Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Candidate Obama/President Obama

All these terrific, inspiring campaign speeches (e.g. this and this and this).

Sigh, it's so great to have Barack Obama back to doing what he does best....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The History Cookbook

"Do you know what the Vikings ate for dinner? What a typical meal of a wealthy family in Roman Britain consisted of, or what food was like in a Victorian Workhouse? Why not drop into history cookbook and find out? This project looks at the food of the past and how this influenced the health of the people living in each time period. You can also try some of the recipes for yourself. We have a wide range of historical recipes from Brown Bread Ice Cream to Gruel."
It's...The History Cookbook!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Hippest Time in History to be 48

I'm the same age as Barack Obama, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert, and expect to remain so for the immediate future. Never before has it been this hip to be 48 years old. When I was a kid, people like Jonathan Winters and Ed McMahon were crustily 48, and no one under 40 trusted anyone over 40*.

It makes it easier to be 48 when you're living at the hippest time ever to be that age. Of course, when Obama, Stewart, and Colbert start seeming crusty, I'll know the bump is over. Meanwhile, it feels like Indian summer, awaiting the first frost...

* - Only someone over 40 would phrase it that way. Before, I'd have written "none of us trusted anyone over 40". My sense of "us" has shifted. Gulp.

Hmm. Come to think of it....Winters and McMahon were overweight (in fact, every time I visualize a 48 year old from that era, there's a pot belly) while Obama, Stewart, and Colbert are not. Has dieting technology improved? Is it that thin 48 is cool but fat 48 is not? I don't know. Slender Carol Burnett, pretty much the poster child for 48 back in the day, was funny, but definitely not hip. The Amazing Kreskin, rail thin and pretty much born 48, was profoundly unhip.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Do Publishers Wreck All Day?

In a previous entry, I linked to the children's classic "What Do People Do All Day?" by Richard Scarry. Did you know the edition currently published is 64 pages, a huge abridgement from the original 96 pages?

Tons of great stuff been cut. I understand the following are all gone: Building a House, Posting a Letter, Bread And How It Is Made, Huckle's Plane Trip, Sgt. Murphy the Busytown Policeman. And more. It's just awful!

You can still find the unabridged version used, but it will set you back at least $75!!

If you own an old copy in good condition, you may want to consider selling it so new kids can enjoy it (and you can go eat a fancy dinner with the profits)!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lunch at Tony's Mom's House

Appropos of yesterday's entry...

I somehow find myself enmeshed in a silly debate on Chowhound. Someone posted this:
"Here's what makes me doubt a cook's credibility: the statement "I NEVER add salt to anything." As if that's such a virtue. Food without ANY salt equals food without flavor. Also, a lot of people say "I never cook with salt," not realizing that they cook with a lot of processed foods (canned tomatoes, condiments, etc.) that contain plenty of salt.

I LOVE salt and use plenty of it in my cooking AND baking. People would be shocked to see how much salt is used in professional kitchens, with delicious (not salty) results!"

...and I replied with this:
"Couldn't disagree more on salt. I myself cook with none (and I use few processed ingredients), and one of the greatest cooks I've ever encountered (much much better than me) does the same. A number of village Italian home chefs cook like this.

Creativity flourishes under impediment, and a talented chef can make wonderful food without a dash of salt. It just requires extra care, time, resourcefulness, and love....and I, for one, am fervidly in favor of any excuse to ratchet up those things."

...and an argument ensued where I was informed that, sorry, but I'm wrong on this. The food I'm immensely enjoying can't be delicious. So it isn't. So I need to stop thinking it is. Because it's not. Even though I've tasted it and they haven't.

My mind reeling from the Mad Hatter-ness of it all (not to mention the supreme non-chowhoundishness), I reached way back into my archives and found an ancient account I wrote many years ago of lunch at the home of one of Astoria, Queens' best home chefs - a woman who never adds salt, and to whom neighbors clamor for dining invitations.

Coincidentally, I was transfering photos off of my iPhone yesterday and found some shots of her cooking. I've put it all together here (I've uploaded a full gallery of food porn shots here). 

Caution: NSWH (not safe while hungry)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Aficionados and Snobbery

Interesting comic on xkcd today:

Most of my friends love to eat well. And, like aficionados of any stripe, most can't imagine why anyone would opt for lousy food. 

I'm okay with it, however, and here's why: while I dress comparatively neatly and stylishly, I buy most of my clothes from shopping malls. So if I were as into clothing as I am food, I'd be horrified. There are surely fantastic people making fantastic clothes out there, not necessarily expensive, so why the heck am I not tracking them down, patronizing them, supporting them, and basking in their quality? Why am I not willing to work a little harder and travel a little further for quality?

Also, I've done nothing to customize my car. Shockingly to car aficionados, I drive a stupid boring off-the-shelf car. I am a lemming. I simply take what they give me. I don't think about it, I don't make it better!

You get the idea. I am mindlessly undiscerning in so many ways, as are all of you. But no one's into everything, and it'd be crazy to try. Life's short, diversity is endless, and we all delve arbitrarily into whichever realms strike our fancy. 

Yet I do confess to suppressing a shudder when I see people choosing Olive Garden. It's human nature to feel superior when you spot people making decisions you've outgrown. Even if I'm generally dimwitted, and my field is quite narrow, I will still feel superior if I see you screwing up within my knowledge sweet spot - by, say, sporting a mere 6 spoke umbrella when 8s are actually cheaper and sooo much better (you absolute freakin' idiot)! Work thirty years to master a skill no one's interested in - e.g. jazz trombone - and you'll see how drab and stupid non-trombonists seem. They're civilians, outsiders...goyim. They're just not hip!

I fight this impulse, preferring more of a Richard Scaryian approach: We all have our stuff we care about, the stuff we're good at, our little corners of the universe that we keep orderly, and, in aggregate, it all works amazingly.  Grownups forget to delight in the diversity - that Mr. Cat's the grocer and Mr. Duck's the plumber and Mr. Hound's the food critic; specialists all, each doing his or her thing so no individual needs to know about everything. That's our world, and it's a realized utopia, and one in which both socialists and libertarians can rejoice. But while the aggregate works, Mr. Hound harbors silent condescension re: Mr. Cat's horrid taste in pizza, and Mr. Duck is aghast at Mr. Hound's inability to handle a staple gun. We tribablize, because that's what we do.

As a food expert, I feel that it's my task to cheerily entice people to deliciousness. But I try to never do it via snobbery - by telling people what not to eat. Nothing useful is accomplished in the negative. Instead, the task is to entice them to delicious greatness (the guy in the cartoon should have poured his friend a glass of something awesome!). After experiencing it, they may forget all about Olive Garden. Or, hey, they may continue to enjoy it, which is cool, too. Trying to make people enjoy less is an evil aim. Snobs are evil.

This, by the way, was the great secret of Chowhound's success: entice with passion and enthusiasm. Not "You're eating all wrong!", but "Hey, you gotta go check out this insanely delicious dish of duck noodles!".

Parking Rage: The Answer

Per the Parking Rage entry:

Shouted very, very loudly (so she'd hear it as she got into her car, and so she'd know everyone watching along heard it, as well):
"New Jersey 6WF-7114!!"

(Note: this is not her actual plate number, which I've forgotten).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Strategy For Drivers With Parking Rage

Another in a series of tales of driving in the big city (previous installments include this one, this one, this one, and this one).

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a parking space in Manhattan. Luckily, a car just ahead suddenly started up and signalled that he was pulling out. I pulled behind him to wait. Meanwhile, I noticed a car halfway up the block wildly backing up. The driver was waving her arm frantically, pointing backward toward the space with sharp jabs.

Like most city drivers, I've seen this scenario before. And I knew I'd get the spot, because the backing-up car's path to the spot would be blocked by the pulling-out car. I might not find myself with room to parallel park as the crazed idiot pushed back, and, also, it might take some time for the pulling-out car to escape, because backing-up crazed idiot would be in his way, but I was the only one positioned to claim the space. The crazed idiot would see this, give up, drive away, and then I'd parallel park.

In this case, the backing up driver was an intimidating-looking woman who was about as angry as I've ever seen another human being get. Though she'd clearly missed the spot, she'd decided it was
hers, and that made me pretty much the worst person in the world. She was ululating mad.

I planted my car into the spot, and she jammed her transmission into park, flew out the door and started pounding on my hood with her fists, wailing about how I needed to get out of her spot immediately. Her carrying on was, without exaggeration, what one would expect if I'd just murdered her child. At one point she literally tried pushing at my car with her shoulder, aiming to move it out of the space via sheer force of will. A crowd was gathering. Finally, realizing she'd lost, her chaotic rage coalesced into an icy kernel of compressed seethingness. As she returned to her car, she vowed, back over her shoulder, to return later and "fuck up" my car.

So I shouted back something - the only possible thing which ensured that absolutely nothing would be done to my car. Any guesses as to what I said? If you think you know, leave a comment. I'll give the answer tomorrow.

(more info: she was driving a late-model sedan with window signs and accouterments indicating that, scary and insane though she was, this was a middle-class New Jersey suburban family woman, and her car was neither a rent nor a loaner).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How I Outgrew Libertarianism

I was a Libertarian in college. I even volunteered for the 1980 Ed Clark/David Koch (yes, that David Koch) Libertarian party presidential campaign. As promised, the following is the story of how I outgrew Libertarianism. There were three factors:

1. Hypocrisy
I became increasingly aware that many Libertarians arguing stridently against governmental regulation had business interests which would benefit directly. And while, as a Libertarian at the time, I saw nothing inherently wrong with greed, it bothered me that they claimed their political philosophy to be idealistic and sincere. Greed may be fine, but hypocrisy is not.

Furthermore, real Libertarianism isn't socio-economic Darwinism. It's not "fuck the poor". It doesn't blithely shrug at poverty and distress. The idea is for an unfettered free market to float everyone higher, and for vigorous private philanthropy to arise to patch up any social damage (to his credit, David Koch actually is one of the nation's top philanthropists). I was prepared to do my conscientious best to help. But few of my fellow idealists seemed as committed to the "patching up" part as they were to the "greed is good" part.

"Let the most ruthless grab all the gold, and hope someone patches up the wounded later" didn't strike me as a cause I could get behind.

2. Wariness of Egghead Utopias
As I studied political philosophy in college, I came to realize that there's no lastingly viable political system. In the long run, nothing works. Nothing has ever worked. Nothing ever will work. Every system is corruptible, and in the end all but a tiny minority gets screwed. Fortunately, things inevitably churn. Discontentment peaks, corrupt, unviable systems are overturned, and a fresh new corrupt, unviable system replaces it. The ending of Animal Farm is not a tale of failure. On contrary, it's humanity's sole saving grace that the pigs in charge are periodically replaced by slightly less entrenched pigs. That's really the best we can hope for. Blame Eve for eating that apple.

But every century or so eggheads proclaim some smug new utopian plan (which always sounds great on paper) destined to create a permanent steady state of prosperity and happiness. Communism was one. Libertarianism is another. But pure intellectual concepts always lack real world pragmatism. You can announce your brilliant pure plan but I don't believe it, I don't trust it, and I know it's bullshit before you even explain it to me.

3. Meeting Real Live Poor People
The idea made sense at first: level the competitive playing field, remove restrictions, and let the best and brightest superheat a blazing economy for the betterment of all. Sort of like America, but without the sludgey inefficiency. It also made sense that those who'd fall behind would have only themselves to blame. Hey, they had an equal shot, right?

I envisioned myself in such a scenario, making decisions, expending energy, and using my resourcefulness to compete. Yeah, it'd work! And I imagined some lazy dude (currently on, like, welfare or something), opting to hang out smoking Pall Malls in front of the 7-11. Fine, to each his own. We make our choices. It seemed equitable as I thought it all through.

Here's the problem with "thinking it all through":

You may have been following my series, "Bubbles, Slogs, and Selling Out", the story of how I sold Chowhound to CNET (now CBS). Here's a flash-ahead. There were times when my boss needed to make deep decisions about the site's future. I'd watch him close his eyes and envision how things would unfold, how it would impact users, etc.. But it was ludicrous because the guy knew nothing about food and had nothing in common with Chowhound's users. His taste, his vision, his ideas were from a different planet. Yet the vein on his forehead would pulse as he'd boldly envision it all. Very smart, very savvy...and invariably very wrong.

It can be useful to try to envision scenarios, but only if you have deep knowledge of the various factors. And my caricature of poor people hanging out in front of 7-11s wasn't exactly deep knowledge! As I'd envisioned it, libertarian societies made visceral good sense - but only because I was naive from my sheltered upbringing (show me a Libertarian, and I'll show you someone with a sheltered upbringing).

After graduation, I found myself living in a terrible shared apartment in a terrible neighborhood making $15,000/year as a jazz trombonist. I survived okay because I was smart, resourceful, and had middle class parents in the suburbs where I could, say, drive out and sleep in air conditioned comfort on hot August nights. I was educated. I had lots of smart, capable friends. I was articulate, young, intelligent, and healthy. I made a good impression. If trombone didn't work out, I had a world of possibilities open to me.

None of those things were true of the people around me. One fateful night, I had a beer with a grimly untalented middle-aged musician. He was neither a druggie nor an alcoholic, but he was only barely functional. He walked with a limp and didn't think too clearly. I looked into his eyes, and realized, with overwhelming empathy, that this guy, who'd worked hard all his life, and who was a really good, conscientious fellow, was hanging by a frigging thread, and had lived his entire life with one foot in the abyss. No resourcefulness, no connections, no education. Crappy genes, crappy family. And none of it was his fault. He was truly doing his very best with what he had. By just plain being there, reasonably healthy and well-fed, he'd overachieved more than I ever could hope to.

The scales fell from my eyes and for the first time I saw all my unearned advantages. And I fell into a reverie, envisioning myself with a never-ending lifelong case of flu, with fever impeding my intelligence, judgement and energy. My parents and friends were gone. I was on the verge of eviction from my apartment, and had no savings or education. I'd dropped out of high school to support myself, and had nobody smart to call for help or advice. No lifelines, no backup plans, no connections. Dizzy, feverish, and disheveled, I could hardly think straight. Let's add a couple of children to the picture, as well. Ok, hotshot: what's your move? How would you make out in a society with no safety net? What would be your odds? "My God," I thought to myself, shuddering with terror, "what on Earth would I do?"

After that night, I've had no interest at all in Libertarianism.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Strategy For Deflecting Obnoxious Drivers

File this one under "simple solutions to life's indignities" (e.g. my Two Strategies For Deflecting Cellphone Loudmouths):

Yesterday, as I sat in heavy traffic, a car which had cut ahead was trying to force his way in front of me. I edged up within two inches of the car in front of me, but he pointed the corner of his fender directly at the corner of mine. And so we sat in frozen battle, waiting for the car ahead to move.

His car window was cracked open. So I shouted over, with a friendly smile, "You know, you're driving a much nicer car than I am!".

The light changed, the car in front eased forward, and I leisurely followed, while he sat there, stone still.

Two aspects of this approach that I like:

1. The message I shouted at him couldn't possibly anger/provoke/offend him (I'm fully aware that armed gangsters and off-duty police officers lurk amid our populace, and I try not to set anyone off unless I'm confident they're not psychos who'd spend years avenging the perceived slight). In fact, I was paying a cheery compliment!

2. It would have worked even if his car WASN'T nicer than mine. Unless I was driving a shiny new Rolls or Ferrari - or he was driving a complete wreck - the message would have been just as effective.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Common Strange Shifts of Perspective

From the perspective of a control freak, anyone resisting their control appears to be trying to control them.

And from the perspective of a tyrant, anyone resisting their tyranny appears to be trying to tyrannize them.

And, as I wrote last year, a similar shift of perspective characterizes selfishness and generosity:
"Selfish people think of themselves as overly generous. Generous people think of themselves as overly selfish."
A similar shift takes place with the type I refer to as Psycho Pollyannas:
"You will get nowhere by addressing them as transgressors. They're unable to recognize themselves as such even with their noses pressed directly into their own moral effluvia - so they will genuinely perceive you as the villain."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

I find myself increasingly drawn to the term "magic" (e.g. see this entry and this one...and, for that matter, this one and this one). I use it cautiously, though, since, like other powerful words ("love", "art", "God", etc.), it's been denatured and distorted via long misuse. "Love" is when two people deem each other particularly hot. "Art" is a gesture of personal expression, something like a dog's gesture at a fire hydrant. And "God", of course, is that stern bearded dude on a cloud.

These terms have had the life and power choked out of them, but "magic" still has some slipperiness left. It's still undefined, still a bit raw and wild, so something inside us still perks up at its utterance. It may be the last undefined word left, and it's no coincidence that it's also the only one with this mysterious effect. The very word "magic" conveys a tiny jolt. It's like...magic! How many words create the same effect as the thing they name?

But it's waning. The problem is that magic arises in realms like love, art, and God, which are at this point 99.9% paved over with conceptual concrete. Artists, lovers, and believers hardly traffic in magic anymore, and so it's rarely found. Yet there are still exceptions, and those anomalies keep us going as a species. We need them; a vague emptiness longs to be filled. We yearn to perk up. And so we pursue love, art, and God in various forms, hoping for a certain buzz.

There was surely lots more buzz to be found before humans became modern and conceptual. But sometimes we still manage an errant spark or two. A work of art might touch us, forging an unexplainable connection transcending the medium. Love might bring a sensation of profound resonance at a level so fundamental as to have previously been
unconscious. Spiritual seekers might drop their resistance to the all-pervasive underpinning of It All.

Or, more modestly, an exceptional lasagna might transport us in ways that can't be attributed to its constituent ingredients. Why, after all, do certain lasagnas have that power, while others do not? Why do some results amount to so much more than the sum of their parts? That's the magic!

In his film
Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog takes us inside a French cave, discovered in 1994, containing the oldest known art, from some 32,000 years ago. The obvious surprise is that these ravishingly beautiful drawings are far more sophisticated than we'd have expected. The most skilled modern artists could respect them without condescension. The less obvious surprise, spoken of only indirectly, is the nature of their power. Herzog, the investigating scientists, and the cavern's discoverers all report a vivid and very chilling impression of presence in the cave.

You may squint and study the drawings as closely as you'd like, trying to pinpoint the magic, but, of course you will fail, because a lasagna's magic is never about the noodles, tomato sauce, meat, or cheese. As we analyze the art, trying to define it and conceptualize it, we miss everything. It's what's missed when our own art is viewed literally and technically. The thing our ancient forebears excelled at is the thing we've mostly lost - to the point where we can't even recognize it when it's in front of our face - or, more to the point, under our skin. We can only chatter in confusion and fear, like the cavemen probing the monolith in "2001".

The "purpose" of these paintings is a question so mysterious that both scientists and filmmakers pronounce it forever unknowable. And that is literally true. It's what can't be directly spoken of. It's the reason we ever did art in the first place. It's the thing that makes truly great art a little scary ("awesome", in the term's pre-denatured sense). It's the craved stuff we can no longer handle except in the tiniest doses - and which we can therefore no longer evoke except in tiny doses. This is a much larger dose.

Naturally, the French government plans to erect a theme park nearby, offering tourists an exact recreation of the cave and its drawings. Hey, just as good, right?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Anthony Weiner's Pension

Read this news report from Phoenix for a textbook example of how the Koch Brothers (and their Americans for Prosperity) manipulate public sentiment toward their far-right political goals - which conveniently correlate with their business interests (fun fact: I campaigned for David Koch's libertarian presidential campaign in college; one day I'll share the story of how I outgrew libertarianism. Short version: I met some poor people).

Here's the deal: Arizonans incensed by Anthony Weiner's private sex life (via total media saturation) are now furious that such a perverted bastard would get a Congressional pension for his twelve years of service (because talk radio told them to be). And Roy Miller, director of the Phoenix chapter of Americans for Prosperity, says: "Taxpayers should not be paying up. We have a problem in this country with public sector pensions as a whole, and this is an egregious example of it."

See how it works? You get the yahoos stirred up, emotionally (sex, religion, guns, blacks, gays, and Mexicans work best), then find some way to bond that emotion to a political goal. That's how it's done. Of course, the far left does the same!

Should Weiner, who's broken no law, receive his promised pension? Of course he should. If we were to deny pensions to every perverted Congressman we'd...well, we'd save a whole lot of money. But, of course, this isn't about Weiner or about Congress. It's about teachers, cops, and firemen....again. We know how those parasites collectively bargain for fair employment terms. Once we've done away with all that, it appears that we'll address their outrageous expectation of being kept alive and healthy in their old age.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Small Investor's Sole Advantage: Patience

My family and friends all think I'm crazy, re: my long, long, long wait for SIGA to hit its full potential. But here's the thing: small investors have one single advantage over the big guys (with whom we otherwise can never hope to compete): we can park our money. We can buy-and-hold.

They can't do that. Like sharks, they must keep feeding. Their clients and bosses compel them to meet their marks, and show significant gain each week/month/quarter/year/whatever. I, by contrast, can placidly park my savings in a stock like SIGA, waiting year after year until it hits $30 (which I think it will).

Investors talk about "opportunity cost" - the money lost while you fail to profit. But my feeling is that only large investors have the luxury of considering opportunity cost. In fact, my ability to ignore opportunity cost is my single leg up as a small individual investor! So I don't complain about it. I rub my hands together gleefully at my ability to wait endlessly for my SIGA ship to come in. It's my sole advantage in the merciless battleground of investment. If I were an investment honcho, I would envy me.

Of course, having bought SIGA in the $2s, I've quintupled even as of today's disappointing stock price (over a period in which the market otherwise tanked). That makes waiting for $30 a lot easier!

SIGA Update

I know some of you are invested in SIGA, whose stock price plummeted yesterday. The following are my thoughts.

Short version: buy more.

Longer version: a competitor, whose smallpox drug has nasty side effects (renal failure) and which doesn't cure monkeys (it's got to be tested in monkeys, because nobody's going to infect humans with smallpox to test them), has, for two years, been using all avenues available to them to protest the government's attempt to award a huge contract to stockpile SIGA's drug (which has no side effects, and cures monkeys like nobody's business) in case of bio-terror attack.

That competitor, backed against the wall (the government recently announced that SIGA would be getting the award, which is what drove the recent peak), just played its trump card, orchestrating a possible congressional investigation of this contracting process. It's a delay tactic, and I believe it will fail. And Congressman Issa, who announced this, turns out to have been getting yearly contributions from the competitor's lobbyist. Ouch.

Simultaneously, this competitor has initiated a protest of the contract award with the GAO. The GAO very rarely sides with protestors, but we'll be hearing from them within a couple of months (maybe much sooner). I expect them to uphold SIGA's award. The competitor can (and likely will) appeal, but at that point SIGA gets the money and starts working on the contract regardless of appeal (it's all currently frozen pending GAO decision).

In other evil efforts to thwart SIGA and keep Americans unprotected in the event of a terrorist smallpox attack....

SIGA is being sued by a company that, years ago, tried to merge with them. The merger was never finalized, but the other guys have tied the matter up in litigation, and have ingeniously trumped up the suit in the press (lots of dire warnings of SIGA's billion dollar exposure) in an effort to draw a generous settlement from SIGA. SIGA's not going to settle, and the other company's very unlikely to win. And even if the judge is crazy enough to think the other guys have a case, SIGA at this point still has shallow pockets (of course, the other company figured that by this point SIGA would be fat with billions from government contracts). So, happily, the idiots who are protesting the contract have strategically blocked the idiots who are suing.

In July, we should have a court decision, we should have a GAO announcement, and Congressman Issa's Republican colleagues should have let him know that playing politics (Issa's on an anti-Obama crusade re: single source contracts) with national security is a bad idea.

Hey, as I said back in 2008....we can "Get Rich Slow With SIGA". And so we wait....

Friday, June 3, 2011

Momentum Makes all the Difference

A combination of factors led to abandoning the gym and letting my diet get away from me for the past months. As a result, I've gained back a bunch of the weight I lost last year.

A big part of it was that I was prioritizing music, which involves lots of hanging around till sunrise in boozey nightclubs, obviously not the environment for nurturing a healthful, active lifestyle. But I'm happy with my trombone playing again, and so it was worth the price (though I do feel saddened that my high school jeans no longer fit). I've found that it's incredibly difficult to make more than one dramatic change in your life at a time. Change requires focus, and I've been focused on music above all else.

As of this week, though, I'm back on track. I've put in hard workouts for four days in a row, and stuck impeccably to my diet. Which means I'm now at the awkward point where, in spite of a feeling of accomplishment, nothing tangible has happened yet. Not one pound has been sheared off and no belt buckle hole has been hurdled.

But here's the thing: if I keep doing what I'm doing, things will improve. This is in stark contrast to last week, when if I'd kept doing what I was doing, things would have worsened. That's huge. And, expressed like that, it's enough to sustain me.

I'm not a fan of scales. If you step on a scale and see a number you dislike, there's literally nothing you can do about it. It's out of your power to move that number. You have the power to make choices of actions which will lead to the number moving, and that's all. So I keep my attention on my immediate choices, and let the number take care of itself.

And, with that perspective, it's an incredible boon to know that momentum is your friend and not your enemy....regardless of current results!

John Lithgow Is a Genius

Speaking of comedy, this is the funniest thing I've seen in a long, long time. Do not miss John Lithgow reciting Newt Gringrich's infamous press release on The Colbert Report (and be sure the video is expanded to full screen when Lithgow actually comes on at 3' 20"):

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
John Lithgow Performs Gingrich Press Release
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