If I’m [blank], I’m not eating

I’ve been on a prolific tear lately with my writing.  Which is to me, over the past few years, unusual.  I do remember, back when I had an active LiveJournal, there were times when I could post an entry a day, or even several entries in a day, the ideas were just simmering in my brain.  Too, if I’m occupied at the computer, it’s unlikely that I’m laying on the couch, watching something and mindlessly shoving food in my mouth.

So for the time being, I’m going with it.  Too, it helps to have this blog, which is more of what I would call ‘vanilla’ bent, than the kinky one that I maintain on a separate website.  There are just more things that happen to me, or I encounter in a day that fit one side of me, than the other.  I have aspirations, that over time I’m hoping they at least come to be even, but for now, this is what I got.

Weight has been an issue for me since about the age of 19.  In my youth, and secondary/high school days, I was thin as a rail, but I attribute a lot of that to my mother, who was a trained dietician.   She managed to keep us on an even keel when it came to food, and though sweets were not an unknown, they were controlled, so we didn’t succumb to our baser instincts and go wild.  I remember vividly one of my first days at school, when I saw what some of the other kids brought for their lunch.  I looked at my thermos of milk, my ham sandwich and an apple and wondered who really had the better meal?  Too, back in 1971, schools still served hot lunches and large food conglomerates didn’t have a toehold on what kids consumed in public schools.  Snack cakes, sugary sodas and other goodies were an unknown.  Even something as innocuous as bottled water wasn’t available.  If you wanted water, there was a fountain near the entrance of the building.

Around about the time I went to college, my eating habits were changing drastically.  Even though my mother had schooled me on what was right, and what was not necessarily right to eat; I had my own preferences in what I liked to consume and what I didn’t.  I was never a big fan of corned beef and cabbage, I much prefer dark meat to white when it comes to either chicken or turkey, and things like bacon and ice cream are huge stumbling blocks for me.  I remember when cookies and cream came out commercially, in 1983.  (It may have come out earlier elsewhere, I just remember the frenzy that happened while I was in the dining hall.  Believe me, it was pretty surreal) Overnight, it was the most popular flavor on campus.  Nobody could get enough of it.  And with the dining hall not really having any rules about quantities, so long as you flashed your dining card, you could eat as much as you wanted.  And boy, did we ever.  I don’t recall what my weight was when I was a freshman, but I pretty much remember that I gained about 80 lbs in my first year of college.  And things went downhill from there.  I did join the crew team when I was a sophomore, but I only stayed on the team for about half a semester.  By Spring, I was done.  The cachet was mostly lost on me over the winter, since it’s a Fall and Spring sport.  Endless workouts, and no time in the shells, because duh, it’s winter.

Post college, I ended up weighing about 250-270 lbs.  And I’ve not fluctuated from that ever since.  The most I ever weighed was 311, back in 2011, when I was unemployed.  Going back to work helped, I ended up losing about 30 lbs in the first year or so once I was back in the job.  It was physical labor, so I wasn’t sitting around the house so much, and it was 3rd shift work, so I was sleeping during the day.  Sometimes sleeping when I got home, sometimes going to bed at 2-3 in the afternoon, rising at 10 or 11 at night depending on when my shift was.  When my job description changed in 2014, it was still physical labor, just slightly different as I wasn’t stocking shelves exclusively anymore.  I was now working in the meat department, which involved a lot of walking, a good deal of repetitive hand movements and some lifting of boxes in the meat locker.  Granted it was (and is) pretty cold in the department, but cold has never really been one of those things that bother me greatly.  Or at least it used not to be.  There are times when I’m downright freezing in there, but at least we have a sink that has hot water.  20-30 seconds of that and I’m good to go again.  That, and dressing warmly for the job.

I’ve been weighing myself every few days, or when I remember to.  In the past 7 years my weight has fluctuated 4-5 lbs between weigh-ins.  The few times I got serious about exercising outside of work, and trying to lose weight, the lowest I ever got was about 262.  Soon after, I couldn’t manage to stay on the plan and regained the weight I lost.  So my ‘baseline’ if you will, is somewhere between 270 and 275.  I’d like very much to weigh less, but I know its going to be a huge undertaking.

I’m fairly resistant to change.  So it takes me awhile to get behind something of this magnitude.  I know it will make things better in the long run, and many things will be easier as I get older.  I just have to make the decision to do it, and then stick with it.  Fortunately, I have a good support team behind me.  That helps.

That and staying off the couch.

Intentional, acceptable, sabotage

It’s now 50 years past 1969, the year man first walked on the moon.  I was just reading an article in the New York Times about the instance when Apollo 10 was poised to be the ‘scouts’ for their successors, Apollo 11.

There they are, circling the moon in the tandem of space vehicles dubbed ‘Charlie Brown’ and ‘Snoopy’ after the Peanuts comic strip characters.  The lunar module (Snoopy) has detached from the command module (Charlie Brown) and is descending towards the lunar surface.  They’re checking out all the things Armstrong and Aldrin will be experiencing after them, making sure the machine works as designed, considering that it was designed in a gravity atmosphere to work in an atmosphere that was completely opposite!  Descending slowly, hovering, taking notes, taking pictures out the small windows, discussing details to one another, relaying information to the pilot of the command module, and listening to his observations as well.  They’re 47,000 feet above the lunar surface and they stop short.  And then return to the command module.

Why?  Because they have to.  History is not going to be kind to them.  The honor of being the first men to leave the Earth and land on the Moon is to be for their friends.  Not for them.  Years in the future, people will speak in quiet reverence the names Neil Armstrong, and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin.  The first men on the moon. (many will say the first Americans on the moon, but that’s another argument for another day)  The names of the ones that came before, the trailblazers if you will, will be forever forgotten to history.  Do you remember the names of the men who flew Apollo 10?  The names of the three men that died in Apollo 1?  Most don’t.  Most don’t even remember how many Apollo missions there were, how many people walked on the moon.  Just the names of the first two.  Like Lewis and Clark, the rest are relegated to obscurity.

But let’s get back to our intrepid explorers that are hovering so tantalizing close to the surface of the moon.  Poised to land, so very close, but they have to go back.  Because they’re in full knowledge if they land, they wouldn’t be able to return.  They’ve been purposefully sabotaged, and they know it.  NASA knew what sort of men they were sending into space.  Most of them were active or ex-military, were test pilots or persons of great ‘moral fiber’ and for the most part were pretty fearless.  The sort of guys that would, when the disaster of Apollo 13 happened a year later, didn’t lose their heads.  They ‘worked the problem’ and with the assistance of more such people back in Houston, managed to figure it out and make it back home.  They didn’t get ‘written off’, they were valuable commodities and the investment in their abilities paid off.

Getting back to the intentional sabotage though.  The lunar module was short-fueled on purpose (granted, there’s debate on this.  Cernan believed it was, and others have disputed it, saying NASA wouldn’t be that deliberate in case there was some sort of emergency), to keep the men from making a snap-decision on their own and ‘going for it’, landing on the moon in defiance of orders.  NASA knew if they had the chance they’d probably take it, I mean wouldn’t you?  You’re in a craft that was designed to land on the moon, you’re already there wouldn’t it be great to just do it?  What were they going to do to you when you got back home?  Jail you?  No, they’d more than likely just shrug their shoulders and congratulate you, and in private make some noise about you being gung-ho and so on.  You had to be prevented from doing this to yourself.  Follow the chain of command, and at least in this instance, be selfless.

So they did the dress rehearsal, flawlessly.  Made all the notes that needed to be taken, got the experience of a lifetime, except they weren’t permitted to make history, at least not then.  John Young, the pilot of the command module, was destined for greatness of his own later on.  He was the commander of Apollo 16 and thereafter was the first to fly the Space Shuttle.  So he made out pretty well.  Eugene Cernan flew on Apollo 17 and was the last man on the moon to this date.  The other man, Tom Stafford, never got the chance to walk on the moon.  He participated in the Apollo-Soyuz project, and is the last surviving member of the mission.

While I am a student of history, I’m not a rabid space buff.  I can’t name all the members of the early space missions, if quizzed I couldn’t name 10 astronauts that flew on the Space Shuttle.  I don’t know all the names of the Mercury 7.  Yes, I’ve seen The Right Stuff many times.  I know a lot of things about the space program.  But being able to recite all these things isn’t what makes it interesting.  It’s the odd items.  The quirky information.

Just thought I’d put this to digital paper.  Thanks for reading along.

Can’t quite let go of home

I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York State.  As of this August however, I will have lived here almost the same amount of time that I spent where I grew up.  One would think that could equate in one’s mind where home is.  But it doesn’t.  The old adage goes ‘home is where you hang your hat’ and to a certain extent that’s true.

If one were to walk through my house here, there’s more things that scream ‘Hudson Valley’ than say ‘Finger Lakes’.  Above the couch in the den there’s a map of the town I grew up, circa 1781.  In the addition here, there’s a clock that says “(Town Name) Beer and Ale‘ that I got from eBay.  And so on.  Items all over my current life that harken back to where I came from, not where I currently live.  As infrequently as I go to Facebook, one of the groups that I check in with more often than not is the one where people who I went to school with, played golf with, and did a myriad of other things people do in their hometown congregate.  Marvel at the newest iteration in the town, or mourn with others when the obituary references are posted of people that either I knew, or my parents did (lately some of my mother’s ‘cronies’ have appeared, like Mrs. Kane who died earlier this year).

When I visited my birth mother two years ago, we spent more time in my comfort zone than in hers.  Considering that we’d been separated by 50 years (I was adopted 3 days after being born), she wanted to see where I grew up, where I went to school and so on.  I showed her the house where I lived for 27 years, now owned by someone else.  We weren’t permitted to go into the house as the owner was elderly and didn’t feel comfortable opening the house to someone he didn’t know.  Which I understand, it was a longshot at best but I would have liked to show my mother all the little quirks of the house as I remembered them.  It’s the historian in me that laments the loss of what could have been, but I’m grateful at least they allowed us to walk the grounds of the house, so I could soak it all in again.  Over the years when in the area I’ve driven past the property, but this was the first time since 1992 that I was able to actually walk the property.

As I get older, I think of what I’m going to be eventually leaving behind.  If someone were to write a history of my life, what would they dig up and post for someone (anyone) to read or care about?  Would they say that I’m a child of the Hudson Valley, or a resident of the Finger Lakes?  On occasion, when vacationing elsewhere, I’ve thought about moving to that area, but never pulled the trigger to do so.  The last time this happened was when I was visiting someone in Colorado Springs in 1990.  I spent a week in Colorado, had a wonderful time and while sitting in a cafe downtown, I seriously thought about moving there.  What stopped me was the consideration that, after six months there (or less) I would imagine the ‘newness’ of being there would wear off.   I’d be going to my job every day, and living my life, and it would become ‘normal’.  It would no longer be new or exciting.  So I might have been better off staying where I was.  As it turned out, that was probably the best choice, as the person I was visiting and I failed to keep that connection and we went out separate ways six months down the road.  But again, it was a ‘what might have been’ moment.

I’m a child of the Hudson Valley, yes.  But a resident of the Finger Lakes.  Just have to marry the two somehow, I suppose.  At least until I move somewhere else.  Then the process will begin again.