A few weeks ago I wrote (somewhere else) about my fear of becoming boring, and expressed the view that the vast majority of everyone is just that. It seems I had fallen victim to a particular disease of thought which has bothered me for a long time, and has recently reached galling proportions. That is, I had become an intellectual elitist.

I don't know the exact causes of this problem, but I can speculate. Perhaps it's a by-product of our education systems, which throw children together in such a way that the biggest and meanest perpetually abuse those not so big and mean, and create in the oppressed a sense of frustration that is usually mitigated only by the belief that they are smarter than their oppressors, and this is the cause of their plight. This, of course, is an obvious fallacy, but it is one that a distressing proportion of people never seem to outgrow.

Or, perhaps it has nothing to do with childhood experiences and is the natural result of disagreements. We've all experienced the frustration of arguing with someone whose worldview is so radically different from our own that we literally cannot wrap our minds around it, cannot understand how they can hold these views without also drooling a bit and wearing a foam helmet. And yet, there they stand, as well put-together as ourselves and, in their own way, every bit as intelligent. If it were not so there would be no reason to argue, after all. The strength of our righteousness would obliterate their faulty ideas if they were, in fact, completely wrong and stupid.

It's not that simple, though, is it? Somehow, all these people with insane ideas are able to live productive lives and be happy in their own ways, oblivious to the fact that they are clearly wrong-headed and ignorant. The fools! The benighted masses! If only they would open their minds to the truth of our positions their liberation would be swift and sure, and a gentle peace would settle upon the world.

That's the problem, really. That millions upon billions of people can live as well as we do without the benefit of our superior ideas shows our elitism to be a vicious lie. It might make us feel better to believe they are all mistaken, but there comes a point where it is obvious that either we are wrong as well, or that there can be such a thing as multiple correct viewpoints in this world, some seemingly diametrically opposed. Personally, I'd rather think most people have a valuable contribution to make than to believe that everyone's worthless and the world's going to pot, but your mileage may vary.

I have just finished watching a feature on BBC World on the republican heartland in the U.S., in this case Lancaster, Ohio. I was literally thunderstruck by the amazing conviction and belief with these friendly, gentle, normal looking, casually dressed westerners would speak about their world views, their support for their president, the need for the invasion of North Korea and Iran, the sanctity of marriage, the evil of abortion, the need for "people with conviction and belief " (=christians) to be in the highest level of the United States government and the firm belief that the U.S. should ignore any criticism of "the Europeans" and just spread evangelical values around the world.

These were not folks from the next gutter: no, these were academics: teachers, a priest, the head of the police department.

It beggars belief: this is a medieval society with medieval beliefs with islands of enlightenment which are perceived as heretic. It has twentyfirst century technology at its fingertips and the most powerful and technically advanced armed force ever seen in this part of the solar system. And the men and women these friendly folks have chosen are running the show.

I apologize for sounding a bit high strung, but the realisation that these people actually still exist (well, at least 53 million of them) and are not an invention of The Guardian has made me think about the future world order.

Somehow international terrorism doesn't feel like the biggest threat around here anymore...

The new year is fast approaching. Like many of you, I have taken stock of my year and formed a few resolutions for the coming twelve months. Some of these I will not keep. Most others are private and have to do with finding a lost happiness. At the center lies a resolution I would like you to consider taking with me. Make your life healthier.

The Problem

I am supposed to be what one might call a semi-professional athlete. Professionals do sport as a full-time occupation and get payed for it. I don't get payed. My parents and I spend a metric fuckton of cash on enabling me to go skiing as often as possible. I spend a lot of time juggling uni and skiving off. In order to justify this investment, I owe it to myself to be in peak physical condition. I'm not. In fact, having done more school and less skiing lately, combined with feeling a bit down, I am what can only be described as fat. So "supposed to be" is about right.

I realise I'm going to get little sympathy from my audience here. I am carrying slightly over 5kg (10lb) excess fat. Nothing! I hear you cry. To such an extent that when I mention to people that I have to watch my weight, they say: "You are joking, aren't you?"; and I have to pretend that I am. Because it is not socially acceptable for a 20 year-old heterosexual male to be concerned about his weight. Well expletive to that! I do not hate my body. I am not worried about whether my bum looks big. And I don't hold with complaints that my claiming to have a weight problem makes a mockery of people who "really are overweight".

The Truth

  • The 'rithmetic is simple: I have put on 5kg in the past 3 years, the latest in the last month. I am studying computer science; I can reasonably expect to spend large portions of each day of the rest of my life sitting on my backside. This could leave me 50kg overweight at the age of fifty and facing a large number of health risks including (but not limited to) cancer, heart disease and the inability to walk up a flight of steps.
  • If I get fitter, I will be able to ski faster, better and longer. (Did I mention that I love skiing?)
  • It is possible to maintain any weight. The natural state of people who are prone to putting on weight is eating too much. This means that stabilising my current weight would be just as easy as stabilising my ideal weight. And much more fulfilling.
  • Weight control does not have to mean counting calories and mentally punishing yourself every day that you go over your goal. It does not mean that some foods are forbidden. What it does mean is that you must not eat too much.
  • Having read The Hacker's Diet, it is clear that my body is very bad at informing me when I have had enough food; I am also a very poor listener. So controlling my weight will involve a change of lifestyle.

This last one is the one I am least willing to admit. A chocolate guzzling geek is what I am! I refused to change who I am for my ex-girlfriend, insisting that I was not changing for anything or anybody. I have always looked down on dieters as chimaera chasers, people who cannot accept who they are inside and seek to modify it outside. These are people who are willing to let society impose its ideals on them. I then looked at fat people and deemed that they are lazy selfish pricks who are too feeble-minded to do anything about it. They often seem happy. I decided that was good for me.

No more! Fat people of the world (including future fat people like me): You are not beautiful. There is nothing beautiful about a belly which waggles all over the place. There is nothing beautiful about having several chins. There is also something seriously unhealthy about being overweight. It is bad for you. It will kill you. Slowly. Fat people of the world: it's ok! the problem is that your body doesn't tell you when you have fed it enough. You just need to compensate this problem, just like you wear glasses when your body is unable to bring what you are seeing into focus. This what I intend to do. I hope you will join me. This paragraph may cause any reader who made it this far to downvote me to oblivion. Before you do, consider this: I'm being fucking serious here! Things that kill you slowly are not nice. Your life expectancy is around 80. It may increase to 90 or even 100 by 2050. Consider that if you are fat, you may spend the last 40 years of your life in bad health. This will be like playing russian roulette. For 10'000 consecutive days. So resenting anyone for telling you to do something about it makes no sense.

The Goal

  1. Loose the amount of weight necessary to:
    • No longer have a rounded face.
    • No longer have an inch-thick layer of fat between my finger and my abs when I poke my belly button.
    • No longer feel rolls of flab building up when I stretch over sideways.
  2. Stabilise this weight.
  3. Exercise every day.

The Solution

The solution I have chosen is the result of a large amount of thinking. As to the fitness part: I have tried and failed at doing the regular exercise thing; I set my aim too high, wanting to do an hour's workout every day; after missing a couple of days, this reduces to about half an hour's exercise every week. I shall therefore go running every morning for about twenty minutes before my shower. I shall run ten minutes in one direction, turn round and come back. I shall then do my chosen rung of the Lifetime ladder from the Hacker's diet. This should have several additional benefits: more energy early in the morning; never missing breakfast before going to school; and not missing sessions through putting them off until bedtime. Oh and doing the Lifetime ladder exercises necessitates a clear floor; this means my flat may be a little tidier. Yay!

For the weight, I'm going to implement the Eat Watch as exposed in The Hacker's Diet in order to keep track of how well I'm doing. Because I don't have that much weight to lose, there is no point in doing anything drastic. I will simply cut down on sugary drinks in favour of water and flavoured water. This should save 300kcal for every litre (two pints). Assuming I replace a litre a day in this manner, that's already 9000kcal (the equivalent of one kilo – two pounds – of fat) a month. Just in case this doesn't suffice, I'll also cut down on pigging out: when I know that I am no longer hungry, I shall no longer eat. Easy! And as an additional precaution, killing the ten o'clock snack by having a proper breakfast may be a good idea.


I think you should do something similar. This is about accepting the problem, analysing it, solving it and managing it. If this way of thinking appeals to you, read The Hacker's Diet. If your gut reaction is to find "The Diet" program for you, then you already have me worried: diets don't work; lifestyle changes do. So do yourself a favour and change yours. As someone said recently you are all special to me (especially those of you who read this entire daylog) and I would much prefer to think of you as being in good health.

On a similar note, I would encourage you to also consider IWhoSawTheFace's plan. This is about getting into the habit of running. Get high on your own dope!

This daylog stands here in order to remind myself of the one resolution I would really like to keep. Send me a /msg to find out whether I did. Send me a /msg to tell me that you too are going to change your life for the better.

Update, one year on. Have lost around 2kg. Have stabilised. Still not engaging in regular exercise. Oh well...

What a ridiculous week it’s been. A week ago today, Kevin got down on one knee, in the chatterbox. It completely took my breath away, even though the topic had been on the table for a while. He’s a completely romantic nut case, as am I, and it’s one of the many reasons I adore him.

With all the well-wishes from so many people, I haven’t managed to send back thanks to everyone who has sent us love, blessings, congratumalations. So I’ll give it a shot here, instead. THANK YOU ALL, so incredibly much, for the messages. I will at some point catalogue them all and probably list most of them on wertperch.co.uk.

It boggles my mind to think that happened a week ago, today. I’ve packed about a month’s worth of emotional uproar into the last week, not to even mention the rest of the month of December. (No wonder I’m sick….) Wednesday last week was my last day of work. Thursday I RAN AROUND, as Helen would say. I pretty much traded off kid duty with my friend Jenny, so that we each could run Christmas errands, but it was a nutty day. Bank, phones, minimal shopping, etc. The three kids (Juliana, Tessie and Chloe) were all rather wound, so the emotional pitch was fairly high. I wept all over Jenny at one point, with fatigue.

That evening Tess and I flew to Seattle. Because of storms on the east coast, our flight left 2-1/2 hours late. Instead of 9:15, which is tough enough on a six-year-old and her mama, it left at 10:50. Or rather, was supposed to depart at 10:50. Unfortunately one member of the crew was coming in on another delayed flight, so we also waited half an hour for her. Got into Seattle at 1:15, effectively missing the last ferry. Luckily my cell phone was finally working, so by calling ahead to Bob we had a hotel reserved. I’m not much of a fan of cell phones, but once in a while they are pretty handy.

Crashed at the dry, overheated hotel, which pretty much put the final touches on my now raging sinus infection, and then went over to PT the morning of Christmas Eve. We rode the bus up to the ferry with what I can only describe as a busload of street people, which was highly entertaining. The outfit of the day seemed to lean heavily towards oversized ratty down jackets patched with duct tape. The man next to me offered to cover the extra quarter of the 1.25 bus fare if I didn’t have it. He was headed to downtown to clean a laundromat. Another guy, after having the bus driver point out that his bus card was long expired, was bailed out by ANOTHER guy across from us. The christmas spirit flows freely amongst the down and out in Seattle, apparently. I love riding the bus. Tessie and I look awfully prosperous, by contrast. It reminds me to be so grateful for everything we have – a roof over our heads, plenty of food (thanks most of all to former formerfarmer Jim and working at the Farmer’s Market), more than ample clothing and tchackas and what have you.

Stumpie picked us up, fed us at a lovely bakery, and then we headed off to my sister’s house. Some sit around time, then taking the girls down to see Bob, and some last minute Christmas shopping. Kate and I had agreed on the phone, to try and decrease the amount of “Stuff” this year, and I think we somewhat succeeded. I was fairly fried, but still up and wide awake at o dark 30. (With Kevin in Nottingham, there is an 8 hour time gap. That means that on working days, the time I’m most likely to catch him is at 1 pm, before he goes to work (5 am for me) or 7 pm for me (3 am for him). Even though he is a night owl, I keep him up late, and though I’m a morning person, getting in the habit of waking up at 5 am every day means that I have a good two hours before the sun comes up. Sigh. I’ll be glad when he’s back in the same time zone, among other things.

Christmas was lovely and low key. I cooked the turkey, everyone else pitched in, and it was my favorite part of the day. The next day Kate and Billy and I went in to Seattle, and beebled around the Farmer’s Market. Kate and I sort of don’t know what to do with ourselves when we don’t have kids in tow, so quite a bit of our time was spent eating and drinking tea in various cafés.

I took off to the airport, and managed to get on the bus just as the SeaHawks game was ending. Very crowded, heavy traffic, and again, many moth-eaten down jackets. Made it home about midnight, although the low point was trying to catch a shuttle from the airport to the long-term parking, and sitting in a VERY cold wind for half an hour. Poor sinuses…

Back to work the next day, and my corner of the office is now known as Typhoid Central – three of the four of us are sickly. Yick. I suspect I was the vector about two weeks ago.

I FINALLY managed to get my cell phone working after it’s dunking earlier this fall (don’t ask) and after many calls to Sprint the international dialing started working. Yay! Kevin and I can talk on the phone again. I long for him here, at the moment because I’m utterly pitiful when I’m sick – I regress to four, and want to be tucked up in a blanket on the couch, served Chicken Noodle Soup (Campbell’s ONLY) ginger ale, and lot and lots of Poor Little Chrisses. I suspect Kevin is very good at this.

But there is so damned much HAPPENING. We’re trying to sort out when I’ll be in the UK, Kevin is trying to sort out the beastliness at work, Bob and I are shuttling Tess back and forth, grieving for Sue, trying to get something done at work, finalizing all those applications….yikes. I need two of me. Now, plan a wedding involving two continents and many, many people. When I'm on the phone, we seem to talk as fast as we possibly can, and it's still an hour, sometimes two. The woes of modern long-distance relationships....

Kevin? Let’s elope.

The dumbest customer of the day award goes to . . .

I pick up the phone.

"Hi . . . uh . . . uh . . . there was a prescription . . . for my wife . . . they were gonna call it in . . . did they?"

I notice that the voice sounds exactly like my coworker Matt* doing his impersonation of a stupid customer. He prank calls us at least once a week. His shift had just ended, and he had just walked out the door. Immediately I thought, he's sitting in his car with his cell phone messing with me. But it might really be a customer, so I have to play along.

"What's your wife's name?"

"Uh . . . Mary."

"Mary who?"

"Mary! Her name is Mary! Mary!"

"Her name is Mary Mary?"

"Yeah! Mary!"


[long pause] "No, Mary!"

"Yeah, real funny Matt," I say, and hang up.

Ten minutes later, the phone rings and the clerk picks it up. I overhear part of the conversation:

"But what is Mary's last name?" the clerk enunciates slowly.

And I'm thinking, Matt, you dick. Then the clerk turns to me and asks if a prescription has been called in for Mary Kerflucktahbooey. Yes. Shit. Yes there had been. We just hadn't run it through yet because we needed to see an insurance card.

So I'm standing there thinking about how much I'd like to strangle Matt when Mr. Kerflucktahbooey walks in the door holding an insurance card out in front of him like it's a note from his mother. And I apologize for hanging up on him and say he sounds just like a coworker who prank calls the store sometimes. He laughs it off and we fill the prescription, and wifey gets her pain pills. Yay.

So the idiot award for today will be awarded to three people: to Mary Mary's husband for his awesome phone skills; to Matt the bastard for being a bastard; and to this idiot for not letting the clerk answer the phone in the first place.

* All names have been changed.

I had just gotten done telling Raven via e-mail what a good snake Ophion was, and how friendly, and how tolerant, when he went and bit me on my goddamned armpit. (Ophion, not Raven)

Sooo I kinda wandered out into the computer room with a snake clamped to my underarm and said to my roommate;
“Hey Michael, you have any experience handling snakes?”
“Uhhh...a little. Why?”
“There’s a really weird situation that I need you to help me with.”

So we tried Googling “python bite help” (the “signs of a snake biteFAQ result was particularly humorous, in that it did not include “is there a snake attached to your body?”), and then checking the ball python manual (they have a special jaw-opening tool for it; we don't), and finally just using the method one uses on cats, dogs and horses: taking a stick and very gently prying his jaws open. The difference between Ophion and a horse, though, is that you don't have to unhook a horse.

I admit that I did think about posting for help in the Catbox, but hitting refresh every thirty seconds, for five minutes, with a python chewing my underarm... the idea lacks zest.

When Michael tells this story later, it will be funnier that I had to take my shirt off.

So now Ophion’s mouth is smeared with my blood and he’s dipping his head repeatedly in his water dish. I imagine human sweat tastes like crap to snakes. Serves him right.

Michael reports that should this happen again (and it will, now that Ophion has a taste for my FLESH), we should introduce a drop of booze to the snake’s mouth. I thought about that while this was going on, but dismissed it as toxic. But in long run, it’s probably less damaging than chopsticks. A better suggestion, from a friend of mine, was some diluted vinegar.

...my goddamned armpit.

Acoording to some herps I know, some snakes get nuts about sweat and human smell, so I assume this is what happened. The weird thing is that he wasn't coiled or tensed; just hanging out in my lap like he usually does. I guess he's hungrier than I thought. Or crazy.

I have a collection of thoroughly unimpressive punctures in my pit, and on one of the fingers I was using to hold his jaw. I was a little worried at first that the blood was his, but he doesn't seem to be phased, much less physically wounded.

So maybe I sweat mice. But this is the best reason I've ever encountered to wear anti-perspirant religiously. I just took a shower last night, even.

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