Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Food, Art, Joy, and Ants,

Food Sanity At Last???

Once again, Kathy has posted something that I feel the need to share. I suggest going to her blog to read the entire article. This is her prelude to it:

Many of us follow or have followed Weight Watcher Flex or Core Plans and have wondered
some of the guidelines set forth by them. I have even known some
bloggers...ahem...who have wondered if some of the "rules" are arbitrary or even
self-serving in that they might promote certain WW products. But after reading the
following list, I'm ready to give them a pass on at
least a couple of the guidelines. I subscribed to the Meatless Monday newsletter quite some time ago and have found it to be
a g
reat source of current news on nutrition and a couple of new recipes each week. You can
here to subscribe yourself: Meatless Monday

I have found myself making intelligent choices about what I eat in the last several days. Am I finally developing a sane attitude in my relationship with food? If so, I can think of nothing that has led to this. On Saturday, I went with a friend to The City to see the Chihuly exhibit at the
de Young museum. We lunched at the on-site restaurant. I had a grilled chicken sandwich and neither knifed off the guacamole on it nor counted points for the rest of the day. On Sunday, another points free day, Matt and I went to a new local restaurant that serves, according to their own description, "gourmet Indian and Nepalese Food." The naan was exceptional and I ate it freely. My entree was Kashmiri Pilau, a chicken dish from the Punjab which also included fresh spinach and an exceptional sauce that was seasoned with fenugreek, fennel, onions and garlic. I also ordered Basmati rice made with whole spices, garlic, cashew, almonds, raisins, and fried onions with coriander. This got mostly doggy bagged 'cause I was scarfing up on the naan instead. The progress report on my restaurant adventures is that neither of them led to later undisciplined eating. On Monday, Matt brought an extra bagel in case I wanted to eat it. That racked up my third point free and binge free day. I opted not to count points yesterday and my self discipline continued. I almost feel as if I've undergone hypnosis or had a surgical attitude transplant. I'm feeling as if I'm already at goal weight and, with an appropriate attitude and intelligent food decisions, I'm in the process of getting external reality to match mental image. I'll continue to go to Weight Watchers and will be looking at making food choices that are consistent with a modified Core plan.

The Arlene Collection:

I was going to post some of the photos I took of
Dale Chihuly's fabulous glass work, but have already spent way way to much time at the computer. I would recommend going to his web site to see the spectacular pieces and compositions that he and his team have created. Since the de Young has not yet seen fit to offer me an exhibition, I am posting some pictures (best seen by clicking on them) of some glass fusing that I've done recently. Though they may look flat in the photos, all of them are bowls or plates. Glass fusing involves melting pieces of glass together in a kiln. It is a different form of glass art than glass blowing which is what Dale Chihuly does. In other words, Mr. Chihuly and I are not in competition.

An Exceptional Day:

I had one of those rare days yesterday when everything seems to go right and everyone seems to be going out of their way to be friendly. I don't know what constellations need to line up and what friendly spirits need to be holding what evil ones at bay for this to happen.

Among yesterday's errands was a Home Depot purchase of some plants. As I walked down the aisles with my coleus (coleuses?? coleii??) filled shopping cart, a passing woman glanced down at them and smiled. It was a private smile and, for a brief moment, I had the sense of it having weight. I experienced it gently dropping into my shopping cart. This made me happy and, as I write this, I find myself smiling.

Critters That Need Killing:

As anyone who has read this blog with any regularity knows, I am a critter lover. At this point, I even go out of my way (mostly) to put outdoors those foolish spiders who have chosen to make my home theirs. (Not your kind of spider, Spider, if you are reading this.)

Ants have fascinated me for a number of years. Fascination aside, they come as a gang ready to party. The only way to put my foot down on this, is to put my food down on them.

On Friday night, as I was making salad, I saw a dark object on the floor which, when I kicked it aside, dispersed into an ant scatter. The ants were too numerous to wipe out with some well-placed stomping and insecticide use seemed to be unwise given my current activity. I regretted causing the ants to scatter and considered how to get them to bunch up again. A small heap of sugar failed at this, but the honey that I followed it with had them coming from all corners to party. After which they drowned in the honey. After which (and after dinner) all hope of life for them was dashed with insecticide. After which, still fascinated by ants, I took these pictures (which are best seen by clicking on them to make it larger and therefore even more fascinating).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Luck, Stupidity, A Shower Curtain, and an Awesome Short Video


Week 12: Last night the WW scale was .4 lbs. less than the previous week.

Deserved to be gaining
Yet still I'm maintaining
I won't be complaining


What can I say:
I should have known better.
It was in the wee hours of the night and I couldn't sleep.
Thank you hubby Matt for keeping my anti-virus protection up to date.

I opened the UPS Delivery Failure e-mail even though I was suspicious.

Shower Curtain:

Or you never know when you'll find a use for some piece of junk that you're saving:

An Awesome Video:

I don't usually view the videos people post 'cause I spend way way too much time on-line as it is, but Kathy posted a (just a little over 2 minute) video of a lion with his humans and it is very very worth watching. The post is entitled AH-H-H! and she wrote it on July 24th.

Monday, July 21, 2008

This Is Not About Politics

At this point, I don't know how easy it is to read these messages on white paper. I imagine that clicking on the image will bring the words into better focus.

This is a solicitation letter from one of our Presidential candidates. I switched parties to be able to vote for this man in the primaries. I sent him a donation at the time. Even then, I wasn't sure whether I'd vote for him or the eventual candidate of my party.

The first line of this solicitation letter is as follows:
I want you to know that I don't take sending you this $1 bill lightly.
The candidate goes on to say:
Today I need you to send this $1 bill back to me along with $400 or $300 of your own to help our campaign take the next crucial steps in this pivotal presidential election.

This is not the first time that I've received money from an organization in the hopes that I'll contribute an even larger sum. One of the animal rights organization to which I've never contributed has sent me at least three dimes in three separate mailings over the years. I've tossed these dimes into a bag in which I keep my spare change.

I get a lot of solicitations from animal groups each day. Some of them come with gruesome pictures of abused animals. I try to avoid looking at these pictures when I shred them. I contribute to ten organizations that help animals in one way or another. I maintain a chart with the amount that I intend to contribute, along with whether the contribution is monthly, quarterly, or yearly. The chart was an act of self defense against all the worthy animal causes that come pleading for financial help.

Many of these organizations send me gifts to make feel obligated to send a donation. I particularly dislike receiving address labels. I use scissors to cut them up because they'll gum up my shredder. Unless I live well beyond the century mark, I'm unlikely to exhaust my current supply of these labels.

Sometimes I contribute to causes that are not animal related. In January 2005, I sent a donation to CARE to help the victims of the tsunami in Phuket, Thailand. They sent me a thank you note along with a form to sign if I did not want to receive future donation requests. I signed and mailed the form. I continue to receive their solicitations at least once a month.

I get a request for more money from the Presidential candidate just about every day; sometimes two arrive on the same day. This does not include the e-mails that his organization sends me.

I notice that the candidate addressed me as "Arlene" in the note that accompanied the $1 bill. At the bottom of an autographed photo of him and his wife that I received a few days earlier, he wrote, "Dear Mrs. (last name), Thank you for everything you do for our Party and our country." He and his wife signed with only their first names as if they are subordinate to me. I guess the candidate thinks that sending me money puts us both on a first name basis.

I wonder if this dollar bill is a test of sorts. Maybe if I don't send the money back to him it will be a clear signal to stop wasting the resources expended on trying to get cash from me. I also wonder how many people are getting these dollars. Certainly, the candidate has sent out more dollars than I originally gave him.

In the second paragraph of the note that accompanied $1, the candidate allowed for the chance that I might not return the dollar to him. "But I'm willing to take that risk," he wrote, "because after all that we've been through together in this historic campaign, I believe I can count on you." I hope his beliefs about how to run a country are more reality based.

It may be the case that this is not the last letter that I will receive from the candidate. I'm wondering if the next one will include a $5 bill. How much money will he be willing to send me?
And wouldn't it be funny if I end up contributing to the candidate running against him.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Kitties, My Flower Project, and Plato and a Platypus (again)

Mousie (orange) and
Daisy (black)

The writing on the yellow paper says "4th attempt," but the 4th attempt was NOT the final attempt.

I may have finally achieved success with the 5th attempt; I'll only know at the end of this project (and then it might be too late). What I was trying to do (and may have finally done) is make 8
holes in a one quarter inch thick round of plastic and 3 thin sheets of plastic that would line up with each other. Thankfully the four failed attempts were needed on only one of these layers; the others required one to four total attempts. I think I now know what I wish I'd known at the start of the process.

I count myself lucky that on this, my first solo with a power drill,

I somehow avoided swiss cheesing either hand.

I've been working on this project since the beginning of March. The photos at right are the ones that didn't make the cut, but give
an idea of what I'm doing, or hope to be doing. Hopefully I'll be able to include a photo of the finished project by the end of August . . . 2008.

Two Cows:

Two cows are standing in the pasture. One turns to the other and says,"Although pi is usually abbreviated to five numbers, it actually goes on into infinity.”

The second cow turns to the first and says, “Moo.”

From Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . . Understanding
Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Thoughts

In Response To Comments On My Last Post:

Thanks Kathy, Lorraine, and Laughingwolf for your comments. This morning, I've been reflecting particularly on what Laughingwolf wrote:

while i was living in vancouver, bc, a local 'artist' told the 'news media' in a week's time he would 'crush a mouse on a canvas with a cinder block, live, for all to see', then mount the canvas as a 'work of art'

the 'animal rights' groups all threatened to KILL HIM, once they found out where he lived

neither event took place, as he fled the area

from wherever he went, he said he was seeking publicity and would not have hurt the mouse... the 'rights' groups response: if they found him, they'd kill him, anyway

makes one wonder....

I began to wonder and as I did, one question led to the next:

!. Under what circumstances, if any, is it appropriate to kill another human being?
2. What is the responsibility of an ethical person when evil is done or contemplated?
3. What is beyond the limits of acceptability in man's use of animals?

As I'm writing this, I'm thinking that everything is related and everything is complex. Some of my beliefs, when carried forward, lead to absurd conclusions and ideals which contradict one another. Often practicality puts restraints on what I would consider ethical duties. Perhaps, as I have a tendency to do sometimes, I'm making things more complex than they need to be.

Weighty Issues:

My official WW weight last night reflected a gain of .8 lbs. since my last weigh-in of two week ago. In fact, I know that I "lost," then regained, an additional 4 pounds. I'm expecting more consistent self discipline from myself this week.

One of the things that I've been noticing is that so many of the people I meet are anxious to lose their weight quickly. At one level, my gut response is "What's the rush?" I don't feel the need to hurry the process. I think that's because I don't expect my life to change in any significant way once I'm back to my goal weight. This wasn't always true for me. I like it better this way.

The Optimist, Pessimist, and Rationalist:

The optimist says , "The glass is half full."
The pessimist says, "The glass is half empty."
The rationalist says, "The glass is twice as big as it needs to be."

From Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . . Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes
Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein

I never cease to be amazed:

by the new stuff that technology makes possible. Right now I'm totally begoggled by the new Blogger add-on, the one that updates the latest posts written by people on your Blog List.
It sure beats clicking on the links of friends who have taken a break from blogging.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Lorraine posted a comment on my July 16th blog that I've been thinking about since I read it. In it, among other things, she wrote:

"It's difficult to associate men of visions with a bent towards killing animals making them suffer needlessly. All I know is that we can't judge, and yet...The one thing that throws me off balance really throws me totally off, was that Hitler, who perpuated such monstruous inhumane acts upon humanity was a great animal lover and a vegetarian..."

I responded to what she wrote in the comment page for that blog. Now I'm wondering about the response others might have to the question: What is the relationship between how one thinks about and treats animals to the way one thinks about and treats humans.

Kathy also made an interesting comment to which I've responded in the comment page for that blog. In it, among other things, she wrote:

"I don't understand the allure of watching animals die either...maybe it is something nature has put into the mind heart of men so that they will be the hunters and protectors of the
species??? ."


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Pelican, A Former President, and Many Many Dead Animals

This picture of a pelican landing in a local swimming pool during a kid' swim lesson is on the front page of our local newspaper today. The children seem fascinated by it; the swim instructors are smiling. After it jumped onto the concrete, a fisherman took charge of it. Once it was calmed, the pelican was taken to a nearby pond.

Had Theodore Roosevelt been there, he would most probably have been reaching for his gun. I'm currently reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Edmund Morris' first volume about this former U.S. President (1901-1909). T. Roosevelt was a highly impressive man with an iron sense of self discipline. As a kid, he was scrawny and beset by severe and limiting illnesses. At times, his asthma was so intense that he could sleep only when sitting up. As and adolescent and despite rigorously working out, he was perceived as a weakling and beaten up by other boys. He intensified his already grueling work out sessions. He learned to box. He increasingly raised the bar on himself and eventually became an indomitable force that took on the highest of mountains leaving professional guides behind in his wake.

His mental prowess was equally impressive; his moral sense was unyielding. My reading has taken me through the first three decades of his life. At this point, his political acts have me cheering. He took on what would today be called "the establishment" with courage and a willingness to risk his entire political future. The newspapers of the day raised him up as a hero and tore him down as a hypocrite and worse. His earliest fights involved the patronage system which rewarded political allies with lucrative civil service jobs.

As T. Roosevelt hit upon his thirtieth year, he became a "conservationist." This was a result of his realization that the "big game . . . out West" were starting to disappear. He wanted the hunting opportunities that he had so ardently enjoyed to be available for future generations. It
is his ardent enjoyment of killing animals, even as he wrote about their "death agonies" for which he was responsible. that makes me hate the man. Except the emotions he elicits from me are more complex than that. These could easily be the subject of another post.

Let me be clear about this. I am not currently writing about that kind of sport hunting that results in meat on the table or at the campfire. Nor am I writing about the hunting that "thins" herds that have so increased in size that they threaten their ecosystems. I am writing about the thrill of chasing a bear, even risking one's life to do so, as T. Roosevelt did. I'm writing about the kind of hunting that requires stamina, discipline, a willingness to endure major physical challenges, and skill, attributes that certainly describe T. Roosevelt but not our current Vice President who shoots quail in a well stocked preserve and calls it hunting.

For T. Roosevelt, hunting was a "manly sport." The pelt of the bear that he killed "out West" around his thirtieth year became one of his prized possessions. On his return home, he misplaced the bear's head which he had cut off with the intention of mounting it. I don't remember if he made a meal of bear meat while still on the hunt, but he clearly wasn't hunting for food. For him, the hunt was a challenge and the skin and head were trophies. When he wrote about the experience, he vividly described the raw agony of the bear as it slowly died.

T. Roosevelt was not alone in enjoying such a sport, nor is this kind of enjoyment confined to a not-so-distant past. I found myself thinking about the plight of endangered species this morning and hunts for jungle meat in far off countries. When I see CNN specials about such things, I am utterly and absolutely repelled and helplessly enraged.

This morning, I find myself flipping through the images of the pelican in the pool, of T. Roosevelt aiming his rifle at his thousandth wild animal, of elephants killed for their tusks, and of people whose need for food and land is at the expense of other primates and their habitats. I want to come up with some wise conclusion, maybe along the lines of how our perspectives on such things are inextricably linked to our circumstances. But I'm not up for such reflection right now.
Right now I find the big world with all it's different people and kinds of people confusing and, no matter what, I root for the animals. Right now, I'm all for Theodore Roosevelt rotting in hell no matter what his other accomplishments.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For non-weight related stuff, please check out my other blog, "Stars on the Ceiling; Pretzels on the Floor by clicking on This.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Week Ten: Blessed, Blessed Sleeeeeeeeep

It was as if my visa to Sleepland had been revoked a little over a week ago. I just couldn't sneak beyond an alertness that would have much better served me during the day. Finally, around 3 a.m., exhaustion won; even though I slept past 10 a.m., I sleepwalked through the day and fell into an easy doze while reading. There is a vicious circle to this. When caught by sleep during the day, sleep eludes me at night. On the first of these slumberous days, I was able to ignore that insidious voice which seduces me into taking the first innocent step that leads to me partying with the binge monkey. By the second day, I'd lost the will to fight it. The days that followed were a continuation of this old pattern. Sleep eludes me and the binge monkey finds me. At one point before this happened, the reading on the morning scale was 186.5 lbs. Today it was 189.5 lbs. I was relieved that it wasn't more. I didn't fall asleep until around 2:30 a.m. last night and got up at around 9:30 a.m. today. This could have easily been a replay of the previous days, but I was able to reverse direction. I got on the elliptical in the late afternoon after first giving myself permission to go at a slower pace than usual. After the first ten minutes or so, I was back to my usual speed. I kept having to ease up when my heart rate reached 141 bpm because my machine will end the program if I maintain a heart rate of 143 bmp for more than 20 seconds or so.

I didn't go to my WW meeting last Thursday. I suspect that I'll show up with a higher weight at this week's meeting than the one two weeks ago. I'm back on track and plan to go to sleep right after I publish this. I hope the gates will open for me.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Weeks Eight and Nine - 3.4 Cheers For Weight Watchers

The 3.4 cheers are for the total number of pounds I've been able to dump since my last post. I know that I'd be writing about a gain during this time frame if it weren't for Weight Watchers - if I'd be posting at all.

My Weight Watcher weeks go from Friday through Thursday, the day of my meeting and my official weigh in.The week that began on Friday, June 20, was an uneven one with regard to my self discipline. I stayed vigorously on track with both my eating and my exercise the first four days. On the 5th day, Tuesday, I was numbingly tired from a night of interrupted sleep. The fires that were raging in adjacent counties caused a haze that hid our view of the nearby hills. Even with windows closed, our house smelled smoky. I eased myself into a gradual disregard of my alloted points. My most intense exercise was opening and closing the refrigerator door. Wednesday was largely a repeat of Tuesday. With my meeting scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, I got my eating under control. I still wasn't up for getting on the elliptical. Even so, the scale rewarded me with a .6 lb. loss. My conscientiousness at the beginning of the week paid off. Also, the fact that I didn't sabotage myself quite as badly as I've done at various times in the past.

I credit Weight Watchers with my being able to strengthen my commitment to the program after stumbling off it. Knowing that there would be another weigh in on July 3rd, I had the impetus to regain my full focus rather than waiting for some more auspicious day. Those who've been reading my blog for awhile know of my fascination for attractive numbers. (It is not an accident that I rejoined Weight Watchers on the first of the month (5/1/08).

I've had a few challenges this week, June 27 through July 3rd. I've gone out to lunch twice and out to dinner once. On Sunday, which included a picnic lunch and dinner out, I allowed myself to use an extremely disproportionate amount of my weekly points. If these hadn't been available to me, I might have found myself veering into a binge. I felt pretty certain that I'd be able to make up any point deficit during the remaining four days with my 81 minute workouts on the elliptical. As it turned out, I was able to do so, but I ended up cutting it closer than I would have liked. With a 2.8 lb. loss this week, I've only got cause to be extremely pleased.

I am now at the same weight that I was on 10/29/02, the second week of my successful journey from 194.2 lbs. (on the WW scale) to 127 lbs., even 125.5 lbs. (on my home scale). With my home scale reading 189 lbs., my next milestone is 4 lbs. away, the weight I was when I started this blog (185 lbs.). An added challenge this week is that my alloted daily points now becomes 21, one point less than I've been getting. That's what happens when one breaks through to a lower weight range. I'll gladly accept this - and also exercise like a elliptofreak to earn those extra points.