Fun, Amazing, Etc.

This is the official blog of indie author / adventure writer Andy R. Bunch, author of the fantasy book, "Suffering Rancor." As always, I'll post funny or amazing things I find in my travels or from poking around online. This is a great place to kick back and relax a bit. You may note that I’m not too clean or too dirty. For more information on my book, go to Here are links to first two books and

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happiness, yes happiness!

I had a different post in mind for today but I decided to go with this one and percolate on that one some more. From Dr. Mercola again.

14 Ways to Become Happier

In many ways happiness is a choice, and you can create it by following a certain routine. In fact, happy people tend to follow similar habits that set them apart from their sad and stressed-out peers. If you'd like to join them, read on. These are the top tips positive psychologists have to offer to, as TIME put it, "infuse your days with more pleasure."4
1. Make Happiness Your Goal
It's thought that genetics account for about 50 percent of your "innate" happiness while life circumstances make up another 10. The rest is under your control, and the first step to harnessing it is to choose it and believe you can be happy.
Research shows, for instance, that when people were told to attempt to feel happier when listing to music, they were (as opposed to those who were told to simply relax).5 It was the intention to become happier that made a difference.
2. Know What Makes You Happy
If it's been awhile since you've felt truly happy (that carefree joyous state you probably had as a child), you may have forgotten what it is that gets you there. Take time to reflect on what gives you joy (and not just the "obvious," like your family, but also little things, hobbies, and interests).
3. Prioritize Happiness
If you have an hour free, do you spend it doing something fun? Or do you spend it catching up on housework, tackling an extra work project, or otherwise working? The latter is a "minor form of insanity," according to happiness researcher Robert Biswas-Diener, PhD.6
And it certainly won't help you get happier. To break free of this trap, make a point to schedule your weeks around events (or ordinary activities) that make you feel truly happy and alive.
4. Savor the Pleasant Moments
People who take the time to savor pleasant moments report higher levels of happiness, regardless of where the day takes them.7 If you don't already do this, keeping a daily diary of pleasant moments and whether or not you truly savored them, might help.
You might be surprised at how much happiness is to be had in your everyday life. Try appreciating the scent of your coffee, relishing in the feeling of your soft bed, or enjoying the sunrise before you start your day.
5. Protect Your Time
There's only so much time in a day, so be sure to protect your attention and time from unnecessary and unproductive distractions. This includes texts, tweets, and emails, which take you away from the true pleasures in life. If necessary, turn off social media completely.
Research suggests that the more time people spend on Facebook, the more their moment-to-moment happiness declines and the less satisfied with life they become.8
6. Think Happy Thoughts
Simply thinking about a positive event, and smiling as a result, can make you happier and more upbeat (more so than simply fake smiling). A genuine smile includes the facial muscles around your eyes, and can actually prompt brain changes linked to increased mood.
7. Spend Money on Experiences, Not 'Things'
Research suggests experiences make us happier than possessions; the "newness" of possessions wears off, as does the joy they bring you, but experiences improve your sense of vitality and "being alive" both during the experience and when you reflect back on it. However, experiences won't make you happy either if you're only doing them for bragging rights… and not because you really want to.
8. Be Playful with Your Significant Other
If your relationship with your significant other has become all about "business," it's a sign that you need to lighten up and add some fun back in. This can be as simple as sending your spouse a playful text, cooking a new recipe together, or enjoying a romantic bubble bath.
9. Have a Back-Up Plan for Bad Days
When you're having a bad day and your mood is sinking, have a plan in place to lift it back up. This could be calling a close friend, watching a comedy, or going out for a jog – you know what works best for you.
10. Find Your Sense of Purpose
Happiness isn't only about pleasure; it's also about having a sense of purpose. The term "eudaimonic well-being" originated with Aristotle, and describes the form of happiness that comes from activities that bring you a greater sense of purpose, life meaning, or self-actualization. This could be your career or it could be gleaned from volunteering or even taking a cooking class.
11. Socialize, Even with Strangers
Having meaningful social relationships is important for happiness, but even people who engage in "social snacking" report greater happiness. Social snacking describes the little ways you connect with others, including strangers, on a daily basis. In general, the more you mingle and chat with the people around you, the more cheerful and brighter your mood is likely to be.
12. Get Away
Taking time away from the daily grind is important for helping you recharge. And while even a weekend getaway can give you a boost, a longer trip is better to help you create meaningful memories. These memories can be tapped into later to help boost your happiness. Experts recommend a two-week vacation, ideally, even if it's to a locale close to home.
13. Do Acts of Kindness
When people make a point to conduct three to five acts of kindness a week, something magical happens… they become happier. Simple kind acts – a compliment, letting someone ahead of you in line, etc. – are contagious and tend to make all of those involved feel good.
14. Plan Your 'Sunday Funday'
Plan your day off a week in advance to maximize the pleasure it brings you. Experts suggest incorporating PEP – or, physical, escape, and people – for best results. This means, try to do something physical, something that allows you to escape and relax and something that gets you involved with others whose company you enjoy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy October! Personal Journal Update

There's so much going on in the Bunch family from one week to the next. I'm always learning, researching, etc. it's really hard to keep up with the blog. Sorry if my percentage of original posts has dropped off this season. To make up for all that I'm going to give you a fast personal update.

When last I gave a complete rundown I was concentrating on the following major value categories in life--Spiritual growth, physical health, fiction writing & freelance writing/editing, organizing, relationships, adventure, entertainment/relaxation.

On the organizational front I had created and repeatedly adjusted a project hopper to manage all this and track plans for the future of each category. On the relationship front I'd decided to marry the woman of my dreams and adventure front I was trying to recover from the implications of that (I wouldn't be putting out 4 books and touring the country in my 5th wheel to sign and sell. Instead, on the writing front I meant to put out 3 books to at least build my catalog even if it cost me time to market. I didn't and generally don't discuss my spiritual goals much beyond the post I do to encourage people to see outside the religious box they may have grown up in. On the health front I detailed my efforts to create a health regimen that would work for me, starting with a diet that worked and I could stand to do. I lost 40lbs on the virgin diet, and gained 20 of it back on the stress and no sleep, baby in a NIC U diet.

Update: I've redone my value categories, branding, plans etc in response to the radical life change of being married with a baby. So the update below is laid out by the new categories and order of things.

1. Spiritual Health: The major theme of 2015 will be DAwG days. I have scheduled one day a month to spend at least half a day on a personal retreat (Day Alone w God). My wife and I will head to the coast monthly and trade off childcare so that the other can get some quality time with God. I also have been doing daily time with God each morning, which is huge and will continue.

2. Relationship (family & friends): I've got some date night activities and surprises planned for my wife. With my friends, I've been getting together for prayer call twice a week and keeping up with my buds more intentionally, and I intend to keep that up. My wife and I have also been able to get together with friends for card games on Saturday evenings, which has been a huge blessing. I'm happy with these changes and plan to keep them up for 2015.

3. Physical health: after being plateaued at 320 lbs for 3 months, during which I was actively working out and dieting, it finally broke and I started dropping weight again. The two biggest factors I credit in this aren't directly diet or exercise related. I work out every day and watch what I eat, but I was doing that the hole time my weight wouldn't budge. So here's the secret. I started journaling everything I ate, my blood pressure, weight, and all my exercise. I was shocked the impact that had on things. It's a pain in the ASS, but it seems to work. The other thing I did is called intermittent fasting. You can either reduce your calories by 2/3rd 3 days a week, or you can skip breakfast and eat only within an 8 hour window each day. I skip breakfast. My 2015 plan includes changing my workout to a High Intensity Interval Training plan. Basically it's working hard for a 30 second burst and then taking 90 second off, for 3 to 5 repetitions. That's the plan, although I suspect I'll have to bite the bullet at some point (January???) and eliminate dairy and glutton again if I want to get below 300 lbs.

4. Write/edit/publish (Fiction): Publishing only 1 book in 2014 has been devastating. I've got great things to report in most of these categories, and I'm stoked about my 2015 goals and the detailed plans I've got to make them happen, BUT this one category took a major hit in 2014 and will again. When I revised my project hopper to make it more practical given my new circumstances, my two year plan became a six or more year plan. Still there is a silver lining--between now and Christmas I plan to draft the last half of a sci-fi novel for an awesome multi-author project I'm honored to be a part of, and I will revise my mystery novel. 2015 will see both those books published early on. After which I'll complete the sequel to Suffering Rancor for publication just ahead of Christmas 2015.

5. Self Improvement (Organization/Learning): Organization amounts to a series of specific projects, not really a major goal. Things like making my home office more than just a place I store stuff. There's many areas I'd like to learn new skills, but with my limited time I've decided to focus on perfecting my writing for the rest of 2014, and will begin focusing on finances in 2015. I also have plans for learning everything there is to know about marketing in the next 14 months. I'll let you know how that goes. Seriously, I'll do a series of blogs on the topic or perhaps a newsletter devoted to that project.

6. Adventure (Gig/Income/Marketing/Promotion): This is a big category and probably doesn't fit together in anyone else's mind. I view my life as an adventure and since writing is my career passion I have to view the other things I do for $ as challenges any hero must face. Bilbo didn't leave the shire to find a simple life where he could be well fed and safe. Into every life pain will come no matter what. Our choice, and we make it every day, is whether to sit at home and wait for it or go out and meet it according to our hearts.

All is not suffering though. I have a vision for the future of my freelance editing business, Tale Scribe. I have a fledgling plan to get me there, too, and I'll share more on this specific topic in upcoming posts.

7. Rest: Yes I have to plan my rest. If you wonder why, you must not have read the paragraphs above. Given my new priorities/schedule I'm in bed every night by 8 pm to read a book for fun and catch up with my wife. And I'm generally asleep by 9 pm. This is the single most radical shift in my life. I'm a night owl for over 30 years. I simply don't have a choice in the matter and I've grown to love it. My gay goes better for getting that wind down time, especially with my wife. We get on the same page. We're both up by 5 am, my wife to rush out to her day job and me to worship and then tend to our baby girl. It's exhausting but I'm very blessed and very happy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Local Politics: Charter

If you've driven around Clark County, WA. lately you've probably seen some signs about the charter and wondered what they heck is going on. I'll try to be brief because it's important that you understand this.

Awhile back I spent some time attempting to read up on the move to make Clark County a charter county. There's several charter counties in Washington already, it's a way to run a county more like a business (president and staff with a board, etc.) as opposed to the county commissioner way it runs now. Obviously the structure could be an improvement and many of the folks who are ready for a change wanted to help streamline how things are run (and save money).

The idea arose during the CRC boondoggle and proponents on both sides jumped into the fight over the charter. My support for the charter concept has been in reserve until I could get a clear notion about which side would prevail in designing the exact charter being put up for Clark County. The dust is settling and the election is around the corner--so it's time to level my opinion and sate your curiosity about the charter signs.

The factions that were promoting the Columbia River Crossing (the people who went $100 million over budget on just the environmental impact statement and failed to find a solution that didn't beggar Clark County to enrich Portland and bailout TriMet) have influenced the charter to restore themselves to the power they had before people stopped the bridge.

Here's some links to do your own research if you so desire:
I know the traffic is awful. My wife has to sit in it everyday. It's a nightmare. Most of the $100 million over budget went to one contractor. I believe some of it was funneled into the Obama Presidential Campaign. Vancouver would have lost millions in tax revenue from impacted businesses and there were multiple solutions to the problem that weren't even considered despite being cheaper, faster and less impacting on the people and wildlife involved. Those bridge solutions wouldn't include enough money to build TriMet new headquarters and put a toll on county residents so they weren't considered.

Those people should never be allowed back into power. We barely missed being in the middle of a disaster at their hands.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Christian Hypocrisy: Part 2

This is the sequel to a post I write a while back titles “Christian Hypocrisy.” In that article I discussed how most folks aren’t bothered by Jesus the man or what he stood for, but his followers drive them nuts. I gave several reasons why Christians don’t walk the way they talk. Let me give another big one—and this one explains why whole denominations get so whacky.

Two qualifiers: I was introduced to this idea several years ago and I really struggled with it, but I’ve come to believe it completely. I’m going to state it a couple different ways, one that we can easily agree with and one that is quite challenging.

The Hard way: When someone shares the Gospel with another person, they also share the spiritual wrinkles they have. If they believe that Love is over all, but it’s okay to hate some sinners—well then they will likely pass that on to the people they save. Legalistic Christians run about making more legalistic Christians. Christians that believe God doesn’t require you to grow in faith produce more baby Christians. Christians that don’t know how to push deeply into worship make more of those. Christians that believe in God but don’t think he still talks directly to us replicate that. And so on.  

The Friendly Way: God so completely trusts us with his story and reputation that he doesn’t require us to become perfect before we begin working for him.

The answer is clearly to seek God with all our hearts to a point that our hearts beet in rhythm with his before we share him with the world. We should introduce someone to God and then get out of the way. We need to spend more time encouraging others in their journey and less creating “sound bite answers.” If we really understood the degree to which we start new converts off on the wrong track we’d spend a lot less time doing certain things. We’d be less critical of how sinners live when they have no understanding of Christ’s love. We’d spend more time sharpening each other. We’d spend 90% of our evangelistic effort focusing on God’s goodness and almost save the lost on accident. It should be a bi-product of living each day with God, not a specific endeavor we “take up” on God’s behalf.

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