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.