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Dog bites (1) Tue, Jun 29, 2010
Malcolm Gladwell's 2006 New Yorker article about troublemaking dogs talks about how specific dog breeds are often banned when attack numbers reach a certain point, but that in reality, it's often more the fault of the owner than that of the dog. 
The strongest connection of all, though, is between the trait of dog viciousness and certain kinds of dog owners. In about a quarter of fatal dog-bite cases, the dog owners were previously involved in illegal fighting. The dogs that bite people are, in many cases, socially isolated because their owners are socially isolated, and they are vicious because they have owners who want a vicious dog.

"A fatal dog attack is not just a dog bite by a big or aggressive dog," Lockwood went on. "It is usually a perfect storm of bad human-canine interactions -- the wrong dog, the wrong background, the wrong history in the hands of the wrong person in the wrong environmental situation."
Many locales have mandatory neutering programs for dogs who have a history of attacking.  I think we should extend this practice to their owners.  People who breed and train attack dogs that they themselves can't control should be stripped of the privilege of contributing to the gene pool. #nature

Diet results Mon, Jun 28, 2010
My short-lived diet was successful:  I lost 4-5 lbs in 12 days, and it wasn't too bad.  But for the sake of posterity, here are some thoughts: 
  1. The first week was bad.  I was hungry a lot, and hungry is often equivalent to angry.  But after that first week, I got used to being hungry and even going to bed hungry.
  2. My diet consisted solely of calorie counting, which meant I could eat anything as long as I accounted for the calories.  I quickly decided that my morning coffee (which includes creamer and an undisclosed but copious amount of sugar) wasn't worth it, nor was my morning Pop Tart or many other common foods.
  3. I spent a lot of time finding foods that were a good bang for the calorie, i.e. filling but not high in calories, i.e. not rice cakes or things like that.  In addition to blueberries and strawberries, which are fairly low in calories, I made good use of carrots (the least vegetable-y vegetable) and pickles, which are vegetables disguised as non-vegetables.
  4. I finally understood the concept of empty calories, which essentially are things you eat or drink that give you calories but don't make you less hungry.  For me, that includes things like juice, soda, and alcohol.  I've never had more of a craving for alcohol than when I wasn't allowed to have any.
  5. Speaking of cravings, the thought crossed my mind that I might be addicted to food and/or alcohol.  Somebody would open a beer or eat some Oreos near me, and I would look on lustfully, counting the days to when I could gorge myself.  When the diet was finally over, my appetite and metabolism had changed so much that I could barely finish a single beer.  But I'm working on that as I write this.
  6. I felt pretty drained of energy most of the time, but when I would work out, I would feel fine.  I'm not sure if my body has some sort of extra energy reservoir that's only accessed during workouts, but that's how it appears.
All in all, my diet was successful and I survived.  But it's certainly no way to live.  Cheers to a high metabolism! #health

Fighting vs. mating Mon, Jun 28, 2010
A few weeks ago I saw some birds in a parking lot, and they were acting strange.  There was a lot of posturing and squawking, and then one of the birds was on top of one of the other birds, doing a bunch more posturing and squawking.  Other people were in the parking lot with me, and someone suggested we do something about this apparent fight, but I think we all collectively decided to let nature take its course.  After a few seconds, the avian madness ended, and the birds went on their way.  That's the thing with animals:  The only real difference between fighting and mating is that mating produces babies.  Otherwise, the mechanics and commotion are pretty much exactly the same. #nature

Turbinado Thu, Jun 24, 2010
I've gotten a few smoothies lately that say they contain, in addition to some fruits and milk and things like that, turbinado, which is a type of sugar similar to brown sugar.  A popular brand name is Sugar in the Raw.  I read the Wikipedia article and still don't understand why it's special.  Maybe because it sounds better than "added sugar." #food

Losing weight Wed, Jun 23, 2010
I'm competing in a physical tournament of sorts, and the tournament has weight classes, one of which I'm just over.  So I'm in the process of losing weight.  The thing is, in my 28 years of life, I've only gained weight.  I don't weigh that much, but the trend has only been on the increase, never on the decrease.  So this is an unusual situation for me to be in.  Thankfully, I have an achievable goal (4 lbs) and a realistic time frame (2 weeks).  It's been interesting keeping track of what I've been eating.  It's made me realize (a) how many so-called healthy foods are actually high in calories and (b) just how many calories I normally eat, which is staggering.  I've been using MyPlate to keep track of my food intake and exercise, which has really just turned into a game of "what do I need to do to be able to eat ice cream tonight?"  For example, if my target daily caloric intake is somewhere around 1500, and I do something to burn 500 calories, that means I can eat another 500 calories, which is pretty much another meal.  I've turned "losing weight" into "getting in shape so I can eat more," which for now has the same net effect. #health

Lazy progress Mon, Jun 21, 2010
From Robert Heinlein's Time Enough for Love
Progress doesn't come from early risers -- progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.
Good.  There's still hope for me. #lifestyle

Morning routine Fri, Jun 18, 2010
One of my former boss's boss's bosses was a VP of something, so he wore a tie to work.  I casually asked him if there was an official dress code, i.e. do I have to wear a tie, too?  He said he didn't realize he was even wearing a tie.  He gets up in the morning, drives to work, and magically has clothes on which include a tie.  His morning routine was so automatic that he essentially had no control over what he did, which was fine because he always ended up wearing a tie. 

I feel the same some mornings when I'm about halfway to work, look down and realize, hey how about that, I remembered to clip my ID to my pants, and oh right, I remembered to put on pants.  I have no recollection of assembling myself, but somehow it got done, which is good because otherwise it would be a little awkward. #business

Before sunscreen (1) Tue, Jun 15, 2010
One of the important lessons I've learned in my 20-some years on this spinning orb is that the sun hates me.  The sun is great for things like photosynthesis, Vitamin D production, and burning things with a magnifying glass.  But if it had the opportunity, the sun would melt my skin off like hot wax dripping off a candle.  In a sense, the sun is a jerk.  But another important lesson I've learned is that I can simply apply a cheap white cream to my skin, and suddenly I can handle anything the sun throws at me.  So the question I ask myself every time I'm putting on this chemical armor is this:  What did people do before sunscreen?  I would assume they moved to cold places and/or simply stayed out of the sun.  But I've gotten sunburn in the winter, and I'm pretty sure I'll get sunburn just by writing bad things about the sun.  I guess covering your skin with clothing is a good idea, but it's a sweaty, smelly idea too.  My aunt told me she once tried Crisco in a misguided belief that it might make her cook more evenly.  It worked, but only in the sense that she got badly though evenly burnt. #health

Induced guilt Fri, Jun 11, 2010
Whenever I'm being watched for criminal activities, like for shoplifting at a store or terrorism at an airport, I tend to get nervous and try to look innocent, which has the effect of making me look like I'm trying to look innocent, which makes me look guilty, which I'm not.  For example, I tend to walk around with my hands in my pockets, but when I'm at a store and take something off the shelf to look at it but end up putting it back on the shelf, I realize I can't put my hands back in my pockets because it'll look like I'm stealing something, so I'll intentionally walk away with my hands not in my pockets, which makes me conscious of the angle and rate at which I swing my arms, which probably makes it look like the first time I've ever attempted to walk in my life, which makes me look guilty, which I'm not.  Another example is when I'm at an airport and I'm waiting in line (which is often) and I'll casually look around and accidentally find the location of every security camera that's pointing at me, including the ones on the ceiling, which makes me picture the people in the control room looking at the many different TV screens with views of this white male in his late 30s (hey, I'm 28!) who's nervously noting the locations of any and all security cameras, which makes me look guilty, which I'm not.  I swear. #psychology

Turtle bunny (2) Thu, Jun 10, 2010
This sea turtle we saw in Hawaii has the same facial expression as our bunny Max: 


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