Saturday, January 29, 2022

Joy in Wapping

 My weight-loss endpoint has hove (hoven? heaved?) into view again, and this time I'm more ready for it: I have made the plan to stay "inside the box" completely precise and concrete.

The endpoint, as my long-suffering readers well know, is to have my waist measurement be 90% or less of my hip measurement. I take these numbers daily, and although they are irritatingly bouncy -- any one measurement of the hips has a play of 1/4 inch; and any one measurement of the waist has a play of 1/2 an inch -- they are the most direct measurement I have of what I'm most interested in: to wit, minimizing my visceral fat while maximizing my muscle mass. 

I've hit that endpoint three times: briefly once, and for a couple of weeks twice. I have found it difficult to stay there, and it's possible of course that it's the wrong endpoint: I might wrestle less with 91% or 92%. But I suspect the difficulty is not where the endpoint is, but simply being at the endpoint. The interest goes out of the game, after you've won it.

So the new game, when I get there again, is the game of staying inside the box, that is to say, keeping that number -- which is an 8-day rolling average -- in between 89.5% and 90.5%. And the way I do that is by having two triggers for slightly changing my calorie intake. If I see 89.5 (or smaller) I'll increase my snack from 1/8 of a cup of peanuts and one small banana to 1/4 cup of peanuts and one large banana. If I see 90.6 (or greater) I'll go back to the smaller amounts. 

I may of course need to adjust either one of these amounts -- they may not be enough to make me "change direction." But I have enough experience now to know that I can't be far off. If I cross the upper bound while eating the smaller snack, or the lower bound while eating the larger, then I'll know that the amounts need to change. That's not hard.

There's not much glory in "maintenance": but it's where push comes to shove. 

The five-year anniversary of when I started this project comes up in May, and I devoutly hope to be inside the box when it does. 

Oh there was joy in Wapping when the news flew through the land;
At Maidenhead and Henley there was dancing on the strand.
Rats were roasted whole at Brentford, and at Victoria Dock,
And a day of celebration was commanded in Bangkok.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Reading American History

I've wandered into reading the Oxford History of the United States, starting with James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. I already knew quite a bit about the Civil War, and the immediate run-up to it, and its aftermath, but I thought: I really need to know what happened in the era before that. I've never much liked reading American history, but it seems desperately important to understand, right now. So I put the volume before it on hold at the library. It was taking a while to come in, so in the meantime I read the volume before that one, the beginnings-of-the-republic one, Gordon Wood's Empire of Liberty. It was fascinating to read a full-bore partisan of Jefferson, at this late date: I'm still digesting that. When I was young of course I was devoted to Jefferson. In sour middle age I became more of a John Adams guy. In my dotage, here, I'm simply lost: I find it harder and harder to manufacture opinions, or to believe they would matter if I did. Still, I ache to understand.

So now I've got Daniel Walker Howe's book, What Hath God Wrought, which is really the book I wanted to read in the first place. But I'm glad I read Wood first, because I'm nicely grounded for finally tackling the Age of Jackson.

It's a vain quest, looking for the solution to the present in the past: but it is comforting, in a melancholy way, to find that Americans have been at each other's throats for most of their history. We are all Americans, Biden is fond of saying, but -- which kind of American? The kind of American, like Jefferson, who would betray us to the godless Jacobins of France, or the kind of American, like Adams, who would betray us to the priestcraft and aristocracy of England? 

And so it goes on: and in American history I find myself most moved by Ulysses S. Grant, who thought -- of the Mexican War, but I suspect he thought of the Civil War this way too -- "if we must fight, let's get it over and done with quick, so that we can be friends again." (Don't quote me here: that's from memory.) Grant, swamped, as president, by an economy and a history that no one yet could understand; clinging to fundamentals -- gold and friendship -- that turned out to be phantoms. I hope we may yet restore Grant to his historical place: he's been shamefully misused. If there are great men, he was a great man.

Anyway. The days tick by. The sun has taken to get up earlier: there's a faint light behind the curtain when I awake. This winter will pass, like every other; like the one that eventually takes me with it.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Because The Tuning

Because the tuning of my ears is out, 
and I can no longer hear music --
only remember it. Because dawn comes as I write 
and in the stillness before the first bird 
there is a restlessness, and the trees rock, and trail their fingers
over the fence tops; and the last bit of moon 
is eaten up by cloud.  Because the new crop will happen
after my time, and in this now, the wrinkled apple
is the sweetest to be found --
because the truth is, no one wants the truth.