SubscribeStar Saturday: Fat

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In 2011 I undertook what I call my “Weight Loss Odyssey,” which saw me go from around 285 pounds or so down to—at my absolute lowest—172 pounds in about eleven months.  I’m not sure if that’s too fast, but it proved to me that, with the right mindset and loads of self-discipline, losing weight is easy.

Well, the concept behind losing weight is easy.  Like most things in life, the solutions are straightforward; they’re just unpleasant, or difficult in their implementation.  I’m no nutritionist, so take that into consideration, but my method is simple:  consumer fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight.

Your body burns calories just by existing, and the heftier you are, the more calories you burn by default.  There’s a handy weight loss calculator that makes it easy to figure out the maximum calories you should consume to meet your weight loss goals within a certain timeframe (it also warns you if your goal is dangerously unhealthy; my twenty-six-year old 113 pound drop in weight loss was, apparently, safe).

Lately I’ve been eating way too much.  I could offer a host of excuses, but it really boils down to self-indulgence.  I enjoy eating.  Food is good, even the crummy stuff I like to eat.

Ultimately, though, it’s all a matter of self-discipline, and the benefits—not just physically, but mentally and spiritually—are well worth the effort.

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TBT: Cass on Our Diminished Income

The other day my students and I were talking about the Model T Ford, which in the 1920s ran around $6000 in today’s money for a new car.  It is impossible to find a brand-new vehicle of any make for $6000 today.  Granted, a Ford Focus, for example, is packed with way more technology and safety features than a Model T from 100 years ago, and that technological advancement gets factored into the price.

But consider that in the 1990s, when Kia hit the American market, they advertised a new sedan for around $6999 (in 1990s’ dollars).  What would that be twenty-five years late—maybe $9000 or $10,000?  That price point, too, is virtually impossible.

I managed to purchase my current vehicle—a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV—for right around $9100.  It has around 45,000 miles on it when I bought it, and had been a rental vehicle before I purchased it.  I got a steal on that car—the closest comparable I’ve found since then was a list price of around $8900 (the list for my car was $8000 even).  That’s for a four-year old subcompact hatchback.

I got lucky when I found that car.  I figured it would be easy enough to find a decent car for under $10,000 when I began vehicle shopping in late 2019.  Boy, was I wrong.  Vehicles last longer than ever before, and maintain their value a very long time.  They’re also, as mentioned, packed full of technology and safety features that weren’t present even twenty years ago.  Trucks in particular hold their value extremely well; to find a truck in my price range, I’d have had to purchase a Ford F-150 from 1994 with half-a-million miles on it.

It’s great that cars last longer and are safer.  But those features—many of which drivers will never need or use—drive up the costs substantially.  Such was the point of an illuminating Twitter thread by Oren Cass, which demonstrates that, despite earning more money, Americans’ expenses for basic goods are substantially higher, requiring a whopping fifty-three weeks of pay to cover now versus a mere thirty weeks in 1985.  Naturally, given that there are only fifty-two weeks in a year, that presents a problem.

I don’t know the solution, but as I wrote a year ago, “Something’s gotta give.”

Indeed.  Here is 28 April 2020’s “Cass on Our Diminished Income“:

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The Virus Kabuki

A big hat-tip (H/T in blogger parlance) to Mogadishu Matt for reblogging this New York Times piece about masks and The Virus.  I tend to view mask mandates as a form of petty tyranny—a way of signalling virtue on the cheap while inconveniencing otherwise law-abiding citizens who don’t want to muzzle themselves every time they want to buy cereal.

As such, I was surprised to see the dubious wisdom of mask mandates questioned in the pages of the progressive Left’s favorite “mainstream” rag, The New York Times.

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Dentists

Today is the first day of my cushy Thanksgiving Break.  After a long Tuesday of teaching, playing piano, and driving, I made it to my hometown to head to the dentist.  The dentist is my cousin, so I get a marginal discount.

As a child and teenager, I had extensive dental work performed.  I had a gnarly tooth, which I dubbed “The Monster Tooth,” that grew in the wrong way.  My orthodontist spent years slowly dragging the tooth into place, only to have the enamel completely absorb the root, making the tooth nonviable.  At that point, bone from my wisdom teeth was used to create a foundation in which a metal implant—a small screw, of sorts—was installed into my mouth.  I walked around with a small metal rod in place of a tooth for some months, and then a crown was placed atop the implant.

Needless to say, I’ve become accustomed to dental work, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy going.

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My Declaration of Independence

Last Friday as I pulled up to work, I do what I do every day:  pick up my gaiter mask from the emergency brake and put it over my head.  As I did so, I experienced every ounce of everyday oppression that modern man endures.

Wearing a mask is, indeed, a small thing to ask, but it’s become the proverbial straw—and my face the camel’s back.

So I decided, then and there, to make an extremely small stand for my own independence.  In some limited scenarios, I am going to stop wearing my mask publicly.

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Lazy Sunday LXXIII: Forgotten Posts, Volume II

It’s another Lazy Sunday dive into some of my deep cuts—the forgotten or neglected posts of yesteryear.  As a reminder, here’s my loose criteria for selecting these posts, as spelled out last Sunday:

That’s all a long way of saying that I’m doing some deep dives for an indeterminate number of Sundays into some forgotten posts.  These are posts that don’t immediately spring to my mind when I’m referencing my own work.  These posts may or may not have had high or low hit counts; they are just posts that don’t linger strongly in my memory.  They’re the red-headed stepchildren of my churning mind.

The following three posts all date from Summer 2018, an important summer for me:  it’s when I relaunched the blog on WordPress, and when my old apartment flooded for the second time, prompting my ultimate move to Lamar:

  • Breaking: Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize” – I used to do these “breaking” news posts periodically—dashing off a couple hundred words about some major development.  I was perhaps overly optimistic about Trump’s peace talks in Korea, but while they might not have ended the Korean War’s long cease-fire, they definitely calmed down tensions between the US and North Korea.
  • George Will’s Self-Destruct Sequence” – The Never Trump phenomenon was gasping for air in 2018, but it still had some loyal adherents (and still does, if you check out National ReviewThe Dispatch, and The Bulwark, the last of which is blatantly progressive, despite its claims to be a conservative site).  One of the first major figures to succumb publicly and wildly to the disease was George Will, the long-time WaPo columnist and tweedy neocon.  Will argued that Republicans in Congress should be voted out to avoid giving Trump dictatorial powers—a ludicrous obsession with the Left and the Never Trumpers, and completely deleterious to the future of the nation.  Sure, we Republicans might be the “Stupid Party” sometimes, stupidity in the highest halls of power is generally preferable to the “Evil Party” of intentional wickedness.  Now we have so-called conservatives plumping for Joe Biden on similarly faulty premises.  Yeesh!
  • HSAs are A-Okay” – I’m a big fan of health savings accounts, or HSAs, thanks in large part to my younger brother’s financial wizardry.  Health savings accounts allow account holders to deposit funds that can be used to cover future, out-of-pocket medical expenses.  Since my cut-rate insurance comes with a hefty $6750 annual deductible, squirreling away cash into my HSA helps in the event of a catastrophic injury or health crisis.  But the real beauty of an HSA is that the deposited funds can be invested in mutual funds and grow in value—tax-free.  They’re the ultimate investment vehicle, and you can save medical receipts for years before using them to withdraw HSA funds (if you use an emergency fund to cover medical expenses on the front-end, the HSA funds can grow unmolested until you decide to use them).

That’s it for another edition of Lazy Sunday—one of the last truly lazy ones for some time, as I report back to school tomorrow morning.  Classes resume 20 August 2020, so I still have about eleven days to prepare for the return of students.

Now I’m off to tickle the ivories for morning service.  Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

More Medical Updates

My apologies to regular readers for the lack of real content this week.  There are race wars and Antifa street gangs to discuss, but I’m so weary with fever, I can only slam out these short medical updates.

I had enough symptoms—chills, fever, and headaches—to get test for The Virus.  I should find out those results in a day or two.  Fortunately, my breathing is unimpaired.  I spoke with a physician’s assistant from the neurologists office regarding my migraines, which increasingly seem linked to my fever (although I would still like to shell out for a scan to rule anything else out).  Everything is in a bit of a stasis, however, until I get the COVID results.

My appetite is doing well, though I have taken this bout of ill health (and the stomach-related issues I was experiencing last week) to begin correcting and improving my diet.  Primarily, I’ve been cutting down on salt consumption, and calories in general.  My blood pressure is elevated, and needs to come down substantially.

I am teaching my first session of History of Conservative Thought for 2020 on Wednesday afternoon—online, of course.  If necessary, I will take acetaminophen in the morning to help get through the discussion.  Here’s hoping I can meet with the three young men enrolled in person next week.

That’s it for now.  I just awoke after dozing on the small twin bed in my study (one of the darker, cooler rooms in the house) for over an hour.  My fever is coming down without medication—I last took acetaminophen around 6 AM—which is promising.

Thank you for your continues support and prayers.

—TPP

Extremely Lazy Sunday (Still Migraining)

Hello again, readers.  As I noted yesterday, I am suffering from a gnarly migraine.  I thought I was recovering last night, but I awoke in the wee hours with more spikes.

I have been lounging like Goethe all day, trying to recover.  I know have some Excedrin Migraine and a cold pack for my head, and have been drinking plenty of caffeine.

Hopefully I will be better soon.  I am seeing a neurologist either Monday or Tuesday, so we’ll see if he can shed some light things.

—TPP

Cass on Our Diminished Income

Way back in The Before Times, in the Long, Long Ago, before The Age of The Virus, Oren Cass presented a series of sixteen tweets, asking this question:  “How is that our economic statistics suggest workers have been making slow but steady progress in recent decades, while popular perception is that their family finances are coming under increasingly untenable pressure?”

Cass also wrote about the issue in greater detail in American Affairs and in a lengthy paper for the Manhattan Institute.  That question—why does it feel like it’s harder to make ends meet now, even though inflation is low and we’re wealthier?—is one of the gnawing concerns of modern-day America.

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