Unnecessary Roughness

The Times had an Op-Ed today on testing female athletes for high testosterone levels.  It convinced me that this is a troubling practice.  It’s one thing for a sport to choose to ban “doping” with supplements, but to ban a female athlete because she has too much naturally occurring testosterone or to force her to have an operation or take hormone suppressants to reduce those levels in order to continue competing in her sport strikes me as unfair.

First, as the op-ed points out, it’s not clear that higher testosterone leads to better performance.  Second, there are all kinds of naturally occurring advantages people have that society is profoundly uncomfortable handicapping.   And just to be clear, when I say society or culture here, I’m primarily talking about western, first world, etc. because that’s what I have grown up in.

What is feels like to me is a discomfort with people who don’t conform to traditional gender models, here complicated by the fact that it’s also about sex, which people feel they can somehow make an absolute binary.  As our culture grows more comfortable with people expressing themselves on a gender continuum, we still cling to this sense, “yes, she may dress like a boy, but she is essentially a girl.”  Women even being involved in sports is seen as a threat by some people.   few people are willing to say “A woman’s place is in the home”, but plenty of people are willing to take digs at women’s sports by saying things like, “Nobody watches women’s [basketball/soccer/tennis].”  Usually, they say these things when there’s a women’s basketball game on.

Being “male” is still seen as a de facto advantage in sports.  Even competing in sports causes a woman to take on attributes that are seen are more masculine than feminine.  Having more biological “maleness” in the form of testosterone becomes profoundly threatening not just to other female athletes who may perceive you to be advantaged, but to everyone who wants to preserve a strict definition of what it means to be biologically male or biologically female.

Weigh-In This Week: 182.

For some reason now that the weather is heating up my digital scale is working better (and then it snowed after I started writing this post and my scale is no longer giving me a body fat calculation).  Still stuck in my low-180s holding pattern, but at least it’s holding and not rising for now.  It’s getting hard as I get closer to this half-marathon not to want to eat everything in sight.

From: Hyperbole and a Half. Go buy Allie’s book. I’ve lent it to at least three people already and am feeling guilty about cutting her royalty stream.

I admit it, I’m a Foodie

For the second time since moving to Columbus, I have been accused of being a “foodie.”  Not by people trying to be mean.  If anything, by people who are amused at my obsession with what some food stuff is and how it’s made, where its from, and “Is that cheese spelled mobier or moRbier, and how do you pronounce that anyway?”*

We had dinner with a colleague of mine and her husband last weekend and when it came out that we were homebrewers who also liked cider (we made a very drinkable dry cider this past fall), the husband insisted we take home a bottle of their homemade apple cider.  I love that sort of thing.

It occurs to me that we are really only a couple of generations removed from a time when most people were capable of producing at least some of their own food, and that these past 50 years or so of the pattern of food distribution may seem like blip on the radar in the future.  (Also, the metaphor will be anachronistic as technology will have moved beyond radar.)

I’m traveling today and there’s nothing like walking through an airport and passing dozens of fast food restaurants to remind me of the importance of making and consuming my own food.  Heidi Swanson — who runs a food porn, I mean cooking, website — from San Francisco often posts about the food she makes and packs for trips.  In the past, I’ve looked at her 101 Cookbooks site and rolled my eyes a little thinking about making a cake for a roadtrip.  Now, I’m feeling more ambitious, or at least wishing I’d packed some dried fruit for this trip.

Weigh-in wise, I’ve been hovering around 179-182 for the past couple of weeks.  Since I’m about to attend a 3-day conference and may not get my long run in this weekend, I’m guessing that number’s not going to improve this week, but maybe with some care I can mitigate the damage.  I did pack two changes of running gear.  So, goals for the rest of this week at the conference:

1. Drink at least 8 glasses of water/day.

2. No more than 2 alcoholic beverages at a time.

3. Go for at least 2 runs, even if they’re not my long run.


* Cheese.com (really, it’s a website) tells me:

Morbier is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese named after the small village of Morbier in Franche-Comté. The cheese has an ivory color, and it is a bit soft and fairly elastic. It gets immediately identified because of its black layer of tasteless ash, which separates horizontally in the middle. Earlier, Morbier was made by a layer of the morning and the evening milk, but it is made by a single milking nowadays, while ash is added to it to follow the tradition. The cheese takes about 45 days to 3 months for full maturation with yellowish, moist and leathery rind.

I’m disappointed the ash layer is for show and doesn’t delineate separate milkings.

How is it the 20th of March?

Granted, I co-taught an intensive 4-day class over Spring Break last week, which required more planning than I had anticipated (teaching always does) but how have 3 weeks gone by since my last academic conference and now my next one is in two weeks?

This Vampire Weekend song is what I’ve been using to try to relax lately.  I’m not even a huge New York booster, but I find this song lovely and evocative.  It’s fun once you realize that the song is about the act of making music — the main hook, the title, and a bunch of other references are about other songs and musicians that have influenced the band.  I love the line, “Maybe she’s gone and I can’t resurrect her.  The truth is she doesn’t need me to protect her.”  For the Internet’s take on the references in the song, check out Rap Genius.

Also, not unexpectedly given I’ve been getting less exercise and haven’t been tracking my foods, my weight has plateaued and is possibly creeping back up a bit.  I’ve set my Loseit App to send me meal tracking reminders, so we’ll see if that helps.  I was 181.4 this morning, and have been mostly in the 181-183 range the past few weeks.  I’m trying to get over the artificial nature of the BMI scale and to not discount the progress I’ve already made.  If I do make it to 170, it will be the thinnest I’ve ever been at my adult height and within the “normal” BMI range — and guess what, I still won’t be “thin” by any conventional standard.  But is “thin” really the goal?  Not so much.  So why does it even bother me that at best I’ll be a size 10/12 and still “big” even after losing over 30 lbs?  (An aside, I went to go buy work shirts last weekend and ended up getting a size 10/12 at Coldwater Creek.  Hurray for women’s sizing.)


Still Logging Miles

In case it wasn’t obvious, this has been a rough month at work.  Lots of late nights and scrambling to get things in order and it looks likely to continue through mid-March/early-April.

On the plus side, I have been continuing to get my runs in for training.  Food tracking has been spotty, but the exercise helps keep me calm. Josh and I ran a 10k race this weekend and then treated ourselves to new running shoes.  Our local running store, Fleet Feet, takes video of you jogging on a treadmill and then recommends shoes if you over/under pronate.  They said my old pair of Brooks should work for me, but didn’t have them in my size (did I mention I can’t find my Brooks…those suckers are expensive and still have a few miles in them, and I want them back) so I got a pair of Saucony Guide 7:

Look at all the wild colors!


Belated Wednesday Weigh-In

Never got around to posting this last Wednesday.  Still, may be the last time in a while I see 170s on the scale, so worth posting.  Also, ran a 5K in sand this weekend.  Didn’t feel too bad at first, but I definitely felt it in my lower legs on the second half.

February 5, 2014 - Broke the 180s, for about a minute.

February 5, 2014 – Broke the 180s, for about a minute.

As If I Needed More Proof Libraries Are Awesome

This is FOR REAL — The Palo Alto Public Library is offering classes on brewing!

Libraries are important cultural and learning centers, folks.  Members of the community can show up and without paying for private classes talk with librarians who will point them in the direction of learning materials, help organize talks and discussions, and generally assist in access to information.  Go buy a librarian a beer, everyone!

One thing that puzzled me in the article was the class title, “The Techie Side of Beer.”  At Stanford, there was a common debate about whether things were “fuzzie” (humanities) or “techie” (sciences) and where one placed oneself on the continuum.  We even had to read a book about it the summer before my freshman year at Stanford, so that we could all sit around in sharing circles  (I mean in dorm lounges) and talk about what it felt like to be considering a humanities major at a university that was massively invested in engineering.

Stanford: “Don’t worry, we love you too even though your work is less likely to subsidize us in years to come; unless you become a real estate developer, or pro athlete, or maybe an investment banker.  You can do all those things with a fuzzie degree.  Just kidding guys, some of you may actually write books that are commercially successful, or become professors here, or get MacArthur Fellowships or Pulitzers so we can feature you in our alumni magazine.”

As cynical as the above may sound, I loved Stanford, and was never made to feel unwanted or unsupported for my interests in, say, Classics.  The Classics Department newsletter is probably the one publication from Stanford I receive that I read cover to cover.  My 10th year anniversary is coming up and I’m considering attending.  Doesn’t hurt that a trip out to the Bay Area sounds like a nice vacation now that I live in the Midwest.  Problem is that many of my college friends are spread in a 2-year band on either side of me, so I would have had as many people I wanted to see at the 2003 Reunion as I would at the 2004 Reunion.  The plus side is burritos…and sushi…and micro greens…and the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.  At least it’s sunny here in Columbus today.  It makes me miss the Bay Area less when I can see the sun.  So, should I go to Reunion?

Back to beer: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of beer is a “techie” pursuit, in that brewing beer involves knowledge of chemistry and strict attention to procedure.  Drinking beer involves hedonistic pleasures that could be considered more fuzzie, but if it’s a class on brewing, I would think the technical elements would be emphasized.


Books, Glorious Books

I continue to be astounded that there is such a thing as the public library.  Having a safe, well-lit, inviting place where anyone in the community can go to read and relax is, quite possibly, the best expression of what makes civic life in America great.  It makes me sad to think that there are communities out there that aren’t able to maintain their public libraries.

When we lived in San Francisco, we briefly belonged to a private library, which was convenient to where we lived and ran all sorts of film nights and lectures.  But, it also served to insulate its members from the substantial homeless population of the City.  In hindsight, while I don’t regret joining the Mechanic’s Institute in SF, I’m glad to be able to go to the Columbus Main Library for nothing more than the costs of my taxes.  And I am fine with people who pay no taxes at all (children, those who make too little to pay) using the space as a clean, warm, comfortable place to spend their afternoons.  And while I don’t like the idea of people using the computers to look at adult websites, I’m proud of Columbus for respecting the right of users to make those decisions for themselves.

Columbus Main Library (in a warmer season)

Books.  For FREE.  One more reason why I wouldn’t want to live any other time in history.

Wanderings and Weigh-In

What City Should You Live In

Buzz Feed has a quiz for what city should you live in, and my result was…Portland.

That doesn’t come as a huge shock to me.  I took it twice with slightly different answers and still got Portland, so then I got suspicious and provided more or less random answers to get Cape Town, so there are different city results!

My parents live across the Columbia River from Portland, near Vancouver, Washington.  I’ve spent some time in Portland and, yes, I think it’s a great place to visit and would probably be a fun place to live.


The Fox and the Hound

Tinni and Sniffer

Tinni and Sniffer the Fox.  This was originally forwarded to me as an email with lots of commentary about how much these animals love each other.  They’re cute.  They’re buddies.  They are probably happy to consider themselves part of a pack, but love?  That feels a little anthropomorphic to me.



Numbers are continuing to drop.  I think the long runs on the weekend are helping.

Numbers are continuing to drop. I think the long runs on the weekend are helping.

Slow Progress/Fast Progress

The weight is ever so slowly ticking downward, but the miles are adding up fast on my half-marathon training — I’ve run 38.5 miles in the last 30 days, which Nike+ tells me is more miles than the average woman my age (who uses Nike+).

Latest weigh-in is 182.6, which is down about a pound from last week.  Finally, some progress!

I had my thumb over the camera for the shot with body fat, so this is total body water.  My body fat reading is still hovering around 30%.

I had my thumb over the camera for the shot with body fat, so this is total body water. My body fat reading is still hovering around 30%.

Friend Makin’ Monday: First Time Posting

This is a cross-blog quiz where you fill out your answers and then link to www.alltheweigh.com via a comment.  It feels like high school when I’d make up questionnaires and then circulate them to all my friends.  I hope I don’t end up feeling like the time in college when my friend Jen and I uncovered some of these old quizzes and I remembered I’d gone to see Titanic five times in theaters!


1.  What time did you go to bed last night? 11:15 p.m.  A little later than my goal of 11:00, but pretty good nonetheless.

2.  What is the last thing that made you smile? A photo of corgi butt over on the Corgnelius tumblr: Momos walking in unison

3.  What is the last movie you watched? Her.  We made it to a theater for the first time in forever on Saturday night.  Loved the movie and think Joaquin Phoenix has a good Oscar shot this year.

4. What did you have for breakfast today? Scrambled egg, half a multigrain French roll, half a grapefruit and coffee.

5. Would you rather mop all of your floors or do laundry? Laundry.  Aside from the folding, which I can watch tv while doing, it’s automatic.

6. Do you drink coffee? You bet.  My favorite is from the Hair Bender Blend from Stumptown, which now roasts in Portland and NYC, so it’s actually distributed to Columbus.  Right now, I’m drinking Pete’s Major Dickason’s Blend, which was the most appealing thing they had at my local supermarket.  Pete’s ended up buying out several Caribou Coffee’s in town, so they’re starting to have more brick and mortar presence in Columbus.  Some people were upset by that, but I prefer Pete’s to Caribou or Starbucks.

7.  Will you watch the Superbowl? Probably, but would have been more enthusiastic about it if the Niners had made it.  I don’t like rooting against Manning, but I’ll likely root Seahawks.

8. How often do you shop for groceries? About once a week, should go more often.

9.  What kind of workout will you do today? It’s “Strength and Stretch” day on my training schedule so I did Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners to Stretch and a combo of bench press and squats for Strength.

10.  Do  you use a fitness tracker? I use FitBit One.  It’s been going a little crazy lately, but I like when it emails me with reminders to charge it!