Thursday, October 08, 2009

Made to...?

I often wonder if I’ll ever be content with how I’m spending my life.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy where I am. I do.
It is generally gratifying and challenging and sometimes I actually feel like I’m making a difference. Life is not overly difficult right now. I have great family and friends, and I am not ungrateful for any of that.
But there is a feeling that burns in my chest that there is something bigger that I am supposed to be doing-that I’m using a small fraction of the potential we all are given.

I think part of it is that I’ve met some pretty amazing people over the past few weeks that I’m secretly really jealous of.
One guy, Chad, decided at age 17, that he was going to clean up the rivers of the United States. He started with a single boat, piling trash in his parent’s backyard. And now he has a major cleanup operation with a full crew, barges, a tugboat, a soon-to-be-aired TV series, and a host of national honors and awards. I met another guy, Paul, who started his own custom heavy equipment fabrication shop and now has a government grand-funded side project of building a biomass-burning furnace that could heat a whole block of homes on nothing more than mulched waste wood products for over a week at a time, unattended. It doesn’t stop there though. He’s already making and selling a dozen other products created from what other throw away and has plans to open biomass processing centers across the U.S., built from other discarded materials (I won’t give away all his secrets).
I hear people tell their stories about serving the poor, the oppressed, and the orphans in places half way around the world and how life-altering it is. How a group of unlikely, untrained, and seemingly naïve missionaries visits a place in the desert and the next thing you know, the ambassador of some far off place is coming to their home in Wisconsin to talk about foreign policy.

I just don’t have that kind of vision. And when I hear others speak of their plans and dreams that they are actually chasing and believing, I feel….mundane. Average. That I am wasting the days I have been given.
Isn’t there something more?

And am I so caught up in this fever-paced, calendar-ized, rush through one thing to get to the next, life that I’m missing it?

What have I been created to do?

And if I find that thing, how do jump from this race and chase after it?

Monday, October 05, 2009

A conversation on sustainability.

Justin R. Gansc...adam. killer idea. 3:42:59 PM
Adam J. Sharpl...what 3:43:22 PM
Justin R. Gansc...BUFFALO. 3:43:45 PM
let's turn the quad into prairie grass (as it once was) and get some freakin buffalo out there! 3:43:58 PM
who doesn't love buffalo? and the campus is already fenced in! 3:44:06 PM

Adam J. Sharpl...YEs 3:44:07 PM
Justin R. Gansc...can you get me on Mark's calendar?! 3:44:21 PM
Adam J. Sharpl...then we can make money off of selling the meat to restaurants 3:44:32 PM
Justin R. Gansc...mmmmmmmmmooooooo 3:45:23 PM
and we can launch a campaign with a slogan that plays off that of our big green competitor- "Nothing Runs Like a......Buffalo". 3:45:31 PM

Adam, we can't NOT do this. 3:46:24 PM
Adam J. Sharpl...and we can get Buffalo Wild Wings to take a bunch of pictures out here 3:46:29 PM
which means free BW's 3:46:36 PM
have you been getting into the hazardous chemicals 3:46:37 PM
Justin R. Gansc...mmmmm.....wings 3:46:43 PM
why do you ask? 3:47:31 PM

Adam J. Sharpl...because you must be high 3:47:52 PM
Justin R. Gansc...soo...i'm sensing that you are not as enthusiastic about the buffalos. are you a racist? 3:48:09 PM
what do you have against bovine? 3:48:27 PM
this is directly in line with Vision 2020 3:48:44 PM

Adam J. Sharpl...racist 3:48:49 PM
not so much rac-ist 3:48:53 PM
as racial 3:49:04 PM
who does being racist apply to buffalo 3:49:10 PM
Justin R. Gansc...reduce greenhouse gases by reducing mowing. reduce water consumption by reducing irrigation. boost morale. etc. etc. 3:49:25 PM
if i have to spell it out for you, then....jeez.... 3:49:25 PM

Adam J. Sharpl...omg 3:49:28 PM
you're serious 3:49:30 PM
alright 3:49:32 PM
lets do it 3:49:33 PM
Justin R. Gansc...ADAM 3:49:35 PM
yes 3:49:37 PM
hooray! 3:49:38 PM

Adam J. Sharpl...I'm only here till January 3:49:40 PM
so yep 3:49:42 PM
buffalo 3:49:46 PM
done and done 3:49:51 PM
Justin R. Gansc...can we order buffalo through mysupplycabinet? 3:49:55 PM
Adam J. Sharpl...YEs 3:49:56 PM
Justin R. Gansc...get mandy w on the phone 3:49:59 PM
we need her charge number 3:50:08 PM
DO IT NOW! 3:50:08 PM

Adam J. Sharpl...and keep their dung in zebra tubs 3:50:13 PM
Justin R. Gansc...compost, baby 3:50:19 PM
zebra tubs are only for zebra dung 3:50:33 PM
have to keep waste streams segregated. 3:50:35 PM
it's the law. 3:51:38 PM

i hope you are dialing the phone and that is why you are not responding. 3:51:41 PM
adam? 3:51:44 PM
hello? 3:51:56 PM

Adam J. Sharpl...yes 3:52:02 PM
i've gotten Tana on the phone 3:52:04 PM
she says go ahead 3:52:05 PM
Justin R. Gansc...look, if you are not onboard with the buffalo, i'll find someone else. and we'll share the glory. 3:52:08 PM
Adam J. Sharpl...order 200 buffalo 3:52:12 PM
Justin R. Gansc...SUCCESS! 3:52:19 PM
Adam J. Sharpl...we've made buffalo possible 3:52:26 PM
Justin R. Gansc...dude, there's no way the quad will support a herd of that size
3:52:36 PM

there will be much gnashing of teeth 3:52:36 PM
Adam J. Sharpl...our safety number are buffalo targets 3:52:57 PM
Justin R. Gansc...we also have to take breeding season into consideration 3:53:24 PM
no one is allowed to wear brown clothing or hats with horns during the months of august-october 3:54:09 PM
things could get ugly. 3:54:20 PM
and our RIF could potentially skyrocket 3:54:30 PM
but I think it would be worth it 3:55:41 PM
I'm placing the order.....NOW.

Friday, July 03, 2009

From the news room...

L.E., Peoria, IL writes:

What up playa? (A friend) and I have been talking about working to drop some lbs. I wanted to talk to an expert, so I tried several other people and they were unavailable. I thought I would ask you. I am looking to tone up, maybe try and see my six pack, and still maintain my mass. Since you are taking every supplement, I wanted to see what your advice would be. If you could let me know I would appreciate it.

Dear L.E.,

Before delving into my recommendations, I’d like to clear something up. While I do supplement my diet (something I’ll later discuss in further detail), I stick to natural, non-hormonal proteins, nutrients and molecules to stimulate muscle growth and repair. Anything else is just cheating and ultimately wreaking havoc on your body.
Furthermore, I am far from being an expert in anything. I have been lifting weights since my senior year of high school, when I was 6’1” and about 140lbs (now ten years later I can curl more than that!). So the advice that I dole out comes from learning along the way what has and has not worked for me. I give no guarantees that what has proven successful for me and my body type will work for all others.

With those disclaimers out of the way, here are my Top Keys to physical success:

1. Diet.
I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. But I’m not talking about cutting your food intake. When most people want to drop pounds, they stop eating. Bad idea. This signals your body that you are in “famine mode.” You’ll actually begin metabolizing muscle cells in the absence of other calories to burn. The key is to replace any high-calorie, low-value “food” (fast food hardly qualifies as nutrition) with high-protein, low-fat items. You should be consuming at least 1 gram of protein for every 1 pound of body weight. The big guys are eating at least 2-3gm for every pound of body weight! I drink an energy-boosting Shaklee soy protein shake before each workout and use a Shaklee Physique shake after each workout for muscle cell repair.

Eat your vegetables-especially green ones. Vegetables contain essential nutrients for building and repairing muscle cells after a workout. I also take Shaklee multivitamins, herbal energy supplements, and alfalfa. All work together during and after an intense session in the gym to rebuild muscle (notice a theme here?).

Good sources of carbs are fruits and natural fruit juices. Skip on the big ticket sugary items-like brownies and beer. Sorry.

The bottom line is that your goal is to build muscle. Muscle burns calories. If you’re goal is to loose some weight, make sure you’re burning more calories than you are consuming-but don’t skimp on your food consumption. Just make good choices.

2. Training. There are thousands of routines out there that fitness gurus (or salespeople) will swear by. As previously stated, there is no guarantee that what works for me will work for you with the same results. So I’m not going to give you a day-to-day, set-to-set list of exercises to abide by. But consider your workout frequency, duration, and intensity. I hit the gym 5 or 6 days a week, workout for an average of 1.5 hours per session, and use a pre-workout supplement to give an added kick in energy and stamina.

I find it very beneficial to mix up the routine every month or so. Otherwise your body-and more importantly, your mind-gets bored. You’ll plateau physically and mentally and it will be harder to convince yourself to perform or even make the drive to the gym. Switch the muscle groups you work on any given day and/or the number of times you work each muscle group in a week. For instance, work opposing muscle groups (chest/back, biceps/triceps) for awhile and then mix it up (chest/triceps, back/biceps, etc.). Some people have had great results combining circuit training routines in with weight lifting. If you need some new ideas or techniques, check out websites like, where you can customize a workout plan or get descriptions of exercises with pictures for proper form. If you’re really crazy (like myself), you can check out a DVD of the Mr. Olympia competitors getting ready for competition. It provides some added motivation and you’ll see lifts that will cause your fellow gym-goers to ask what the heck you are doing!

3. Timing. For years, I worked out in the evening. I honestly didn’t know that 5 o’clock came around twice a day. But when I started working two jobs a couple years ago my evenings were too busy to allow for gym time. And that was unacceptable. My only real option was a morning workout. It was difficult at first-maybe for a week or two. But then it just became normal. And I started seeing results-better results than my prior evening routines. As a biologist, I could tell you that it’s because of the circadian rhythm of certain hormones that peak in the wee hours of the morning that prepare the body for an optimal thrashing. But I think it’s simpler than that. I’ve not yet been drained physically and mentally by a day at the office. I’m fresh. I’m ready. And afterwards, there’s a feeling of euphoria that even a day of auditing is hard to quench. But again, it’s up to you to obey that alarm clock for the first week until you’ve adjusted.

4. Accountability. This can make or break you in many areas of life and it comes in many forms. I’ve had workout partners in the past. Some were good, others less than beneficial, and some were just annoying. So choose wisely. Your partner should be someone that shares the same goal. So if you’re there to work, they shouldn’t be a gawker and a talker. As I mentioned in our conversation last night, success in the gym takes focus. I believe you jokingly replied, “I don’t know the definition of focus.” To which I responded, “Without focus, you’ll have no definition!” But I’m serious.
Find someone who will push your limits and be sure to do the same for them.
However, I prefer to workout on my own. I just seem to get more done in the limited time I have in the morning. And my accountability partner in the gym is the mirror. I’m not trying to be vain. Seriously. But personally, building a strong physique is about physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. It’s a discipline. It’s something I dedicate time, thought and a whole lot of energy to. So if I’m not pushing myself, I notice. And that is enough to kick it up a notch or two.

I met a guy at the gym this morning named Buzz. He stopped me between sets on the leg curl machine to comment on how empty the gym was on a Friday morning (maybe a lack of accountability in the general population). Buzz noted in our conversation that he’s been lifting weights for 62 years and is currently an octogenarian! The man doesn’t look a day over 68! His commitment to fitness allows him to be an avid scuba diver, pick up his grandkids, and generally enjoy life. Great testimony.

So there you have it. I don’t know what its worth. Maybe nothing. But for the past ten years, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that what you do outside the gym walls is just as important as what you do within them. Eat well, rest well. And then work harder than your mind tells you your body is capable when you’re under that barbell or pulling those plates against gravity. One last thing: if a big sweaty guy with a mullet and a Mickey Mouse tanktop asks you to watch his gym bag while he takes a potty break, do it. It may save your life.

See you out there!

Monday, June 15, 2009

CAT Announcement Received Today

Downtown Peoria: Update regarding recent red-winged blackbird attacks (Peoria Area)
Throughout the past two weeks, red-winged blackbirds have attacked several Caterpillar employees outside the AB Building. These attacks have created a safety concern for pedestrian traffic, predominantly along the intersection of Washington Street and Main Street. The protective birds had been responding aggressively to activity around their nest and hatchlings. Caterpillar has taken action to prevent further attacks on employees.

Caterpillar obtained a Nuisance Animal Removal Permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to remove and relocate the nest, as the bird is protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The tree where the nest had been located has also been thinned in order to discourage future nesting.

The Nuisance Animal Removal Permit is valid for 30 days, and Caterpillar will continue to remove future nests to prevent future disturbances. If you have any questions, or need to report an attack, please contact Corporate Security.

Monday, June 08, 2009

the Word which lives outside the book.

I had never thought of the bible as being God, just as a biography about John Lennon does embody the man. But there is difference. Lennon's book has a final chapter. While some may contest that he lives on through his music and his influence, his spirit, alas, has departed. But God is ever-present. His likeness is not bound beneath the ink on the pages...

God reveals in John 14...

15"If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

25"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

There are some schools (or churches) of thought that place the final power and authority in the bible. If all believed this to be true, then there would be no reformations, no "protestants". After all, if a discrepancy were to arise between believers, why not just consult the final authority. But what if the answer isn't there? Or the human that interprets the 1st century text from a 21st century viewpoint gets it wrong? Where's the authority lie then?

I believe that the bible is extremely valuable. It lets us followers of the Christ know where we came from. It paints a portrait of our God and gives us glimpses of what it means to truly live, filled with Him.
I can't live with glimpses. with snapshots. with a few frames of a movie that is to last a lifetime.

God came to earth. He lived, He died. And the Spirit lives on. It is with this Spirit that should and does have the ultimate authority. It is a conduit to the Father. And when Spirit-filled people come together in a community and allow the Spirit to grow and flow out of that community, a revolution of extraordinary things is possible!

Studying the text of the bible is good, but living out what is possible through the Spirit is earth-shattering. As I continue to learn and meld, I pray that I become less so He can become more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the j-o-b. and other stuff.

I've been extremely blessed to have thus far weathered the economic storm untouched. The week before our group had a one-week layoff downtown, I was transferred to my "facility rotation" at the Tech Center in Mossville. In the meantime, 5 of my coworkers (including my supervisor), were laid off indefinitely. Myself and the other two rotation participants were told that since we are "the future of the company", they decided to keep us for the time being.
Last week it was announced that our facility would join another in creating the first "regional campus" and that I would become a permanent Tech Center employee as the Hazardous Materials Coordinator on May 1. It couldn't have come at a better time!

Easter this year has been a wonderful time of reflection. What a difference a year makes. One short year ago, I was working frantically to finish my Master's degree thesis-five years in the making. I was in a job that was barely covering the bills-and often came up short. I was trying to figure out how to save enough money to get married. Life was good, but it was hard.
Things have changed. I have a beautiful, wonderful wife. I've traded two jobs for one that pays more than double. And just received a promotion nine months in. I'm blessed to be part of a growing community called Imago Dei and it is exciting! Life is good. And it's easier.

I hope to blog more often. We'll see.

Knockin the frost of the tires.

After work this evening I drove to the gym, just as I do every evening. But when I pulled into the lot, a buddy of mine drove up next to me and said the power was out and wouldn't be back on anytime soon. So I turned around and drove back home. I had already taken my "pre-workout magic drink", so I HAD to do something. Although it was only about 37 degrees out, I decided to pull the bike out from the back of the garage, air up the tires, and put a few miles on.

I took a new route and ended up on a street that dead-ended at Springdale Cemetery. There was a well-worn trail through the row of trees that lined the boundary of the expansive site, so I followed it in and got on the main road, winding down a valley and then up a hill to the top of the bluff. Within a few short minutes, the sounds of the city around me were drowned out by the soft cracking of gravel under the tires and a choir of songbirds roosting in the massive trees that rise up from the monument-studded landscape. It was beautiful.

The sting of crisp clean air in my lungs as my legs churned the pedals up the inclines. The trees rushing past, weaving and dodging the puddles in the broken blacktop on the downhill sections. I felt like a kid again. And any stress from my busy day had vanished.

I made my way to the other end of the cemetery, around the back of Glen Oak Park, and up past the Zoo before returning home. I must do this more often.

maybe when it warms up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009