Author Archives: Matthew Appleton

About Matthew Appleton

A dad and loving husband who is also an easily distracted sf&f junkie, LEGO enthusiast, Phillies fan, and writer wannabe who really has too many other responsibilities to be working on his many different on-going projects.

One Year Later…

LiveJournal, Facebook, and on this site… I’ve literally lost count of the number of times I’ve made posts like this one:

It’s the issue that has most vexed me throughout my adult life. Since the start of my very first serious effort almost exactly 20 years ago to reach and maintain a healthy weight, I’ve lost, gained, and then repeated the cycle for over hundreds of pounds. There are lots of reasons for this recurring pattern, but when being brutally honest with myself, most of them are truly just excuses. It doesn’t matter how long the healthy part a particular portion of the cycle lasts, it never stops being work or becomes second nature. Eventually, I tire of the effort and default back to eating unhealthily and not exercising enough.

Nonetheless, the good news is that since that Facebook post from last year, I’ve managed to lose precisely 40 pounds, dropping from 241.6 to 201.6. What makes that number even more amazing is my end-of-year attempt to pause the weight loss and simply go into maintenance mode was a disaster that resulted in my regaining 15 pounds, which in turn necessitated spending the first three months of this year simply working them back off. Currently, my motivation remains solid, and tt appears that reaching my goal of 190 lb should happen before the end of the summer. If successful, it will mark the third different time I’ve lost over 50 pounds in the last 20 years.

While there’s literally no doubt in my mind that it will happen, maintaining without significant weight fluctuation will be the serious challenge. I’m already giving thought to how to best attempt it this time around, because it’s always been easier to work my body back into healthy shape. In fact, I’m good at it. However, maintaining my ideal weight… Ugh. It seems like the act of increasing the caloric intake or reducing the exercise intensity puts a serious dent in the motivation. Something has to be different about my mindset or approach this time around — just what exactly is currently unclear.

As the effort to reach my goal and to resolve that dilemma in advance continues, some other thoughts and things related to a full year spent on this effort:

  • Given the number of trips on this roller coaster, it seemed odd that changing the kitty litter recently made me mindful of what 40 pounds equates to. (This thought is something already experienced in some form or another over the years.) Because we have three cats — two of them above-average sized — we go through a 35-pound bag of litter each week. Picking up an unopened bag last week made me realize just how much harder my heart needs to work when lugging that much extra weight. It also made me realize how much it can hurt my back. 
  • Today also marks the last day of the dry planned month mentioned in previous posts. The confluence truly was a coincidence. To be 100% honest, this dry month is actually only four full weeks.Because February is also only four weeks, Sally and I decided that our dry month was in fact February — we just started several weeks late.
  • Hitting the 40-pound mark today was also a happy coincidence, resulting from losing 3.6 lb over the past two weeks. I applied no extraordinary effort during this time, out of the desire to not get fixated on otherwise meaningless interim goals. However, I also made it a point to not skip any exercise or to allow myself any kind of extra caloric intake during that time. That’s coming to a temporary halt this weekend, and there will be no fretting over any of the (temporary) increase in weight resulting from taking a complete break from the routine for 48 hours.
  • One of the things missing from the past two weeks: a meal or a whole day of not worrying about my caloric intake. Typically, there’s at least one of these every couple weeks. I feel as a special shout-out needs to go to my friend Tommie, who is with me at those meals, or on those days, far more often than not. I’m not blaming him in the least for that — it’s all on me. Ironically, I’m almost certainly being the bad influence on him.
  • Amazingly, I’ve been successful over the past four months without regular public accountability posts. In all the years of doing this, it’s the first time the weight has come down without them. In the past, the lack of such posts usually meant the cessation of regular exercise and/or eating properly. Having said that, when the time to transition to maintenance mode arrives, it seems that a return of those posts will be essential (they’ve never been incorporated into a maintenance mode before.)

Tuesday Afternoon Brain Dump

I swear that sometime soon I will do something other than a bullet-pointed post. I actually have a couple items that deserve longer posts all on their own, but until I overcome a certain level of laziness and pound them out on a keyboard…

  • The denim jacket project is nearly complete. Yesterday morning I made my last order for patches to add to them. The fact is that while there is additional space on all three jackets for additional patches, ironing/stitching more onto them would certainly make them look too cluttered. As it is, they may have already crossed that line. While wearing any of the three different jackets (they are blue, black, and olive green) means that I’m not “dressing my age,” they nonetheless make me happy. That is what’s truly most important.
  • Friday is the end of the planned dry month. It actually hasn’t been difficult to not drink. However, I’m not going to lie about one thing: I’m seriously missing having fries and hard cider together. Looking forward to this weekend when that combo is an active option again. Also feel the need to note that yesterday’s Twitter post was in jest, and that there are no current plans to have a drink ready and waiting at 12:00 on Friday evening. Although, I’m not going to say that there’s a 0% chance of that happening.
  • It has now been 2½ years since the last haircut. At this stage, the pandemic is no longer the excuse — the hair is now this long by choice. Admittedly, there are mornings where I miss simply vigorously toweling my hair after the shower and then quickly combing it, but because of liking the current look, extra time on proper hair maintenance is just one of those things that just has to be lived with.
  • A few nights ago, I dreamt for the first time since my teen years a former often recurring nightmare: witnessing the beginning of the nuclear apocalypse. Many of the details in it bore remarkable resemblance to the versions that woke me up in the middle of the night throughout the ’80s. This time around, however, the dreams strikes me as more symbolic than reality-based. I don’t believe that civilization is going to end as a result as nuclear holocaust. Rather, we are witnessing a comparatively slower implosion brought about by global climate change, environmental degradation, the plastic pollution crisis, and a bunch of other manmade factors.
  • In the process of putting together this post (the first few bullet points were actually written yesterday and underwent minor revisions today,) Alito’s draft majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked. All I’m going to say is this: as frightening as this is for so many in the country (as it should be,) it’s also only the start. Everything about my experience with evangelical Christianity in the mid ’90s absolutely supported the notion that those religious zealots fully believe in Dominionism, and they have zero qualms about forcing their religious beliefs upon you. This is just the beginning. They are coming for LGTBQ+ rights next, and then after that anything and everything that their worldview says is “wrong.” Worse, they have gerrymandered their way into veto-proof majorities in enough states to make it damn near impossible to dislodge the judges who are going to uphold their assault on secular humanist values.It’s only going to get worse… Immensely frakking worse.
  • I’m not going to let the feelings engendered by those religious whackadoodles deter me from properly finishing this dry month. I’m significantly stronger than those fuckers.

More Bullet-Pointed Goodness

As the title of this post states…

  • Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter yesterday brought a drastic, tire-squealing reversal to my fleeing Facebook (at least temporarily.) Facebook suddenly became the lesser of two otherwise extreme evils. I’m going to need to rethink my approach to maintaining an online presence. Using this site far more often remains the core to whatever I decide moving forward, but the fact its that while I have more control over how I post here, posting 2-3 sentence (or smaller) entries on this site doesn’t feel right. Furthermore, I’m not aware at this time of a WordPress feature that allows me to quickly and easily share photos, and tag the location and people I’m with the way Facebook does. Admittedly, Twitter doesn’t have a nice easy way to simultaneously share, manage, and curate photos either, but the smaller posts were right at home there. In regards to the Twitter-sized posts, I certainly should simply get over myself and start putting them on this site.
  • Last year I watched 50 episodes of MST3K and thought that it would be difficult of top it. Last night, I watched my 24th so far this year. At this rate, this 2022’s total will be over 70 movies riffed by MST3K or one its alumni riff groups. The frightening thing is 120 films isn’t even half of what I own. Yes, I own a significant collection of crappy movies containing mocking commentary.
  • As much as I’ve fallen in love with Tears for Fears’s new album, The Tipping Point, I couldn’t bring myself to buy tickets for their show at The Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer. By the time I looked at ticket prices, lawn seats were the only realistic option, and frankly, if I’m going to sit for hours at a concert, I’m going to need a proper chair. I’ll try to catch them the next time a tour brings them through the area.
  • Text from a post I made on Twitter yesterday: “I’m on day #17 of a planned dry month. I don’t think I’ve ever come close to being this dissatisfied with a healthy lifestyle choice.” Seriously, I need to come up with some other coping mechanisms for experiencing this country’s descent into true dystopian authoritarianism. Given that my two favorite means of coping — the other being stress earring — are currently off the table, I need to figure out another means to deal with maintaining awareness of what is happening in the world around me.
  • Rather than simply imply it, I’m going to state it outright: living in America right now must be an amazing analog for what it felt like to live in Germany in 1932. Either that, or we are in fact in The Bad Place.
  • As was true yesterday, more in another post later today, or tomorrow.

Two+ Months Later…

It’s been a couple months since the last post here. So, in a futile effort to play catch up and to jump start yet another effort (in a countless string of them) to post here more regularly, I bring you bullet points!

  • I have once again decided I could no longer in good conscience feed the Facebook beast. I let myself slip back into old habits after making my first such declaration earlier this year before getting reminded why I initially made the decision. Of course, now that I am staying away and making it stick (so far,) along comes Elon Musk and his personal brand of multifaceted toxicity and his Lex Luther-like goal of owning Twitter in its entirety.
  • Text from a post I made on Twitter last week: “Of the possible futures avid 16-year-old SF fan me envisioned inhabiting after turning 50, he never imagined living in a toxic late-stage capitalistic state teetering on the edge of true dystopian authoritarianism pursued by a political party overtaken by Christian nationalism.”
  • Self-assesment after turning 50 last month: the looming dystopian nightmare aside, I’m actually very happy with nearly every aspect of my personal life right now. As always, there are a couple areas of personal improvement I’m actively working on, but otherwise I think 16-year-old me would be thrilled to have had a sneak peak into the man he evolved into at this age. Embracing my inner weirdo and letting my freak/geek flag fly has only made me a happier person.
  • A couple weeks after the mini-vacation, Sally and I made an overnight visit to Staunton, VA, quite possibly our favorite locale for such getaways. We didn’t post anything online during our trip (quite possibly a first for us, but also not surprising given my growing distaste for the array of social media sites currently at our disposal,) mostly because it was “uneventful.” That’s not a damning statement — we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly — but there was nothing noteworthy that hadn’t already happened multiple times during previous visits over the years. Sometimes, what you need when you get away from home is a different kind of familiarity and routine. Staunton is that for us.
  • Clearly, I haven’t been making weekly accountability posts. In the past, this typically meant that I started putting back weight again. Not this time, however. I have now taken off all the weight I put on at the end of last year and proceeded to continue past where I was at the beginning of October. As of this morning, I’ve lost 35.2 lb since May 6 (16.8 since the start of this year.) I’m going to defer any commentary about this until I make my next standalone accountability post 11 days from now.
  • More in another post later today, or tomorrow. (No, really, I swear it will happen!)

February 17 “Weekly” Public Accountability Post

So, it’s been three weeks plus a day since last checking in with one of these — hence the quotation marks in the title for this post. Typically, that kind of time between public accountability entries is bad sign. However, in this case it’s not. I’ve basically been continuing to eat and exercise properly, and as of yesterday’s weekly weigh-in, when this post should have gone up, 9.2 pounds gained during the debacle at the end of last year are gone again. That number was given a rather significant boost by this past week in particular, in which I didn’t allow myself a cheat day as I typically do.

So, tonight I’m treating myself. Sometime this afternoon, possibly as early as lunch, this week’s cheat day begins. Planning on lots of chips, some kind of dinner that’s in no way whatsoever conducive at all to my long-term goals, a couple adult beverages, and almost certainly some chocolate from the carefully monitored “secret stash” in the kitchen. Then, back up on the horse tomorrow.

I earned this, dammit.

Three week gain/loss: -3.4 lb
Total loss since May 6, 2020: 28.2

The Weekly Public Accountability Post Returns (Finally)

Weight Gained During End of 2021: +14.4 lb
Total Loss, May 2021 – Jan. 6, 2022: -18.4
Loss Since Jan. 6: -5.8

The effort to simply maintain my weight for the last three months of 2021 was an abject failure. I’m not going to perform a public autopsy — the only observation I’m sharing is during that period I didn’t regularly do any of the things that might have kept the gain from being so high.

On January 6, I successfully resumed all the tactics I use when I’m trying to get myself back down to a healthy weight (other than these posts.) It hasn’t been easy, however. It’s taken some serious willpower to force myself onto the treadmill on many mornings, as well as needing to literally stop myself when finding myself looking in the pantry for something to eat when I’m really not actually hungry. I know that at some point I’ll settle back properly into these routines and it won’t take anywhere near as much effort to do the right things. Hopefully, resuming these posts will help bring that about more quickly.

Tidbits for January 25, 2022

  • It feels more and more like that I’m not transitioning from Facebook to Twitter so much as I’m simply going to post here more often. I’m trying to use Twitter in the way that the cool kids are dong it, but it’s not for me — which isn’t a reason to return using Facebook the way I used to. My resolve is only strengthened by the utter shittiness of the mobile web version and that fact that I’m simply never going to load the Facebook app back onto my phone.
  • Over the weekend, I discovered that Drunk History UK was available on Paramount+ and the original British version of Ghosts was available on HBOMax. There is no way I will feel any guilt over the amount of joy these discoveries brought me.
  • Despite not having made a weekly accountability post yet, the return to exercise and healthier eating is bringing the desired results. I’m actually feeling optimistic about removing by my birthday all the weight I put on in the last three months of last year. More on this on Thursday, when I actually post about this as scheduled.
  • It’s now been 26 months since the last haircut. I’ve decided it’s going to be at least another couple before I think about potentially cutting it again. I like the idea that when celebrating my 50th birthday my hair will be the longest it’s ever been. I’m sure the late tees/early 20s version of me would be utterly astounded that such a thing is even possible.

Today’s Tidbits

I’m still attempting to get a hang of Twitter. I knew well before deciding to migrate away from Facebook as much as possible that the two services are designed to be used in different ways. Because of this and a couple other important reasons (not the least of which is friends and family who make Facebook their online home,) closing out the Facebook account and leaving the site altogether anytime soon is exceedingly unlikely…

Speaking of Facebook, Meta’s algorithms decided to place an ad for men’s compression boxers in my feed this morning, and I nearly laughed myself off of the treadmill. They’re “built for performance and function. With a design that slims all body types.” (It’s even funnier when watching the accompanying video.) At just a little over eight weeks till my 50th birthday, and as someone with zero plans to make any efforts to look younger than I am, everything about the product is simply not for me. It’s good to know that despite all the information Meta has on me, they lack the ability to properly figure out what products might get my interest. But, they did finally stop showing ads for holsters for concealed guns, which I’m actually rather thankful for…

Finally, in a rare instance of joining in with what all the popular kids are doing, I started playing Wordle last week. I’m not sharing my results like so many others, but so far I’ve figured out each of the first six words for the day.

January 17 in Facebook Memories

As part of transitioning away from Facebook and archiving my content, I’m going to save select “on this date” Facebook memories to here. I’ve done something similar to this on a couple occasions before, but not as part of an organized attempt to transfer all of it.

2021
After nearly four hours of alternating picks of songs we wanted to hear and having drinks, Sally and I have decided to go to bed. The last song we listened to was David Bowie’s “Helden” — his German version of “Heroes.” I started tearing up long before it was over. Hell, I’m doing it again as I type this (no doubt due to the alcohol currently in my system.)

If you don’t understand why, you either didn’t see Jojo Rabbit, or you didn’t get/appreciate the subtext of the film.

2020
Why the hell did I not learn about Chiune Sugihara until the most recent episode of The Good Place. Where’s his movie, Mr. Spielberg?

2017
I left this as a comment on a friend’s post. Saving here for my own ease of reference:

For the past eight years, I have heard people go on about the possibility of exercising a 2nd Amendment solution, call those like me “libtards,” state that citizens living on the coasts aren’t real Americans, deride those with college educations as out-of-touch elitists, and ignorantly somehow conflate American liberalism with communism, socialism, fascism and whatever other evil -ism that can be conceived.

Now, after an election in which their guy lost the popular vote by 2.8 million and became President on a technicality, I’m supposed to take the time to understand their grievances when they haven’t bothered at all to listen to me or to even acknowledge that I am just as much an American as them. Fuck that. Fuck all of them — especially those who say, without a slightest hint of self-awareness or irony, that I should leave if I don’t like Trump. Sorry, but I’m going to man the ramparts of the loyal opposition. Deal with it.

The Mid-January Info Dump

There are a number of different items to post about, and I could easily make a couple them the subjects of long, in-depth posts. However, a pressing need to maximize some surprise time all to myself this weekend means everything is just going to go into one super-sized info dump…

I’ve completed three books this year already, but that looks more impressive than it really is. Those three books were actually novellas, and the three of them combined likely contain less than ¼ of the text contained in one of Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies. The current book: To Kill a Mockingbird, which somehow was never an assigned book in any of my high school or college courses…

Although I haven’t made any weekly accountability posts yet, I returned to my healthy eating and exercise regimen after the holidays ended. Given that’s been a couple weeks now, I’m not going into detail about why the attempt at maintaining my weight for the last three months of the year failed spectacularly. Suffice it to say that at the start of this month, my weight was over 15 pounds where it was at the start of October. The weekly accountability posts will resume on Thursday of next week…

My transitioning away from Facebook is well underway. Facebook did me a kindness by making the mobile version of their website an absolute nightmare to use on either Safari or Firefox for iOS. The sheer crappiness just encourages me to finish the switch to Twitter and this blog more quickly. I’m sure in Meta’s eyes, the nearly broken mobile web interface is a feature rather than a bug — they want me to use their app so they can gather information about me more easily and efficiently. However, I’m not playing that game anymore. I was willing to put up with/ignore an awful lot of Meta’s outright evil behavior and business practices until their absolutely ineptly programmed bots and AIs decided to punish me for the most asinine of reasons. Unfortunately, there are a number of people whom I wish to continue to interact online with who really only have an online presence on Facebook. So, there’s a good chance I don’t actually delete my account and continue to access it in a browser dedicated solely to using the site, just so that I can continue to interact with those friends and family…

One of the best developments of 2021 was the launching of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 streaming channel. On Thanksgiving, I was able to locate it on our living room television, and it’s now my go-to channel for mindless, comfort television watching. But, more than that, I’ve also managed to use it to watch a few episodes that I haven’t seen since I started tracking my MST3K viewing. This isn’t easy, as there’s no online schedule (at least, one I’m aware of) to inform you what’s airing and when. However, the channel consistently starts a different episode at the top of each odd-numbered hour. So, when there’s enough time, I can watch a full episode with the aid of subtitles — a feature not included on the DVDs from the show’s original run on Comedy Central and Syfy. Given my hearing issues, subtitles are gold…

Because of the Omicron variant, I’ve essentially been housebound since Sally and I returned from our trip to Staunton a few days before Christmas. I’m hopeful (maybe even a little optimistic) that this wave will have subsided by my 50th birthday in March. We’ve already made plans for being in Philadelphia for three days to celebrate it, with the highlight being a small birthday celebration at a favorite haunt in Old City, just a couple blocks away from our preferred hotel…

Finally, it’s time for me to take down the Lego Christmas display and put something new up. Given that it will likely take me a couple weekends to disassemble it and properly return all the components to where they belong, I have a little time to figure out what I’m going to build next. Frankly, I have so many ideas for future Halloween displays that I may just run with one of them simply so to make use of them in a more timely manner.