Read about our adventures! Because someday we might be famous, and you'll wish you could bank off our life story!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ron Paul in the hiz-ous!

So today Ron Paul made his way to Des Moines...a presidential candidate in Iowa during campaign season? weird right? Christy and I went down at noon to the Embassy Suites to meet the man who should be the next president.

In the past few years, I think both of us have come to the realization that you may or may not think you're into politics...but that doesn't change the fact that politics, for better or worse, are all around you. Especially after going to work full time, and taking over all the life expenses and bills that go along with the 'real world' you get a much different perspective.

Myself in particular have felt a strong pull towards Libertarianism. Now I know that the catch-phrase of "limited government" etc has become little more than a talking point and quite blasé for the most part. It's just too bad that these ideas have to be paraded around as something new and exciting, when in reality they are what this country was founded upon. It's also too bad that these ideals get caught up in association with incoherent Sarah Palin gaffes, and dudes in eagle T-shirts and 'don't tread on me posters'.

Sadly many view this as the extent of conservative opposition

I've always been a huge history buff, and between the reading and movies, etc I've read/watched is beyond amazing that the history of the world is so entrenched in human coercion and violence. The founding of this country was something beyond amazing in the course of history. The rejection of the crown and subservience to a monarchy was a giant leap for civilization. I understand that the founding fathers were not demi-gods, but the ideals that went into this country, the simplicity and genius is amazing. Most of the problems that have happened in the country's history come from straying from this model.

I, and many others believe the current political state is an entangled mess of bullshit. No matter what side of the aisle you're on, I think we can all agree on that. There are too many special interests prying for too many stupid ambitions. For example does anybody who is a die-hard liberal, REALLY believe that someone like Nancy Pelosi has your interest at heart?! REALLY?!  People fool-heartidly believed Obama's campaign promises of 'openess' and 'reform' (I could write an entire other blog about how that's been bullshit) He was going to "go to Washington and clean up the mess!" He was going to bring the sides together on every issue...he was going to lower the ocean levels! (seriously)...he was 'post-racial'. Now I understand the current state of political discourse is not entirely on Obama's shoulders, but his complete lack of follow through with these cornerstone political aspirations is quite telling. (also the fact that he's from Chicago and supports the White Sox over the Cubs...WTF?!?)

You should not want any way, shape or form ::Shudder::

Our country is a divided mess, with each side saying the other is the problem. In all reality the difference between Republicans and Democrats, in the heart of the beast, is minuscule at best. Both sides have a vested interest in keeping the system as it is. It's a mess of restrictions, redundant departments, and bureaucracy that wastes our time and money...why would anybody want that you might say?'s because it keeps them nestled in power, and that is the aspiration of career politicians.

I think the misconception that people have about Libertarians are that they believe in essentially anarchy, and want to cut the government altogether. This is not the case. They believe in a 're-imagining' a 're-boot'  of government if you will...Remember when James Bond movies were good?...and then we got that cinematic piece of dog shit Die Another Day? Remember when Star Trek was only identifiable with 'nerds' and then it got re-done and became number one at the box office?...Remember when the Batman franchise fizzle into the hopeless pit of embarrassment that was Batman and Ro- I won't even finish the title of that one.

The current political system...

Remember now how we all thought Heath Ledger would suck-ass as the Joker? How the more or less unknown Daniel Craig wouldn't be able to fill the shoe's of 007...and that JJ Abrams would potentially make a mess of the fully formed Star Trek universe? last time... how those elements were exactly what these franchises needed?!

Libertarians are the Christopher Nolan's of the political world. We can see what is hiding beneath the current pile of garbage, and identify the elements that made it great. Gazing upon the current political a fanboy watching Batman and Robin may have made many a weaker man give up altogether,  but even in that current disgrace some were able to identify that not all hope was lost.

This is where Ron Paul steps in....I couldn't resist.

I was struck while listening to him speak today that A) He did the whole speech without so much as an index card for reference, let alone a teleprompter! and B) He actually CARES about what he's talking about. He jumped into politics because he was pissed off at the current state, not because he was looking for some avenue to impose his beliefs upon people, or make up for some insecurity by feeling special. This it the ONLY reason people should actually get into politics!

I've spent my whole life being told I'm cynical. However, I'm a firm believer that cynicism is an unpleasant way of stating the truth. There are a lot of different ways as people, we can use our anger. Using it for something constructive is the most rewarding and fundamentally best thing we can do.

Ron Paul simply represents a return to a basic ideal...simply put: do what it takes to pursue your happiness, so long as it doesn't impede on somebody else's right to do the same.

Years ago the idea of 'politics' and 'government' represented only a few cornerstone areas of those words can represent just about anything under the sun...including the sun. We need to take a step back and realize this is ridiculous. Government is there for extremely simplistic and basic functions. Not a cradle to the grave system that pretends to know what's better for you, than you yourself know.

We had a joke in my family about how 'stretch-pant ladies' for all intensive purposes ruled the world. Meaning the people that sit behind counters at government agencies/schools/public institutions (often overweight hence the 'stretch pants' know it's true...) that make you fill out form 45-Z only after you've initialed form 32-B, rule what you can and can't do. I for one don't want or need any more 'stretch-pant ladies' in my life...yet this is what we look forward to with bloated government. Now we're letting the stretch pant ladies take off adult diapers on 95 year old cancer patients...WTF?!

However, someone like Ron Paul understands that for good or bad, this country has regressed to children being ruled over by a nanny state. However it's too difficult to just 'cut the ties' to the 'social safety net'. It takes time to scale back these 'progressive' aspects, something that can be done by cutting areas bloated by the military industrial complex.

In all fairness this was one of the hardest areas for me to accept about someone like Ron Paul. I'd grown accustomed to thinking it was part of being conservative to believe the military/foreign policy is one thing that should remain more or less un-checked. However, like I said I'm a history buff, and have recently become fascinated with the Cold War era. I have ideas for a screenplay set during the Cold War, and have been doing a lot of reading on the topic. Throughout the reading I've become more enlightened about some crazy foreign policy 'adventures' America has taken in it's history...and whether right or wrong, maybe we shouldn't repeat without some serious consideration...

Ron Paul has a rock-solid foundation for his beliefs. Admittedly with many conservative politicians, there is a disconnect between these ideals, and things they just simply don't like. A consistency of ideals is so important in a world of hypocrites and double standards. His beliefs are much more in line with a real conservative then any hack like Mitt Romney.

Cringe Worthy

Something you don't like or agree with should still be protected under basic principles of this country so long as it doesn't hurt anybody. It's very hard to embrace this...because we don't like people doing things we disagree with, but it's one of the most important aspects of a free society. Please tell me how 2 dudes getting married, or a stoner at a Phish concert smoking a joint, REALLY hurts your life? doesn't, you just may not like it...but nobody is coming to tell you, you can't put on civil war re-enactments because some people find it offensive.

You may have seen stickers that say "Ron Paul was right" referring to things like the mortgage bubble burst. He is right about economic matters because of an adherence to the principles of the Austrian school of economics...again that's something for a whole other blog, but watch these guys.
"Fear the Boom and Bust" a Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem
Fight of the Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round Two

It's amazing how I had no idea who F.A. Hayek was before I stumbled across these videos, yet I knew quite a bit about Keynes. It's also amazing how much more right Hayek is about economics....and nobody knows anything about him.

For what it's worth I throw my support behind Ron Paul. He's real, he's honest, and he's what we need at this time.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and although this is a longer post in comparison, I've only briefly skimmed the surface. I'd be happy to expand upon anything, and I welcome and thoughts/responses.

-Robert Dopf

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Des Moines Art Festival 2011

DSM Art Festival 2011
Friday night Bob and I ventured downtown to attend The Des Moines Art Festival. If you've never been, or have NO idea what I'm talking about, check out the website. Apparently the 2010 Festival won the International Festivals and Events Association Gold Grand Pinnacle Award! Trying saying that 5 times fast. Basically Des Moines knows how to rock it!

Bob and I have missed the last couple years of the Art Festival, so we wanted to make sure we got to go this year. As we perused around the displays, we quickly realized that EVERYTHING was out of our price range! Things were so expensive we were afraid to take pictures! But we did snap a few.

Coolest pinwheels ever!

Made with everything from metal to glass!

A garden on Grand Avenue? Sure, why not.

This year's interactive art was a giant ice cream cone.
One of the coolest things I saw, that I could actually capture on film without feeling like I had to pay first. Old Des Moines Register headlines.... It was pretty amazing to see some of these historic headlines and wonder how people in Des Moines felt when they saw the paper that day.

Man Walks on the Moon. I'm a complete Space nerd so I was just in awe over this one.
Not all Space headlines are happy ones- The Challenger crash.

One year after 9/11- Can you believe its going to be 10 years this September?

The Flood of 1993, Bob's family packed up and left for the Ozarks when Des Moines lost water.

The Trans-Atlantic Flight.

The Kennedy Assassination

This headline was probably the most eerie, this paper was from June 2001, just months before 9/11 happened.

A closer look at the headline- if we only knew was was just a few months on the horizon.

On a happier note, 2002-2003 season bowl preview. Brad Banks!

Pearl Harbor- in the age of the internet its hard to remember a time when we didn't find out news THAT same day.

The end of WWII.

Does anyone else remember the Septuplets?

I had no idea the Pope has been to DSM! I wonder if he had his Pope-mobile then?

The sinking of the Titanic, almost 100 years ago now. Check out the paper name  "The Register and Leader"

Nixon Resigns
WWII ends in the Pacific.

The Gulf War.

The weather was perfect Friday night to walk around downtown and see all the amazing art, even though we couldn't afford any of it. We ended up eating at Django for the first time as well. Their hamburgers have been voted 'best hamburger' in the city, so Bob was very eager to try one. I fell in love with the tomato artichoke bisque! I highly recommend trying it out sometime if you live in the DSM area. Downtown is a wonderful place to be at night when events are going on and especially when the weather is perfect (shocker I know it wasn't raining here for once, but don't worry it poured on Saturday).

The outdoor seating next to the Starbucks on Locust, where my friends at Wells Fargo and I would eat lunch quite often.
Downtown Library.

Homemade Beer!

It was 4 or 5 years ago that my sister bought me a "Mr. Beer Home Brewery Kit". I was in college...and she understood that guys in college enjoy beer, so it was a good gift. The problem was that I was probably too busy drinking 'already made beer' to spend the time to make my own. I thought it would be a labor intensive process to get it going, and living in a dirty apartment with multiple guys, I figured I'd screw it the Mr. Beer kit made it's way to my parents garage, where it sat for years.

When visiting my parents I saw it, and decided it would be entertaining and fun to actually try it out. The box was dirty and covered with cobwebs. I pulled out the contents inside. 4 or 5 years in a garage, exposed to the elements, as well as the expiration date of the beer materials of 2009...made me realize that I needed to get a new 'refill' to start fresh. I figured the beer would turn out pretty awful if I tried to brew it.

Since nobody around here sells the Mr. Beer refills I turned to amazon, and ordered the "Whispering Wheat Weizenbier" I love wheat beer, and have heard it's one of the easiest to make and have it turn out good. It showed up in a couple business days, and I got right to work.

Beer requires absolute sanitary conditions. Any rogue 'microbes/germs' or any off/foreign substances can ruin a batch of beer, making it taste awful. This must be what happens at the "Lacrosse Light" brewery every time.

Worst beer in existence

Since everything must be clean. You start the process by sanitizing the keg and all the utensils you'll be needing. The kit and refills come with a great cleanser that you slosh around inside the keg, let it sit for a few minutes, and then slosh again. It's important to run a little through the spigot to make sure that's clean too.

Once you have everything cleaned you're ready to start brewing. The first step is to have the keg ready, filled with cold water, because shortly you'll be pouring in near boiling water/mixture. Before you boil anything you start by mixing in the 'booster' to a pot of water. This will help boost the overall flavor and alcohol of the beer. Once it's all dissolved, the mixture is brought to a boil, and then removed from heat.

While the mix is still warm the can of beer flavoring is poured in and mixed. This is thoroughly mixed, and then poured into the keg.

Once it's in the keg, you fill it up to the line with cool water. Add the brewing yeast. Wait 5 minutes and stir aggressively...Then put that aggression away for 2 weeks along with the keg, let it do it's thing. I stored my keg on a rack in my closet. It's important that it's away from any direct sunlight, and at a fairly steady temperature. During the brewing/fermenting stage you can add things like orange for example to enhance the flavors. Since this is my first time, I didn't want to screw anything up. If this turns out alright, will have to try experimenting a little more.
Just have to wait...watching paint dry is fun!
The next step is bottling the beer, which will come once it's brewed for around 2 weeks. I've been saving brown bottles from beer, and am going to sanitize them all in boiling water to prepare for re-use. I'll be back to follow up with the next step of the process. If this is something that turns out good, and something I enjoy I hope to make up my own recipes and make some 'hand-crafted' brews of my own...Christy and I have already started making up beer names.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Your Butt Looks Good in the Future": 15 inches and 15 lbs later....

Alright blog fans, we're reinventing the wheel...aka reviving the blog!

It's ridiculous how long we've gone without updating this thing, and its time to get to it. Blogging is like exercising, its something you just have to make time for. And as I've learned these past 2 months, both are hard to make time for!

I'm writing now to show my progress on my health and fitness, and to finally show off some (awful-to me) pictures of how I looked before and how my body is looking now. I started Yoga at the beginning of this year and have gone every week. I absolutely love Yoga and secretly when I grow up, I want to be a Yoga teacher! My attitude and stress level have changed so much since practicing it. And most of you know I've been working out at Inspire U (now called The U) since March. I learned some amazing things about myself on this adventure. Here are some of them:

*  I've learned that I had muscles that can hurt that I didn't know could hurt.
*  I've learned that my body is capable of things I did not want to ever try again (pull-ups).
*  I've learned that just because you have sweat dripping off every part of your body, doesn't mean you can't keep going for that last set, rep, or lap.
* I've learned to listen to my body, and how to alter exercises when something is hurting me (my right knee in this case). But push it when it can handle it.
* I've learned that flexibility can come back. And so can muscles!
* I've learned that the number on the scale doesn't always indicate the progress you are making.
* I've learned that I WANT TO EXERCISE. I may not always feel like it, but I want to, because I like the way I feel and look afterwards.
* I've learned that I'm far from done on this journey. Being healthy is definitely a life-long commitment and I strive to have it in every aspect of life possible.

As of this past winter I was in the 170's, within the last few months I've come back to the 150's. THE 150's!!! I haven't seen or heard from the 150's since early 2009. 2 years ago! That's just silly! It's hard to admit my weight, its not anything fun, but it gets much easier when you're in a better place and can look back and say "whoa, never going back there again!" I don't ever plan to weigh at my heaviest again till maybe I'm pregnant.

Bob and I have made huge strides in the last year in the way we eat and the products we buy. We look at the labels of food now, it's amazing what you think you're eating and its not! Maybe I'll have to do a post about some of the main things we've switched. But paying attention to things like sugar and sodium content go a long way in eating better. Now I'm not going to sit here and say I eat healthy ALL the time, that would be a complete lie. We still bake cookies and have a pizza, sometimes pop with dinner when we are eating out. In my experience if you cut those things out completely you're cheating yourself and setting yourself up for failure. You have to learn to eat things in moderation and develop tastes for healthier foods when you are on a snack rage. Yes, I probably could be down even more weight right now if I would stick to an even stricter diet. But ultimately I want this to be a lasting thing. Not a quick weight drop, only to gain it back. I'm all about sustainability here, and it seems to be working wonderfully!

Let's take a look at some photographic evidence, shall we:

September 2010- Those jeans I'm wearing in this pic, have been my "go-to jeans" for I don't know how many months- they were the biggest size I had ever bought (size 13- which depending on the brand that could mean a lot of things). My reality check was when they were on the verge of getting too tight later on in the Winter of 2010.
December 2010- Hey Everyone, I just finished 8.5 years of college and look what I got: extra weight and bloat from all the stress, late night sessions, coffee, sugar snacks and downright not taking care of myself anymore- yippee!!

Here's a really good comparison coming up:
Yikes, this is Sept 2010, fortunately or unfortunately this isn't a full length shot, so you can really see how much weight I was putting on. 

Now the good stuff: 

June 24, 2011- Bum bum ba-bummmm! Check it! 10 months later from the above shot and down 15 pounds AND 15 inches! It's ok I'll give you a second to do a double take.

I wish I could show better how that red T-shirt fits completely different now, but of course I spent a lot of time trying to cover up (or using multiple layers) how bad my stomach and other areas of my body were really getting. As I looked for more pictures to show from the past few months- I realized I haven't taken that many, and rarely any that showed my body. It's easier to just not document than it is to face how you look (and ultimately feel).

Here are some picture comparisons from all the way back in February 2010 (I wasn't even at my heaviest yet!)

 Left picture is from February 2010, Right picture is June 24, 2011. I was definitely not at my heaviest in Feb 2010, but I also didn't have the muscle tone that I have now (and it's still a work in progress).


 Top picture February 2010, bottom picture June 24, 2011. My ribs stick out like the used to- who thought I'd ever be happy to see that again!

 Left again Feb 2010, and right pic June 24, 2011. I should have done a flexing arm shot, haha cuz I got some guns again! I can't even believe I let myself stay that way for so long!

The final rundown of what I have lost during my 90 days at Inspire U:

chest: -1.5 inches
waist: -3.5 inches
hips: -4.5 inches
arms: -1 inch
thighs: -3 inches
calf: -1.5 inches

Total: -15 inches

And my weight since Winter 2010:

Weight: -15 lbs.
The best part is, there were a lot of times working out everyday of the week just didn't pan out like I had hoped. Bad knees, work training, funerals, sickness, just plain exhaustion all happen. Life happens. Another very important thing I have learned through all this is that if you fall off the wagon for a few weeks, its ok, get back up and keep going. Don't stop! I find myself feeling crazy antsy now when I don't workout. I'm doing a running clinic next week with The U, and I'm really excited to start running again this summer. My goal is to keep working out on my own through the next few months and hit up some classes when I can. If I can make this kind of progress in just a sort amount of time, its just going to keep getting better and better. 
June 24, 2011
Here's to the progress I've made, and the next inches and pounds to come....OFF! 
(Oh yeah and to being a brunette again!)

 P.S. Bob says Hi! Stay tuned for his beer brewing blog update coming this weekend!