Print Story so it goes, so it goes, so it goes
By lm (Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 02:43:56 PM EST) (all tags)
But where it's going, no one knows.

Odds and ends inside. And pics, including a picture of the fish tie.

At my annual physical a few weeks ago, my doctor advised me to read Joel Furhman's Eat to Live. My cholesterol was a bit hight, and looks to be slowly climbing by a few points each of the last few years. My weight is also slowly climbing up. I'm clocking in around 200 lbs naked these days. Nevertheless, I was surprised on doing some research that Fuhrman's book is geared mostly towards weight loss.

And then it clicked. My doctor thinks I'm fat. And, well, I am. But most likely not as much as she thinks. I did some look ups. My BMI presently comes in 28.6 which is pretty close to ``obese'' and if you "convert" BMI to percentage of body fat, it does place me squarely in the obese category for a male of my age. So I bought a new scale, one with an electronic body fat sensor. After a week of measurements, it reports my body fat ranging from 22.9 (the top of the normal range for someone my age) to 23.4 (just into the overweight range).

I'm still going to read Furhrman's book to see what it has to say. Remarkably I've been unable to find any critical reviews of it. Sure, there are quite a few positive and negative reviews out there. But few of them spend any real effort casting a critical eye on the science that Furhman uses to justify his claims.  So the only thing left to do, I guess, is tackle the book head on.

Oh, and she also recommended that I give up coffee, booze, and spicy foods since I mentioned that I might have acid reflux. (Long term readers of this diary may recall that this was the diagnosis of my ENT specialist as the cause of my chronic coughing condition.) I'd rather give up booze entirely and never have sex again than give up coffee. Nevertheless, it's probably prudent to cut back. So I'm down to one 8oz cup per day. And, something I've forgotten occurred to me when I started cutting back. Coffee brewed without a paper filter contains oils which are through to increase cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream. And I've been drinking most of my daily coffee intake at work which brews its coffee in a machine with a metal filter. So, hopefully, that explains the slow climb in cholesterol over the past couple of years. If so, cutting back to a single cup of coffee per day brewed through a paper filter should help on that end. I'm also cutting back on the amount of alcohol that I drink. As for giving up spicy foods, I think my feelings on the matter are best summed up by the words of a great sage from antiquity, ``shuck that jive.''

:: :: :: :: ::

My primary effort to reduce body fat will be exercise. Don't get me wrong. My diet does have some room for improvement. I'll try a few simple changes such as eating fewer refined carbs for snacks. The easiest thing to do is when I get pecking after dinner is to snack on nuts still in the shell instead going through half a box of Cheezits. But I'm already abstaining from meat and dairy half the days of the year. And I don't really have any desire to lose weight.

The thrice weekly visits to the gym in our apartment building continue. I go through all of the weight machines and then do some moderately interesting things with a medicine ball. Well, a broken medicine ball. I need a heavier one. At 5kg, the current one is too easy to throw around. And it's broken.

But my main exercise is running. After a failed attempt that ended in me bonking hard at 8.9 miles, I managed a 10 mile run on my second attempt. Apparently 8 miles or so is the upper limit of what I can do without additional calories and hydration. So I bought a small water bottle, fueled up with an energy bar boasting 20g of proteins in addition to my normal morning banana, and the second time, I lost my first wind somewhere around mile 9 and hit my second wind at 9.5 miles. I could have kept going save that I didn't have any more time to run that day and my feet were starting to hurt like lover of a mother.

The route I take for my long runs takes me down a bike path for close to two miles. This path was once a railway. At some point it was asphalted over. Most of the asphalt has either started to break up or is covered with dirt. To keep it "clean", the county has poured gravel over it. Some of the gravel has worn down. Other places, the cracked and jagged asphalt pokes through. In some spots, it's like running on dirt or sand. It's done a number on the soles of my feet. I guess that's what I get for running barefoot. The next day, I frequently have bruises on the arches of my soles. I figure that sooner or later, much like a Thai kick boxer builds up her shins from kicking trees, my feet will get used to it.

Anyway, despite taking two days off last week (Thursday and Friday), I still put in a marathon's worthy of miles over the course of the week.

Part of the miles comes from joining a running club at the apartment complex I live in. They meet once a week and do a slow circuit of the neighborhood. It's nice to have a bit of company while out running. Last week, a young woman was about half a block ahead of me. She passed buy two young men in ties and collared shirts walking the other direction. When she passed them, they immediately swung around to check her out. Then they turned back around to see my 200 pound sweaty frame and grimacing face bearing down on top of them. Their jaws dropped and terror crept into their eyes.

``Are you her father?'' one of them asked.

-- -- -- --

I've got writers block. I need to stop finding ways to distract myself and just finish the projects I've got going. On the stove are the piece I'm working on contrasting Hunger Games with Anthem and Ender's Game. A piece on Federalist 8 where Hamilton predicts the rise of the military industrial complex. My M.A. thesis. And a vaguely planned critical review of Eat to Live.

The solution is simple, I suppose. Just buckle down and write.

But the words, they don't come.

I've got all the notes for the bit on the Hunger Games, etc. It was really interesting. Hunger Games was more interesting the second time I read it. There are some subtle things going on in the background that are easy to overlook. Ender's Game was far more fascinating on the second read. Reading the first half, knowing what happens in the second half, leads to some interesting insight into both the nature of the protagonist and the world that he inhabits. But Anthem sucked even worse the second time around. The closer attention you pay to to it, the more the work falls apart under its own weight. It's close to not even being coherent.

The essay on Federalist 8, I even have half written. Or, more accurately, I've written it half way several times over. I keep changing my mind on how to treat it. Then I always get stuck in the same place. There has to be a simple and elegant way to address the topic without getting bogged down in the minute technical details that no one really cares about. But that way continues to escape me.

And, as for my thesis, the clock is ticking on that one. It's coming along, just not quickly enough.

But, speaking of my thesis, here is the tie with the quote by Farabi that my wife had made for me.

For there is no difference between a man who possesses the most perfect bestiality and performs the most perfect activities thereof, and assuming that he is dead and transformed into that beast and its shape. Thus there is no difference between a man who acts like a fish, and a fish with a shape like that of a man: his only virtue is his human shape and the fact that he acts like a perfect fish.

And displaying the tie is me with a fresh shave and haircut.

Lee looking as if he is lonely and greatly in need of learning to smile. But, then again, it has been pointed out to him that his new spectacles look like those worn by Daniel Radcliffe in the Harry Potter movies. That alone is enough to make one grumpy for the day if not weepy for a year.

So in order to remain true to form, once I finish this diary entry, I will distract myself by baking a strawberry cake.

## ## ##

I really liked this just so story about how money came to be that an imaginary Internet friend of mine linked to on Google+.  But one of the comments, the one by Fred Fnord, was absolutely superb.

So, economists, until thirty years ago, tended to be very much interested in actually describing how economics actually works in the real world. There were and are a lot of people who don't like this: people who are more interested in economics as a morality play than they are in actually describing how economics works. But until thirty years ago, they weren't the 'credible' economists, they were just sniping from the sidelines.

So, for example, let's say economics says that bankruptcy law is good for the economy. It is: the vast majority of people who get rid of their debt and start over again become a net positive to society afterwards, producing more value than they consume. (And until the cost of health care became insane, the numbers were even more stark.) The alternatives are, say, debtor's prison (which actually costs society money, even if the person is working in prison) or the person laboring under an onerous load of debt for the rest of their lives, only allowed by the court to keep enough to barely feed, house, and clothe himself and whatever family he has (which penalizes him 100% for everything he makes over a certain amount -- if you believe taxes are a disincentive, try this!)

But there are a lot of people who want to turn economics into a morality play: if you get into debt, it is your moral duty to discharge that debt (if you are a person: corporations don't have morals or even ethics and so are exempt, in these people's minds) and so bankruptcy must be bad for society because it allows people to escape their moral duty. And because it must be bad for society, they play with their models and they screw with the numbers until they find a way of 'proving' that it is bad, and then they present that as 'The Truth'.


It's basically religion (not Christianity: simply a pure religion of monetary morality, with Heyek as primary saint) thinly disguised as actual analysis.

And a real life acquaintance linked to this on Facebook, Aquinas on questions arising from zombies which answers such things as ``whether the souls of those who become zombies are in hell'' and ``Whether zombies will experience the bodily resurrection?'' Vital knowledge. You know that you need to know these things.

Another acquaintance of mine, actually the friend of a friend, has a nice bit on St. Dionysius on Poetic Knowledge which I found interesting. I don't quite like the term "Poetic Knowledge" but I do like the idea that there is a form of knowledge that is actually knowledge which is not scientific in nature.  Some thoughts in the same direction where also put out by Parveen Babi in the article The Age of Philosophy: A Critique of Pure Reason which I think is unfortunately titled. Critique of Pure Reason will be fundamentally associated with Kant in the modern mind. Moreover, I think the bottom line is less a critique of pure reason and more a critique of what I would call a subset of reason, mostly analytical and logical analysis.

One of the problems, I think, with underdefining reason comes out in the tendency of recent scientists to reject philosophy and metaphysics. In a review of Hawking and Mladinow's The Grand Design Javier Sanchez Canizares jumps right into the crux of the problem.

^^ ^^

I'm about to undertake a new endeavor, making cheese. Last weekend, a cow-orker, myself, and my wife went out to the local home brew store. He wanted enough grains to try brewing a batch of beer the hard way. I wanted a wine kit to make a enough wine to give away as Christmas presents to my extended family. On arrival,  I discovered that in addition to beer and wine making supplies, they now had a cheese room. So I picked up a kit with all the necessary ingredients to make cheese.

Now comes the hard part, deciding what kind of cheese to make. I'm thinking cheddar.


Lastly, for all those who doubted the efficacy of my self watering planter, I've been filling the reservoir about once per month. My tomato plants are now five feet tall and blossoming. I think it fair to say that it works pretty well.

Also, there is a bit of a control. My daughter bought home a tomato plant from the not-for-profit organic farm that she did some service hours on earlier this summer. She put this single plant in a pot. She watered it somewhat regularly but with the horrible heat we've been having, it wasn't enough. It dried up and died.

I'm toying with the idea of adding some red worms. But I fear that it gets too hot out on the balcony. WIth the weather somewhat routinely getting into the 100s, I fear that the worms would bake. And that would stink.

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so it goes, so it goes, so it goes | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Acid reflux by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #1 Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 04:19:11 PM EST
I have periodically had troubles with it and periodically had no troubles at all.  For my body at least, the difference seems to be mostly junk food.  There seems to be a direct correlation with salting/crunchy crap and eating out at lunch with heart burn issues.

On the other hand, for me, there's no correlation with coffee and a weak correlation with booze.  (Wine mostly.)

I'm running about a 28 BMI.  I felt a lot worse about this until that BBC story that told me that a 28 BMI for my age is thinner than 2/3rds the population.  I probably didn't need to know that.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

I'll say this by lm (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:45:57 PM EST
I've been sleeping far more soundly since I stopped drinking coffee up through the early afternoon. And I'm actually more concerned about cholesterol than I am about acid reflux.

Two thirds of the population. That's of the US? I'm surprised and not surprised at the same time.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I mistyped by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 09:36:40 PM EST
It was 2/3rds of men in my age group.

All those young kids are hogging the skinny.

I should give up coffee myself for other reasons, but it's a struggle.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Oh, and by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 09:37:17 PM EST
It's here.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
That's a very cool calculator by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #7 Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 10:55:26 PM EST
It turns out I'm most like women my age in Sri Lanka. I'm not sure if that means I need to eat more, or if it means that people across the world are kind of on the higher-BMI side (I wasn't surprised that my BMI, which is probably lower than it should be, is lower than 90ish% of women my age in the US, but I was surprised that it's lower than almost 3/4 of the world's women my age).
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
Woh. by ana (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 06:57:26 AM EST
Bangladesh. Lower than 97% of men in the US, and 83% worldwide. And I'm not skinny, particularly. 

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
crazy by R343L (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 01:16:44 PM EST
My BMI is 26 (I need to lose fifteen pounds though more accurately I need to get fit) and I still have a lower BMI than 72% of women in my age group in the United States.

This boggles my mind.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
I love the tie. by ana (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 04:36:18 PM EST
 Thanks for the pictures.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

(Comment Deleted) by gzt (2.00 / 0) #6 Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 10:50:25 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by gzt

My work is now mandating health screenings by kwsNI (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 08:41:55 AM EST
Well, we can either do the free health screening on-site, have a doctor do blood work, or pay additional for our insurance.  Anyway, I took the free on-site screening last week. 

They provided me with both my BMI and a measured body-fat percentage - then the nurse told me I'm in the healthy range for body-fat but slightly overweight on BMI.  Uh....  Isn't that like a cop pulling you over for estimating your speed is fast even though they clocked you under the speed limit?  BMI is just a dirty estimate of body fat that doesn't take into account build or muscle.  It's an ok estimate, but when you have a precise measurement, why even provide the estimate much less advice that is contradicted by the measurement? 

Yes and no by lm (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 09:07:11 AM EST
Short of a displacement pool or DXA body scan, all body fat measurements are imprecise in one way or another. If you've got good reason to be suspicious of BMI, the body fat measurement should be preferred. But, depending on how body fat was estimated, BMI might be preferred.

Granted, in most cases, the body fat measurement should be preferred.

The other issue is that I think most of the number crunching done by insurance types uses BMI rather than body fat. So, regardless of its application to your personal life, it's more likely that the insurance premiums of your employer will be based on BMI.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
And that's the annoying part... by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 09:41:34 AM EST
since BMI is not really meant to be a measurement that applies to individuals, from my understanding. It's an estimate and a starting place, but it has a lot of problems when it comes to using it as a benchmark for an individual's health. It irritates me when insurance companies use those sorts of measurements to determine rates and such (even if they are looking at BMI across an entire company -- it still seems sketchy. Or maybe I'm just generally suspicious of insurance companies).
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
BMI isn't even a quick-and-dirty measure of fat by gzt (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 10:41:35 AM EST
Nobody markets it as such. It's just really easy to calculate. All you need is a weight and a height. However, the fact that it's so easy to calculate and it's 100% accurate makes it easy to use in, for instance, medical studies as a proxy. So then you get things like, "OMG high BMI is a risk factor for these diseases." So that's why the insurers care. Actuaries are lazy and the math is easier. For every one guy with a BMI of 30 and a BF% of 17%, there's ten at 30% or worse.

[ Parent ]
Averages by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 11:08:08 AM EST
Yeah, it's right for most people, and for most people it's wrong for, it's only a little bit wrong.  (In other words, the chance if having healthy body fat at a BMI of 26 is far higher than the chance of having healthy body fat at BMI of 33.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Hey there Alton Brown's cousin by fluffy (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 10:49:57 AM EST
Sorry, it's just that you look like you could be Alton Brown's cousin.

As far as reflux goes, I used to have REALLY BAD acid reflux, but it stopped pretty much immediately when I cut mint out of my diet.  Peppermint has a tendency to relax the esophogeal sphincter.  Caffeine also apparently does that too, and severely reducing my caffeine intake (for unrelated reasons) probably helped as well.  But peppermint was definitely the big thing.

busy bees buzz | sockpuppet revolution
The doctor did warn me off of mint by lm (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 09:00:14 PM EST
But I don't partake of much in the way of mint to start with. Outside of when they server tabouleh at coffe hour after service, I can't think of when I get any in my diet.

The doctor also he told me that caffeine, alcohol, and most spicy foods have the same effect on the sphincter in question. I asked for a reference to some high quality information and she she just repeated her suggestion for Eat to Live. I got through the introduction and into chapter one this morning. So far I'm not impressed. It bears all the hallmarks of snake oil: hypnotic writing, misleading citations, factual claims with no backing research, and a heavy emphasis on anecdotes.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I'd been trying to remember by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 02:24:08 PM EST
who was building the planter..

Still surprised that it works (ie does a good job dispersing water) and doesn't cause root rot via keeping the roots wet all the time.

If you can run 10 miles without dying, by vorheesleatherface (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:15:49 AM EST
you're not in bad shape. I think it was very cool of your doc to approach your health and weight so nicely. In my experience, that's not common. My doc said the same kind of thing to me about 1.5 years ago and I addressed the same issues, coffee, alcohol, cholesterol, and weight. I found that regular check-ins with the doc so she could be a "cheerleader" and reenforcer of goals was a good thing. It is amazing what less coffee, more sleep, no alcohol, and a little discipline can get you. Also, strawberry cake FTFW!

I do appreciate her forwardness by lm (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:15:40 PM EST
One of the reasons I opted to find a new primary care physician is that I didn't think my old one was aggressive enough in suggesting lifestyle changes and/or other treatments.

It's just in one case (weight) I think she's barking up the wrong tree.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
so it goes, so it goes, so it goes | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback