Clearing the Decks

I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts recently and was having some trouble doing so. Then I remembered, “Hey, I’ve got this blog just taking up [cyber]space.” So I decided, for the moment to rejuvenate this place to help put things in order and perhaps even receive some helpful feedback. So here is a small brain-dump for my own purposes.

1. I’ve been experiencing a lot of real estate envy lately. This was aroused by a trip to Takoma Park to pick up a cheesecake to celebrate a co-worker from Capital City Cheesecake (Oreo and Strawberry cheesecakes for the record – both delicious). Then there was the article in the Post about the “Post-Hippie Takoma Park” which sort of put into words what I find so attractive about that area

“Takoma is getting older, or at least the activists are getting older and not as engaged,” said Eric Hensal, who moved to the city in 2003 and who is running for a seat on the City Council. “It’s almost like Takoma really is at the post-hippie phase.”

In the past, Takoma Park officials balanced such issues as national immigration policy and nuclear proliferation with more parochial concerns, such as traffic. But these days, there is a feeling that the city should focus more on issues that directly affect its residents, such as a ban on chemical pesticides, council member Tim Male said.

“People are realizing that there’s places where our voices will really have a big impact and there are places where it won’t,” said Male, who moved with his wife to the city a decade ago. They now have two children.

It’s not that I dislike where I live. We have a great school for the kids. Through them we’ve met other nice families with parents I enjoy spending time with and who provide a sense of community. Our area is actually more diverse than people give it credit for, so it’s not stereotypically suburban-homogenous and it’s a place lots and lots of people would be thrilled to live. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t long for a shorter commute, a slightly more walkable area and a different kind of a sense of community that’s socially engaged but locally focused. A single family home there would be a bit of a stretch for us and we’re comfortable where we are so nothing is likely to happen any time soon. But a fellow can dream, can’t he?

2) I’ve lost about 16 pounds over the last three months. All the credit goes to Melissa who convinced me to start using MyFitnessPal, not as a diet, but as a lifestyle change that develops healthier eating habits. Now I track my meals every day, and it’s almost like I haven’t actually eaten until I enter the information in the meal tracker. Like they say in this commentary on Marketplace, it can become an (unhealthy?) obsession. Now, every day I try and eat fewer than 1,900 calories and most days I succeed. It really does become habit forming.

3) Despite working in a building with full fitness facilities available to me for free, I have not lost any of this weight by exercising. That’s not meant to be a brag, more an indication of how overweight I really was. However, having shed these pounds has made me think about exercising more. One day when I brought the kids to our community pool, I swam some laps for the first time in many, many years. Perhaps 500 yards, but it felt good to be doing something. Next week I went out and bought a pair of goggles and that weekend, combining several “adult swims” I swam closer to 1000 yards. Now I am trying to figure out how I can work swimming a few times a week into my schedule. Again, there’s a pool where I work, but I am beginning to see the value of scheduling stuff like this away from work so that work doesn’t have as good a chance to subsume it. I’ve consider joining a Masters Swim Team, but I think to begin I’m just going to try and get to bed a little earlier and make it to the local aquatic center before I go to work.

I was a competitive swimmer until I got to high school and joined the water polo team (yes, my school had a water polo team). I was okay, but I got tired of going back and forth. I always lost count of my laps. I didn’t know what to think about when I was swimming and my late-adolescent brain was too crowded a place for me to get outside of in the isolation of a pool. I thought it was boring and I had gotten to the age where either you start training really seriously or you stop. So I stopped. Today I wonder if I would have gotten bored if they had the gadgets that are available today like waterproof MP3 players and digital lap counters. I am trying to get motivated by promising myself that if I really do begin swimming regularly and stick to it, I’ll get one or two of these gadgets.

4) Since last spring I’ve been following the Washington Nationals really closely. I made the conscious decision to designate the Nats as my primary baseball team because I wanted my kids to be able to root for the home-town team. I figured if that were going to happen, I would have to lead by example. Little did I know that in the process, my wife would transform in a Nats Superfan. The kids have also really taken to the team, particularly the Wolvog, who was playing youth baseball for the first time this year. We’ve taken them to a bunch of games and fortunately, this Nationals team is both a really likable bunch, and amazingly successful at this point of the season. If they keep winning the 2012 Nationals could hold a particularly special place in the kids’ lives, like the 1978 Yankees and 1986 Giants did for me. Those teams for me become a kind of gateway to thinking and feeling what it was like to be a kid with heroes and the magic of a championship run. Players like Ron Guidry, Thurmon Munson, Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms always place me back in a time of innocence and simple joys that being a fan can provide. I’m hoping Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman can occupy a similar place for my kids.


That’s the brain-dump for now. Perhaps if I do this a little more frequently, the posts will be more coherent. In any case, consider this post a small step back to more regular writing, kind of like the first few days of counting calories were kind of sucky, but now it is more habitual. In any case, I’ll hit publish now and we’ll see how long it is before I hit it again.


1 Comment

July 15, 2012 · 8:59 pm

One response to “Clearing the Decks

  1. a

    It’s funny to me how the suburban (and possibly the urban) midwest has very different sensibilities on things compared to either coast. In my area, pest control is a way of life – ants, termites, spiders, junebugs, roaches, beetles, roly polys, crickets, mosquitoes…they’re all trying to get into your house. And if you don’t spray, they will. Now, I certainly encourage the praying mantises to live in our landscaping (and sometimes on our patio door!) to eat all these critters, but they’re just not hungry enough. We have a lizard (salamander, I think) running in and out of our garage, who has been keeping our garage cricket-free*. But the ants and termites always find a way in, and can be very destructive about it. And no one likes spider or mosquito bites.

    Congrats on the weight loss!

    The problem I see with baseball today is the same problem with everything – there is too much media coverage of baseball players, so they rarely get the chance to be heroes. Their foibles are way too exposed. But that doesn’t stop me from telling my daughter that she is genetically a White Sox fan and it doesn’t matter where we live and what team is nearby and who her father likes. His team is National League anyway, so there’s no real conflict. Ever. Thanks, White Sox.

    *I do not recommend a lizard as a strategy for keeping your house cricket free for your wife. A pet would require being fed with crickets, which is obviously out of the question. A wild lizard, however, in exchange for keeping my garage cricket free, likes to leave me little “gifts” everywhere. Lizard excrement is odd and hard to clean up.


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