Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Soundtrack: Do Your Duty

Bettye LaVette is more famous for the song "He Made A Woman Out of Me" but the first song of hers I ever heard was "Do Your Duty". I was living in Tampa in the early 1980s. I remember hanging out with a couple of my cousins and their girlfriends when this song came on the radio. The second time I heard this song was when I was working at SF Weekly, so that must have been 1998. I was in a night club in San Francisco's Transbay Terminal. (The nightclub isn't there anymore.) The girl I was with was someone I met at John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room the night before. (John Lee was still alive then.) It was her scene more than mine. Though my business card got me into all the best bars and nightclubs I was, really, a navy blazer man, even then. I just couldn't get down with jook joint in a bus station, not even with a crazy not-quite-dressed-enough gray-eyed mullato girl. Not even for those fabulous chicken wings one of the other customers brought from home to share with whoever turned up that night. The girl was dangerous. The wings were good. The music was classic R&B. But I had a book waiting for me at home.

The diet

I struggle with my weight. Even as a child I was overweight. Even when I was in the infantry and excercizing HARD two or three times a day I had to watch my weight. In the past 10 years I've tried three different weight loss diets: Wieght Watchers, South BEach, and the HMR diet. They all failed for what I think of as the same reason: THey were complicated and required a lot of planning.

About 2 weeks ago I read an article about suger and other carbohydrates, that medical researchers are beginning to think that all the sugar and grain Americans eat might be killing us, that the baccon on a BLT might be better for us than the bread that olds it all together.

So I started thinking about that. And I mentioned the storyto my wife who told me about a fired of hers who used to struggle with her weigh until she got reid of all sugar and grain from her diet. Now the friend is svelte and healthy. So I thought about that, too.

And I decided to try to live without sugar and grain. The only exception to the grain rule is Commuion and an occasional bowl of oatmeal. There is no exception to the sugar rule. I don't eat honey. I don't eat maple syrup. I don't even eat sweet fruit, such as oranges, apples, and plums. (Olives and tomatoes are okay). Also, alcohol consumption has been limited to red wine, and no more than a quart of that per day.

So, what do I eat? Mainly, roasted meats and vegetables, boiled potatoes, eggs, beans, and raw vegetables. I eat as much as I want. I eat all the high fat foods (e.g. butter, milk, cheese, and olive oil) I want. And it is much much easier than keeping track of calories or points like the commercial diets wanted me to do. I will not lie and say it has been easy. The craving for bread and pasta was pretty bad the first week. After that it was much deminished. Now I don't even think of it, unless I am in a coffee shop and see a croisant in the display case. I should mention this: it is a little bit inconvenient not being able to eat any prepared foods at all. I mean, if it comes ready to heat and serve you can safely bet it has sugar, corn, and wheat it it.

So, what are the results after two weeks? I have lost weight and, this surprised me, I feel less sluggish and more alert.

Oh, would I recommend this diet for everyone? No. I have unusually low cholestorol. It hovers around 90 and my "good" colesterol number is two or three times my "bad" cholsterol number. I suppose if I had high cholestorol a diet like mine might be dangerous. But it is working for me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Of Snowpacks

Anyone who's read this blog over the years knows my concern for the snow pack. Well today I read that the Sierra snow pack is 167% of "normal". This is some of the best news I've heard in a decade. I'm very happy. I guess some of the farmers aren't happy but, seriously, are farmers ever happy?

One of my favorite days

Today is the commemoration of the third finding of the head of St. John the Forerunner. Every year on this day I pray for the current guardian of St. John's head. It must be a difficult job.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Once a year is not often enough.

Woe, to you, O my darkened soul!
Your life is stained by depravity and laziness;
your folly makes you shun all thought of death.
How complacent you remain!
How can you flee the awesome thought of Judgment Day?
When will you change your way of life?
On that day your sins will rise against you.
What will your answer be then?
Your acts will condemn you; your deeds will expose you.
The time is at hand, O my soul.
Turn to the good and loving Savior!
Beg Him to forgive your malice and weakness, as you cry in faith:
“I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against You,
but I know Your love for all mankind.//
O good Shepherd, call me to enjoy Your lasting presence on Your right hand!”

-Aposticha from Vespers for Sunday of Meatfare/Sunday of the Last Judgment

Monday, May 17, 2010


I am being trained to be a reader in the Orthodox Church. So far, the best part of it has been reading the books I was told to buy. Every Tuesday and Thursday I drop Basil Wenceslas off at Kidspark and take Anselm Samuel to LOA, which meets at a church in in SanJose. The church, which is very large, has a cafe. I sit in in the cafe and pray the Hours and Matins from my copy of the Horologion while Anselm is with the other kids doing science and history.

So far, during services at St Nicholas Church I've been allowed to read the life of St. Mary of Egypt, chant the 1st and 3rd hours, and chant the Prayers after Communion. I kind of thought it would be easy, but chanting, I've discovered, is more difficult than singing. I enjoy being useful.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Merry Ascension!

The Lord has been taken up into heaven, that he may send the Advocate to the world. The heavens have prepared his throne; clouds his ascent. Angels marvel to see a human high above them. The Father receives him whom he holds eternally in his bosom. The Holy Spirit orders all his Angels, ’Lift up our gates, you rulers’. All you nations, clap your hands: for Christ has gone up where he was before.

Lord, at your Assumption the Cherubim were amazed as they contemplated you, the God who is seated upon them, ascending on the clouds; and we glorify you, for your mercy is kind. Glory to you!

As we see your exaltation on the holy mountains, O Christ, the splendour of the Father’s glory, we hymn the appearance, formed of light, of your countenance; we worship your sufferings, we honour your Resurrection, as we glorify your glorious Assumption. Have mercy on us.

Lord Christ, giver of life, as your Apostles saw you borne up on clouds, filled with lamentations of tears of dejection, grieving they said, ’Master, do not make us your servants orphans, whom through pity you have loved as you are compassionate; but, as you promised, send us your all-holy Spirit to guide our souls with light’

From Vespers for the Feast of the Ascensionof the Lord

Friday, May 07, 2010

A day of getting ready

Today's theme is "Getting Ready". I've been getting uniforms ready for the Scout-o-Rama tomorrow. I've been getting apartments ready for their new residents. I've been getting meals ready to eat, boys ready for life, paint ready for painters,and the pool ready for swimmers. It reminded me of this song:


It just dawned on me that it is impossible to forgive unless we have been hurt.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A funny thing I did.

Tonight, a friend reminded me of something I did a long time ago. I was living with an Air Force officer back in 1997 or 1998 who was on loan to a secret part of the U.S. gov't. I asked him once if Congress knew what he did. He said "A couple of them do." He was that kind of guy. But you would never know it if you met him. Well, one day I needed to talk to him when he was at work but I didn't have his direct number. So, I called [location where secret go'vt pffice bldg was] and a sergeant answered the phone. I said, "Good morning, Sergeant. Could you put me through to Capt. [name] in [secret organization]? The sergeant said, "I'm sorry, sir. We have no one here by that name."

Having once been an enlisted man in the Army, I know a little bit how enlisted men think. So I changed my voice to sound a little bit angry and a little bit southern. I put a touch of Drill Sergeant inflection in it and I said, "Son, I am a colonel in the United States God Damn Marine Corps. You will put me though to Capt. [name] right now or I am comming down there!"

"Yes, Sir!"

The next voice I heard was my roommate who asked, "How did you get through to me at this number?" I was dying laughing as I told the story. He said, seriously, "He wasn't supposed to do that. What was his name."
I said, "Come on, he thought he was on the phone with an angry colonel, give the guy a break."
My roommate laughed then, too.