Thursday, September 30, 2010

Weighty thoughts

. . .or, rather, thoughts on weight.

When I met Fang, I was just about to turn 24, and I weighed 138 pounds. That is insanely thin for me; in high school, even when I was hyperthyroid, I weighed as much as 165 pounds. Last night, I stepped on the scale and found I weighed 182 pounds, which is quite a bit out of a reasonable BMI range for someone my height. (Yes, I know BMI doesn't work well as a measure for everyone, but in my family, it seems a fairly useful way to begin to measure fitness.)

So I joined Weight Watchers online--last night, just after stepping off the scale.

Today, I carefully tracked what I ate and charted my activity levels for the first time, debiting and crediting points depending on the food and the activity.

I feel like crap, all hypoglycemic and hyperthyroidy. Yay.

I biked into work today--a pleasant enough ride in the cool morning with a couple of downhill stretches. This afternoon I rode my bike home, 4.9 miles with the sun beating down and temperatures in the upper 80s but feeling like the 90s, about 0.5 miles of that uphill. I am desperately out of shape, and walked through the front door all red and blotchy, sweaty, heart pounding, and feeling faint.

I showered, drank a ton of water, and ate dinner. Only after I ate did I step on the scale: 178 pounds. No wonder I feel like crap; my body shed four pounds over the course of 20 hours.

People following Weight Watchers are supposed to lose a lot the first week--allegedly mostly water weight--and then lose a pound or two each week thereafter. I suspect I'll feel pretty happy with myself in a couple of weeks, but this first week is going to suck.

Things I'm noticing:
  • Riding 4.9 miles in work clothes in the warm sun, on somewhat roughly paved streets, some of it uphill, in a state where auto emissions laws seem significantly more lax than in California, is very different from riding on smooth bike paths, mostly in the shade, for two flat miles. I didn't think it would be that different, but hoo boy, for me it is.
  • I'm going to need to dedicate myself to more exercise. Fang has agree to take Lucas into preschool one day a week, and he already keeps him home one day, so that means I can bike into work two days a week, for a total of about 20 miles/week. It's not a lot, but it's a start, and it's equivalent to a full week of commuter bicycling in Davis.
  • I need to get up from my desk in the middle of the day and take a walk. There's a decent path by the river that I could walk, or I could treat myself to an occasional lunch-hour trip to the zoo, which is only about a five minute walk from my building.
  • I need to plan ahead so I have some kind of exercise I can do when winter sets in, and especially when it's dark before or after work. I'm loath to ride my bike here in the dark, even with lights and reflective tape, as Boiseans are nowhere near as attuned to bicyclists as are people in Davis. In Davis, drivers frequently looked over the right shoulders before turning right. Here, not so much, so I'm being extra cautious.
Want to help me reach my goal of shedding 30 pounds?

If you've been on Weight Watchers before, I'd love to hear about your experiences--what should I try to do, avoid doing, etc.? And if you live in a part of the world where it gets too chilly to exercise outside (I have asthma, and very cold air is my lungs' kryptonite), how do you stay active?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In brief

Ah, public history in Idaho.

Where else would a student's query--about authenticating a vintage knife she had purchased--lead me to a web page titled "How do I Choose a Hitler Youth Knife?"

Good times.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On self-censorship

I generally don't write blog posts and leave them in draft form, but for the first time in the five years I've been writing in this space, I just did so, both out of my own inclination and on Fang's advice.*

So instead, I solicit your 100-word essays on the censored post's title: "Giving at the Office." Leave 'em in the comments.

* Maybe I'll publish the post if/when the issue arises again in a year or so, but now is not the time, even though the argument I was making, at least in the opinion of the very talented and exacting Fang, is exceptionally timely and well crafted--so rare for me these days!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Idaho Moments #387 and #388

In a local TV ad, a car dealer just promised to give a gun to anyone who buys a truck.

The state wants to allow residents to shoot an endangered species on sight. One reason, they say, is that elk herds are declining. Hasn't anyone read Never Cry Wolf? (Probably not--the K-12 schools here apparently are underfunded, and not many people go to college.) Methinks we need Farley Mowat to come talk some sense into folks.

RBOC, Reflective Late Summer Edition

I'm putting all my intellectual effort these days into course planning and harvesting articles from my dissertation, so all I have in me are random bullets:
  • Lucas and I were pulling dandelions from the lawn yesterday, and a bee or wasp stung me right in the middle of the palm of my right hand. Thank goodness the critter didn't get Lucas. If I recall correctly, this is only my fourth bee sting, but hoo boy is it by far the worst. My hand has been swelling over the past 24 hours, and I can't make a fist, plus--oversharing alert!--the hand just started breaking out in hives. I almost went to an urgent care clinic, but in light of our new high insurance deductible,* I'm going the Benadryl route instead.** The pharmacist said not to take Benadryl until the evening because it'll knock me out, so I'm waiting until Lucas goes to sleep, but meanwhile I can't use my right hand for anything but typing, and even that is a stretch. It's made me VERY grumpy, but it also means I haven't had to grade papers. :)
  • Someone who matters tremendously to me just let me know she's pregnant after trying for what seems to me to be a reasonable amount of time, but which I'm sure to her felt like for-ev-er. I'm very excited for her and her husband. As soon as she's told a few more people and is into her second trimester, I'll blog about it more openly.
  • Lucas's development is proceeding in leaps and bounds. His drawings are becoming more and more complex--check out Fang's blog if you're interested, as he's been posting several pieces of Luke's art--and his language, too. Today he wrote his last name flawlessly, without any prompting. We're also getting a bit more insight into how his mind works. For example, on Friday, Fang told Lucas they would watch an episode of a Batman cartoon at 5 p.m., and he showed Lucas a clock with hands on it. Fang reminded him when the small hand was on the 5, they would watch the show. Lucas pointed out there was a dial on the back of the clock, and they could turn it right away to make it point to 5 so that they could watch Batman immediately. Ha!
  • We had to administer a series of questions and exercises to Lucas for his preschool teachers. One of them required us to ask Lucas to "Draw a boy or a girl." Fang did this exercise with him while they sat across the desk from one another, and Lucas proceeded to draw a person, only he drew it upside down, so that it was right-side-up for Fang.
  • These latest developments, coupled with others, worry me--I fear we might have a gifted child on our hands. Oy. I'm not sure I'm ready for that, particularly in a state not known for funding quality public education.
  • This weekend I took Lucas to the local birds of prey center. The folks there don't rehabilitate birds, as do many raptor centers; rather, they breed, raise, and release endangered birds. They have a very intimate bird show--the hawk's feathers actually brushed repeatedly against my legs, and the crow took a dollar bill from Lucas (the bird can't have quarters because they're shiny and he hoards them)--and some raptors that can't be returned to the wild for various reasons, including a couple of California condors and some really neat eagles. Despite all the bigger birds, Lucas was really taken with the crow.
  • Jacob has finally noticed the five or six squirrels that frequent our backyard, but still has a pretty sedate reaction to them. He's recovering nicely from his neuter surgery, which he had last Thursday. He's tipping the scales at more than 85 pounds now.
  • Tomorrow afternoon Fang will take Lucas to observe a martial arts class to see if it's something Lucas might want to try. Meanwhile, I'm plotting to take the boy to Friends meetings and First Day school. Would having ninja-level martial arts skills disqualify 18-year-old Lucas from conscientious objector status with the Selective Service?
  • This conversation just transpired between Lucas and Fang:
Lucas: Daddy, will you do something with me? We can do something you like.

Fang: Sure. What do you want to do? (thinking he'll get out the guitars and play some music)

Lucas: (very sweetly) Well, you like to watch superheroes on the TV, right?

The boy knows how to work his dad, that's for sure.
  • Fang is trying hard to be more social, which he admits has always been a challenge for him, even though he's very good with people. He was waitlisted for a guitar class offered through the city's community education program, and he found out today they opened up an additional section of the class. He starts next Wednesday, and he's enthusiastic about meeting some like-minded people. He went to a Smashing Pumpkins concert with one of my colleagues last week, and they seemed to hit it off; they seem to have plenty in common to gripe about, if nothing else. (Waves to colleague, who sometimes reads this blog.)
  • Overall, I'd say what has most characterized our first two months in Idaho is resilience, and really, we're not a resilient people. (The phrase "highly sensitive" is a more apt descriptor.) I'm really happy about that, as these are the times that try a family's souls--a big move, a new job, pay cuts, new social circle, no support network to speak of, a new preschool, a Cliffordesque lab who thinks he's still the size of a shoebox. My colleagues and new friends here have been a huge help in easing our transition, and for that I am exceptionally grateful.
*Thank you, State of Idaho, for lengthening the new-employee health insurance waiting period from 30 days to 90. Much appreciated!

**I've never taken Benadryl, but I'm going to take my first pill in a few minutes. Fang is a little too excited about this prospect--he knows I can react strongly to new meds, and he's crossing his fingers for a good show. Will it include further crankiness, slurred speech, or giggles unbecoming a bee-sting victim? I'll keep you posted. (As if.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A bleg for U.S. historians

Hey, U.S. historians--

When you're teaching the intro survey, what documents or images or material culture do you use to illustrate the transition from Puritanism to Enlightenment thinking and republicanism? We've been spending a lot of time in Puritan New England, and my students are hungry for something new (as am I).

I'm looking for enlightening (ha!) sources from the mid-1700s that illustrate this shift in theology/politics/everyday life. I have a couple of ideas (e.g. comparing/contrasting this and this), but I'd like to hear what other folks use.

I should mention we've already looked at Winthrop, Mather, Whitefield, Edwards, and Puritan children/families (via tombstones, architecture, furniture, family manuals, wills, sermons, and Bradstreet).


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Jake helps Fang christen his new video camera

By the way, we took the dog to the vet last week to see about getting him neutered. At about seven months old, he now weighs more than 80 pounds. Those of you playing along at home know that means he gained 30 pounds in six weeks. And he's not done growing yet.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Give some books to kids

I have to admit I'm a sucker for Today I heard some history department colleagues talking about how many students in Boise go without books, so when I saw this DonorsChoose project asking for funds to buy books for the school library, I signed on as a supporter.

If you have a few spare bucks--and hey, I know it's payday for many of you!--you might consider tossing them in the direction of this high-poverty elementary school.