Friday, April 29, 2005

Memo to U-Haul: Join the 90s, plz, kthxbai

So, I dunno, 10 days ago I reserved a UHaul truck using their website for Sunday. I had to provide credit card info during the process on a page called "payment" and so I assumed I was, you know, paying for the truck.

Well, no.

I called today to double check, and, no, you can't prepay. It's impossible. Not online, not over the phone. Gotta pay in person.

So I had to scramble to Western-Union the money to my uncle down there, because they can't front the cash.

So, yeah, how hard is it to manage this process? Oh well, at least we didn't have to do it on Sunday when he was picking up the truck....

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Book Review: Guns, Germs, and Steel

First, the book: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Binary review: thumbs up!

Every time I sat down with this book, I learned something that made me grin somewhere in my head.

The idea behind this book is pretty simple: try to explain how throughout history various cultures have advanced at different rates and in different ways than other cultures, how they conquered or squeezed out those other cultures, and how that led us to where we are today. It does so using all the branches of historical science and does an excellent job tying it all together.

I think I feel in love with this book when I read a line about how the difference between two primitive grain crops could explain much of the way our world was today. Manifest destiny my ass -- we're just lucky.

To point out some flaws, I guess I would say that the book has trouble finding an audience it really wants to talk to. As a serious scholar, I would need to dive into more detail. You could probably write a book based on each chapter in his book. But as a casual observer, I could probably have used less detail. The book could have been half its length and I would still have believed him :).

That doesn't mean the book is too long. Nor is it too detailed. It's just a very hard market to nail. I, personally, didn't need as much information as he gave. But I'm glad it's there, because it reassures me that he isn't some quack just out to make a buck.

The other flaw with the book is that I sometimes feel, reading it, as if he's preaching to the choir. He isn't just documenting history here, he's trying to change the minds of people who feel that somehow the fact that western civ has conquered the world shows some kind of "specialness" on the part of our culture (or worse, our people). What he doesn't realize (or chooses to ignore) is that the people he's railing against are the people who will turn around and say that "God"
granted XYZ culture dominance over the others and that his scientific mumbo jumbo is just the mechanism for that. In other words, it's enlightening and educating, but I don't think he's "converting" any closed-minded racists or xenophobes with his work. Meh, I don't know.

I should also be fair and point out the fact that the author comes across as a bit biased, both towards his own theories and perhaps against western civ at large. Hard to explain, but you'll see what I mean if you read it. Something of an overcompensation, perhaps?

Anyway. I only point these flaws out because I feel the need to be complete. I would recommend this book without reservation to anyone with a critical mind.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I should post more often, I know.

Tuesday is weigh-in day, right? Up a pound, unfortunately.

If I'm good I'll write a book review later....

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Progress Report

One week into my "new beginnings" in mid-April and I've somehow managed to lose a couple pounds despite all the sabotage.

Apr 12: 190.5
Apr 19: 188

The exercise is steadily increasing and the diet is improving but still up and down.

In other news, it's going to hit 85 today. It was 70 when I got to work. I'm wearing shorts. Hope nobody complains!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

New Beginnings in Mid-April?

Got on the scale this morning and saw a number which I wasn't happy to see. I started this whole thing last July and weighed 231. I have been as low as 183 and told myself I wouldn't let myself top 190 again, even though I've hovered between 183 and 188.

Today I hit 190 again.

It just hammered the point home which someone so kindly pointed out to me last week -- you can always find a reason it's not a good time to focus on this stuff.

So I've decided to set some spring goals and work towards them.

My goal is to drop ten pounds by July 1. That will put me at a 50 pound loss in one year.

I will accomplish this goal by returning to Calorie counting (FitDay, here I come) and maintaining a healthy Calorie deficiency. I will increase my activity so that I am exercising 5-6 days a week, even if running is only 3-4 of those days. This is what I did last year, and what I've been lazy about since January.

I am posting this because by coming out and saying it, I'll push myself to actually do it.

11 weeks. A pound a week would beat my goal.

It starts today. I actually measured my cereal this morning, looked at the bowl and said, "Yep, portion control." Funny how you get comfortable and just assume you're still giving yourself one serving when in fact you're more than doubling it....

I'm heading to the gym for some elliptical and bike work, since I ran last night and need to "rest".

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Toilet Humor

I sent this to a friend in email but realized it belonged here:

I don't usually bitch about people's bathroom habits, because while it's a limitless source of amusement, we've heard it all before. Don't talk to me while I'm in there, don't talk on the phone, blah blah blah.

So, yeah. This one was bizarre enough to send on. A guy humming "My Country 'tis of Thee" the entire time he's in the stall.

Weird enough, but now I have it stuck in my head, and every time I think of it I wonder, "Why is that stuck in my head" and the answer is "Oh yeah, that guy in the fucking bathroom." Thanks, humming in the john guy.