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Weekly Weigh-In, Week #6

I could repurpose the intro paragraph from the last Weekly Weigh-In post without any changes and it would apply again to this post. With the exception of actually making weekly posts, everything is going along the way it should and will continue to do so provided I maintain my exercise and eating habits. I'm even entertaining thoughts of being back below 200 pounds by my birthday. Given that's a little over five weeks away, that's a very attainable goal.

Loss since last weigh-in (1/24): 2.4 lb
Average loss per week since 1/24: 0.8 lb
Cumulative loss: 10.2 lb
Pounds from goal: 13.2 lb

Semi-Mini Rant for the Day

(Cross-posted from Facebook for ease of future reference.)

I feel this needs to be said: pointing out the parallels between Trump's statements and actions since he announced his candidacy with Hitler's during the early stages of his career -- at least when I'm doing it -- is not implying that Trump is espousing genocide or will turn into a genocidal maniac. Nor am I suggesting that Trump is as "bad" as Hitler. It is just noting the very authoritarian, anti-democratic, and divisive ways they wielded and consolidated their political power. The fact that such a parallel exists should be concerning to everyone because of what it means for the future of our own political system. Although it is certainly in need of serious repair, it isn't broken. It can be fixed if we don't let Trump continue us down the path he has staked out thus far.

Yes, any comparison to Hitler and the Nazi's raise to power is going to be emotionally-laden because of the Holocaust. However, we cannot use Godwin's Law as a means to ignore valid comparisons of Trump's actions to how the Nazi Party undermined democracy and ultimately dismantled it. There's a reason why never the phrase "never forget" exists: we cannot let our own sociopolitical biases and prejudices blind us when our political leaders start taking a path that in the past has led to the ruination of a nation and a perpetual stain on its soul.

Weekly Weigh-In, Week #3

Typically, if I go this long between weigh-in posts, it's a sign that I went horribly off the rails with the eating and/or exercise. I'm happy to report that isn't the case this time around. I didn't go to the gym on weigh-in day for the first week (I prefer to weigh myself after going to the gym because it shaves a little extra weight off when I step on the scale), and last week I weighed myself but didn't get around to writing the post.

I'm right where I should be given that I experienced the anticipated big first week of weight loss following the holiday gorging and sloth-like behavior. Now, I just gotta keep this up for another few months or so.

Loss since last weigh-in: 7.8 lb
Average loss per week: 2.6 lb
Pounds from goal: 15.6 lb

2016 Stuff Read, #s 16(a), 34-40

I kept holding off on writing this post because I wanted to write a few sentences on each book, as I usually do. However, I have too many other items demanding my attention, so I'm going to have to skimp on this particular post. The good news is that I made my goal of 40 books last year, and despite the fact that my current dead tree book, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's The Big Book of Science Fiction, will almost certainly take me months to complete, I'm off to an encouraging start on making that goal again this year -- thanks to audiobooks and ebooks.

16(b). In Morningstar's Shadow, by Aliette de Bodard (ebook, collection of three short stories)
34. Fifty Degrees Below, by Kim Stanley Robinson (audiobook)
35. Alice, by Christina Henry (dead tree book)
36. Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English, by John McWhorter (audiobook)
37. Call of the Wild, by Jack London (ebook)
38. Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler (ebook)
39. The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. Le Guin (audiobook)
40. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick (ebook)


Last Words for the Day

One final thought as for the remainder of the day I will purposefully not say another word about today's events in DC.* I truly am frightened and horrified by what's happening. I've been using a combination of humor, exaggerated outrage, and foul language as a coping mechanism and a way to mask some of what I've felt and am still feeling. My reaction is not based on the fact that a "Republican" is taking the office. I wouldn't be feeling the way I do if it was a garden-variety Republican politician becoming President. Don't get me wrong -- I wouldn't be happy about that either, but I certainly didn't react this way when George W. Bush was elected or reelected. No, our President-elect is something far different.

Trump has stated and proved repeatedly that he is not a Republican politician. He is a narcissistic, misogynistic, ill-tempered, easily rattled, sycophantic billionaire who is clearly enamored with authoritarian power structures. He merely used the Republican Party as a means to an end. He has shown through his business dealings that he is most and foremost a con man who shows no empathy or sympathy for our working or middle classes. He's a swindler who has embraced and wielded the Orwellian lie while exploiting our political system and the various social divisions in our country to garner the highest office in our land -- an office for which he possesses neither the abilities, qualifications, nor temperament to fill. But, the worst part is that the Republican Party is frightened of offending him and even more terrified of offending those of voted for him. So, that party is going to essentially give him what he wants for quite some time. In the process, many of our country's essential government functions and services are going to suffer long-term damage that may take decades to repair -- that is if they ever are properly repaired.

So, I'm scared. I'm terrified. I'm trying to cope, and I'm hoping that the Republican Party realizes its error before its too late to prevent wide-ranging, irreparable damage. Unfortunately, I can't help but feel my hope is in vain, because I truly am expecting the worst.

*Over the past few days, I've made more than a few Facebook posts expressing various things about the Inauguration. This first sentence is entirely for the benefit of those who have seen most of those.

Two different thoughts based in amusement came to mind as I read the negative reaction to Meryl Streep's speech at the Golden Globes last night:

  1. Let's just say, for the simple sake of argument, that Trump is somehow correct when he called her, "one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood." I've been fond of saying that Derek Jeter is the most overrated baseball players in my lifetime. But, guess what. Derek Jeter, despite being overrated -- especially by Yankees fans who seem to think he was the greatest shortstop ever to grace the position -- is still an incredibly great, no doubt, future first-ballot Hall of Famer. Even if Trump is right, Streep is still the acting equivalent of a Derek Jeter. End of discussion.

  2. It's really cute to see all the conservative social media trolls work up a frothy dander and complain about celebrities like Streep using public platforms to state their views. Often, the admonishment includes some form of "no one cares what you think." I find this particularly humorous because clearly the speaker cares enough to get angry and to tell the entertainer to "shut up and do your job." It seems to me that the type of people who engage in such rhetoric repeat it every single time the likes of Streep, Springsteen, [insert favorite liberal entertainer/artist name here], etc. state their opinion. If one doesn't really care, the most emphatic response should be an eye roll, followed with a low utterance of "Whatever. Moving on."

Speaking of which... Whatever. I'm now moving on.

Weekly Weigh-In, 2017 Reset

I think I may have been overly optimistic and attempting to start a weight-loss regimen during the holidays. The intentions were sincere and earnest, but a couple days before Christmas the whole thing went right out the window. Thus, the need for me to hit the reset switch after visiting the gym today, for the first time in a week, and forcing myself to engage in healthy eating habits for the first time in nearly two weeks. The damage could have been worse as I have gained more than this in a shorter period of time. There is also a silver lining: typically when I add extra pounds quickly, I'm able to take them off nearly as quickly.

So, the new baseline and goal are:

Starting weight: 213.4 lb
Goal: 190.0 lb

New Year's Scribblings

The consensus view is that 2016 sucked. From the narrow perspective of my life, that wasn't true. Other than the outcome of the Presidential election and the large amounts of sleep I lost (and continue to lose) in the aftermath, it was actually a fairly decent year. As the lack of sleep indicates, I am actually far more worried about 2017. I'd like to believe that are forces within the Republican Party that have enough power to moderate the worst excesses of the coming Trump administration, but the amount of post-election spinelessness shown by much of the establishment doesn't bode well for those hopes...

I wish I better understood why it is I find it so hard to maintain any kind of consistency in posting regularly to LJ. The fact is that I do enjoy this kind of writing, but forcing myself to do so often feels like some kind of Herculean task. I've long suspected that this is the product of what I like to call "The Facebook Effect": that in addition to encouraging short, simplistic, nuance-free writing, it actually causes you to think in such a manner. I'm going to have to find a way to reconcile my lack of desire to leave the site -- borne from the fact that most of my friends and family maintain a presence there, thus making it my primary social networking tool -- with my desire to spend more time writing in this manner...

I haven't forgotten my statement to provide some explanatory detail for this year's LEGO Christmas diorama. That will be the subject of a future post...

With just 15 hours left in the year, I made it to 40 books read for 2016, and like the LEGO post, there is a concluding 2016 Stuff Read post in the works. As a reward for achieving an unofficial goal for the year, I started Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's The Big Book of Science Fiction. While I am looking forward to reading it cover-to-cover, it's 1,200 oversized pages will make it exceedingly difficult for me to manage 40 books two years in a row. If I do manage that feat, it will almost certainly result from setting aside more time to read than I did last year...

Today is the last day of an extended break from work. I used a few days with of PTO to supplement the additional days off that Major Defense Contractor gave everyone around the holidays, thus providing me with an end of year, nearly two-week vacation. As is often the case with such things, the days passed by far too quickly. I suspect that I will have severe motivational issues when I return to work tomorrow...

Finally, to everyone reading this that I haven't already expressed the sentiment to, Happy New Year. I hope that I'm merely being pessimistic and will be proven wrong, but just in case, I wish you the strength, perseverance, and wisdom to navigate what will almost assuredly be the first of a few dark years in American history.

Mini-Rant for the Day

"Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."

-- Lewis Rothschild, The American President (1995)

I could write so much more, and I know many others have, but to me this is the primary reason why we're currently in the fucked up state of affairs this country is seeing. The Democratic Party, collectively, turned their back on the working poor in rural areas of this country a couple decades ago, and over that time, the Republican Party did a wonderful job of fanning the flames of fire and resentment, but otherwise did nothing but break their promises. It left Trump with a massive opening: he was perceived as a political outsider talking to them, and they turned out in droves. They believed, despite a record that showed that he has never cared about anyone other than himself, simply because he wasn't the establishment and he was talking to them. They'll keep believing every word he says, for quite a while too, because they've become emotionally invested in the idea he'll bring back the manufacturing, retail, and energy production jobs of old -- even though those jobs are gone forever, the victims of long-term structural changes resulting from the Internet, deregulation, trickle-down economics, and a move away from carbon-based fuels.
I don't know how long it will take Trump voters to admit that they've been conned. I can only hope that the damage Trump and his kleptocracy only sets us back years instead of decades.

One More Lego Christmas Display to Make

I've decided that I'm not done with the Lego Christmas displays just yet. I am going to recreate a scene from one of my favorite Christmas songs, but I needed to order a couple individual Lego pieces in order to properly render it. I feel the need to state that it is not Weird Al's "The Night Santa Went Crazy." Even if I was interested in doing that, I'm fairly certain that TeenLitGirl would leave me before letting me put that on display in our home.

In the meantime, you can see what I've already assembled over Facebook. I'll provide a full explanation of what's going on in that set sometime in the next few days.