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