Counting Down

Apparently our little adventure with wind and rain this weekend will go into the record books. Not for the severity, just the calendar.

But we move on. Just how we roll here.

I’d also note that, yeah, as much as I find myself wandering through my imagination, trying to think of something even remotely interesting to write in this space (that part of my brain has been in a coma, apparently, since the spring), it seems that this was a good idea, just because some exciting things are happening.

We’re currently waiting to hear from a few more festivals, while this Saturday night we open in Montreal, by far our biggest and best exposure. Then Palm Springs and one that I’m really pulling for (I’ll let you know), and Seattle sometime in October. So there’s that.

And then there’s my new job, which is extremely parttime but has completely radicalized me, even as tangentially involved with this nonprofit before. Walking through the various locations, watching the men and women and children taken care of, fed, listened to, and helped in the ways they need the most (finding permanent housing, finding work). It’s hard to explain without sounding trite. Maybe another time.

Mostly, though, I’m looking at a busy week, lots of time in traffic, some projects that require my attention, and my acute awareness that in nine days, I’ll be heading to Austin. And Austin, I think, is right where I need to be, right about now.

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With Great Power Comes Something

MXINEOS8OVYesterday a fairly normal, if upper reaches of intensity, November storm showed up early to the party. So early that it really hasn’t happened before, not quite like this.

Again, it wasn’t out of the remarkable category except for some serious gusts in places (up to 90mph). And it was in August. And we lost power.

Which we never do. Really. We’ve been in this house 27 years and I can count the power outages on my fingers, and probably 7 out of 10 were of the 10-second variety. There was one lasting several hours, maybe 23 or 24 years ago. Otherwise, zilch.

So 14 hours was a long time for us, coming at noon on Saturday and ending around 2 a.m., as we fitfully slept, dreaming of a morning rush to church and no coffee. Nightmares, really.

All’s well that ended with electricity, as it turned out.

 

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Weighing Saturdays

UHEDRVOEQNTo regular reader(s): To avoid tedious blogging about this subject, and because I belong to a Facebook support group for healthier eating, I decided that every Saturday I’ll blog a little about what I’ve discovered in this particular journey, at my advanced age when I’m constantly wondering why I even care. Maybe it’s just curiosity.

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A friend of mine said yesterday, out for a walk, “It’s trying to rain, but it’s forgotten how.”

That was my impression, too. After a markedly dry and early-arriving summer, a November-ish storm is passing through our area this weekend, bringing some wind and, in one way or another, moisture. Our flowers and grass are getting a treat. The rest of us just wonder about this free water that falls from the sky. It’s been a while.

But back in May, when the warm weather started and never stopped, I dug through the top shelf of my closet and started thumbing through pairs of shorts, of which there are at least ten. They cover a range of summers and waist sizes, although I’m sure I either ditched the really big ones years ago or else never wore shorts when I could fit into those.

So I was left with sizes that ranged from 32 to 36 in waist size. Since in my particular fashion world, shorts don’t count except for comfort, and the 34-inchers fit but were snug in the thighs and waist, not comfortable for long walks, I went with the slightly baggy 36-ers. They were fine for a while.

And then in June I started this food-change thing, and within a week or so those 34s were fine. Another week or so, during a heat wave (for us, anyway), I would actually just sleep in them, they were that comfortable. So progress.

Which marches on. So while I was wandering the air-conditioned stores of Salem, Ore. last month, staying out of the 106-degree heat, I decided to upgrade those baggy 34s for maybe a smaller size. They were on sale, they were 32 inches in waist, and they fit perfectly. And so those became my go-to shorts.

Until I wore them to the store the other day, and found myself holding them up with one hand. A belt would have helped, but belts are not worn with shorts. NEVER.

So progress, if that’s what we’re calling it, has come calling in a dramatic way, even if the end result has comic potential (guy with shorts that fall around his ankles suddenly in the produce section). The mirror can be tricky. The scale is good but needs to be understood.

When your pants fall down, you know.

I just wanted to get out of the habit of late-night munching on calorie-dense food. Losing 10 pounds would give me an entire closet to wear. This was philosophy only, then, just an idea to try to break a habit and see what would happen.

Even though I knew. I used to tell people that I worried about giving up my food vices, or at least limiting them, because what would I eat? I’d gotten into a habit of mixing those indulgent days, even if they lasted a week, with some days of very light eating. Now I was stuck with just light. My appetite went away. I nibbled on chicken and fish and vegetables and once or twice some brown rice. Sometimes I tried the old favorites and they were too much, too sweet, too heavy. I started drinking lots of water.

I’ve lost 25 pounds, then. More quickly than I imagined, quicker than I would have thought possible at my starting weight, and so quickly that I began to worry about lean muscle loss and wasting, etc. I started lifting weights, and continued to walk, although I cut it way back. There’s just no way to walk 7 miles a day when some of those days you’re only eating 800 calories.

I know. It’s crazy. I’m working on it.

But no one has expressed alarm, even if they’ve noticed, so I think I’m safe. Time to level off, try to add in more items. I’ve always said that a man over 50 has no business wearing a 31-inch waistline, or at least no one my size, but that may have to happen.

So at this point it’s a tale of the shorts. Let’s see where we are when those go back on the top shelf. In the meantime, I meant what I said about belts.

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Copy That

TWOh, hubris. So much more than a simple noun, you are a way of life, leading us down a smooth path of assumptions and expectations until a bear eats us.

I love “The Office” (American version). Love it. Watched it several times, all seasons. Jim and Pam, Dwight and Creed, everyone. And I loved a lot of the time I worked at an office job, from 1986 until 1989 (other jobs were mostly in clinics and hospitals, or restaurants, not really offices).

And then I moved home to work, and stayed. But freedom! I could explore the brave new world of technology that was about to explode (it was ticking really loudly in 1989) without having to convince a business owner with one foot in the 1950s and the other in an employee’s backside (it was a tough environment sometimes).

I became an early adopter, partially out of just joy and partially because I wanted to spend less time on drudgery and more time on the non-drudge part of life. Maybe mostly joy, now that I think of it.

So don’t try to fool me, or teach this old dog new tricks. I know the tricks. I’m not that old.

And if there was a new toy out there, a new gizmo that did fancy things, I knew about it even if I wasn’t interested. No Apple Watch for me, but I get it. I’m on top of the tech news, and that’s not hubris or even an exaggeration. I like to know.

But I went to church yesterday, for a meeting with our development group (new job, uncertain responsibilities, but at the moment we’re prepping for a big auction to raise money so it’s all about that), and I had culled a bunch of info into about 10 pages of solid stuff. Just got there a little early to photocopy and staple.

And of course I can staple. That’s pretty analog.

What I can’t do, apparently, is operate a modern photocopier.

Remember: It’s been 25 years.

Many years ago, I stood in a line at an ATM that was getting longer, waiting for a woman who was getting increasingly frustrated until I peeked and realized she was trying to withdraw $17.

That’s become my rule, then, when facing familiar but maybe altered technology: What are the basic parameters? With a photocopier, I figured the basics were about the same as 1989. Paper is needed. Something to be copied is needed. A number of copies needed would be helpful. Ready, set, go.

I learned lots of things. I learned how to refill the paper trays. I learned how to enter the proper user code. I produced reams and reams of paper, in fact, spewing out of this copier with abandon. Different sizes, too. It was fascinating. It took longer than I thought, and toward the end I found out that it was actually unnecessary, since the intended recipients already had the PDFs emailed to them. Sometimes this happens. I wasn’t upset.

I would note, though, that at no time during this process, which was nearly 30 minutes, did I, in any way, shape, or form, produce a copy of anything.

Hubris. As I said.

I did get $17 out of it, though. Not sure how.

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The Change of Life

I take meetings now. Didn’t see that coming. Not sure how I feel.

You understand, right? I work alone. Alone. It’s been that way for a long time. I’ve had to drop by offices, talk on the phone, do a little teleconferencing…but not meetings. Not work meetings, anyway. Not when you work alone.

So that’s new.

When, over the years, friends have described their jobs, and meetings as part of their daily routine, my eyes glaze over from the gratitude of not having to have them.

I like it, though. Maybe because I like the people, and I like what we’re doing. And maybe I need to remind myself – and I should be the last person who needs to – to get out of the house once in a while. Even if it means sitting in traffic for 90 minutes.

————

I drink coffee now. For years, most of my life, I had no interest, yuk. Bitter, hot. Caffeine, sure, from iced tea or the occasional Diet Coke, but not coffee.

Months of sitting in cold church Sunday school rooms at night, though, drew me toward the joe, and now I’m some sort of coffee fussbudget. I grind my fresh beans with a bur grinder (not cheap), then pour 198-degree water over those grounds into an Aeropress and slowly press until I have a smooth cup of alertness.

And then I dump in Splenda. Because it’s still bitter. Habits are weird.

————-

If I had the chance, if I found a genie and got my share of wishes, there are probably a lot of things I’d change (I’d need a lot of wishes). Since I don’t and I didn’t, I just change what I can without magic and as seems possible, and sometimes for no good reason at all.

It’s as close to the unknown as I get, at least in the mundane, everyday world. Change. Messing around with routine. Lifehacking. Changing the very fabric of the future by an act of willingness; it can make you feel pretty special, sometimes. Almost magic.

I faced what I guess could be called an existential crisis these past 8 months or so, not much work and not a lot on the horizon, and me being at an age where spending a few years in school getting degreed up for a new occupation seems a little wasteful. I’m all for starting a new career over the age of 60 (if that is to happen to me eventually; there’s some denial); I just think some things are impractical. Especially things that require tuition.

And let’s face it: For a long time now, I’ve known I would have to make my own way. I’m the puzzle piece that was probably a mistake. I have to find my own corner. Sometimes it works out.

But the best part of this uncertain life I stumbled into? Besides losing certain of those habits and gaining a couple of at least marginally better ones?

People ask me to do things. And sometimes, I know how.

DCIHFHDCOO

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#tbw

New Mexico is on my mind lately. Lots of things are on my mind, but my thoughts around the Land of Enchantment led me to this piece from 10 years ago (gulp). And I suspect will lead me to watching this film again, very soon.

From August 31, 2005

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There’s a place just out of eyesight that I think about sometimes. I know it’s there, like I know the light in the refrigerator goes off when I close the door, but I don’t actually see it.

Sometimes I get philosophical and call it Hope. Or The Future. Sometimes I get depressed and think of it as The Road Not Taken. And sometimes I get faintly sacrilegious and call it Godland.

I’ve been there. I’ve lived there for long periods, secure in my serenity. Other times, it’s been just a concept, something I believe in but can’t wrap my brain around at the moment. It’s a place of spiritual sustenance, in other words, and life being as complicated as it is I sometimes lose track of it. I stare out a window and the blinds are closed. It happens. We can get sort of disconnected.

So I’m always glad to find a reminder, and the other night it came, as sometimes it does, in words and pictures and performance. A movie, I mean.

“New Mexico is a very powerful place.”

Campbell Scott is the 45-year-old son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst, a gene pool that sends shivers down my spine. He’s done a fair amount of acting, and a little directing, and a couple of years ago he took a play and turned it into a film that not enough people will see, I think.

“Off the Map” is about Charley, Arlene, George, William, and Bo, although sometimes she calls herself Cecilia Rose. Bo is 11, and she has big plans, most of which center around leaving home.

Home is northern New Mexico, in the middle of nowhere, off the map. Somehow, for some reason, Charley, a Korean War veteran, and Arlene, half-Hopi, leave the modern world and make their own rules. They own their house, what it is, no plumbing or electricity, grow their own food, find all sorts of stuff at the dump, and manage. George, Charley’s best friend, stops by a lot, is a member of the family, although he has a real job and some real dreams.

One day William, currently an IRS auditor but formerly a short-order cook with a law degree, stops by to discover why this family hasn’t filed a tax return in seven years. Arlene explains that they used to, but since they make less than $5000 a year they just thought it unnecessary after a while.

“They still like you to file,” William says, sort of ruefully, and then he gets sick and stays on their couch and eventually he just stays.

I can’t tell you how much this film moved me, or really even why. Part of it is memory, being a child, driving through the desert with my family from Phoenix to California on trips, wondering what was off the highway, imagining taking a right turn down that dirt road and going on to something else.

Part of it is my self-sufficient side, the side of me that has always said, “Leave me alone and I’ll figure it out,” the part that wants to be free of instructions and demands, and marvels at a story of people who actually do that.

Part of it is New Mexico; the true Southwest, I thought on my first visit. Phoenix was processed culture but New Mexico was real, and this movie, among all its other charms, has some stunning scenery.

Part of it is that the characters are all basically good and decent people, with no agendas, just staying alive and reading Melville aloud by kerosene light, saying prayers over the animals they kill for food and drinking water by the pitcher, because water is good and it’s hot outside.

And part of it is that Charley is sad, this summer, the summer of 1974, the summer the movie covers. Catatonic sad, sometimes. He barely speaks and he stares at nothing, and those around him do a dance, keep moving in hopes that he’ll catch the rhythm again, raise the blinds, find his Godland.

The film has its own pace, so be prepared. No shooting or helicopter crashes. No sex. No mysteries, except the ones we all deal with daily. And maybe you won’t like it. Maybe it will bore you, if this sort of character study, small story, isn’t what you look for in a movie.

I have no business reviewing movies anyway, not here, not anywhere. I don’t watch enough of them, or have the background to write an intelligent critique.

But sometimes I find a gem, and it’s hard not to mention. Last week, my wife and I both got some spiritual sustenance from a story. And there’s joy here, and sweetness, and a couple of surprises, and a sailboat.

And watercolors. But that’s all I’m saying.

So rent “Off the Map,” if you’re in the mood for a movie. It stars Joan Allen and Sam Elliott. It didn’t make a lot of money. It was a quiet film, a reminder, maybe, is all. That there’s beauty in family. There are powerful places. The sky touches the earth in surprising ways. And open the blinds, from time to time, and look.

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The State of the State

We’ve already established over the years that I’m not particularly mechanical. Not all that comfortable with power tools this side of lawn equipment. Uneasy with a measuring tape. Taking risks with a hammer. You get it.

But some things shouldn’t be an issue. Turning a key in a doorknob, opening a Ziploc bag, turning on a light switch.

I’m going to note, though, the Catch-22 with coffee, something we use to get alert. Something that requires us to be alert to make it. Follow?

And then there’s the joy of no coffee but a brand-new bag of beans, just waiting to be opened and brewed, but sealed with some sort of spell that before 9 a.m. can only be opened by Thor.

This has been my day so far.

—————

Smoke is covering a lot of Western Washington skies this week, drifting westward from wildfires in Eastern Washington that are devastating. It’s just a thing, not a welcome visitor but unlike the high-tech workers trying to turn Seattle into Silicon Valley North, we don’t resent it. We get it. It reminds us that it’s been very dry.

And it has. Summer, instead of beginning in mid-July, too off like a rocket in May and never looked back. Our normal spring rain just never showed up, and with the snowpack last winter at approximately 25% of normal, one might expect California-like emergencies, but there was much preparation and full reservoirs and we did fine. We’re scheduled to be warmer than normal for the next year, but it will rain. We know where we are.

——————

And in two weeks, I see this guy. So no complaining from me.

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Always Be Packing

I’m not going to do anything tomorrow, because tomorrow doesn’t count.

Tomorrow is important in the story; don’t get me wrong. It’s just sort of a technical thing.

Today would count more, I think.

Not doing anything today, either.

I’m very much in favor of anniversaries. And birthdays. And they can be totally made up, too. I just like looking back, looking at today, marveling at time, groaning at the drawbacks of so long life. Maybe balloons.

These are just days, though, or numbers. They’re worth noting; I note them.

It’s a peculiar thing, though. An analogy might be a massive construction project, once scheduled to take decades, in which on the anniversary of the very first nail being driven or concrete poured or whatever construction people do, everyone takes a moment to pause, and consider how far they’ve come.

Then it’s back to work. It’s not nearly finished.

Me, neither.

But today I sat out on my front porch, trying to hide the fact that my suitcase seemed poised to explode, and I waited for a ride to 2015.

Just wanted to let you know I got here. Pause. Now back to work.

That was the summer I didn’t mow the lawn, not really. I sat on the front deck early one August morning and tried to imagine it as it was when we’d moved in, 18 years before, weeds and dirt.

I planted grass and dug and mowed, tossed baseballs with my daughter, ran with my dog and other dogs, and watched my son roll in the grass, my grass, tended and taken care of, and now it was me. Life as a lawn, unmown, wild and crazy as a bedbug.

I wondered for a moment if some neighbor would take pity on my poor wife, notice that I was gone and mow the grass. Probably not; neighbors were out of the loop by then.

I was no longer 29, holding a 3-year-old by the hand and following a realtor into this odd house, moved onto an empty lot, jacked up so a basement could be built, remodeled and reworked and then left alone when the contractor ran out of money. I was dubious back then but it was big, this house, and we liked the neighborhood. The basement was unfinished and the landscaping was nonexistent, but it was a house with possibilities.

Now I’d used up all the possibilities, and I sat out front and waited for my ride to Drunk Camp, and I noticed a little issue with my suitcase.

–From “The Suitcase,” Learning to Walk

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Movie Movie

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Ricki and the Flash is, assuming you don’t know and are barely interested, a new film by Jonathan Demme starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Rick Springfield, and Mamie Gummer that focuses on…

I’m not sure. Streep plays an Indiana housewife and mother who likes to play guitar and sing in dives (well, that’s where she mostly sings; not sure how much she likes it, but on the other hand she seems like she’s having a good time. No big time, in other words). She eventually leaves her husband and family, moves to L.A. to hit it big, and a whole bunch of years later…well. The dives are alive and well.

Backed by her band – lead guitar, drums, and bass, with Streep filling in on rhythm guitar, although more later* – The Flash, Ricki covers rock ‘n’ roll. Old stuff, some new stuff, mostly old stuff. The crowd eats it up, the bartender is a huge fan and feeds her margaritas after work, the lead guitarist (Springfield) and she have some sort of romantic thing going on, despite the age difference, and then she gets a phone call.

Her daughter’s husband has left her, and the young woman is in bad shape, staying at her father’s place (played by Kevin Kline, a straight-laced business type with nothing but kindness and a deep desire to just once see his three kids and their mother get along together, at least for a meal). Ricki flies to the flyover country, gets screamed at by her daughter, eventually does what she knows about mothering (gets her daughter a makeover), and then faces her husband’s wife, who returns after a trip and is nothing but perfect (played by singer and actress Audra McDonald, who does not sing in case you were wondering). The wife gently suggests that Ricki is causing more harm than good, and so that’s that. One functional, completely together woman runs that house, and it ain’t Ricki.

And right there, you have a mildly interesting family drama with a few signs of growth.

The rest is expected, predictable, spotted from a mile away, and you know what?

That’s what I wanted to see. At least yesterday.

Oh, Streep inhabits her character, as always. She dresses in club fashion from roughly the mid-1980s, lots of bling, purple eye shadow, boots, etc. On and off stage. She wears a tattoo of the American flag and is a fierce supporter of our troops (her brother died in Vietnam), at 65 still a fine-looking woman who sings well and puts on a good show. She just doesn’t know much about being a mother, having missed a lot, and that’s pretty much the way it stays.

Except it doesn’t, but more would spoil it and let’s be fair: This devolves into cornball, even with fine actors putting their all into what they have.

I approve.

I mean, this has been on my mind, but I may explore it in more depth next week in the paper, so let’s just say that it’s flawed and a little shaky and you leave happy, reminded that life and families are both messy things, and sometimes you follow the advice Streep gives to her daughter at a crucial moment: Walk on.

I don’t want to see any more super heroes for a while. I’ll watch a space opera at the drop of a hat, assuming it’s any good at all, but I’m not interested in whoever Liam Neeson is saving from kidnappers or big explosions or blood or horror.

I can watch the great films whenever I want. Sometimes I want to see an ordinary one, in which good actors make us believe them, if not the plot so much, and Kevin Kline gets to be in it, and Meryl Streep sings My Love Will Not Let You Down by Mr. Springsteen, among others (Tom Petty, Lady Gaga, Emmylou Harris, etc.).

And maybe it’s just me. But give me a few of these a year, and I can stomach the rest.

—————-

*Streep apparently learned to play the guitar for the role, although my guess is she’s still learning. A woman who’s been playing guitar for decades would probably not be staring at her fingers to form a simple G-chord, and her fingers I swear never slip below the fourth fret, but it’s not distracting.

Other notes: Springfield is surprisingly good, and Mamie Gummer, if you didn’t know, is Streep’s real-life daughter. The genes are strong in this one.

 

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Weighing Saturdays

UHEDRVOEQNTo regular reader(s): To avoid tedious blogging about this subject, and because I belong to a Facebook support group for healthier eating, I decided that every Saturday I’ll blog a little about what I’ve discovered in this particular journey, at my advanced age when I’m constantly wondering why I even care. Maybe it’s just curiosity.

So read if you wish, or feel free to ignore. This one deals with an abbreviated history, and my feelings about the scale. Old news, really.

—————-

Forgive me, those of you to whom this is old news. I’m mostly just writing this down so I have something to read when I forget where my keys are.

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is a pretty simple and easy calculation of how much energy you expend in a neutral environment; it’s the calories you burn just keep you alive.

I like the BMR, since it’s a widely accepted baseline. For most of us, 60-80% of the calories we expend fall into this category (and mostly toward the high end, unless you’re a serious runner or something similar). It’s a good place to start.

And rather than pick a vague category (sedentary, partially sedentary, mildly active, very active, etc.) to extrapolate that BMR into a daily caloric requirement, I took exercise out of the equation, found a very sophisticated (and long) formula for calculating BMR that seems to be the most accurate, added 25% (after experimentation), and come up with a daily number. Exercise counts against it.

At age 49, when I got on the scale at said 272, using this calculation, my daily requirement was 2900 calories, just to stay the same. Anything less than that should lose weight. Add in exercise (even walking can burn a ton of calories at 272 pounds) and that’s more weight. Simple, or simple enough for a baseline. And it served me well. Being a numbers guy.

I should note that before I mastered all this fancy stuff, I extremely overestimated my caloric requirements. I had it around 3600 calories. I was wrong. But as it turned out, I learned to walk, and learned the benefits of exercising those pounds away, and I kept tweaking things until I got more of an idea of how much I needed to eat and exercise to keep it coming off.

It did, too. Within about five months, I’d lost 85 pounds, crazy. But I felt fantastic. Tons of energy, hours of exercise, good choices, low but acceptable daily intake.

There are lots of ways to do this other than the scale. Clothes are a good example. Mirrors help. Other people sometimes say nice things.

But I got fascinated by the scale, which are simple machines that do a simple job, and aside from the lemon or the very old scale, they pretty much work all the time. This is what you weigh.

And everything has weight (mass). Eat four pounds of broccoli before bed and your scale is going to reflect that, even though you’ve only consumed about 600 calories (probably less). Food weighs.

So in order to use the scale properly, it seemed to me, it had to be consistent. I tried to keep from taking anything per mouth for 10-12 hours before I got up (this is not as hard as it sounds; eat dinner at 7pm, weigh at 7am) to get the driest weight possible. It was important to stay hydrated, and to eat on a regular basis, but the scale soon became my friend. It told me what I weighed, and which direction it was going.

It kept changing. In six months I’d reached the 100-pound plateau, around 172 pounds. A year later I was a few pounds lighter. So much for regaining after a fairly rapid weight loss.

And then it climbed over the next year, nothing remarkable. Somewhere in the 180s. Fine with me.

In 2011, for three months work slowed way down, coinciding with a series of serious medical issues for my wife, and zoom zoom. Suddenly I was looking at 215 pounds, yikes. But only for about a day, I think. I immediately jumped on it and within a few months I was back to normal. Call it a glitch, with excuses.

In 2013, I was preparing to act in a movie I’d been cast in. I vacillated between my images of this character, a guy pushing 60 who was still very active and a little on the macho side. Lose 35 pounds and hit the gym to make him a lean, wiry guy, or make him one of us, still fit and able to hike high mountains, but carrying an extra 15 or 20 around the midsection. Not so much a gut but more love handles. And once I decided on that (laziness being the better part of valor), I indulged my inner Robert DeNiro and filmed weighing around 205-207. Nothing major. Doughy.

Understand that anything under 190 pounds is fine. The addition of 15 pounds wasn’t a big deal. It came off after the movie.

But only that. I stayed floating in the 190s, and as acceptable as that was I still sort of wished for 175. Just so I could wear anything in my closet without it feeling tight. I kept that in mind, while I also wondered why a 50-ish man in excellent health, who exercised a lot, should really care.

Last February, my 16-month-old grandson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I was there with him soon after he left the hospital, and his parents and I got a crash course in counting carbohydrates, since he needs them but only a small amount. Really, it was an eye opener. I realized how much sugar I consume – how much we all do – and I thought about it a lot. I finally decided to change my habits. Ice cream is the third greatest human advance after the discovery of fire and the wheel, so let’s not go abstinent. Just not every damn day.

And to add some motivation, I looked toward that 175 weight. I figured (staying away from the scale mostly, dumb) I weighed around 188-189, so I gave myself four weeks. That’s a lot of weight to lose in 28 days, but I thought I’d at least get close enough to feel pretty good.

And then the scale went crazy. I have no idea, really. Lots of water adjustment? Residual of some late-night eating for a week before I started? Dunno. But I got on in and weighed 197, thinking that was bogus, that it would drop rapidly and establish a baseline, and it did drop significantly in that first week.

And then, eating and exercising the same, it would jump up 8 pounds. Then up half a pound. Then down 11 pounds for two days. Then up 7 pounds. I was completely confused.

But I tweaked and recalculated and kept stepping on that scale and recording it, and eventually everything settled down and I was able to look at the big picture. Not 189 pounds to start; more like 195 pounds. And 175 would take longer, then.

I still believe in the scale. It’s a simple machine. It weighs the effect of gravity on your mass, really, but we’ll take the numbers. It’s not my enemy. I have seen the enemy. Sometimes he needs a haircut.

So I lost 8 pounds in those first four weeks, and after some minor changes, and to my surprise, it went down 10 pounds over the next three weeks. I still feel great, but I definitely have to keep eating regularly. Lots of protein, some fat, low carbs. Occasionally I’ll indulge, which I think of as “refeeding” but you can just call indulgence. Ice cream is too sweet. Pizza still tastes good. A little bit of gelato is delicious.

And that scale drops a few tenths of a pound every day (gained a pound after my pizza night, which disappeared the next day). It never surprises me anymore. I started tracking everything for a while during the crazy time, trying to see what mistakes I was making, but mostly I just added some more water and varied my diet a bit. I’ve learned to avoid foods, even when eating out, that I don’t really want and certainly don’t need.

Today, a week shy of two months, I hit 175. It’s a nice feeling, but I’m more pleased that I feel I’ve figured the whole thing out. Scales tell you what you weigh. It’s up to you to figure out why.

And it’s all done the way we deal with our modern technology, even old-modern. The scale is perfect. Every time you use it, you turn it on and then off again. The well-known solution to most modern problems is just made for the scale.

Here’s to 165. Hey, it might be OK. If not, I know how to correct it now. Something with cookie dough is a start.

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