Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not Your Standard Obligatory Obama Post

I read some technical (programming, math, science) blogs, and for the most part they remain on-topic. Lately, as the presidential race as gotten more "exciting," they often post a "Don't usually do this... but vote for Obama, and here's why" post.

Pretty much all of those kinds of posts say to vote for him because he's a uniter, he's charismatic, because he's a good face for international relations, because he's young and not spoiled by Washington politics, because he's black, because Clinton is divisive, etc.

He may be all those things, and Clinton may be divisive (though is she only divisive because people keep parroting the news stories?). But none of those reasons address actual policies. What is he going to do as president? That is why you should (or shouldn't) vote for him.

Obama apparently doesn't want a fight, but if you look at recent politics, the Republicans have done nothing to help the Democrats - they've consistently filibustered the Democrats. How is Obama going to change that? He isn't, and if he's not up for a fight, then either 1) he's not going to get much done, or 2) he's going to work for things Republicans want (and Democrats generally don't).

He is sounding more and more like a Republican - which if that's what you want, fine. He thinks there's a crisis with Social Security (there isn't, it's with Medicare), he praises Reagan's fiscal policies (which began the rich-getting-richer trend that's left the bottom 95% of Americans with no real income growth over the past 20 years (so much for a rising tide...)), his approach to health-care was the weakest of Clinton/Obama/Edwards, he's completely fine with the free market system we currently have (which continues to further the rich-getting-richer), he bashes unions, and the list goes on.

My point isn't that Obama is a bad guy, he's probably just as magical as he appears. My point is that people seem to be jumping on the bandwagon for the superficial reasons. The thing is, the current power structures are not going to be wowed by his charisma, politicians are not all going to get along just because he is president.

It all depends on what you want from your president. If you want a charismatic leader, Obama is clearly the choice. If you care about the issues, you should see what the candidates' stances are.

Here are some articles I've read in the past that shed some light on Obama's policies:

http://tpmelectioncentral.com/2007/12/krugman_speaks_about_his_battle_with_obama_campaign.php

http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=472&Itemid=1

http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2007-10/31street.cfm

http://www.correntewire.com/obama_stump_speech_strategy_of_conciliation_considered_harmful

Read them, see what you think. Try not to react with, "but Obama is a good guy" - instead look at the issues raised.

Note: I'll probably vote for whichever Democratic candidate is chosen, but I don't believe for a minute I'll have any effect on which one is chosen. I'm just saying that there's a lot of hype around Obama, when we should really look at what he's advocating. And if you believe he's going to find the middle ground in Washington, is that what you want? I believe great leaders don't find the middle ground, they lead on principles.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Huh?

I was listening to NPR on the drive to work yesterday and heard a sponsor I'd not remembered hearing before: Go Nitro Tire.

They sell a system that inflates tires with 99% pure nitrogen. Like I care.

Sure, Formula-1 racers might care, but seriously, do every day folks care? No, they can't keep their tires properly inflated whether it's with normal air or nitrogen. What a scam.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Diet, Week 1

So, it's been a week. Things have gone fairly well. I know that both Sam and Ron have lost a bunch (10ish and 6 respectively), and that Ingrid isn't having much luck with her plan (my uninformed opinion is that she's not eating enough, but it's too quick to judge). I've no idea about the others.

Anyway, I've not weighed in this week, so I have no idea how well I've done in those terms. I do know I've cut out a bunch of food, and while I'm not deprived, I definitely think about all the food cravings I'm ignoring (or satisfying with a carrot or orange). Exercise is the key for me.

See, I'm targeting 2000 calories a day, plus whatever I exercise. I figure my basal rate has got to be at least 2500, probably more. So I'm cutting out 500 calories * 7 == 3500 == 1 pound a week. 6 months == 26 weeks, 26 pounds. I'd like to lose more, but I also want to end up with an eating habit I can sustain.

So, 2000 calories isn't really enough to satisfy me mentally, but if/when I exercise I can pretty easily tack on another 300-600 calories, and 2500 calories is pretty doable. Today, for instance, I ate 2650 calories - and that included a bunch of home-made pizza and 2 (yup, count them, one... two) whole cookies. Sure, I'm not eating my standard dozen cookies, but I'll live.

Anyway, here's how I fared with respect to my target eating goal this past week:


The big negatives are because I exercised and didn't eat enough during the day. Come dinner time I didn't want to just stuff myself, so I ended up a bit shy. I'll get better at planning that.

One problem both Sam and I have had in figuring out how much to eat is that all of the online calculators give different caloric measurements for both basal rates and for activity. Sam got some basal rates that differed by 1000 calories! So it's confusing and difficult to know where to start. As with most things, experience is what really can guide you.

Mary has been great - she's planned and cooked some great meals. I've just limited portions. So far, so good, I think.

Update: Sunday, Jan 26, 4:30pm. Down 4.5 pounds.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cheney Said He Approved Water Boarding

(forgot to post this when I first saw it)

Simply mind-boggling.



While I can understand if (that?) Obama doesn't want to start a bunch of partisan bickering, the only way to heal the wounds we have in this country - the only path to truly fixing what was broken over the past 8 years, is to bring the truth to light. Obama has taken some good steps in just the past few days with respect to how his administration (and the government in general) will act. We need to know what just happened as well.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

3 Days Down, 180-ish to go

Fit bowl has begun. My plan is to eat 2000 calories a day (give or take 200), allowing more for exercise. The first day was a little challenging, the last two have been easier due to the fact I've been real active (Mary and I walked nearly 9 miles). Surprisingly, I've eaten about the same amount today as the first day, but today I feel stuffed - and I exercised today.

Today was very nice actually, we walked 4.5 miles with Simone in the Burley (napping). Then, after a nice lunch, Simone and I biked to the gym for a swim. I'm glad the fit bowl has helped motivate me, because this is the kind of active life I wanted anyway (Mary too). I do want to win the money, but the real goal is to get to a comfortable weight.

Who knows how long it'll take to adjust to eating smaller portions, but I've already noticed actual feelings of hunger and fullness. Who would have thunk?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fit Bowl '08

So, my buddy Ron decided we were too fat and needed to lose weight, so it was time for a competition. And since he won our money last time, he upped the entry fee to $100.

The weigh in was last Friday (I did it Thursday because of scheduling).

I'll let the picture do the talking (though I think his scale is wonky - it said 10 pounds more on the wood floor).

Simone Is Walking

So it seems she needed special shoes to really get her walking. There's a pair of shiny black shoes that she first liked, then we just got a pair of sheep-fur-lined boots 2 sizes too big, and she's racing around the house. It's pretty fun.

Her latest words are "teacher" and "happy" though "shoes" is still very popular.

video

Here's a picture of her at dinner where you can really get a good look at her favorite boots:


Yup, they accentuate her skinny little legs.

It just gets better every day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Simone, growing like a ... beautiful flower

Well, she's 19.5 months old and weighs nearly as much. Shoes are a big hit with her, she really wants to put them on - including the bright pink croc that someone gave us (just one, kinda awkward). Simone has been sleeping through the night pretty regularly, which is a nice change.

Her vocabulary has picked up dramatically, but some of her old words have changed into new ones, so we're missing some of the things she says (at least I am). She still thinks everything is "soft" - including my stubbly face, and loves to pet Jupiter.

We haven't been riding in a couple of weeks (that's soooo last year), but have gone on several walks and played on the playground equipment. She likes the slides, stairs, and the suspension bridges. Just today, she and Mary went to a Gym On Wheels class - basically a tumbling/walking/play class, and she loved it.

Here are a few pictures of her - one with her very handsome father.




And she really likes her sunglasses, she's getting all geared up for our Hawaii trip.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Gah, Commercials, They Conspire Against Us

So... we switched to Comcast for our phone, and the bundle of phone/internet/tv was cheaper than not having TV, so we've got it.

A couple of times, Mary and I have decided to flake out on TV after putting Simone to sleep. Most of the time there is nothing of interest on (70 channels, nothing interesting), but occasionally there is a movie or show worth watching. However, we're spoiled by watching TV shows off DVD, and the commercials are annoying. So, like any child of the remote, I begin switching channels to find something else.

But all the stations are showing commercials at the same time!!! It's not chance, it happens every time.

I do realize the answer is DVR, but we're ditching cable as soon as the introductory plan is over.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Technological Advances in Crayons

Just found out this weekend that you can erase crayons. It's true, go buy yourself some. Now, I'd prefer an actual eraser to go along with the standard crayons (less packaging than the erasable ones that are encased in plastic). But still, erasable is way cool.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

News item for the day is the "cruel and unusual punishment" case in front of the Supreme Court: Supreme Court takes up major death penalty case

Now, I'm still up in the air on the whole death penalty. The jail system doesn't rehabilitate, so for lifers that have done really heinous murder/rape crimes, perhaps it's better to just apply the death penalty. But the system is also brutally unfair to minorities and has some very obvious cases that have been turned over by DNA, so I question the practicality of putting anyone to death.

Either way, I don't understand why any of the states stick by the 3-drug cocktail used to put people to death now. At least use the same thing we've deemed best for our most cherished pets - an overdose of a barbiturate.