Archives For New Year

I have a sweet tooth so large that if my body were in proportion to its size I’d be as big as a wooly mammoth. I’ve had this sweet tooth for as far back as I can remember. As a kid growing up in Atlanta my mother used to make absolutely magically awesome Toll House cookies from scratch. There were no easy-to-open Toll House cookie dough cans during the 1960s, so my mom made hers from all the necessary ingredients, mixed everything with her Sears mixer, and carefully baked then in the oven. The aroma of those baking cookies filed the house and spilled out the open doors and windows into the yard, which is where I’d be helping my dad or playing with my brothers. As soon as I smelled them I was first through the door into the kitchen. She quickly learned to make a double batch every time, hiding the majority of them so I wouldn’t eat them all the same day she made them.

As I grew older my sweet tooth kept up. For example I used to work the camera department part-time at a local J.C. Penny’s while going to college. Unfortunately for me the candy department was right next to the camera department. I’d go over just about every night shift, when things got slow, and buy a half pound of chocolate covered raisins, and eat them all before going home. And yet, because of my youth and running I managed to burn calories and thus keep the weight gain at bay.

Then I got a real job as an engineer, the kind where you sit behind a desk. Unbeknownst to me, sugar itself was changing. Up until about the mid-1970s sugar was sucrose, Dixie Crystals made from good old-fashioned cane sugar. But about that time high fructose corn syrup began to be substituted for cane sugar in just about everything, including my beloved Coca Cola (on which, living in Atlanta, I was just about weaned on), which I drank like a drunken sailor. My sweet tooth, combined with a growing sedentary lifestyle, resulted in a growing weight gain. When I married at 28 I was 6’4″ and 200 pounds, already up from my college weight of 190. At my current age of 63 I weigh 260. That’s not good, no matter what anybody says.

Starting with my trip to Denver around Christmas I decided to not so much as lose weight as to tackle the fundamental problem in my diet, my addiction to sugar. That’s when I stopped literally eating candy. To combat the craving I started chewing Mentos and eating Ice Breakers Raspberry Duos. I’m doing that now, rather than raid the candy machine or head over to the local canteen. The other unspoken about junk food I’ve managed to switch off of cold turkey are snack foods like Cheetos and just about any chip in general. Those were easy enough to turn off. The other sweet item I’ve managed to pretty much turn off completely is diet soda. While it might seem wrong to eat or chew sugar-free candy, I’ve known for some time that guzzling diet sodas comes with its own issues. Substituting water, unsweetened tea, or coffee for diet sodas has helped to control the urges for sugar. While those urges seem to crop up occasionally, they’re not nearly as strong as they once were with the artificially sweetened diet soda cut out.

What I have here is a repeat of all those busted prior New Years resolutions to lose weight, except the focus is a lot narrower and hopefully more achievable this year – break the sweets/sugar habit once and for all. And while I’m at it, go back to my roots as it were, eating a lot more fruits and vegetables like I once did while growing up in Atlanta. After three weeks I am feeling better. It looks like this resolution will succeed, helping to re-create a healthy dietary foundation I can build on going forward. This isn’t about living longer, it’s about living better.

The blogging tradition is to publicly announce to the world all your New Year’s resolutions, at which point they sink out of sight, never to be mentioned again. This year, I’m breaking that tradition in two ways; I’m waiting until mid-January before making such pronouncements to make sure they’re going to succeed in some way, and I’m only announcing one at a time.

I put a very short list of resolutions together in December that I wanted to work on in 2017. At the top of my list is reducing my use of social media, particularly Twitter. The tool I had high hopes would be a powerful tool for positive social change and direct democracy has metastasized¬†into anything but. The biggest driver behind this is the election of the Donald as president (but #NotMyPresident!). The fact that Trump could use Twitter as his bloody pulpit, that he could digitally spew his constant corrosive stream of lies and hate to his many millions of followers (a sizable percentage of which may actually be bots) without any management by Twitter itself goes to show, paradoxically, just how little value the service holds now in the social media universe. If it was truly valuable then Twitter would have put practices, procedures and tools in place to more tightly curate and control the out-of-line users, including Trump himself. But they haven’t, and those who could bring value to Twitter through their participation have been driven away, some publicly, but most privately.

An example of what’s wrong with Twitter (besides Trump) is what happened to Leslie Jones, co-star of the new Ghost Busters (which I liked) and her abuse by Milo Yiannopoulos, one of the “alt-right’s” poster boys. Here, in one story, are all the elements that make participation on Twitter so toxic: hate speech, racism, misogyny, white supremacy, white entitlement… And what happened? Yiannopoulos, who had had a number of prior run-ins and temporary Twitter bans, was finally permanently banned in July 2016. But not before inciting quite a bit of destructive (to Twitter primarily) hate tweets directed at Jones. And all the while this was happening, Trump was dumping his Twitter drivel, one tweet at a time, to the perverted delight of his followers…

Twitter is a free service, the only requirement being I put up with “promoted” ads injected into my timeline (which I’ve diligently marked them all as irrelevant, and which seems to have slowed their appearance). This marks my second appearance with the service. The first time was as a lark back in the very late aughts, and after about two years of aimless wondering through the Twitter hinterland I deleted the account. I came back into the Twitter fold back in February 2011 as @wbeebe4, and I’ve hung out there ever since. Now I’ve decided to move away again, but this time I’m just walking away. Rather than delete the account I’ve clicked the “Tweet privacy” checkbox to protect my tweets and keep the bots and twitter influencer wannabes from following. Which reminds me of another major dislike of Twitter, the formalization of media whoredom as influencer following.

I’ve enjoyed being away from Twitter since Christmas. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to using it to the same level I did before the November elections. Perhaps, as 2017 progresses, and the Trump presidency grows even worse than I believe it will be, I’ll be driven completely away from Twitter. My exit certainly won’t bring Twitter down, but it certainly won’t help keep Twitter up. It may come to pass that I actively become part of some movement that helps move Twitter along into total irrelevancy and its final complete failure. Twitter no longer deserves to succeed, let alone exist. The stewardship of Twitter by those who supposedly created it, and should thus care the most about it, has been almost totally non-existent. It’s best to let it finish its slow-motion collapse and to move on, hopefully to something far better.