Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wishing you a Merry Christmas

Though this is not a particularly festive time of year for my family, I still wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Now I realize not everyone shares my religious beliefs. All I can say is, if you are offended by my wishing you Peace, Love, and Happiness at this time of year then I suggest you deal with it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: December 20, 2008

Weight: 364.8 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 27 lbs in 32 weeks (0.8 lbs per week)

Thought I was doing well this week but in retrospect I wasn't. The recent bout of cold weather has brought an increased desire for hot food and beverages. Picked up a box of a hot apple cider drink mix that I thought would be just the thing but looking at the ingredients I see it's mainly made out of sugar. Other hot foods I've given in to the craving for this past week have included English muffins, pasta, and potatoes. All too much starch. I also still haven't really gotten into exercising like I should though with the weather it ought to be easier to get out and do it.

I'm going to work on being good this week but it will be difficult with Christmas. Saturday was the 10th anniversary of my brother's death so my family doesn't feel particularly festive at this time of year but we'll still gather and Dad will want to go out to eat and the only place we know of that's open on Christmas Day is Brady's Landing over on the Houston Ship Channel. It's a long drive, the restaurant will be crowded, the service is usually poor, and the food on their Christmas buffet really isn't all that good despite it being rather expensive. But it will make Dad happy so we'll go and we'll enjoy each other's company and hopefully I won't do too much damage to my waist while I'm there.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stop It, Evil Hand! Stop It!

Wednesday it snowed here in Houston and as I was standing outside, in my capacity of usher at church, watching it snow I couldn't help but be reminded of the Angel episode where Angel cuts off Lindsey's hand and then Lindsey's bosses at law firm Wolfram & Hart arrange for him to receive a hand transplant only it turns out that his new hand is evil.

What? You don't see the connection? Well, once Lindsey realizes he has this evil hand he also realizes that he can blame all sorts of bad behavior on it.

If I had an evil hand I'm pretty sure it would want to grab Stephanie Romanov's ass too.

Still not seeing the connection? Okay, it's like this. As I was watching one of Houston's extremely rare snowfalls I couldn't help but give thanks for global warming. Were it not for global warming, obviously Houston would have been in the middle of an intense blizzard rather than just receiving a light dusting of snow that kids could play in but which would be gone by morning. I'm being sarcastic for those who can't tell. I mean, all this catastrophic global warming is supposed to be going on but here we were having a slightly colder than average December.

Of course this is why global warming has been replaced by climate change. They can't accurately predict what's really going on with the climate and were starting to look foolish pushing global warming so now they talk about climate change instead. You can't count on things continuing to warm up but you can be pretty sure the weather is going to change from day to day. It's hot? Its climate change. It's cold? Its climate change. The sun is shining? Climate change. Rain? Climate change. Snow? Climate change. Like an evil hand, anything can be blamed on climate change. Me? I'm a bit skeptical of any alarmist claims that can attribute anything to a cause that can't be accurately modeled or predicted.

That's not to say that we shouldn't do something about trying to develop sources of clean energy or eliminate pollution. A clean environment is its own reward. But we shouldn't cripple our economy out of fear of a phantom evil hand that may not even be there.

Saturday Weigh-In: December 13, 2008

Weight: 383.4 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 28.4 lbs (0.9 lbs per week)

As expected I gained weight over Thanksgiving, then dropped back last week and lost more weight this week. I made a couple of mistakes this week.

Wednesday night I had dinner with my parents. Because the weather has been cold, I was craving hot food. I normally don't order pasta, except on my cheat day, but since I was going to be standing out in the cold ushering at church I thought it might be nice to have something warm and dense in my belly. As an added bonus, pasta came with a bowl of soup so that was something else to raise my core temperature. Well, the French onion soup was as good as it always is. The shrimp scampi, on the other hand, left something to be desired. It wasn't particularly hot by the time it got to the table, the pasta was overcooked, and I really didn't need the starchy carbs.

Then the next day I was at the store and saw some sea salt and pepper cashews which I decided I wanted to try. Figured it would be okay as long as I limited myself to a reasonable portion a day but wound up eating most of the package that day.

I'd also like to point out that just because you have a cheat day doesn't mean you have to cheat. Last Sunday night I wasn't feeling particularly hungry but kept thinking about what cheat I could have for dinner. Fortunately I came to my senses and wound up not having anything bad for dinner. Why stuff yourself with food that's bad for you when you're not even hungry?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: November 22, 2008

Weight: 364.6 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 27.2 lbs in 28 weeks (0.97 lbs/week)

Okay, this time I'm just being lazy. It was a good week for getting back with the program. This week I'm going to try to be extra good since I'm making Thursday an extra cheat day. (Hard to be good on a holiday built around a lavish meal.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: November 15, 2008

Weight: 367.4 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 24.4 lbs in 27 weeks (0.9 lbs/week)

I haven't been doing a good job keeping up with these entries of late. It's largely because I've been feeling ashamed.

One of the challenges that people trying to lose weight face is their own capacity for denial that a problem exists. I used to work with a woman who was significantly overweight and wanted to shed some pounds. She dieted and exercised but never seemed to make any headway. The thing was, she kept a candy dish of M&Ms on her desk and every day she had to refill it with a 1 or 2 pound bag. If you suggested that the M&Ms might be connected to her inability to lose weight, she'd deny it. The M&Ms weren't the problem, she'd say, because she only ate 4 or 5 at a time. She'd go on to insist that the only reason she had to refill it every day was because other people would come by and grab handfuls. The thing was, while she might only eat 4-5 at a time, as soon as she finished those she'd reach over and grab another 4 or 5 and she'd do that all day long. Yes, other people would come by and get some candy from time to time but she was eating most of it. You can't eat a pound of candy every day and expect to lose weight. It just isn't going to happen.

In my case, I've been letting myself get into the food that I buy for my weekly cheat day. When I first started this weight loss plan, I'd only buy "single serving" size food for my cheat day. For example, I would buy a pint of ice cream instead of a half gallon and I would buy it a day or two before my scheduled cheat day. It was expensive to do that since it's always cheaper to buy in bulk but I knew if I had the food on hand, I'd be eating it all the time. As time went on, I found that I'd built up enough self-discipline that I could start buying bad food in larger amounts and yet only eat it on my cheat day.

Since Hurricane Ike, that's changed. During Ike I broke discipline because there wasn't a lot of food around and it was best to eat what was available when it was available. Then I continued to break discipline because I was eating a lot of meals with my parents and I wanted them to be able to eat wherever they wanted to eat. Since then I've found I no long have the discipline to not eat bad food if it's in the house. If I buy a candy bar to eat on Sunday, it's gone the day I buy it. Usually within an hour of my getting home from the store. So I'm returning to the early stages of my weight loss plan to reestablish my self-discipline.

This is the first week I've been back on the plan and it's been a good one. Starting next week I'm going to start forcing myself to go to the park and take walks in the morning. Rain is the only acceptable excuse for not going. We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Of Those Days

Today has been the sort of day that can be best summed up by this video:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Nothing like a little election day voter intimidation...

Gee, wonder who they're voting for...

Change you can believe in.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: November 1, 2008

Weight: 363.2 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 28.6 lbs in 25 weeks (1.14 lbs per week)

Felt like I made some progress this week. The bagels and cream cheese are gone and I'm mostly managing to resist the temptation posed by the ice cream in my freezer. Definitely got my exercise yesterday as I helped a friend move out of a third floor apartment into a second floor apartment in a different complex. Lots of schlepping things up and down stairs. I was worried that I'd be too sore today to want to mess with cooking anything but it doesn't seem to be a problem.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I think I'm in love...

Okay, maybe not the foul-mouthed baseball fan bit but she plays World of Warcraft...

It's a pity that she's wayyyyyyyy too young for me. I need to find a cute geek who's my age.

Saturday Weigh-In: October 18, 2008

Weight: 365.4 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 26.4 lbs in 23 weeks (1.15 lbs per week)

Saturday I had a job I had to get to bright and early so while I had time to weigh myself, I didn't have time to post a journal entry. I'm a little disappointed to have only dropped one pound but not too much. My eating is still a little off but I'm getting closer to being back on track with it. I really need to start getting some exercise and the weather here may finally be starting to cool down to the point where it's not too hot to go walking in the middle of the day so maybe I'll start doing that.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Celebrity Endorsements

Finally a celebrity with something intelligent to say about the upcoming election...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: October 11, 2008

Weight: 366.4 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 25.4 lbs in 22 weeks (1.15 lbs per week)

It continues to be a struggle to get back into the groove post-Ike. When it comes to bread these days, I eat a whole grain wheat bread but I find myself missing other types of bread, particularly sourdough. Which lead to my picking up a loaf of cinnamon brown sugar swirl bread. It's good stuff but not the sort of bread I should be eating and I've gone through it much faster than I should have.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Movie Review: An American Carol

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Usually when a movie isn't shown to critics prior to its release, it's because there is an expectation that it will receive bad reviews. Such was the case with An American Carol. What's different about the movie not being screened for critics is that it wasn't because its a bad movie but because it was believed that movie reviewers' would find the movie politically unpalatable. Many of the reviews that have come out about the movie have shown those fears to be grounded in reality. Can we really expect an unbiased review that begins with:

Pity conservatives. They've got the lamest politicians and the lamest comics.

This is my review of An American Carol.

I went into the movie hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Hollywood has turned out a lot of really bad parodies in recent years and adding political commentary didn't seem like a formula for success. Though I've liked David Zucker's past work on films such as Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, the trailer for An American Carol seems kind of lame.

On the other hand, I was hoping the movie would be as funny as Zucker's past work so that it would do well at the box office and Hollywood might see value in doing more movies with a conservative bent.

That said, I think the movie landed somewhere halfway between my hopes and fears. It's got some very funny bits, such as Rosie O'Connell's film showing that radical Christians are just as bad as radical Islamists, but some other bits fall flat such as a joke about everyone in a terrorist group being named Mohammed Hussein.

Like most of Zucker's work, the movie is cheesy, cornball, and over-the-top. That's not a bad thing in this kind of movie but if you don't like that kind of humor, this movie probably isn't for you.

As far as I can tell, most conservatives seem to really like this movie and most liberals seem to really hate it. So where you fall on the political spectrum should probably be taken into consideration if you're thinking of going to see it. In my case, I found the movie to be very enjoyable. I certainly had more fun at it than I did at Tropic Thunder earlier this year. Judging by the laughter I was hearing from my fellow movie goers, I wasn't the only one.

If you do go see An American Carol make sure the theater box office gives you tickets to the right movie. There have been reports about some theaters trying to sabotage the box office by selling tickets to other movies. It doesn't effect your ability to see the movie but it does effect the reported box office and thus the perception of whether the movie is a success or failure.

James Gunn's PG Porn

James Gunn has teamed up with the Spike cable network to produce James Gunn's PG Porn. It's pornography for people that like everything about porn but the sex. In other words if you like bad acting, bad scripts, low budget sets, and fuzzy guitars but no sex then it's just the thing for you. The first webisode, Nailing Your Wife, is up and stars Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog) and Aria Giovanni.

It's funny stuff and I look forward to future webisodes which will follow the formula of pairing mainstream actors with porn stars. Though I do have to say that I think it's a sad commentary on our society that this is considered family friendly fare, and I've certainly seen worse on television during prime time on shows such as NCIS, but had there been any nudity or sex, even of the simulated variety, it would have become an R.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

For he is Jeff and there is no cure.

The last few weeks have left me needing a good laugh or two so I have turned to one of my favorite British comedies, Coupling. A hilarious look at how men and women view relationships and sex differently. Well worth at least renting the DVDs if you've never seen it before.

Last week was a friend's 50th birthday and his wife through a surprise party for him which reminded me of this scene from Coupling in which Jeff's girlfriend tries to throw a surprise party for his 30th birthday...

Saturday Weigh-In: October 4, 2008

Weight: 367.6 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 24.2 lbs in 21 weeks (1.15 lbs per week)

My weight continues to bounce around in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. I'm still spending a fair amount of time at my parents' house and thus eating at the places they like to eat at the time they like to eat. Not the most ideal of circumstances but at least I've managed to steer them to places that have healthier choices. (It helps that one of their favorite places is currently closed while repairs are made to the roof.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: September 27, 2008

Weight: 371 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 20.8 lbs in 20 weeks (1.04 lbs per week)

Not sure what to make of today's weigh-in. I'm hard pressed to believe that I gained 6 pounds this week though I have been eating rather poorly.

Hurricane Ike continues to make itself felt. For several days after I returned home and restocked my fridge, I found myself feeling ravenous all the time. I'm assuming it was a side effect of my "starvation" diet during the previous week. I wasn't overly hungry when food wasn't available but once food became relatively plentiful again, my body wanted to replenish itself. At least that's my theory but not I'm not a physician or nutritionist or anything like that so I don't really know.

It also didn't help that stores tended to be short on a lot of perishable goods, such as fish and chicken, because loss of power for an extended period of time meant having to throw those things out. So instead of being able to buy the sort of foods I normally get I wound up eating a lot of peanut butter and other such foods. That didn't help.

Finally, since my parents had no power until this Thursday, I went over to their house every day this week and wound up eating lunch with them. Unfortunately not every place they wanted to eat at was conducive to eating in a healthy manner and this was aggravated by the fact that a fair number of places still aren't open, limiting our choices as to where to eat. It also didn't help that they tend to combine lunch and dinner into one meal eaten around 3:00 pm which usually meant I was really hungry by the time we ate and consequently tended to load up the wrong kinds of foods.

Things should get better this week. The freezer is finally restocked with fish, chicken, and frozen vegetables and my parents have their power back so I won't be going over there every day which means I should be able to finally get back on track.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Teaching Kids to Roleplay

Wired has an interesting article on teaching your kids to play roleplaying games.

I discovered AD&D in high school and branched out into other games as I got older. As a strong introvert, such games helped me break out of my shell to develop social skills. In college I pretty much talked to no one but my roommate for the first couple of quarters. Then I connected with some other roleplayers and the number of friends I had blossomed. Even today I'd say most of my friends are people I met through gaming.

At the same time, the roleplaying aspect of games like AD&D has helped me deal with some personal issues. Not surprising given that some psychologists use roleplay, though in a different form, to treat their patients. It's a way of distancing yourself from issues while you work through them. Even today I notice certain similarities between the characters I play and myself that I've unconciously built into them.

Since RPGs have been a relatively positive influence on my life, I would certainly want to pass them on to my kids so this is a pretty handy article.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: September 20, 2008

Weight: 364.8 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 27 lbs in 19 weeks (1.42 lbs/week)

No weigh-in last week because I spent the day at my parents' house, away from my scale, listening to the radio while Hurricane Ike passed through the Houston area. To say I've been off my healthy eating plan since then would be an understatement.

Friday, the day before the storm, I went to my parents' house and we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, one of the few places that we could find that stayed open past noon as people headed to their homes to wait out the storm. On our way home we stopped at Antonio's Flying Pizza to pick up a pizza for dinner. Oddly enough, that looks like it may become a tradition for us since we did the same thing when we were expecting Hurricane Rita when we had dinner (pasta) at Antonio's and then took a pizza home for later.

Anyway, after Ike passed we were without power so for the next few days my diet consisted of two slices of pizza a day. We had other food available, such as cereal and cans of soup, but I couldn't stop thinking that any food I ate was food that wasn't available to my parents if they needed it and I've inclined to think I'm better prepared to go without food for a few days than they are. Once businesses started to reopen we started going out to eat at whatever place we could find open without driving around and wasting gas. Since it would be our meal of the day, I'd deliberately choose food that was high in calories.

I'm at home now and have power again. One of the benefits of living in an apartment complex where the power company could get a bunch of people back online with relatively little effort. My parents are still without power so I'll be spending a lot of time at their house and still eating with them though now I'll start choosing healthier foods.

I want to call people's attention to the fact that even though my caloric intake this past week has been the lowest it's been since I started trying to lose weight, the rate at which I'm losing weight actually dropped this past week. That's because when your body doesn't get enough food, and two slices of pizza a day is not enough food, it starts to shut down in order to preserve energy. It will even burn muscle instead of fat in order to slow the metabolism and lower the number of calories you burn in a day. The slowing of my rate of weight loss is a pretty graphic demonstration that starving yourself is not a good way to lose weight.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Boot to the Head

Here's a little Monday morning silliness...

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Many who watched Gov. Palin's speech at the RNC found themselves smiling when they saw this:

Not the media though. According to the New York Times:

In the press galleries at the convention, journalists wrinkled their noses in disgust when Piper, Ms. Palin’s youngest daughter, was filmed kitty-licking her baby brother’s hair into place.

And just so you don't think that attitude was limited to the NYT, here is CNN's "unbiased" take on it:

How sad that their hatred of Gov. Palin is such that they would even belittle her 7-year-old daughter.

Sarah Palin and Creationism

Another smear circulating about Sarah Palin is that she wants Creationism to be taught in school. What she actually said was that it didn't have to be part of the curriculum but that there shouldn't be a prohibition against discussing it if it comes up in class.

In an interview Thursday, Palin said she meant only to say that discussion of alternative views should be allowed to arise in Alaska classrooms:

"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum.

Gee, how horrible. A politician that thinks that school kids' religious beliefs should be treated with respect instead of their teacher telling them to just shut up.

Sarah Palin and Sex Ed

To comment further on the attacks on Sarah Palin based on her supposedly wanting to restrict sex ed classes to an "Abstinence-only" curriculum, here's what Gov. Palin actually said about sex ed:

"No, I'm pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues. So I am not anti-contraception. But, yeah, abstinence is another alternative that should be discussed with kids. I don't have a problem with that. That doesn't scare me, so it's something I would support also."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bill Maher Fails Biology

One of the first lies about Sarah Palin to pop up on the Internet was the claim that Trig Palin was actually her grandson and she had claimed him as her own to cover up the fact that he was actually her daughter Bristol's child. This was debunked on Monday when it was announced that Bristol was 5 months pregnant, which would make it kind of hard for her to have given birth to Trig 4 months ago. Unless, of course, she was the first woman in the history of the world to get pregnant with one child while 8 months pregnant with another.

Incredibly Bill Maher, obviously an intellectual giant, continues to push the claim that Trig is actually Bristol's son. So apparently she's some weird mutant who can get pregnant while pregnant and not miscarry the new fetus while delivering the first child. Perhaps someone should explain the female reproductive organs to Bill because apparently he's not familiar with them.

In any case I thought this was a pretty stupid attack on Gov. Palin from the very beginning. Even if it were true, who cares? Are we really expected to think poorly of Gov. Palin because she adopted her daughter's special needs baby and is raising it as her own? To a lot of people that would make her a saint. Maybe it's supposed to be an indictment of Palin for promoting abstinence-only education but the public school Bristol attends teaches about contraceptives in sex ed so she didn't have an abstinence-only education and thus her pregnancy wasn't proof that abstinence-only education doesn't work. Maybe it's supposed to be proof that Sarah is a bad mother because Bristol isn't a mindless robot that does everything her parents tell her to do. Of course anyone who's ever raised a teenager know that they're not always obedient so this would make every parent in the world a bad parent.

It has absolutely nothing to do with her political positions or her ability to perform her duties. It's just a stupid lie that doesn't even make her look bad.

Liberal Lies

I really don't want this to be a political blog but some of the lies coming out of the Left are too disgusting to ignore. It seems one particularly diseased mind has vomited forth a story claiming that Sarah Palin is a racist. The author describes himself as a Democrat and an activist so you can guess just how unbiased he is.

An independent, he has accomplished what the Associated Press, Reuters, MSNBC, CNN, etc. could not. He's gotten someone to spill the beans about Sarah Palin. Someone who is, conveniently, impossible to identify and even if you could track his source down she wouldn't talk to you because you don't have his friend, also conveniently unidentified, to vouch for you. According to his story, Palin was spouting racist comments at a lunch with 5 or 6 other people who are also conveniently unidentified.

Basically what you've got here is a completely unverifiable claim by a self-professed activist that Gov. Palin is an over-the-top racist who not only hates blacks by Alaskan aboriginals as well. If she hates Eskimos as much as she does, it's kind of strange that she married someone who is part Yup'ik. Which would make her children part Yup'ik as well.

It's possible that Sarah Palin is a racist. It's also possible that Barack Obama likes to dress up in his wife's lingerie and stand in front of a mirror singing, "I'm a pretty, pretty princess." I won't believe either claim until a see a more credible report than this tripe.

That's Gotta Hurt

Apparently people have had just about enough of the media trying to smear Gov. Palin with random rumors from the Internet.

Another Day, Another Lie About Sarah Palin

Apparently one of the benefits of picking someone as inexperienced as Sarah Palin is that since she doesn't have much of a political record, there's not much that can be found to smear her with so Obama's supporters are reduced to making up all kinds of things in an attempt to find something that will stick to her.

The latest that I've heard is that she supposedly tried to have a bunch of books banned when she was mayor of Wasilla. The funny thing is, the list of books she alledgedly tried to ban includes a number of books that weren't published until several years after she tried to ban them. Apparently Sarah Palin can see the future which, to my way of thinking, would be a very useful talent for someone running the country to have.

I've run across a web site that is keeping track of all the claims being made about Gov. Palin. It makes for some rather interesting reading.

Saturday Weigh-In: September 6, 2008

Weight: 366.6 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 25.2 lbs in 17 weeks (1.48 lbs per week)

Perhaps not my best week but certainly nothing to complain about. I still need to do something about getting some exercise but at least my healthy eating plan is going well and I'm not having too much trouble sticking to it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Smell of Fear

You can tell the left is getting desperate. Now they're attacking Sarah Palin's hair.


For those who missed it, here is Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican National Convention last night:

ABC News has the transcript.

I have reservations about Palin's lack of experience but, let's face it, both the Republicans and Democrats are running inexperienced politicians this year and at least with the Republican's the inexperience is at the bottom of the ticket unlike the Democrats where the inexperience is at the top.

For the past week, Palin and her family have had to endure all manner of outrageous claims that were about as substantial as those that Obama has a gerbil fetish just because he likes to dress gerbils up in lederhosen. Even the mainstream media has given up all pretense of being unbiased in order to spread lies about Palin. And if you think for one minute that the media doesn't know they're spreading lies watch this clip of Fox's Megyn Kelly speaking to the editor of a hit piece from Us Weekly magazine:

Those who have been smearing Palin have been patting themselves on the back, confident that they were on the verge of forcing her to withdraw from the race. Well, as they found at last night, you mess with the hockey mom, you get the stick. She delivered a great speech to a conservative base that has been energized by her addition to the ticket. They clearly love Palin and the vicious, sexist attacks against her have only served to make them rally in her defense.

The best response to Palin's speech that the Democrats have been able to come up with so far is that someone wrote it for her. It's a stupid response when you consider that Obama, Biden, and McCain all have their own speech writers and apparently Palin was actively involved in the writing of her speech. That's probably why she was able to deliver it so well after her teleprompter malfunctioned forcing her to "wing" it.

For the first time I'm actually feeling kind of excited about this election. While I do disagree with Palin on some issues, overall I find that I really like her. Is that enough to get me to vote Republican this year? Probably not but I do find myself thinking that a McCain presidency might not be such a bad thing and maybe in a few years we'll see a more experienced Sarah Palin running on the top of the ticket with someone like Bobby Jindal as her VP. Now that could very well be something to get excited about.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: August 30, 2008

Weight: 367.8 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 24 lbs in 16 weeks (1.5 lbs/wk)

Things continue on schedule though I seem to be in a dangerous phase where I've gotten comfortable enough with my healthy diet that I'm letting my guard down and then finding myself craving something unhealthy. Fortunately Sundays are cheat days so I can deal with those cravings and not feel bad about it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hate Speech in Denver

In case you can't tell the players without a scorecard, that's conservative pundit Michelle Malkin being stalked by Alex Jones as she visits the Denver Mint during the Democrat National Convention.

The BBQ Song

How do you like your BBQ?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: August 23, 2008

Weight: 369.4 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 22.4 lbs in 15 weeks (1.49 lbs/wk)

Not a bad week at all. Had a few days when I went longer than I should have without eating and consequently was tempted to eat bad stuff but I stuck with healthy food. Can't help but feel good about seeing my weight drop below 370 lbs and I'm on the verge of being able to take my belt in another notch so overall I'm pretty happy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Produce Review: Nivea for Men Body Wash vs. Axe Snake Peel Shower Scrub

We are a nation of stinky people. I say this not because we need to bathe more often but because we seem to insist on putting fragrances into so many personal care products; soaps, body washes, shower scrubs, shampoos, conditioners and so on. But it doesn't stop there because we also do it with laundry detergent, bleaches, and fabric softener. When all these various scents mingle, it's not unusual to be left with some kind of funky mélange. Making matters worse, the people who develop these fragrances aren't exactly at the top of their field. Let's face it, if you're figuring out ways to make a douche smell like a garden of flowers instead of developing the next $1,000 an ounce perfume for Calvin Klein or Yves Saint Lauren or Bvlgari or one of the other big fashion houses, you're probably not that great.

Things came to a head for me when a fabric softener that was supposed to make my clothes smell like a mountain meadow instead made them smell like a mountain of rotting fruit. A couple of days of that stench and my clothes were literally making me gag on the verge of throwing up. Fortunately the makers of laundry products have figured out that not everyone wants their laundry to stink and it's possible to get said product free of fragrances.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for a lot of personal care products. There are precious few soaps, body washes, shower scrubs, etc. at my favorite grocery store that are free of fragrance. Equally unfortunate is that it seems most of the makers of these products target women. I'm a guy. I don't want to get out of the shower smelling of strawberries or apple blossoms or some other flowery scent. Thus a niche for such products aimed specifically at men has been created.

Probably the most well known name to target this niche is Axe which offers a wide variety of "manly" scents. Personally I like Axe Snake Peel Show Scrub because while it lists fragrance as one of its ingredients, the scent is too subtle for me to detect even if I sniff the top of a fresh bottle. Still I tend to be embarrassed to buy Axe because they've built their entire marketing campaign around the idea that if you use Axe, you'll get laid. A lot.

They even make the claim on their labels with has a picture of a shower head labeled "1" followed by a picture, labeled "2," of a guy with two women. Consequently I always feel like people see me buying Axe and think I'm getting it because I think it will magically get me laid. Of course Axe isn't the only company to take this approach to marketing:

So I was happy to see an ad for the new Nivea for Men Body Wash line that stressed that their product wasn't stinky and was basically a body wash for adults. So I decided to pick some up and give it a try. I was kind of disappointed to discover that it comes in two flavors; Cool (menthol) and Energy (mint). Still the scent doesn't appear to be too strong and I don't notice it after I get out of the shower. I'm not fond of the tall, thin bottle which seems prone to falling over if you bump it. I'm also not fond of the rounded cap which will make it a bit of a hassle when the bottle starts getting low and I want to stand it on its head to make it easier to get the last of the body wash out. It leaves me clean but my skin feels a little dry.

Overall, I find I'm happier with my Axe Snake Peel Shower Scrub, embarrassing marketing campaign aside. No real scent, does a good job, and the bottle is better designed since it's nicely contoured for holding on to in the shower and it's clear so you can see how much you have left. As an added bonus, Axe is made in the USA while the label on my Nivea for Men Body Wash says it was made in Germany. That might explain why the Axe also seems to be cheaper than the Nivea.

Saturday Weigh-In: August 16, 2008

Weight: 371.4 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 20.4 lbs in 14 weeks (1.46 lbs/wk)

Not a bad week. I'm feeling pretty good right now since I've got a shot at breaking 370 lbs next week. I know that's 20 lbs shy of my next milestone, 350 lbs, but you still can't help but feel good every time you pass a 10 lb mark. However, it's worth noting that I could have done better this week.

Wednesday and Thursday night I went over to some friends' house for a small gathering of people. We engaged in what I think of as "Dueling Diets." While we weren't gathering specifically for dinner, we were getting together at dinner time so we ate together. Four of the other five people were on the Atkin's diet plan while I'm doing my own thing. The Atkin's folk get to have fat while I get to have carbs and it's kind of difficult finding something that will satisfy everyone. The first night we ordered fajitas with the usual trimmings. The Atkin's folk had beef fajitas while I had chicken. They got the guacamole, queso, and sour cream while I got the rice, refried beans, and tortillas. Really more starch than I should be eating but otherwise not too bad. Of course there was a lot of rice and beans left over and they got sent home with me since the Atkin's people couldn't eat them at all so I wound up having them the next day for breakfast and lunch.

The next day one of my friend's cooked and she made a tasty soup and chicken with whole wheat pasta. I generally try to avoid pasta because it's a starch. Not really sure how that's affected by it being whole wheat but I can't shake the feeling that I would have been better off with steamed vegetables instead.

In hind sight, it would have been a better idea, since eating was only incidental to our gathering, if I had just had an early dinner and eaten something before going over to my friends' house. It's something to keep in mind for the future.

I will say this. I'm glad I'm not doing Atkin's. On the one hand, my friends' get to have eggs and bacon or sausage for breakfast every day which is a good bit tastier than my usual low fat cottage cheese with raisin bran. On the other hand, one day a week I get to eat whatever I want while one of my friends has had to give up his favorite food, chocolate. Personally I think I've got the better end of that deal. But I think it helps showcase the difference in what we're doing. I'm working on developing eating habits that I can stick to for the rest of my life. They're doing something to lose weight and will probably go off it once they reach their targets. At least I hope they will because I can't imagine a life without chocolate.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: August 9, 2008

Weight: 372.8 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 19 lbs in 13 weeks (1.46 lbs per week)

Not much to say. Fairly standard week for me. Got a little more exercise than usual since I took my car in to the shop on Wednesday and walked home after dropping it off and then walked back when it was time to pick it up, about 1.5 miles each way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My Brain Hurts

Nancy Pelosi appeared on ABC's "This Week" and George Stephanopoulos tried to get her to explain why she won't allow a simple up or down vote on offshore drilling for oil. He keeps repeating the question over and over and she keeps avoiding it. Her evasions make my brain hurt:

The oil reserve she wants to open up is the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve which was established after OPEC announced that it would no longer ship oil to nations that had supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War back in 1973. The oil embargo ended in '74 but it made it clear that we needed to have a reserve on hand just in case a similar situation were to arise in the future. I'm not sure $4 a gallon gas is a good enough reason to start dipping into the reserve. In any case it's a limited supply that would be rapidly depleted and would then need to be restocked.

Pelosi says she wants the oil companies to drill on the lands they already have leased. The oil companies would be happy to do this were it not for one little problem. They haven't found oil there in any place that's currently accessible. You can't just poke a hole anywhere in the Earth's surface and have crude oil come gushing out. You have to find the oil first and they haven't been able to find oil on their current lands. We know that there's oil under the outer continental shelf which is why they want to drill there.

Pelosi also keeps going on about offshore drilling being subsidies to Big Oil. So much so that I find myself reminded of The Princess Bride. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Opening up the outer continental shelf would not be a subsidy. The land isn't given to the oil companies for free. They pay a lot of money for a lease that gives them the right to drill. They pay for the exploration and they pay for the drilling and if they don't find anything they're out the money and when the lease expires the land goes back to the government without the oil companies being reimbursed.

Nancy also keeps harping on the fact that drilling now won't provide immediate relief at the gas pump. That actually remains to be seen. Yes, if we open the OCS for drilling now it will still take time to find the oil, drill it, pump it, refine it, and get it out to the consumers though not the 10 years she claims. However, it could have an immediate effect at the pump because oil speculators will react immediately to an expected future increase in the oil supply. Foreign oil producers may also act to lower their prices on crude oil as a way of discouraging us from increasing our oil production, which would create added competition for them. In case you haven't been paying attention the last few days, the price of gas has dropped lately on just the suggestion that we may soon be opening the OCS up for drilling.

The real reason Nancy Pelosi opposes increasing domestic oil production is because she gets a lot of money from environmentalist special interest groups. These groups oppose fossil fuels and want high prices at the pump to discourage people from driving and to spur on development of alternative energy sources. Nancy needs their money to fuel her campaign so she abuses the power of her position to put their interests ahead of the interests of the general public.

Monday, August 4, 2008


It's Monday morning and the Republicans are back at the House of Representatives talking about the importance of domestic oil production. Congressman John Culberson is there posting updates via Twitter.com and Qik.com. Perhaps the best part of this is that they wouldn't have gotten this much attention if Nancy Pelosi hadn't tried to silence them.

Update: Culberson had to leave but others are still there and you can follow them on Twitter.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: August 2, 2008

Weight: 374.4 lbs.

Total Weight Lost: 17.4 lbs in 12 weeks (1.45 lbs per week)

Okay, I'd say I'm back on track. Only ate one bad thing all week (not counting my cheat day). Had a late lunch with my parents and the chicken rollup I had came with fries. I wish more restaurants would offer healthy alternatives to fries, chips, or onion rings.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Democrats: the Jack-Booted Thug Party

Today has been a fairly exciting day politically speaking. After Nancy Pelosi refused to bring to a vote the offshore oil drilling ban and, instead, adjourned the House for a 5 week vacation a small contingent of Republicans refused to leave the House. They've spent the day speaking out about the current energy situation. Instead of returning to debate the issue, the Democrats have resorted to turning out the lights and turning off the microphones and TV cameras. When that failed to squelch the Republican revolt, the Democrats kicked reporters out of the Speaker's Lobby and the police were sent in to remove them from the press gallery as well. Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) blocked this move by going to the gallery to talk to reporters since the police couldn't very well remove them while they were talking to a Congressman.

The latest from Pete Hoekstra's twitter page indicates that now the Capital Hill police have orders to shut the Capital down at 4:30 PM which is about the time I'm writing this. Should be interesting to see what happens. No matter how it turns out, today's events should make it plain to everyone that the Democrat Party is against our First Amendment rights of Free Speech, Peaceful Assembly, and the Freedom of the Press.

Update: Apparently the police have finally removed the reporters from the galleries.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Being Ethical Isn’t Cheap

God gave the Devil a choice, or so the story goes, between Hell or Texas. The Devil chose Hell because he found the climate to be more moderate.

It's 8:00 AM and the temperature is pushing 80 and they're predicting a high for the day in the mid-90s. If you're going to be out in this kind of heat, particularly if you're going to be engaging in physical activity, you should make sure you have water so you don't become dehydrated. There's a local park that has a 2.25 mile exercise trail that's marked off in quarter mile segments. I'm partial to taking walks there but there are only a couple of spots with water fountains so it's a good idea to carry some bottled water. Based on taste, I'm partial to Aquafina which I buy in both 500 mL and 1 liter bottles. I mostly drink the smaller bottles but if I think I'm going to be out in the heat for an extended period of time I'll take one of the larger instead.

This week I needed to pick up more of the liter bottles so I headed to the store only to find that they needed to restock their Aquafina. Now I prefer Aquafina but I'm not a stickler for it so I surveyed my choices, Dasani or Ozarka. This was when I noticed a new brand on the shelves, Ethos Water. In case the name doesn't make it clear that this is an "ethical" choice, the label proudly declares, "Helping children get clean water." On the back of the bottle is a mission statement that says Ethos Water will donate 5 cents for every bottle sold to humanitarian water programs that help children around the globe gain access to clean water.

Here's the thing. Ethos Water, at least at the store I go to, is the most expensive bottled water on the shelf. It's 40 cents more than the next most expensive bottled water and 69 cents more than my usual choice of Aquafina. For that kind of money I'd better be getting the bottled tears of a virgin or some such but Ethos is just regular water.

Reason dictates that if I really want to help children and others get clean drinking water, it would be better to buy another brand and then donate the money I save directly to a humanitarian program of my choice rather than letting Ethos do the donating for me. After all, $6.90, the money I would save buying 10 bottles of Aquafina instead of Ethos, is a lot better than 50 cents, the money Ethos would donate if I bought 10 bottles of their product.

So I did a little research and it turns out that Ethos Water is owned by Starbucks and produced by PepsiCo (who also produce Aquafina). I also found out, and this is really interesting, that Ethos Water doesn't use recycled plastic in their bottles even though PepsiCo does use recycled plastic in its own bottles. So not only is Ethos Water expensive but it's also one of the more environmentally unfriendly bottled waters. Seems to me that Ethos Water isn't a very "ethical" choice no matter what they claim.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: July 26, 2008

Weight: 378 lbs.

Total Weight Lost: 13.8 lbs in 11 weeks

I hate having to make a post like this. Obviously I've been backsliding. On Monday and Tuesday I was helping my parents out with some things at their house and, as usual, they wanted to take me to lunch. Both days we went to a place they like that I'd never been to before. I could have eaten healthy but I wanted to see how the restaurant did on some old favorites of mine so Monday I have red beans and rice with sausage and on Tuesday I had a shrimp po-boy with fries. Both days was too much fat and starch.

Unfortunately it didn't end there. Monday I was feeling guilty about lunch so I decided to just skip dinner but then got really hungry and wound up getting into some ice cream I'd bought for my cheat day instead. Additionally, I've been adding too much fat to my meals at home. I typically have a slice of whole grain wheat bread with lunch and/or dinner. Lately I've been toasting and buttering it and sometimes sprinkling it with cheese before putting it into the toaster oven. I've also been allowing myself to put more cheese on my salads. In my search for a new supplier for my cottage cheese, I stumbled across a parmesan romano salad dressing that I decided to try out. Unfortunately it's not low fat and I've been rather liberal in applying it to my salads.

This week I need to concentrate on getting back on track. I've got to lay off the cheese and butter and salad dressing and get back to eating right.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

“I’m a lawyer, you idiot!”

It seems some liberals are starting to experience buyer's remorse when it comes to Barack Obama. Ever since he got the Democrat nomination sewn up he's been flip flopping his way to the political center and they're none too happy about it. I find the whole thing rather amusing since it reminds me of one of my favorite western comedies, Rustler's Rhapsody.

For those not familiar with Rustler's Rhapsody it came out in the mid-80s. At the time, I thought the trailer was hilarious but when I saw it in the theater I hated it. One of those cases where all the good bits had been in the trailer. Yet in years to come I'd occasionally run across it on television and with time it started to grow on me. It starred Tom Berenger as Rex O'Herlihan, a hero in the style of the singing cowboys from the 30s and 40s who found himself in a modern movie, and he was aware he was in a movie, with modern sensibilities. Amusingly enough the movie probably couldn't be made today, 20 years later, without significant changes because the villain of the piece, wonderfully played by Andy Griffith, is a politically incorrect gay caricature. Modern sensibilities being what they are and all that.

Anyway, that's not what reminds me of the current situation with Obama. No, what reminds me of BO is Bob Barber, a lawyer turned professional good guy who is brought in by Colonel Ticonderoga (Griffith) to face down Rex. When the inevitable gunfight occurs, Bob shoots Rex in the arm. Now it should probably be noted that up until this point, Rex has only shot people in their gun hands. This is what good guys do in the movies he comes from. So when Bob shoots him in the arm it prompts the realization that Bob isn't a good guy at all. To this Bob responds, "I'm a lawyer, you idiot!"

Barack Obama is a lawyer. He's also a politician. He's based his campaign around a vague phrase that could mean just about anything. Are people really surprised that he acted like a liberal when he needed liberal votes and now that he's got them he's headed for the center because he needs those votes too? If you wanted an honest politician with principles who would say what he means and mean what he says, you should have nominated Dennis Kucinich. As far as I can tell, he and Ron Paul are the only two people running for President willing to take an actual stand on the positions. Maybe that's why people consider them to be a couple of unelectable kooks.

Saturday Weigh-In: July 19, 2008

Weight: 374.2 lbs.

Total Weight Lost: 17.6 lbs in 10 weeks

It was a disappointing week. I made some bad food choices. The grocery store I normally go to discontinued one of the food items that's become a staple of my diet and has been out of several others.

The discontinued item was Breakstone's Low Fat Cottage Cheese which I usually have for breakfast along with a serving of raisin bran. I suppose the technically haven't discontinued it. They no longer carry the large tubs but just the small, more expensive, snack size. Since I'm not willing to pay the extra money for the snack size, I need to start going somewhere else to get it. I could just switch brands, Kroger also carries Borden, Daisy and their own brand but I've tried them all and they all have an unpleasant tang that I don't like so I'll stick with Breakstone's.

But anytime something happens to break your routine, it's an opportunity to go back to old, unhealthy habits and that's sort of what happened to me this week.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: July 12, 2008

Weight: 374.8 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 17 lbs. in 9 weeks

On the plus side, I've reached one of my mini-goals by dropping under 375 lbs. My next mini-goal is to break 350 lbs.

On the minus side, I was bad last night. I have a friend who lives in Galveston. Earlier this week his truck broke down and it was to the point where it would have been more than the truck was worth to fix it. Yesterday afternoon he contacted me to see if I could drive him up to Clear Lake to see about buying another car. Since I already had plans today I suggested we do it yesterday. Consequently I spent a lot of time in traffic (hour and a half just to get to Galveston) and then more time just sitting around at the car dealership while they worked to arrange terms my friend could live with, and by the time I got to eat it was late and I was very hungry. My friend suggested Chik-fil-a for dinner so we went there and I had chicken nuggets (which were fried), waffle fries (fried starch), and Coke (caffeine and processed sugar). There's really no excuse for eating like that. I could have said no to Chik-fil-a. I could have gotten a chargrilled chicken sandwich with cole slaw and a glass of water but I didn't. So today I'm beating myself up about it. We all backslide from time to time. The important thing to do is to not let it become a habit and to not let it discourage you from keeping on with your diet.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: July 5, 2008

Weight: 376.4 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 15.4 lbs in 8 weeks

I have a friend who hosts a 4th of July pool party every year. Her brother is a man who's quite serious about his meat and his BBQ is not to be missed. Mind you, I'm not talking about meat smothering in BBQ sauce. I'm talking real Texas BBQ. Meat smoked and then cooked in a BBQ pit with sauce available on the side if you want it but it's certainly not necessary. He goes all out with beef brisket, chicken, ribs, and sausage. A nephew's birthday is also at this time of year so his mother provided a cookie "cake". This year was extra special because my friend's sister was getting married for the second time and they were holding a casual ceremony by the side of the pool so there was a wedding cake as well. Finally, my friend's daughter made cookies.

So with this bounty of tasty food available, what's a person who's trying to lose weight to do? Knowing what was coming, I tried to be extra good about the things I was eating all week long. Then yesterday I had all the good food that I wanted but I made sure to keep my portions small and not pig out. As for the desserts, I politely declined the cake but had a cookie. I ate well but I also showed self-control and I don't think I did myself any real damage.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Weight-Loss Tip: Brush Your Teeth

I used to be amused by co-workers who could be seen disappearing into the bathroom with toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste in hand after lunch. Now I find that brushing after every meal helps me avoid between meal snacking. Not only is it good dental hygiene but I find that it helps me stick to my diet because I don't want to get my teeth dirty again before my next meal. A nice thing about this particular habit is that it's self-reinforcing. After a few days of brushing after every meal, I now find that if I forget to brush after a meal it's not long before I start to notice a bad taste in my mouth. So if you're trying to lose weight and have a problem with between meal snacking give brushing your teeth after every meal a try.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: June 28, 2008

Weight: 379.6 lbs.

Total Weight Lost: 12.2 lbs. in 7 weeks

Kind of disappointed that I only seem to have broken even this week. Still need to get off my ass and start getting some exercise. Beginning of the week was bad since I didn't just throw away the leftover peanut brittle like I should have. But I'm not going to let it derail me.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: June 21, 2008

Weight: 379.6 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 12.2 lbs. in 6 weeks

I played with fire yesterday. Since I'm going to be getting together with a group of friends today, I decided to try a recipe for Dr. Pepper Peanut Brittle that I saw on Homesick Texan. I sampled a few pieces for quality control purposes but I showed some self-control and didn't gorge on the stuff. Interestingly I'm finding the left over peanuts a bigger temptation than the candy. In any case, judging by the scale this morning I didn't do myself too much damage yesterday but if my friends don't finish off the peanut brittle I may have to throw the remainder in the garbage so it's not a temptation.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: June 14, 2008

Weight: 382.8 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 9 lbs in 5 weeks

I didn't come close to achieving my goal of starting an aerobic exercise program but I did reach my short term goal of 385 lbs. and yesterday I noticed that I needed to take my belt in a notch so I'm feeling pretty good anyway. My new short term goal is to reach 375 lbs.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pop Quiz: Fast Food vs. Home Cooking

Common excuses used to justify eating fast food instead of cooking something yourself is that it takes too long to cook, it's too much work, and I've even heard it said that it's cheaper to hit the local drive thru instead of cooking something yourself. Let's see if that's true. Here are two meals:

Meal A is a hamburger from a local fast food restaurant. It has bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles and onions on it. It comes with French fries, ketchup, and a soft drink.

Meal B is a baked tilapia filet, seasoned with some Old Bay low sodium seasoning, with steamed peas and corn and a glass of skim milk. Also included but not pictured, because it was eaten while the tilapia was in the oven, was a lettuce and tomato salad sprinkled with a little cheddar cheese and lightly drizzled with a low fat salad dressing.

  1. Which meal took less time to prepare?

  2. Which meal was less work to prepare?

  3. Which meal was cheaper?

  4. Which meal is more nutritious?

I'm sure it will come as no surprise that Meal B is the more nutritious meal but it might be a surprise that Meal B was also faster, less work, and cheaper to prepare.

Preparing Meal A consisted of getting in my car, driving to the local fast food place, waiting in line at the drive thru window, and then driving back home with my meal. I could have shaved a little time off by going to a closer fast food restaurant but not a whole lot. While not exactly a lot of work, obviously I couldn't do anything else while driving.

Preparing Meal B consisted largely of taking things out of bags and putting them in bowls or cookware. The lettuce portion of the salad was ready made so it was a simple matter of taking a couple of handfuls out of the bag and putting them in a bowl. I used cherry tomatoes that had to be rinsed off in the sink before adding to the salad but that didn't exactly take a lot of time. The cheese was already shredded. The tilapia simply needed to be taken out of the bag, put in a baking dish, sprinkled lightly with seasoning, and put into the oven, which I'd pre-heated while making the salad. The peas and corn came in single serving packs that simply had to be put in the microwave and heated for a couple of minutes. Very little work with most of my time spent waiting for the fish to be ready during which I ate my salad while watching television.

So what about cost? Meal A ran just a hair over $6 while Meal B was around $4.

Nutrition-wise, it's no contest. Meal A is high in fat, starch, and processed sugar. Meal B is low fat, has a nice bit of fish, and several servings of vegetables.

It's easier than ever to make simple, nutritious home cooked meals. The next time you're at the grocery store, take a good look around. You might be surprised at the amount of healthy, nutritious food that comes ready to eat or cook these days.

Saturday Weigh-In: June 7, 2008

Weight: 385.2 lbs.

Total Weight Lost: 6.6 lbs in 4 weeks

Not really sure what happened this week. I didn't fall off my diet or anything like that. In fact the main change in my diet was switching out white rice for whole grain brown rice. Still, I'm not going to worry about it too much at this point. Since I don't seem to be having too much trouble sticking with my diet I think it's time to move to the next phase of my plan. This week I'm going to start working on getting some aerobic exercise.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Change You Can Believe In, the Change You Deserve

The Democrats are excited that Obama has pretty much sewn up the nomination so I thought now might be a good time to examine both the Democrat and Republican slogans.

The Obama campaign has been touting, "Change We Can Believe In." Well what change can I believe in? Change involves taking a risk. You hope for the best but there's always a possibility things will take a turn for the worst. Right now the Democrats are in control of the House and the Senate with a good shot at taking control of the Presidency. I'm thinking they like things just fine the way they are so when it comes to change I can believe in, I believe the DNC doesn't want any real change.

Always ready to jump on the bandwagon, the Republican Party has made its slogan, "The Change You Deserve." Well, I think the change I deserve is for this country to be represented by people genuinely concerned for the welfare of the electorate rather than the acquisition of power purely for the sake of power. Somehow I don't see the Republican's delivering that. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if you vote Republican and McCain is elected, you'll see little to no change which is exactly what you deserve if you fall for their line of bull.

We'll never see true change until there is a wide variety of viable political parties. Only then will politicians actually be forced to represent their constituents because if they don't they'll be replaced by someone who will. Which is why come November you won't see a single vote for a Democrat or Republican on my ballot. I'm casting a vote for true change. How about you?

Let me see your papers!

Here is a story from the nation's capitol that ought to scare you. In order to combat crime D.C. officials want to seal off entire neighborhoods and set up checkpoints where the police would check people's identification to verify that they have business being in that neighborhood. Imagine having to prove to the police that you live or work in a neighborhood and facing potential arrest if you can't produce the appropriate documentation. Is this the United States or Nazi Germany?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In: May 31, 2008

Weight: 385.8 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 6 lbs. in 3 weeks

Another good week. I'd been hoping to break my short term goal of 385 lbs but I'm happy with what I lost this week. I'm going to start keeping track of total weight lost since it helps reinforce how well things are going overall.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bye-Bye Subway

It's just become a whole lot easier to not eat at Subway. It seems they are running a Every Sandwich Tells A Story Contest for kids but homeschooled children need not apply. Ostensibly the reason for the exclusion is because the grand prize is intended for the winner's school but homeschoolers do have organizations that would benefit from such equipment as well. The company could certainly have provided an alternative grand prize that would have been appropriate to everyone. Ironically the original contest announcement contained numerous misspellings. Most have since been corrected but I note that one of the prizes is still a Scholastic gift "bastket." I guess whoever wrote the copy wasn't home schooled.

I wasn't home schooled and I have no children to home school but I still sympathize with those who choose to take their children out of the public school system in order to give them a better education. It seems like every day there's a new story regarding some new outrage at a government school. Take, for example, the recent case at Morningside Elementary in Port St. Lucie, Florida where a teacher called an autistic 5-year-old to the front of the class and then had his classmates vote him out, giving each child a chance to comment on him, i.e. insult, in the process. When did elementary school become Survivor? Until the legislature stops dragging its feet on the issue of school choice home schooling is the only affordable option many parents have if they don't want to subject their child to the public school system.

From a nutritional point of view, it's just as well that I drop Subway. Despite the much vaunted Subway diet, their sandwiches have too much bread and the meat they use is low quality. You're much better off going to the grocery store, buying a loaf of whole grain sandwich bread and having the guy at the meat counter thin slice a roast turkey breast for you.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Diet Tip: Cheaters Sometimes Prosper

Here's a little something I picked up from the Body For Life program. As you adjust your diet to a healthier lifestyle, it's common to develop cravings for foods that you enjoy but no longer allow yourself to eat. It's also common to obsess over the foods you're craving until you finally break and go on an eating binge, gorging yourself on all that good stuff you've been denying yourself. Then you feel guilty about going off your diet, decide that it's too hard and you can't do it, and you give up and go back to your old eating habits. I've done it myself on several occasions.

Give yourself a cheat day. One day a week you are allowed to eat anything you want, diet be damned. When you find yourself craving something, make a mental note to have it on your next cheat day. When your cheat day rolls around, have that greasy burger or pizza or big bowl of ice cream and don't feel guilty about it. Since you're not denying yourself anything, just putting it off until your cheat day, you don't have to obsess over food and it becomes much easier to stick to a healthy eating plan. But there are a few caveats.

  • Don't overdo it. Keep meals reasonably sized. Don't go crazy and pig out. If you sit down to a burger and fries with a large pizza on the side washed down by a 2-liter Coke and a gallon of ice cream for dessert you may be getting a little carried away.
  • Just because it's a cheat day doesn't mean you have to cheat. If you haven't been craving bad food, why eat it?
  • Designate one day a week to be your cheat day and stick with that day. Don't move your cheat day around and, most especially, don't decide that instead of having a cheat day you'll have three cheat meals instead. If you do you'll get used to thinking you can eat whatever you want whenever you want, you'll lose track of when your last cheat day was or how many cheat meals you've had in a week and before you know it you'll be back to your old habits. You know, the ones responsible for you needing to lose weight in the first place.

My cheat day is Sunday. I chose Sunday because I almost always have lunch with my parents on Sundays and making it my cheat day means we're not limited to restaurants where I can eat healthy food. Just because I need to lose weight is no reason to punish them. I do allow myself a little flexibility on cheat days though that flexibility is tightly defined and based on a condition not entirely under my control. I occasionally have dinner with friends on Saturday and on those occasions I allow my cheat day to start with Saturday dinner and end with Sunday lunch so if my friends want to order a pizza I don't have to be a stick in the mud. Sometimes being a stick in the mud is unavoidable though. This weekend I may be having dinner with friends on both Saturday and Sunday in which case I'm going to have to insist that we eat healthy one evening.

Saturday Weigh-In: May 24, 2008

Weight: 387.4 lbs.

Once again I felt a small measure of fear stepping on the scale. Was what I've been doing working or was last week just a fluke? Down another 2.4 lbs. it's starting to look like I'm on track with my program. Stayed away from Subway this week but couldn't resist a trip to Quiznos though at least I got the oven-roasted turkey breast instead of the roast beef. Only other bad-ish food I had this week, not counting my cheat day (more on that later), was a spicy chicken salad at Pei Wei. First time I'd gotten it and I hadn't realized that the chicken would be "crunchy," i.e. breaded and fried.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Fun: Cherry Chocolate Rain

Okay, so there's nothing new about this video. I don't care. I dig Tay Zonday and I'm in the mood for a little Cherry Chocolate Rain today even I would never drink the soft drink that its advertising.

He moves away from the mic to breath, you know.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Recipe: Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

Here it is late May and fresh strawberries abound at the local grocery stores. As the weather builds towards summer warmth, they're the perfect little treat as is. Still there are times when you want to do something special with them. Here is a simple recipe that makes for a tasty treat and a relatively healthy dessert.

(Photo courtesty of the USDA Agricultural Research Service)


2 quarts fresh strawberries, hulled
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup balsamic vinegar


About 1 to 2 hours before serving time, toss the strawberries in a large mixing bowl with the brown sugar, salt, and balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and toss again. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes and toss again. Drain and serve cold in a clear glass bowl.

Tip: In order to produce quality food you have to use quality ingredients. When it comes to balsamic vinegar, you get what you pay for. Balsamic vinegar is aged in wooden casks. The longer the vinegar has been aged, the more expensive it is likely to be. A cheap condiment grade balsamic vinegar is fine for making salad dressings but for a recipe like this you probably want an old vinegar that has been aged for at least 12 years.

Healthy Snacks

I frequently attend social gatherings hosted by a friend and his wife. Yesterday he asked me what sort of healthy snacks they could provide that would help me stay on my weight loss program. As it happens, due to my tendency towards compulsive overeating I try to avoid between meal snacking. I really should only be eating because I'm actually hungry. Still, it's a legitimate question. What sort of snacks can we eat that are healthy? (Photo courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service)

A lot of traditional snack foods aren't particularly healthy. Potato chips, corn chips, tortilla chips, attendant dips, crackers, pretzels, cheese sticks, fried or otherwise, bagels, with or without cream cheese, cookies and candy are all bad for us consisting, as they do, largely of starch, fat, salt and/or processed sugar.

These days some nutritionists say we shouldn't snack at all and that the way to avoid snacking is, instead of eating 3 big meals, we should eat 5-6 fist-sized meals over the course of a day. That works out to eating about once every 3 hours. Unfortunately I don't know of too many employers who would looking kindly on their employees taking 3 meal breaks during the course of a day.

So what kind of snacks can we eat that's not bad for us? Fruit, raw vegetables and nuts (little or no salt added please) are all good. In moderation of course. Gorging on anything, even relatively healthy food, is never a good idea. Want a tasty snack? How about apple slices dipped in 100% natural peanut butter? Want to talk about convenience? Few things are more convenient than a piece of fruit like an apple, peach or pear that you can eat without any special preparation beyond washing it off. Many grocery stores sell ready-to-eat celery sticks and peeled baby carrots not to mention containers of pre-sliced cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. Nuts are also quite convenient though I would stay away from honey roasted and flavored varieties that may have a lot of added salt and/or sugar.

When I was a child, my grandparents had both a pear and a peach tree as well as some fig trees. One of their neighbors had black walnut and pecan trees. Some of my fondest memories growing up are of Sunday visits with them when we would sit out on the front porch, where they had a porch swing, or at the kitchen table snacking on freshly picked fruit and nuts. I look at modern housing developments, houses packed together tightly on small lots with little room for trees and nary a porch to be seen and I feel sorry for the people that live in them. Sure, they've got their Wiis and their X-Boxes, Playstation 3s and big screen tvs, and all the other amusements that modern life affords. Yet sometimes there's just no substitute for a lazy Sunday afternoon swinging on the front porch talking with friends and family while watching the world go by or stepping out into the backyard and picking fruit right off the tree.

Who is Rip Ford?

If you're looking to find out who I am, you're out of luck. One of the reasons I started this blog was so I could spout off about whatever issues interest me without having to worry that some prospective employer might happen across it while Googling my name and decide not to hire me for reasons not connected to my ability to do the job. If you're looking for information on the real Rip Ford, the Handbook of Texas Online and the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum are probably your best starting points.

To give a little summary, John Salmon Ford was born in South Carolina and raised in Tennessee. He came to Texas in 1836 intending to join the fight for independence from Mexico but arriving after the fighting was done. Over the next 60 years he would be present for most major events in Texas history. He wore many hats during his time in Texas. He was a doctor, a surveyor, a newspaper editor, the superintendent of the Deaf and Dumb Institution in Austin, Superintendent of Conscripts for the Confederacy's Department of Texas, and helped set up the State Historical Society. He held several elected offices: representative to the 9th Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1844, state senator in 1852, and mayor of Brownsville in 1874. In 1875 he served as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention.

He earned the nickname "Rip" during the Mexican War while serving as a Texas Ranger under the legendary Ranger Captain Jack Hays. As a doctor, Ford had the duty of writing letters home to deceased soldiers' loved ones to inform them of their death. Roughly 13 percent of all soldiers involved in the war died, most from disease, and Ford found himself having to write so many letters that he soon shortened his closing to "Rest In Peace" and then later to simple "RIP". For the rest of his life he would be known as Rip Ford.

He passed away on November 3, 1897 in San Antonio.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cooking 101: Baked Chicken Breast

It's very easy to bake a chicken breast. Prepare your breast for cooking. I trim off any fat, skin and bits of bone and then rinse it briefly under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. I generally also marinate my chicken breasts because otherwise they can be a bit flavorless. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. When the oven is ready take a baking dish or pan, hit it with some non-stick cooking spray, put your chicken breast in it and place in the oven on a rack in the middle. Wait 20-30 minutes. To check to see if the breast is done, take out of the oven and cut into the thickest part of the breast. If the juice runs clear the breast is done. If the juice isn't clear, place it back in the oven and give it a little more time.

Because chicken can be a carrier for salmonella I like to be sure the breast is done and use a meat thermometer instead of the juice test. There's some dispute over at what point it's safe to eat a chicken breast but everyone I've read seems to agree that by the time the thickest part of the breast reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit any bacteria should be dead so that's the target I use.

Cooking 101: Handling Raw Chicken

I don't want to spend a lot of time on this since I assume everyone already knows this but it doesn't hurt repeating. Raw chicken can be a carrier for salmonella which is why it is important to always cook chicken thoroughly before eating. Dry, chewy overcooked chicken is preferable to getting food poisoning. When working with raw chicken always be sure to thoroughly clean everything that has been in contact with the chicken. Don't just limit yourself surfaces that were in direct contact with the chicken but get the surrounding area as well. Be sure to wash your hands as well.

Cooking 101: Marinating Meat

Marinating is a way of flavoring meat as well as helping it stay moist while cooking. Basically you want to submerge the meat in the marinade for 30 minutes or longer. This allows the marinade to soak into the meat adding flavor and moisture. To help the marinade penetrate deeper into the meat, so it's not just on the surface, it's helpful to stab the meat a few times with a fork before placing in the marinade. I find that lightly beating the meat, as though you were massaging it, before marinating also helps. You can marinate in a bowl, add just enough marinade to cover the meat, but I prefer using a Ziploc bag, squeezing as much air out as possible so it's just the meat and the marinade in the bag.

While your grocery store probably has a section dedicated to just marinades, don't limit yourself to just that. Pretty much any liquid can be used as a marinade. For example, I routinely marinate chicken breasts in Briannas Lemon Tarragon or Santa Fe salad dressings.

Cooking 101: An Introduction

Something that has quickly become apparent to me is that if I want to lose weight, I need to take control of the food I eat and the best way to do that is to cook it myself. Unfortunately I've never really learned to cook. Oh, I can follow a recipe as well as the next person but I don't know any basic cooking techniques. That's kind of important since I tend to prefer food that's convenient to prepare. I don't want to spend a lot of time measuring and chopping and otherwise laboring in the kitchen just to eat something. With a knowledge of basic cooking techniques that won't be necessary. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a cookbook on basic techniques. I tried taking a cooking class once but instead of teaching us basic cooking techniques, like she advertised, the woman had us sit there and watch while she cooked various recipes and then let us sample the results. If I wanted that, I could have just stayed home and watched cooking shows on television. Anyway, as I pick up things I'll be posting them here to my blog.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Weigh-In

Weight: 389.8 lbs.

It is with some trepidation that I stepped on the scale this morning. As only the second time that I've weighed myself since beginning my weight loss program, this was the one that was going to tell me if what I've been doing is working or not. Under those circumstances there's always the fear that you're going to discover that you're only breaking even or, worse, actually gaining weight. This was compounded by several factors. First, I'm only working on the first of my life goals; eating right. Each life goal represents a major change in lifestyle and it's hard to make one major change much less three so I've decided to take them one at a time. First I'll get my eating under control. Next I'll start going to the park to get some aerobic exercise. Finally I'll start lifting weights. Right now I'm just watching what I eat. I'm about ready to start going to the park but I hurt my ankle a couple of weeks ago plus it's been rainy of late so I haven't been able to start that phase yet.

This week I also made some dubious food choices. I'm having a little difficulty staying away from Subway and Quizno's since they're both running specials where some of their large sandwiches are only $5. Unfortunately that's more bread than I should be eating and I tend to gravitate towards some of their fattier meats.

Despite that I weighed in two pounds lighter than I did last week, putting me at the top range for healthy weight loss, so I'm pretty happy this morning. My healthy eating plan is obviously working and if Subway and Quizno's are the worst of my vices, that's still a lot better than a bacon & cheese Whataburger with fries and a large Dr. Pepper made with Imperial pure cane sugar. Now if the rain would just let up so I can start going to the park in the mornings.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Book Review: Eating By Design by Carrie Latt Wiatt

It may seem strange to be writing a review of a book that, as far as I know, is out of print but I'm going to do it anyway. Eating By Design by Carrie Latt Wiatt is worth looking at if you're trying to lose weight. Psychologists will tell you that your habits are your habits because there's something about the behavior that you enjoy engaging in. Wiatt applies that principle to your eating habits to help determine why you eat what you eat.

The meat of the book is an eating personality test. When you take the test you'll probably find that you score highly on several of Wiatt's eating personality types. I suggest paying attention to all of those. For example, I scored highly as a "Passionflower", a "Soloist" and a "Lotus Eater". What does that mean? Well, a Passionflower is someone who eats for the pleasure of it. A Soloist is someone who makes food choices based on convenience. A Lotus Eater is someone who may actually have an eating disorder, compulsive overeating in my case. In short, I'm someone with a preference for food that doesn't require a lot of work to prepare or clean up after and is a pleasure to eat and I tend to eat for reasons that have nothing to do with what my body actually needs. I'm a lot more likely to be successful in following a healthy diet if I keep all of these things in mind.

Having determined your eating personality type(s), Wiatt presents you with strategies for creating a healthy diet plan that you can stick with and even provides some sample diets. I wouldn't treat this book as the only thing you need to begin eating a healthier diet but it is a good starting point.

If you're looking to lose weight I suggest visiting a used book store or perhaps the local library and seeing if you can find a copy of Eating By Design by Carrie Latt Wiatt.

Eyes on the Prize

Now that I've established how much I weigh it's time to set some goals. It's important to keep those goals realistic so that I don't become discouraged. I need to lose close to 200 lbs. I'm not going to do that in 60 days and if I tell myself I am, I'm just setting myself up to fail. A realistic and healthy rate at which to lose weight is 1-2 lbs. per week. At that rate I can expect it to take me 100-200 weeks to lose the weight I need to lose. That's means I can expect it to take 2-4 years to accomplish my goal. On the plus side, if I can maintain healthy habits for that length of time they should be pretty well established by the time I reach my target weight.

Unfortunately I'm going to find it hard to remain motivated for 2-4 years so I'm going to set myself an intermediate goal. Something I should be able to accomplish in a short period of time. When I reach that goal I will celebrate, though not by eating fattening foods, and then I will set myself a new intermediate goal. My first intermediate goal is to reach 285 lbs. That means dropping 7 pounds. I'm hoping I can do that in a month but I'll allow myself 2 months just to be safe.

Long Term Goal: 200 lbs. in 2-4 years

Intermediate Goal: 385 lbs. in 1-2 months

Saturday Weigh-In

Weight: 391.8 lbs.

This is the first time in years that I've weighed myself. I had no idea I was this overweight. I used to joke that I was so fat it was like I was carrying around another person. Its no longer a joke. Looks like I need to drop half my weight, close to 200 lbs.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Movie Review: Speed Racer

Rating: 2 out of 5

I went into Speed Racer with low expectations. I'm not a fan of the Wachowski brothers. I thought The Matrix was pretty eye candy but that was about it. I didn't like what they did to V For Vendetta in translating it to the big screen and I didn't care for the way they treated Alan Moore in the process. I thought the trailers for Speed Racer looked terrible. So why did I go see the movie? I went to see it because nearly 40 years ago I loved to watch the original Speed Racer on television and there was a part of me that hoped I was wrong and that the movie would be good. Sadly it lived down to my expectations.

What was good about it? Very little. Most of the casting is spot on. I thought Emile Hirsch was good as Speed and John Goodman made a great Pops Racer. In fact, the only bad casting was Kick Gurry as Sparky and Roger Allam as the villain, Royalton. Gurry doesn't fit at all and Allam comes across as a Tim Curry-wannabe, to the point where I wondered why the Wachowskis didn't just cast Curry in the role.

Neither the plot nor the dialogue is particularly good. Given the movie's 2+ hour length you have to question the decision to include Speed's origin story. It's not like Speed is an alien rocketed to earth from a distant planet or a high school student who gained superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He's a guy who likes to drive fast. Do we really need to spend a lot of time on flashbacks of Speed as a little kid obsessing over racing? As far as plot goes, it can be distilled down to this statement: all corporations are evil and all races are fixed. Dialogue tends towards the heavily clichéd and the story isn't particularly well thought out.

I'm bothered that Racer X is fairly open about being a government agent. I'm also bothered that Pops isn't the one who tricks out the Mach 5. All Pops puts in, really, are the hydraulic jacks and pretty much every car in the movie has those. In fact most racecars seem to spend as much time airborne as they do on the ground. Pops does put a canopy on the Mach 5 but it takes the government to make it bulletproof. The government also gives Speed all his other gadgets. Remember kiddies, government is good, corporations are evil.

With the Wachowskis making the movie you would expect it to at least be decent eye candy but even at that it's a failure. Everything just looked horrible. This is the latest movie to be shot with the actors in front of a green screen and then everything else added in with computer generated images (CGI). Other recent movies to use this technique would be Sin City and 300. Unfortunately Speed Racer doesn't do a very good job of integrating the live action actors with their CGI backgrounds and the results look horrible.

Perhaps most disappointing are the race scenes. In the world of Speed Racer all car races are a combination of drift racing and demolition derby. Being the best driver apparently means being the best at forcing other people to have accidents but its okay because every car has a special system to ensure the driver escapes even the most horrific of crashes without a scratch on them. Cars constantly slip and slide as if they're on ice no matter what the surface whether it's a racetrack, the desert, a dried out mud flat or a road. In fact there's a sequence where Speed, Trixie and Racer X, all driving separate cars on a winding mountain road at high speed, have a conversation via radio. At no point in the conversation do any of them stop fishtailing back and forth. Not even on the straightaways. There are even points where cars just spontaneously begin doing 360s for no apparent reason. When they're not busy driving sideways, which seems to be how most drivers in the movie spend their time, they're flipping through the air since everyone has hydraulic jacks.

My advice? Skip Speed Racer and go see Iron Man instead. Even if you've already seen Iron Man you'll still find it a more enjoyable movie than Speed Racer.