Fifty Fifty

I turn 50 on December 29th.

Several months ago, it occurred to me that I should find some way to mark the occasion. But I was uninspired. The other day, a childhood friend gave herself a big blow out birthday party. Another is taking a trip early next year. Still another is launching a book of poetry in a about a week.

Alas I am broke and uninspired. And in no real mood for a party. Nothing to do with my age mind you. It’s just that my birthday falls right in the sweet spot between Christmas and New Years. In good times people are nearly broke this time of the year, full to the brim with commitments, and generally lurching to the end of the holiday season and into the new year. Adding another “thing” to the already burgeoning list just doesn’t make sense. We’re in pretty lean times right now. Attempting a big blow out party during times like this would be be an act of reckless extravagance.

So what to do?

A couple of weeks ago, I came up with the notion of “Fifty-Fifty”. Put simply I will attempt 2500 minutes of exercise  overthe next 50 days. I’ve been looking for a way to accelerate my weight loss. I’m pretty fit now, or at least a lot more fit than I was a couple of years ago, but I’ve plateaued after losing roughly 20 lbs. So, in concert with changing my eating habits, I’m going to attempt to exercise 50 minutes a day, 7 days a week, for the next 7 weeks in hopes of jump starting my weight loss. I’m also hoping to build a more consistent habit of exercise. Right now I work out about 4 days a week. I’ve read recently that to lose weight, one must exercise at a moderate pace for an hour a day, 6 days a week or 360 minutes. My total will be 350 minutes. I’m not particularly worried about the missing 10 and for the sake of symmetry, I’ll keep it at 50. Besides 50-50 sounds better than 60-50.

My current regimen burns anywhere from 600 to 1400 calories an hour. I do not intend to maintain my that intensity for all my workouts The article I referred to suggested 450 calories as a target (exercising at a “moderate pace”). Depending on time available my “added” workouts may just entail walking on the treadmill (“at a brisk pace”) for 50 minutes. But I also look forward to coming up with some more creative ways to fill the time.

Today when I mentioned my impending half century of turns around the sun, a colleague remarked, “I never would have guessed you were that old.” Assuming he wasn’t blowing smoke, I’m hoping that my birthday challenge will help keep up the facade.

I’ll be tracking my progress, and generally whining, here. Feel free to follow along.

Progress In The Party of Lincoln

My grandfather voted Republican for a good portion of his life. Largely, because Lincoln freed the slaves, or at least that’s how it was told to me. I imagine it had a lot to do with his experience with southern Democrats for most of his life.  They were pro slavery, pro Jim Crow, and anti practically anything that had to do with full citizenship for black people.

So I imagine the choice was pretty easy for quite a while.

Conventional wisdom has it that the Civil Rights movement changed all that. Essentially the progressive planks of the Democratic platform – and LBJ’s signing of the Civil Rights Act – sent southern Democrats, the “Dixiecrats”, into the welcoming arms of the Grand Old Party. Which says a couple of things to me. One: Race (at least in this case) trumps party affiliation. Two: In politics, winning trumps everything.

Either way, it took a lot of coaxing and cajoling to get my grandfather to change his party affiliation, even after his party changed their racial affiliation. Loyalty trumped everything for that old man.

I wonder how my grandfather would feel  about Herman Cain. A friend commented to me once that she could not see how a black person could support the Republican party. I flinched a little, recalling my grandfather’s history, and kept my own council.

I’ve always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt, at least upon first glance. This is something my mother taught me. Something she learned from my grandfather. But I don’t think the old man would be too impressed with Cain after hearing him speak for a while. I think he’d see the hypocrisy of a man claiming to be a victim of the Race card while dealing it or in a black man promising to exclude members of a minority group from his (hypothetical) cabinet because of the behavior of a few within that group. I think he’d be struck by the irony of a true carpetbagger as standard bearer for the very people who historically exploited fears for the majority with the image after Reconstruction [exhibit A: BIRTH OF A NATION]. I think my grandfather would be put off the claim, put forth by Cain, that black people who don’t support the GOP “can’t think for themselves.”

I don’t know my grandfather’s voting record after breaking his solid streak with the GOP. I do know that he voted, rain or shine, whenever the polls were opened. I wish he could see what’s become of his once beloved, GOP. I wonder if he’d count it as progress.