Sober January, too

Forgot to mention: along with  my 7,000-step plan, I’m also doing “sober January.”

I decided on Sober January last Saturday night, in Lancaster, PA, where we’d gone to see my niece marry her wonderful new husband. After 6 hours of wedding festivities, I couldn’t sleep, and there it was, on my Wall Street Journal app: a British health fad I hadn’t heard of yet. Yippee.


OK, I see the actual concept isn’t sober January.

It’s dry January. 

After the weekend’s revelries, it’s going to be sober January for me. 

Happy New Year !


That was intense.

My fall semesters feel like they’re getting harder, not easier.   

Back to the blog !

Back to the blog and to my new diet-and-weight-loss scheme: 7,000 steps a day.

Blogging and walking: that’s the plan. And Duolingo-ing (331-day streak today). 

I’m also going to be using Katie’s SentenceWeaver program to teach Andrew–maybe Jimmy, too?–real language, but that’s a subject for another post.

In the department of News You Can (conceivably) Use: I’ve settled on 7,000 steps because, in theory, 7,000 steps is 3 miles, and 3 miles is an hour of walking, and an hour of walking should roll my weight back to mid-summer Paris lows: 

“It looks like you can lose weight with exercise,” Dr. Flack says.

But success may require more exertion of our bodies and will than we might hope, he adds.

“Thirty minutes of exercise was not enough” in this study to overcome the natural drive to replace the calories we burn during a workout.

“Sixty minutes of exercise was better,” he says.

Exercise May Aid in Weight Loss. Provided You Do Enough.

I’m inclined to believe the 60-minute figure because every time I’ve traveled to a city where lots of walking was required, I’ve lost weight. Automatically lost weight, while consuming croissants for breakfast and ice cream for lunch. That doesn’t happen at home.

We will see.

Question: are all those 10,000-steps-a-day people I keep reading about slender?

And see:
Sober January, too

Off topic: Meacham on Barbara Bush

I’ve just read this and had to post:

On Saturday, presidential historian and author Jon Meacham gave a loving and at times comical tribute to Barbara Bush during her funeral in Houston.

Speaking in front of dignitaries, family and friends of the Bush family at the simple service held at the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Meacham recalled the time he sought out sympathy from the former First Lady.

According to Meacham, a woman had walked up to him gushing about his book. Then, she returned with a book for him to sign. It was John Grisham‘s latest novel.

Hoping to be consoled, he then recalled the story to Barbara Bush.

“I was feeling rather sorry for myself. And I told this story and Mrs. Bush looked across the table, looked me in the eye and I was thinking, here comes some motherly sympathy,” Meacham recalled. “That’s called telegraphing. Here it comes. And she said, well, how do you think poor John Grisham would feel? He’s a very handsome man.”

Presidential Historian Jon Meacham Gives Candid and Moving Eulogy at Barbara Bush Funeral by Tamar Auber 4/21/2018


Very raccoony

Two nights ago, just past 11 pm, the dogs took off for parts unknown.

That was my fault.

Ed had taken off their fence collars because it was time for everyone to go to bed–go to bed, not light out for the territories, I thought we all agreed on thatbut then the dogs were agitating to be let out, so I let them out.

Why did I let two young, hyperactive field Labs outside after 11 pm without their fence collars?

Because autopilot. The dogs want out, I let them out.1 Presto chango. There’s no intervening thought process.

After I let the dogs out, I forgot about them (autopilot) until Ed came into the bedroom and said, “Are the dogs in their crates?”

Umm, no.

One thing led to another, and the rest of the night turned into a lost-dog-finding lollapalooza that culminated in my registering 3,300 steps on my new FitBit before dawn. Thirty-three hundred steps, two hours sleep. Good times.

Moving on to the raccoon part . . . around 2 am I was awakened by what sounded like multiple dogs screaming — screaming, shrieking, squealing — it was an unbelievable racket; at least two blocks away but still loud enough to wake me.

It had to be Luke and Lucy, who sounded freaked out of their minds, but what kind of animal were they fighting?

A coyote?

Two coyotes?

More importantly, were they winning? 

Both dogs eventually made their way home, but not without igniting a second drama when Luke showed up without Lucy. Lucy is Luke’s half-sister. She’s younger and smaller than Luke, probably small enough and young enough to lose a fight with a coyote–definitely too small to prevail against two coyotes–and she is devoted to Luke. And she wasn’t with him.

She finally turned up an hour later, sporting a minor injury to one paw but otherwise none the worse for wear, although she refused to leave the house the entire next day. Which is not like Lucy or any other member of her tribe. Field Labs live for the outside.

So yesterday I was filling Katharine in on the night’s events, and the subject of raccoons came up, probably because it had crossed my mind that Luke and Lucy might have been shrieking at a raccoon. Turns out the raccoons in Katharine’s neighborhood are incredibly scrappy. They fight all the time. They used to fight just in warm weather, but now they fight year round. It’s like West Side Story around there, only for raccoons.

Plus they’re loud. They’re so loud Katharine had actually made a tape of a recent altercation. So naturally I Googled loud raccoon fight, and behold.
This popped up, too:

loud_raccoon_fight_-_Google_Search 3
Given the fact that raccoons spend so much time screaming and yelling and carrying on that they’ve become famous for it on the Internet, I’m thinking it had to be a raccoon Luke and Lucy were fighting, not a coyote. Raccoon, or raccoons, plural.

Anyway, this afternoon, while working with one of my students, I came across a Daily Language Review exercise that included the word “raccoon.”

Googling to make sure “raccoon” has two c’s, I found this:


In the new study, the researchers presented captive raccoons with a cylinder containing a floating marshmallow that was too low to grab. Next, they showed the raccoons how dropping stones in the water would raise the marshmallow.

Two of the eight raccoons successfully repeated the behavior, dropping the stones to get the marshmallow. A third took matters into her own hands: She climbed onto the cylinder and rocked it until it tipped over, giving her access to the sweet treat.

“That was something we hadn’t predicted,” and indeed, had designed against, says study leader Lauren Stanton, a Ph.D. student at the University of Wyoming.

“It reaffirms how innovative and how creative they are in problem-solving.”

Adds Suzanne MacDonald, a psychologist at York University in Toronto, “I thought it was very raccoon-y that one of them figured out how to just tip the whole apparatus over”—much like they do with trash cans.

Very racoon-y.”

That is a fabulous descriptor!

I’m trying to think of something I can apply it to other than a raccoon.

1. Comma splice intentional.

2. News flash: Some sites spell raccoon with two c’s, some with one. I don’t know why.

And see:
Also very raccoony