The real reason why I cut my hair

For about a year, I sported an over-the-ears Jew-fro and matching bushy beard. When people ask me why I chopped it all off, I usually tell them, “Someone told me I looked like the left side of the staple of a 1979 Playboy.”

But that’s not the real reason.

Or rather, it’s not the only reason.

The reason I grew the coif out is because, at many points in my life, I’ve worn my hair long and people would tell me I have really good hair. (Certainly, over the past year I’ve gotten a lot of jealous stares from other 40-something guys.) But I had a problem: my weight. I just didn’t have anything resembling a masculine build. Long hair on a buff guy like (showing my age again) David Lee Roth or Roger Daltrey was a babe magnet. On me it would’ve just looked androgynous (nothing wrong with that, just not what I was going for). So I grew the beard to go along with the hair.

But then something miraculous occurred. I dropped 10 pounds. I didn’t intend to. I didn’t work at it. It just fell off over the course of a couple weeks. So I thought, let’s keep this going! So I’ve been swimming anywhere from one-third of a mile to a mile-and-one-third at least four times a week. I’ve been working out for tone and watching what I eat.

I haven’t lost much more since that sudden, gift-horse-in-the-mouth loss, but at least it’s all getting back in proportion. There’s some definition to my arms. I can touch my toes. I’m allowed on the beach topless again. And I get the sense that over the next few weeks I’m going to have another that’s-very-flattering-Mister-Scale-but-what’s-my-real-weight? moment.

To put numbers to it, I went down from 225 pounds to 215 — nothing I haven’t done a dozen times before. But there’s more reason for hope this time. First, my head is in a better place than it has ever been at before. Work is going well, family is good, starting to have some success with my writing. Second, the exercise I’m getting is related to being in the water, which I love. Third, I understand why I want to lose weight and I’m OK with it: I want to look better. It’s almost purely cosmetic. This isn’t for my health. I take a tiny pill once a day to control cholesterol. I tend toward low blood sugar, so at this weight my blood sugar is actually normal. I’m sure that my knees are going to be happy about any further weight loss, but they’re also happy with a couple of Tylenol. And, as much as “Fat is treason!” is my rallying cry — Sorry, Barack, consistency with our vision of a sustainable national healthcare plan isn’t really what’s driving me.

So here are my goals: I want to spend a few days on the Jersey shore toward the end of August; I hope to be at 205 by then. The next convention I’m going to is Albacon in October. By then I want to weigh 195. According to the insurance companies (and my doctor), a man of my modest height should be around 160. I am never going to see that. I’d probably look emaciated with my stocky build and it would be ridiculous to even shoot for that at my age. But I think I can drop below 180. I’ll take one-seventy-anything.

So if, as I say, fat is treason, I regret I have but 46 pounds to give for my country.

Wish me luck!

Or join me!

Just some random thoughts here

THOUGHT ONE: For those of you mystified by the brevity of the last post, a word of advice:

Never, never ever, buy a BlackBerry.

The Verizon Store saw me coming a little over a year ago and sold me the first release of the BlackBerry Storm. I thought, “Wow, I’m a high-powered professional now! I got a BlackBerry! And not only that, I got the first one with a touchscreen instead of that old-fashioned keyboard!”

If my life were a Chuck Jones cartoon (and that wouldn’t be too much of a stretch), my face would’ve disappeared in favor of a big, swirly, tutti-fruitti all-day sucker. The battery life is a joke — it has the Tay-Sachs baby of batteries (didn’t say it was a good joke). The operating system was coded by a troop of Congolese bonobos that somebody shaved and granted developer access to. When you press an icon, you never know what’s going to happen — maybe you’ll get that app, maybe another app, maybe the lock will engage, maybe it’ll take a picture (a blurry, grainy picture), maybe it’ll dial the last person in the world you want to speak to. And that vaunted touchpad? It’s crap. If a text is going to be more than 50 characters, or an exchange is going to go past three outgoing messages, I just go all 19th-century and call whoever it is I’m trying to communicate with. Of course, in the 19th century you probably had fewer dropped calls than I get with the damn BlackBerry.

Worst of all, though, is that the Storm just doesn’t play nice with the Web. From the KGB reading (wondering when I was going to get back to that, huh?), I wanted to tweet that message, but I can’t enter anything into Twitter without — and I’m not kidding, not exaggerating — crashing the BlackBerry. I literally — literally! — have to turn off the phone, remove the battery, wait 10 seconds, put the battery back in, wait five minutes for the operating system to boot back up, and then resist the urge to try to tweet again. (“Maybe it’s just a glitch …”)

So I tried posting that sentiment to Facebook. And I could’ve done that for my own personal profile page. But this is writerly stuff, so I wanted to post it to my author’s page which, after all, is the one that automatically re-posts to Twitter. But the Storm wasn’t interested in loading my author’s page.

Oddly, I can blog from my phone. But I’d have to keep it short because of the not-worth-squirrel-piss touchscreen. But at least it flowed through to Twitter.

So that’s the long explanation for the short post. Bet you wish my phone was working but my computer was down now, dontcha?

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THOUGHT TWO: Return to DC!

I’ve been invited to participate in Capclave, a spec fiction convention scheduled for October 22-24 at the Hilton in Rockville, Md. As many of you know, I have many happy memories of my years in the Washington area and look forward to any excuse to go back. It’s where many of my closest friends live, and I hope to see as many of them as I can that weekend. (Leave a comment or ping me offline so we can begin making plans!)

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THOUGHT THREE: Milestone!

We’re over 1,000 page views on this web site. That won’t impress a serious blogger who’s been at this a while, but it’s still a nice, round number. The average volume per week keeps growing, so I must be doing something right. Lots of building yet to do, that’s for sure.

Thank YOU for all YOUR visits!

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THOUGHT FOUR: More frequent posting.

In addition to keeping you up-to-date on LTIL doings, I’d also like to report on Mighty Mighty’s development and my oh-so-deep political, religious and social commentary. One of my political statements is that, for those of us Americans who believe that a national healthcare policy is a good idea, being fat is tantamount to treason. I’m not exactly Benedict Arnold in the weight department, but neither am I Nathan Hale. Good news — and I’ll get into more detail later — is that I dropped about 10 pounds really fast and have kept it off. I expect to keep ratcheting down, so that there’s significantly less of me at Capclave than there was at Lunacon. As for M2, it’s at over 60,000 words — already longer than LTIL. I’m writing on a regular — I can’t honestly say daily — basis, rather than scrambling to put together a month’s worth of effort in the hours before my next crit group meeting.

And as for politics, religion, social criticism: I got a million of ’em. While I think up some fresh material, I’ll troll through some Facebook postings and see what’s worth repeating.

Hey, it’ll be new to you, so don’t complain.

Fat is treason

Regardless of your political convictions (i.e., whatever your representative has been convicted of),  I think we can agree that we should all take some personal responsibility for our own healthcare expenditures. The biggest health risk in America today — and for me personally — is obesity. I’m not like Biggest Loser fat, but I should drop about 30 pounds immediately and work gradually on trimming another 30 before going into maintain-mode.

This is why I believe that the only way to really make America healthy, regardless of what if anything gets done in Washington, is to get trim. We shouldn’t ask Uncle Sam to help us pay for our health care until we do all we can to bring those doctor bills down ourselves. In short:

Fat is treason.

The healthcare debate in this country has taken a sharp, hairpin turn this week. Personally, I think it’s a turn for the worse, but I’m willing to take Scott Brown at his word. First, I believe he’s going to single-handedly scuttle a year’s worth of work on this issue, just like he said he would. But I also believe that he personally is in favor of healthcare reform, just against mandating how each state should address the problem. He is, after all, a Massachusetts (ck sp) Republican, who tend to be more sane moderate than the national party. He supported the Bay State’s own version of universal coverage, which was signed into law by a GOP governor. The Tea Party populism, I hope, was just electioneering. (His news conference Wednesday morning was a whole lot less scary than his manic victory speech Tuesday night.)

So now we need to proceed in a bipartisan way. I think the Democrats are willing to do this. They really don’t have a choice. The question is, are the Republicans? I don’t think so, but we’ll all find out together. They haven’t even brought up the subject since 1971. Outside of W’s increase in drug coverage to seniors — which was also a handout to the pharma companies — they haven’t shown any leadership except in complaining about being shut out of the process.

So it’s up to us: Jane and Joe Lunchbucket (better make it a veggie tuna whole-wheat wrap).  Time to start a grass-roots movement (which, if you think about it, is the entire purpose of whole wheat).  Our rallying cry, “Fat is treason!” Now all we need is an anthem. Wait! I have that covered too (with apologies to Bob Dylan):

Come gather, round people, wherever you roam

And admit that the blubber around you has grown

And accept it that soon you’ll need your own time zone

If your time to you is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’ or you really will sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’.

 

Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen

And get your face out of the freezer again.

Suckin’ in your gut won’t stop the scale dial’s spin

And it’s only you that it’s shamin’.

Get rid of the goop between you and your skin

For the times they are a-changin’.

 

Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call …

(Oh, you won’t? Never mind then. Next verse.)

 

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land

And stop feeding your kids from the hot dog stand

Your sons and your daughters must wear stretchy waistbands

It should be hormones, not glucose, that’s ragin’.

Don’t just thaw out pizza and watch them expand

For the times they are a-changin’.

 

The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast

Are you destined to be some couchbound fat-ass?

The answer is not in gastro bypass

Stop that refrigerator raidin’.

It’s time to start shrinkin’ your body mass

For the times they are a-changin’.