Archive for July, 2010

Four years ago at this time I was in the sixth month of a simple calorie counting/cataloging program through a wonderful website at, and I stood at 208 pounds — 52 lighter than what I’d weighed when I began in January 2006 (and the lightest I’d been since my late teens). For a year or so after that though I wasn’t as dedicated to counting calories, I mostly kept a firm grip on the good  eating habits I’d developed and even if that grasp might have slipped a bit now and then, I still managed to maintain myself at around 220, which is comfortable for me.

But in the past couple years, I haven’t stepped on a scale, and haven’t counted a calorie while shoveling more of them into me — relying mostly on balancing my over-eating with the 30 miles a day I’d bike commute roundtrip between work and back. And for the most part that regular exercise element did it’s job in keeping me from any rampant expansions.

Well, these last couple months I’ve been blessed to work full time from home. And cursed. Because while it’s amazing to some how easy it was for me to get on a bike when I needed to and roll up 6,000-plus miles a year, it’s even more amazing to me how easy it is not to get on a bike when you don’t need to. Many have there come mornings these last few weeks where I’ve vowed to go for an early ride. But  many are the excuses I come up with — like take this morning for example: it was drizzling and that was enough to rationalize me out of the saddle. This from a guy who used to relish biking home from work under torrential downpours. Whereas I could pretty much count on pedaling 600 or 700 miles a month, this past May and June combined have produced less than 400… all the while enjoying far too many beers and Ben & Jerry’s.

And the end result is I stepped on the scale today and it said getthehelloffme — or 236. Same thing.

Two. Thirty. Six. Damn.

Time to start climbing the right way on that ladder: down.

So while yeah… I didn’t get on the bike like I wanted today because of this morning’s monsoon my laziness, I did log on to my old account and tabulate every freakin’ calorie consumed so far, down to the spoonfuls of Coffee-Mate (10 calories) I put in my morning cups of joe. It’s a system that worked before and it’ll work again.

As of writing this late in the afternoon I’m at 1,954 calories for the day, with dinner still to come. My per-day goal is to keep my daily intake somewhere around the 2,000 calorie mark — a few hundred more on those coming days when I will not be able to find any excuses (no matter how hard I try) and instead go burn some cycling or walking the neighborhoods. At that rate I’ll be able to hit my first-stage target weight of 215 by my November 1 deadline — and be down to 195 in time for March of next year just in time for when Susan and I will be vacationing in Thailand and Cambodia.

In response to a post by fellow’er Lucinda Michele, which upon her return after a few weeks away in Death Valley and Seattle left her questioning whether she might be falling out of love with our unfair city, I added the following comment that picks up on what she beautifully had to say about the significance of jacarandas and then I go on to somewhat sum up my relationship with my native place. Certainly people far more learned, wise and better expressive than me have captured the essence of this place, but in re-reading it and porting it over here, I like to think that if I didn’t put my finger square on something, at least maybe I brushed it with a hopefully unpretentious hangnail. Of course, on second look have the urge to edit, but I’ll leave it as it ran on

Jacarandas, like so much we hold beautifully iconic here in the city, are imported. Set dressing for an epic motion picture in which we are transients in a transplanted scape, irrigated by elsewhere’s water, developed by the makers of make believe and designed for us to travel it removed and isolated in climate-controlled cabins within rolling steel boxes. On top of that every now and then its true faults are revealed, falling the walls and spinning the power lines like jump ropes as it tries to shrug us off. It is no wonder our ties to this place can be so tenuous and become so disconnected.

For me, the on-offs of one’s relationship with Los Angeles is part of its overall charm. There are peaks and valleys in everything none more figurative than L.A. and none more literal than Death Valley where five miles as the vulture flies one can go from Badwater’s lowest point in the western hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level, to the 11,049-foot Telescope Peak. Whether standing between love and hate of this sprawled city or in between those two desert landmarks I can marvel at both extremes.

The afternoon gathering came together rather quickly. My daughter Katie and I had plans for her to bring my grandson Aiden over and visit today. On a spur of the moment, I invited my mom to join us. She accepted. Not only was this the first time in 10 years that Katie and my mom have seen each other, but for the first time in my life four generations of my family were together: my grandson, his mother, his grandfather and her great grandmother.

It was a monumental occasion, this reunion. One that I’d long figured I might never witness, and one of which I’m tremendously proud.

Susan and I had considered driving over to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park for a sunset hike up to its plateau and the panoramic view there of whatever fireworks displays might present themselves across a wide angle of the L.A. basin… but we ended up blowing that idea off and opted to stay in instead, later on camping out on the front porch for a half-hour or so to watch whatever the neighboring residents might fire off illegally. Here’s the condensed version:

At about 9:25 a.m. this morning, our little baby hummingbird took its first flight from the fruit picker that had been its nest since Sunday. It was able to gain a smidgen of altitude and land a few feet away on a branch in the tree where it was born (as shown above; click to biggify). It spent the rest of the day testing its wings over short distances between other branches. So awesome.