Christmas 2015

What a difference a year makes!

Last year at this time I had just resolved a year long “crisis of faith” started by the passing of my father on Christmas day 2014. I had recommitted myself to a new fitness regimen by simply walking more and I had been re-diagnosed with Crohn’s.  And, this blog was less than a month old. So much has happened since then…

First, and most importantly, I still have my faith. This has and continues to be sorely tested given all the horrible events that we have witnessed in 2015 both world wide and at home. But, I have an understanding that God provides us with the tools to be better human beings. It is not up to him to solve all our problems we are not his pets. We are his children and the best way sometimes for children to learn is to allow them to figure things out for themselves. I firmly believe that if we truly commit to our faith – without perverting it for our own selfish desires and the principles of faith, hope and charity – the world would be a better place, regardless of your religion.

Second, my health is pretty darn good thank you. I started Humira as my only treatment for Crohn’s and this, along with watching my diet better, has proven to be a very good move. I have not had a major flare up since starting the treatment (there have been very brief “upsets”) and my energy is better than it has been for years. I’m stronger in middle age than I was in my thirties and that’s a bit of a miracle right there!

Third, I may not have achieved all my fitness goals but I’ve clearly made progress. I’m back in the weight room and rebuilding some muscle that I lost in 2014 (the tape measure and my lifts prove it) and I now not only walk but actually run. I’m even planning on doing some mountain climbing this coming June (Long’s Peak). A feat I don’t think I could have even considered a year ago. Old age isn’t for sissies as they used to say and it isn’t for being bound to a bed or a wheel chair. Stay active, stay strong, and I’ll show those tight skinned whipper snappers that a few aches and pains aren’t going to keep me down. Heck, I don’t even miss the hair on the top of my head anymore…okay, maybe a little.

Fourthly, I’ve committed to expressing my creative side in different ways. I continue with tap dancing, I’m working on my play writing again (slowly but surely), and I find time to audition for plays that I want to act in.

Fifthly, I did have some challenges and disappointments professionally this past year. But, by staying true to my work ethic and with some good fortune I’m still happily employed. The reality is that none of us is guaranteed work in this day and age regardless of how well you do your job and sometimes you are viewed as just a number on a spreadsheet. It doesn’t help to worry about it, but be smart. Keep the resume up to date and keep sharpening your skills!

And lastly, I’m talking to more people. Which has turned out to be good for me (I don’t know how the people I’ve talked to feel about it). I made a goal to not be the wall flower anymore. This has lead me to some interesting conversations with strangers and to even adding a few new friends. And thanks to social media I’ve even reconnected with people who I thought were long in my past. The only difficult part of social media is learning to ignore the negative and argumentative people…of which there seems to be an endless supply.

So, to sum up, I’m looking forward to 2016. If it’s like the past year it will be a wild ride, but I’ll be better for it. I hope you will be better for it as well.

Onward!

 

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A Year of Blogging

WordPress has told me that I’ve now been posting this blog for a year (since November 19, 2015). So I thought maybe I should reflect just a little on what’s been going on with the blog.

First and foremost, I enjoy keeping the blog. For me it is a little bit of a journal of my life and a way to occasionally vent and/or muse about things. I started out focusing only on my fitness journey but soon changed things up to cover a wide variety of topics including my life with Crohn’s disease, comic books, leadership and management, and whatever else strikes my fancy at the moment.

Here are a few stats I find interesting:

I’ve made 68 posts so far.  33 in 2014, 28 in 2015 and the rest are dated 2013 or earlier and were imported from another site.

Over 1,000 visitors (I’m sure many are repeat) have been to the site and looked at things 1,680 times.

The most views on one day occurred on December 2, 2014 with 49. The blog entry was “Peter K. Vaughn – Profile in Crohn’s Courage” from the day before.

The most popular time to read my blog is on Sundays at midnight.

I have 35 regular followers (thank you).

I’m read from all over the world now (sort of). With most views coming from the USA.  Followed by Italy (where I have a friend), then Ireland (another friend), Italy (yep, I know a guy there too), Germany, the UK, Russia, India, Switzerland, Portugal, Singapore, Pakistan, France, Croatia, Denmark, Bangladesh, Australia, Netherlands, Greece and Argentina.

In 2014 the top 5 blogs where:  “Crohn’s or No Crohn’s – a New Wrinkle (115 views),” “Peter K. Vaughn – Profile in Crohn’s Courage (58),” “Crohn’s or No Crohn’s – Step One Completed (45),” “The Day After…Thanksgiving (39),” and “A Day in the Life of a Crohn’s Flare Up (39).”

So far in 2015 they are: “A Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes (56),” “Early Inspirations (43),” “Crohn’s Update: Humira (31),” “January 25, 2015 Update (30),” and “When is an Arm Considered Big? (23).”

Overall Top 5 Posts:

Peter K. Vaughn – Profile in Courage (59 tie)
Crohn’s or No Crohn’s – A New Wrinkle (59 tie)
A Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes (56)
Reflections on A Visit With a Doctor (47)
Crohn’s or No Crohn’s – Step One Completed (45)

Not surprisingly, most of the most read posts have been in regards to my Crohn’s disease. Not the direction that I had intended for this blog, but it seems to be the one that people are interested in.  After Crohn’s fitness/bodybuilding has the most reads, social issues, and then coming in last my thoughts on management and leadership. To be fair, all the stats are not kept in WordPress as my blog is cross posted to other social media sites. So, for example, my posts on management do much better over on LinkedIn than on the site here.

So, as interesting as this all is what will I do? I’ll keep posting things as I like and hope some folks have enough interest to follow along and even comment on occasion. Watch for more about Crohn’s and fitness and I’ll be talking more about roller coasters and my play writing pretty soon.

If you’d like to see me post on a particular topic just let me know. Chances are I’ll be glad to share my thoughts and opinions (of which I have many).

Onward!

Superman and Supergirl: Observations on Character

If you are a fan of comic book super heroes it is a good time to be alive. After decades of being relegated to comic book stores and garage sales, comic book characters have hit the big time: movies, television, toys. No matter where you look there’s an Avenger, a Justice Leaguer, or some comic book themed movie or show you didn’t even realize was from a comic book (“Walking Dead” anyone?). Yep, it’s a good time to be alive…

Except when it isn’t.

One of the frequent complaints from fanboys and girls) is that whenever a character makes the leap from the printed page to the silver or small screen is that the character isn’t treated properly (just listen to the amount of complaining, grumbling, and skepticism surrounding the new Fantastic Four movie – much of it, in my opinion, justified). However, I think that there is a bigger problem and that’s when writers in the characters home medium (comic books) don’t seem to understand the characters that they are writing about either.

Now, some difference in interpretation of character is to be expected in comics. Most characters are handled by multiple writers and artists over many years, if not decades for the most popular, and let’s face it – times and expectations of the audience change. However, in some cases, the mishandling of the characters actually happens from the beginning. For example, let’s look at the last survivors of Krypton – Kal-El and Kara Zor-El aka Superman and Supergirl.

I’d be willing to wager that Superman’s origin is well known to the vast majority of the western, and possibly the rest, of the world. Rocketed as a baby by his parents, Jor-El and Lara, from the doomed planet Krypton, he was found by a kindly couple, the Kents, and raised as their own son in America’s midwest and grew up to be a reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper fighting for truth, justice and the American way.

Now a lot of this makes sense (in a comic book way). If Superman was raised on Earth in America’s heartland (Smallville, Kansas for those who don’t know) of course he has good old fashioned American values. And for several decades he was portrayed as pining away for the planet he never knew. Presumably, like the adopted child who never knew his parents he searched and did everything he could to embrace their culture without ever knowing it. This was sometime’s taken to extremes though and even dealt with in a wonderful story by Gerry Conway (I think) where Supergirl and the Kandorians (more survivors of Krypton…for a time there it appeared that only Jor-El and Lara actually died when Krypton exploded) go so far as to try and convince him that he is not actually Kryptonian and needed to stop obsessing about it. This plot was undone in part because they never came up with an explanation for Krypto (Superman’s dog) and other small loose ends. Okay, I can go with that…mostly. I actually prefer John Byrne’s interpretation that though Superman learned about Krypton’s society later in life he never really missed it – because he didn’t live it. Heck, for most of his formative years he didn’t even know where he was from!

My real issue is that Supergirl (Kara Zor-El by the way, not one of the other similar characters to be named Supergirl over the years, including a clone of Lana Lang who later was merged with a human being and became and angel…yeah, it’s complicated) has usually been portrayed as completely accepting her lot, loving people, and rarely if ever misses Krypton. The problem? To my memory every version of Kara Zor-El, including presumably the version who will be seen on CBS this fall, actually spent her formative years on Krypton! She was a teenager when sent to Earth by her father (Jor-El’s brother). She was not raised by humans, let alone in the American heartland. She is truly a stranger in a strange – and technologically primitive – land. Superman was the baby rescued when adopted. Supergirl is the refugee who’s world has been destroyed and thrown into a situation completely against her will.

To be fair, Supergirl was first created in what we would call a more innocent time when kids, not adults, actually were reading the comics. Her purpose was to not only expand the “Superman” brand (i.e. merchandising) but to draw in young girls to comic books so many of her early adventures involved romance (a trap that even Wonder Woman fell victim to, by the way).

My point in all this? Not sure I really have one. However, I think that as a writer it is important to pay attention to the origins of any character you might be writing about. Whether it is a play, a short story, novel or even comic book, you are better off if you don’t deviate from your core character without writing in a reason. And when it comes to movies about comic book characters it’s always my hope that the writers of the movie or television show remember what made a character popular for so many years. And for the writers in the comic book world to do the same,

Onward!