Friday, January 30, 2009

Days are going by fast!

Not much to tell today. I'm at 279 lbs - not much change. I realize that I've got 17 months to lose 80 lbs, so a pound a day isn't feasible, but I still get a little depressed when the scale doesn't show a loss every day.

The last three weeks have flown by for some reason. It seems like every time I sit down in the living room, it's time to watch Battlestar Galactica. I think going to the gym after work makes the evenings pass faster for some reason.

Bernie got laid off this week. I've been waiting for this for 2 years and so has she, but it caught her by surprise nonetheless. She's happy about it, so no need for sympathies, everyone. She got to work from home 4 days out of 5 for 3 years doing something that bored her to tears, so she's actually happy it's over. The job was too good to quit but too boring to enjoy. We're glad it's over and she can go find something more rewarding this time. Coincidentally, we got a bunch of checks in the mail from other sources this week - almost like a higher power wanted to send us something to tide us over until she gets another job.

That's really about it for now. I have managed to eat 'soft' but normal food without puking this week. I had a broken blood vessel in my eye last week and it still looks bad, but it's getting better. That's what happens when you throw up too vigorously or too often, so I've pledged to stop making mistakes with food from now on.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year update

We had a nice family celebration lunch for CNY today. Bernie made a lot of stuff and we supplemented with food from the local Chinese take out restaurant. I managed to eat half an egg roll and a couple of forkfuls of lo mein, but it was uncomfortable going down. After the party broke up and Bernie and I went to the gym, I ate leftover orange chicken for dinner with no qualms whatsoever, so there is still absolutely no rhyme or reason to what I'm able to tolerate.

The good news is I am now at 280lbs. Since I worked out today, I bet I'm at 278 tomorrow.

There was a little bit of "changing of the guard" in my closet today. My waist size is still 44, but I no longer need elastic at that size, and in truth, normal 44s are a little loose in the waist. I went through the pants in the closet and took about 80% out of circulation because they were too baggy. This also wiped out the current roster of blue jeans.

So I went to where I had stored the skinny clothes in vacuum bags 3 years ago. I got 8 pairs of slacks out that were once too small and they now fit (some of them are actually loose), including several pairs that still had tags attached. An old, reliable pair of jeans that once fit me are now back in service because they fit again, as well as a pair that never got worn. I've apparently shrunk in height, because almost all the slacks need to be re-hemmed by about an inch. The sad thing about all this is that these pants probably won't be worn long before they are also too big, and then I'll start opening the vacuum bags that are even farther back in the spare closet.

I'm starting to work on my laundry, and I bet there are clothes in the hamper that won't be going back into the closet, too.

It's a good thing I've hung on to clothes that I 'outgrew' while I was gaining weight. Otherwise, I'd be going broke replacing them right now. I expect I'll be wearing t-shirts and shorts from my college days when summer arrives.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Weight Loss Update

I've officially graduated to the 'soft foods' diet that I've been doing illegally for the past couple of weeks. I'm allowed noodles and crackers again, whee!

After a less than 50% acceptance rate, I am crossing grits off my list of approved foods. I have no idea why I can't handle them, but such is life.

This morning, I weighed in at 282.4 lbs. I've hit and passed the 50lbs lost mark. Another ten and I'll have to change to 42 inch waist pants. My mom measured me and I've lost a ton of inches on my chest, stomach, waist, arms, legs, and neck. On the down side, skin is starting to sag and stretch marks are beginning to show. Some of them sting! Couple this with the dry skin that winter brings, and I'm having to slather on lotion when I get out of the shower every day just to keep that crawly sensation from happening.

Bernie and I joined a gym on Monday and we each did 20 minutes on the treadclimber. No issues, no soreness, and 180 calories burned. I wonder if that spurred the drop from 285 to 282?

In any event, I've already lost half of what I originally expected to lose. That's cause for celebration in itself.

We went to a restaurant on Monday night after the gym and the waitress told us she had a friend that had done gastric bypass 3 years ago, had gotten her plastic surgery and everything after the weight loss, then she rediscovered candy and wine and gained it all back. Thank heaven I don't drink or love sweets much.

One disappointment - I cannot tell when I'm full. I guess I'll have to measure portions for the rest of my life. That's a fair trade.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hudson River Plane "crash"

I'm sure everyone's seen the news about the NYC to Charlotte flight that was landed safely in the Hudson River after having both engines damaged by birds immediately after takeoff.

Amazing that no one was seriously hurt. The passengers were all rescued by the ferries on the river, and the plane was towed to Chelsea Piers. The wings didn't even come off.

The newspaper here in Charlotte has comments on the article from people that recognize the flight crew from the photos. That's pretty surreal.

Anyway, the pilot is a hero and I salute him and his extreme competence under pressure. He can pilot my plane any time.

Funny, though...all I can think of is: What happens to the plane now? Do they refurbish it and put it back into service? Or does it end up getting sold to some 3rd world nation's airline? I don't think any American would want to get on a plane that's been crash-landed before.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weight Loss Update

286.4 this morning. 47 pounds lost.

I'm going to start investigating gyms next week. I have a good recommendation from a friend at work about Energy Sports and Fitness, which is close to the office. They have a "cardio cinema room" where you can use the treadmill or elliptical machine in a darkened movie theater and enjoy the show while you sweat.

I think I'm going to concentrate on cardio fitness at first - something I usually shun for the weights. I think the rapid weight loss will keep me interested.

The lightest I've been in memory is 265. I can't wait to break that barrier. After that, I'm going for college-level weights.

Eating is still officially puree, but I've been cheating with soft foods from time to time. Bernie and I went out to eat the for the first time and shared a plate. Baked Mac & Cheese, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, and fried shrimp. The shrimp were a religious experience. They just disintegrated in my mouth and the flavor was out of this world. We took most of the meal home and I had leftovers for three days.

On another interesting note, the budget has never been in better shape in our household. Eating at home has saved us a bunch of money this month.

I went to my first rehearsal with the concert band since the surgery and both me and my recently repaired saxophone did great. The dent in my lip hurts, though.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Better Version of Star Wars (Ep III)

I saw Star Wars - Return of the Jedi on Spike TV tonight, and I realized that I actually prefer the new trilogy to the old one (blasphemy!). Especially Ep III.

Why is that, I wonder? Maybe it's because Lucas semi-successfully managed to shoehorn the whole fall of Vader into one two-hour movie, since he failed to advance the plot very much in the first two movies. He had so much ground to cover in Ep III, that I consider it a triumph that he managed to get it (mostly) all in there.

Not that there's not room for improvement, of course. What's that you say? Prove it? Okay. Here's my personal treatment of Star Wars Ep III - Revenge of the Sith:

First change - the movie picks up 5 years later than Lucas's version. Anakin is 30 years old, a full Jedi Master, and ambitious. He and Obi-Wan are still close friends, but Anakin feels like he's left Obi-Wan in his wake, force-power wise, and is a little bit condescending towards him. Anakin has become the hero of the Clone Wars in the meantime, and has established a home on the planetoid Mustafar, a volcanic world. Padme lives on Coruscant, and they secretly see each other whenever he can get there and stay for awhile, which isn't often.

Act I, Scene I - The Jedi Council Chamber. Anakin is informed he's lost another bid to join the Jedi Council. Anakin takes it calmly, but stiffly inquires of Windu and Yoda why they refuse to let him join the council. Windu bluntly tells him that they know he is the most powerful of the Jedi, but they are aware of his tendencies toward attachment and love of power, and they don't completely trust him to follow the "Jedi way". Anakin says his record of accomplishments in his short time as a Jedi should be sufficient cause for their trust and that he "finds their lack of faith disturbing". (Anakin has gotten over his whiny teenage ways, and speaks slowly with a deep voice).

Act I, Scene II - The hallway outside the chamber. Anakin and Obi-Wan walk and talk. Obi-Wan warns Anakin that the council suspects of his marriage to Padme and that it could be the reason they will not let him on the council. Anakin says that if the council wishes, he'd be happy to leave the Jedi order, because he's fed up with their philosophy and stupid rules forbidding love and expansion of knowledge of the force. Obi-Wan quickly backs off and changes the subject. An alam goes off - there is an attack on the Coruscant - the Chancellor has been kidnapped by General Grevious. Kenobi and Anakin rush to their Jedi fighters to join the persuit.

Act I, Scene III - in orbit of Coruscant. This stays the same. The Jedi fight their way to Grevious's ship.

Act I, Scene IV - the lightsaber duel with Dooku. Almost the same as actually shot, but less encouragement by the "chancellor" is required to cause Anakin to kill Dooku. After beheading the count, Palpatine congratulates Anakin and remarks that he simply can't believe the Jedi are treating him so poorly after all the things he's done to win the war for the Republic. Anakin shows little or no remorse for slaughtering Dooku, or for tapping into the dark side to beat him.

Act I, Scene V - Kenobi and Anakin fight General Grevious. I'm expanding this scene to an epic battle where Grevious intentionally disables his ship and sets it to ram and self-destruct on top of the Republic Senate chambers. Obi-Wan convinces Anakin to take the controls and prevent the crash, while R2-D2 stops the self destruct. Meanwhile, Kenobi kills Grevious.

Act II, Scene I - Republic Senate. Palpatine honors and gives medals to Kenobi and Anakin. He declares Anakin to be the Chancellor's Protector, a new title which gives him a seat on the Jedi Council. Yoda and Windu look shocked and abruptly leave the podium. They whisper that the Chancellor has no such power to name council members among the Jedi and wonder whether they should refuse Anakin his seat. Windu wonders whether they should go further and intervene and force Palpatine from power, since the war is all but over and he hasn't given up his emergency powers. Yoda convinces Windu to allow it, but not to give him voting rights. Windu says maybe this is the time to confront Anakin with their knowledge of his illicit marriage and use that as their basis for refusal.

cut scene to the Seperatists being arrested and hauled in for trial.

Act II, Scene II - Padme's apartment. Big 'ol love scene here. Padme shows Anakin that she's preggers (and barely able to hide it at this stage). They discuss what happens when the Jedi find out, because there will be no hiding the fact that she's pregnant with twins soon. Anakin says if they press the issue, he'll just resign from the Jedi and they can be a real family. Awwww. Later that night, Anakin has his dream about Padme dying. He wakes up abruptly and several of Padme's breakables in the room shatter as he wakes.

Act II, Scene III - Palpatine's office. Palpatine discusses Anakin's new job with him. More sweet talk about how Anakin is being abused by the Jedi council and how ungrateful they are for all he has done to advance the order's prestige across the galaxy. Palpatine tells the story of Darth Plagueis to Anakin and how he was able to prevent death by use of the dark side.

Act II, Scene IV - Confrontation in the Jedi Temple. Windu and the rest of the council deny Anakin a full seat on the council and reveal they know about his marriage. Anakin gets angry (eyes glow red a little) and raises his hand towards Windu. Lightsabers ignite amongst the council members. Anakin resigns from the Jedi order and tells them what he thinks about their philosophy and rules. As he storms out, in the hallway, Kenobi attempts to talk him out of it, warning him that this is what Dooku did. Anakin walks away, saying that maybe Dooku had the right idea all along.

Act II, Scene V - Padme's apartment. Anakin and Padme deal with the aftermath. Padme won't leave the Senate to go with Anakin to Mustafar. They argue a little. Anakin packs his things and prepares to leave, telling Padme to come to him whenever she can. At that moment, a messenger from the Chancellor arrives and tells Anakin that the Chancellor needs to see him urgently.

Act III, Scene I - Palpatine's office. Palpatine lets Anakin into the office. He begs Anakin to stay on Coruscant and remain his protector. He suspects a plot to overthrow the Senate from the Jedi. He shows Anakin a tape of Yoda and Windu talking about removing Palpatine from office (Act II, Scene I). Anakin isn't convinced.

-cut scene to Padme's apartment. A masked assassin breaks in and takes a swing at Padme with a lightsaber. Padme gets away, although wounded across the belly, and sets off an alarm and the assailant flees.

-cut scenes around Coruscant showing several other senators being murdered by assailants with lightsabers.

- cut scene to a hospital room. Anakin sees Padme fighting for her life. The medical droid tells them that she will live, but the babies lives are in danger.

Act III, Scene II - Palpatine's office. Palpatine tells Anakin about the assassin and the fact that he had a lightsaber. Anakin loses his cool completely. Eyes glow red. Palpatine calms him down a little and reveals his true identity as Darth Sidious (shows his real face, which he disguises with Sith science). He tells Anakin that with Sith training and study, he could learn Darth Plagueis's secret to preserving life.

-cut scene to the Sith apprenticeship ritual and naming of Darth Vader. This will be so damn cool that geeks will show this scene over and over again for years to come. Vader will wear a black suit and cape and cowl reminiscent of the one we'll see him in later on, but not full armor.

Act II, Scene III - Anakin and an army of clone troopers march on the Jedi temple.
-cut scene with Palpatine addressing the Senate and showing them evidence of the Jedi treachery. Massive outrage in the senate.
-cut scene with Anakin mowing down Jedi in the temple. This includes padawans, apprentice, and full Jedi Knights. He cuts them down like tall grass, interdispersed with some pithy comments like we've come to expect from Vader.
-cut scene to Palpatine declaring the first Galactic Empire amid massive acclaim and applause.
-cut scene to clone troopers setting fire to the Jedi Temple.
-cut scene to Padme's hospital room, where Yoda and Kenobi witness Padme's unexpected death, and the babies are delivered by cesarian section. At that moment, they feel the disturbance in the force, and rush to the temple in a speeder.
-cut scene to Vader and Windu fighting in the burning, collapsing temple. Lots of angry words exchanged here during the fight. Windu starts to get the better of Vader and manages to disarm him and cut off his mechanical arm. As he prepares the final blow, Vader gets madder than we've ever seen him before, and blasts the holy heck out of Windu with force lightning of such power that the roof comes off of the temple, the walls collapse outwards, and we're left with a shot of Vader standing in a clearing with a charred corpse at his feet. Exhausted, Vader collapses. Yoda and Kenobi arrive to see the total destruction of the temple, get shot at by the clonetroopers and decide to head off-planet.

Act III, scene IV - Bail Organa's ship. Yoda and Kenobi flee on Organa's ship. They have the two babies. Yoda gives Leia to Organa to raise as his own. He tells Kenobi to take Luke to Tatooine and give him to Owen Lars and to wait until an opportunity arises to train Luke as a Jedi to fight the Empire. Organa drops off Yoda on Dagobah. He prepares to fly to Tatooine, but Obi-Wan tells him to go to Mustafar instead, as he has unfinished business with Vader.

Act III, scene V - The confrontation on Mustafar between Vader and Kenobi. First, we see Vader getting a new arm. Then an alarm sounds as Kenobi's ship lands. The confrontation begins and the duel starts. This will run pretty much as originally shot, but when Kenobi gets the higher ground at the end, Vader will blast him with force lightning, which Kenobi will deflect with his lightsaber. The robot platform Vader is standing on will lose power and plunge into the lava, leaving Vader knee deep in molten metal, clothes on fire. He manages two steps toward Kenobi, who reaches and grabs his hand (the mechanical one). Vader suckers him and swings his lightsaber with the other (meat) hand and Kenobi deflects it and cuts off the arm, causing the saber to go flying. Vader ends up lying on the hot sand, on fire, legless and armless except for his mechanical arm. Kenobi says his piece about the chosen one, etc etc, and leaves him for dead, picking up Vader's lightsaber as he leaves.

Act III, scene VI - The emperor arrives and saves Vader's life.
-cut scene to the rebuilding of Vader, pretty much as Lucas did it. The Emperor tells Vader that Padme is dead and so are the babies at the hands of the Jedi. Vader swears to exterminate the Jedi.
-cut scene showing Kenobi going into exile on Tatooine.

Roll credits.

So, what I have done is start the conflict between Anakin and the Jedi earlier, and have a lot of it occur before the movie starts. Then, I've made Padme's pregnancy further along at the beginning, avoiding the conundrum that she gives birth before getting a baby bump. I got rid of Grievous early on, and I've answered the fanboy cries to see Vader at full power, which Lucas didn't give us. I gave the audience one more chance to see Windu fighting and kicking butt. I've also deliberately blurred the line between good and evil, making it easier to sympathize with Vader and casting aspersions on the Jedi and their motivations. I've reduced the role of the Emperor to being a schemer rather than a fighter, making that consistent with the original trilogy. Most importantly, I've gotten rid of the ridiculous "one swing, three limbs" end to the battle between Kenobi and Vader, and made Anakin/Vader less whiny and full of teenage angst.

Friday, January 09, 2009

First Checkup with the Surgeon

I had my one-month appointment with the surgeon yesterday. He was really impressed with the 43 pound weight loss. My blood pressure is high (which I know - we've been checking it) but not dangerously high, so he wants to wait a couple more weeks before doing anything about it. I have an appointment with my regular doctor on the 24th, and he says if she wants to, she can put me back on the Vasotec, but not the diuretic, since I am already fighting dehydration.

Everything else looked fine- he was pleased with the healing of the incisions (they're all new pink skin, except for the drain wound, which is still a scab).

I totally forgot to ask him about playing the saxophone, which I will resume next week. I was planning on doing the old joke about "Well, I never could before!", but now I've missed the opportunity.

Bernie and I went to GNC and bought some pre-packaged Myoplex protein shakes, which will now be my breakfast that I take to work. That should take care of the problem with instant cereals, or eating too fast on my way out the door in the morning.

I made some crock-pot chili last night and had it for lunch today. Delicious, and it's sitting nicely in the stomach pouch.

You know, life ain't bad.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Not Much New

Not much new to say, except I fell below 290. 289 and declining.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Bernie's Got A New Ride

Well, after a week or more of test-driving, researching, pricing, negotiating, changing her mind, test-driving again, etc., Bernie finally made up her mind and chose a new Toyota Corolla.

...then had buyers remorse 5 minutes after signing the papers. Too bad - it's ours now. She likes it, but she misses her old car, too.

Four Little Things

Four little but very positive changes I've noticed since I had surgery:

1. My face has totally cleared up. I used to have an outbreak about once a month. Now I don't even have blackheads on my nose.

2. No more C-PAPs machine. I haven't used it in a week, and the last two times I tried, I woke up and wanted the mask off. I'm sleeping great without it, and no back pain, either.

3. No more blood pressure medicine. I swear, when I was 26 and started needing BP meds, that's when my hair turned gray. I think some blond might be creeping back in now, but that could just be my imagination.

4. I'm cold. I'm cold all the time now, and I never felt cold in my life before this. Maybe this means I won't be hot and sweaty all the time this summer.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

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