Monday, February 23, 2015

Healthy-ish

The next time I hear one of those "70 is the new 50" comments, I may just go off the rails and punch the speaker in the face. Seventy is the same old seventy, but with, generally speaking, better health and longer life prospects. Knowing this, I have been to a few appointments that could provide me with specific information about my health, and, thus, my longevity prospects.

Happy to say, all is well within my corpulent life container. My Diabetes II continues to be adequately managed, but the fasting blood sugar was moving toward the let's talk about daily medication at our next appointment. Thus, I'm off sweets and carbs as my two primary food groups, replaced by protein and veggies. When I'm tempted to cheat, I recall how much I hated sticking my finger every morning and tracking both my fasting blood sugar and my dietary intake.

My heart and associated bloodways to/from it are fine. My cholesterol is good, so I'll take that result with a grain of ... oops, not salt! Thankfully, I'm not having blood pressure issues, but I've cut back on the salt just in case.

My COPD is well-managed with an inhaler, but even that does not work well when it's both cold and windy outside. I gulp for breath like a beached whale when walking the dogs in those conditions, so it's nice that we're having one of the milder winters I can recall. Last night, however, a storm was coming in and it was suddenly cold and windy, causing me to stop a dozen times during the walk to breath inside my sweatshirt until I warmed up my bronchial tubes enough to breath somewhat naturally/normally.

The one area that needs immediate aggressive intervention is my body mass: it's far too much mass, with little discernable body hiding underneath the blubber. I'm working on it each day in a positive way, but results don't come at the end of each day's exercise and/or abstinance. I've upped walking the dogs to twice a day, and we go at quite the good clip around the blocks, but it'll take years to take off the weight I've put on if all I do is walk the dogs. They love going for the walks, but I'm sure that one day they will look me straight in the eyes and ask why the hell I'm punishing them for my inability to control what I put into the oral orifice!

With knowledge comes great power a wise man one sayeth, so I'm repeating it. I know that I'm in good shape for the shape I'm in, so if I just continue to tweak a couple of little issues, like food, I've done the best that I can do to be the best that I can be.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Black and White

I'm not a huge Kevin Costner fan, but he does a wonderful job of being the grandfather to a mixed race grand-daughter in the movie Black and White. The premise is that both sides of the family want the little girl to grow up knowing her people, as well as their customs and traditions. For a bit, they forget the welfare of the child as it becomes a tug-of-war between white grandpa and black gramma.

Costner's character focuses on the fact that the black son, at age 24, had sex with his white daughter, age 17, and left her to fend for herself when she found out she was pregnent. With that as a starting point, Costner is not willing to budge even one inch when it comes to exposing his grand-daughter to her father's side of the family.

Of course, we all know how the story ends before it begins, but it's a pleasant journey through some complications that make Black and White a good popcorn movie either on a deep, snowy day -- or a hot, dry day such as we've been having.

In Memory

Mia has had huge tumors in her body for the past couple of years. One of them has been particularly large and seemed to affect her bladder, as she voided water as she walked, and especially when she would sleep on the floor. Another tumor constricted her lungs and caused her to gasp for breath. Her hind quarters were also problematic and would suddenly collapse so Mia ended up splayed on the ground, unable to get up. Many times we had to go out into the yard to pull her to her feet so she could come inside and collapse on her favorite pillow.

Several weeks ago, we saw a sadness in her eyes that had not been there. She became more quiet and less mobile, so Y and I talked about her failing health and agreed that time was coming to have her put to sleep. We both agreed that we did not want to wait until she was totally helpless as that was not the Mia we both knew and loved. Last weekend, it seemed that the time had arrived, so I called the vet and made the appointment.

Mia had a really good day prior to the appointment. She was able to walk and seemed very comfortable, so it gave me cause to pause and question whether I was doing the right thing, but I knew the decision was best for everyone, including Mia. The vet gave her a sedative and then the lethal dosage of the medication that put her to sleep. We stayed with her, said our goodbyes, and shed our tears.

We're all missing Mia as she's been a big part of my life for well over a decade. All the kids in the neighborhood look forward to our daily walks and love to pet the dogs, but especially Mia. A couple of the kids saw her collapse in the street, unable to get back on her feet, and felt such sadness for her, showering her with love until we could get her up and on her way home again. Daisy and Cinnamon have looked for Mia, especially at night, because the two smaller dogs sleep on top of my bed, but Mia's pillow and palette were on the floor right next to the bed. They've sniffed all her favorite places, but haven't been able to find her. I wish I knew that is going through their minds ... but I know they miss Mia too.

We're not going to get another big dog as we still have two dogs to keep us busy and amused. Daisy, the Jack Russell terrier, has become fast friends with Y, while Cinnamon is my little girl. We'll spoil them and enjoy having them in our lives, but we'll always miss Mia, too.

It's a Matter of When to Speak Your Mind

The President of the United States of America came to Palm Springs to spend President’s Day weekend. His arrival/visit/departure requires some access to roads in the Valley to be limited, and therein lies the issue.

Believe it or not, local residents “wish the President had picked a better weekend” to visit the Valley. There is a lot going on this weekend, including the Tour de Palm Springs, the Indio Date Festival, the Dr. George car show and auction, Modernism week, a golf tournament, the Cathedral City Hot Balloon Festival – and on and on and on. Some residents (you know, the ones they find to put on the local news) think that there was already enough increased traffic to have reason to turn down the President’s trip to the area.

Really?

What would we do without the tourist dollars? Basically, from June through August the shops struggle to stay open as our fair weather friends fly back to their homes in milder climes. Year-round residents have learned how to stay cooler when it’s in the triple digits, but not so much our visitors who come from the northern and eastern regions of the continent. We have a bureau of tourism that works long and hard to entice visitors to the area, but they get a free publicity worldwide when it’s the President arriving to enjoy both our climates and our golf courses.

Publicity like that is literally priceless, so the nay-sayers should zip their lips and share their opinions after Air Force One leaves the local airport.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

If I Can Take It, I Can Make It

The trailor for Unbroken shows an action-packed film that is guaranteed to keep the viewer riveted to the screen and on the edge of their seats. If I judged the film on the trailer, I'd give it an A -- but then I sat through the rest of the story as it trickled across the screen.

Louis Zamperini is played by Jack O'Connell, an actor who does a fine job portraying what has to be the world's unluckiest SOB. First, Zamperini's plane is shot all to hell by the Japanese enemy during WWII, then he has to ditch in the ocean, from which he is plucked by Japanese military, who take him to a prison camp, where his fame as a former US Olympic track star pins a bull's eye on him for maltreatment by a cruel Japanese jailor. Woven throughout these several ordeals are bits 'n pieces of his childhood, where he had to learn the hard lesson that in order to make it through life, you have to be able to take a lot of shit from a lot of sources.

Now, that's a fairly good story, but ... . First, his childhood was on par with that of all the other children in families that suffered during The Great Depression. Zamperini was lucky that he had caring parents and siblings, one of whom taught him how to take whatever came at him. When Louis qualified for the Olympics, he gave his best on the course, but I can't tell you if he won his race or not because my mind was already wandering as the film began to spend far too much time getting to the point.

Then, when the plane was shot up and ditched in the ocean and Louis had to single-handedly save his crew, the story enlongated again. While the castaways' hair didn't grow, nor did their facial hair change, the alternating scenes of sun and darkness and veiled references to another crew that was on the ocean for 40-some-odd days. At one point in the getting to the point (the rescue by the Japanese ship), it felt as if we'd been on the ocean ourselves for 40+ days, but the actors finally had some sunburn and scrabbly beard stubble.

Next, he went to prison of war camp, where there probably was a highly-skilled barber who kept the hair and beard growing under control. Also, there had to be a prison laundry because the clothes should have been rags a whole lot sooner than later. Louis suffered, but it seems that he was singled out to suffer while the rest of the prisoners went about their daily routine. I'm not sure how long Louis suffered, but my suffering was about 20 minutes of childhood, 25 minutes of ocean wreck, 30 minutes of prison suffering, an hour+ that moved by at an unbelievably slow pace.

Unbroken is a story written by Laura Hillenbrand about the real-life protagonist, Louis Zamperini. I think I would enjoy reading the book more than I enjoyed watching the film as I would get to create my own mental movie as I read, rather than sitting captive in a theatre seat while someone else's vision of the story dragged across the screen. It's not a bad film, but it is not any better than average.