Thanksgiving sent us all into a funk, although I didn’t realize it until last night and there were other things, as always.

The transition in our tradition was sudden; Beth was away at school, and her grandparents, for that reason and just a disinclination to travel anymore, have been AWOL from our table for six years now. So it became just the three of us, sometimes a fourth. Last year, though, we were brightened by Beth, home on a whim and to see a sober daddy, who was also in a sling at the time. We had a great time, making one-handed pies (me) late on Wednesday, and then the girls in the kitchen all morning while I tried to stay out of the way.

So this was a shock, and different, and while we had a nice meal at a friends’ house (and no dishes to clean, or at least we didn’t offer), I know now I should have gotten up early, lit a fire and turned on a football game, something. As it was, Julie took a nap, John played a game, I went for a walk, and the day was done, poof, as if it never really happened.

And I hurt my ankle (walking 10 miles a day? You think?), curious and annoying. As a doctor once wrote, the secret that they and their wives know is that most things get better by themselves, and most things will actually be better by morning. This was my philosophy, anyway, so I continued to walk, limping a little, and sure enough it got better every day, although it still swells and stiffens when I stay still.

Don’t stay still, then.

We did hear from Beth, her first real solo Thanksgiving, her first in Boston, a marathon of cooking. Things went well, including Dad’s Super-Secret Turkey Roasting Trick, which involves basting, as you can see.

So she survived, obviously, and I guess we survived.

Rosie did not.


Cameron and Beth lost their lady on Friday, in a rush of horror and blood and a late-night race to the vet, not unexpected but too soon and too hard, always. I never met this graceful creature but Julie and John did and I felt her, across the country, felt her there and felt her go, and we grieve with them.

I had to learn had to not stay still, at an advanced age, how to keep moving and see each morning as a daily reprieve, how to find hope in sunrises and movement in grief. Others do it more naturally, but we all end up just walking. My daughter has a handle on this; my son, too, in his way. I, as I said, am still learning.

One of the things I’ve learned, by the way, is why I walk. All this talk and blogging about the scale, about watching my weight, about numbers and days, was not the point, although it took me a while to figure it out. Thanks to Meg and some others for helping me understand.

It was an easy call, of course. Overweight? Lose it, good idea, a no-brainer. But that wasn’t it, and it wasn’t about fitting into old jeans or preening or surprising my doctor or wooing my wife, all good things but not all that important.

I found out why on Wednesday, when that damn ankle was hurting like hell, when I’d done four miles and was on the last leg, uphill toward home, gritting my teeth and wondering, and finding out then.

I spent a relaxing spring and summer, and then as I reached one year without a drink I started to move again; I registered for classes, I started thinking out loud, I started looking.

And I looked at myself, and I saw 70 pounds that needed to go, and I knew that it would be hard to do.

I wanted to do something hard.

That’s why.

I won’t let Christmas slide by. We’ll get the tree up, and the fires lit, and the songs going. We’ll keep it this year, I promise, even if it’s just the three of us. The three of us have done some amazing things together.

And I’ll keep walking, around the lake, morning and evening, ankle and all, because it’s hard sometimes. Besides, I like the fresh air, the Christmas lights are out, there’s actually a hint of snow in the air, and the dogs I meet along the way all seem more precious now, somehow.

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Thanks Again

(First published on November 21, 2001)

I love Thanksgiving. I always have, ever since I was a kid. It’s way better than Christmas. Once the presents are opened Christmas fades quickly, but turkey sandwiches can last a week or more if you’re careful.

Here in the Sigars household, Thanksgiving season usually starts the week before, officially begun when my wife says, “OHMYGOD, MY PARENTS WILL BE HERE IN TWO DAYS AND THERE’S MOLD GROWING ON THE COUCH!” And so we all pitch in, and while I love my in-laws and always enjoy their visits, clean bathrooms are a special treat, too.

We’re pretty traditional, with a big turkey and dressing and pies and a lot of stuff I eat even though I’m not sure exactly what it is. We say grace and talk about what we’re thankful for, and we watch the Cowboys play. My in-laws are Texans, and on Thanksgiving we’re all Dallas fans.

Once, in 1986, we had Thanksgiving in Texas and the Cowboys were playing the Seahawks, and to our horror the Hawks won. Just creamed them. And while my wife’s family was polite and said nice things about the game, I remember we had to hitch a ride to the airport and didn’t get Christmas cards from them for a couple of years. Texans take their football very seriously.

Food, football, and family. And I have a lot to be thankful for, as always. But just now, as I was sitting at the computer here thinking about Thanksgiving, I noticed something that reminded me how complicated gratitude can be sometimes.

When I was a kid, I loved to go visit my Grandma Baker. She’d always give me paper and pencil and I’d sit at her kitchen table and write stuff. When I got a bit older she’d let me use her typewriter, and I’d peck out stories about Batman or Daniel Boone or whatever my latest television-inspired interest was.

One day, when I was on a Zorro kick, I sat down and began an involved, complicated plot that as I recall involved a train robbery and a kidnapping and lots of sword fights and possibly time travel. My typing skills were pretty primitive, of course, and when my parents announced it was time to go, I was only a quarter of the way through my story and just coming to the good part, and I burst into tears.

Grandma stepped in. She told my folks she’d take me home later, and she fed me a nice dinner and then sat down at the typewriter and had me dictate my Zorro story to her as she typed it.

I should note that my grandmother was a complicated person. She’d led a pretty rough life, and could be an opinionated and sharp-tongued woman at times. As I grew older she made me uncomfortable and I tried to avoid her. This was a rotten thing to do but I did it, and I hurt her feelings a lot.

Once, when I was about 25, I’d been thoughtless once again to Grandma and I wrote her a letter. I apologized, and I thanked her for that time when I was a kid. She wrote back, telling me that of course she forgave me, that she remembered the Zorro thing too, and that she thought sometimes the two of us just didn’t understand each other. This was a gracious thing to say, and true enough, I guess.

She’s been gone quite a while now, but my dad’s stepfather died only two years ago. As my parents went about the chore of straightening his affairs, they found that he had kept almost everything he and my grandmother had accumulated over the years. As things were disposed of, they asked if any of the kids wanted something as a keepsake before they sold it or gave it away.

So now, on my desk, sits a gray 1955 Remington manual typewriter. As I work at the computer it’s visible in the corner of my eye. If I squint a little, I can almost see an 8-year-old boy hunched over the keyboard, slowly typing his stories. I keep it there to remind me how a single act of kindness can resonate over the years. It’s a good thing to remember.

I’m glad I thanked her. It occurred to me today, though, that sometimes being grateful comes with responsibility, even if it’s subtle. Sometimes it’s just accepting our good fortune and being aware of those who have less. Sometimes it’s about passing a good deed along to someone else. And sometimes it’s about debt, and implied promises.

As she drove me home that night, my grandma told me that I was a good little writer, and that she was sure someday I would write something just for her.

I can’t tell you how sorry I am that it took this long.

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UB-Day (or not) November 20

When Beth was 3, we got her a chocolate bunny for Easter. Using parental skills that I apparently lost fairly soon thereafter, I doled it out to her, bit by bit, every day after lunch, making a (gross but anatomically enlightening) game out of it: “Today we get a bunny ear! Today we get a bunny foot!”

After a time, of course, we pretty much had bunny fragments left. One day, toward the end of this, I scrounged around for a piece of milk chocolate goodness and found a nondescript section left. Beth took it, surveyed the offering, and sneered as only a preschooler can sneer.

“What is this,” she said, “the bunny butt?”

Quick: Did you laugh?

Or did you just smile, or maybe nod, or maybe do nothing?

This is the problem with offspring wit and wisdom. Kids can be awfully funny, but it’s mostly contextual and situational (you sorta had to be there, I mean; and maybe be related to them). So I generally groan and/or avert my eyes when I start reading (or listening to) parents’ accounts of the comic gems their little darlings issue forth like so many miniature Will Rogers(es). It’s hard to do well.

This lady does it well.

This is (stolen from)The Drunken Housewife, a blog written by a smart, funny, insightful (and probably sober, although I have no inside information) woman in the Bay area (thanks to Hugh Elliott for pointing me her way) that I read faithfully. She writes about her life, her politics, her ongoing battle with the contractor from hell, and occasionally things her kids say, which are usually highlights (I look forward to my Lola moments).

And TODAY IS HER BIRTHDAY. So stop by and wish her well if you are of a mind. And definitely make her a daily read.

Of note: I’m horrible at estimating ages from sight, so I constantly find myself mentally adding up odd facts and references to try to figure out how old someone is, but with the D. Housewife I’m at a loss. She maybe one of us, an official uberboomer (making her at least 43), or well younger; I really don’t know. But I’ll let her in the group, officially or un-, since I like the way she writes. And I’m fond of Lolaisms.


I’m having issues with time management lately, which is why I haven’t posted much lately (or that’s my story, anyway). Papers are due, I’m sucking it up and working for a living, chapters still need to be read, lame columns need to be written, and of course I spend an awful lot of time on the road these days.

The road that runs by my house, I mean. I’m up to 9 miles a day and becoming a walking junkie, but then I’m on a mission. And the weather is fabulous today. And I meet nice people on the way. And occasionally turn the iPod up WAY TOO LOUD to be safe.

But if you’re interested still in the My Loss Is America’s Gain project…

Forty pounds lost so far. Catch you at 50, if not before.

Probably before.

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Soda! Friday

Where we ask the question: Why do people park on my lawn?

They do, too. In fact, a year or so ago a friend gave me a ride home from a meeting and I invited him to come in for a bit. As I tried to direct him into a proper parking location, he decided to park his car in the middle of my lawn. Seriously. Right in the middle of the lawn.

And this guy lives in Bellevue, where (I believe) parking on a lawn will get you the death penalty.

Most of the people who do it are Julie’s students, and to be fair they only park a little bit on the lawn. But they do, and even though I don’t lose any sleep over it I wonder. In my mind, it’s as if I were to come over to your house and nonchalantly pee on the pool table. It’s not right.

Soda! Friday, by the way, refers to the message I found on the dry erase board today, where John likes to leave requests. Since he sometimes wanders during the night, he kindly leaves us notes, often with emphasis, listing his demands, usually erasing any information previously on the board, including phone numbers and important federal tax information.

So today it was Soda!, although he just means flavored carbonated water, which I managed to switch him to this fall. I don’t mind buying it for him, since it has no sugar (or calories), just bubbles, but it was a little disconcerting to get up from a nap and see it screaming! at me.

I took a nap because I was up to the wee hours, earning money, and so was a little deprived! in the sleep department. That, or else the short days and dark clouds are sending me under the covers. It can happen to people.

With 10 hours of daylight at most, at least one of my daily walks is in the dark, a lesson in caution and sometimes an exploration of ditches that maybe weren’t there the day before, hard to say. I should probably wear some of that orange reflective tape, but I have some sort of genetic aversion to looking like a dork, so I just stay on my toes.

Speaking of walks, and their raison d’être: There’s been some discussion in the comments (and in e-mail and, I’m guessing, my imagination) about what exactly I’m doing with all this exercising and scale gazing. So let me clear that up.

I don’t know.

I mean, I’m on an adventure, people. Sometimes there are not words.

Particularly this sometime. It’s hard on me, actually. I mean, if I’m a writer, and I can’t put into words what I’m thinking and feeling, do I really exist? Do I matter? Can I eat pizza again?

Most of this has to do with the fact that it’s such a mundane subject. Yeah, another middle-aged guy attempting to regain his thin thighs and dusting off his Bee Gees albums, annoying 30-something women and buying Viagra and Axe by the case.

And part of the problem is I write very thin. It’s sort of a gift. The truth is, I got really, really fat. It’s not inconceivable (inconceivable!) even that I could have moved into the morbidly obese category in a few years, given the right circumstances and enough mozzarella cheese.

I don’t think so, but it was conceivable. Really, really fat. There was a picture taken of me at a party in late July that I saw recently. I’ll post that when I’m really thin, or posthumously, whatever comes first. Really, really fat.

But there’s more, and that’s what I can’t find the words for. I’m not doing this for vanity, health or comfort, although those all apply to some degree. It’s something else. It’s…something else. See what I mean?

I appreciate the good wishes, though. Every pound off is another year of glorious life (I made that statistic up, but I really like it), and I’m enjoying walking around the house in my underwear again. Particularly if “You Should Be Dancing” is on. And I’ll write about what’s going on one of these days.

At the moment, though, dry erase board says “Mac and Cheese!” I believe this is a sign, and I believe in signs, and I believe in cheese, which is sort of the best I can do at the moment. Also, I have to check the lawn and maybe let the air out of some tires, depends.

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Alive And, Well…

A storm has moved over Western Washington and Canada, wreaking mild havoc and completely ignoring my neighborhood, which is fine with me. A bit of wind, a little rain, some sympathy for Vancouver and Victoria. Not a biggie.

On the home front, I finally wracked my brain (ouch) and discovered a way to solve the much-needed-infusion-of-cash issue. Seems to me I used to make money when I needed to. How did I do that? Hmm.

Oh yeah. That mind-numbing, soul-sucking stuff.

It’s good, though. Only a few hours a day (and actually night, when I’m needed and they pay me more, anyway), and my mind is less prone to numbness and my soul seems to be awfully secure these days.

And perspective is important. I’m taking classes, heading for a Master’s degree at some point, working toward change, and I’m fortunate to be able to produce income from the relative comfort of my recliner (it’s an old recliner is all I’m saying; it’s still pretty comfortable). I lean back, keyboard securely on lap, nice big flat screen monitor perched off to the side a bit, and I fix sentences and type strange words and get paid. And the utility company gets paid, etc. As I said, good.

And my scale finally stopped lying.

It could be the minor adjustments I made in my eating program. It could be that I walk seven freaking miles a day now, and I’ll move that up to 10 soon. It could be that I just intimidated the poor appliance with mean looks and bad words. At any rate, the numbers started moving again, sort of dramatically, positive feedback after 49 days.

Which would be seven weeks. Which would be, out of a 14-week plan, halfway. Sort of a preposterous plan, really, to drop some pounds fairly rapidly with a low-calorie diet and vigorous exercise. Unrealistic. Bound to fail.

So how am I doing on day #49, according to my bipolar scale?

Halfway. Exactly. Exactomundo.

Go figure.

We’re OK here. Back later.

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Some Striking, Some Griping

Solidarity! Sorta.

Blogging thus far not being covered by any writing union I know of, I feel comfortable posting but still have some sympathy for my WGA brethren, walking the Pico picket lines. Actually, I generally have sympathy with anyone striking (my not-so-latent proletariat tendencies evident); an act of will and hope, no matter how coerced, with obvious and sometimes devastating consequences, is an act worth noting.

And, again, I tend to sympathize with those on some of the lower rungs (the average income for a WGA member, by the way, in 40K per year; think about those fortunate few who make in the millions, do a little mental math, remind yourself what “average” means, and join me in sympathy), although the horror stories from the management side of industry are pretty compelling sometimes, too.

In this case, though, I can pick a side without guilt (like it matters); as someone who still gets royalty checks from time to time (and have any of you bleeding hearts bought one of my books lately? Have you?), I understand completely the frustration of writing something and watching it zoom out onto the Web free of charge.

So here’s hoping this will be a short strike, and WGA members can get back to writing those TV shows and films I won’t, unfortunately, watch.

Except for those I do. My column is up now, in which I discuss a film I saw and enjoyed, or maybe not; I can’t really figure out what I was thinking when I wrote it.

As far as my non-compelling, uninteresting life…

There is a slight ray of sunshine on the non-minimum wage job front. Just slight, but something I would love to be part of, and fairly close to home.

And I’ve been thoroughly disappointed with my scale, which is obviously in denial. Or else I’ve hit a minor plateau, which does not seem minor. At any rate, I hover around 27-30 pounds lost so far, which I might add is spectacular for 6-1/2 weeks; it’s just that it was even more spectacular at 5-1/2 weeks. Now it’s become absurd, as my exercise climbs and my intake is really meager, almost negligent.

What’s fun about it, though, is that there are no alternatives, and that’s a surprise. I can’t go back to eating the way I did, because I have no interest in doing that. I enjoy my walking too much to give it up. And eventually that appliance in the bathroom will notice that I stand on it every day, naked and shivering, and realize that it has a problem, that it’s powerless over its addiction to frustrating me, and will enter some sort of meaningful recovery program and start telling me the fricking truth.

In the meantime, I eat much better and much lighter, and I’m an exercising fool. There are worse things.

Just wanted to check in. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Oh, wait…

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Goodbye To All That

Julie had a rare day off yesterday, coinciding with either a minor virus or exhaustion, so she stayed in the bedroom mostly with her laptop and watched The Umbrellas of Cherbourg for the 60th time, only looking up occasionally when I left for another marathon walk and returned. John persisted in his personal improvement work, this time eating a non-pasta food item (chicken) and brushing his teeth immediately. Hope abounds in this household.

Last night, then, facing another week after a short break, Julie started grumbling, momentarily confused about whether she had to set the clock ahead or back, and I made fun of her for several minutes. “Nobody falls forward,” although of course they do.

Beth did, apparently. She called me to say she’d fallen down the stairs this morning, although it sounds like she sort of fell up them. At any rate, her ankle is swollen and various areas are bleeding, and she sent a student home and persuaded a roommate to fetch her first aid supplies, and then she called Dad, who has had a brush or two with stairs.

She was actually relieved, she said, knowing that some sort of accident was pending with those stairs, and glad that it finally happened and wasn’t fatal. She has questions about how she’s going to drive, since a manual transmission requires both (non-swollen, preferably) feet, but this is just part of growing up, right? Sometimes you fall.

I’ve had a big fall lately (and that’s not a pun, although there’s one in there if you look hard enough), and this process of picking myself up has been interesting. I felt some relief, too, in the non-fatal nature of it, but there are days when I have absolutely no idea what to do next.

And sometimes I regret the past. I’m sorry, I know it’s not helpful or therapeutic, but sometimes I do.

I don’t, though — and this is surprising, at least to me — feel the slightest bit sorry for myself. I can look back at my life and see the steps so clearly now, and the combination of routine, psychology, genetics, foolish consistency, coincidence and consequences that plopped me down right on this very spot. Some things were maybe inevitable, most were not, and all had an element of choice, even if I didn’t realize I was choosing.

Now I’m a big fan of choice, but it’s still picking your spot to fall. Autonomy is really just a change of perspective, and sometimes life is all about statistics. Things will happen, and maybe to you, and maybe today.

I spent 25 years in the health care field, mostly in medical records, most of that running my own business. It was ad lib life; when you’re trained to be an actor, and you’re not going to act, then all that’s left is improvisation, and I did OK. I started a company at 31, and I was almost immediately affluent, confident, innovative and comfortable, and it didn’t occur to me for a very long time that I hated it.

I had small children, see? And bills, and parent-teacher conferences, and T-ball games, and then, of course, psychiatrists and therapists, and a wife in seminary, and ultimately a bottle. I can spin this so that someone might feel sorry for me, but I know I was aware of the places I would go. I may have stopped caring; it may have just been a character defect; it may have, ultimately, just been about statistics.

But I’m still here.

Last spring, I left the remnants of that career. I stopped the last bits and pieces, deleted the software, closed the accounts. I kept writing, and sold pieces and worked in the yard and cleaned around the house, but statistics will never give you a break. Baby always needs new shoes.

So my daughter gently lectures me on job hunting, and my wife gently lists bills that are falling behind, and I send out resumes carefully worded to make it look like I’ve been doing something these past 25 years when, I think, maybe I haven’t.

Loyal reader Carroll mentioned recently that, all in all, she didn’t find my life very interesting. True, I guess, but it’s interesting to me. Surely I’ve got to go somewhere, and even though I’m back in school and looking at careers, I can’t help feeling like my old friend Zeno is cackling somewhere, watching me take half steps, fooling myself into thinking I’m actually moving.

Yeah. It’s depressing to be 49 and suddenly aware that I might as well have been in prison these past 25 years for all the skills, contacts and education I’ve acquired. I might end up stocking shelves at 3am; I’ve thought about that.

I even found a job yesterday online, working in a medical records department of a local hospital, just reviewing and processing, not bad pay, close to home, certainly in my skill set, something to do while I go to class, and then I remembered my recurrent nightmares, wandering through hospital corridors, lost, finally being shown to a typewriter in a corner, and I think I’ll pass. When you hate something enough for it to show up in the middle of the night, lurking around in your unconscious, I think it’s a sign.

And perspective, again. They’re not going to foreclose on my house any time soon. There seems to be enough food. My daughter is grown, busy with her life and apparently having survived her father pretty well. John is John. Julie is constantly reevaluating, searching for a better way to serve.

I could do worse than stocking shelves, in other words.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to defy Zeno and walk, appreciating the beauty of where I live and the exercise that does me good. Give me 30 minutes on an autumn afternoon walk and I forget what I was depressed about. Give me an hour and hope abounds, once again, as I said, tempered by the knowledge that I’m going to have to fall again eventually, buoyed by my confidence that it’s going to be a fall forward.

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UB-Day November 3

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)


Karch Kiraly (11/3/1960)

Born in Jackson, Michigan as Charles Frederick Kiraly, Karch is an American volleyball player and the only person to have won Olympic gold medals in both the indoor and beach versions of the sport. He continues to play (and win), although he’s stated that 2007 is his last year.

Trivia: He’s won over $3 million in beach volleyball prize money, also a record.

Age Today: 47.

Shares Birthday With: Adam Ant (53), Dennis Miller (54), Roseanne Barr (55), Lulu (59), Michael Dukakis (74), Ken Berry (74), and Bob Feller (89).

This Day In History: Susan Smith of Union, S.C., was arrested for drowning her two young sons, nine days after claiming the children had been abducted by a black man; she is currently serving life in prison (1994).

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Forty Days, Forty Nights

I have this mental picture of Mother Nature, surveying the Pacific Northwest, scratching her head, trying to remember what she forgot and finally realizing what it was. Autumn.

So we have it now, clear days, brisk temperatures, sometimes cold temperatures, sometimes freaking bitter cold temperatures, and leaves. And clear, did I mention that?

I had two other signs that the calendar was progressing just fine. Last night, on my way home from my meeting, I stopped at the store and found out that my debit card had expired; somehow November just snuck up on me, my new card sitting on my desk, me sort of frantically digging one-dollar bills out of my wallet (“What’s this?” “Uh, cash.” “That’s not your picture on it”).

Then, at approximately 11:30 last night, Julie and I nodding off, John decided for the first time in 17 years, eight months and 23 days to clean his room. By moving all the furniture out of it. I believe he found more than a thousand bottle caps and something that looked suspiciously like Michael Dukakis.

And I’ve passed the past 40 days eating tuna and drinking a gallon of water a day.

Well, more than tuna. But A LOT of tuna. And chicken. And vitamins.

I mention this not so much in the context of the Great Autumn 2007 Weight Loss Crusade but mostly because it’s been change, and change is good. I would like more change, please.

Most of those 40 days have included exercise of some sort, which is probably by far the greatest (and best) change. And that, combined with having lost 10% of my body weight (it sounds like more than it is), leaves me hopping around, bending down without fear and all together much more limber. Why, after all of these years of butt parking, I should be able to leave the house and walk six miles without much problem is a mystery to me, but I’ll just be grateful and keep walking.

I’ve learned a few things. The scale is not our friend, and never will be. The human body takes in, on average, about 13-1/2 pounds of stuff each day, mostly water. So at any given moment, the scale gives you just a snapshot, and sometimes it’s like that kind of snapshot that somebody mean takes when you’re not looking and stuff is hanging off your nose.

But if your goal is to lose inches, ya gotta use a tape measure; if it’s dropping dress sizes, you try on clothes; and if it’s losing pounds or kilos, you have to hold your nose (ha! I just wrote that without trying) and get on the scale. Every day. Then chart it, ignore the heartbreak and the euphoria, and watch it go down. It’s OK.

Also, I write down everything I eat, as anal at that sounds. There are no mysteries then.

And I’ve learned that I have to eat. After 40 days of this, my appetite is pretty meager and it’s easy to eat very little, and that doesn’t work. My body apparently assumes I’m Paleolithic Man, holed up in a cave during winter, and it stops burning calories and starts playing solitaire or something. This has been a hard lesson but a useful one.

So get with it, people. I don’t want to be the only thin person come next spring. Write it down, get on the scale, walk a lot, drink plenty of water, learn to love tuna, take vitamins, and give it 40 days. You might be surprised, and you’ll feel better regardless.

And if you hit a plateau, get stuck a little, as I have from time to time, just know that it’ll pass, particularly if you get lots of fiber, but then that’s all I have to say about that.

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UB-Day November 2

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)


Tom Tuerff (11/2/1957)

I’m around a fair amount. There are a few quotes of mine that wander the Web, showing up on a variety of sites, including more than a few specializing in S&M for some reason. And people read this Web site, and my column, and my book resides in libraries, bookstores, and in the homes of literally dozens of people.

But as far as I know, my name is mentioned in liner notes on only one CD. I can die now.

That would be, of course, “But Wait…There’s More!,” the most recent musical offering by Tom Tuerff, the pride of Phoenix and the legitimate heir to Tom Lehrer (sorry, Al).

Born in Gary, Indiana, maturing in Phoenix and matriculating at Northern Arizona University, where he was fortunate enough to meet me and learn to spell my name correctly, Tom follows in the footsteps of such greats as Lehrer, Stan Freberg and (insert great of choice), working by day as a mild-mannered advertising man and by night as a wildly funny, musically diverse and occasionally naked guy. This is all good.

Stop by his Web site and buy his stuff. Hundreds can’t be wrong. I can be but I’m not in this case. Happy Five-Oh, Tom.

Trivia: Tom plays right-handed guitars left-handed (i.e., upside down).

Age Today: 50.

Shares Birthday With: David Schwimmer (41), k.d. lang (46), Shere Hite (65), Stefanie Powers (65), Pat Buchanan (69), Ken Rosewall (73), and Ann Rutherford (87).

(Also Daniel Boone, Marie Antoinette, Burt Lancaster, and two U.S. Presidents, James Polk and Warren Harding.)

This Day In History: After being struck in the face with a puck, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante returns to play wearing a protective mask — for the first time in professional play (1959).

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