The Beginning

This is it. For real this time. I know I’ve written various “goodbye” posts over the years. (Looking back, I’m almost sorry I didn’t create a separate category for them.) But today, this one, at long last, is the one. I am officially retiring Back to the Fridge. But don’t worry! There’s good news at the end of this post.

But before we get that far, I wanted to engage in some serious navel-gazing just one last time, in the form of a Back to the Fridge retrospective. It’s long. And if you’re really just here for the punchline, then feel free to skip over all this and jump to the end. But me, I love history and it seems fitting at this juncture to take a long look back. So hop into the DeLorean, set the time circuits for early 2008, and let’s hit eighty-eight miles per hour.

Ages

The site’s history can be easily divided into ages. I count seven of them and they look like this:

The top chart shows the frequency of posts over the years (each blue vertical line is a post). Each background color corresponds to an age. The second chart shows a count of comments per post.

That is all. I like numbers and graphs and charts, so why not kick things off that way?


The Prehistoric Age

stonehenge

October 2007 to May 2008

After I published Why Your Last Diet Failed You in October 2007, I immediately began looking for ways to promote it. One early fan of the book asked me, “Do you blog?” to which I replied, “What’s a blog?” A short time later, after I hired a publicist, she said, “Do you blog?” to which I replied, “Okay, I think I really need to look into this ‘blog’ thing.”

That’s when I decided to: 1) find a dictionary and look up the word, and 2) start my own.


The Dark Ages

screenshot of version 1 of the web site

May 2008 to August 2008

The first version of the blog. Man, that was one ugly site. Go ahead, click on the thumbnail for a full-size image. (In fact, all the thumbnail-sized images in this post will link to their large-sized counterparts. So be sure to enjoy this walk through time in high def.)

At the time I thought it looked okay. I knew I could do better, but I also just wanted to get something out there. It’s hard to look back on it, though.

Before moving on, though, a confession. The astute reader has by now discovered an anomaly. Just above I said I started the blog sometime after the book’s launch yet the first blog posts go back to May 2007. What gives? Well, I’ll tell you. The first “year” of posts are fake.

Well, I mean, they’re real posts. I wrote them and everything. However, I spent the months of April and May 2008 writing a year’s worth of posts. When I “launched” the blog around May 30, 2008, I didn’t want it to be empty. Plus, I wanted to document the time leading up to the book publish as well as get some experience writing posts. Looking back, it was a stupid idea. But there you go.


The Golden Age

screenshot of version 2 of the web site

August 2008 to April 2009

Ahhhhh . . . This was, without a doubt, the blog’s Golden Age. I spent a LOT of time over the summer of 2008 working on a new, unique, from-scratch, custom WordPress theme. This would be the first thing to set me apart from the crowd and help “build my brand” so to speak.

I posted once each weekday. Each weekday had a theme:

Monday: Return to Onederland. My personal weigh-in and weight loss talk.
Tuesday: You Know What Sounds Good Right Now? A post about food!
Wednesday: Leftovers. A day where I could post about anything.
Thursday: No Help Here. Semi-serious weight loss information and advice.
Friday: Pizza Night. Posts about restaurants and eating out.

And the posts were just half of it. I spent just as much, if not more, time visiting other bloggers’ sites. I’d leave comments, talk, engage, and again, just tried to keep building my brand. It was an exciting period, truth be told, and one I’m not likely ever to repeat.

Click here for a sample post. One of the many cool things about my custom theme: the header would change depending on the category of the currently-displayed post. I’m sure no one ever noticed, but I had fun coding it.

Lastly, here’s what readership looked like:

Google Analytics Graph

Though I had a couple large spikes, on average daily visits ran anywhere from 200 to 300 a day. I did my absolute best to keep that number going up, but I just couldn’t budge it.

I do like this next graph because it includes April 1, 2009. For whatever reason my April Fools Day-related post hit something on StumbleUpon, and I got over 6,300 visitors in one day, then over two thousand the next. It was pretty cool having a high traffic blog, even if it only lasted for a blip.

Google Analytics Graph


The Silver Age

screenshot of version 3 of the site

April 2013 to October 2009

To freshen things up a bit I created this particular aberration of a theme. The colors were horrid. The layout, very busy. The main reason for shaking things up was to make the site look more like a “real” blog. The site with the splash page confused people and I thought this would help. The five-days-a-week posting format didn’t change. It was just the layout.

This age came to a close on June 5, 2009 when I said “so long!” for the first time. I didn’t actually leave of course. I called it “summer break” and just posted a few things here and there.


The Renaissance

screenshot of version 4 of the web site

October 2009 to September 2011

After my summer break, I got back to my nice, white, fridge look, ditching that ugly orange thing. I retired my custom newsletter in favor of Feedburner support. Fixed the site’s search function and added the All Posts page.

Content-wise, I decided it was okay to just talk about anything and post more freely. The rigid schedule of The Golden Age was tough and more than anything I just wanted to enjoy blogging. My only real rule at this point is I would post on days beginning with a T.

This was a very memorable period of the blog. See, there was this one time where I . . . uh . . . um . . . well, there was also this other time where . . . hmmm . . . oh! And how could I forget that one post about the . . . uhhhh . . . well, something. But trust me, it was very memorable.


The Artistic Revolution

screenshot of version 5 of the web site

September 2011 to January 2012

I’d been thinking about Shaking Things Up for a few months when a Big Life Event finally pushed me over. The shaking part? Making picture posts. The event? The oldest daughter heading off to college. While I provided photos and graphs in my posts, they were nonetheless very wordy. I was curious what it would be like to write posts heavily supported by artwork.

Hmmm, but what would it look like?

Kids drawings, of course. That’s exactly the kind of artwork that goes on a fridge. So I went offline with real life paper and real life colored pencils and started drawing. The resulting pictures are so childish you might be surprised to know how much time I spent studying kids artwork and refining my style. (I’m not joking.)

I then had to do some major tweaking to my custom theme to make the whole drawings-tacked-to-a-fridge thing work.

And then I actually had to write my first post.

I think start to finish the whole first post (drawing, scanning, storyline, and final assembly) took about twelve hours. Or more. Definitely more labor-intensive than the usual blog post. And, in my opinion, definitely worth it.

This period was brief. Like a long-distance runner putting on an exceptional burst of speed near the end of a race, the few pic-posts I did took it out of me and in early January 2012, I took another blogging break.


The Modern Age

screenshot of version 6 of the web site

April 2012 to Present

A nasty bout of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cut short my blogging hiatus. Through the remainder of 2012, I wrote several cancer-related posts. But by the end of the year, I was all out of steam again. I didn’t actually say it this time, but Blog Retirement Number Three happened with my 2012 Year in Review post. I wasn’t in a very good place. There were only five posts in all of 2013. Strange to think back on a time where I wrote five posts a week.

I posted in bursts throughout 2014 and 2015, “quitting” again most recently on April 20, 2015. This retirement was highly similar to the one in 2012, in that I felt like I’d done everything I could with the blog and really just wanted to focus on my other creative endeavors.

Whelp, that didn’t go as planned. Five months later I resumed blogging and I’ve been posting once a week (each Friday) since then. In my own humble opinion, I think the content has been pretty good. I like the frequency. Overall, it’s actually been going pretty well.

So well, in fact, I don’t even feel like retiring today . . .


The Good News

. . . which is why I’m not. The only thing going away today is Back to the Fridge. What lives on is me: Charlie Hills. I started a new blog today. For the foreseeable future, I plan to continue posting each Friday. Content-wise, the posts will be more or less the same as they have been lately.

Which likely begs the question: why not just keep doing it here? Believe me, I’ve asked myself that a few times. But I weighed the pros and cons, and eventually a coin toss decided it.

Just kidding. I used a Magic Eight Ball instead.

It’s a primarily symbolic move. I find myself at another crossroads. And it’s one of those where I want to break some ties to the past and establish a path for the future. Outwardly, and publicly, I want to keep working on all the same things: writing, music, art. Inwardly, I need a fresh start. And I’d rather not carry around the baggage of the “weight loss blog” forever.

My secondary reason is: simplification. Back to the Fridge isn’t my only blog. I’ve had many over the years and a few are still semi-active even today. But not one of them really represents the Charlie Hills direction, so it made sense to create something brand new and focus all my efforts there.

I hope you’ll come along. I always love the beginning of new things.

charliehills.com avatar



6 Responses to “The Beginning”

Christine said
on
January 22, 2016 at 10:47 am

Just look at how many lives you’ve touched! Looking forward to more on your new blog!!

Reply
    Christine said
    on
    January 22, 2016 at 10:55 am

    P.S. Just found out from your favorite sister, Biz, that today is a special day. Happy Birthday!! 🙂

    Reply
      Charlie said
      on
      January 22, 2016 at 11:23 am

      “Hmmm . . . not sure what this whole ‘special day’ thing is about,” said Charlie, trying to stuff the cat back in the bag.

      Reply
Biz said
on
January 22, 2016 at 3:45 pm

I am so excited to see where this goes – you are so funny and talented and such a great writer, I would have thought you’d have a bazillion followers by now.

Happy Birthday to the best brother I could ever have 😀

Reply
Fan Mail – Charlie's Blog said
on
September 9, 2016 at 4:17 am

[…] your readers for no real reason at all. Because even if you do leave a forwarding address in an overly-long good-bye post, there’s no guarantee […]

Reply

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Day 9000

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Little One

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Diet Within a Diet

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It’s All Relative

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Happy Birthday Mom!

September 23rd, 2014

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My Story

September 15th, 2014

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Fan Mail

September 8th, 2014

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Ramen Noodles

September 1st, 2014

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Keeping a Promise

August 25th, 2014

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Cancer treatment, to put it mildly, is a bit of an inconvenience. It prevents you from going to work every day. It gives you a fresh, new perspective on life. It helps you lose those last twenty pounds . . . Wait a second. That doesn’t sound inconvenient at all. That sounds awesome. Let me […]

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Best Blog Post Ever

August 11th, 2014

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So the other day I was in the shower or driving to work or taking my giraffe for a walk when I had an idea for a blog post. In fact, not just any blog post, but a good one. In fact, not just a good one, but maybe the best one ever. It would […]

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I’m Getting Deported

August 4th, 2014

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Back in 1998, my sister Biz decided to join Team in Training and walk the Chicago Marathon. I remember the day she called me up and told me all about it. After a few moments of silent disbelief, I said something like, “You know how long that is, right?” She confirmed that she did. After […]

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Raise a Glass to…

July 28th, 2014

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Way back in the 1990s, a couple of my coworkers belonged to an organization called Toastmasters. I had no idea what it was, but I did know one thing: I sure liked toast. And if there was an entire organization out there devoted to becoming a master of toast, then that was the club for […]

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Ponderings

July 21st, 2014

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I started this blog way back in 2008 for three reasons. First, as a promotional tool for my “diet” book. Second, as a public outlet for my writing. Third, as a way for rich people to find me and send me large bags of money on a regular basis. The astute reader will recognize the […]

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The Big Secret

July 7th, 2014

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I’ve undergone an unusual bout of success lately in the ol’ weight loss department. This means that I now fall under Weight Loss Regulation Number 237, Section 6, Paragraph 2 which states that I am currently obligated by law to reveal my Secret to the masses. Paragraph 5 gives me a few options for doing […]

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Once Every Decade

July 1st, 2014

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I honestly had no idea I was embarking upon a three-month hiatus when I posted my April Fools Day post. Especially since I’d just gotten back on a semi-regular blogging schedule. Yet here we are. I only have one excuse, but it’s the best excuse ever: I’ve been busy. So very, very busy. New day […]

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Finally…Results!

April 1st, 2014

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So for the few of you who’ve been visiting me here at the Fridge each week lately, you know that I’ve basically been flatlined since Christmas. I did pretty well in 2013, staying not only in Onederland, but spending a good portion of the year below the Magical 190 mark (Anna, that’s thirteen and a […]

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Did Someone Say Graphs?

March 24th, 2014

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We’re now two weeks into Attempt #113 and the net total loss is: 0.0 lbs. Yay me. The same problem continues: very little to eat for twenty-three hours of each day, followed by way too much to eat for one hour of each day. Yes, I’m acutely aware of the fact that this is completely […]

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Yin and Yang

March 17th, 2014

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In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin-yang is used to describe how opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many natural dualities (such as light and dark, high and low, hot and cold, fire and water, […]

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Lucky (one) Thirteen?

March 10th, 2014

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Today was Day One #113. The astute reader will realize that the last post ended with me embarking on Diet #112. The kind reader will know it’s not polite to ask, “So what happened with the one hundred and twelfth attempt?” But I’ll tell you anyway. Diet #112 began on Monday, February 3, 2014. It […]

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Oh The Usual

March 3rd, 2014

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At the end of our last episode, I said I’d let you know how Diet Number Eleventy-One went. First, here’s the my-alarm-didn’t-go-off-and-now-I’m-late-for-work-but-I-really-want-to-see-how-Charlie’s-diet-is-going-first version: it went great and then The Holidays happened. Long time readers know that The Holidays is just a short-hand, eleven-letter way of saying, “All the days between Halloween and New Years Inclusive.” […]

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Eleventy-One Times

February 3rd, 2014

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Today is my one hundred and eleventh birthday: I am eleventy-one today! […] I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. It was 1992 when I first read Bilbo’s long-expected birthday speech and thought, “This is […]

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The Half Million Dollar Blog Post

January 3rd, 2014

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As I enter the thirty-sixth year or so of my mid-life crisis, I find myself once again standing at a creative crossroads. I just finished reading this post, where (exactly) two years ago I decided to put Back to the Fridge on hiatus. Before continuing, let me repeat a key part of that sentence. Two […]

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The Best Laid Plans

December 2nd, 2013

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Curious whether my new catpcha solution was now blocking legitimate humans from leaving comments, I turned it off, just as an experiment. Well, the actual number of human-provided comments did not go up at all. But the spam hose was back on: Do note, this number represents just two weeks’ worth. I’m really never, ever […]

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Happy New Year

October 10th, 2013

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When we last left off, our intrepid hero Charlie and his faithful sidekick Sad Puppy had just wrapped up a troublesome year with the bathroom scale on the rise. Our dastardly villain, the evil Professor Seefood, had made an unexpected comeback after the triumphant defeat of Bob Hoskins Linoleum. Our hero swore that, after the […]

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Oh Yeah . . . That Again

September 29th, 2013

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In my head I’m thinking, “It’s been two weeks since my last blog post. Probably time to write another one!” However, it’s not until after I spend two hours trying to remember my blog’s URL that I discover it’s actually been eight weeks since the last post. But just because I couldn’t find my blog […]

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Life in Onederland

August 4th, 2013

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So how’d the 365 days since then go? Stay tuned. There’s lots more to write about. And I know the three of you are dying to know all about it. So I wrote back on April 26, 2013. My apologies if this made it sound like my next post in this series was imminent. I […]

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Return to Onederland

April 26th, 2013

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Long time readers of this blog—you three know who you are—are well aware that in spite of the many and varied topics discussed here, none stand out more than Return to Onederland. It was the very first post when I re-launched Back to the Fridge in its current format back in August 2008. It was […]

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Now What?

December 31st, 2012

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I’ve been asking myself the question “Now What?” for a while now. A good, long while now, actually. I’m pretty sure the first time I asked it was when my current mid-life crisis began at the age of twelve. This year, however, the question took on a different tone. I’m still looking for the answer, […]

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Emotional Problems

December 24th, 2012

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The entirety of this post is a cartoon. Click through to the full post to enjoy. Or not. It’s humor after all, and therefore purely subjective.

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Happy Halloween

October 31st, 2012

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It’s time, once again, for my annual Halloween Pumpkin Carving post. Last year I took the opportunity to catch up on a lifetime’s worth of pumpkin carving. If you’re new here, feel free to go read that post, then come on back. If you’ve already seen all the old crap and are simply waiting for […]

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Hair Update

August 8th, 2012

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Apparently at my first post-hospital doctor appointment they snapped my picture and attached it to my file. It was April 16, just three days after my release from the hospital, and I looked both sick and tired. However, on the upside, I did notice there was a lot more hair all over my skull and […]

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I Almost Forgot

July 20th, 2012

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I sat quietly in the doctor’s office on the morning of July 5, 2012, just as I’ve done every Thursday for the last three months. But on this particular Thursday I would learn the results of my recent PET/CT scans. I would at last find out if this mess of chemicals and string of bad […]

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No News is No News

July 2nd, 2012

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Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. In this passage from […]

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Ups and Downs

June 8th, 2012

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I certainly expected there to be ups and downs over the course of these treatments and I haven’t been disappointed. They are highly correlated with the actual chemo sessions. For example, in the days right before a treatment I’m feeling very nearly normal. Which means I go in to work. Which I count as one […]

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Oh the Irony

May 22nd, 2012

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I’ve spent more than two decades devising a wide array of methods in an (apparently) futile attempt to solve the complex biological issue known, in medical terms, as “pigging out.” While many factors contribute to the condition of being above one’s ideal weight, I’ve found that, for me personally, caloric intake is right at the […]

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Side Effect Number One

May 9th, 2012

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You’d be pretty hard-pressed to pour gallons of random chemicals into a body and not expect any adverse side effects. The Googles define a side effect as, “A secondary, typically undesirable effect of a drug or medical treatment.” I define it as, “The reason I want to go take a nap for six months.” I […]

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About that Last Diet

May 1st, 2012

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On October 3, 2011 I wrote this post about my last diet. And by last I meant final. Because after more than two decades of trying to figure out this weight loss business, I honestly felt like I only had one attempt left in me. As it happens to turn out (as with so many […]

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Didn’t See That Coming

April 25th, 2012

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I started this blog way back in 2008 for three reasons. First, as a promotional tool for my “diet” book. Second, as a public outlet for my writing. Third, as a way for rich people to find me and send me large bags of money on a regular basis. At the very beginning of this […]

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The Progress Bar

January 3rd, 2012

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I was installing a software package the other day [please note: I’m at the point in my life were “the other day” means anything from “yesterday” to “six or more years ago”] and became oddly mesmerized by the progress bar. I should say it wasn’t anything about this particular progress bar that got my attention, […]

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Last Minute Shopping

December 19th, 2011

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‘Twas the night before Christmas and all over town Not a creature was stirring, except for this clown. “Time to start shopping,” I said with some shame. Why, year after year, is it always the same? “Next year!” I swore, about one year ago. “Christmas Eve will not find me with nothing to show.” “By […]

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Point of View

December 5th, 2011

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Three blind men were walking through the jungle when they happened upon a vast, mysterious animal. The first man touched part of the animal and declared, “It appears we have encountered a giant snake!” The second man touched another part of the animal, and said, “It’s not a snake! Why, this is nothing more than […]

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That About Sums it Up

November 20th, 2011

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First Check In

November 7th, 2011

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It’s Monday, November 7, 2011 and as promised, here is the first full update of My Last Diet‘s progress. If you recall from that post, fifty-seven days ago I finally made a decision: after doing this a long, long time, I decided to give this one (and only one) more shot. My reasoning? This is […]

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Happy Halloween

October 31st, 2011

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Halloween again? Already? Where did the year go?! It seems like only two weeks ago I was making New Year’s Resolutions: Eat Right Exercise Carve a Pumpkin in October Oh, well. One out of three ain’t bad, right? Long-time readers of The Fridge know I like carving pumpkins. My first post on the topic happened […]

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The Rocky Squad

October 17th, 2011

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Astute readers of this blog already know that I wrote a book on the general topic of weight loss and my near lifelong preoccupation with it. I self-published Why Your Last Diet Failed You and How This Book Won’t Help You on Your Next One four (four?!) years ago and it did about as well […]

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My Last Diet

October 3rd, 2011

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And I mean that not in the sense of “the diet just before this one” but as in “my final diet.” That’s right, kids: this is it. After one hundred and six Days One, I have decided that Attempt Number One Hundred and Seven is it. Really. For sure this time. “So what’s different about […]

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So Now What?

September 19th, 2011

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Once again, I find myself at a crossroads. This isn’t my first time. After all, I’ve been suffering from chronic mid-life crisis since I was twelve years old. You’d think after several decades a body would figure out what he wants to be when he grows up, but apparently it’s not that easy. But before […]

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Life is Change

September 5th, 2011

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Philosophers, theologians, and scientists alike have all spent thousands of years trying to answer the question, “What is life?” A rock on a path is not alive. A horse running across a field is. A blogger is somewhere in between. But where does one draw the line? Personally, I have a very simple definition: life […]

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Need More Veggies

August 29th, 2011

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I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about weight loss and not a lot of time talking about food, nutrition, and football. Since I don’t really like football (or any sports for that matter) don’t expect the football-related posts to spike any time soon. And since I’m not a nutritionist, I guess […]

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It’s not the Heat

August 26th, 2011

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It’s not the heat . . . it’s the really high air temperatures. I was born in the middle of winter. I grew up in the middle of winter. And about ten years ago, I moved to Austin, Texas in the middle of winter. I don’t like being cold and once I got to Austin […]

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Attempt 106, Week 6

August 22nd, 2011

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Life’s been a bit, shall we say, crazy lately. Long work hours, a new school year starting, and about seventy-two hours of History Channel programming to catch up on on the DVR. (Those programs aren’t going to watch themselves.) And as we all know nothing does a diet better than crazy time. Here’s the latest […]

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Attempt 106, Week 4

August 8th, 2011

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“Once upon a time, there was a lovely princess. But she had an enchantment upon her of a fearful sort, which could only be broken by love’s first kiss. She was locked away in a castle guarded by a terrible fire-breathing dragon. Many brave knights had attempted to free her from this dreadful prison, but […]

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Do You Want What You Want?

August 1st, 2011

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In my copious amounts of free time, one of the things I love to do is to solve the mysteries of the universe and then promptly forget what I came up with. Fortunately, good timing was on my side tonight and I got to jot down my thoughts before my brain cells swapped out this […]

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