Health Fair

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

At the health fair I learned many great things. They are great events that more people should take advantage of. I learned that my BMI says that I’m overweight (but only just). This is something I’ve known for awhile. I’m stuck at 190 – 192 and I should really by around 182 – 185. That’s my comfortable weight, and right in the middle in terms of BMI.

I also had my body fat percentage taken, and I’m in the normal range with that. This seems strange, but the explanation lies in my bike riding. I essentially have no fat on my legs at all, and the muscles couldn’t get much stronger unless I took up fencing again. Unfortunately, the way my knee has been acting up, I can’t ride my bike (or even walk very far) without some chronic aches and pains.

The other half of me sits in a chair all day and is essentially wimpy. I asked the nutritionist at the Health Fair for tips on losing the additional 7 – 10 pounds based on how I’m already behaving, and the answer lies, not in reducing my caloric intake (which I try to keep at 1200 – 1500 calories per day, the recommended value for the sedentary) but by switching how I get my calories. Basically, less white carbs, more vegetables. And upper body calisthenics. I’ve been told that you can’t do enough sit-​ups to burn off the spare tire, but if I couple a good sit-​up routine that with 100 push-​ups thingy I tried and maybe the 5BX plan, and can be disciplined enough to keep it up, I should be able to take care of that.

There was also a chiropractor there who put some gizmo on my back to measure my back muscle tension. It did a good job, because it registered the sore parts of my back. I’d really like a chair with good lumbar support, but I think it might be a good idea to get a referral to see the back-​cracker to get myself realigned. (Although I don’t know enough to know if chiropractors are quacks or not, there’s a vestigial memory of mine where someone whose opinion I respected held that opinion.)

Life is Good

Monday, 28 September 2009

My life has been extremely great lately. Abraham is a person now, even though I sometimes think we used too many monkeys when assembling him. He is someone I can interact with and play with all the time. I can anticipate the direction he’ll grow and be constantly surprised by how often I’m right and how often he goes not even the opposite way, but a way I never even imagined. I’ll be at work and then I’ll think about him and want to hug him. I expect this to continue forever.

The weather has been my favorite kind, I’ve been eating great food and making homemade dark chocolate and homemade green tea ice cream. I went to the health fair and found out that I’m slightly healthier than last year. The work on the house is done, and though my bank account is depleted, I get paid three times in October.

October means Halloween, which means I have to figure out what costume I’m going to wear and what Halloween show I’m going to attend. We also might have a fall cookout.

This weekend I get to see my friend Jeremy and his family, and go to the Notre Dame/​Washington game.

There’s something else too, but I can’t seem to remember what it is…

Money Funnel

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Today was a zoo. Got up early to do some fall cleaning, just the bedroom today. Finished at 9pm tonight. Upstairs tenant moved partially out today, roofers tore off and replaced part of the balcony roof, gas man came out to verify a leak (or three) in our natural gas line (end result, no gas until sometime Monday). Two friends stopped by. Dinner at Crapplepee’s. Target for a beedog costume and cedar blocks. Neverending laundry. Still waiting on fixed gutters and glass-​blocked basement. No tenant and grad school payments mean a net -$900 funding switch over last month.

Now I’m off to Now That’s Class for a free dual album release show, where I’ll buy a cassette tape I can’t play and a 12″ vinyl that I can.

Once the dust settles from the weekend, I think it’s gonna look like I didn’t get paid at all.

Fishing With John

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Fishing With John

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #42: John Lurie’s Fishing With John.

As a fisherman, watching Fishing with John was quite an experience. Walleye and pike are only mentioned once, by Tom Waits; the rest of the time the fishing was much more exotic than what a Midwesterner like me is used to. However, throughout most episodes, you’re lucky to see more than one [usually tiny] fish. The enjoyment comes from the over the top narration and the confounded aspects of John Lurie’s celebrity [read ‘buddies’] guests. A couple of them [namely Waits and Willem Dafoe] actually seem to know a thing or two about fishing.

John Lurie & Jim Jarmusch

Most of the rest of the time is devoted to hijinks of one sort or another, usually at the expense of both the locals, Lurie & his cohorts. They send up the mystic mannerisms of the seasoned fisherman by doing a fish dance and experience all manner of trouble actually getting to where the fish are supposed to be, but I get the sense that, despite the put-​upon bumbling, everyone actually enjoyed the fishing.

Tom Waits puts a fish in his pants.

The way the locals from around the world are treated troubled me a bit, especially because they don’t seem to know that they’re the butt of the jokes. I definitely got a “we’re idiot American tourist” vibe from the Lurie, Matt Dillon, et al. but I can’t tell whether even that is deliberate or not. The episodes tread a few fine lines, scripted versus improvisational, with a difficult blandly tangential humor, and non-​obviousness seems to be the goal of most of the episodes. It is easy to feel a bit of fremdschämen throughout the series. I wouldn’t say these episodes are for everyone. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed them if I hadn’t had a fishing backround (and familiarity with fishing shows). If you’re a fan of Jim Jarmush, John Lurie, or Tom Waits, Fishing with John is probably right up your alley though.

John Lurie & Willem Dafoe

Public Administration So Far

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A little bit below this are some good [but somewhat too dispassionate] quotes about the field of public administration. I keep waiting to read about how the civil service is service to the citizen, but I have a feeling I’m going to be reading lots more about pragmatic influence wrangling before I ever get to ethical and moral codes for public administration. I sure hope some of that exists.

From the history of the field that we’ve covered thus far, it seems that PA styles in practice have been reactionary to the needs of the time instead of anticipatory. If this is the case, then I believe that this is the reason that public bureaucracy in America gets such a bad rap. Stuff doesn’t get fixed until it’s so broken that everybody notices. Coupled with what appears to be a lack of ethical examination of the PA process, there seems to be lots of room for improvement in both practice and study of PA. Of course, I’ve only been to two classes, and I expect my ignorance will be remedied.

Whoever would effect a change in modern constitutional government must first educate his fellow-​citizens to want some change. That done, he must then persuade them to want the particular change he wants. He must first make public opinion willing to listen and then see to it that it listens to the right things. He must stir it up to search for an opinion, and then manage to put the right opinion in its way.

A truth must become not only plain, but commonplace before it will be seen by the people who go to their work very early in the morning; and not to act upon it must involve great and pinching inconveniences before these same people will make up their minds to act upon it.

Trust is strength in all relations of life; and, as it is the office of the constitutional reformer to create conditions of trustfulness, so it is the office of the administrative organizer to fit administration with conditions of clear-​cut responsibility which shall insure trustworthiness.

Woodrow Wilson — The Study of Administration

It is clear that the bureaucratic organization of a social structure, and especially of a political one, can and regularly does have far-​reaching economic consequences…

The consequences of bureaucracy depend therefore upon the direction which the powers using the apparatus give to it. And very frequently a crypto-​plutocratic distribution of power has been the result.

In England, but especially in the United States, party donors regularly stand behind the bureaucratic party organizations. They have financed these parties and have been able to influence them to a large extent.

Max Weber — Bureaucracy

House Tag

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

So far I’ve spent my second day of furlough catching up on various items around the house. I need to get back into the habit of writing here a bit more frequently. I keep thinking of things that are worth posting, but never actually sitting down to do so.

A bunch of exterior work is being done on my home right now.

  • Chimney caps, tuck-​pointing and new flashing;
  • Rotten siding replacement;
  • Glass block windows added to the basement;
  • Gutter repair; and
  • Some patches to the foundation.

Our regular guy doesn’t do exterior work, so I had to track someone else down. Since you can find anything on Craigslist, I put up an ad. I got a bunch of responses, with the usual range of grammatical errors and professionalism. I responded to a few of the likeliest and only heard back from one.

The guy came out to take a look at things, with two of his buddies. They were all wearing ragged and torn clothes, and one of the guys was more interested in eating as many peaches as he could from my tree. Main dude said he’d get back to me with an estimate within three days. He kept trying to get me to tell him how much I’d be willing to pay, which is a huge red flag. Ten days later, after one unannounced return trip and further phone calls where he kept trying to find out how much I wanted to spend and kept trying to give me prices piece-​meal, he finally emailed me his estimate. This estimate only covered the cost of materials for one of the items on the above list. Needless to say he didn’t get the job.

Meanwhile, I received a response from a gal around my age who just moved from Portland, OR. She came out, took a look at things, some measurements and photos, and got me an estimate within a couple of days. She’s done historical restoration work and has the necessary tools to get the job done. My chimneys are repaired and the foundation patched, the glass block has been ordered and from what I’ve seen so far, she works both efficiently and effectively.

Inside I’ve been painting the new doors we got a couple of months ago and touching-​up various Bram-​smears.

My tenant upstairs is moving out this month. This means I’ll be out the supplementary $450/​month that was quite a help. Thankfully Debbie’s now a full-​time teacher, so her additional income will help offset that. Her brother might move in upstairs and just pay for utilities, and I plan on working with him to tear off the wallpaper and do a little bit more renovation up there as well. Once it is painted, the electrical is upgraded and there’s new carpet, I’ll probably be able to get at least another $50/​month on the rental price. It’s a 2 bedroom, so $500 is a pretty good price, I think. I could probably do better than that if the bathroom wasn’t the size of a mouse turd.

Speaking of which, I’ve killed 4 in the last 24 hours.