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On Listening to Neil Gaiman

The audiobook I'm currently listening to in my car is Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, and unlike the vast majority of audiobooks, this one is read by the author himself. I'm about one-quarter of my way through the book, and based on my experience thus far, Gaiman is clearly one of those authors that you need to hear read/perform their work -- much like Harlan Ellison. However, there's one quality Gaiman possesses that Ellison doesn't: when listening to Gaiman, I am convinced that if I was of a different persuasion then I would be swooning while listening to him.

This post has been brought to you by a man whose comfortable enough in his own sexuality to admit such things.

Weekly Weigh-In

Gain/Loss for the past week: -0.2 lb
Cumulative loss: 25.1
Pounds from goal: 0.2

This qualifies as my first (and hopefully only) disappointment since making the determination to return to my ideal weight of 190 pounds. I really wanted it to happen this week, and, to use football terminology, I wanted to win this by a couple touchdowns. I didn't want to just beat the spread, I wanted the margin of victory to be ridiculous. And until Saturday morning, that looked like it would happen (just as a reminder, I only "count" the Monday morning weigh-ins -- all other scale readings are for motivational purposes only.) I was nearly two full pounds below my goal, and I had no intention of doing anything to fuck it up. Then, the last 48 hours happened.

Oddly, I really didn't do anything wrong. I didn't overeat, and I made it to the gym as planned. However, on both Saturday and Sunday I ate one rather salty meal that was somewhat larger than my typical serving, and that's all it took. I shouldn't be surprised, knowing how my body reacts when I consume to much salt, and I'm certain that over the next 48 hours, as I get the excess salt out of my system, my weight will drop back down to where it was on Saturday morning. Provided I stick to my normal routines, I will be even further under my goal by this coming Saturday -- even thought that won't really count either.

Ironically, once I finally move into maintenance mode, I will be thrilled with a week like the past one. And although I don't think anyone would begrudge me claiming victory today (or back-dating the victory to Saturday,) the notion just doesn't feel right. So, it's at least one more week of staying in weight-loss mode. It's probably not necessary to do everything I can to run-up the score, but I have to admit that the results of the past 48 hours are now causing me to want to beat the spread this week in the most aggressive manner possible.

Weekly Weigh-In

Gain/Loss for the past week: -0.6 lb
Cumulative loss: 24.9
Pounds from goal: 0.4

Next week it is.

Weekly Weigh-In

Gain/Loss for the past week: -1.8 lb
Cumulative loss: 24.3
Pounds from goal: 1.0

Now that I'm so close to my final goal, I feel it's time for me to discuss something that usually only gets mentioned in the context of more extreme weight loss: the excess skin that results from shedding those pounds. Although I'm "just" 57 pounds below my all-time peak weight, I experience this issue to a small degree. I noticed it when I initially got my weight where I wanted back at the end of 2011, and the excess skin remained a constant presence until I let my weight balloon over the final few months of last year.

As I brought my weight back down to the goal I set for myself back in January, it gradually returned. As I said before, it's a small issue; I don't know how to properly quantify the amount I'm carrying, but my best guess is that I have approximately four handfuls around my belly and a little extra just below each armpit. Since I'm not at all vain about it, and it's far from sufficient enough to cause any of the potential health problems that can result from carrying a larger amount, I have no plans or desire to seek out any kind of plastic surgery to remove it. Nonetheless, I can't help but wonder just how much that excess amount weighs.

Anyway, the whole issue probably doesn't even rise to the level of nuisance, but it's there and I'm aware of it. Considering the issues my excess weight was causing me at the start of 2011, I think I can easily live with this particular trade-off.

Weekly Weigh-In

Gain/Loss for the past week: -1.6 lb
Cumulative loss: 22.5
Pounds from goal: 2.8

Not much to say other than everything is proceeding according to plan. If I was an evil genius mastermind, this would nearly be the moment where my arch nemesis (the so-called "hero") would come busting through the ceiling windows and lay indiscriminate waste to all my meticulous work and planning over the past four months.

2015 Stuff Read, #6

6. Asimov's Science Fiction, June 2015 issue

Thus begins my path down Happy Kitten road. Seeing as I already track the books and issues of sf/f magazines I read over the course of the year, I can easily keep track of stories I feel are potentially Hugo-nomination worthy. It's too early to say how easy it will be for me to come up with five choices in each of the short fiction categories by the end of the year, but at least I'll be able to nominate intelligently next year. With that in mind, the stories I particularly enjoyed in this issue:

  • "The End of the War," Django Wexler (novelette)

  • "Our Lady of the Open Road," Sarah Pinsker (novelette)

While writing this post, I noted that both of these stories received front cover mentions. I don't know how much that might have influenced my judgment of them, but it might be interesting to track that kind of thing as well.

"Weekly" Weigh-In

Gain/Loss for the past three weeks: -3.2 lb
Cumulative loss: 20.9
Pounds from goal: 4.4

It wasn't my intention to go three weeks between posts. I initially planned a fortnight post for last week, but the car accident derailed those plans. Thankfully, I managed to avoid comfort eating in the wake of the accident -- no small feat given the emotional churn of the past week and that I'm the type of person who overeats when stressed. Although I was pain-free and able to resume my gym routine four days after the accident, I discovered yesterday that my shoulder isn't quite up to the rigors of spending time in a batting cage. The good thing is that I take Tank to the cages once every 2-3 weeks, so I have plenty of time to let the shoulder finish healing before I attempt to swing a bat again.

Aside from reaching the 20-pound mark, the great thing about today's number is that I'm back within the upper end of the range wherein I want to stabilize my weight moving forward (190-195 pounds.) Ideally, I'd go straight into maintenance mode now, but I'm far too aware of how that is actually harder for me than simply losing weight. Hence, the reason why my goal weight is 190 pounds instead of 195. Once I hit 190, I figure that maintaining will, initially anyway, be made much easier by starting at the low end of the range.

But, I haven't reached that stage yet. I should be there in approximately a month -- I just need to keep plugging away for a little while longer.

On Being a Bad Driver

"I really can't wait for the day when I can just get into my car, program my destination, and then just not pay attention to the road, other drivers, or my own driving inadequacies anymore."

-- My Facebook page, yesterday

Long story short, I was in an auto accident Sunday evening that was my fault. The sun played a factor as did my cell phone, and I really just don't want to get any more into what happened. Thankfully, everyone walked away from the accident with no obvious harm, though I did find out from my insurance company this afternoon that the passenger in the other car is making a personal injury claim. I don't know any details beyond that as I only found this out via voice mail, and I haven't spoken with the agent who will be taking my recorded statement tomorrow. My car has been written off as a total loss, and I'm now scrambling to find and purchase a new car no later than Sunday evening. The hard deadline is due to the fact that my insurance will only pay for a rental through Monday.

This incident has shown a harsh spotlight on the fact that I am not, by any measure, a good driver. I've always known this to some degree, and it's slowly been getting worse with age. Hell, I've stated with complete sincerity for some time now that I drive like an old lady when I'm on the highway; my favorite driving technique is moving over to the slow lane, setting the cruise control at a couple miles over the speed limit, and then adamantly refusing to deviate unless I encounter an even slower driver, which almost never happens. I have spatial relation issues, I'm uncomfortable driving anything larger than a Kia Rio or Dodge Dart, I find myself combatting road hypnosis/fatigue with disconcerting frequency, and I get distracted more easily than I care to admit. I've been trying to compensate for these issues for some time now, but as I learned Sunday night, I'm not doing enough. This is the third accident I've caused since returning to the DC metro area in the summer of '98. I don't know anyone else who has been in that many in such a short period of time (let alone caused that many.)

(I should note that the count discounts two very minor fender benders where insurance information was exchanged but nothing came of it and the timeframe excludes two other accidents I caused in college.)

So, I now have a new, unbreakable rule for myself that I am passing along to everyone who knows me: when I'm driving, the cell phone is off, and by that I mean that it is completely shutdown. However, that's not the only self-imposed fiat for when I'm behind the wheel. No more CD-switching or fumbling with the iPod while the car is in motion either. But the hardest one to swallow, however, applies to Wednesday evenings, the day of the workweek I see Tank: I absolutely cannot leave his mother's house any later than 9:15 PM. Even that time is probably pushing it, but I just can't bring myself to leave any sooner. I do know, however, that leaving even 15 minutes later exponentially increases the difficulties I have in staying awake at the end of my 50-minute drive home.

I hate that it's come down to all this. I meant every single letter of that status I posed to Facebook yesterday. I really can't wait for all the experimental vehicles that drive themselves to find their way into car dealerships. While there are some elements to driving that I probably do enjoy, it's incredibly difficult to see them at this time. Unfortunately, going without a car, like I did when I lived in New York City for a couple years during the late '90s, just isn't feasible -- living in the exurbs doesn't allow it. So, until the day I can put the car on automatic pilot, I just need to do everything I can to make the road safer for everyone around me as well as myself.

2015 Stuff Read, #s 3-5

3. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
4. Galieo's Dream, by Kim Stanley Robinson
5. For the Win, by Cory Doctorow

I am way behind the pace I hoped to achieve at the beginning the year. There are a few reasons for this, but spending too much time playing Civilization V is easily the biggest of them. I'm already starting to change that, however. Because of the sordid Sad Puppies affair, I am making an effort to spend more time reading and am already shifting my focus to reading more new SF* so that I can intelligently nominate for the Hugos next year as part of the Happy Kittens faction. To that end, I've already purchased a copy of the current issue of Asimov's, and while I don't think I'll succeed, my goal is to read one issue per month from any of the big three digests. In addition, I hope to focus a bit more on newly released novels and put aside, for now, my feverish attempts to catch up with my backlog of reading.

I've made similar determinations before, though. I'd like to think that I'll make this one stick. We'll see what happens as the year progresses.

* I still need to finish one monster of a book that I'm currently working on. More about that particular beast once I've finished reading it.


Weekly Weigh-In

Gain/Loss for the past fortnight: -1.0 lb
Cumulative loss: 17.7
Pounds from goal: 7.6

Although it only works out to a loss of 0.5 per week, I'm happier with this weigh-in than I was with just about any other weigh-in since resuming this series of posts. Easter and Opening Day in Philly turned into two very bad days, and knowing the amount of Tastykake, fried, and otherwise unhealthy products I consumed, I would've considered myself lucky if I just held even. However, I clearly did a great job of adjusting my caloric intake in the days following the Philly trip to compensate for the two-day caloric overload.

Because I didn't post last week, I wasn't able to properly note the four-year anniversary of making the determination to properly take care of myself. The awesome thing is that when the date arrived, I was below the goal weight of 200 that I originally set for myself when I embarked on this quest. I haven't always kept my weight within the range I'd like to maintain (which isn't the only criteria I use to gauge my efforts, though it's clearly my primary one), but the past four years represent the longest stretch of healthy living in my life. Although it remains a struggle (and will likely continue to be so for the rest of my life), I actually feel confident that I will find a way to continue eating and exercising properly. I'm not guaranteeing there won't be future incidents where I gain 15+ pounds like I did this past holiday season, but I feel like I now have the ablity to pull myself out of tailspins caused by laziness or some other form of inertia.

That's something I couldn't have said four years ago.