Friday, January 6, 2017

Maggie Jochild, 8/5/1955 — 1/6/2017

Hello, You Came Back -- Death, from The Endless, a series of graphic novels.

Goodbye Maggie: Beloved, Brilliant Writer, Colleague, Friend

Maggie Jochild changed my life.

Maggie Jochild, 1980
Bean Hollow Beach, near Pescadero, Ca
Maggie was a brilliant writer — of blog posts, of poetry, of fiction. She was a fierce advocate for women, children, the disabled, dykes, people of color, for the underprivileged.

Maggie's novel Ginny Bates is an amazing exploration of life lived intentionally by women, as free of the patriarchy as possible. It addresses issues of class, sexism, racism, and anti-semitism, all inside the family-by-choice lives of lesbians and their families. It is appropriately called "The Great American Lesbian Novel."

I hope whomever now holds artistic control of Maggie's writings, facilities the novel's publishing as soon as feasible. Ginny Bates deserves a permanent spot in the pantheon of great genuinely American novels. More importantly, its publication to a wide audience would be an enormous contribution to schools and young people.

A serialization of GB is on Meta Watershed. Her other (all amazing) novels are also serialized and posted there.

Maggie in 7th Grade
Maggie came to write at Group News Blog in 2007-2008 during the first Obama presidential campaign. She made an immediate difference.

Her writing helped GNB in ways public and private. It is fair to say Maggie's writing was core to the respect and fierce devotion our readers gave GNB at its peak. In addition to her public contributions Maggie as a person, as a force of nature, caused numerous behind the scenes changes at GNB which made us better writers, better advocates for our readers and mission (which mission she helped redefine), and better with each other. She made us better people.

Personally, Maggie's writings and friendship were instrumental in revealing to myself my own automatic investments: in class privilege, male privilege, white privilege, straight privilege, in revealing privilege. I was not the only one. She also gave of herself unstintingly. Weeks of her time were spent helping myself and others learn to deal powerfully with our disabilities.

Even with (or more accurately, because of) her radical and courageous feminism, Maggie was kind, compassionate, willing to hear, understand and forgive the sins of childhood and upbringing. She was a good friend, someone whom it is a lifelong badge of honor to be able to say that I too was privileged to know Maggie, to live and fight by her side.

Maggie Jochild, 1999, Austin Tx
Photo by Harper Vinkemulder
We were colleagues, collaborators, and for some years, close friends. For the decade I knew her, even after our lives drew apart, she remained dear to my heart.

Maggie's medical condition has been serious to dangerous the past decade, including hospitalizations and surgeries. Recently, she was placed on palliative care at the University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin, Tx.

Maggie Jochild died Friday morning, January 6, 2017, at the age of 61. She was predeceased by her family, including her mother Mary Jo and her younger brother Bill. She is survived by her beloved Margot Williams, and a vast network of loving friends, cyber and tofu, in Austin and around the world.

Bill and Maggie, Summer 1964
Houma, La
All week long friends and loved ones of Maggie's have been saying goodbye — in person at her hospital bedside, on Facebook, through blog posts, emails, messages and texts, in conversations with each other, and in our hearts. The enormous outpouring of support has been appropriate to the life Maggie lived and the contribution she made.

She really was that great.

I am grateful for the gift Maggie's writing was to our readers, and the greater gift her friendship and gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) corrections and coaching provided.

Today I am a different and better person because of conversations with Maggie: more gentle, more honest, more human, more able to love and care for others.

I will miss her. As will everyone privileged to have known her.

Tat Tavm Asi.

Further Information
Many additional poems and writings are inside the following sites.

Maggie Jochild — Facebook
Margo Williams — Facebook

Maggie's blog — Meta Watershed
Maggie's earlier blog — Maoist Orange Cake

Maggie's posts — Group News Blog
Maggie's tweets — Twitter

Search on: Maggie Jochild — Google
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Monday, April 11, 2016

Columbia: The Road Trip

I was cleaning off my hard drive and I found this.  I have modified it very little.  I believe I wrote it in about 2001.

Thirty-five years ago, six of us set out from Lake Geneva, WI, in two cars.  We had told our bosses that we were taking a few days off to see Columbia’s first launch.  Lawrence, his wife Josie, and Jeff were in Lawrence & Josie’s car.  Erol, Paul, and I were in mine.

I’ll say, right from the beginning, that many of the routine details of the trip are hazy now.  I couldn't consult photos, because they're all in storage.  I don’t remember the route we drove, although I suspect that we went from Lake Geneva through Indianapolis, Louisville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Gainesville, Orlando to somewhere near Cocoa, just inland from Cape Canaveral, following I-65 and I-75.  It’s likely that some of the sharp memories of the trip are just as hazy as well.  But everything here is as I remember it, with some support from Google.

The Plan
Columbia was scheduled to launch in the early morning of Friday, 10 April 1981 as STS-1.  With nearly 1300 miles to drive (and without Google Maps or GPS to help us) we figured on leaving Wednesday evening after work and driving straight through, arriving in Florida Thursday night.  Lawrence had contacted a D&D fan in the area of Cape Canaveral, who’d convinced his parents to let us crash at his place.  In return, we agreed to run at least one game for them fanboy and his friends while we were there.

Once the launch was over on Friday, we thought we’d visit the beach during the afternoon and run the game in the evening.  Then we’d cross Florida to visit Disney World on Saturday before starting back on Saturday night, thus missing only two days of work.

The Drive Down
Putting three 20-year-old boys into a car together for more than 20 straight hours of driving is guaranteed to generate bizarre behaviour, even if the three aren’t all avid D&D players.  We had our fair share.  Someone in the car drew up a sign for the passenger side saying “we kill XXX for fun and profit”, where XXX was the common name for a specific religious minority in the US.  I remember the sign, but not the context.  Somewhere in Florida, one of my passengers was hanging out of the right side window asking a cute girl in the next lane “are you bisexual?”.  At 75 miles per hour.  At night.  Without alcohol to blame it on.  In 1981.

We didn’t stop to sleep, just rotated drivers when necessary.  Since this was before cell phones, we had to stay right with each other and use limited signals to indicate the need for a stop.

Crashing with a fanboy
I don’t know exactly how Lawrence had made contact with our host fanboy.  It almost has to have been by fan letter.  I certainly don’t remember other details about him, like name, hometown, or pretty much anything else.  I think he was maybe fifteen.

In any case, Lawrence had this contact, and got a phone number, and arrangements were made.  We had a place to crash (six of us -- his parents were clearly very tolerant).  The “price” was very reasonable -- run a game, or maybe two.  Since that was essentially what we all did for a living, and in our free time for fun, it wouldn’t be much of a hardship.

The Scrub
Alarm clocks went off at four or five am.  After way too little sleep, we piled into a van provided by our hosts (I’m not positive about that, but I don’t think we drove our two vehicles -- it’s possible we squeezed the six of us into one car) and headed for the Cape.

Traffic was atrocious.  It seemed that they had not anticipated the interest in Columbia’s launch.  It wasn’t just bumper-to-bumper, it was (mostly) stop and (seldom) go.  We had the radio on, and as launch time approached, we were happier and happier about holds.

Eventually we parked at a viewing area.  It was plush, with vendors selling souvenirs, bleachers, trailer-offices, media, talking heads, and bunkers.  It was clearly not where we belonged.  Somehow in the mess of getting people into the Cape, we’d ended up at the VIP viewing area.

The view wasn’t great, actually.  It seemed to be all over land, with brush and low trees between us and the launch site.  But from the bleachers you could see pretty well.  And there were lots of big cameras here, both TV and film.

We made the most of our good fortune.  We ate the food, oogled the souvenirs (most of us barely made minimum wage), clambered around the bleachers, goggled at the celebrities (mostly news-type celebrities, it must be said), and generally made a nuisance of ourselves.  At least we weren’t the only ones doing it.  Or the only ones who didn’t belong there.

Friday's launch was scrubbed due to computer malfunction.  Fortunately, the APs managing traffic had learned something since the morning, and we were all off the Cape within an hour or so.

The Atlantic Ocean
Since we had the rest of the day to ourselves, we thought we’d go and show Jeff what an ocean looked like.  Even though the Great Lakes are wide enough to have no visible farther shore, they don’t look like an ocean.

The beach was covered, absolutely covered, in jellyfish.  Which were immediately dubbed “Man o’ War Jellyfish” (whether they were actually capable of stinging was never tested).  We walked along the beach covering them with sand and smashing them with large flat rocks.  One of my friends approached an attractive young lady and explained that she should not swim.  Her response was devastating in tone, if simple in words: "I know" :-)

Since we obviously couldn’t swim in Man o’ War infested ocean waters, we used our host’s pool.  There is a picture somewhere of several of us, pasty white from the Wisconsin winter, standing by the pool with our arms outstretched, our eyes closed, turning to get the most possible sunlight.

I slept through Lawrence’s game.  I don’t know about anyone else.  I vaguely recall a slice of pizza landing in a large glass of milk at dinner, though.

The Mouse 
Because NASA could not cycle Columbia in less than about 48 hours, we had to decide what to do.  We had always planned to go to Disney World on Saturday.  If we left as planned, we’d driven 1300 miles and back again for no particular reason except to visit Disney World.  If we stayed another 18 hours, we’d be driving home for 20 plus hours and going straight into work on Monday morning.

Four of us were 21 or under, so of course we decided to stay and see the launch if it happened Sunday morning!  It seemed unlikely that they’d fire us all, since we represented about 1/2 of the design group, 1/3 of the development group, and 1/4 of the artists.  And they weren’t paying us that well anyway.

Saturday morning we up and drove across Florida to Disney World.  We did all the things that you’d expect us to.  And by the end of the day, we were so exhausted that we all crashed out on the railroad that circles the park, singing Kliban.  You know, the cat guy?  We were finding out how many stylistic variations we could do of:
Love them little mousies
Mousies what I love to eat
Bite they little heads off
Nibble on they tiny feet.
I recall that we did pop and country versions, but the one I liked best was the Gregorian chant.  Surprisingly, security did not even comment, much less remove us from the park as undesirables.

The Launch
As it happened, Columbia had been re-scheduled for launch on the morning of 12 April 1981, exactly 20 years after Yuri Gagarin flew in Vostok 1.  Without having Wikipedia handy, we were of course unaware of the timing :-).

Unlike Friday morning driving to the Cape, Sunday morning went very smoothly.  As a result, we were not in the VIP area :-(.  Instead, we were on the first of a series of causeways across ponds and wetlands.  Because we had planned to take as long to get onto the Cape as it had taken Friday, we were early, and roughly in the middle of the first causeway.  Several other causeways behind us gradually filled with other visitors.  Every causeway had its own set of speakers, which resulted in a maddening echo effect being applied to every word Mission Control said.  “Holding” became “HOLDING ... Holding ... holding ... hldng” as we got the word from successive sets of speakers behind us.

Since we’d left a couple of extra hours early, we got there before dawn.  Even though we were used to Wisconsin winter weather, it was cold sitting for hours just a few inches above the water.  Sunrise was at about six.  The launch was scheduled for seven.

As it got close to seven, you could feel the tension rise.  I don’t know how many people there were, but we had hundreds of vehicles on our causeway alone (we’d brought both our cars because we were leaving immediately after the launch).  Since few if any of the vehicles were single drivers, we must have had thousands of people on the causeways.  Cameras were set up.  They ranged from high-end systems with lenses that looked feet long down to Jeff’s Instamatic.  Which he was holding up to a pair of binoculars.

The boom box we’d been using for a radio had a cassette recorder in it.  We plopped a blank tape in it and started recording as the final seconds ticked away, each number coming from the rows of speakers over and over and over again.

Crowd noise rose as the countdown dropped.  Individual words disappeared and were replaced with squeals and screams and shouts.  At ‘ignition’ there was a greater shout -- a single word cast across the water: ‘Yeah!’.  I think, in our secret hearts, we’d all been sure that this was going to be Friday all over again.  Now it was really going to happen.

Smoke spilled from the solid rocket boosters.  Shutters began snapping frantically.  The crowd noise continued to rise.  As the count hit zero and began to climb, we could see the shockwave from the shuttle engines moving across the water at us.  It was a wave front of distortion charging through the shallow water, and as it lapped at our causeway, it carried the booster noise.

Crowd noise, which had been loud enough to make me think about covering my ears, just vanished in a vast thrumming.  You could see that other people’s mouths were open, but whatever noise we were making was inconsequential when compared with the voice of Columbia.

The April 12 launch at Pad 39A of STS-1, just seconds past 7 a.m., 
carries astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into an 
Earth orbital mission scheduled to last for 54 hours, ending with 
unpowered landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Photo: NASA

And she rose.  She rose from that flat piece of lowland across the water, trailing booster smoke and riding flame.  She made, for the first time, that distinctive roll that bent toward the east, to protect us in case of disaster.  The sun caught her, and the crowd noise came back.  It was as if everybody’s favorite team has just won the Super Bowl and the World Series and the Stanley Cup, all at once, and then Peace Had Been Declared.

And she raced toward orbit.

Before I knew it, she was gone.  Her voice, which had been so commanding at launch, was replaced with hundreds of hoarse human voices, and the mechanical voice of Mission Control, reporting facts that fell upon our no-longer deaf ears again and again.

My camera was out of film.  I had no real recollection of images I’d tried to take.  Those prints and negatives are probably somewhere in storage, among the ten or twelve bankers boxes I have of family photos.

Driving Back
We left the Cape right after launch and started back to Wisconsin.  The recording went right into the car’s tape player, and we discovered the meaning of “clipping”.  We could hear people shouting and screaming until the roar of Columbia’s engines hit.  The recording became a brown noise hum.  It wasn’t even particularly loud (the recorder probably had some sort of automatic volume control, or we overloaded the dynamic range of the device).  After a while, the human voices just faded back in.

It wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the actual event had been.

When we crossed I-10 near Lake City, our car had a serious discussion: should we turn left and try to watch the landing?  We decided that it would almost certainly cost us our jobs, and we’d still have to drive back to Wisconsin to get our stuff, and we might not even make it in time, since Columbia was going to land in two days.

Unlike the trip down, where we’d almost always had one driver, one awake, and one sleeping, the trip back was almost always one driver and two sleeping.  Whenever a driver couldn’t go any further, we’d stop for food.  That seemed like it turned out to be every two or three hours, and we were punchy.  We actually got asked to leave a restaurant when Erol carefully ate his burger into the shape of a pyramid and left it on his plate.  They accidentally locked us in the airlock before letting us out.

I think we got back to Lake Geneva about 10am Monday morning, and went right to work, where we did fuck-all that day.

Twenty-one Years Later
I saw Columbia fly one other time.  She was refitted by NASA for the last time between July 1999 and March 2002.  She launched 1 March 2002 (the third anniversary of my mother’s death) as STS-109 to service the Hubble Space Telescope.  Sara and I had made a trip to Florida for other reasons and took the morning off to drive to Cocoa and watch from a parking lot.

We were a lot farther away.  I’m not even sure they allowed people onto the Cape for launches after 9/11.  We couldn’t see Columbia very well on the ground.  The crowd was a lot smaller, and there was no SRB noise.  But she jumped off the pad and made that roll to the east, and the sun caught her, and the crowd cheered her.

And she raced toward orbit.

It was her penultimate flight.

Eleven months later, Columbia broke up on re-entry of STS-107.  A piece of insulation from the main fuel tank had damaged the protective tiles on the left wing during launch.  The tiles failed catastrophically on re-entry.  All seven aboard were killed.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Barriers for a Third-Party Run in 2016

There's a lot of talk this year about third party runs for the presidency.  Will Trump run as a third party candidate if he doesn't get the nomination?  Will Sanders?  How about Bloomberg if Trump gets the nomination? (OK, not Bloomberg)

There's a lot of angst.

To dispel that angst, let's talk about what a "third party run" means.  Technically America has a multi-party election, but realistically, universal ballot access is limited to the designated nominees of the Democratic and Republican Parties.  The barriers against other parties, independent candidates, and write-in candidates are significant.

Let's look at those three options:

Parties other than the Republican and Democratic Parties

There are minor parties in the US electoral system.  The most significant are probably the Libertarian Party and the Green Party.  Aside from Ross Perot's 1996 run at the head of his Reform Party, the only other minor party to field a presidential candidate since Strom Thurmond (States' Rights Democratic aka Dixiecrat) and Henry Wallace (Progressive) in 1948 has been the American Independent party.  No minor party candidate since 1968 has won a single electoral vote (EV) and the best percentage a minor party has garnered since 1968 is Ross Perot at 8.6% in 1996.

This year, the Libertarian Party claims they will be on the ballot for 342 (about 63%) of EVs.  Technically enough to win, but they would need to win just under 80% of the EVs they are on the ballot for.

The Green Party says they have ballot access in about 20 states totaling 304 (about 56%) of EVs, which means they would need to win just under 89% of those EVs to elect a president.  They do say that about another 179 EVs are "potentially in play", which at this date I interpret as "we pray we might get on the ballot".

For those of you watching the far-right, the Constitution Party hasn't managed to get on the ballot in over 41 states and in 2012 was on the ballot in only 26.  They have never won a single EV and their high-water mark in votes was less than two-tenths of one percent (about 183,000 votes in 1996).

Since 1900, the best a third party has done is Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party in 1912, which gathered over 27% of the popular vote nationwide and 88 (16.5% of the then 531) EVs for a second place finish ahead of the rump Republican incumbent William Howard Taft (8 EVs) and far behind Democratic Party nominee Woodrow Wilson (435 EVs and 42% of the popular vote).  This was the last election in which a non-Republican Party, non-Democratic Party candidate came second in EVs or the popular vote.  Wilson won 40 of 48 states, Roosevelt 6, and Taft 2 (VT and UT, if you're counting).  The popular vote was much closer, with Wilson gathering about 6.3 million, Roosevelt about 4.1 million, and Taft about 3.5 million.

Write-in Candidates

Technically, Write-in candidates have access to 43 states and 494 (just under 92%) EVs.  Thirty-five of those states require some sort of paperwork.

However, I can find no evidence that a Write-in candidate has ever made a respectable showing in a national presidential election.  There are some notable primary wins, especially Henry Cabot Lodge in 1964 who won Republican Party primaries in New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

And then there's the success that fails: in 1968 incumbent Lyndon Johnson did not file for the New Hampshire Democratic Party primary, gaining 50% of votes cast as a Write-in.  However, Eugene McCarthy was on the ballot and received 41% of the vote.  Johnson withdrew from the 1968 election, leaving McCarthy to lose massively to Republican Party candidate Richard Nixon.

Independent Candidates

Since 1912 the most popular "third party" candidate has actually been independent, running outside of the party system.  In 1992 independent candidate Ross Perot gathered 18.9% of the popular vote while winning 0 EVs.  In 1980 independent candidate John Anderson got 6.6% of the popular vote while winning 0 EVs.

To get on the ballot for November as an Independent, you have to deliver signatures to every state (except for Louisiana and Colorado, where you can just pay them).  A grand total of about 875,000 signatures in 48 states plus DC, with 49 different requirements and 25 different deadlines.

The Bottom Line: non-major Candidates are spoilers

While minor party, write-in, and independent candidates have garnered significant popular vote numbers in the last century, none have been viable national candidates as measured by the only metric that matters: EVs.  Even Teddy Roosevelt didn't come close, and he was closer to a true Republican Party candidate than a true minor party candidate.

Any "third party" candidacy must be seen nearly exclusively in the role of spoiler.  Yes, this is a weird year, with Trumpers and Berners showing great enthusiasm among polities that mostly seem unwilling to vote.  "Likely voter" models are out the window, or at least deeply in question.  Something wild could happen.  But the last 100+ years (only 25 or so presidential elections, really, so the sample size is small) says it won't.  The most recent President of the US who wasn't either a Republican or a Democrat was ... Millard Filmore (1850-1853), our 13th President who was a Whig.

The Republican Party and Democratic Party have dominated four of the six "party systems" covering US presidential election history, starting in 1854.  There is no particular reason to think this is going to change.  The Republican Party is likely to have to re-invent itself, as both of the two major parties have done periodically since the 1850s, when the Republican Party was the northern anti-slavery big government party and the Democratic Party was the party of Redeemers and Copperheads as well as the lower economic class rural workers now seen as the voting backbone of the modern Republican Party.

Could someone run?

It's quite clear that the idea of a third party run is in the air.  But the mechanics of such a run (other than a futile Write-in campaign) are difficult, and probably out of reach at this point, especially for a pseudo-Republican Party candidate like Trump.

The best route would probably be taking over one of the existing minor parties, like the Libertarians or the Greens.  The downside of that is that you are immediately giving up huge swaths of the country and would have to win 80+% of the EVs where you are on the ballot.

Failing that, or desiring access to all the EVs, an Independent run is the only option.  And there's a giant steaming pile of Texas* in your way.  If you want to be on the November ballot as a independent in Texas, you have to deliver nearly 80K valid signatures.  According to Politico, all of those signatures must come from voters who did not vote in the March 1st primary (taking more than 4 million likely voters out of the signature pool).  By the 9th of May (39 days).  About 2K valid signatures per day.

According to BallotPedia, the average cost per required signature is just over $4, so that's about $320K just in Texas.  An average of $3.5 million nationwide.  Some campaigns cost three times that, or about $10 million nationwide.

* The last Democratic Party candidate to win Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976.  The last Republican Party candidate to win the Presidency while losing Texas was Richard Nixon in 1968.  It's hard to see a Republican Party (or pseudo-Republican Party) candidate winning the Presidency without Texas.

So if there are not Trumpers out gathering signatures to put Trump on the ballot in Texas, Trump is not running as an Independent.

Oh, and there's one other problem.  Texas is one of two states with "sore loser" laws that apply to presidential elections.  No one who has run in a presidential primary in Texas may be on the ballot as an Independent.

There is possibly some wiggle room.  A court challenge might defeat the May 9th deadline (every non-presidential candidate in Texas has until June) and 42 out of 45 states with sore loser laws have established precedents that they do not apply to presidential primaries, so Texas may just be next on that list (the other state, BTW, is South Dakota, whose 3 EVs may or may not be worth the trouble).  John Anderson ran as an Independent in 1980 despite participating in seven early caucuses and primaries, but had withdrawn well before the Texas primary.

Will someone run?

Here's how you know whether it's going to happen.

It's not.

At least not unless there is some very interesting activity going on at a relatively frantic pace.  Now, or if not now, soon.

Look for news reports of signature gathering in Texas (deadline 5/9), North Carolina (deadline 6/9), and Illinois (deadline 6/27).  If you don't see it, court challenges or taking over a third party are the only options, and I don't believe that taking over a third party is anything but a spoiler move.

Berners and Trumpers may stay home, or not.  Clintonistas and Cruzers may hold their noses, or not.  But the odds of a successful third party or independent run are tiny and the barriers are huge.

I think it comes down to one question:

If he doesn't get the nomination, is Trump crazy enough to spend millions just to defeat Ted Cruz?

Anybody who waits until after the conventions is giving up any chance to get access to more EVs than the Libertarian and Green Parties are already signed up for, so the secondary question is:

If he doesn't get the nomination, could Trump subvert either the Libertarian or Green Party and become their nominee?

I have no idea.

(updated: spelling corrections)
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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Three Little Not-Piggies...

At the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mass v2

Seven and a half months ago, in the lead up to Halloween and both Canadian and American Thanksgiving, I wrote about a new eating schedule and how it was helping me reduce my mass.  Of course the holiday season immediately followed that post -- a notoriously difficult time of year to maintain weight, much less lose it.  In addition, right after Christmas Sara and I joined friends for a trip to England* and spend two weeks on the road -- another notoriously difficult thing regarding eating and weight.

*insert obligatory joke about how English food is awful and therefore traveling to England must be a good way to lose weight.  In fact, I had the best steak of my life while we were in London and ate quite well the entire trip, thank you very much.

In fact, I ended the holidays weighing slightly less than I entered them -- a pound or three -- nothing spectacular, but I consider that a significant victory.

This morning I passed another milestone.  I'm now 10 pounds under my black belt testing weight and have lost approximately 40 pounds*.  That's approaching losing 15% of my maximum body weight.  More importantly, my BP (on medication) has dropped this week into the very low end of normal.

*Disclaimer: any particular days mass reading is temporary.  I have spent more than a month bouncing around my last plateau, moving up and down (mostly) in about a three pound range in the high 250s.  I note edge cases for the very reason that they are extremes and thus rewarding.

As my mass decreases, my ability and inclination to exercise increases.  I still have a back problem, but I have added bicycling (using an electrically assisted bicycle).  I got my first 10 mile ride in this week and am trying (not yet managing) to get a short ride in every day I'm not at the gym.  The Faraday Porteur makes hills much less scary but can be ridden up and down easy grades and on the flat without draining the battery.  It makes it easy to carry  a grocery bag (or two) and I have panniers coming that should make bigger trips possible.  If my gaming didn't end late at night I'd seriously consider riding it over to Card Kingdom for PFS.

My antipathy for calories in, calories out is probably better documented than it warrants.  Tl;Dr is that it's a decent heuristic and a terrible plan.  What you eat is important because it affects how your body processes food and releases energy, and because it affects how much (and what) your body _wants_ to eat.  But the general goal of dieting or eating healthy is to encourage your body to eat less (and better) stuff and have more energy and inclination to expend that energy.

Six small meals* (I don't know a formal name for it but that's descriptive) -- eating a small amount (think custard cup, small muffin, or half banana sized) every three hours through the day -- seems to work for us.  We rarely get more than five in, for me one is often somewhat larger, but th basic idea is working.

*Honest to Goddess, we did this under medical supervision for the last 7-8 months.  Including monthly meetings with a nutritionist/dietician and a fitness counselor and periodic meetings with an MD and a psychologist.  They were not messing around.  I don't know how much that support mattered, but we definitely benefited from it.

Given that 90+% of dieters in the U.S. fail to lose weight long-term, any dieting discussion must begin with the thought that we don't really know what we're talking about around food and that this works for me.  And that whatever works for you is good.

This is working for us.

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