Monday, February 27, 2012

Santorum the Troglodyte

This medieval joke of a candidate actually called Barack Obama a snob for, of all things, wanting to make sure that every American who wants to go to college can actually do so:

Let me tell you how infuriated I was to hear this.  First off, Santorum's negative representation of the value of a college education is a slap in the face of every working-class person who wasn't able to go to college, but who thinks of college as a sure path for upward social and economic mobility for their children and grandchildren.

It's offensive to people like my parents who never even graduated High School, much less attended any college class, but who sacrificed incredibly to make sure that college was not only an option, but also a reality for me and my siblings.

What Santorum is doing by propagating this line of horse manure is encouraging people against the values of higher education and reducing them to a life devoid of the opportunities that a college education can provide.

I would bet any amount of money that if Santorum went around and asked each of the members in his audience what they feel about elitist liberal college intellectuals, he'd get a pile of vicious hatred and resentment spewed forth about us college-educated types.  That's what he's angling for.  But if he went around to each of these folks individually and asked them if they thought college was important for their children and could be helpful to their futures, I'd bet dollars-to-doughnuts that 99% of them -- at least those who actually care about the future well-being of their children and grandchildren -- would answer affirmatively.  Snobs would they all be, if Santorum had anything to say about it.

In fact, there's not a person I know, liberal or conservative, rich or poor, literate or illiterate, etc., etc., for whom the prospect and opportunity to take advantage of a college education would elicit an outright negative response.  Lay a college scholarship on the lap of any parent for his or her kid and see if that scholarship is brushed off as nothing more than a losing proposition, a vehicle for liberal indoctrination, and the machinations of "snobs."  Anyone who would do such a thing is a fool, and Santorum is encouraging people to be fools.

The irony is that Santorum himself is college-educated.  The vast majority of this country's most productive and innovative and entrepreneurial and materially successful individuals are college educated.  And there's no question that college education is positively correlated with such success and accomplishment.  To say that Obama is a "snob" for wanting Americans to have access to a college education is one of the worst and most cynical displays of medieval feudalistic thinking I've ever heard come out of the mouth of a modern politician.  And to think that this person is a serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination!  To think that this troglodyte has a realistic shot at it!  There is a fundamental rot in the GOP that has made this possible.

And let me also turn to something else Santorum says in his regressive sermon.  He said that the reason why Obama wants folks to be college-educated is because he wants them to be shaped in his effete liberal intelligentsia image, and not in the working-class, non-college educated image of the folks sitting around in that room!  It's almost too absurd to even fathom imagining this is what Obama wants.  First off, the very people in the audience all likely want college for their kids and understand its value.  Second, where is the responsibility Santorum places on the folks in that very room for making sure that their kids are raised according to the wholesome values of hard-working GED holders?  What kind of backhanded insult is it to all the parents in that room who have college-age kids that Santorum implies that their parenting sucks so badly that when their kid steps onto a college campus, they will instantly be brainwashed by liberal college professors.  My God!  What is the matter with this man?  What is the matter with the GOP?  Where is the dignity and self-esteem of the people who would listen to Santorum excoriate them for believing that higher education is a good thing and then cheer him for his suggestion that they keep their kids uneducated and tied to the assembly line like they themselves may be?  What kind of parent listens to a political candidate who crushes a part of the American dream leading to upward social and economic mobility and cheers him on for it?  It is absolutely, gob-smackingly, unbelievably, mind-blowing absurdity.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Resolution Update

OK.  Back to the regular Sunday updates.  Sorry I missed last Sunday, but it was Mardi Gras.  More importantly, it was Thoth Sunday. And I was simply unable to post anything last Sunday.

Today, however, is a different story.

Backdrop: I'm back to my regular rigorous exercise regimen and back to a carefully managed diet.

On Thursday, I posted a mid-week resolution update and weighed in at 181.0 lbs.  That must have been a fluke, because on Friday I weighed in at 177 lbs, Saturday was 176 lbs, and today, after my workout this afternoon, which I just completed, I tipped the scales at 174.8 lbs.

One has to wonder about the reliability of the scale at the gym, but I figure if I use the same scale consistently, even the vagaries of the machine will be consistent over time.

In any case, I've only got less than 5 lbs to go to meet my goal.  If and when I hit that goal, I will get independent verification from a number of sources whom I will ask to confirm the results.

Here's my headshot photo from today (the hair is wild, but that's because I'm letting it grow back in from a really short cut):

Compared to my January 1, 2012, picture:

The change has been dramatic.  Even moreso in person, and when looking at my body.  Everyone notices and I have to admit it's a good feeling.

Anyway, that's where I am.  Until next week.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Currently Reading: Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist"

This Dickens classic is perhaps his second best-known book, following A Christmas Carol.  But how many have actually read the original?  I, for one, knew the story primarily from an abridged version of the novel in my younger years, followed by seeing the story both on stage in its well-known musical theater production as well as in the multiple movie versions that exist.  I never actually read the original until now.  And it's my first full read on my new Nook e-reader.  And I'm loving it!  I have the complete Dickens on my Nook, and I can't wait to read more.

Dickens has an incredibly witty and sarcastic way of criticizing the social and cultural absurdities of his day, even while telling tragic stories of abuse and deprivation.  One can easily see why he is considered one of the great writers of the past 200 years.

When I finish the book (and I'm about two-thirds of the way through now), I hope to post some reflections and thoughts.

I should mention now, though, that while I am enjoying the story, there are some parts of it that I find disturbing and troubling, especially his anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jewish characters in this particular novel.  While I understand that one needs to place this in its proper temporal context, it still doesn't diminish the blatantly shocking way this portrayal offends modern sensibilities of basic human decency.  I would have expected better of Dickens.

Koran Burning

There is this growing outrage on the part of conservatives for the Obama Administration's expression of regret and apology for the burning of many Korans in Afghanistan.

What strikes me about this attitude is that it represents everything that American shouldn't stand for.  First off, how outraged would these critics be at Afghanistan if it came to light that their military accidentally burned copies of the Christian Bible?  One can't be sure, but I'd venture to say that there would be some upset American Christians calling for some Afghan blood if such a thing were to happen.  Second, and more importantly, why would we ever want to lower ourselves to standards that we would and do abhor in others?  We are better than those who would burn Christian Bibles and not apologize for the disrespect to Christians that such an action would convey.  The descent into an "eye-for-an-eye" mentality is so un-Christian and un-American that it's mindboggling when coming from those who would fashion themselves as the pinnacle of Christianity and uber-American patriotism.  Third, it says a lot that conservatives would be so incensed by Obama's taking the high road, the Christian road for that matter, so as to take an action that is in every respect the morally correct thing to do, and then use it to effectively demean and belittle one's own country's President.  What does it say that these so-called patriotic Christian conservative so hate Obama that they even betray their own country's interests and their own Christian faith in this misguided criticism of Obama. Obama did the right thing both as a Christian and as a patriotic American in expressing his regret and apology for this incident, and anyone who can't see this is blinded by a hatred and vengefulness that borders on a questionable patriotism and a questionable Christianity.

I swear, the conservative derangement at work here is disturbing and confounding, though not surprising at all.

Blue Jays Win State Soccer Championship

Just got back from watching the Blue Jays pull a come-from-behind victory against St. Paul's, in a rematch of last year's state championship, which St. Paul's won 2-1.  This year, the Jays prevailed with a score of 3-2, with two goals in the last 10 minutes of the match.

And to top it off, in the Division I girl's state soccer championship game, the Mount Carmel Cubs defeated the St. Scholastica Academy Doves by a score of 2-1.

Some considerations: (1) Each of the Championship matches involved teams representing all Catholic Schools from the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area.  That says something in itself.  (2) More importantly, though, the two Southshore Catholic Schools from Orleans Parish took it to their Northshore rivals from St. Tammany Parish in good, healthy competition.  And I have to say, as a Blue Jay alum and a huge partisan of Orleans Parish culture over St. Tammany Parish culture, I take special relish in having schools from the oft-maligned "sin city" of New Orleans prove to the suburbs of the Northshore that much good does reside in and come out of New Orleans proper.

Congrats Blue Jays and Cubs!  (And I do tip my hat to St. Paul's and St. Scholastica, too.)  Congrats to the Catholic League of High School Sports for fielding an all-Catholic Schools Division I boys AND girls state championship soccer matches!

Also, a special thanks to that good samaritan, whoever you are, for chipping in a dollar to help cover my ticket.  Some misinformation about the ticket prices left me a dollar short at the ticket booth, and this wonderful lady in line behind me just gave me a dollar to make up the difference.  And even if she was rooting for St. Paul's, this lady's generosity was the best thing about the night for me.  That's what the Catholic League is REALLY all about!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  You were an angel tonight and God is surely blessing you for your kindness!

Friday, February 24, 2012

MBH Pottery at the Palmer Park Arts Market: Tomorrow, Saturday, February 25, 2012

Well, it's once again that time of the month when my lovely bride will again be out at the Palmer Park Arts Market setting up her booth to sell her pottery. The market will be running tomorrow, Saturday, February 25, from 10am-4pm. My B-2/3 has been hard at work all month and has added significantly to her inventory of pieces. So, even though the weather looks to be a bit iffy, if you want to support a great cause and pick up some wonderful pieces of handmade, high quality pottery as wedding gifts, birthday presents, very early Christmas or Hannukah gifts, or any other kind of gift, please do come out to the Arts Market this Saturday at Palmer Park on the corner of Claiborne and Carrollton Avenues and look her up. Of course, as usual, Michele will also be doing live demonstrations at her pottery wheel, so please come out, enjoy the market, and stop by to visit Michele to see how pots are thrown (and hopefully not at you!)

What My Kids Are Listening To: Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa "Young, Wild, & Free"

Can't say I'm too thrilled with the lyrics or the entire message, but when the moderately cleaned-up version gets played over and over on the local pop station, it's impossible to keep it from the kids.  All we can do is put it in proper perspective.  All that said, the rhythm is catchy:

Social Conservatism's Big Government Agenda

Most conservatives will argue that they are for smaller government; but those who identify as social conservatives are decidedly not, even if they argue that they are.

I was having a conversation with a conservative friend who was lamenting the state of morality in this country.  He wasn't doing so in any kind of patronizing or bombastic way, just noting that our society seemed to have lost some of its mooring and that the laissez-faire social attitudes that seem to be more and more defining of our culture have led to something that he couldn't quite define, but something that he thought just wasn't "good."

He didn't want to take it so far as to say that government was the place where this social malaise needed to be rectified, but he was suggesting that government should have some kind of role in encouraging people to live better lives, more moral lives.  He didn't suggest how this should be done, just that he thought it would be good if it were done in some way that didn't restrict freedom.

But I don't see how this is possible without ceding to the state some kind of control over our lives.

I suggested that the resolution to his concern was really looking more at individuals and in trying to cultivate a sense of personal honor and dignity at the individual level, and that the state should be responsible not for telling people how to live by a particular moral code, but rather promoting programs and policies that enhanced the dignity of the individual.

That is what I think the liberal project is when it comes to the state.

I don't want an oppressive government telling me how to live my life.  But I do want government, as a representative of the collective will of our American society, to find ways to remove obstacles to the realization of a dignified life for individuals such that they themselves arrive at a way of living that is "good."  Hence my support for universal health care, a living wage, and other such agenda items.  Do they represent coercion at some level?  Perhaps.  But it is the only way I know to regulate our society and to fulfill the obligations of the social contract with minimal impact on individual freedom and maximum impact on recognizing the dignity of the individual.  On this point, the Catholic Church's social teachings are exemplary; and I just wish more Catholics (and especially the hierarchy) would pay as serious attention to them as they do to sexuality.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mid-Week Resolution Update

Well, I finally made it to the gym to re-start my exercise program and get back on the weight loss track again.

I did put myself on the scale to see how far back Mardi Gras set me.

I was suspecting that I would be in the low to mid-180s, and I was please that I was on the very low end of this range.

I weighed in at 181.0 lbs., which is maybe 3-4 lbs up from where I left off.

As I get back to my pre-Mardi Gras eating habits, I suspect that the pounds will again start to melt off; but it is pretty amazing how slowly one loses weight, and how quickly one can put it back on.

But I still only have a mere 11 lbs. to lose to make my goal and I have until the end of the year to do it.  This means that I have to lose about 1.1 lbs per month.  And if I can't do that, shame on me.

I have been taking pictures regularly and will post up some pictures again when I get back to my regular Sunday Resolution updates.

Mind and Soul Deadening GOP Primary

As a liberal, it would seem obvious to many that I find the remaining crop of current GOP hopefuls to be abhorrent.  But what I've noticed across the conservative blogosphere is a creeping malaise and disgust with the four GOP wannabe's left standing.  There is a marked enthusiasm gap growing among conservatives and Republicans, and this listlessness and apathy has been evident in the very low numbers of Republicans participating in the primary contests.  That doesn't bode well for Republicans in November.

RIP Francis "Uncle Bubby" Huck

The last of my grandfather's siblings has passed away after a brief illness.

And so passes another generation.

I have fond memories of Uncle Bubby taking me and my brothers out to the country to "shoot the guns."  We used to have a great time out there on his rural property in Osyka, Mississippi.  At the ages of 12-13 or so, we used to pile into Uncle Bubby's van early in the morning, stop off for Eclairs and coffee on the way to the country, and smoke cigars (yes, we did that!) while we crunched through the forests with our single-barrell 12-guage shotguns looking for squirrells or other varmints to pelt.

We used to stay in a rustic cabin that was heated only by an old-fashioned, cast-iron wood stove.  I remember heating our coffee cups on the top of this stove and even frying up our breakfasts of scrambled eggs and bacon on this stove.

In many ways, it was an idyllic time.

Uncle Bubby continued to make treks up to the country even with the next generation of my nephews.

He was a life-long bachelor who held many views about people and politics that I did not agree with; but he was a good-hearted man who shared what he had generously with others.  He will be missed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thoth Ride

My ride this year was awesome.  As usual, I'm always sad when it's over.  But you can't enjoy the event if it doesn't occur and if it doesn't have a beginning and an end.

I saw lots of friends, old and new, on the route this year.  It was great.  The weather was gorgeous, which really makes all the difference.  And the fraternity among Thoth riders is always a joy.  I have some pictures I'll post soon.  Until next year!

Blogging Self-Nudge Update

Lately, I haven't really had much to say or write about on the blog, so most of my postings have been rather perfunctory just to keep up with my blogging Self-Nudge.  And I'm a bit behind on that front, too, though not too far behind that I can't catch up and still adhere to my blogging self-nudge guidelines.

That said, I think what all this is telling me is that it's time to declare a hiatus to the blogging self-nudge at the end of this month, which is just as well, since I'll be gearing up for some work-related travelling in the months of March and April and probably won't be able to blog that much on the road anyway.

So, heretofore, I formally declare the end of my obligations under the blogging self-nudge arrangement starting with March 1, 2012.  I am still obligated to meet my quota through the month of February or else pay the price if I don't, but February will be the last month of my self-nudge obligation until I decide to re-institute it.

That doesn't mean I won't be blogging.  I will, if for no other reason than to chart progress on my New Year's Resolution; but I won't be subjecting myself to the pressure to put up posts just for the sake of it.

Resolution Update

OK.  The debauchery is over.  I did manage to take pictures on Sunday, but I wasn't able to get to the gym to weigh myself.  So, no Sunday update this past week.  I promise to get back on track this Sunday, with updated weight and picture.

I tried to exercise over the Mardi Gras break, but it was very sporadic.  And I did have a good time eating and imbibing.  You almost can't avoid it over Mardi Gras.  But, I didn't overdo it too much.  At least not like I used to in previous years.

All that said, I am getting back to my regular exercise routine and readjusting my eating patterns again to get back on track.

I have no illusions that I haven't added weight since my last check in, but I'll find out exactly how much I've put back on today when I hit the gym.

I suspect I'm back in the low-to-mid 180s.  But who knows?

At the very least, I've given myself until December 31, 2012 to reach my goal, which I know now is eminently doable.  In fact, I suspect I can reach it by the end of April, if not a bit earlier.

Stay tuned for more Resolutions Updates, which will recommence now that the craziness of Mardi Gras is behind us and now that the Lenten season is upon us.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blue Jay Soccer

The Jesuit Blue Jay soccer team has won its semifinal state tournament soccer match, which means the Jays will be heading to the State Championship game.  Way to go, Blue Jays!

Another Take on the Contraception Controversy

I thought this was an interesting rejoinder to the complaint that the government is compromising religious liberty in the whole contraception situation, all the while some of the very same religious groups in some states are advocating for requiring women to get vaginal ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion.

Hail Thoth!

Riding tomorrow!  Hope to see you on the route!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I'm Listening To: Wild Cherry - Play that Funky Music

Yet another classic funk number that forms part of my Funky Grooves bicycling playlist:

Mardi Gras Updates

OK.  So, my B-2/3 is marching with the Cameltoe Ladysteppers in Muses tomorrow.  If you don't know her, you won't have any trouble spotting her.  She's the really beautiful, elegant, spirited, and talented one!  Kidding, Ladysteppers!  Kidding.  She's not the only Cameltoe Ladystepper that fits that description!  They all do; but my B-2/3 certainly is one part of that number.  Let's hope the weather cooperates.

And then there's my ride in the Thoth parade this year.  If you're one of The Huck Upchuck's occasional readers, and plan to be at the Thoth parade, feel free to drop me an email and I will fill you in on my Float details.

I always love Mardi Gras and look forward to my ride in Thoth all year long.  And it looks like (knock on wood!) the weather for Sunday appears gorgeous.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 Resolution Update

Yes, it's that time of the week, once again. This week, I've been much less ascetic in my caloric intake and thus have moderated my weight loss to a better, healthier degree. My reported weight last Sunday was 179.8 lbs. This week it's 178.2 lbs. That's a drop of only 1.6 lbs. Much more modest than in previous weeks, but probably much more along the lines of what healthier weight loss should be. Visual evidence ... Today's picture:

Compared to that of January 1, 2012, when I started this project:

What was interesting about this week was that we had house guests the whole week and thus the social food culture of having guests was a part of our household dynamic this week. Which means, in short, that I had a few "splurges."  Additionally, I had more business "meal" meetings this week than usual, so my inclinations towards food asceticism overall were tempered somewhat this week.

Yet, I still got my full workouts in.  So even though I ate some tasty, high-calorie meals, I still managed to lose a bit of weight. Over the next few weeks, with Mardi Gras festivities kicking into full gear, I'm not even going to pretend to expect any weight loss. In fact, I may even put back on a pound or two; but I will still be exercising regularly and trying to regulate how much of a good time I'm planning to have this Mardi Gras when it comes to calories.

Even if the next couple of weeks set me back some, the good news is that I still will have 10 plus months to reach my goal!  Always a comforting thought.

Using the Nook

Today, for the first time, I actively used the Nook I got as a Christmas gift. And I really enjoyed it! I still am partial to the feel of a book with page leaves, but I found the Nook to be very appropriate and better-suited to the use I put it today.

I managed to rig up a way to secure the Nook to the stationary bicycle we have in our home in a way that would allow me to work out on the bike, to be able to read on the Nook, and to be close enough to my hands to be able to "turn" the pages on the Nook.

It worked like a charm, and I got through four complete chapters of Dickens's Oliver Twist while I put in my time sweating on the bike. I've tried to read on stationary bikes before, but the requirement to hold the book in one hand and free up the other hand to turn physical pages every minute or two was just too cumbersome, especially since I tend to push myself on the bike and need my hands to hold on to the fixed bike handles for stability and balance. With the Nook, all I had to do was reach over a couple of inches with my left hand's thumb and swipe/scroll to the next page.

And the best thing about it all was that in the process of reading, I lost all obsessive attention to the clock and the time of my workout seemed to fly by. That Nook is going to help keep me healthy and exercising! And as time goes by on my new and intense exercise regimen, I'm gonna need all the help I can get!

Dog Tragedy

My youngest daughter, whom I call here Squirrelly-Girlie the Younger, is a great dog lover. She studies books about dog breeds, she visits the dog park regularly and makes friends with all the dogs there, she is getting ready to head out to see Barkus (a dog parade) with my B-2/3, and she's just a sweet, loving soul when it comes to "man's best friend."

That's why what she and I witnessed yesterday was so traumatic. We saw a beautiful "Pug" dog get hit and run over by a car. If that wasn't bad enough, the circumstances during which we witnessed this were, from my perspective, a bit creepy.

This is what happened...

I drop the two Squirrelly-Girlies off at their local Dance studio for their Saturday morning dance classes. Usually, they are at the studio from about 10:30am to 3:00pm, taking various different classes.

Yesterday, though, we had a bit of an alteration to our routine, because SG the Elder had won a Gold Key Prize for poetry and was being recognized at a city-wide ceremony held at the UNO campus at 1:00pm. So, I had to pick up SG the Elder a couple of hours earlier than usual from the dance studio.

After I dropped off the Squirrelly Girlies at 10:30am, I went to the gym for a workout. Once I finished with the workout, it was time for me to pick up SG the Elder. So I was driving back to the dance studio when, just 4-5 blocks from the studio, a dog (it looked like a dalmation to me) darted out in front of me. I slammed on the brakes and just missed hitting the dog. I was a bit rattled, but very glad that I missed the dog. From there, I proceeded to get SG the Elder, leaving SG the Younger at the studio. From there, my B-2/3, SG the Elder, and I went to UNO and participated in the ceremony for SG the Elder. This event lasted about one and one-half hours, after which we headed for home, where I dropped off my B-2/3 and SG the Elder and then continued on the way to pick up SG the Younger at the dance studio.

I picked up SG the Younger and we started for home. As we were about 2 blocks from the dance studio, I started to tell SG the Younger about my near miss with the dog earlier in the day. Just as I was telling her that a dog had darted out in front of me earlier, all of the sudden, right at that moment in the story, we saw just in front of us a young man sprint across the street being chased by the Pug, who must have broken free of her owner to give pursuit, because we saw her leash trailing her. As the dog sprinted across the street in front of us (and we were far enough back to slow down easily to miss her), I pointed to the Pug and said to SG the Younger as part of my story about the earlier incident: "Just like that dog there!" It was all so quick you have to imagine it like this...

ME: "Oh, yeah, SG the Younger, I wanted to tell you that when I was coming earlier to get SG the Elder from Dance, a dog darted out in front of me, [and then the Pug chase scene instantly unfolds in front of us in a matter of seconds] just like that dog there!!!"

I didn't even have time to tell SG the Younger that I had missed the dog earlier and that it crossed the street safely when the Pug doubled back to go back to her owner and ran right in front of a car coming down the two-way street opposite the side we were driving on. That car had no time at all to adjust and ran right over the dog, right in front of our eyes. Being in the driver's seat, I saw the whole thing unfold clearly and saw the dog go under the tires of the other car. Fortunately, SG the Younger was in the back seat on the passenger side and didn't see the actual impact itself, though she did see the dog when it sprinted across the street in front of us the first time before it doubled back and she did see the dog on the street after it got hit.

Of course, we immediately pulled over to run and help the dog. SG the Younger got out and came with me. We were the first two to arrive at the side of the dog, who was still breathing. There was no external bleeding, but it was clear to me by the way the dog was laying on the street that her back was broken and that she had serious internal injuries. A few seconds after we arrived by the dog, the dog's owner and a couple of other witnesses had arrived and we quickly came up with a plan to put the dog in a makeshift stretcher (using someone's old sweatshirt) and carry it to the back of an SUV to transport to the animal hospital. This all took maybe 3-4 minutes. SG the Younger saw it all. Although she was quite traumatized, she was so glad that we stopped to help and it made her feel like we did what we could to comfort the dog and her owner. SG the Younger said a prayer over the dog, and petted her. She said that she petted her to make sure the dog was still warm, and thus -- in her mind -- still alive. And the dog was, of course, still warm. But, I had noticed that the dog had stopped breathing, and so I wasn't so sure about her still being alive.

The whole incident lasted about 5 minutes from impact until the time we left the scene, but it definitely made and impression. For my part, I just couldn't believe the creepy coincidence of the timing of telling my near-miss story to SG the Younger and witnessing at that very moment the incident repeating itself, but with a different and tragic outcome.

I'm not usually one to get emotional over pets, but I have to admit that I was very moved by this whole experience.

I only hope that today at Barkus, SG the Younger will get to see the happiness and joy of dogs in the streets on parade and be able to put yesterday's tragedy into its proper perspective.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Hail Thoth!

10 days until parade day! I'm getting pumped! Every year, it starts to sink in that the ride is approaching when I can tap into the 10-day weather forecast. Got most of my throws. Still need to get a few little things yet, but I'm ready to go. What's gonna be especially great is that my brother will be riding alongside me, along with two high school buddies. Anyone interested in my float information can send me an email and I'll clue you in.

What I'm Listening To: Parliament - We Want the Funk

On my funky grooves bicycling playlist:

My favorite part are the horns in the background.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

2012 Resolution Update

Yes, it's that time of the week again -- Sunday ... Superbowl Sunday. And I have to file my report on my own "championship" quest (of a sort): My 2012 Resolution!

On Jan. 1, I committed myself to get my weight down to 170 lbs by the end of the year or face a severe (to me, at least) penalty. Boy what a motivation that has been!

I started off the year on Jan. 1 at 206 lbs. Here's my mug shot from that day:

I've been posting weekly updates every Sunday since then.

This week, I'm pleased to announce that I've crossed another critical threshhold -- I broke 180 lbs. Today, after my workout, I stepped on the scale as usual. And the scale registered: 179.8 lbs!!!

This week's mug shot:

Last Sunday, I weighed in at 184.2 lbs. So I've lost 4 lbs in one week. Still perhaps too much, but I am confident that this weight loss is not coming at the expense of a healthy and balanced diet and exercise regimen.

I've consciously been upping my caloric intake over the past week. Perhaps what is happening is that I'm also getting stronger and my cardiovascular system is able to endure more extended workouts, so my workouts are incrementally getting more vigorous and a tad bit longer. Depending on the day, I ride the stationary bike from between 30-60 minutes and then I go for a swim which, also depending on the day, covers from 1/3 to 1 mile in the water.

I'm still trying to keep my eye on how much weight I'm losing each week, and I really want my goal to be more along the lines of a maximum 1-2 lb loss per week, so I've got some more work to do here. But I'm not too worried. I'm feeling better and I definitely have more energy during the day. I'm sleeping better, too. So, it can't be all that bad. Anyway, it is what it is and that's my report for today. Now, on to the Superbowl!

Superbowl Prediction

Patriots 38, Giants 17.

This is gonna be a blowout. The Giants have gotten pretty lucky up to this point. The Patriots are solid all around. And the Patriots are gonna remember how the Giants ruined their perfect season and give a little playback. It's gonna be a game with a lot of emotion coming from the Patriots side of the bench. Oh, and Gronkowski's da bomb!

Friday, February 03, 2012

What I'm Listening To: Glenn Miller - I've Got A Gal in Kalamazoo

And as a special bonus, you get to see the Nicholas brothers give us a wonderful tap dance performance.  They just don't do it the same way these days, and they can't even approach doing it better.  Enjoy:

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Mitt Romney's VP Options

They are plentiful and varied.  If Romney's smart, he'll do two things: (1) he'll avoid like the plague the social cons and populist demagogues like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, etc.. (2) He'll pick someone like Marco Rubio who can make a dent in the Latino community's overwhelming support for Obama.

If he's smart, he'll avoid picking a Romney-esque clone -- what the GOP base would call a RINO -- like McCain or Snowe or Collins, etc.

But if the potential GOP VP candidates are smart, they'll avoid hitching themselves to the Romney wagon, because there's no way Romney's negatives won't rub off on them and taint them -- and Romney's negatives are substantial.

In short, its a lose-lose scenario all the way around.

Frankly, I just can't see how the GOP wins this thing come November.

Mrs. Upchuck Makes the Paper

As part of the Camel Toe Lady Steppers Mardi Gras marching and dance troupe.  Check out this article to find out more about the group.  And you can even see my B-2/3 in the featured photo donning bits of her costume.

Religious Freedom and Contraception

I don't see how religious liberty is in any way constrained by the government's determination that institutions which are not "religious" in the sense of proselytizing or conducting religious ceremonies, and who serve a clientele irrespective of faith or belief or religious conviction, not to mention who employ people of differing faiths or beliefs or religious convictions, have to give the option for contraception to its employees in whatever health insurance plans are offered through the employer.

The opposition to contraception is a moral teaching, and allowing individuals to make the choice about it is not constraining religious freedom but advancing it.  To restrict one's ability to contract with a healthcare provider for contraception is the real constraint on freedom.  Those who have a religious conviction in opposition to contraception have the choice not to avail themselves of this healthcare provision, should they choose not to do so.