Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wednesday Musette

Learn to Ride?

A few days ago, one of my co-workers stopped by to say that his wife bought a new bicycle over the weekend. From his description, I realized it was a hybrid. She's happy with the fit and the bike is comfortable, he said.

So I told him about the upcoming Road1 course in July. He wanted to know what the course involved. “We teach people to ride safely on the road,” I said, “and the course includes both classroom work and practical instruction in parking lots and on the road.” I described the instant turn and the emergency braking maneuvers.

He seemed mildly interested, sort of. “But she already knows how to ride a bike”, he replied. “Here comes a car! Get out of the way!” He went on to tell me that in any collision between a cyclist and motor vehicle, the cyclist loses. So it's 'common sense' to be afraid of riding in traffic. Somehow, I doubt his wife will appear in one of our classes.

Now, this is a guy who gets livid at any proposal that would limit his right to keep and bear arms. He'd be outraged if I suggested he's too stupid to be permitted to vote. Yet he'll readily give up his right to use that public space that belongs to all of us. Isn't that odd?

Who said that we need to take our rights out and exercise them now and then, because otherwise we lose them?

Fred Cast

My thanks to David Bernstein for mentioning CycleDog in Fred Cast 66! I'd call and thank him but I'm afraid that my gravelly, ultra-macho voice would cause too many listeners to swoon. (Mary always rolls her eyes when I write things like this. I guess it's just her way of swooning.)

Trust me, I'll probably never do any video blogs or pod casts. Like Garrison Keillor said, “I have a face that's made for radio!” In my case, though, the same can be said of my voice. I sound much better in print.

New Computer!

I purchased a new, bottom-of-the-line Compaq laptop recently. The upgrades included a larger hard drive and the Windows Vista Deluxe Home edition. Believe me, this machine is blindingly fast when compared to my old Compaq. I generally don't do much more than word processing and spreadsheets, so a basic machine fits my needs. The trouble is, once I've been exposed to all the new toys, tools, bells and whistles, I'll discover other things I may want to try. Multimedia was nearly impossible on the old computer, but it offers tantalizing possibilities on this one.

Our IT guy, Yoda, said there's a photo editing program called The Gimp, and it does many of the same things as Photoshop. Even better, it's free! So I just have to try that!

One benefit of this new machine is blindingly obvious. The speed makes finding things in documents much, much easier. For instance, I have one technical manual in a 30 megabyte pdf file. Finding a part number or a signal name can take quite a while if I leaf through the paper manual. It takes just seconds on the computer. Vista can search for both file names and text at the same time, so this will make my work easier, too.

Ah, food! Glorious food!

I read once that babies will eat a balanced diet if they're given a choice of foods. They may gorge on carrots one day, potatoes the next, and scrambled eggs the day after that. But overall they'll consume what their body needs simply by satisfying their cravings. I don't know how much validity is in this idea, but it sounds interesting.

I write about eating because I've had a constant struggle with my weight for the last 20 years. When I hit 245, it was time to take up bicycle commuting full time.

I'm wondering how food cravings relate to an adult diet. Now, it's easy to resist the truly bad ones like a rack of ribs, but the smaller ones are harder. How much is learned (habitual) and how much comes from the cellular level – presumably just those things our bodies really need? I can avoid that rack of barbecued ribs, but the little serving of ice cream is almost irresistible. The best defense at present is portion control. I have ice cream in a coffee cup rather than a bowl. It holds less. I'm having water with my meals rather than soda. Little things. Baby steps.

Mary made broccoli for dinner last night. Oddly, I've been craving veggies for the last couple of days. I've wanted a big bowl of stir-fried vegetables and rice, but broccoli is one of my favorites. It disappeared quickly.

I eat when I'm bored. I usually gain weight in the winter. I've had a life-long habit of having a snack before bed, a habit that is particularly bad and very difficult to break. Like most people, I could lose some pounds, but I don't want to suffer while doing it.

My goal is to get under 200 pounds later this year. But I won't do that with the single-minded determination that Mike Magnuson wrote about in his “Heft on Wheels”. His focus and dedication were admirable, but he admitted that he went too far, losing too much weight too fast, and jeopardized his health in the process. I did that just once and I will not repeat the experience.

It would be easy to blame all my struggles on Mary and the kids. It's so much easier to resist the siren song of a half-gallon of ice cream if there isn't any ice cream in the freezer. But with kids in the house, cookies and ice cream seem to be staples. No, my problem stems from will power, or more accurately, my lack of will power.

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Blogger Coelecanth said...

I'm with you on the diet difficulties. Not that I'm terribly overweight but I'm having to watch my cholesterol and sodium. My shiny new heart defect needs to be coddled apparently.

The cholesterol was pretty easy, I don't really eat meat or eggs so all I had to give up was cheese, ice cream and cheap chocolate. I miss them all quite a bit but the scare I got was really motivating.

I spent yesterday and today on a 24hr blood pressure monitor. Imagine an anaconda squeezing your biceps every half hour all day and every hour as you're trying to sleep. Fun.

If I was reading the display right it looks like I really do have moderately elevated blood pressure. (I kept an eye on it as it was taking the reading because it'll be another month before I see the cardiologist.) If so, I need to eat less salt. That's proving very hard indeed. Everything pre-packaged has lots of the stuff.

Ah well, like you said: baby steps. What it really means is that I'm going to have to learn how to cook for real. Good thing I watch The Iron Chef religiously. Now where did I put that squid fork....?

6:50 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I have a benign arrhythmia. My heart 'skips' beats when I drink too much coffee, eat chocolate, or if I'm under a lot of stress. I had a stress test and a Holter monitor for a while. No fun.

But I do know where you're coming from regarding diet restrictions. I'm not supposed to have beef, beer, red wine, or cheese, and when I was first diagnosed I would have sold my children for a greasy cheeseburger with a cold beer!

7:56 PM  
Blogger Apertome said...

This post has all kinds of good stuff in it.

I haven't taken any cycling courses, but the more I ride, the more I find myself riding my bike like you would drive a car. Some things are different, definitely, but I'm very glad I got over that panic I used to feel any time there was a car behind me.

I ride with more confidence now, and I'm much more predictable to cars. I still try not to inconvenience car drivers, but I won't sacrifice my own safety to do so.

The diet thing you mention is interesting, because I was just talking to my girlfriend about that the other night. I weigh about 225, and I have been biking a lot in the past year or so (a lot less during the winter), but I've hardly lost any weight.

Of course, some fat gets converted to muscle, but mostly I need to fix my diet. I'm sure not looking forward to that, and I'm still at the point where I can't resist that rack of ribs, let alone the little stuff.

But I also try to do small things -- water, tea, or diet soda instead of the regular stuff as much as possible ... baked chips in my lunch ... yogurt instead of a more fattening dessert as much as possible. Oh, and one of my big weaknesses is coffee. Now I'm drinking plain black coffee most of the time instead of the horrible for you (but delicious) fancy-pants drinks. But I'm going to have to make some bigger changes to actually lose some weight.

I guess what I'm saying, in short, is "ditto."

10:11 AM  

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