Weight Loss (No, This is Not Spam.)

I’ve had a few friends of mine ask me for tips, tricks, strategies, or serious step-by-step advice on how I effectively lost weight, and how they could do the same.  So many friends, in fact, that I thought putting together a blog article about it might be a good idea.

Before you start reading, be open to what I present.  If you want to lose weight, but it’s not happening, it’s possible that your misconceptions and prejudices about weight-loss and medicine are hampering your efforts.  Wanting to lose the weight “the way you want” rather than “a way that works” says that you’re more interested about being in control rather than actually losing the weight.

So first, the primary weight-loss advice;  “how are you losing the weight?”.  I went to a medical (non-surgical!!) weight-loss specialist, Dr. Sue Decotiis.  Dr. Decotiis and I agreed on realistic goals and timelines, agreed on an approach, and agreed on the support she could give me.  Since I had specific problems with emotional eating and portion control, she prescribed me 37.5mg/day of phentermine, along with 25mg/day of topiramate for additional support.  I was also prescribed a guideline nutritional plan, along with a number of calories of exercise per day in any way that I chose to do them. Those two drugs are, as far as I’m concerned, THE MAGIC in the calorie equation.

I do a weight-training session “once a week”, in quotes because sometimes my trainer cancels right as I’m walking in the gym and I do mild weights and some cardio by myself.  I also do about 30 minutes of cardio a day, with a fairly long walk to the subway station every morning.  I do notice, however, that this walk is becoming easier as I lose weight, so maybe it’s time to do a loop or something.

And now, some secondary weight-loss advice; more notional than specific, but all useful and every bit can contribute to weight-loss success.

The first piece of advice that I give, is that you need to be mentally prepared for a battle.  It’s going to be a difficult, emotionally draining, spiritually defeating, uphill battle, every metaphorical/logistical/literal step of the way.  If you’ve not prepared yourself, steeled yourself, for the upcoming battle then you will have lost before you started.

My second piece of advice is that you have a well-developed support network in place to help coach you through the difficulties, the tough choices, the hypoglycemic bouts of nihilist angst, and ESPECIALLY any back-sliding that might happen.  This person should be briefed to be empathetic and supportive, but not critical or judgmental of your efforts – you don’t need to be told what you’ve done wrong when you’re already feeling shitty.

My third piece of advice is that you get a step monitor and/or a heart-rate monitor.  These help keep you honest with “passive” calorie burn, as well as information-driven decisions about workout types and durations.  If you’ve only done 1000 steps today, maybe you hit the treadmill an extra 10-minutes today, you know?

The last piece of advice is to BE PATIENT.  Weigh-loss is a process that takes months and months.  You have to be okay with that timeline before you start, and the goal weight has to be open-ended for anything over 20 pounds, because of individual variabilities in how different people lose weight.

Fun Home

I went to see “Fun Home” with friends the other night and while it was VERY well acted, it was also VERY emotionally difficult to watch.  It deals with some very heavy subjects; alcoholism, coming out, semi-pedophilia/sexual abuse of minors, suicide, and spousal abuse.

I really enjoyed the subtle insights into growing up with a multi-child family, growing up with a distant adult presence, and the novel and nuanced approach it had to storytelling from past and present at the same time.  It’s a single-act, no-intermission show, so make sure you are ready for a good, long sit before you take your seat. :)

The Circle in the Square Theatre is also a GREAT venue with really comfortable seats and is very MTA-accessible.  Natsumi, a Japanese restaurant across the street, also did a pretty good job of feeding us, as well.

On Gawker, Nick Denton, and the Geithner Fiasco.

This past weekend, a furor erupted in the blogosphere (remember THAT word?!) when tabloid-shame-cesspool Gawker posted a piece about the CFO of Condé Nast, David Gethner, allegedly hiring a male sex worker for a romantic rendezvous.

The meta-frenzy about the article itself is centered about the morality and ethicality of outing a closeted, not-heterosexual man.  I have mixed feelings about this, but they break down into two general areas:

  1. Outing people is inherently dangerous to their safety and well-being, emotionally and sometimes physically.
  2. Criminal behavior is very often reported on in the news media, so much so that it’s a sort of spectator sport in America.

It would be really hard, but maybe not impossible, to report on one aspect of that story without including most of the tawdry details of this illicit transaction.  This would save the person from being outed, at least maybe for a little while.

Which brings us to a journalistic denouement, of sorts.  Stomachs roiling at the blood on their metaphorical hands, Gawker management, consisting of Nick Denton and several others [ announced ] in what could only be described as the most egotistical and pseudophilosphical way, that they would be piercing the editorial firewall and removing the post.  Using seven “I”s, Nick extols how HE is the last bastion of ethical journalism, after publishing all of that garbage attributed to his name before.  HE has evolved, matured, grown beyond the original mission, like some sort of organic, shit-eating, equity-queefing alien queen.  Only HE has the power to right the ship and do the right thing, to put Gawker back on track.

To say that I’m disgusted by the absolute hubris by which he judges himself the moral compass, the infallible Godhead of Gawker, is an understatement.  What he’s going to get, ladies and gentlemen, is a host of newly-unionized Gawker writers who see this in the context of what it is:  retaliation for unionization, a reminder that HE is the boss of you and that no collective bargaining agreement will strip his absolute power from him.

Enjoy your bed, Nick.  You’ve made it, now sleep in it.

NYC Pride Celebration – 2015

A lot of words are used to describe the Pride event that happens most late Junes in the United States.  For this particular Pride, which carried the added gravitas of having a recent Supreme Court decision in favor of the rights of folks to marry one-another regardless of their sex.

As far as adjectives go to describe the feeling of Pride this year, some fit well, but one word fits BEST.  I like celebratory, I like triumphant, I really like jubilant, but I love EXULTANT.  It was an EXULTANT Pride, with rainbows everywhere, love everywhere, Pride everywhere.

Slowly falling in love with New York.


On Job and Career Stagnation

Reflecting on my career as a government contractor in the DoD, I feel as though SAIC/Leidos didn’t value me as much as AppNexus values me as an employee. AppNexus is invested in my growth and demonstrates it through training opportunities, educational incentives and growth opportunities.

A piece of advice, free, from me to you: if you’re in a job that won’t train you, won’t improve you, doesn’t invest in your success and doesn’t seem to value that humans can learn, grow and change, do you yourself a favor and find a different job.  It’s easy to clock your 8 hours and collect your paycheck, but you’ll probably find that the domain you practice has passed you by while you’ve been asleep at the wheel.  When you finally decide to leave, you’ll have a difficult time finding something new because all of your skills are old or irrelevant and all of your experience applies to the world 10 years ago.

TL,DR; Don’t stagnate at your job just because it’s comfortable.

On Apple and Aperture

I’m normally very deferential to Apple Inc.​, having become accustomed to their particular ecosystem, offerings and lifecycle over the last 10 years or so. I paid full-price for the original release of Aperture, and that’s proving to be a mistake.

It’s beginning to look like Apple is abandoning the battlefield with regards to a professional photo asset management and image editor application. I’ve used the new Photos for a bit, and it lacks a lot of features and capabilities that I would need to continue using an Apple platform for my photos.

This leaves me in a sticky situation, that of vendor lock-in. Any migration away from Apple’s platform presents difficulties in preserving any post-processing steps such as exposure changes, color-balance shifts, crops, and a multitude of other types of edits.

To free myself from that lock-in, I would either have to re-edit the pictures and hope that they vaguely resembled the original sets of edits that were originally presented to my clients, or I would play the odds of hoping that none of my clients ever wanted reprocessed images. A very long-shot would be Adobe riding in on a white horse with the ability to migrate edits from Aperture.

On a more holistic level, this has really soured me to Apple and their claim to offer professional-level A/V tools. No professional can afford to perform a wholesale platform migration every 3 years, and no software company should ask there customers to do so.

Photography for Free

I’ve only been in the photo industry for about 6 or 7 years, but it’s really interesting to reflect back on the changes that have happened, even though nothing technologically revolutionary has happened (such as historically significant shift from film to digital).

One thing that is particularly interesting is the effect that market pressures have had on the industry; faster, cheaper, easier. In NYC, one of the fashion and art capitals of the world, I regularly see requests for free/”exposure” photography where the artists already-existing copyrights are offered back to photographer as compensation for the work.  Harlan Ellison has some very well-put thoughts on the subject:

“Pay me.”
“By what right would you call me and ask me to work for nothing?”
“How dare you call me and ask me to work for free?”
“The only value for me is if you put money in my hand.  Cross my palm with silver, you can use my essay.”
“I sell my soul, but at the highest rates.”

I have to believe that some of these requests get some poor photographer to do the work, because they are so pervasive and recurrent and offer such a high value to the person receiving the work for free.

Tell me, friends, have you ever performed a professional service for free?

Note: The rules and realities are different for some charities and benefits. A gig for a friends non-profit charity is completely different than commercial product photography.

A New Beginning.

The recent move to New York City (henceforth referred to as “NYC”) has inspired a lot of changes in my life.  A more-minimalist living style, less “stuff” and clutter, and a leaner lifestyle in general.  I think that this website is a reflection of that, a distilled and condensed version of my online presence, managed through the Power of The Internet.  Websites and content-management have changed a lot since I set up my last website.  Virtual private servers are a real, feasible service offering!  That wasn’t the case, previously.  I’m also enjoying WordPress (as opposed to MoveableType, which was a MONSTER) and its integration to the GoDaddy platform.

Those comments being said, I look at this site as a new beginning, something that I can use to chronicle my growth in this new city as a professional photographer, an IT/IA expert, and someone with a lot of learning to do.  To new beginnings!


A big welcome to all who end up here.

This is the personal and professional site of Sean Cooper, an IT/IA professional, a photographer, and citizen of New York City.  You can find some stuff like my resume, a link to my portfolio site, and some other content scattered around.