Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weight loss and a vacation

Okay--getting ready to leave for vacation in a few hours. First, a thrilling drive across the wilds of East Texas to Houston, where we will establish base camp at the Sleep Inn near the local aerodrome. Tomorrow morning we will fly out to Belize City, then local natives will transport us to Caye Caulker. Yes indeed.

So--how's that diet thing going, you ask? Quite well. The toughest thing has been cutting back on the little snacks here and there throughout the day, but it hasn't been too bad. We've found some really good recipes in Cooking Light that are quite filling and you would never know you were eating something low calorie. I'm not as uncomfortably hungry as I thought I would be, but a little hungry all the same.

Grand total? In the last 3 weeks I have lost just under 17 lbs. WOOT! Still no where near where I want to be (about 180 lbs, which I haven't weighed in several years), but it's a start. Found some pants I haven't been able to fit in for a while, and I'm definitely more comfortable. So far, Emma hasn't threatened to buy me any more weight loss pills, so maybe I'm looking a little better too (at least my wonderful wife thinks so).

And now vacation is looming. I think I am motivated enough not to blow it all by stuffing myself, and I am actually looking forward to eating a lot of the local fresh fish and produce. So--we shall see.

See you next week!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Props for the Prez

I'm going to give credit where credit is due, and that includes President Obama.

At a summit of North American leaders, Obama slammed critics of his approach to the recent events in Honduras.
"The same critics who say the US has not intervened in Honduras are the same people who say we are always intervening and Yankees need to get out of Latin America," he said, accusing such opponents of "hypocrisy."

"You can't have it both ways,"

That is one of the most sensible things that has been said regarding Latin America in a long time. Even Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended Obama's approach:
"The United States is accused of meddling except when it's accused of not meddling," Harper said, praising the US "multilateral" role in efforts to reverse the coup and ease the Honduran crisis.

It is noticeable that Administration calls for Zelaya's restoration to power have been somewhat muted as of late, which I think is a good thing. From what I understand, Zelaya was a Chavez wannabe, and was in the process of suspending the Honduran constitution and having himself declared dictator for life, Venezuelan-style. The country has not been taken over by the army, and the National Congress is still in power, headed by Zelaya's lawfully elected successor. This is obviously not your typical banana-republic coup, and it is wise for the United States to maintain its distance.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"I'm a fan of disruptors . . . "

That was then, this is now.
Certainly we shouldn't question each others partiotism.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Global warming geniuses

I haven't posted much in this category in a while, but when I ran across this little item, I just couldn't let it go unnoticed.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) - recently appointed to the Senate Energy Committee - made clear that fighting the climate crisis is her top priority. "Climate change is very real . . . Global warming creates volatility. I feel it when I'm flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes."

"I feel it when I'm flying." No--I'm not making this up.

The more the global warming crowd sounds like this, the more inane their whole position appears.

This reminds me of Henry Waxman's stunningly stupid statement:
“We’re seeing the reality of a lot of the North Pole starting to evaporate, and we could get to a tipping point. Because if it evaporates to a certain point – they have lanes now where ships can go that couldn’t ever sail through before. And if it gets to a point where it evaporates too much, there’s a lot of tundra that’s being held down by that ice cap..”

This might be the scariest statement on "science" ever uttered by a Congressman. And this guy is co-author of the Markey-Waxman cap-and-trade bill, which is headed to the Senate for a vote in a few weeks. Is this the kind of "scientific attitude" that we want to guide us? Feeling global warming in Seat 22A, and all that tundra underneath the Arctic ice cap . . .

Funny how you don't hear anything on this from all of those who decried the "Republican war on science."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

But she's not an elitist!

That's Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee taking a freakin' call on her phone--not just in the middle of a town hall meeting, but IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMEONE ASKING HER A QUESTION!!!!

I'm going to guess that she did not--I repeat, did not--take any calls when she spoke at the Michael Jackson memorial in L.A.

Just a little confused . . .

So, Obama's at the Town Hall meeting in New Hampshire, and is heard to say this:
“We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors.”

At another point he said:
“Well, first of all, another myth that we've been hearing about is this notion that somehow we're going to be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not. AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay?”

Unfortunately, AARP is NOT endorsing this legislation.

Are your health care working?

During the same meeting, he attempted to speak (apparently without the teleprompter) about the efficiency of private vs. government enterprises:
"UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

DUH! Really? That's the whole point!
How about that Post Office, anyways?:
On Friday, the New York Times Business Section actually called for the privatization of the post office amid staggering losses, and even said it was in “General Motors territory.” So while the President sells you on his “post office” of health care plans, here are some questions to consider:
1.) The U.S. Post Office is the only entity allowed by federal law to deliver first class mail to your mailbox. In fact, Fedex and UPS are strictly prohibited from delivering “non-urgent” letters. If the government can fairly compete and is setting fair rules, wouldn’t the post office be open to competition at your mailbox?
2.) If Americans were offered “free” postage paid for by massive government spending and tax hikes, would Fedex and UPS still exist?
3.) The Post Office is on track to lose a staggering $7 billion this year alone. How will a government-run health care plan manage taxpayer resources more efficiently?
4.) Postmaster General John Potter says he lacks the “tools” necessary to run the Post Office effectively like a business. Would a government-run health care system have the tools it needs to run as effectively as the private sector entities it is replacing?
5.) On the one hand, the President remarks how great his public health care plan will be. On the other hand, he notes it won’t be good enough to crowd out your private insurance, i.e. the Post Office comparison. So which is it Mr. President? Will it be so great that private insurance disappears or so awful that it isn’t worth creating in the first place?
6.) But the most important question is this: if you have an urgent piece of mail you need delivered, life or death, who are you going to call? Everyone saying the government…please raise your hands. (crickets)
The most frightening line from Joe Nocera’s New York Times piece is this: “As for Mr. Potter himself, while he may want more freedom to run the Postal Service like a real business, he, too, seemed surprisingly wedded to outmoded ideas about mail service in America. ‘This country needs to have and to protect universal service,’ he said.”
Protecting universal service at the expense of cost, innovation, and quality of care. Sound familiar?

There's a lot of noise out there about healthcare reform. No--there's no such thing as death panels--but hey--what did Obama say back in April?
President Barack Obama said his grandmother’s hip-replacement surgery during the final weeks of her life made him wonder whether expensive procedures for the terminally ill reflect a “sustainable model” for health care.

With a statement like that, why wouldn't people be misinterpreting various provisions of the bill?

Our country is in the very best of hands.

Monday, August 10, 2009

So, dissent isn' t the highest form of patriotism?

Mark Steyn has a great article about those evil, swastika-carrying astroturfers who are showing up at those town hall meetings.

“The right-wing extremist Republican base is back!” warns the Democratic National Committee. These right-wing extremists have been given their marching orders by their masters: They’ve been directed to show up at “thousands of events,” told to “organize,” “knock on doors” . . .

No, wait. My mistake. That’s the e-mail I got from Mitch Stewart, Director of “Organizing for America” at BarackObama.com. But that’s the good kind of “organizing.” Obama’s a community organizer. We’re the community. He organizes us. What part of that don’t you get?

Suddenly, you're saying "community organizer" like it's a bad thing.
. . . on Monday, the official White House website drew attention to the alarming amount of “disinformation about health insurance reform.” “These rumors often travel just below the surface,” warned Macon Phillips, Chief Commissar of the Hopenstasi . . . whoops, I mean White House Director of New Media, “via chain e-mails or through casual conversation.”

“Casual conversation,” eh? Why can’t these “dissenters” just be like normal people and read off the teleprompter?

“Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help,” continued Commissar Phillips. “If you get an email or see something on the web about health-insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”Reporting dissent is the highest form of patriotism!

What the hell is wrong with these people? After 8 years of Cheney and Ashcroft and Gonzalez, your president is asking you to report on your neighbors. How absolutely quaint!

And this isn't about being against reform of our health care system--most Americans want health care reform. Just not this one.
If only we’d stuck to the president’s August timetable and passed a gazillion-page health-care reform entirely unread by the House of Representatives or the Senate (the world’s greatest deliberative body) in nothing flat, we’d now have all the time in the world to sit around having a “serious discussion” and “real debate” on whatever it was we just did to one-sixth of the economy. But a sick, deranged, un-American mob has put an end to all that moderate and reasonable steamrollering by showing up and yelling insane, out-of-control questions like, “Awfully sorry to bother you, your Most Excellent Senatorial Eminence, but I was wondering if you could tell me why you don’t read any of the laws you make before you make them into law?”

I suggest you read the whole thing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Gaffemeister

A Joe Biden post.

As brilliant a politician as Obama seems to be (and I mean that sincerely), I can't imagine that even his most ardent supporters were thrilled with Biden as his VP choice. It was certainly not an example of thinking outside of the box. One would think that with his vast amount of knowledge, Biden would not be prone to the stumbles he has exhibited over the last six months.

And yet . . .

I mean, if you thought Bush was master and commander of the English language, or Dan Quayle was captain of the Good Ship Verbal Gaffe, then you must be cringing ever time the Veep opens his mouth, which appears devoid of any neural connection to his brain. As Jay Ambrose wrote in The Washington Times, "has anyone noticed Joe Biden is a persistent, unreformed, downright clownish bungler whose gaffes are simply too many and too wild to be considered perfectly excusable slips of the tongue?"

Some screamers from the campaign trail:

". . . tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs."

"A man I'm proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next President of the United States — Barack America!"

"When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened."

Perhaps we should excuse the last one, as recently Obama remarked to ABC News that "I'm always worried about using the word 'victory,' because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur."

More recently, using his amazing medical mind, Dr. Biden warned everyone about the dangers of public transportation during the recent swine flu outbreak. He also indelicately summed up the administration's approach to stimulus spending:

"People, when I say that, look at me and say, 'What are you talking about, Joe? You're telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?" he said at a stop in Virginia. "The answer is yes."

Gee--I wish I had known that a few years ago.

Now, Bigmouth Joe has insulted the Russians, which has never been a good play in the foreign relations playbook. It was bad enough when Hillary presented them with the "Reset button" (did she order that from the Spencer's Gifts catalog?), but Biden has taken it a step further. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Biden said Russia's economic difficulties are likely to make the Kremlin more willing to co-operate with the United States on a range of national security issues.
"I think we vastly underestimate the hand that we hold,""They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they're in a situation where the world is changing before them and they're clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable," Biden said in the interview.It’s a very difficult thing to deal with, loss of empire," Biden added.

The Russian response was predictable. "Joe Biden unexpectedly returned to the rhetoric of the previous Bush administration," the newspaper Kommersant wrote. Moskovsky Komsomolets said Biden showed what the Obama administration really thinks about Russia. "We should respond to the Yankees in the same way," the newspaper wrote. "Any other language, unfortunately or fortunately, they do not understand."

Maybe there are significant problems in Russia demographically and economically. But the heart of what makes someone a diplomat, and the core of foreign diplomacy, is tactful candor. What Biden may have in candor (some might call it boorishness) he completely misses in tactfulness. Yet this is someone that Obama continues to tout as great asset to his administration.

And you thought misspelling "potatos" was bad . . .

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Two Cows

This is kind of one of those things floating around the internet that Michael Scott would forward to you in an e-mail. I actually think it's pretty funny.

You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. The cows go on strike to keep out American hormone-fed milk and launch a stampede through a McDonalds franchise at Euro-Disney. The French Cow Liberation Front hacks into the Cheddar website with images of Roquefort and WAV files declaring "Vive la France!"

You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them worldwide.

You have two cows. You read their DNA and figure out a way to create lean beef directly in a vat. You upload your cows. You debate endlessly on what to do with the originals cows, which are still alive and well, and are demanding bovine rights.

You have two cows. Both are mad.

You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.

You have two cows. The government takes them because they used to belong to white colonists. No one feeds them and they starve to death. Then you starve to death.

Below are the more traditional "two cows" explanation of political ideologies.

You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

Pure Socialism
You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you all the milk you need.

Real World Socialism
Your cows are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs the regulations say you should need.

You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

Pure Communism
You have two cows. Your neighbours help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

Real World Communism
You share two cows with your neighbours. You and your neighbours bicker about who has the most "ability" and who has the most "need". Meanwhile, no one works, no one gets any milk, and the cows drop dead of starvation.

Russian Communism
You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk. You steal back as much milk as you can and sell it on the black market.

Cambodian Communism
You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

Cuban Communism:
You have two cows. They swim to Florida and become capitalists.

You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.

You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

Pure Democracy
You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.

Representative Democracy
You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

A commenter over at Classical Values added this gem:
You have two cows. The larger of the two cows gives more milk but is determined to be a major producer of greenhouse gases.

The government takes that cow and gives you $4500 worth of other people's money toward the purchase of a smaller, hideously expensive but extremely tasteful and popular black Tajima-ushi cow, which produces less milk and requires daily brushing, purchased from a cattle rancher who recently marked up the cost of his product by roughly $4500.

The next day Youtube is hosting a video of your large cow being fed into a meat grinder tail first, surrounded by gibbering, giggling government sycophants. In certain circles, this is considered great justice.

Somehow, I understand the world a lot better now.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Weight loss

Look--I know I have been needing to lose weight. I mentioned a few posts back that I had started walking in the mornings. It still feels good--I seem to have a lot more energy during the day after I walk, and I was really expecting to see the scale respond in an appropriate way.

Well . . .

The other night Emma and I were watching TV, and an ad for Xenadrine or some other weight loss pill came on. I looked up to see Emma glancing from me to the TV; finally she said, "For Christmas, that's what I want to get you, so you can be skinny like the rest of us."

Yes indeed.

So--time to get real serious about this. It's a significant health issue for me. My dad died prematurely due to complications from diabetes and hypertension that he chose not to address while he could. That is not the road I want to go down.

Exercise is only half the equation--in addition to increasing the number of calories you burn, you also have to decrease the amount of calories you ingest; this is something I have not done.

I've lost weight before, most successfully by actually counting every calorie that I put in my mouth (you would have thought I was training to run a marathon before I started to cut back). I found that with a little effort, I was able to comfortably keep my daily calories in the 1200-1500 range, so that from about March to July of last year, I lost about 30 pounds. I want to repeat that feat. I'd like to lose about 60 pounds this time, with my goal at about 10 pounds per month.

So--today is day one. I've actually been pretty hungry today, mainly because I haven't been gobbling handfuls of peanuts and crackers and chips all through the day. Hunger is good. I had a simple salad for lunch, and I carefully counted and weighed my meatballs and spaghetti supper--it looked pitifully small, but I made it work. For the day, I stoppped at about 1100 calories, and I don't feel like it was too hard.

I will do this, if only to keep Emma from having to buy me Xenadrine for Christmas.