the other theo

There is no dark side of the moon really… as a matter of fact, it's all dark.

Halloween Hijinks

I am pleased to report that Halloween 2015 went much better than that of the previous year for the Peanut.  Last year, if you will recall, he was having none of this costume business for Halloween.   He would barely wear a costume when we tried to have professional photos taken.   He refused to wear a costume for his school Halloween party.  On Halloween night, he had to be tricked into wearing the costume as rain gear until he started to enjoy going up and ringing doorbells.

The Peanut dressed as an astronaut, reusing one of the costumes that we had leftover from last year.   We started getting him used to the idea early this year, as far back as mid-September at least.   The Missus periodically asked him if he wanted to be an astronaut for Halloween.  He wasn’t too enthusiastic, but he wasn’t hostile either.  As time went on, we also developed a backup plan: an In-N-Out carhop costume consisting of khaki pants, a white shirt, a red cloth apron with a bit safety pin, and a paper In-N-Out hat.

By the time the Saturday morning for costume pictures came around, the Peanut seemed OK with wearing the costume for a few minutes.   He was such a good boy at pictures this year!  He sat on the little set the photographer was using, first holding his costume astronaut helmet (stuffed with a bike helmet and a semi-clear plastic bag to give it shape and create the appearance of a clear visor) and then wearing the helmet in various positions by himself and with the Missus and me.   The photographer got some great shots.  The Missus and I were immediately heartened by his response.

Another two tests came on the Thursday and Friday before Halloween.   The Peanut had two Halloween parties this year, since he goes to two schools.  The first was for the Special Ed. preschool class that he attends Monday through Thursday.   That went well.  He walked into the classroom in costume and stayed involved in the festivities.   The second was at the school he attended last year, where he still goes on Fridays.   There was more resistance, maybe in part because it was a warm day and not terribly comfortable to be an astronaut.   He didn’t keep his costume on much during class, but the Missus tells me that he seemed otherwise pretty well behaved.  There was a third costume event to attend during the day on Halloween, but we were all busy and tired.  The Missus and I decided not to push our luck by putting the Peanut in costume again before he had to go out that night.

As for trick-or-treating on Halloween night went, there was a little complaining early on but the Peanut warmed to the prospect pretty quickly.  Again, I think feeling warm in the costume was an issue.   Once he got into the cool evening air around 6:30pm, the complaining stopped pretty fast.   I went with him, the Missus, and Auntie M. to the end of the block and back.   The Peanut was great — and did a much better job of saying “trick or treat” and “thank you” this year.

After that, the Peanut, the Missus, and Auntie M. headed for the next block over and I headed back to our porch to have my Corpse Reviver No. 2.  A few large groups of kids that we saw heading toward our house during our initial round of trick-or-treating took a large majority of the candy we left in a basket.  Thankfully, few other kids came along by the time I returned.

The Peanut cleaned up in the candy department.   Before heading out, the Missus emptied his candy bag into the back of the folding wagon used to carry him to the next block because it was getting heavy.   Seeing that, the Peanut emptied his bag into the back of the wagon every time he came back from a house.   This evidently increased his take, because more than one adult saw his empty bag and tried to make up for his imagined late start.

 

Hipsterism, Necromancy, and Other Halloween Fun

Autumn is a season where the Missus has jokingly accused me of hipsterism.   I have not grown a beard, or a man bun.   I have not turned lumbersexual.  I have embraced the American tradition of the cocktail, however.

The roots of this interest reach back several years.  I got an OXO cocktail shaker and some bar tools several years ago, perhaps as a house warming gift.  I also picked up a copy of Dale DeGroff’s The Essential Cocktail: The Art Of Mixing Perfect Drinks in the clearance rack at the back of a higher end grocery store.   I started making margaritas as soon as the first crop of lemons came in on the lemon tree in our back yard after we bought the house (and discovered a great recipe in the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, of all places.)  I also made homemade limoncello.  More recently, I saw several cocktail recipes on Serious Eats that looked tasty.   I tried one.  One became two, two became four, and well, here we are.

A couple factors have aided in this endeavor.   First, a few friends on the Blue and White Social Network are also cocktail aficionados.   So, it’s been nice to compare notes with some people.   A nearby liquor store also closed a few weeks ago.  The going out of business sale before the end meant that some drink ingredients became available at 40-60 percent off retail.

I’ve learned a couple things along the way.   I’ve made a few whiskey-based cocktails and discovered that the most expensive stuff isn’t necessarily the stuff that mixes the best in a cocktail.  That occasionally required a little re-tooling with the purchase of more inexpensive but still quite tasty blended Scotch and some medium price point bourbon.

The Gold Rush CocktailThe Gold Rush cocktail comes courtesy of Serious Eats.  It’s a marvelous concoction of honey, bourbon, and lemon juice.

The Apple ElixirThe Apple Elixir is another Serious Eats recipe that is like Autumn in a highball glass.  With a spiced cider reduction, apple brandy, hard cider, and lemon juice, it’s not something to throw together on a whim, but I wish mulled cider always tasted more like this.

The Rusty NailAs a long time single malt drinker, I’d heard about Drambuie for years but never tried it.    A Rusty Nail is a combination of blended Scotch, Drambuie, and bitters on the rocks.   On the rocks is where you’ll find yourself if you drink too many of these.  They hit and hit hard.

The Penicillin CocktailI have a favorite exchange from The West Wing that sums up this drink perfectly:

Lord Marbury : You know, there are some marvelous flu remedies known in the certain remote parts of the subcontinent. Licorice root, for instance, combined with bamboo sap and a strong shot of whiskey. Ginger root, also, mixed with, uh, citrus peel.
Bartlett : And a strong shot of whiskey?
Lord Marbury : Actually, you can leave everything out except the shot of whiskey.

The Penicillin Cocktail is a combination of honey, ginger root, blended Scotch, and Islay single malt.  As such, it’s sort of the Gold Rush on steroids.   It will cure what ails you.

The Bottled In Bond Rye ManhattanThe Manhattan is a cocktail I first read about around 2005-06 when my interest Single Malt Scotch expanded into an exploration of American rye whiskey.   One version of the story of its creation is that it was whipped up for Winston Churchill’s mother by a Manhattan bartender.  It’s a drink that’s evolved over the years, from rye to bourbon and sweet vermouth to dry.  This is in line with the rye and sweet vermouth original, courtesy of Dale DeGroff.

The Pink LadyThe Pink Lady also comes courtesy of Dale DeGroff as an excellent drink to use with Hendrick’s Gin.   DeGroff recommends making your own grenadine for this one.   It was difficult to get the seeds from five pomegranates, though YouTube now tells me there is a much easier and cleaner way.  The recipe calls for grenadine, gin, and heavy cream.  I had no heavy cream on hand when I made this, so I used whole milk.  It was still quite tasty.

The MargaritaThe America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook margarita… an old reliable favorite.  I’ve since learned that the juice mix created for the recipe out of lemon and lime juice, zest of the same fruits, and sugar makes a tasty general purpose sour mix.  Added to a reposado tequila and some orange liqueur, it is a royal cocktail.

The Corpse Reviver #2Finally, we come to a bit of possible necromancy.  I made a Corpse Reviver #2 cocktail on Halloween night, as the blend of Littet, absinthe, gin, and orange liqueur seemed a sensible thing to try.  I asked the author of the Necromancy Never Pays blog if this could be considered necromancy, since that never pays.  Her response: “oh, I think you’ll pay all right.”

The absinthe is a new wave absinthe from California, and the first made in the United States since the ban on its import and manufacture collapsed.   Checking reviews, it’s more herbal and less minty than old school absinthes made in the United States and Europe.   The flavor is somewhat large… and perhaps not what the recipe calls for.  Still, it was quite interesting.  I just may need to dispense the absinthe with a medicine dropper.

No love from the Interwebz

I am getting no love from the Interwebz this week, at least when it comes to buying things.

I purchased a CD off dDay last Saturday. I got an e-mail from the seller on Tuesday saying that they got my money and would be sending it shorty. It’s Friday. Since I received no further work about shipment, I wrote the seller this morning.  He sent me two replies: “let me check with the wife; I post, she ships” and “oops, I’m very sorry because she somehow forgot to drop it in the mail.”

Shortly after that piece of joy, I heard from the dealership in Florida who is selling me jack tools after last weekend’s tire buying and lug nut odyssey.   They e-mailed me earlier in the week to let me know that they expected those parts to arrive from the warehouse today, and would ship them out to me the day they came in.  Alas, one of the parts is on a 2-4 day back order from the distributor.

So, nothing in the mail for me.

Tires and other $1000 events both real and prevented

There was this blinking light on the dashboard of one of our cars.   It was the tire pressure light.  It was blinking almost, it seemed, since we bought the car in April of 2012.   Actually, given the tape glue residue on the dash over the spot where the light is blinking, we suspect it was blinking before that.

We had our mechanic check why the light was blinking sometime in 2013, I think.   It turns out that the batteries in one or more of the tire pressure sensors were dead.   When I inquired about the replacement cost, it was clear that it would be best to wait on that until we were going to have the tires taken off anyway.   The best time to do that would be when the tires would be replaced, which from the tread wear looked to be in the not too dramatically distant future.

Ok, it took nearly two years.

Our mechanic alerted us to extensive tread wear when we dealt the water accumulating in the driver foot well this summer.

Oh wait, did I not mention that?   Yes, California is in the midst of the worst drought on record since records started being kept, but water was accumulating under the carpet in the driver’s foot well of this car.   We first saw indications of this problem last January when it was raining a lot.   We had the driver’s door seal replaced and that seemed to clear up the problem (and perhaps it did.)   It reappeared in mid-July, without a drop of rain for weeks.

That required two visits to the mechanic who eventually determined that it was due to a known air conditioner drain tube issue with this make of car.    The drain tube installed at the factory was too short.  So when condensation from the coil in the center console of the dash collected to drain out the bottom of the car, it didn’t quite make it all the way to the ground.   Instead, it collected in a cavity in the structure of the unibody and leaked out into the passenger cabin.

Well, that was one theory anyway.   The other one was that the tube or drain pan was blocked, costing between $500-1000 to fix.

Fortunately the $100 labor to install the $30 drain tube replacement did the trick.

Getting back to the tires, July wasn’t the time to pay for new tires, given the vagaries of how the Missus is paid.  This week, it turns out, was the time to pay for new tires.

So, I got up bright and early yesterday morning and drove over to the local tire emporium just before 8am, when they were scheduled to open.    I was expecting to get over there and wait outside the door until someone unlocked it or something.   Instead, I arrived and they were going full blast with cars already up on the rack and orders being taken in the showroom.  Maybe their clocks run fast?

Anyway, I was quickly helped by a salesman who took me out to the car to get vital information.  It was at that point when a couple things were pointed out to me… like the fact that all four wheels had wheel locks on them.   Did I have a key?   Um…. good question!   We certainly didn’t get one when we bought the car.

In case it was stuck in the car someplace, I checked the spare tire well where the key wasn’t… and the jack and jack tools also weren’t.   (I found the jack today, in a location where the manufacturer clearly intended to be, but where a diagram the manufacturer-provided owner’s manual said it shouldn’t be… go figure!)

Long story short, the tire emporium cracked all four locks off the car for $10 a wheel, and we got the same tires with road wear warranty and brand new pressure sensors installed for just a bit over $1000.

I was expecting an expensive bill, but that was $100-200 higher than I anticipated.   Oh well.  At least, we didn’t find out about the jack or the jack tools or the wheel locks when on the side of the road with bad weather and poor cell reception or something.   That was a disaster averted.

I spent a good portion of the following afternoon visiting multiple auto parts stores to finally track down replacement lug nuts that matched the existing.  Factory jack tools are on their way for about $30.

It’s All About The Love

This happens all the time:

The Missus: I love you, Peanut.

The Peanut: I love you, Momma.

 

This happens about 50% of the time:

Me: I love you, Peanut.

The Peanut: *crickets*

 

Gender roles emerge early, I guess.

Everyday heroes

It’s been a month since I posted last?   That’s both surprising and unsurprising.   I feel like I’ve been working like crazy the last few weeks; it may  just be that progress seemed almost glacially slow.   The Peanut also started the new school year, and that required a shift in routine which wasn’t as bad as initially thought (more on that in another entry.)

This is a much-delayed 9/11 entry of sorts.

September 11 will always have multiple meanings for me.  It’s the tragic day of the September 11 attacks, of course.  It’s also the day we brought the Peanut home from the hospital.  The Missus likes to tell the Peanut that it is a day to thank our community heroes.   The last few years, she and the Peanut have taken cookies or other sweet treats to a local firehouse.

We got an extra helping of community heroism this year on September 11.   It was a long day for me, and I was dead tired.   I was about to nod off and contemplating an early night while sitting on the sofa at about 8:30pm when the Missus walked into the living roomed and heard the sound of a large truck in front of our house.   She decided to investigate and walked out the front door.   She quickly returned and informed me that our neighbor’s house was flooding and the fire department was here after our neighbor M. called 911.

The firefighters were great.  The helped M. get the water turned off at the meter, moved much of her stuff out of her place, and even helped get some of her carpets laid out to dry.    All the while, they told her they were sorry that it happened to her.   She said later that she found it very comforting.  Both an engine and a ladder company eventually came by, but both companies eventually had to be elsewhere and left by 10:30pm.

With those kinds of role models, the Missus and I did our best to help out where we could.  The landlord eventually showed up (M. rents) and called someone that lives a few doors down who, fortunately enough, operates a disaster cleanup business.    That led to moving even more furniture, boxing stuff up to store on our patio until whenever, taking down shelves, and eventually pulling up more carpet (laminate wood floors were also eventually pulled, but not that night.)

The day that I was hoping would end before 9pm actually ended sometime just after midnight… and sleep didn’t follow until around 1am as I recall.  I was a wreck for the rest of the weekend.

M.’s place sits on a slab foundation.  It was eventually determined that a pipe burst in the slab.  She finally got the all clear to move back in a few days ago.

habeas verum corpus

Though I am sometimes rather insecure about it, having lost over 30 pounds and mostly kept it off means that I am someone who has done a somewhat rare thing: I transformed by body and made the changes stick.

I have an online friend who has transformed herself in the last few years too.   She got in shape and just ran her first marathon earlier this year after a long period of dealing with health problems that made fitness difficult.

So when she mentioned that a book named Body Of Truth by Harriet Brown was one of the most important books about nutrition and weight that she’d read in 2015, I thought I should give it a look.    Looking at the dust jacket, the book purports to be about “How Science, History, and Culture Drive OUR OBSESSION WITH WEIGHT — and What We Can Do About It”.    That certainly sounded interesting… an exploration of how modern food production in the 20th century, cultural concepts of beauty, and ideas of food science interacted to produce a society forever striving to be thinner seemed like fertile ground for important discussion.

The book is all that to some degree or another, but with a much more immediate and personal focus from the author.  She’s a woman who battled with food most of her life, and watched her daughter battle with serious anorexia as a teen.   This is a woman for whom simple scolding about weight and talk of the latest fad diets will not produce any kind of sympathetic reaction.   She’s fairly up front about this, which is good, because her personal experiences and attitudes very much drive the content and tone of the book.

The thesis of her book can be boiled down to a few sentences:  social and medical attitudes about weight loss are causing real hurt in America today.   Calling someone fat is considered to be a horrible insult by many people, possibly the worst insult that can be made, but the insult is spoken everywhere.  It is synonymous with physical and moral weakness, laziness, and turpitude.   It is as if, after the Sexual Revolution, society took all the prudery once reserved for sex and transferred it to food.    It also says that science and medicine jumped into this morass and offered little in the way of effective solutions.   Diets, at least in the popular sense, do not work long term.  Shame is causing harm, even to the point that some doctors appear to attribute their patient’s maladies simply to being “fat” or “overweight” without looking further.  Drugs and operations are drastic solutions whose long term outcomes are not well understood.    There needs to be another way.

If all this sounds provocative, it is also well-documented.   Within a book of just less than 250 pages; aside from footnotes, there are 36 pages reserved for additional end notes and a selected bibliography.  Ms. Brown has done her homework, collected research, done primary source interviews, and notated pretty much everything.

Yet for all that, I do take some issue with her approach:

  • She seems to lament the weakness of the scientific results, but she does fully state that those weak results are due to the nature of statistical analyses.   Statistics can point at a “what” but rarely describe a “how”.  The health science behind smoking is an illustrative case.   Statistical studies showed that smokers had much higher incidence of cancer, emphysema, and heart disease than non-smokers.  These conditions killed people.  That showed what was happening, which was an important public health reason to suggest that people don’t smoke.  It said nothing about why smoking caused any of those conditions (which turned out to combination of things — tar clogs the lungs, nicotene and carbon monoxide stress the heart.)  It was also a very strong result and was easy to separate the signal from the noise.  Nutrition is a more subtle problem where it’s much harder to separate signal from noise.  Everyone eats.  It’s impractical to put large numbers of people on controlled diets for a long time.  That makes the “what” harder to detect.  So, it would be useful to know more about the “how” in order to judge how big the “what” is.  Statistics don’t provide that answer.
  • She tends to paint some legitimate science questions as silly.  She spends the first couple of chapters of the book discussing the statistical relationships between weight and life expectancy.   She sets up a hero in Katherine Flegal, whose research shows that there is little in the way of connection between BMI and life expectancy.   She also creates a number of villains, including one of Flegal’s frequent critics, Walter Willet.   Willet’s research produces a result that is opposite to that of Flegal, and Brown faults Willet for deleting “not only anyone who every smoked but also anyone with a history of cancer or heart disease, ultimately eliminating nearly 80 percent of the deaths” in the data sets he uses as a source for his research.   The way that Brown initially puts it, that deletion makes no sense and makes her point.   As someone trained in science, I see it a little differently. If you want to understand the seriousness of the effect of BMI on health, you want to eliminate people who are dying from other obvious causes — causes that have little or nothing to do with BMI — from your study.   If a lot people are dying from heart disease, cancer, or smoking-related health problems by some age (say 40), that could be masking deaths due to BMI-related health problems by a later age (say 50.)   That makes BMI-related health issues something that happens later but possibly not less severe when it hits.  Brown uses other researchers to eventually bring some of that point out, but it also makes Willet sound illogical and arbitrary on a point that is a legitimate scientific question.
  • She also complains more than once that researchers like Willet seem to show a lot of ego and treat all this rather personally.   The bio on the dust jacket says Brown is an associate professor of magazine journalism at Syracuse University.   Does she meet with the faculty of other disciplines on campus at all?   In my personal experience of 13 years as a student in higher education, ego is not a characteristic lacking in university faculty.   Professors and university researchers are paid to have opinions, and (due to tenure) are given lifetime employment in order to insulate them from the consequences of their opinions.  They’re not often paid terrific amounts of money.  The key features of their jobs are the ability to create standing through thorough and reproducible science and their integrity.  Attacks on research can easily be taken personally.   Professors in the same department who work in the same field sometimes don’t talk to each other, if they can help it.   It happens.  It’s the nature of the beast.
  • She seems to expect that science experts live like cloistered religious or as saints.  She berates the scientific establishment for working with industry and taking money for research.   Who else is supposed to advise industry?  How is research supposed to be funded?  Money can have a corrosive influence because profitable solutions are not always the best ones.  Brown’s documentation suggests that the establishment needs to take another approach.  Ships are slow to turn.  Scientific ideas change, sometimes slowly. The first internationally regarded scientist to emigrate from Europe to the United States in the 19th century was an expert in phrenology and scientific racism.   Science does not generally countenance such ideas today.

So what do I think of the book?  It’s  tough read in parts, and though I have weight problems, it opened my eyes to how people with high BMI, especially women, are treated and generally shamed, constantly.  It’s not a book for the faint-hearted.   It’s also not a book with a lot of answers.   That’s not its purpose, and it’s not the state of nutritional science at the moment.   It does represent a good and mostly honest attempt by a non-scientist to understand the science.   The documentation is excellent.

The $250 Rubber Band

Summer is a season of unexpected repair bills this year.   Our gas clothes dryer suddenly burned out a coil and a relay in June.  One of our cars started accumulating water in the driver’s foot well in July.  Our dishwasher stopped working at some point on Sunday night or Monday morning.   The incident with the dryer took about a week to resolve (parts were ordered and a follow up appointment required for installation) and the car was about three weeks (two separate visits to the garage, plus most of a week for parts to arrive.)   We resolved the dishwasher incident in less than 36 hours.  I’m happy for that, but I wish that it didn’t cost so much.

The story of the dishwasher began yesterday at around 4am, when the Peanut came down the hall and woke me up.   After two HOT days (almost as Neil Simon would say “Africa hot”), the two air conditioners in two bedrooms of our house were running all night.   In the case of the one in the Peanut’s bedroom, it was doing too good a job because he was actually cold.   I led him back to his bed, turned off the A/C, and covered him up a little.   Since I generally wake up around 5am these days to go to the gym, I had trouble going back to sleep and decided to watch a little TV.   When I got to the living room, I immediately detected an off odor in the house.   It wasn’t exactly a burning smell, but it seemed related.   My first thought was that the air conditioners were over taxing the wiring of the house… but that could not be.   The wiring of our house runs through the attic, which is full of wood, fiber glass batting, and paper-backed wall board dried by decades of hot summers.   Nothing up there would smolder.   It’s too dry and crispy for that.  If something was failing and could burn, it would be burning… and quickly.    So, I put it down to smoke from forest fires elsewhere in the state (which made the air hazy and smokey over the weekend,) tried to air the house out while it was still cool outside, and thought nothing of it.

Fast forward to around 7am, and I returned from the gym and started to get breakfast ready.   I figured I would use clean dishes from the dishwasher instead of using something else.   I opened the dishwasher door to discover 1-2″ of murky water in the bottom.   After two hours of siphoning dirty water (with occasional and unwelcome help from the Peanut — he loves transferring water from one container to another) and another of cleaning still dirty dishes, plus half an hour of inspecting the dishwasher, I decided that this was one nut I didn’t want to crack myself.   Thankfully, our experience with the dryer back in June brought us to a trustworthy appliance repair company.

That brings me to today, where I had to spend $250 because of a rubber band.

IMG_1806

A rubber band fell into the dishwasher and got tangled in the blue impeller of the drain pump.   It eventually wrapped itself around the spindle behind the impeller and was pulled behind the white plastic plate you see above.   There, it acted like a rubber friction brake and burned the motor out.    That was the smell in the air yesterday morning.

So, it was a flat $80 fee for the repairman to show up, an additional $70 flat fee for any repair requiring parts, $90 for a new OEM motor, and $10 tax on the part.   The repairman had the necessary part on the truck, so total repair time was less than one hour.

Going To The Shore

I learned this morning that my sister and my nephew are enjoying a few days down at the Jersey Shore.

That happened to trigger some fairly memories of my own youth.   My parents somehow discovered this hotel called the Diamond Beach Resort just south of the city limits of Wildwood Crest, NJ, almost wedged up against a US Coast Guard training center.

We went there a couple times.  It had to be in the late 70’s because I remember wearing a Hildebrandt Bros. Star Wars movie poster ringer tee on at least one of the trips.  I also recall marveling at the utility of the air conditioning in my parents’ new 1977 Chevrolet Impala station wagon in the humid summer heat, after years of driving in their mid-60’s Oldsmobile F85 station wagon with black vinyl seats that lacked such conveniences.

A series of disjoint experiences come to mind.   Walking out into the waves with my Dad.   Early morning walks along the beach with my parents, feeling hermit crabs in a sandy tide pool occasionally nip at my toes.   Swimming in the hotel pool… possibly going into a hotel pool for the first time ever.   Flying a kite on the beach.  Collecting shells.  Finding a living dinner plate-sized horseshoe crab and bringing it back to the hotel room for a short stay in the sink of the room’s kitchenette.   Visiting the boardwalk and being utterly scared by my first rollercoaster ride.   Going to dinner down the coast in Cape May, where my Dad (or was it all of us?) got these marvelous looking steamed crabs that he ate on newspaper at the table.

As I have become more interested (or nostalgic) for the architecture and artifacts of the mid-20th Century world into which I was born, one memory sticking out more and more is the motel architecture around Wildwood.   Colorful and delightfully different and the same at the same time, it was wholly fitting that I also learned today (coincidentally) that the remaining motels of that type that were somehow saved from re-development are on the National Register of Historic Places and are known as the Doo Wop Motels:

wildwood-crest-doowop-motels

You can learn more about the Doo Wop motels here

As for the Diamond Beach Resort and its neighboring club/venue the Playpen, they fell to redevelopment wrecking ball sometime in the 80’s, as far as the Internet can tell me.   That’s fine.  I don’t expect to live life in a museum.  It’s nice to have the memories.

Maybe we should take the Peanut to the beach before the summer completely ends.   It’s a different ocean, but I’m sure he’ll still have fun.

Turning the ship around

I am pleased to report that I’ve now lost about 5 pounds since I last wrote about my weight loss almost two months ago.  I managed to increase the intensity of my daily workouts, and working out feels very good right now.   I can feel a change in the muscle groups of my lower body — both in terms of their size and shape as well as how they respond to exercise.  I’ve also managed to get my eating and portion sizing under control without feeling like I’m denying myself much.   Most important from an emotional standpoint (and probably least important as a practical matter,) I’ve blown past a weight number where my weight loss traditionally stopped before last year.

My doctor ran a lipid panel and glucose tests on my blood a few weeks ago, and while the results aren’t as stellar those of 18 months ago, they look pretty good.   Some are just above what’s considered a healthy range, and some are in the range.   We’ll have to see what the numbers look like next year.

Weight loss during the last three months was slow at first.   The scale did not change much at all during in the 4-6 weeks before my last posting on the subject.   Some time in early-to-mid-July, I started to notice changes in how my clothes were fitting and the reading on the scale started to drop.   I am weighing myself before I exercise in the morning, but I’m not recording the values.   I keep thinking that the information would be useful to look at later… but I never get around to it.   Is there a fitness iPhone app for that?

This puts me about one third of the way toward my first fitness goal; losing another 5 pounds would be nice, and another 10 pounds is the target.  The second, and more important, fitness goal of keeping off that lost weight… I’m not sure where I am with that.

In any case, I feel like changing your level of fitness is like turning a large ship.   Even after you’ve started turning the wheel, it takes a while to see the course changing.   I think my change is under way.