There’s nothing more magical than traipsing through a beautiful park in Barcelona and stumbling across a couple hardcore dry-humping in the middle of the day. Classy, Europe.


There are a lot of things I’ve accepted as normal occurrences in life. A theme I’ve been toying with recently is looking at conventions with new eyes. One thing that will never sound right again is the fake laughter in sitcoms.

I don’t know if it’s just so artificial and forced sounding or if it’s just so incessant, but either way, once you notice it, you’ll never stop hearing it and wondering how hollow and foreign it really is. It’s like that friend you have that is a pathological liar. His or her woppers become so predictable and preposterous that you begin asking them questions that you know the answer to merely to enjoy whatever outrageous embellishment, braggadocio, or general douchebaggery they’ll summon for you.

I have no doubts that there will be a special brand of hell reserved for liars and poor comedians where everything they say is met by exaggerated guffaws and empty praise on loop.

Belated New Year’s Resolutions for 2011

No doubt you’re puzzled by a post about New Year’s Resolutions in the middle of February (yes, February is spelled with an ‘r’ after the ‘b’). I did that on purpose, so that you would be reminded of the promises you made to yourself (that’s a complete lie; I’ve just procrastinated writing about it, even though I do think it will serve as a good reminder, but that’s a theme we’ll discuss later in this nugget). Here are my goals for 2011 in no particular order:

1. Low expectations.

I’m not talking ‘low’ as in Negative Nancy/I’m going to be a huge wet blanket on everyone I know and cry in the corner listening to Dashboard Confessional. I’m talking about having no expectations. It’s impossible to experience disappointment unless you already had a false expectation of what would happen.

I didn’t like Napoleon Dynamite. At all. Was it because it was a bad movie? No, it was because for 2 or 3 years straight, I had the entire movie quoted to me repeatedly and was told by everyone that it was better than sliced bread. I saw it, and it was clever and entertaining, but I probably would have liked it a lot more if I didn’t know anything about it. How many broken hearts (mine, not others *cough cough* my fiancée *cough cough*) would I have dodged if I had used this in dating?

2. Simplify.

This was a theme from last year, that I’ve tried to improve even more upon. Last year, I sold my Xbox, my electric guitar, my digital SLR, and a few other things I had that I either didn’t use much or didn’t “need” anymore. I want to take that further this year.

3. Get in shape.

I’ve always heard it’s not the years, it’s the miles. If that were so, 2010 was a year of hard living on the BurtonMobile. I put on about 10 pounds of pure fat while losing most of my muscle mass and metabolic conditioning on my way to getting literally zero exercise the whole year and eating burritos and pizza like a Hispanic-Roma hybrid. I guess you could say I was fat and happy, even though it’s tough to be happy when your fat rolls are staring at you every time you get out of the shower.

I’ve cut 20 pounds doing Paleo (10 of it was water weight, 10 was fat) and am leaner than I have been in years. Now I’m starting weights and cardio to get in really great shape.

5. Read and pray every day.

Ah, another part of my life that lapsed into obscurity in 2010. You would think the two most fundamental things to a Christian would have more precedence, but my own needs were met time and again before these two. I’ve been doing a red letter study (only the words of Jesus) with my friends Brian and Andy, and it has given me new eyes for the Gospel and stories I’ve read a hundred times. Once again, attitude dictates reality.

6. Gluten Free year, Paleo 99%.

I plan on going the whole year free of gluten (barring accidental exposure), and doing Paleo almost 100% (cheat meal every 3 or 4 weeks, gluten free of course!). I’m excited for how healthy I feel and how much better it will get.

7. No texting and Driving. Like being a registered sex offender, this is one of those things you really don’t feel warm and fuzzy about admitting on the internet. I admit, I do it. I justify it by “only doing it at red lights” or whatever shallow ruse I can summon to deceive myself, but the fact of the matter is that it is remarkably selfish behavior that is unbelievably short-sighted in the grand scheme of things.

8. No procrastination.

If ever there was a gold standard for a vice that has caused  a lot of small-ranging-to-humongous FAIL-trains in my life, this is it. Everything from cleaning my room or filling up my gas tank to filling out important paper work that will determine the rest of my life is like pulling teeth for me to get started on. I don’t understand why, but I’m sure it means I have some deeply planted psychological complex for using it as a defense mechanism to avoid failure. Perhaps my subconscious logic is “You can’t fail if you don’t try” (even if that means I just fail in a roundabout way by never accomplishing anything).  This introspection was already written about here.

9. Less sarcasm/cynicism.

I’ve always labeled myself a realist. Most people seem to think that’s just a polite term for a cynic, but I do believe there is a difference. Realists try to see the world for what it is, especially taking care to remove their own opinions or biases from what is pure and objective fact. Obviously, this is difficult to do all the time, and many times I’ve found myself toeing the line on into cynicism and negativity.

Ah, cynicism—the god of mockers and naysayers everywhere. Cynics are people who overflow with witty remarks and criticisms, but never seem to apply their intellect to offering solutions or encouragement. While constructive criticism is a remarkable tool for making corrections and helping someone out, cynicism offers a proverbial kick to the groin of whomever it is directed against.

If cynicism is the god of mockers, sarcasm is cynicism’s gift to them. Middle school served as a trial by fire for developing my wit, while high school served as a graduate school for throwing in zingers under my breath or belittling people in front of everyone else. In A Separate Peace, John Knowles says, “It was long after that I recognized sarcasm as the protest of people who are weak.” If that’s true (and I know it is), I am weaker than most.

10. Cut the technology.

It seems the older I get, the more I see the role that technology plays in destroying the community I have with loved ones. My friends and I get together so that we can sit in a room and watch football while we all text our girlfriends and play on Twitter or other apps. I can’t think of a greater sense of false intimacy short of having sex with your spouse but telling them to wear a bag over their head.

One of my favorite things in the world is to go to my buddy Aaron’s farm/ cabin and hangout. Our cell phones usually don’t have service. There is no TV, no internet. It’s dark, sometimes scary, and all we can do is eat terrible food, tell stories, and have stupid discussions about life, God, and probably inappropriate things. All we have is each other, and it’s the purest sense of community I’ve ever felt. I don’t know if that’s sad, or if we’re all so far gone that we don’t even see what’s going on.

When I was in Europe for 3 months, it was so incredible to have 3 months of freedom from the leash that I call a phone. Can you imagine a world where people had to show up to meetings of coffee or dinner because there was no way to text and say, ‘sry dude. i had something 2 do tat jus came up. i cant make it 2 ur place’? You’re already forming mental images of all the Frosted Flakes you have for friends that bail on you as soon as they find something better.

Either way, I’m cutting the internet off my phone, using the internet primarily for learning vs. wasting away on Facebook, and trying to be very intentional about staying off my phone while I’m with friends.

*On a side note, does it bother you that I only did 10 resolutions, even though it would have been really cute to say something like, ‘Here are my 11 for ‘11!’?

That awkward moment


when it’s not the droid you are looking for

My thoughts are free, who can guess them?
They flee by like nocturnal shadows.
No man can know them, no hunter can shoot them,
with powder and lead: my thoughts are free.

I think what I want, and what delights me,
still always reticent, and as it is suitable.
My wish and desire, no man can deny me
and so it will always be: my thoughts are free.

And if I am thrown into the darkest dungeon,
all this would be futile work,
because my thoughts tear all gates
and walls apart. my thoughts are free.

So I will renounce my sorrows forever,
and never again will torture myself with some fancy ideas.
In one’s heart, one can always laugh and joke
and think at the same time: my thoughts are free.

I love wine, and my girl even more,
Only I like her best of all.
I’m not alone with my glass of wine,
my girl is with me: my thoughts are free.

The Paleo Diet

Two weeks ago I embarked on an experiment to figure out if there is any truth to the Paleo diet (as in “daily intake of food” kind of diet, not just a way to lose weight). This diet piqued my interest because the guy i heard it from (Adam Ticknor) is a personal trainer/retired Marine scout sniper and was in great shape. No diet has ever sucked me in before because they are not geared toward athletes and feature emaciated models who probably don’t eat anything. You can learn some more about it on Adam’s blog and decide for yourself.

To give you perspective, my diet has always been “great” as considered by current advisories of nutrition. I eat a lot of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and low fat milk. All of it is organic, and I never eat fast food or cokes.

But before I go over the results, here are some of the highlights of the theory behind Paleo, so that you can have a brief idea of what it’s about:

*     The rules are simple: you can only eat meat, veggies, fruits, and nuts. No dairy (until your gut heals), grains, (Yes that includes OMG WTF!?! WHOLE GRAINS TOO!?!?!?!?!?!) or legumes.

*     The USDA food pyramid is horse crap. Bear in mind it was produced in 1994 and modeled on research older than that. It’s produced by the United States Department of Agriculture, the regulatory body created to ensure that the U.S. agricultural commodities (like corn, soy, and wheat) are profitable (small conflict of interest?). It is this same body that is responsible for most of the “nutritional” information being taught.

*     Grains and sugars are generally high glycemic foods that trigger your body to release insulin, which signals the body to store fat and slowly increase insulin resistance (you may have heard of a “rare“disease called Type II diabetes here in the US).

*     Many foods (grains especially) contain gluten, a protein that appears in many grains (and an astonishing amount of everyday foods). Gluten aggravates the native flora of your intestinal tract/gut (see celiac disease), causing a variety of problems until the gut can heal itself. Many autoimmune diseases and bowel problems (Chrohn’s, IBS, celiac, etc..) have been completely resolved by following a Paleo diet.

*     Here’s an illustration to understand why grains are bad: most fruits “want” to be eaten. Why? Because when the animal (or American fatso) eats them and takes a crap, they’re spreading the seeds (which are protected from our stomach acids and enzymes) and even are so polite as to fertilize them. Grains are the opposite. If they are consumed, that is the end of the road. They will not survive the stomach and will be rendered inert in the feces. Thus, the grains have natural toxins in them to discourage being eaten (Most of you will see the word “toxins” and think, ‘well gee, I haven’t rolled over dead from poisoning.’ Not those kind of toxins; think “irritants”). Notice how organic meat is grass fed instead of grain fed? The principle is the same.

*     Eating fat does not make you fat, and it is in fact both beneficial and necessary. It is the carbs from grains that cause this. Carbs, whether complex or simple are ultimately turned into glucose, which again causes increased insulin levels and storage of fat. Notice how most people eating low fat/lots of whole grains can’t lost any weight?

*     Your body can use both proteins and fats to make glucose (rather than carbs), which is necessary for brain function.

If you know anything about nutrition, you know that the previous highlights are the equivalent of telling a mathematician that 2 + 2 does not equal 4; it is both shocking and difficult to believe.

That is why I have offered my body up as a human experiment.

I began this experiment weighing in at 180 pounds. I was not in very good shape (by my standards), but certainly not overweight at 6’1; most people would call me “skinny”.

Within 7 days I hit 172. Yes, that is 8 pounds dropped in 7 days.

My initial instinct told me it was merely water weight, but that proved to be incorrect.

Not only did my weight stay there, but as the diet continued, I lost even more weight eventually bottoming out at 170 at the end of the 2 weeks. A concerted effort was made to eat similar portion sizes in order to be getting the same number of calories, and I also abstained from exercise.

How did I feel?

The first few days were rough, I won’t lie. No matter how much food I ate, I felt constantly hungry. I didn’t have much energy, and my head felt cloudy. If you’ve ever fasted it was very similar in nature.

Obviously it is difficult to withhold yourself from most of your favorite foods. In The Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf discusses that there are receptors that are bound by carbs that are the same ones that bind heroin and cocaine, so you can be literally addicted to those foods. This definitely seemed true because of how crappy I felt. According to Robb, this is also the period that your gut is healing.

After several days of this, it seemed to clear up. I felt great, I wasn’t tired after work, and I was sleeping well. My pooping became very regular, and was always firm and required no toilet paper (I still wiped just to be sure ;).

Don’t say I was never real with you….

Toward the end of the diet, my body began adjusted, and I was craving healthier foods.

As a point of interest, I did violate the diet once. Just over a week into the diet, I ate at a dinner that was being held for my cousin, and not wanting to be insulting, I ate a couple rolls and some grits.

Guess what happened?

Within an hour of the meal I had fairly intense bloating, which was followed by loose stool. The day after I catered a wedding. I had to poop 4 times during it, and with 0 being “the meat in that burrito looked really undercooked” and 10 being “did someone just hit me in the balls with a baseball bat?” my stomach felt somewhere between 8 or 9.

The biggest overall problem is the sheer shock of trying to view food completely differently. Cooking is pretty easy when you can always make a casserole, throw some meat and cheese on some bread, or throw a pizza in the oven. Your menu significantly shrinks when you can’t have grains or dairy. I had no clue how many carbs I was eating, not just on a daily basis but every meal.

I found myself eating a lot of plain veggies, fruits, meats, and nuts. Water gets old after awhile. Sharing a fridge with people that are not bound by the same rules makes it even more difficult. As you eat your broccoli, asparagus, squash, and trout while everyone else is eating burritos, burgers, and pizza, it is a bit demoralizing.

I purchased a Paleo cookbook and have learned some new tricks about trying to spice things up (literally). I found that if you prepare a lot of your food over the weekend, you’ll be a lot less tempted to crumble when you come home from work hungry and tired.

What are the implications?

I was blown away by the amount of fat I cut (and that was without exercise). I was consuming more meat than usual (and thus more fat), and still lost weight. I think the information about high glycemic foods is fairly obvious and is even available on Wikipedia. It’s a simple logical deduction that if something makes you fat, it’s probably not good.

My system is probably a bit more sensitive than most (my Grandmother has Celiac disease), so maintaining a 100% strict Paleo diet is maybe not necessary for some. However, I would advise everyone to try it for 30 days and see how you feel. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Personally, I enjoyed the discipline of it (I have some sadistic tendencies), and I know I felt better. Since the trial stage of the diet ended, I found myself desiring foods with grains less, as my body almost seemed altered from the experience. I plan on starting the diet back soon and will post an update about my progress soon.

*As a caveat, it is of interest to note the reactions of individuals that I have discussed Paleo with. Most people react with obvious shock at the intensity of what the diet requires. Some are brave enough to admit they aren’t willing to give grains up, which is in line with most Americans (and we’re seeing how well that’s working out). It’s sad that a lot of people constantly complain about their weight, how they feel, being depressed, and when presented with an option that could help them, it is dismissed because it’s “too hard” or “it can’t be right to not eat grains.”

Being a nerd is merely applied intelligence. If you’re not a nerd, you’re probably unintelligent, insecure, or wasting your intelligence.

-My own self-serving opinion

Bucking the Trend

The other night I was watching the show Surviving the Cut on the Discovery Channel. The show examines a different branch of special forces training every week. Each group presented thus far has been driven to their breaking point and a majority of the recruits quit.

The episode in question focused on the Army Rangers. On their first day of training, the soldiers paired off and began drills to try and take their partner to the ground. The camera pans from pair to pair, but stops on one set of soldiers. The men are told to stop, and their instructor begins berating them for holding back and not giving 100%.

I sympathized with them though. It makes sense that if you are about to endure three months of pure hell, you’re going to need all the strength and energy you can have.

Almost as an evolutionary instinct, most of us rarely give 100%. We conserve and hold back with a “just in case” attitude. Whether it’s in our own physical training, our jobs, our relationships, or our bank accounts, most of us are trying just enough to get by.

Our entire generation (I guess we’re unofficially titled the Mellenials) is afflicted with a paralyzing fear of failure. I consider myself a fairly confident guy, but a cursory examination of my own past reveals quite a bit.

I remember working really hard to win a starting spot on my 8th grade football team. I was 6 feet tall, but weighed 130 pounds soaking wet. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’ve always subconsciously liked being the underdog–the only expectations placed on you are marginal at best, so naturally if you accomplish anything you appear successful compared to what the world has forecast for you.

I remember finally earning the position and our first game was coming up. I got so nervous that I threw up and felt feverish. My coaches asked me if I was alright to play. I was so afraid of starting and not doing well that I told them I wasn’t able to play.

I was a victim of my own self fulfilled prophecy; I assumed I would fail, and so I did.

You would think I would learn, but the pattern just continued in high school.

While I thought maybe some of the girls I thought were cute might have been interested in me, I convinced myself that that was a ridiculous idea, and I was just imagining things. It is for that reason I didn’t date anyone till partway through my junior year.

Feeling attractive or confident about yourself is unfortunately so dependent on your peers. I remember my mom, my mom’s friends, and even my sisters’ friends telling me I was handsome, but none of them were in my peer group, so I would brush it off, chalk it up to them trying to bolster up my insecurities, and bury it somewhere deep inside.

Looking back, I see lots of missed opportunities. It’s not like girls were throwing their tops at me as I walked down the halls, but hindsight is 20/20, and I can see several girls I could have asked out.

After my freshman year, where I started every game, the decision to play on the high school team the next year presented itself. I almost crapped my pants. I mean, seriously!? Have you seen those giant linemen? They have all these giant plates on both sides of the bench press! They have lots of pit hair and have to shave and stuff!

I was extremely close to quitting, but decided to actually give it a shot. I ended up having a blast. I was always undersized, even after I gained a lot of good weight, so I had to work harder than everyone else.

Irony of all ironies was that I broke my collarbone in spring practice of my sophomore year, strained by ACL my junior year and got a bulging disc, and then finally blew my knee out altogether the week before my first game of senior year.

But, I could care less about the variables that I can’t control. The point is that I tried, I gave it my best, and while the ending is not what I envisioned, I have no regrets.

Call me crazy, but I imagine I’m not the only one who has sold themselves short.

We all have grown up in postmodern times where everything our parents have taught us is to be questioned and there are no absolutes. While I completely disagree with that sentiment, allow me to present to you an absolute.

Stop being afraid of failing.

Work till your bones hurt. Throw you heart and soul into everything. I know your job sucks, but blow it out of the water. Paul talks so much in Corinthians about keeping your freaking mouth shut, working with your hands, and winning the respect of everyone.

Which lessons do you learn the most from? The ones where you fell on your face or where you succeeded easily on your first attempt?

When you half ass it at most of the things in your life (including the things you’re passionate about), you are going to lie on your deathbed with two fistfuls of regret.

Make a fool of yourself. Ask that guy or girl out that you don’t think you have a shot with. Go in the weight room even though you have a muffin top and think everyone is watching how small the weights you’re using are.

Do this for six months and then come back and tell me if your life is drastically better.

Somewhere along the way (possibly Blink by Malcolm Gladwell), I read that the reason people choke in musical or athletic performances is because they’re consciously trying to control things that they’ve been doing subconsciously for years.

Let go of the stranglehold you have on yourself and become who you really want to be.

Typical Text Conversation Between Todd and Myself

Todd: Devo?

Todd: ??

Burton: Cool your jets, hotsauce. I was at work. You know I’m always in and don’t care where/when we meet.

Todd: My place at 7:00?

Todd: You are hot sauce.

Burton: I prefer 6 because we get more talk time, but that’s fine 🙂

Todd: No, let’s do 6.

Burton: I know you are, but what am I?

Burton: Are you sure? 6 would work best for me.

Todd: Wanna eat some Jimmy’s beforehand?

Todd: Yes.

What Will You Be Remembered For?

Comcast will be remembered for their abysmal customer service, inconsistency, and poor attention to detail. They will not be remembered for that Saturday that I had a blazing internet connection and tea-bagged the entire team on my way to a 27 kill streak in Modern Warfare:2.

BP will be remembered for taking a giant diarrhea in our gulf and then shirking responsibility, photoshopping, and outright lying about the damage they caused (Picture Bill Clinton times 1000). They will not be remembered for all the awesome road trips they fueled.

Kevin Watson will be remembered for putting his namesake on this slipshod mug, which then dumped burning hot coffee into my lap as soon as I tried to drink. Kevin will not be remembered for his cut-rate refinancing.

You have limited contact with people every day. How you treat people, the things you say, how hard you work, and the products you put your name on will be captured in the picture frames of people’s minds. It is these snapshots that will be taken as the whole of who you are and what you’ve done.

Did you show up to work landscaping with your shifty friend Greg, shuffling your feet and whining about how hot it is, or did you work till your hands bled? Did you convince yourself that doing the puke-and-rally is acceptable because it’s your 21st birthday, or did you already know you can’t just “forget” your character for a night?

Sure, you look back on your life and recall the highlights, handing out high fives to your subconscious self, but how many people only know your lowlights?

Maybe it’s not fair that we get judged based on one encounter, but maybe we should think more about the actions we represent ourselves with.