By the time you read this (if anyone does) I'll be peeing and bleeding for half-million-dollar stakes. Sounds kind of exciting, doesn't it? And also gross?
Monday, September 30, 2013
By the time you read this (if anyone does) I'll be peeing and bleeding for half-million-dollar stakes. Sounds kind of exciting, doesn't it? And also gross?
Saturday, September 28, 2013
My Bride has successfully lured me into trying a little ACTING! on the side this fall. I'm going to be playing the grumpy, non-religious skinflint in a happy little Christmas play about some awful people who learn about the true spirit of Christmas. I think it's going to be a lot of fun, actually, if I can pull it off.
Anyway, I've been settled into My Look for awhile now; a full red beard and mustache with a bald head. Like, really bald. It's not exactly pretty, but it comes close enough to rugged. I like it pretty well and it's low maintenance. The only thing I'd prefer would be simple, short hair . . . . but alas, I can only manage that around the sides, these days. The top of my head is like a weedy garden; if I grow it out, I'll have patches and areas and zones, none of which will have the same length or thickness of hair. I just administer a mercy shaving every week or so, accepting my fate with the grim determination and steely resolve of a pudgy, balding viking warrior. But now . . . my character in the play will be "Tom," a "blustery accountant in his mid-fifties." He's kind of a jerk, but don't worry, he probably comes around in the end.
Anyway, I'm thinking . . . would Tom have the big red viking beard and the cueball haircut? I'm thinking . . . nope. I've stopped shaving my head for now. The play is in mid-November; I think, a couple of days before, I'm going to shave the top of my head so I'll have that classic fringe of hair around the sides with the shiny naked pate on top, and shave everything but the mustache off my face. By that time, I should have a magnificent, Lawdog-esque red push broom under my nose. If I dress the part, I should be able to become Tom for a couple of days before I revert to Donnie in time for deer season.
Now that's settled, next question: does Tom wear polo shirts, cardigans, or Christmas sweaters (ironically, of course?)
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
I hear The Internet loves lists of things, so here are Seven Things I Did This Weekend (And No Reasons for You to Care About Them.)
- The Zelmer Airport Fly-In Breakfast. I actually did that one twice; I showed up with my youngest boy, Sean, on Saturday morning, which was the wrong day. The local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter was having some kind of meeting, but they greeted us warmly and invited us to look over their planes. One pilot even took time to come out with us and let The Little Bear sit in the driver's seat and put on the headphones.
"But don't turn it on!" Little Bear warned him.
"Nah, I wouldn't do that to you," the pilot said.
- Then it was time for the Steven Snodgrass Fundraiser. Steve is a young (very young, and usually very excited, but it would be wrong to call him Scrappy Doo, so I plan to stop soon) police officer, firefighter and ambulance EMT in our little home on the prairie where the coach road and the railroads once crossed. I like Steve. So, after the fly-in that wasn't, we came back to town and Sean and I took a walk to the town square. I walked up with a considerable sum (for us) in my pocket, and we managed to spend it. All Little Bear cared about was the dunk tank. It was the first cool day of the year, so it probably wasn't necessary to add so much ice to the water, but that's how our fire department works: when in doubt, make the men suffer. He spent more at the dunk tank than I spent anywhere else, but he also dunked the poor kid three times. He was happy, I was happy. We returned to home base to prepare for the campout.
- Little Bear joined the Cub Scouts this year. I have my reservations about the Boy Scouts, but they did most of the right thing this year when they decided (despite considerable pressure from frightened people) not to eject gay boy scouts from the organization. They still won't accept (openly) gay scout leaders, but it's progress, and our local group doesn't discriminate. I'm not entirely comfortable with the religious touches, but that's the kind of thing Sean will have to negotiate for himself one day no matter what. For now, I'm satisfied that he got to go camping overnight at the lake with a bunch of other kids. We fished, we put up tents, we built fires, we played ball, we roasted hot dogs and s'mores and some kind of crazy thing that consisted of an ice cream cone stuffed with half a banana, some peanut butter, and a marshmallow, then wrapped in foil and roasted over the fire. I don't know what it's called and I didn't sample one myself, but it appeared to make an impression. In the morning, we struck camp, did a little more fishing, played a short and whiny game of sandlot baseball and got out of there; it was time for the fly-in.
- There, the boys split up according to their interests. Thing One came with me to sign up for a flight in a Cessna 172, which was pretty cool--we were so close to the lake that we flew over it. We even picked out the Cub Scout camp from the air. The day was perfect, and I don't know what it is about looking down and watching the shadow of the plane chase along over the fields, but I've never gotten over it. Little Bear was adamant that there would be no flying, but he'd only had a Hershey's bar and a muffin for breakfast so far, so he and mom hit the chow line for pancakes and sausage. Thing Two continued to sit at home, presumably either moping or playing video games, having declined to leave the house for items 1-4 on this list. If someone could design a video game with a realistic moping engine, I'd probably never see that kid again, but I digress. After we'd fed the kids, flown over the prairie (I still forget sometimes how utterly flat the land is here) and looked over all the cool airplanes, from "Experimental" homebuilts to a beautiful Stearman Kaydet trainer, it was time to pack everybody up and head for home so we could get all the chores and schoolwork done.
- At home, The Wife tried to catch a little sleep while the boys and I unloaded the car, did a few chores, and tried to get dinner started. At about 4:00, she headed off to her first practice for this year's community theater production, The Regifters. It's the heartwarming tale of three couples of really very bad, greedy people who don't understand the spirit of the holiday season, plus some mother-in-law jokes and a stolen baby Jesus lawn ornament (well, found, really.) At about 4:30, she called me up and asked me to come audition for a part. It turns out that one of their favorite male actors can't do the play this year, so they called in a replacement . . . but that guy can't do it either, and neither could their next few choices. So they went down the line and eventually decided that they were desperate enough to pull me in, since there was no singing required. I spent a couple of hours reading through the play with the cast, and for my first time, I think I held my own. Whether I'll be able to hold it together in front of people without a script is an open question . . . but I'll know in November. The important things are already settled; the play is being performed a little earlier this year, so it will definitely not interfere with firearm deer season.
There was a time when I thought I had successfully "slowed down." Now it's clear that I'm back to running around like a squirrel desperate to save a moose from a Communist assassination plot. But I don't know what I would have wanted to cut out of that weekend, so I didn't cut out anything, and here we are. I'm not actually getting any less busy, but it's 3:00 a.m. and the dogs have barked me out of bed so that I could let them out--again--so I figured I might as well write something. It may not be the most artful thing I've ever set down on electrons, but hey, if you're reading this, then I did sit down and write it. That's the third week in a row of actual blogging, and if I can ever get the photos off the camera, I might even post about this stuff twice in the same week. I do understand that the rest of the world spins on just fine without my little blog, but I used to enjoy writing it, and maybe I could enjoy it again.
Friday, September 13, 2013
The Illinois Supreme Court says it read Moore v. Madigan and it sides with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Thus, in People v. Aguilar, the court finds that the 2nd Amendment not only protects the right to keep and bear arms inside your home, but also outside it. That can't be welcome news if you're still recovering from your cheap-tequila hangover at MAIG headquarters or the ICHV intern desk today. "The Colorado Thing," as it might delicately be put in the presence of such people, couldn't have been less than a crushing defeat. They had it figured out! They just knew it was going to work this time! That roadrunner can't keep getting away forever!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Hey, check this out! Weekly content, baby! Two weeks in a row!
Anyway, I wasn't going to write about Tam's review of the book (prompted, in turn, by a post at Ace of Spades.) But I ran into another review from a very different perspective at Susan K. Perry's "The Creative Atheist" blog on Patheos. Perry loves the book; for her, it's a look at a very real, possible future that was avoided only narrowly by the defeat of John McCain. She makes an important point: leaders who do crazy things, if you go back and look at what they were saying before they got into power, have often been giving surprisingly frank warnings of what they were about for years before they had the power to do any of it. People do have an alarming tendency to disbelieve the crazier pronouncements of fringe (and not-so-fringe) elements, then put them into power, then react with dismay when they do what they said they would do. George Bush said he would walk a fine (some would say dishonest) line on the assault weapons ban if elected, and then he did. A lot of gun owners reacted as if surprised by this, demanding that he come out and squash the AWB flat, but that wasn't what he'd said he would do. Similarly, President Obama said he would work to make fossil fuels, especially coal, more expensive; he wants alternatives to get to economic competitiveness faster. He's done some of that work, and it's no surprise. Whether Sarah Palin has been saying that she'd put people like me (filthy, baby-eating atheists) into Re-education Church Camp (do you think they make God's eyes during craft time? Is there canoeing?) is another matter, I guess.
Interestingly, while Tam struggles to find the so-bad-it's-good comic fodder, and Perry ponders what she can do in the real world to stop the nightmare prophecy of Frederick Rich from coming true in her lifetime, they do agree pretty closely on some aspects of the story. This paragraph of Perry's review could have come from Tam's:
One of the main characters is gay, and there is a lot of homophobia and homosexual oppression, even brutality, by the new extremist Christian government. The only major female character is a social climber, an ambitious player, wholly unsympathetic, which allows her to be dispensed with fairly quickly. I detected what seemed to me to be a homo-erotic charge between best friends Greg and Sanjay, though it’s never acknowledged as such.Interestingly, Perry mentions all this, but makes no judgment upon it. I'd been looking forward to seeing whether she would notice the same dearth of female characters as Tam did. Apparently she noticed it, but it wasn't enough to dampen her enthusiasm. Both reviewers agree on a few things:
- A little stilted and didactic, but briskly paced and plotted.
- Total sausage party; almost no female characters, zero to root for.
- Competent Other-Guy-In-Power dystopia.
But that doesn't mean the worlds merged when they collided. Perry ends on this note:
I’m curious as to whether non-extremist Christians might read this and think, “It wouldn’t be so bad if all this came to pass, but of course without the torture and killing.”
While Tam is slightly less charitable:
Anyhow, if you can stomach it, it's a chance to see what an Ivy League corporate attorney in Manhattan thinks of you when he's pretty sure you're not going to read it. Because he thinks you can't.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
The ticker on the left side of the blog changed today. It now says I have 70 pounds to lose with 125 lost already. A few days ago, it said I'd lost 125 pounds and was five pounds below my goal weight. Simply put, the goal weight has changed.
The ticker says I've lost 125 pounds because it's been keeping track since the first time I recorded my weight with it. I've been telling people that I've lost about 100 pounds in the last year, but I've been fighting this back-and-forth battle for years. My heaviest documented weight was 396 pounds, which I rounded to 395 for some reason when I first set up that ticker. Last year, when I set up the ticker again, I set my goal weight at 275 pounds, even though that wasn't actually my final goal. I chose 275 as an intermediate goal because I thought it would allow me to do three things:
- Take my kids to Six Flags and ride every ride, even the one or two that I'd never been able to experience because I simply could not fit into the safety restraints.
- Join the others from my gym, HIPE Fitness, in riding the Grafton Zip Lines in the hills near Grafton, IL (right on the Mississippi River, near St. Louis.)
- The real excitement: buy term life insurance.
More on that later; the short version is that the Six Flags trip was fantastic, I talked to a couple of guys about the life insurance yesterday, and the zip lines are up in the air because it's a little hard to tell what their weight limits actually are anymore. That was frustrating before, but now that I've got this surgical wound to recover from right in the center of my core, I suppose it's moot. They could send me a free ticket, but it would still be foolish to go riding down a zipline in the next couple of months.
Anyway, the new goal is probably not my final goal, either. The new goal is 200 pounds. Why that nice, round number? Aside from its pleasant roundness, which ought to be reason enough:
- I still want to jump out of an airplane, and the two local jump schools with the best safety records require a maximum weight of 220 and 225 pounds, respectively. At about 200 pounds, I can wear what I want, drink all the water I want on the day, and know that I'll still make weight.
- I still want to get back into BJJ, and that includes competition. If I do, I'll roll with everyone, of course, but I don't want to compete against people 6 inches taller than I am. I'm only a little over 6 feet tall, and at that weight, I can compete with people my own size.
- I started this thing with 220 as the goal, but the more time I spend with actual athletic people, the more I realize that even that is not necessarily my best weight. Honestly, when I reach 200, there's a chance that I'll want to go a little lower; it'll depend on how muscular I am by that time and how low I can go without sacrificing strength. If I can walk around at 185 pounds . . . why not? But we'll start with 200.
My goals keep getting revised . . . but they're being scaled up, not down, and that's good news. I've needed to reset my ideas of what is "normal" and "reasonable" for a long time; the idea that it's "unrealistic" for a man about six feet tall to weigh about 200 pounds is ridiculous. It belongs on the ash heap with a lot of other silly things I taught myself as a young man.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
So . . . how've you been since March? Good? Probably good. You're not even reading this, are you? You've stopped checking for updates, just because I stopped posting content, right?
The Good News:
The reason I had my vitals taken so regularly was that I had a small problem that had to be repaired with emergency surgery, followed by a short hospital stay. Years ago, when I was at my very most morbidly obese bodily volume, I had mysterious abdominal pain and a mysterious lump above my navel. One doctor diagnosed this as lipoma, a small fatty bump that forms under the skin on some people, but that's generally painless, and this was painful enough to cause nausea. Other doctors diagnosed a hernia with fatty tissue (morbid obesity, remember?) becoming "incarcerated" and "strangulated" when it poked through. I had surgery to repair it early in the summer, reasoning that I would have time to recover before school began. I took the few weeks before surgery as a time to diet and exercise (with no coaching or guidance, of course.) On the morning of the surgery, I weighed 396 pounds in a hospital gown. I can't prove it, but I'll always be convinced that I once weighed over 400 pounds. The surgery was an apparent success, but recovery was tough. The standard advice is not to lift anything over 10 lbs. in weight for six weeks after hernia repair, and to avoid bearing down with the abdominal muscles. There is no way to follow that advice without a powered lifting chair or bed when you weigh 400 lbs., so I did my best but screwed up repeatedly. Still, I thought I'd recovered, and although I wasn't certain the hernia was gone, I told myself that I would exercise like a madman and lose the weight ASAP. I'd get down to 300 lbs., maybe even a little lower! I began exercising again about two months after the surgery, and for some reason that now eludes me, I decided that I would begin by running on the bleachers at my school. No, I can't think of any reason for a 400-lb. man to do that, either, but it turns out I didn't hurt myself doing it, because before I'd been doing it a week, an infection at the surgery site broke loose and I spent another week in the hospital, followed by a month at home giving myself anti-biotics through a PIC line (basically a fairly permanent IV line the patient can use to administer IV drugs at home.)
The Bad News:
So here we are. The hernia repair isn't the strongest; they couldn't use mesh because it raises the risk of infection (don't I know it?) and the bowel surgery is already an infection risk. There's a possibility that I'll have to have the repair re-done yet again if it doesn't hold. That means I've got to handle this recovery as well as I can. But there are some bright spots here, mostly because my fitness level has changed so much:
The Silver Linings:
- I weighed 268 lbs. yesterday. That means I'm about 125 lbs. lighter than I was the first time I tried to recover from hernia surgery, and although this procedure was a lot more disruptive than that one was, the recovery has been a lot easier so far.
- I was up and walking much faster this time, out of bed the day after surgery and walking two days after.
- I have some pain, but I haven't had to use any of the Tramadol they sent home with me. I don't get much more than a dull ache with the occasional sharp jab, and I'm afraid to dull it too much, lest I cause some damage without realizing it. I'll use it if I find that I need it, but I think the recovery is better without it.
- I can't go back to the gym until at least October, and I won't be able to work at the level I was before for at least six months, maybe more like a year. But I've kept my diet clean since leaving the hospital and begun to take long walks again. Walking won't build muscle like the Turkish get-ups and pullups at HIPE, but it'll strengthen the injured area without causing damage, and it should let me continue to lose fat.
- I didn't die, and I don't have to accept any permanent loss of function. All I have to do is be smart and a little lucky while I recover, and I can still reach all the goals I had before. It's just going to take longer than I'd hoped.