songbird's crazy world

life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Weight loss dilemma

So....in 2005 I had a very bad health issue.  A year of hell. And some really great doctors who got me through it.

And immediately afterwards, I decided to do something to improve my health, to improve my life.  I joined Weight Watchers.  In 2006-2007 I lost 70 pounds. And then I fell off the wagon, so to speak, and in 2008 I regained 40 pounds.  My New Year's resolution in 2009 was to lose those 40 pounds and continue to lose weight until I hit my goal.    But I never got my head in the game.  Not only didn't I lose those 40 pounds, I gained another...well, at least another 40.

Lesson learned.  I'm sticking with it this time.

But here's my dilemma (and it's kind of nice to have this "problem").

I've lost almost 50 pounds.  All my winter clothes are big on me.

But we are more than halfway through winter.  I don't want to buy new stuff that I'll wear for just a few weeks.  It's not like I'll wear them again next year, I plan to make my goal weight this time.

And I can't go shopping in my closet.  The size I wear now...yes, I wore this size back in 2008-2009.   But I gave all of that size away right after Hurricane Sandy.  A friend of a friend lost everything when the storm flooded her basement apartment,she needed jeans and sweaters, and I wasn't wearing those things, so I sent them to her.

But the good news is, if I lose another 10 pounds by April, I have a ton of things I will be able to wear ...

Taking the plunge...

Even as a kid, I was never much of an athlete.  I mean, I enjoyed swimming, I enjoyed riding my bike, I enjoyed playing kickball and volley ball and etc.  I even liked archery and horseback riding.  But other than swimming (I swam like a fish), I wasn't very good at anything that required strength or coordination.

I joined a gym once, when I was first married.  I'd won 6 months of membership in a raffle.  Went for awhile, but didn't keep it up. Too expensive.  And inconvenient --  we had moved to a new neighborhood. 

Not to mention, unmotivated. 

When Jen and Becca were little, I joined the Jewish Community Center.  I loved going there, taking them to use the pool and play in the gym.  Even after they stopped going, I kept up my membership for a long time.  When I lost all that weight a few years ago, I was swimming at the JCC and walking on their indoor track 2 or 3 times a week.

But you know what happened.  I stopped doing the weight loss program, and stopped going to the JCC.

So...I've been back on program since March.  And I've been doing a lot of walking.  In good weather, I go to a park and walk.  Or I walk in the neighborhood, or at the high school track.  In bad weather, I've been doing the Leslie Sansone walking program, I've got a few DVD's and I've found some other workouts on YouTube. 

Last summer I spent a lot of time at the community pool in Drew's neighborhood as well. 

And I recently started walking at the mall.  It's great in the morning, before the stores open.  Not so great if I want to walk after work.

For awhile I've been thinking that I'm ready to take the next step and join a gym.  I thought about going back to the JCC, but it's too expensive -- your membership includes all the cultural events as well as the gym and pool, great when I had young children, but right now there's not much there to interest me.

So I joined Planet Fitness.

Wish me luck.

History In The Making

I'm very passionate about politics, but until recently I've kept my politics out of this blog.

But this year, I'm finding that I can't stay silent. This year's presidential election is far too important.

You may have guessed, from that little piece I wrote on Ted Cruz, that I'm not a Republican.

Let me be perfectly clear. I support Hillary Clinton. I liked her as First Lady, I was proud to vote for her for US Senate, I was crushed in 2008 when she lost the nomination to Barack Obama. I plan to vote for her in the NYS primary in April.

But last night I felt a thrill, a thrill I haven't felt since Al Gore chose Joe Lieberman as his running mate.

Bernie Sanders. Born in Brooklyn, to Polish Jewish immigrants. Bernie Sanders, whose youthful experiences include living on an Israeli kibbutz.

Last night, Bernie Sanders became the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary.

I am bursting with ethnic pride.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hail, Caesar! (spoilers)

A wonderful send up of everything Hollywood once held dear,  this movie satirizes religion, politics, social mores and, of course, the movie industry itself.  It's a combination of social commentary and gentle humor.

The story is set in Hollywood in the 1950's.   Eddie  Mannix (Josh Brolin) runs the studio. He has to deal with various movies and their stars.

Actor Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is in the middle of filming an religious epic set in 1st Century Rome (shades of "The Robe" with a little "Ben Hur" thrown in for good measure) , when he is kidnapped, in full costume, and brought  to a beach house by a group of Communist writers.

Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) is a singing cowboy (Gene Audry?   Roy Rogers?)  terribly miscast in an erudite, Noel Coward-ish film directed by Laurence Laurenz (Ralph Fiennes).

Hobie has a date for his movie premier with Carlotta Valdez (Veronica Osorio), clearly a Carmen Miranda type.

Then there's DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johannson) an Esther Williams type with a Loretta Young problem.

Tilda Swinto plays gossip columnist Thora Thacker, and also her sister, gossip columnist Thessaly Thacker.

And then there'sa send up of "On the Town", with Burt Geurney (Channing Tatum) dressed as a sailor, doing a Gene Kelly-like song and dance.

Wonderfully funny movie.  Definitely worth seeing.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Weight Watchers and all that

So since I quit Weight Watchers....

I started by using My Fitness Pal and tracking calories.  Then my Facebook group started talking about all the apps they use -- iTrackBites, ProTracker, Ultimate Food Value Diary.  These are knockoff apps that allow the user to follow the old Weight Watchers plan, Points Plus.

You know, the plan I started using back in March?

Seeing those apps was like coming home.

I think the best one, in terms of layout, is Ultimate Food Value Diary.  And, joyfully, there's an in-app purchase that allows you to link the app with Fitbit, so activity points are calculated automatically.

Right now I'm following Points Plus, using the Ultimate Food Value Diary.

But I'm also tracking on My Fitness Pal.  It has a better database of foods, and it's giving me good feedback about the nutritional content of the foods I eat.    And I'm seeing a real relationship between the "points" I'm using and the calories and nutritional value of the things I'm eating.  The secret to losing weight and, more importantly, keeping it off, is learning how to eat a healthy and satisfying diet.

In the short time I tried to follow the Smart Points plan, I tracked on My Fitness Plan as well.  There was no real relationship between the point values and the calories I was using.

So many people are  angry about Smart Points.    Some are always hungry and frustrated.  Some are following the plan but gaining weight,  Meeting leaders are at a loss on how to help members.  I've seen copies of the email recently sent to current members, they're already making major modifications to the program.

So glad I'm no longer part of that!

I'm just a few pounds away from the big 5-0.  Yes, I've lost almost 50 pounds.

Yeah, i got this.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

TGI Friday's

TGI Fridays Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

If you're looking for a quiet place for a casual bite to eat ...this is NOT the place.It's loud, it's kitschy, it tends to be crowded at times.

But, as with any chain, you know what to expect before you even see a menu.  Though I was a bit surprised, the menu has been revised since the last time we ate here, the number of offerings has been reduced -- I couldn't help but notice that most of the lower-calorie dishes have been removed.

Still, where else can you get Jack Daniels steaks?  Cooked to order, with a choice of two sides.  Simple and tasty.

Service was friendly and efficient.

A decent option.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hoist on their own petard

Ah, the birther movement. Those right wing nut jobs who insisted, over and over, that Barack Obama was not eligible to be President of the United States.  They insisted that Obama's birth certificate, duly recorded by the appropriate authorities in the State of Hawaii, was a forgery, and that Obama was actually born in Kenya, the homeland of his father.

How delightful to see that their favorite son, Ted Cruz, has a legitimate "birther" issue.  Cruz has been a citizen since birth, but is he a "natural born citizen" as is required by the Constitution?  Or is he disqualified from serving as President?

Yeah, I know, I don't usually talk politics here.  But this is too good to ignore....

The State of Illinois Board of Elections recently answered the question in response to a challenge from the voters:  Cruz is a "natural born citizen".  I don't think it's going to stop with the Illinois Board of Elections.  Prepare for the onslaught if Cruz continues to rack up delegates.

The question was raised with other candidates, of course.  Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona, but before it became a state.  John McCain was born on a US Navy base in the Panama Canal Zone.  George Romney was born in Mexico to American citizen parents.

Cruz has a slightly different story.  His mother was born in Delaware.  But his father was born in Cuba, became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1973, and later renounced his Canadian citizenship when he became a naturalized American citizen.  The Cruzes met in Texas, but were living in Canada when Ted was born in 1970.

All legal authorities acknowledge that Ted was a Canadian citizen and  a US citizen at the time of his birth.  (He has since renounced his Canadian citizenship.)   But being  "citizen at birth" and being a "natural born citizen" are not necessarily the same.

This article from the Washington Post explains the two legal theories:  Ted Cruz and that ‘natural born citizen’ requirement: What were the Founding Fathers afraid of?

According to the authors of a recent Harvard Law Review article:

“All the sources routinely used to interpret the Constitution confirm that the phrase ‘natural born Citizen’ has a specific meaning: namely, someone who was a U.S. citizen at birth with no need to go through a naturalization proceeding at some later time. And Congress has made equally clear from the time of the framing of the Constitution to the current day that, subject to certain residency requirements on the parents, someone born to a U.S. citizen parent generally becomes a U.S. citizen without regard to whether the birth takes place in Canada, the Canal Zone, or the continental United States.” The fact that Ted Cruz’s mother was a citizen, by this standard, means that despite his birth in Canada, he is eligible.

In other words, the laws enacted by Congress essentially define a "natural born citizen" as one who is a citizen by birth, regardless of where the person was born.

But a professor from Delaware Law School argued that:

“The concept of ‘natural born’ comes from common law, and it is that law the Supreme Court has said we must turn to for the concept’s definition. On this subject, common law is clear and unambiguous. The 18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, the preeminent authority on it, declared natural-born citizens are ‘such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England,’ while aliens are “such as are born out of it.'”

In other words, the Founding Fathers would have understood a "natural born citizen" to be one who was born within the United States.  Cruz had citizenship conferred on him at birth by operation of law, and is not a "natural born citizen" under the definition understood in the 18th Century.

The Illinois Board of Elections ruled that:

“The Candidate is a natural born citizen by virtue of being born in Canada to his mother who was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth,” the board stated, saying that Cruz “did not have to take any steps or go through a naturalization process at some point after birth,” adding, “Further discussion on this issue is unnecessary.”

 I guess they agree with the scholars at Harvard.

And then there's Laurence Tribe.    Professor Tribe has been teaching Constitutional Law at Harvard since forever.  He's recognized as one of the leading experts in the field.  Ted Cruz was his student.  So was Barack Obama.  I've been reading Tribe since my law school days.  I follow him on Twitter. 

Tribe had a rather interesting article in The Boston Globe the other day:  Under Ted Cruz’s own logic, he’s ineligible for the White House  Tribe points out that Cruz is an "originalist", except on this issue, where it is to Cruz' benefit to tout a more liberal view of the Constitution. 

Tribe states:  There’s more than meets the eye in the ongoing dustup over whether Ted Cruz is eligible to serve as president, which under the Constitution comes down to whether he’s a “natural born citizen” despite his 1970 Canadian birth. Senator Cruz contends his eligibility is “settled” by naturalization laws Congress enacted long ago. But those laws didn’t address, much less resolve, the matter of presidential eligibility, and no Supreme Court decision in the past two centuries has ever done so. In truth, the constitutional definition of a “natural born citizen” is completely unsettled, as the most careful scholarship on the question has concluded...the kind of judge Cruz says he admires and would appoint to the Supreme Court is an “originalist,” one who claims to be bound by the narrowly historical meaning of the Constitution’s terms at the time of their adoption. To his kind of judge, Cruz ironically wouldn’t be eligible, because the legal principles that prevailed in the 1780s and ’90s required that someone actually be born on US soil to be a “natural born” citizen. Even having two US parents wouldn’t suffice. And having just an American mother, as Cruz did, would have been insufficient at a time that made patrilineal descent decisive....[Cruz] seems to be a fair weather originalist, abandoning that method’s narrow constraints when it suits his ambition.



I must confess, I agree with the esteemed professor. 

This is becoming a very interesting election.





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