David Ancell's Virtual Home

Working Out with Peloton

  /   Saturday, January 28, 2023   /   Comments(0)

I have not always been one to want to exercise, and I did it off and on for most of my life. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really wanted to try to get in shape. I’ve been more consistent. Since this past November, my company has offered a new benefit that has become the tool that I use – the Peloton app.

To be clear, I am using the app on my iPad. I don’t own a Peloton bike, but I do have an Inspire IC 1.5 bike (that didn’t cost as much as what shows here) that I got as a Father’s Day/birthday gift a couple of years ago. It works. I also have a few dumbells for strength training, but they aren’t the ones made by Peloton. However, you can use the app with non-Peloton equipment just fine (read on for my workarounds). It’s actually cheaper than using it with the bike, but there are some things you don’t get. I don’t need the leaderboard trying to motivate me by telling me I’m in 12,684th place, though some other features would be nice.

The first thing I will say is that I have to be careful what workouts I choose. The app lets me see what songs will be playing, and this is very helpful because a number of workouts use music that is morally problematic. I have only taken classes from male instructions (mostly Ben Alldis and Bradley Rose) because the female instructors are often not dressed modestly. They are not wearing a proper shirt. It should go without saying that I also avoid the yoga and meditation classes as the spirituality involved is problematic.

I am still able to find classes that I can take. There are cycling classes that allow me to push in intervals that help me to do a better job getting exercise than I would get on my own. There are some classes I take when I really want to do an all out workout, and then there are others that are a bit less intense. Ben Alldis has a number of ten-minute stretch classes that are really helpful when I’ve been riding. After a little over a month, I added in some strength training. That helped with the weight loss.

For me, it’s helpful to have the instruction call out a specific cadence (pedal speed) on the bike and the amount of resistance to apply. It gives me something to help me figure out if I’m doing what the instructor has in mind. I don’t think I did as well when instructors in some other apps used a “rate of perceived exertion.”

Since I don’t have a Peloton bike, I can’t exactly correlate the resistance, but I’ve used a couple in hotels and have a little bit of a feel for it. I connect a Wahoo cadence meter to the app so I can see my cadence, and a Scosche heart rate monitor to display my heart rate (or I use my Apple Watch). I also use the Inspire app on my phone, which also shows my cadence but, more importantly, shows my resistance level (I didn’t really like their classes.). The Inspire bike has 40 levels, and I’m using their level 20 for a Peloton 20 and their 30 for a Peloton level 50.

The other exercise apps I have tried before are the Inspire app and Wellbeats. I didn’t get a good feel for the Inspire workouts and did very few of them when I had a year’s free subscription. They were challenging but otherwise felt kind of blah to me. Wellbeats was more corporate and professional, so I didn’t have to worry about immodestly dressed instructors or bad music. After a while I started to not like it as well. I think I was using too much resistance, which meant I wasn’t quite doing the workouts as well as I could have been. Also, Wellbeats doesn’t seem to release new classes anywhere near as often as Peloton does.

I just really like the energy and atmosphere of the Peloton class better. It can be hard sometimes, especially when I’m tired, but it’s just so much more fun. So, while I don’t appreciate the fact that I have to be careful of what I take on Peloton, I have found a number of good classes that I have really liked. It has kept me engaged in exercise better than anything else I’ve used.

Now, I’m sure at least some people reading this have a question for me – “Would I buy a Peloton bike?” I’m honestly not sure. When I have tried a Peloton bike in a hotel, it’s an amazing ride. Still, the bike is very expensive, and then I am locked into their classes as their screen won’t show anything else. I may still want the option of using another platform without a big screen that I wouldn’t have a use for in the way. I may one day consider something like a Stryde bike (with an unlocked screen) or even a bike that would be used in a gym, with the idea that it would last me a very long time. However, I do like the Peloton experience and may consider it some day if I can. Peloton gives a great workout, and I’m really enjoying using it.

Category: News on My Life


Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

  /   Saturday, December 31, 2022   /   Comments(0)

The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI definitely makes for a sad ending to 2022. He was one of my biggest heroes in the Catholic Church. I have the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club mug from before he was elected pope, which says “putting the smackdown on heresy since 1981.”  I think I have the t-shirt also.  When I was a new Catholic in the 1990s, I thought of him as some kind of theological fuddy-duddy. As I learned more of the fullness of the faith, I realized he was really one of the true defenders of the Faith.

By the early 2000s, when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, I really thought it would be great if he became the next pope.  However, I figured he wouldn’t because of his age. Just before the conclave, I remember that he gave a speech warning about the “Dictatorship of Relativism,” and some media person remarked that he just disqualified himself from the papacy.  Then, I was waiting, and occasionally refreshing the webpage on a news site.  Finally, much to my surprise, a bar with a red background appeared at the top of my screen saying that “Cardinal Ratzinger is the new pope.”  It was a dream come true!

I very much loved his emphasis on focusing on God himself.  The Church is not a social work institution, though we do that kind of work, but the Body of Christ.  It is ultimately Jesus Christ himself whom we must seek and whom we must serve.  From what I remember, he wrote his Introduction to Christianity to help correct the errors of some theologians who were leaning towards some kind of socialist understanding of Christianity.

One great example of his focus was his book entitled The Spirit of the Liturgy. It was one of the best books on the Mass I have ever read.  Solid formation on what the Mass is and how it should be celebrated is still probably the most difficult thing to come by.  I dare say there are people with advanced degrees in liturgy who have things completely wrong. There were people spouting off stuff like how the churches needed to be that semi-circle shape so that we see each other and see Christ in one another.  This essentially de-emphasized God himself and made the focus more on “the community.”

Before I read the book, I found it strange that he advocated the priest turning around and facing the same direction of the people (often called “having his back to the people,” but this is a misunderstanding).  However, when I read what he wrote, I became completely convinced that this is how Mass should be celebrated. We, the priest and the people, are moving together towards God.

There is a lot that could be said about this holy man whom we had as pope for eight years.  Now, he has gone to be with the Lord whom he served so well.  Eternal rest, grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.

Category: Catholic, Response


This Season of Advent

  /   Tuesday, December 13, 2022   /   Comments(0)

Here we are in Advent. For those of you who aren’t Catholic, Advent is a season in our Church calendar which we are preparing for Christmas. The Church never just lets a major feast day happen. Days that are as holy as Christmas and Easter require preparation. Like everything else in life, our celebration is much better when we have taken time to prepare.

The thing about Advent is that the way in which we prepare for Christmas can be hard to figure out. When I was new to the Church, I saw my pastor in the purple vestments that signify penance, and I asked him if Advent were a penitential season. He told me it was “half-penitential.”

I can see why he said this. Just like in Lent, the priest wears purple vestments. The Gloria is omitted from Mass, but the Alleluia is still sung before the Gospel. There are some prescribed penances in Lent, but in Advent, there is no particular penance prescribed.

It makes sense that it is this way when one thinks about it. Lent is a preparation for Easter. However, in order to get to Easter, there is the Passion and death of Our Lord on the cross. There is no such death that we must commemorate before the birth of Our Lord. We are simply waiting for him to come. There is, however, a deep longing in the world, and many don’t realize that longing.

Maybe the best preparation is to do our very best to focus on the Lord and remember that he is the reason, not only for the season, but our whole lives. This can be difficult in the midst of our lives this time of year. We are in a pretty bad flu season, and I’m sure there are a lot of people who are either sick or caring for sick kids. If you are a student, you are likely either preparing for or taking final exams. Of course, it can also be crunch time in many jobs as well. There are plenty of parties to attend as well.

Combine this with the secular celebration of Christmas that we see in the world. On the one hand, we have retailers that don’t really want to mention the word Christmas despite making money from people buying presents for the holiday whose name they “forgot.” I’m not going to call it so much a war on Christmas as stupid secular political correctness but also unwillingness to not make the money. You can also listen to songs on the radio that speak of the such a wonderful time of year with marshmallows, caroling, mistletoe, and hearts glowing with loved ones near. However, such songs will say nary a word about why this is (or should be) so. Those are just a couple of examples.

I’m certainly not saying that we shouldn’t get gifts for people. I definitely wouldn’t suggest not doing the work that you have to do at this time. Don’t flunk your exams if you are a student! I don’t even want to suggest not going to people’s Christmas parties. We won’t bring people back to focus on Jesus Christ by offending them in this manner. The one kind of activity that I would suggest skipping out on is the ugly sweater contest. How does an ugly sweater give honor to the God who became man and came to die for our sins?

In some way, we need to take time to pray and think about how we are awaiting the coming of Our Lord. We need to prepare the way by making a good Confession. Take some time to show the love of Christ to someone less fortunate (who could even be your family members who have the flu). All we need to do is take a bit of time to think more on how we can keep the coming of Christ in our minds and hearts and act on it. Then, we can tell the world what we are celebration and the awesome reality that it is.

Category: Response


Are You Against … Everything Good?

  /   Sunday, November 20, 2022   /   Comments(0)

It’s often fun for me to go an analyze a particular idea thoroughly. Today, I’m going to have some fun with one that is kind of a pet peeve of mine, and it’s something that you can be trapped in by someone pushing a particular idea. It’s the fallacy of thinking that, if someone is against a particular program or method of doing something, then someone must be against doing that which the particular program or idea is supposed to accomplish.

Let’s just imagine that someone wants to reduce funding for a certain workplace safety program. Suddenly, people make emotional pleas asking not to cut the funding because workplaces will be come super dangerous if this program is cut. Finally, they argue that the people trying to cut this program don’t care about the safety of people in their jobs.

When these arguments are heard, one must be really careful of what conclusion one draws. Someone can be very concerned about job safety and still want to reduce funding to the program for a number of reasons. Perhaps one person thinks the program has enough money to operate and does not need more (or is making poor use of their funds). Maybe another believes that the program will not be an effective program for improving workplace safety. Still another may believe that the program is impossible to implement in its current state. Yet still another may believe that there won’t be measures in place to assess whether the program is effective, and it will continue to run and to receive funding forever despite no one knowing if it is doing anything useful.

While one may argue that such people should come up with an alternative if they care about workplace safety, it’s possible that, at present, the opportunity to do so has not arisen. Others may decide that lack of safety in the workplace is not a problem in a given place or time or that the owners of companies will take adequate measures on their own. Maybe the program being presented is such that doing nothing is better than trying to implement this particular program. When it comes to government or academic programs, I believe that is often the case.

You can substitute a number of things for workplace safety and do the same exercise, like education, public transportation, aid to the needy, or pretty much any organization that may not be doing its job effectively (or at all). You can also substitute, for funding, something like an e-mail campaign. I got tired of being blasted by e-mails by candidates whom I voted for or would have voted for had they been on my ballot.

So, this is a good thing to remember when making an argument. Get to the point of what the other person believes. Ask for specifics and debate those. Granted, some people are guided by emotion more than reason, but at least you are coming from a more sound and more charitable position.

Category: Social Commentary


Why a Parish Columbarium is a Bad Idea

  /   Saturday, November 05, 2022   /   Comments(0)

During this month of November, I wanted to write about something that I’ve been seeing pop up in a number of parishes – the building and maintenance of a columbarium for the interment of cremated remains. I first saw these when I lived in North Carolina, and now there are several in Tennessee (but only one in a Catholic parish in the Nashville area). I want to highlight why this is a bad practice.

I’m not so much against the building of a columbarium as part of a Catholic cemetery, even a parish cemetery. The Church requires the interment of cremated remains in a sacred place such as a cemetery. To make this possible for Catholics who choose cremation for legitimate reasons, it makes sense to have them available. My main concern here is with a columbarium located on parish property that has no cemetery associated with it. I’ll explain why . . .

To get a greater understanding of the Church’s teachings on cremation, please check out this 2016 Document from the CDF regarding the practice. The Catholic Church once prohibited cremation as it was often done as a way to show opposition to the resurrection of the dead. In 1963, a new instruction named Piam et Constatem was issued that did allow for cremation. It’s important to note that, once cremated, the ashes are required to be buried like a body would be.

However, this instruction said that the ordinaries (eg bishops) were to ensure, through proper instruction, that “the faithful refrain from cremation and not discontinue the practice of burial except when forced to do so by necessity” and that “the Church’s adverse attitude toward cremation must be clearly evident.” In other words, the practice is not something the Church wanted to encourage but only to permit when necessary. Cremation is to be the exception rather than the rule. Burial remains the preferred practice of the Church. In fact, the need to encourage burial instead of cremation when possible is more pressing today in light of the false ideas regarding the human body that are presented by today’s society.

However, when a parish builds a columbarium, they are, by means of a bad example, essentially encouraging the practice of cremation. After all, they are allowing people to be laid to rest on the grounds of their church, but only if they are cremated. People who can and wish to conform themselves fully to the mind of the Church on this matter have to be buried elsewhere. This really sends the wrong message to people regarding the respect and reverence that is due to the body of the deceased, which was and will be again a Temple of the Holy Spirit.

In one diocese where I lived, there was a rule that, if a columbarium were built, it must be accompanied by instruction that burial is really the preferred practice. However, this is unlikely to be effective. At the same time this instruction is being provided, people are being told that they can choose to be cremated so that their remains can be interred at their church. This also communicates to people that they can feel free to disregard the customs of the Church and do whatever they prefer, which is way too common among American Catholics.

Someone once told me in (sort of) defense of the practice is that a parish was noticing that people were choosing cremation and then doing things prohibited by the Church such as scattering ashes or keeping them in their home. The columbarium was being built so that people would at least bury the ashes properly. This was a well-meaning argument, but I don’t agree. I believe it provides too much accommodation for people’s attitudes to be formed by the surrounding culture rather than by Christ and his Church when really, the truth needs to be preached.

In fact, I remember a priest, preaching at the funeral of one of my family members, tell us that what was in the casket was not our family member. I now know that is not a correct statement. It is a pagan/gnostic attitude that I’ve also heard repeated by a Protestant, though I don’t think the priest realized this. As human beings, we are made to be body and soul. When the soul separates from the body, neither are complete. The body that will decay is not the complete person, but guess what – neither is the soul! The souls in Heaven are longing for their bodily resurrection. Our bodies are not some costume or machine that we inhabit and need to be free from. They are an integral part of who we are.

There may be some people who need to choose cremation, and they need not feel as though they are incurring guilt for doing what the Church permits. However, the local parishes should not be building something that has such a potential to encourage that which is not what the Church prefers. We would be much better served by better catechesis about the body and reverence it required, not to mention our hope of the resurrection.

Category: Response


Reading Catholic Classics

  /   Sunday, October 30, 2022   /   Comments(0)

I admit I haven’t had the best time trying to read the classic Catholic writings of the saints. I read the Imitation of Christ a long time ago but wasn’t really ready for it. I didn’t even appreciate St Therese of Liseux’s Story of a Soul when I read it. I gained a greater appreciation for her reading other stuff about her. I read an abridged version of St Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout life, and that went much better for me.

Ascension Press has been putting together some great podcasts with Fr Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year, and coming next year, Catechism in a Year. Now, they’ve published a new edition of Introduction to the Devout Life and have a podcast where they are reading through it. From what I have read so far, this is a very accessible edition of the book. If the print version they are selling is too expensive for you, they’ve also published as an ebook. It’s available now, while the print version isn’t shipping yet.

The podcast, by the way, is going to run in seasons. It looks like they are going to spend a period of time reading a certain classic and then stop for a while. From what I see, Ascension must be planning to publish updated translations of a number of classics, and each time they do, we will have a podcast where we can read through it. The season for Introduction of the Devout Life is expected to last 42 days. You can follow along each day as you read the section, and I’m sure for me the days won’t be consecutive. You’ll have an opportunity to catch up on the break between seasons.

If they keep this up, and I hope they do, it’ll be an awesome way to study the classic writings of our faith.

Category: Books, Resources


We Were Not Told to Keep Holy the Weekend

  /   Wednesday, October 26, 2022   /   Comments(0)

I’m not a big fan of some of the semantic games people play.  Many of them seem to be used just to start arguments.  For example, there were some media posts going around that were against saying a husband was “helping” around the house because it’s his job, too.   I’m not sure how having responsibility precludes helping, but really, I digress . . .

There’s one usage I really do wish would die.  I’ve often heard of churches speak of the “weekend Masses.”  Why can’t we just say “Sunday Masses?”  We celebrate the Lord’s Day on Sunday in obedience to God’s command to keep holy the Sabbath and to celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord on Sunday.  Even if you attend a vigil Mass on Saturday night, as my family and I did during the pandemic, you are still going to a Sunday Mass.  The ancient Jews reckoned their days from sunset to sunset, so I think they’d agree.

The weekend is a societal construct.  The Sabbath is a command of God.  At a time where our culture is intent on keeping us always busy, we need to remember to set aside this day.  Even though it’s right next to Saturday, it’s not just part of a weekend.

Category: Catholic, Response


My First Impressions of Fiverr

  /   Tuesday, September 27, 2022   /   Comments(0)

I’ve now been a seller doing voice over on Fiverr for a couple of months now. Business has been rather slow, but I have gotten a little business and great ratings for the jobs I’ve done. There are people saying good things about the platform and others who positively hate it. For the most part, I like it, but there are some things I wish it had. Oh, and if you want to hire me, click here. I even have a gig on there with reduced prices for Catholic projects.

The site is set up well for the most part, with a place to put the relevant information as to just what it is you are selling. It took me some time to find where to enter the FAQ, though. Otherwise, I think I got everything filled out right away. However, getting back to my gigs to do an edit is a pain.

I got my first two orders within a couple of weeks of starting my profile. At first, I was a bit nervous. One was an accomplished voice over artist needing me to play the part of a caller to a radio station. The second was someone who had been buying on Fiverr for years and ordered the voice over for the 988 public service announcement. Both turned out to be great people to work with. My third order was from a student needing a voice over for a video for her portfolio. That was fun, too, and the young lady was nice enough to send me a video clip of what she made using my voice. I loved it!

There have been some, well, rather interesting characters that I’ve dealt with also. One of them was offering $10 for a 1700 word script with the possibility of ongoing work. Another wanted to pay $1 per script for scripts ranging from 3 – 10 minutes long. I realize that I’m going to be working for lower rates until I establish myself, but me working for those rates is just not going to happen.

From what I understood getting into Fiverr, they seem to have an expectation that both buyer and seller will conform to the terms that were communicated in the gig description (A “gig” is basically their term for each service you list for sale.). When I started, I wondered how well they would really uphold that and whether they would be fair. I will say that their support has been good and responsive when I’ve needed them.

Someone who obviously didn’t read my offering placed an order on my phone menu gig for a narration of his YouTube video. Although my gig description says that I don’t do profanity, but the very first sentence of the script contained the s*** word. I reached out to cancel right away, and later I reached out to support asking that they not count the cancellation against my stats. The support person agreed and took it off my stats because the person “did not read my description and ordered a service that I do not offer.” Oh, and if people give you problems, you can block them.

Now, there are a couple of features I really wish the site had. The biggest feature I want is the ability to accept or reject an order placed directly from my order page. I am simply not going to voice anything in violation of my Catholic faith. I’m not voicing scripts for questionable “make $1 million working 15 minutes a day” schemes. Being a health care professional, I don’t want my voice used to promote questionable health care products. I also need to avoid anything that would constitute a conflict of interest with my full time employer. Having to list this in my gig description means that I have to use a sizable block of space talking about what I won’t do, and I’d prefer not to have to do this.

The other feature I’d like to have is a kind of variable delivery commitment time. I’ve made the decision not to do voice over on Sunday. Because of this, I’ve had to put my delivery commitment as three days even though every project that I’ve done had been delivered sooner than that. The site counts an exact 72 hours once the clock starts. I’d like to be able to configure it to show a two day time not counting Sunday or something like that. Maybe it could also include some kind of “office hours” feature that shows I’m not available on Sunday. Some of us our just not going to be into the hustle culture, especially since I have a family.

Fiverr is giving me a great opportunity to do something I’ve thought about for years but never was able to start before. Time will tell if the platform will have respect for the fact that I won’t do anything in violation of my Catholic faith. As of now, I’m enjoying being on the platform and hope to gain some great experience in voice over and earn a bit of extra money as well. And, really, I want to get a good Catholic project that will allow me to do more to evangelize through media.

Category: News on My Life


Working with a Christian Worldview

  /   Saturday, September 17, 2022   /   Comments(0)

In my last post, I made some brief comments about “quiet quitting” (which I think is an odd term). I’ve read a number of posts about how some people are quietly quitting and what it means (and it varies a bit). I’ve also read and listened to others who are arguing against the practice. It seems that most of those who were attacking the practice were actually attacking a straw man and not what many of the proponents of “quiet quitting” were actually doing.

For a Catholic like me, this presents an opportunity to really reflect on the meaning and purpose of work and how I should approach my work. The truth is that work is essential, and everyone needs to do his fair share. If no one worked, there would be no farmers to produce food. There wouldn’t be builders to build houses. There wouldn’t be doctors to provide needed health care. We just don’t survive without work.

As a matter of justice, we need to do a full day’s work when we receive a full day’s pay. Christian charity demands that we work with a view towards meeting the needs of our employers and our customers. Working as a Christian means that our work is more than just transactional. We aim to serve and to do good for others as best as we can.

With this being said, much of the trend towards “quiet quitting” needs to be understood as a reaction, often righteous, to what was called the “hustle culture.” The term “hustle culture” simply means having to pretty much always be working. It’s true that there may be cases where someone has to work ridiculous hours for a period of time. For example, a rescue worker during a disaster may not be able to just stop working without leaving people in danger.

However, in most cases, work is becoming an idol, either to the employer or the employee (or both). I remember reading some articles on some career site that suggested the need to hide from the employer the fact that you stop working to attend your son’s baseball game. This is truly unhealthy, and any employer who has that kind of attitude doesn’t deserve its employees. It is absolutely immoral for an employer to consume a disproportionate share of the employee’s time and energy that needs to be devoted to his family.

Work has a proper place in life that should neither be diminished nor exaggerated. Many of the “quiet quitters” are reporting not that they’ve stopped trying to do a good job but that they’ve realized that there is more to life than work. People just want to be able, and should be able, to live their lives. Leisure is an important part of life. I was absolutely not surprised to find out that many people who decided to realize that now believe themselves to be more productive in their work. I’m betting that more of them are.

Most importantly, rest is actually commanded by God. God gave the Sabbath to the Jewish people, and now Christians celebrate it on Sunday. God commands us to cease from our labor most of all to worship. This is because, ultimately, we all belong to God himself.

Category: Response, Uncategorized


Quiet Quitting?

  /   Wednesday, August 31, 2022   /   Comments(0)

I’m seeing a lot in the news about “quiet quitting” one’s job. The strangest part is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement on what it means. Some people are doing reasonable things; others are really not.

As Christians, we realize our work is a sharing in God’s creation. Often, people depend on our work, and it’s important to do it well. We must work for love of God.

However, there are real limits to how much we should work. I’ve never understood why career and work were supposed to be the primary means of fulfillment for everyone. When that happens, work ends up becoming more than it should be. There are definite boundaries that need to be set both on how much we work and what we should take responsibility for. The balance is highly variable, and I wouldn’t claim to be able to give specific guidance.

Category: Uncategorized


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