May 20th, 2008

I Miss America

Thoughts on the news - gasoline prices, food waste, polygamy, China earthquake

So Paul Krugman, my favorite columnist in the world, has an article about how America ought to be thinking about living in the age of expensive gas. It's not about no cars; it's about tremendously more fuel efficient cars, of the sort we were starting to transition to before the bizarre rise of the SUV "during the cheap-gas 1990s." He said we also need to be building and using public transportation systems, to a much greater extent than at present; and, ultimately, we may need to look at changing where we live. He's right, though, this is the change that's going to be really difficult to make, because it only takes 3-5 years to get over the pain of buying a gas-guzzler, but a house, and entire communities of houses, will take decades to change into more close communities. I've got a long time to see how things evolve; life is going to be interesting. (And my long-distance travels will become a thing of the past; better get those tickets bought for Australia for Christmas 2009!)

There's another article about food waste in the US. I'm curious about what the relative rates of waste were between the US and the UK. I find it difficult to buy items at the grocery store in the quantities I need here; so many things are pre-packaged in twos and fours when I am looking for ones and threes that I feel it's difficult to avoid waste here for meat and vegetables. (US stores are pretty enthusiastic about having all vegetables sold in you-set-it-up bulk other than, say, delicate berries.) I also think people aren't nearly as good about using their leftovers here as they are in the states, but maybe I only have a limited sample to deal with. Also, it seems to me that the US uses more preservatives in food than the UK does, and food really does go off very quickly here - most bread in just three days unless it's refrigerated. I personally would prefer longer shelf life and less stuff going in the garbage.

The polygamist issues continue. I've been following these people since the mid-eighties, when I found out they had been living in the Arizona strip for decades.

China is getting a huge influx of foreign doctors, which I consider great news given the numbers of injured and the, um, occasionally primitive nature of Chinese hospitals (especially in rural areas) - a situation not helped at all by the fact that the, er, hospitals have just been through an earthquake. And it's clearly time for me to donate some money: the NYT has a list of places to donate on their site. Here's where my Sweet Pound Sterling can really make a difference. I think Americares will be my charity of choice - and I know they'll help with Burma, too, if they can find a way.

Tonight: "The Birthday Party" at the Lyric Hammersmith.

The Walrus and the Purity Ball

Wow. Okay, first, cool story about walruses: who would think they were the most social of the pinnipeds! I'm still manatee obsessed but I did like this story a lot.

Second, freakish story about a purity ball in Colorado, complete with a cross carried in by ballerinas and a chilling reminder that "most teenagers who say they will remain abstinent, like those at the ball, end up having sex before marriage, and they are far less likely to use condoms than their peers." I am rather painfully reminded of the link several people posted to the story about teenagers who are having "non-chastity compromising" relations (read: a**l s**, can't spell it out as the work filters won't let me) linked to from here, and wondering just how much ignorance people really want to sign their kids up for and why is there this ongoing obsession with the state of a very tiny bit of a woman's body as a sign of something "greater," rather than an overall focus on mental and physical health? Anyway, do look at the pictures linked to the article, especially the one with the swords. (I must say I like the idea of the event being about the dads, really, but how are they going to be there for their daughters if the girls "get into trouble?" Will they throw them out of the house, or force them to have their babies in an unwed mother's home and then force them to adopt them out?)
London Biker

Workout notes

Getting bored at the gym - it's kept me in classes of various sorts for most of my gym-going career. But these days I'm trying to keep my goals low (20 minutes at a time, three days a week, which means no one-hour classes) so that I can improve my attendance and get ultimately better results for my heart. But oh, the boredom!

I'm supposed to work up to thirty minutes and right now I'm trying to make it feasible through adding on more biking - er, once I get over this bit of being bored silly, which has me shuffling around my workout. The goal is a heart rate over 150, so any exercise or combination thereof is acceptable - I just need to get through the time without giving up, then add five minutes, then another five. I'm aiming for next week for the 25 minute workout - I expect I'll get to 30 some time in June.

I did all biking on either Thursday or Friday of last week, but it was a bit of a failure as my heart rate only got up to 142. Today I did five minutes of rowing (32 strokes per minute, split in 2:25 so quite a bit faster than my time for ten minutes), which got my heart rate up to 160, then got onto a stationary bicycle (as opposed to the stationery bicycle, which isn't strong enough to support a human being and melts when sweated upon). This one actually had a working heart rate monitor, so I could see that I was perking along at 150-153 beats per minute once I got warmed up. That was quite acceptable, I think. God only knows the sweat was trickling down my forehead and arms, so I did feel like I was working.

Lunch now is cold pasta and a salad - pretty tasty, really, and cheap to boot. This gym thing, it sure is keeping my lunch bills down. And I got a look at my thighs this morning and man, I am putting on the muscle (even though I still have lots of fat to ward off the cold, I can see the sleek, powerful stuff beneath it and it is impressive).
Status report

Yes, I am procrastinating

Okay, so, the reading today has been really good. There's fun stuff going on this weekend at the Tate Modern (FluxOlympics? Sign me up!), though I'm more likely to hit the Dulwich Picture Gallery, at least on Saturday), they've finally found a health problem caused by cell phones (it's bad for pregnant women to use them, just below drinking and smoking - and the research looks really good) ... and then this headline, straight out of the Onion: "Court says money discriminates against blind people" - not POOR people of course, but the blind. Sadly I fear this link (which I have not yet followed) will not lead to a story advocating a move to a bartering society and establishment of an anarchist state. The irony for me is that justice is blind, so I'm guessing money can't buy justice, either, no matter what the financial composition of people on death row might lead you to believe.

A final note: stressed out monkeys like to eat junk food, while monkeys at the top of the social pile will only nibble at it occasionally.

I loves me my Pinter! (The Birthday Party, Lyric Hammersmith)

I went to see a play tonight with trishpiglet and babysimon - Pinter's The Birthday Party, which I saw two years previously in Seattle. I have actually been kind of bubbling about it for the last two hours - I really enjoyed it and it gave us a lot to talk about. My full bubblings are available here - and my, I did go on rather a lot. Aren't you glad I found a different place to take this crap so I'm not polluting your flist with it? The only sad thing is that it's almost midnight and I really, really need to get to sleep, but I just couldn't do it until I wrote up the show, and I've got a nice new book here I just want to start reading right now ...