Thursday, July 9, 2009

More notable deaths, bye bye Sarah, my new bike. . .

Robert Strange McNamara: Hate Him or. . .well, what's the other option?

I'm proud to say that I didn't watch one second of the Michael Jackson memorial. Nor have I been following the nearly inescapable media coverage of his death. CNN? Hello? Isn't there any other world news out there? Sure, a great performer and a notable public figure. But, really, does he warrant ALL THIS ATTENTION? A great humanitarian. Sure, but I wouldn't let MY kids sleep over at his house (the record shows: he was acquitted of child molestation once; the second time, charges weren't filed and Jackson settled for big bucks with his accuser). Let's enjoy his music and wait for the rest of the surviving Beatles to die now, can we?

Meanwhile, the deaths of notables continue to pile up:
  • Karl Malden. Another 70s icon of my youth. Remember "Streets of San Francisco?"
  • Steve McNair. I don't pay attention to the NFL, but seems to me, he may well be a great athlete and all, but running around on your wife--AND four sons--and having your Hootchie Mama blow your brains out while you sleep would seem to demonstrate some less than admirable qualities. Here's a good take on the issue.

And then there's Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense for Kennedy and Johnson. Villified--and rightly so--during the Vietnam War for pushing for an escalation of the war and bombing Hanoi, McNamara eventually came to believe that the war was unwinnable, and was forced from his cabinet post by president Johnson as a result.

Many never forgave McNamara for his role in the war; many years later, McNamara attempted--many feel 30 years too late-- to attone for his deeds, most notably participating in Errol Morris' documentary The Fog Of War in 2003 (one of my all-time favorite films). While indirectly drawing parallels with the ongoing Iraq war, McNamara presented his "Eleven Life Lessons," and later, his Eleven Lessons from the Vietnam war. Perhaps most precient was his believe that US leaders viewed the conflict between North and South Vietnam as a war of communist aggression, when it reality it was a civil conflict with historical roots.

Op-ed writers haven't pulled their punches this week, reflecting on McNamara's death. This from Bryon Williams:

McNamara, by his own admission, was aware Vietnam was not winnable by 1965, but he failed to provide President Johnson this vital information. It was McNamara's silence and lack of moral courage at a critical hour in American history makes him complicit not just in the carnage but also in the debauchery that helped prolong the failed policy. That may be the ultimate legacy he leaves posterity to consider.

He's remained, decades after the war, a lightning rod for opinion. McNamara remains to me a fascinating personality: incredibly smart and analytical, he served as an analyist for Army Air Corps general Curtis LeMay during World War II, whose group formulated plans for daylight firebombing raids on many of the largest cities in Japan, killing hundreds of thousands of civillians ("If we'd have lost the war, we would've been tried as war criminals for this," McNamara said). McNamara joined Ford Motors after the war, the force behind the Ford Falcon and safety improvements such as the seat-belt and leading Ford's post-war expansion. He was named president of Ford shortly before becoming Kennedy's Defense Secretary, where his priority was placed in increasing strategic readiness against communist aggression. He was involved in execution of the Bay of Pigs and was instrumental in formulating our response to the Soviets in the Cuban Missile Crisis. A fascinating man. And one that I'd add to my list of Dinner Guests at my imaginary Big Table.

Sarah Palin: Fucking Nuts?

Excuse me if i think so. But, then, I thought Republicans were crazy for putting her up as a veep candidate. . .silly me for thinking that. After her rambling, incoherent speech where she reiterated her status as a quitter the other day, instant polls show that 70% of Republican voters say they'd vote for her for President. Shit, after all the meltdowns in the Republican party lately, who is left? I only have to be very, very worried about America's future if this idot is ever elected. I'd be scared more of the electorate than Palin herself.

I found it interesting that in a speech about quitting her elected office she'd go so far as to praise our fighting men and women for "not giving up."

My New Bike. No kick stand, fenders, or pannier yet. . .

Time For A Little Exercise. . .

I'm sure my excuses for being a fat, lazy slob are no different than anyone else's in this country, so I won't voice 'em here, and, anyway, who really cares? All I know is that in the past 10 years, i've probably gained. . .oh, 60 pounds, anyway. And that's no way to live. Not for me, and certainly not for the good of my family, who relies on my income to survive. Dad's no good for anyone if he's dead of a heart-attack at 49 because he's a big fat tub of lard. That insurance money won't go very far.

So, I explored the options: Seeking the easy way out, considered surgery--that lap-band looks like a relatively easy way to lose weight, as it should be, since you're eating a 1/2 cup of mushed up food at a time (and never again eating a lot of stuff that wouldn't digest easily and would make you throw up at inopportune times). I like some kinds of food too much to take such a drastic step. And, I wonder if I could follow through with the program.

The best way to lose weight is to watch what you eat. Be sensible. And, most importantly, exercise. Many years ago, while I've never been "thin," I was in reasonable shape. My former career kept me pretty active, and i enjoyed racquetball and mountain biking quite a bit. Now i sit in an office in front of computer screens all day long and I haven't played racquetball in nearly 10 years. I hate treadmills, exercycles, gyms and walking. I want scenery that moves in front of me. And I still like biking.

So i went out and visited the good folks at Bicycles Inc. the other day. Employee Matt really helped me find the right bike. After trying out a "comfort" mountain bike (fat tires: too slow on the pavement) and a few different hybrid frames (I've got short legs but a normally sized torso, making fitting the thing kind of iffy), I ended up with a Trek 7100 "hybrid" bike. Its 70cm diameter wheels and relaxed geometry make it perfect for riding on roads of gravel/paved trails around North Texas. I doubt i'll ever bust it up on gnarly single-track trails for awhile, so this bike is perfect. And within my budget. In a little over a week, I've logged around 70 miles so far, which really amazes me. There's not many places to do much riding around my neighborhood without dealing with crazed Texas drivers not paying attention, but we're not that far from Fort Worth and the great Trinity River trail network.

I'm trying to get in three good rides a week, usually in the mornings when I get off work and the day hasn't heated up to blast-furnace temps. When i get in a bit better shape, i'd like to do even more. Wouldn't it be cool to do 100 mile weeks just out of habit? Or even the Hotter N'Hell 100? I'm realistic, thought. But if I had the nerve, I'd ideally like to ride my bike to work. It's only five miles each way, but much of that is busy two-lane road with narrow shoulders.


DPLassen said...

My take on Sarah, from my steathy little attempted-humor web site:

Anonymous said...

My bike looks EXACTLY like yours. I'm going out tonight to buy some pretty stickers so we won't get them mixed up on a ride. -Em

IainS said...

Never having been thin, weight is a problem for me as well. I am now partly insulin resistant which makes it hard to loose weight.

I have controlled it and even lost weight by getting a dog (a wiener dog)and my wife and I walk Alistair 3 km per day in the morning along the shore of the Harbour.

I used to ride a bike but I really don't trust the motorists in Sydney not to drive at me.

MaryDK said...

That's cool Em. Okay, now I want a bike too!!

Nick Fotis said...

Since I am not a low-weight man (weighting around 95 kg and tall as 1.80m - imperial conversion left to the reader), I would suggest walking as much as possible.

[ generalism alert ]
A reduction of food intake is a good idea, *before* you start exercising.
Else, you will not lose weight (body fat will become muscle tissue, and then you will eat more again)

Biking is fun, but it doesn't make you thin (you just exercise muscles in feet).
If you like dancing, I would suggest a course in ballroom dance, including exercises - that gave results after 4-5 months.

I like biking, but here in Athens it is a risky proposition (at the best), with the drivers not giving attention to anyone without a car at least as big as theirs...

At any rate, do not cancel your lifestyle change - this is the crucial part: to avoid falling back into the old routine.