Thursday, July 31

I give up

I keep failing to lose weight and keep it off. I've lost 20 pounds at least 4 times.

So I'm finally going to give Weight Watchers a try.

I know lots of people who have had success with WW, including Paul and Benet.

Why haven't I tried it sooner? I guess I hoped I could succeed at a lower level of commitment, without paying for a solution and going to meetings. I always said if I didn't succeed I'd join WW. Now I've finally done it.

I'm trying the online version first. It's a little easier (no meetings) and costs a little less. Would meeting with people I don't know to weigh in once a week help me? Maybe, and if the online program doesn't work, I'll probably try meetings next.

(Yoda says 'Do or do not. There is no try.' Does that really apply to life?)

So, now I'm on the program and tracking points online. Everything's going swimmingly so far. Now I just need to keep it up day after day... Believe me, I know I need to change my lifestyle and my bad eating habits. I keep failing at that.

Two things I'll have going for me (since I'm not doing meetings):
  1. I have more invested. It costs money. I think this will be a motivation.
  2. I'm going to institute a Friday weigh-in here at 'interact'. You folks will be my meeting.
Now, I should hasten to add that I've tried weigh-ins via email with my family and Christine and Kathy. Didn't work so well. Eventually we fell off the wagon. I'm hoping this will work better. Benet does a very good job of publishing her weigh-ins on her weblog, so I'm taking a leaf from her book.

I think I wrote before that exercise is actually going ok. I'm doing yoga and calisthenics, shooting for 6 days a week. I'm also thinking of taking the six week, one hundred push up challenge (GSR will be so happy ;-).

Another goal: next year's big European air show is NOT during RAGBRAI (unlike this year). So I have a tentative goal right now to ride RAGBRAI again next year. And I'm pretty sure it would be better to ride at 170 than at 200.

Oh yeah, 170 pounds is my main goal, with the possibility of reevaluation at that point. 170 puts me toward the top of the ok BMI range for 5'11". I weighed in at 206.5 this last Monday morning, but will switch to Friday weigh-ins from now on, so there's another one due tomorrow.

Please wish me well and, if you're a prayor, will you pray for me, even if it's just when you read these posts? Thanks!

Sunday, July 27

The Last Lecture

Somehow I missed Randy Pausch's Last Lecture. But when I saw in the news that he had died recently, I thought 'here's a guy who might really have something worthwhile to say'.

I'm a little surprised I watched the whole thing this evening (in two sittings). It's pretty good, especially for parents. His career has specific application for Wil's likely future interests - gaming, virtual reality, storytelling. He even did a sabbatical as a Disney Imagineer (and EA, too).

The title of the talk is 'How to really achieve your childhood dreams'. I might do some thinking about that. (There are critiques to be made, too, but they'll keep.)

It's 76 minutes long, so chances are you won't watch it now, but here it is.

And another thing

+ Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is fighting the good fight on 'non-profit' 'ministries'.

+ Follow-up to my donation solicitation skepticism, which seemed to touch a nerve with a few people: don't forget: it's well established that wealthy people give less of their income as a percentage than less-wealthy people. Of course, it should be the opposite.

Friday, July 25

Soliciting donations

Here's the deal: I react poorly to request for money for charity from people I know have more money than I do.

For example, we have all of these NFL players shilling for the United Way. What percentage of their time and money do they give?

The proximate occurrence in this case is Staples asking customers if they'd be willing to make a 2$ donation to school supplies for kids. No problem with the cause. But notice the stronger language: not 'would you like to', but 'would you be willing to'.

The two customers in front of me were asked, but I was not (probably because I was using a corporate credit card).

Situation in which I might be 'willing': give me some time to think about it and match my contribution. Then I know you're giving, too.

What do you think? Am I just being petty?

Monday, July 21

Review: Nuclear Family Vacation

I've been meaning to cross-post this from Ares for... a month and a half. Lame.

A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry
By Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger, Bloomsbury USA, 2008, 240 pp., $24.99

Now that the Cold War is over and much that was secret is declassified, it’s possible to visit many prominent sites. That’s what husband-and-wife defense reporters Sharon Weinberger (former DTI editor-in-chief) and Nathan Hodge did. As they note, there are no Cold War battlefields to tour.

While most of their tourism is historical, the authors maintain a view of the nuclear-industrial complex. Hodge and Weinberger have chapters on the Nevada Test Site, Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Oak Ridge, Stratcom, missile silos, secret bunkers (including Cheyenne Mountain), Huntsville, the Marshall Islands, Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran.

The first thing we learn is that all these labs and test sites, military bases and commands—once instrumental in nuclear preparedness—struggle today with how they should continue (shutting down is not usually considered). Key questions are: If no new weapons are being produced, what do we do and how do we stay funded?

Interesting issues emerge from the Stratcom chapter. In an age where great-power war is a distant possibility, what are we deterring with nukes? The overarching strategy of military planners now is global strike, including conventional weapons. In fact, the advent of precision conventional weapons obviates the old, and questionable, role of tactical nuclear weapons.

The authors bring a reporter’s skepticism to their project, so there’s a healthy dose of “How much of this stuff do we really need?” Cold War deterrence worked, and almost every weapon system explored was never used. But what is deterrence now? Given limited budgets, how much should nations spend on nuclear weapons? What are the likely threats compared with the needs, for example, of Iraq and Afghanistan? The global nuclear weapons complex continues to be an expensive and dangerous hedge against an unlikely scenario.

Nuclear tourism is an effective and interesting way of canvassing issues we face today. Reading A Nuclear Family Vacation is a good way to learn more about the history of nuclear weapons and become conversant with our current situation. Hodge and Weinberger have done the legwork to back up their common-sense conclusions.

For more on the book, check out the official website.

Sunday, July 20


Just saw The Dark Knight. It was perfect. Not a wrong note in the whole thing. Amazing.

Heath Ledger will posthumously win the Oscar for Best Actor.

In the works: trip to Charlotte with my friend, Will (not to be confused with my son, Wil), to see it on IMAX.

More later.

Aviation Week F-22 Farnborough Video

Cross posted from Ares.

One of the best parts of my visit here to Farnborough has been the F-22 demonstration flight on Monday, the first time the F-22 has flown in such a venue in Europe.

There was commentary over the speakers in the grand stand, but I was watching from the Aviation Week/Show News chalet, so it was pretty hard to hear it.

We've got the commentary hooked up, though, in our best AvWeek video yet. Sure, we've got the maneuvers, but you can see those on YouTube. More importantly, we've got commentary by Alan Norman, Chief Experimental Test Pilot for Lockheed Martin.

Postscript: Of course the F-22 is designed to never get in a dog fight and to kill from far away. But the maneuvers and commentary are still really cool ;-)

I'm back

I've got this new thing where I don't really want to publicize being gone from my family.

All that to say, I got back from London last night. Daytime was mostly working on Aviation Week's coverage of the Farnborough International Air Show. Evenings I mostly got to spend time with my colleagues and enjoy dinner.

I sent Christine and the twins a lot of low-quality Treo pictures that we'll probably put up on Picasa, though there's not much really interesting.

So, if you wondered where I was, that's the answer.

Wednesday, July 9

I continue to rock

Well, I'm just over three weeks into my Guitar Hero career, and it's going pretty well. I've earned four or five stars on almost all of the Medium songs and beaten Lou two out of three times I've battled him.

Further, Shane and I completed a co-op career on Medium at his house.

Now I'm starting on Hard and, man, is it a big jump. Only thing to do is chip away at it.

You know what would be great? If learning real guitar was as much fun as guitar hero. It's not, and I know, because I play a little guitar.

Seen a couple articles that say Guitar Hero has led to a surge in people learning to play actual guitar. Here's one: Guitar Hero: Gateway Drug to Six-String Bliss

I assume, someday, Guitar Hero and learning real guitar will merge for those of us who want it. There are already some outliers:

Fretlight is an 'interactive learning system': a real guitar with LEDs in the fretboard that light up where your fingers are supposed to go. Pretty cool (but not Guitar Hero, obviously).

Guitar Rising looks like a more complete realization.

Sunday, July 6

Weblog summit

Here we are, Shane, Mark and I, happy together at Shane's house in Eastern Tennessee. Shane and Renee are the hosts with the most!

It's our first attempt at getting the families together: each family has an older daughter and a younger son, all within a span of about five years. Generally, they've played together well. Here's a shot from the night of the fourth: