Friday, July 10, 2009

2493 Day 23, what diet? And other stuff.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sir Winston Churchill: "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind
and won't change the subject."


Yesterday I made no attempt to follow any diet or regimen. I went out for dinner with some folks in southern Orange county, at Harpoon Bay, in Warwick.

I left the house at 4:30 (long drive), and we met at 6:30 pm. At 7:00 we gave up on waiting for two more people who were supposed to arrive but never did, and the seven of us ordered. At 8:35 our food arrived. The place was packed, and the sous-chef had never arrived, so there was only one cook. I'm surprised that no one offered us any nibbles. We'd got a bread basket at 7, but it was gone by 7:30 and never refreshed.

The conversation was good, and when the food finally arrived it was very good. One of the guys wondered if it was the wait that made it so good.

I had chicken strips and various colors of peppers and onions on thin rice noodles with a peanut sauce. My dessert was sauteed bananas on puff pastry with ice cream and a fruity caramel sauce.

I think there might have been a few calories involved. I doggy-bagged half the chicken and noodles.


On the way to Warwick I was listening to NPR, and there was a discussion of how teachers' unions are strenuously objecting to the whole idea of merit pay.

I can see that there may be some valid objections to exactly how merit is determined. What criteria is used, who determines a teacher's effectiveness, and how evaluations are done. How can you ensure objectivity? But that doesn't seem to be the objection.

It sounds weird, but from some of the speakers against merit pay I got the impression that tenure is paramount, yearly scaled pay increases rule, and "what does merit have to do with anything anyway?" "What right does anyone have to judge me in MY classroom?"

That's flat out scary.

How can a teacher see no value in rewarding excellence, and penalizing a failure to meet requirements?

As to one way to evaluate, any fifth grade teacher can tell you whether the fourth grade teacher was any good. When I was teaching Algebra II, I had definite opinions on the efficacy of the various Algebra I teachers. Come on - it's pretty easy to see when someone didn't try and didn't care.


For years I've been frustrated by the laughingly called "flower bed" across the front of the house. If I don't keep after it constantly it gets full of weeds. Not just weeds - we're talking WEEDS! Raspberries, blackberries, thistles, poison ivy, sumac trees (those things spread by roots and can grow a foot a week), virginia creeper, wild grape, and other big strong nasty stuff spread by birds, animals, and wind from the surrounding woods and fields, and with persistent roots. Then when it starts to get overgrown, the ground-nesting yellowjackets move in, and I don't want to disturb the ground.

I'll try for a year, and get it looking pretty ok, then the next year we have a wet spring, or my back will be fragile, and it's overrun again before I can get ahead of it. Once I plant flowers, I can't use spray, so it's all hand-work.

I've pretty much given up.

Mulch, barrier cloth, bark, stones, all those things people suggest don't work. They don't stop the kind of stuff that gets in there, and then just make it harder to get it out.

In the past few days I've realized I was looking at it wrong. I want to get the ground weed-free, and plant flowers in the ground, and then keep the ground weed-free. This is impossible!


If I dig and rake and spray and get all the roots out of there, or at least kill the roots that keep things coming back, and then lay a nearly-impenetrable layer of poly-something or other, and cover that with stone or bark, I can put some of those huge plastic-but-look-like-clay pots out there (six should do to start), and plant anything I want in the pots. Just like they do outside office buildings. But mine will look nicer because they're on bark instead of on sidewalk.

Whoop! I can hardly wait to get started.

Weeds will probably still get into the pots, but they can't spread underground, the available weed area will be smaller, and I can weed them sitting on a stool, which is much easier on my back.

Why did it take so long to think of that?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

2492 Diet, Day 22, How to make a Happy Waitress

Thursday, July 9, 2009

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

That is SO true! The more you think you deserve love, the more you accept. The less you think you deserve, the more you push away. I suspect that the amount available and offered is the same for just about everyone, like air.


I ran a bunch of errands yesterday, so I ate out. I had a hunger for a Happy Waitress, which is invariably the best thing to get in a diner. They're very easy to make at home, but I never do because the bacon is the stopper. I never happen to have two slices of cooked bacon lying around.

How to make a Happy Waitress:
Put two slices of toast on an oven-proof plate.
Cover with slices of tomato, not too thinly sliced.
Lay two slices of bacon on top.
Put two slices of plain American cheese over the bacon.
Broil until the cheese is melted, but hasn't yet lost shape.
Serve with creamy cole slaw.
Eat with knife and fork.

When I got home I had to look up all the ingredients. I was shocked to discover that a Happy Waitress totals out to 381 calories!


What I ate yesterday:
Sanka, coffeemate vanilla sugar free
Rice Pudding, deli, 1 C
Sanka, coffeemate vanilla sugar free
Happy Waitress, restaurant
Cole slaw, restaurant, 1/2 C
Water & tea
The usual vitamins and minerals, not included in totals below.

Totals for yesterday:
Calories - 791 (out of 1153 allowed)
Carbs - 66 (299g allowed)
Sugar - 10g
Fiber - 1g
Fat - 41 (67g allowed)
Protein - 24 (47g allowed)
Cholesterol - 38 (297mg allowed)
Sodium - 495 (2402mg allowed)

Total weight lost since 6/17:
8.0 pounds

2491 Snowflakes

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."


Beautiful photos of snowflakes at, plus everything you ever wanted to know about them.

I used to keep a little piece of black velvet on the porch, for the sole purpose of catching and examining snowflakes.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

2490 Hate

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Andy Rooney: "Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done."

---------------------'s Big Picture does it again. I was completely unaware of this one.

When violence comes from religious and/or ethnic hate, there seems to be no solution, no way for it to end. Ever.

2489 Those annoying calls

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Roman poet Juvenal: “All wish to possess knowledge, but few, comparatively speaking, are willing to pay the price.”


You know those annoying calls, the ones from unrecognized numbers, where they call multiple times a day, and they let it ring only a few times, and never leave a message?

I found out why they never leave a message.

There's some law or regulation that says that if they leave a message, they can't call you again for seven days. If they don't leave a message they can keep calling until you finally give up and answer.

So you may as well answer the first call, and tell them not to call again.

2488 MJ & DR

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Roman poet Juvenal: “Our virtues are most frequently but vices disguised.”


MJ assigned guardianship of his children to his mother, and then to D. Ross if his mother was unwilling or unable.

This has kicked off some speculation as to exactly what was the relationship between MJ and DR.

It doesn't matter to me whether they were simply best of friends, or whether M had a mad wild crush on D which was unrequited, or requited.

What matters to me is the reason given by most of those who deny anything remotely romantic or sexual in their relationship - that the difference in their ages is too great.

Um, D is exactly seven months months older than I, and M was twenty-one months older than The Man.

Their difference was more than a year less than ours.


2487 Diet, Day 21

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Roman poet Juvenal: “No one ever became extremely wicked suddenly.”


What I ate yesterday:
Sanka, coffeemate vanilla sugar free
DiabeticMeal - chol-free scrambled eggs,
...whole wheat mini bagel, cream cheese,
...pineapple spears
Butternut squash
Tomato, small fresh
Sanka, coffeemate vanilla sugar free
Dole spring mix greens, naked, 1/3 bag
Hot dog, naked, Oscar Mayer
Green sweet pickle relish, 1 tbsp
Eskimo Pie, no sugar added
Water & tea
The usual vitamins and minerals, not included in totals below.

Totals for yesterday:
Calories - 737 (out of 1153 allowed)
Carbs - 90 (299g allowed)
Sugar - 31g
Fiber - 11g
Fat - 31 (67g allowed)
Protein - 28 (47g allowed)
Cholesterol - 50 (297mg allowed)
Sodium - 1415 (2402mg allowed)

Total weight lost since 6/17:
8.0 pounds

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

2486 Diet, Day 20 - and notes

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Roman poet Juvenal: “Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.”


[Note - my posts are numbered sequentially.  "2486" is the sequence number of this post.  It has nothing to do with any diet by that name.]

The purpose of this exercise is not control of diabetes, even though there are diabetic meals included. I just bought those prepared meals to find out what they looked like, and to serve as a base and example. The real purpose is weight loss, to wean me off sugar and fat, to reset my metabolism - get me off "starvation mode" - and to try to build some new and moderately better habits.

I know that if I do need to control the blood sugar more rigorously, I need to do a better job of balancing carbohydrate, fat, and protein intake, which isn't easy. Restricting something is a lot easier than balancing.

It's relatively easy to lower the cholesterol intake, for example, but according to recent research, that doesn't matter all that much to the blood cholesterol levels anyway (and mine is ok).

One interesting thing, I haven't taken my Prilosec in over a week now, and I've had no acid reflux. The Prilosec was interfering with calcium uptake, which resulted in an "uh-oh" bone density scan, so this is an unplanned benefit.

What I ate yesterday:
Sanka, coffeemate vanilla sugar free
Grits, Quaker original pkg
Margarine, Promise, 1 tsp
Diabetic meal -oatmeal & baked apple
Eskimo Pie, no sugar added (can't give these up!)
Dole spring mix greens, naked, 1/3 bag
Blueberries, 1c
Eggplant parm, Celentano, 1/2 pkg.
Water & tea
The usual vitamins and minerals, not included in totals below.

Totals for yesterday:
Calories - 991 (out of 1153 allowed)
Carbs - 126 (299g allowed)
Sugar - 34g
Fiber - 19g
Fat - 49 (67g allowed)
Protein - 21 (47g allowed)
Cholesterol - 30 (297mg allowed)
Sodium - 975 (2402mg allowed)

Total weight lost since 6/17:
7.0 pounds

Monday, July 06, 2009

2485 The Missouri Lots

Monday, July 6, 2009

Roman poet Juvenal: “Censure acquits the raven,
but pursues the dove.”


Ex#2 is driving me crazy. Again.

About 35 years ago we went camping at Big Springs, Missouri. On the way home we passed a billboard for a new lake development, Goose Creek. There was no lake yet, just a valley the developers planned to flood, and a bunch of wooded lots they were selling for vacation homes.

We stopped. We got the sales pitch. He decided he wanted to buy, so we did. Two adjoining lots, across the dirt road from the future beach on the future lake.

He liked those lots because even though they were so close to the (future) lake, they were cheap, because a small stream ran through them, leaving little ground for building. But with two lots, he figured we could build across the two above the creek, or sell them as a unit once the lake came in.

There were covenants. Designs for building on the lots had to be submitted for approval. All buildings had to be stick-built. No trailers would be approved or allowed, even temporarily. Within X feet of the lake, septic tanks and septic fields would not be allowed. You'd have to have a holding tank. Creeks and streams were to be left natural. A certain number of mature trees had to be left on a lot. And so on.

We spent many weekends clearing underbrush from the lots. And I noticed a few disturbing things.

Like that the guy on the next lot had installed a beat-up old trailer, which he was living in full time, and was putting in a septic tank, and a drain field that sloped right down to the (future) beach.

At night, large flocks of bats emerged from the banks and bed of the (future) lake. A little research revealed that the area was riddled with caves. Um, how are they planning to keep the water in the lake?

Within weeks, the creek crossing the lots dried up. Exploration revealed that people upstream had dammed it to make pools. Many people. Many dams. I headed upcreek with a crowbar, and the first five dams I ripped out had no water behind them - because of dams further up. I gave up.

I went to the sales office and mentioned the septic field. They said they'd take care of it. They didn't. I asked about the caves, and they said they'd "block the entrances with cement". Duh? And what about the bats? Aren't they protected? No answer.

I rapidly lost interest in Goose Creek. In the divorce, I ceded the lots to Ex#2. I considered them an albatross and wanted nothing to do with them.

Somewhere along the line the dam was built and the lake filled, but it came nowhere near the lots. All those caves, I guess. Or faulty engineering.

Now Ex#2 wants to sell.

It turns out it won't be easy. My name is still on the deed as joint owner, so he wants a quitclaim. And the lots both span two counties (they didn't usta, but the counties redrew the lines, and that's where the new lines fall), but there's only one deed, so there's some confusion as to how to amend the deed. Of course Ex#2 is too cheap to hire a Missouri lawyer.

Now he expects me to help with the mess.

Way back when, the court order would have been enough for him to have had the deed changed, but he didn't do it then. Now, of course, he no longer has a copy of the divorce decree. He wants me to go through my files and find mine, and send him a copy.

Yeah, uh huh.

He wants me to answer all his legal questions.

Yeah, uh huh.

He sends me copies of documents as email attachments. They're in Microsoft Office Word format. I don't have Office. I can't open or read them, and I'm in no mood to try to figure out how to reformat them. I tell him that, and they still arrive in Office Word.

He says everything has to be on legal-sized paper (14 inches?). I said that's ridiculous. Every law office and government office in the country switched to 8.5 x 11 decades ago. "Well, that's what Missouri wants." It turns out that they do accept 8.5 x 11, but they charge a $15 fee for it.

Toldja he was cheap.

I told him if he'd send me the papers by snail mail, I'd sign a quit claim form (or two) and get it notarized and send it back. I figure that's the limit of my responsibility and as involved as I want to get.

And the worst is that when he calls to ask for something, I guess he feels he has to be friendly, so he chats. It's also very obvious that when he wants something from me, he's friendly and chatty. Otherwise, I get short shrift. One word answers.

Bah. Now I'm in a bad mood.


Goose Creek:

If you go to this link, you'll find an interactive map. The lots are on the northeast corner of Lakeview and Beach Drives, I think. You can move and enlarge the map for a better look. The lake was supposed to go well up into that "V" formed by those streets, and of course, it didn't. [Update: He says they're in the east corner of the square formed by Parrot Dr., Pawnee Dr., Sunshine Dr., and Sassafras Dr., on the southern point of the lake.]

If anyone is interested, I'm sure he'll sell them cheap. He paid about $5,000 for them, and no more than $150 a year for 35 years in taxes and association fees.

2484 Diet, Day 19

Monday, July 6, 2009

Roman poet Juvenal: “It is not easy for men to rise
whose qualities are thwarted by poverty.”


What I ate yesterday:
Coffee, coffeemate vanilla sugar free
2 small slyders w. peanut butter
1/2 small order french fries
Dole spring mix greens, naked, 1/3 bag
Tomato, small fresh
Coffee, coffeemate vanilla sugar free
Edy's fruit ice bar, grape
Water & tea
The usual vitamins and minerals, not included in totals below.

Totals for yesterday:
Calories - 627 (out of 1153 allowed)
Carbs - 67 (299g allowed)
Sugar - 22g
Fiber - 2g
Fat - 31 (67g allowed)
Protein - 9 (47g allowed)
Cholesterol - 40 (297mg allowed)
Sodium - 280 (2402mg allowed)

Total weight lost since 6/17:
7.0 pounds

It's been 7 for a while, but given that it's been less than three weeks, I guess that's ok.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

2483 Things & Stuff, & Photos

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Laurence J. Peter: “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind,
what is the significance of a clean desk?"


Nice day. Becs reminded us all today that when you have the first beautiful day in two months of rain, you'd best take advantage of it. I took her advice and walked.

I parked in the middle of the village, and walked a mile to a little hamburger joint with super french fries, and then back. Yeah, I rewarded myself with half of a small order of french fries, and two tiny "slyders", which eliminated the calorie-burning aspect of the walk, but left the bone-building advantage, so I figure I still made out on the trade. So hush.


I read somewhere that the guy who killed the guard at the Holocaust Museum, James W. von Brunn, was a member of Mensa. I also heard that Theodore Kaczynski (the Unabomber) was a Mensan. I went to the members-only section of the American Mensa website and looked for both of them on the membership list. I didn't find either, but, unfortunately, the lists contain only current members. So who knows.

The person who wrote the article mentioning that both were Mensans expressed surprise that people who were supposed to be so smart could be so stupid. He/she said, "I prefer to think of bigots and extremists as being less intelligent than myself."

I don't know if von Brunn and Kaczynski were Mensa members or not (although I'm certain Kaczynski would easily have qualified, and von Brunn was a talented artist, see an example of his work here), but I see no contradiction if they were.

IQ tests evaluate one's ability to see patterns, solve puzzles, interpret information, synthesize and extrapolate, and draw conclusions. It doesn't test one's social development, sanity, emotional maturity, or the validity of one's belief system.

It has been my experience that with many Mensans, and most of the card-carrying gungho ones, whatever their individual quirks, beliefs, or interests are, including bigotry or extremism, they tend to go overboard in that direction. Think Trekkies or Furries, with wider interests and no costumes (unless you want to consider ugly T-shirts and mixed plaids a costume).

So, yeah, I don't know that it's true, but I could believe it. I see no conflict.


Photos from my walk:

The village main street. I wanted to show all the huge trees. There are some really nice Victorian and Queen Anne houses, too. Lots of flowers. It's a pretty village. That's not just a village street, actually. It's a main north-south US highway system route. The same route goes past Daughter's house in New Jersey.

This sign was in the hamburger place. It's old, I guess, and it amused me that something from an earlier era was so ripe with innuendo. I wouldn't have expected that. [Update - see comments.]

I blanked out the name of this church. Don't want non-residents rushing in to apply for camp. I guess this is what happens when you leave the sign up past its drop-dead date. (Click to enlarge.)
Speaking of dropping dead, I tried to get a picture of the "two for one" sale sign at the granite cemetery memorials shop down the road, but I guess that sale is over. They were recommending them as Mother's Day gifts.

2482 Boy or girl, does it matter?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bertrand Russell: "The trouble with the world is that
the stupid are cocksure
and the intelligent are full of doubt."


There's a couple in Sweden who won't tell anyone whether their toddler is a boy or a girl. My take on it is, "Who cares if it's a boy or a girl? At that age, does it matter? I don't think so."

My daughter was born almost bald, and for her first three years she had a fluff of blond fuzz, no more than an inch long. She was very active, and skirts are difficult to creep and then crawl in, so I rarely put a dress on her. She very early formed opinions, and by six months she showed a definite preference for red and blue, and an absolute antipathy toward pink, so she mostly wore red, blue, or green pants and tops and overalls. I made most of her clothes, so they didn't have cute bows or kittens on them.

The end result was that when we were out, most people assumed she was a boy.

And I let them.

It didn't matter.

I didn't try to hide her gender - I just let people meet her and treat her as she was, without a label.

I noticed that people treated her differently if they assumed she was a boy, different from how they treated her when they discovered she was a girl (usually they found out when I used her name - a very obviously feminine name). As a boy, they treated her more actively, louder, more exciting, more movement and external direction. When they discovered she was a girl, they suddenly backed off, got quieter, less active, more internally directed.

She vastly preferred the boy treatment. She'd often try to keep the high activity level going, but the adults would back off and try to slow her down. All of which annoyed me, and her. Why couldn't she be treated as herself, the way she is, active and external? Why did people insist that she conform to an outmoded gender-defined model of behavior? Why are active girls stomped down right from birth, and passive boys forced to direct outward? Why can't they be what they are? (Yeah, I know most girls are passive and internal, and most boys are active and external, but not ALL! And I wonder how many of those who do fit the mold would have if they hadn't been pushed into it?)

So in my opinion, the Swedish couple are trying to allow their child to develop her/his own personality and mode of dealing with the world, free of preconceived notions of how he/she "should" act, or be interacted with, based on a gender label. They want it to come from inside the child, not imposed from outside expectations.

The vast majority of people who commented on the article think the parents are somehow damaging the child.

I applaud the parents. I think they are trying to protect their child from being forced into a mold. (...although I think perhaps they didn't need to be so strict about it that they got all this publicity. Article here).


I often read some of the comments on online articles. The people who comment on AOL articles (as the above story was) are some of the most vitriolic, nasty, rigid, racist, sexist, zenophobic, homophobic, uneducated, unthinking, poisonous, inconsiderate, downright stupid people I have ever come across. Note that I didn't say opinionated. Opinions are ok, even when they disagree with mine. I simply require that they be reasoned opinions, and respectfully expressed.

I have to wonder about the demographics of AOL users. They scare me.


In my opinion, people who stick pink bows on the top of bald baby girls' heads are putting a sign on the child: "Treat me a certain way". They are requesting that others conspire to force passivity on a child who might not otherwise have naturally grown that way. And that's my opinion.

2481 Diet, Day 18

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Charles Darwin: "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."


What I ate yesterday:
2 Coffee, coffeemate vanilla sugar free
Diabetic Meal- egg white omelet, spinach, mixed berries
Eskimo Pie, no sugar added
Blueberries, 1c
Banana bread, 5 oz
V8 veggie juice, 8 oz
Celentano eggplant parm, 1/2 pkg.
Water & tea
The usual vitamins and minerals, not included in totals below.

Totals for yesterday:
Calories - 1104 (out of 1153 allowed)
Carbs - 116 (299g allowed)
Sugar - 57g
Fiber - 17g
Fat - 58 (67g allowed)
Protein - 36 (47g allowed)
Cholesterol - 95 (297mg allowed)
Sodium - 1288 (2402mg allowed)

Total weight lost since 6/17:
7.0 pounds