Villagers With Pitchforks

The flaming torches were delayed in transit, sorry.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Voice of Command Day

Abi Sutherland, in Making Light:

Today is Mother’s Day. Due to the complex interaction of the sun, the moon, and history, it also happens to be Pentecost. This conjunction can only happen when Easter is as early as possible in the calendar.

It is proposed, therefore, that the common theme of these two holidays be combined and generalized, so that those who do not celebrate one or both of them have some reason to make whoopie today.

Happy Voice of Command Day, in honor of all of those people in our lives who were irrefutably right. Parents, teachers, counsellors and eminences, priests and priestesses, even good books whose words vibrated our very breastbones and set us on the path of whatever righteousness was needed at the time.

You will celebrate it.

Read the whole thing. Don't forget the comments.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Health For Geeks

Exercise is really boring, so a great many of us don't do it. I spent a year under the tutelage of a personal trainer, so I know how to lift weights, but I almost never do that. It's boring, and the fact that I gained muscle tone and almost cured my blood sugar issues wasn't the motivation it should have been. The only thing that kept me going to the trainer was the one-year contract I signed, and the unwillingness to waste the money. At the end of the contract, I needed a down payment for a new car, and that was the end of that training - and the beginning of my sliding back downhill, gaining flab and losing energy.

So: Fundamental problem: Exercise and diet for its own sake is boring as hell. We geeks live in our minds and don't deal with boredom very well at all. I've had to come up with workarounds to keep me healthy and not so bored.

Here are my personal rules:

  • This is about being healthy, not being thin
    I'm not here to lecture you about your body size, your "image", your looks. You can look however you want to.

  • Pick the simplest-to-manage diet eating plan possible
    This might take you a few tries, but it is vital. In my case, South Beach is fairly easy to internalize. Others I know have done wonders on Weight Watchers.
    Here are general guidelines that have worked for me:
    • High-fructose corn syrup is your enemy! Avoid it.
      You're going to be reading ingredient lists; so remember one thing: Avoid high-fructose corn syrup. Cane sugar is fine; beet sugar is OK. This alone will help you feel better and be a little trimmer.
      Story: Because I avoid it, I can feel the effects of high-fructose corn syrup (specific aches and pains) on those few occasions when I have some - sometimes the only thing around to help me out of a blood sugar crash is a Coke or Pepsi, and anyway I still like a Pepsi once a month or so. I recently travelled to New Zealand. In New Zealand the soda pop is made in Australia using cane sugar. Three weeks there, drinking regular soda and walking up and down hills such as I haven't encountered since my youth in Pittsburgh, and I had none of the side effects. Until the first Coke I had upon my return, between flights in San Francisco Airport. This one was semi-medicinal, since falling asleep in the airport would have caused missed connections and general badness. Before the next plane, I had some achy joints.

  • Pick the simplest exercise plan possible.
    I like walking, so my plan is based on taking 10,000 steps a day, which for me is about 5 miles.

  • Get and use a pedometer.
    All a pedometer does is count steps. I have a little electronic one that has a clock built in, and a seven day memory. I set it up, put it in my pocket and forget it. It resets to 0 at midnight.
    • Record your steps in a spreadsheet daily, and set it up to graph. Use the upward curve to motivate you.
    • Most modern pedometers can let you input your average step length, so you'll see your miles or km walked as well.

  • Have a support group.
    You don't have to go to meetings - I'm on a LiveJournal group that offers mutual support and ideas.

  • Goals are good
    I'm a Lord Of The Rings fan. There's a website out there called Walking to Rivendell. You keep a running total of your miles walked, put the mileage into the form on the website, and it tells you where you are on the walk from Hobbiton to Rivendell

  • Use public transit whenever possible.
    It'll add steps.

  • No second helpings
    I eat at a very good salad bar chain (Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation) which has, among the healthy salads and soups, a good-sized bakery section full of pizza focaccia and other irresistables. Fortunately, the plates for the bad stuff are small, thus limiting my intake. So: no second helpings for me, except for iced tea with sweet and low.

  • Walk the dog.
    Don't have a dog? Walk the neighbor's dog. We babysit a greyhound who loves to go to the park. That's a half-mile round trip right there.

  • Park way across the lot
    Even here in Phoenix in the summer, I'll park out away from the door. There are exceptions, of course: I may be picking up something heavy or awkward, and in summer in Phoenix, I always park in the shadiest spot I can find. In general: park across the lot. Easier to get a space, and a few more steps on the pedometer.

  • Find something fun where exercise is incidental.
    I have a couple:
    • The last year or so, it's been archery. After every round, it's a minimum of forty yards of walking. This can be much more if I miss the target. Pulling the bow is a good strength workout, too, even a 25 pound bow.

    • I also go to the Renaissance Festival as much as I can. The Festival here in Arizona has a 30-acre site. Lots of walking.

    • I don't play video games, but I'm told the Nintendo Wii has games that can give you a bit of a workout.

    • Last time I went to San Francisco, I strolled from Fisherman's Wharf over to Lucasfilm's new home, looking for the Yoda statue.

    • My wife has arthritis and loves to garden. I'm not so much of a gardener, but I help out.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Overheard the next aisle at the grocery.
Aunt to kids:

"What kind of kids are you, ya don't like Twinkies?"
Kids laugh, present alternatives.

These are healthy kids, lady.