier, we receive a discount on the vehicles though I did not use that program for my 2011 Explorer. The opinions and views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of my employer.
UPDATE: I had my Explorer updated with the latest software in August and the latency issues I experienced with the touch screen have gone away!
In January, I bought the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer XLT. It’s a complete redesign of the Explorer and it’s very similar to the GMC Acadia that I had for the last three years.
The Acadia was a great car but I only had it for a lease so when the time to turn it in was approaching, I considered the getting a new Acadia but the new Explorer caught my eye, specifically the new design and all of the tech features you get for less money than an equivalent Acadia vehicle with less tech. You can see the similarities between the two SUVs side by side in this picture.
The cool tech features start with the displays on either side of the speedometer. You can easily customize the left display with trip, fuel economy, tachometer, and other displays, depending on your preference. I like to display the distance to empty. On the right side, you can choose from entertainment, navigation, climate, or phone settings. I like the navigation display since it shows a little speed limit sign with the speed limit for the road you’re on at the time, if it has the info. Pretty handy!
Most of the tech features are in the center console on the touchscreen. On the home screen, there are shortcuts to the popular features from each of the four main functions – phone, navigation, entertainment, and climate. You can easily turn on the heated seats or jump into navigation using the MyFord Touch software.
I use my cell phone a lot more while driving since it’s easy to hit the voice command button and say “Call Michael Moore at home” and have it dial home with no hands. and because the microphone is just above the driver, the sound quality for me and the other side is pretty good, according to my wife and others I’ve spoken with. It’s so much safer, too! The Sync software downloads the contacts from my Windows Phone 7 device that I’ve paired using Bluetooth so you can use the voice commands with no issue.
I’m really enjoying the entertainment features. I’ve been a Sirius radio subscriber since Howard Stern first announced he was going to satellite radio more than six years ago and Sirius is nicely featured as one of the entertainment sources.
I’ve also plugged in my Microsoft Zune HD. For my Zune, I have the Zune Pass subscription that allows me to download whatever I want from the millions of songs in the catalog for a $15 monthly subscription. So at this point, I have over 4,000 songs on my Zune. I barely used my Zune in my Acadia but I use it almost daily in my Explorer. It connects to one of the two USB ports in the little compartment in the dash. The Sync software indexes the music so I can easily call up songs, artists, or albums using voice commands like “Play Artist Train”…. very nice!
For anyone into the tech features, I think you’ll be excited about what Ford is doing. There are some little quirks at times with responsiveness but overall the experience is very good. I would certainly recommend that you check it out if you want lots of tech features for a very reasonable cost.