Friday, August 30, 2013


I’ve been wondering for quite some time- along with the rest of the country- (I hope) if we are going to be dragged into this Syrian rebellion. I didn’t want us to. I didn’t want to see one more American life lost, over yet again another Middle Eastern conflict, rebellion, uprising, whatever.
This last week shifted my thinking though. I thought about Hitler’s reign of terror and the Holocaust and how long it took the United States to act during that time. The holocaust began in 1938 and ended in 1945 when the American Army stumbled upon Ohrdruf Concentration Camp where there were hundreds of starved, frail prisoners who had managed to survive though many would die in the following weeks, as well as over 3000 corpses.
General Patton- when he arrived at the camp was physically sickened and refused to look at further carnage. Reportedly, General Eisenhower, turned white, but he said, “I made myself look at every nook and cranny” [of the camp.] “We are told that the American soldier does not know what he was fighting for, now; at least he will know what he is fighting against."
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the United States press, at the time, had grossly underreported what was happening to the Jews in Germany. Eisenhower called on the US press and the press corps to visit the concentration camps.  Joseph Pulitzer, whom it was said had a suspicious frame of mind concerning what he thought, were exaggerated rumors; when he saw Ohrdruf,  Pulitzer said. “The reports were understatements.”
The current Syrian Civil War is part of the Arab Spring. A general dissatisfaction of the people with their government and lack of human rights. Once again, like in Iraq; it is Sunni versus Shi’ite and once again a leader is using sarin Gas on his own people.
The President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, has removed all political parties other than (his) Ba'ath Syrian Regional Branch--leaving Syria a one-party state without free elections. He has chipped away or failed to improve any human rights issues in his country. And, now we hear--and I do believe--that he is using sarin Gas. In 1983 the United States was aware (top secret reports released) of Saddam Hussein using chemical weapons on his own people (The Kurds) and under President Reagan’s leadership chose at that time to do nothing. We all know how that worked out.
The US is now backing the armed rebels fighting the al-Assad regime. (The same rebels arrested by US Marines on the border of Syria and Iraq for gun smuggling in 2006-7.)
Because we have so little understanding of the Arab world and the Muslim conflicts, at least until recently, we have flip flopped on support over the years, seemingly picking sides randomly- taking what looks to me like -- if Russia is for it we must be against it approach. We have to stop looking at the politics and start looking at the human condition.
I hate war. I hate what Operation Iraqi Freedom did to so many of our own troops. I hate what it did to my son. I don’t want to see one more US troop’s life lost over Middle East religious wars. (You may call them oil wars- but I don’t).  BUT- this is a human concern. We have a moral obligation to prevent another holocaust. We have already waited too long, because of politics and politicians. According to the United Nations, over 100,000 men women and children have died in Syria since 2011. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Iraq.
I know the US is war weary- though so few actually have skin in the game- so few have cared about the troops and what happens to them after they get home-- after they are out of uniform. But, the truth is, this is not politics. This is being human. And I can’t personally use the Christian card because I don’t think of myself as a Christian, but wouldn’t anyone’s God want to prevent another Holocaust? Wouldn’t anyone’s God want to not see civilians killed for being some religion that some other people don’t like?
Syrian children after the sarin gas attack
I checked in with my son last night before I wrote this – I’ve been wanting to write about this subject for a week but I thought I better just check in with someone that has a better perspective on the Middle East than me-  and make sure I’m not crazy. But, he- who has fought in a war-(who helped arrest those gun smugglers) and who is not pro war for much- who is genuinely war weary- believes that we have to help the people of Syria too.
No- I do not want to see another US troop killed for nothing.  I know though, there is no way I can turn my head and not see this holocaust in the making.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Moving The Glacier

Hubbard Glacier
Sometime in April or May I hit bottom- or maybe I should say top- with my weight. I was painfully aware long before I actually decided to do something about it though. My feet hurt when standing, my hips hurt when lying down, my back hurt all the time, sitting, standing or lying. I was lumbering. Those of you who know me- have known me for many years know that I used to be a fast walker, and some of you might even remember when I could run. Now I was lumbering.

I hadn’t weighed myself in many months because I didn’t want to see the truth. Obesity. I knew it; I just didn’t want to see it. Then one day, I felt sick. I was scared that maybe I was becoming diabetic and with no insurance, I realized the only thing I could do was try to change the way I eat and start getting some exercise. My main goal- amazingly unselfish of me – was to stay alive for my son. Oh sure, me too, but mostly him, because he already lost one parent and I saw the toll that took on him. I wouldn’t do that to him if I could do anything to prevent it. And I was hoping I could.
I have been to Jenny Craig before with good results, so I picked up the phone and made an appointment. I had not forgotten how much I hate the appointments though. I hate being asked how my week was. I hate being asked if I got any exercise. I hate being asked about things that make me overeat. I hate the pop psychology of it all. I made the appointment anyway.
I weighed in. 197. Well, I told myself, at least it wasn’t 200. I bought my food and started my diet.

I knew that I had to start walking more and faster. I already walked a mile a day- most days. Now, I had to step it up. I started coming home for lunch and walking a mile at lunch and a mile after work if I had an ounce of energy left to do anything.
On weekends, I try to take a longer walk or a nice hike in open space. A couple of times I walked so far the dog had to rest. Once I walked too far and got the shakes and I thought of how mad I would be if I were one of those people that dropped dead getting some fresh air and exercise. (Remember to hydrate my Marine son would say.)

Losing weight in your 60s is not like losing weight in your 40s or 50s, which was hard enough. Losing weight in your 60s is like trying to move a massive glacier with a snowplow. It’s not easy, it’s not fun, and sometimes it’s downright depressing.
Eventually though, people start to notice, your baggy pants, your thinner face, your increased energy and that gives you the little push you need to get through the next plateau. And plateaus are aplenty.

I stopped going to Jenny Craig after two months. Mostly because I couldn’t afford it. Partly because I really am annoyed by the same questions every week. I have a stressful job; sometimes it makes me want to eat the universe. I do the best I can. I push myself to make smarter food choices- but once in a while, I am going to have a box of Good & Plenty. Trust me Jenny Craig- I won’t blame you for my failure.
On June 27th, I downloaded an app called Runtastic. Runtastic let me keep track of my miles and calories burned. It shows a map of my walk, and gives me my miles per hour. You can upload your session to Facebook and your friends can see you are moving. You are trying. You are on a mission.

Since June 27th, I have walked 46 times, a distance of 68.29 miles (todays walk yet to be) and I burned 7713 calories. Now the thing about calories is that you keep burning them all day long, so 7713 is only what I have burned during my walks. I like being able to see my progress and eventually upgraded my Runtastic app to the paid version. That is all the psychology I need- evidence that I have pushed myself yet one more day.

Today I weighed in at 180. 17 pounds. Picture 17 pounds of butter. That is how much fat I have lost. Still I have a way to go. At least another 20 pounds. I don’t expect to ever be skinny. I’ll be happy with healthy and clothes that fit.  Finally- I can buy some pants without an elastic waist!