Back in September, when they were divvying out responsibilities for the eighth grade parents, the Wife and I immediately jumped on what we thought was the most fun project: the construction of the DVD slideshow to be shown at the breakfast on the morning of Commencement. We did this because it involved things that we seemed to have a lot of: time, patience and an artistic eye. It also had a budget, so that we wouldn’t have to be out of pocket.
The Wife has done most of the hard work (albeit in things which shouldn’t be that hard in this digital era, like getting the parents to give us 3-4 pictures of their children from over the years), and I’ve jumped in here to help out now and then. Especially now, as I’ve stumbled through a couple of hundred photos of the class trip to DC.
As I noted elsewhere, after going through all of these photos, dating from the toddler years to the present day, I noticed that one of the kids had a 14th birthday during the trip, and that, for some reason, blew me out of the water. All of these pictures, and they’re only fourteen? The volume of stuff, and the way these kids look, put me in the mindset that they were much older.
During the trip, they had the opportunity to “reenact” Pickett’s Charge on the Gettysburg battlefield. There’s a great picture of them all charging up the hill towards the camera on a brilliantly sunny day, the Pennsylvania countryside laid out like a rumpled blanket behind them, the clouds the pillows at the head of the bed. All smiling, one of them with the Stars and Bars, another with the regimental flag, screaming whatever version of the Rebel Yell they came up with from the guide’s description (Apparently his name was Chris, and he was cool.)
I thought that that would be a great cover picture for the slide show, until I remembered what the result of Pickett’s Charge was, how awful for the Southern side, and what happened to those screaming soldiers. The last impression I want to give these kids, as they go away to their different high schools, is that life is an uphill run into the teeth of an entrenched enemy, and they’re on the losing side, however joyful the run, or just they think their cause is.
Yes, I’m overthinking this.
I’m going to cheat a little tonight and backdate this post. I had to work until 11:30, so by the time I got home, it was already the next day.
In the car, I caught the beginning of the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 9th. Tonight, the famous opening words, “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!” sounded not like a declaration, but as though Beethoven is taking you into his confidence. As though you are both on the inside, “Alle Menschen werden Brüder.”
That’s my little five-minute insight for tonight. And now, to bed.
I was followed (figuratively, of course) on Twitter by a local bookstore. Which I thought was sort of weird, because Twitter is one of a myriad of things that prevents me from reading in the evenings when I get home from work. I’ve never been much of a fiction reader, and that is one of the things in my life that I regret. I realize that there is always time to change, but it’s mostly tomorrow.
It snowed here, like everywhere else north of the Mason-Dixon line and west of the Mississippi. I don’t know why people are so surprised — it is only March, after all. Calendar Spring has only just started. I took the dog out for a walk in the snow last night, much more his element than when I drag him out in the upper-80′s Augusts to which we are now doomed.
[I think it's sort of cool that the HTML code for the "five-minute line" that follows my first burst or writing each day is my initials. Seems to be my byline.]
I was never the youngest child, able to ask the five questions at Passover, so I got to open the door for Elijah. They even let me do it after I got the giggles one year listening to my uncle say the prayers in Hebrew. I ran out of the room, mortified, but doubled over with laughter.
Chag sameach, all.
Five minutes, Day 2 (if I get past 20, I’m going roman numeral stylee).
Looks as though this has been the most normalest weekend that I’ve had for a while. I could get used to this. The snow is falling (finally), as it seems it did everywhere but here. My boss is from Buffalo, NY, so I never have to fear that work is going to be shut down for any reason whatsoever. That actually makes curling up in a chair quite nice. D#2 and the Wife are in the family room catching up on new series Doctor Who, and I just dropped D#1 off for a Spring Break sleepover. At least we’re all somewhere warm.
Needless to say, since I hit 158-ish lbs., I’ve ballooned back up to 170, having taken my foot off of the gas pedal. I’m not too concerned, as the clothes still fit, but I will have to put the pedal to the metal at some point soon, as I still want to be under 160 on Memorial Day weekend, when the swimming pool opens. Maybe reintroducing exercise will be the ticket to. . . .
I’m conflicted. Having a five-minute daily lower bound doesn’t allow me the chance to get really deep on any subject. Then again, the tough part of this discipline will be getting through the weekdays. I don’t want this to be only a series of surface observations. How about I get one day a week to make a longer post? Just talking to myself.
The Wife and I have been making our way through A History of Scotland, hosted by Neil Oliver, a sort of North Country counterpart to Simon Schama’s A History of Britain. Though professional historians have complained that it is “too Anglocentric,” I think it provides a good introduction for those of us who are quite steeped in English history to see the whole British project through a different lens. My main problem with following the thing is not Oliver’s accent, but my lack of knowledge of Scots geography. All the battles seem to take place next to a river or loch of which I’ve never heard, and the map graphics don’t help as the country is constantly being spun around so that you can never tell which direction is north. But I assume that’s my problem and not theirs. I could also use a bit more humor.
OK, here’s the thing. If I’m going to have a blog at all, I have to post something. And the deal is that I never seem to have enough time to write, which is lame, because I spend so much time reading these things, the least that I can do is contribute. Also, I’ve been going on a Twitter run, posting a lot there, so I should be able to throw some thing up here as well.
So, five minutes. Five minutes a day, I have to sit down and write something. I will time myself and will lift my hands from the keyboard as soon as the bell (or whatever alarm I have set up) rings. There’s absolutely no reason why I can’t do that. It’s not that I won’t write more, simply that I won’t write less. We’ll see how this goes, but I can steal five minutes a day, and think of something every day that I can write about for that long. See, I’ve spent the last three sentences saying the exact same thing three different ways.
Going three months between posts is inexcusable.
There’s five minutes. Basically two paragraphs — Twitter on steroids. Something to say that I’m here, and alive, and experiencing things. So, what did I do today, on this lazy Saturday? Slept in, for one thing. The kids got back yesterday from seeing Grandma and Grandpa and one of their uncles. They got to see Blue Man Group, which they loved, especially because Grandma became part of the show. They went shopping in downtown Chicago, where Daughter #1 bought a dress for the eighth grade spring formal. . . .
Which reminds me (wow, it has been three months), D#1 got into her first choice high school along with a nice financial aid package, and we’re all very excited. We got her a school sweatshirt, the same color (red) and style as a hoodie she wears constantly, so that should help with the laundry a bit. The school recruited her as if she were a McDonald’s All American basketball prospect, which was really weird for her, she being an introvert, and self-effacing to a fault. We have a placement meeting with the school to determine what classes she’s going to take as a freshman. Unfortunately, I’ll have to be at work during that time, so I’ll hear about it second hand.
Church choir performed Haydn’s Stabat Mater last weekend. Beautiful, and and much less taxing than the Bach cantatas that we did last Spring. The high point was when we all turned into 12-year-olds during a section that the choir repeatedly intones, “Fac, Fac, Fac.” We all wondered if the young Haydn knew enough English to understand the joke.
Speaking of the choir — apparently someone had a mic on us at Norwich last summer. Notice how a really resonant acoustic helps everyone:
Good to be back. Thanks to all the bloggers who kept writing while I wasn’t.
This post is part of a limited series containing descriptions of my attempt to lose fifty pounds, or about 25% of my body weight. Not a small amount, but nothing that’s going to get me my own TLC series. To see the other posts, click here.
Well, I did it. In fact, I did it a while ago, but I’ve been so busy with life (which will be detailed elsewhere), that the celebrations (such as they are) had to wait. Not only have I passed 161.8, which was 50 lbs., but I’ve also passed 160. So this is going to be the celebratory “goal” post.
I trended below 161.8 for the first time on the 22nd of January, exactly 15 months after I started the present iteration of the Shangri-La Diet. On that day, the graph looked like this:
[As usual, the red line is the 10-day trend, the dark gray are the actual weigh-ins, the yellow line is a pound-per-week tracker, and the blue line is an abortive exercise program. The big gap to the left is the 2011-12 holiday season, the gap in the middle is the England trip, where I didn't have scale access, and the gap at the bottom right is for the days around this past Thanksgiving, also no scale access.]
If this were on Reddit’s r/LoseIt subreddit, I would feel like I had to post pictures. But I feel no such compunction here. People who have seen me noticed enough that I felt as though I’ve actually accomplished something. And I continue to lose, so my next goal will be 150; As for today, I’m at 157.8. The Wife has not yet said that I am too thin, and she is losing weight of her own accord (though not on my program). That BMI number, even with the weight gone is still above the range of “Normal” which tops out at 24.9. That gives me the confidence to say that 150 is not an unreasonable goal.
Being now employed, I’m moving and thinking and reacting more, rather than worrying about how much I’m eating. It’s been a heavy time, and the last month has been a reflection of that.
I’ve lost an average of about 2 lbs. per week over the last couple of weeks, and, though I rejoice that it’s finally coming off after plateauing for so long, I hope that I’m not going to get really ill. That “Daily deficit” number means that I’ve been netting (I think) less than 1,000 calories a day between food and exercise. Because of the oil that I ingest in the morning, I don’t feel ravenous, just normal hungry. That having been said, we did go to Bob Evans this morning, and I had no problem finishing off two eggs, three sausages, hash browns, two pieces of rye toast and a couple cups of coffee. But the difference is that I didn’t have lunch or dinner, just a light snack at the end of the day. Again, portion control.
In a way, my greatest fear right now is that I only have one pair of pants that fit me halfway decently, and they’re made of grey polyester. Though I don’t look gaunt, I do look like I’m wearing my big brother’s clothes.
But yes, I do see that I look better when I stare at myself in the mirror each morning. If I can keep this up, I will have no problem taking off my shirt at the pool next summer (and then putting it right back on because, sunburn, y’know). The fact that I don’t feel a lot better physically most likely has to do with a lot of things that aren’t my weight.
So, to sum up: “nice nice, yah boo, Phillips is a German and he have my pen.”
EDIT: Hi to all the people who came here from Seth Roberts’ blog, where he has a good, dispassionate, summary of what I’ve done. One thing that Dr. Roberts mentions that I haven’t really looked at is my relative salt intake over the course of the diet.
Write whatever, Hugh, just write. As I intimated yesterday in the year in review, another 85,000-word Everest this year seems a bit too ambitious, so I’m going to scale it back to 1,000 words a week: 52,000 in total. With the added goal of writing at least 200 posts. Most of the them won’t be that long, and that is sort of the goal.
This evening, I finished the tin of Ohio Buckeyes that my mother sent me for Christmas, a huge reminder of snowy holidays of the past. Though, talking with her a couple of days ago, she said that she had not checked whether the paraffin that she had used was edible. Given that I am not doubled over in pain on the commode right now should give me the answer to that question.
Daughter #1 was taken out yesterday by a friend to see The Hobbit, and when they returned here for a sleepover, she pronounced it “epic.” The best part for me that she has never read the book herself, only heard it when I read it to her a year or so ago, and it chokes me up a little to hear how much she remembers of it.
I have to get going on my project for the eighth grade graduation breakfast: a picture video of all the kids, the photos provided by their parents. Luckily, the group is relatively small, and I hope that it won’t be too much trouble to get these parents to cough up some good stuff. Just so we can all cry at the same time.
Even though we are now past the winter solstice, and the days are getting longer, it’s still annoying to wake up to dark and single-digit cold when I start the car up in the morning.
Sorry, paragraphs like this are what you’re going to get with the new regimen sometimes.