Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mark Zandi in Money Magazine

I used to track quotes from Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics; he was mentioned frequently.  These days he writes regularly in the Inquirer.  Zandi is quoted in the January / February 2016 issue of Money Magazine "Is there a hidden bubble in the market?").

Now that Suze Orman is off the air (at least temporarily -- she is supposedly developing a new television series), there is an opening for a new financial guru on tv.  Personal finance isn't really Zandi's thing (his two books are on finance more generally).

Zandi has several degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and lives in the Philadelphia area.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shapiro's Campaign is Frosty

Josh Shapiro's campaign for Attorney General seems to be going a little stir crazy with all the snow.  Someone has altered his campaign logo so the "o" in Josh and Shapiro is a snow flake.  Emails with the snow logo are going out from a purported Director of Winter Operations, signed as Snowman with a snowman emoji.

Muroff Announces Candidacy in 2nd Congressional District

from the inbox:

 Tonight before a packed house at Alma Mater in Mt. Airy, Dan Muroff officially announced his candidacy for Pennsylvania’s 2ndCongressional District.  Drawing on his experience as a long time advocate for Philadelphia’s most vulnerable, Muroff decided to run because he was dismayed at the lack of attention on Philadelphia’s gun violence epidemic.
 “Illegal guns unraveled the fabric of our communities, and closed off opportunities for them to thrive.  Gun crimes destroy lives, families and futures.  It’s become America’s present day sin – our deepest despair – because it’s relentless and routine, and it leaves us astounded yet somehow indifferent. We’ve been snookered into believing that we can’t take this on. I don’t accept that,” Muroff stated to attendees. 

He also spoke of his family-particularly his sister who disappeared almost 20 years ago in North Philadelphia while dependent on drugs.  He shared how his sister was unable to secure a job because of a past criminal record, a story not unfamiliar to families across the 2nd District. 

He stated, “a non-violent criminal record in youth must not be an indelible mark, a label that a person is something so much less. There are real consequences when a person can’t rightly put their troubles behind them and find a secure job. It creates a self-defeating cycle – not just for them, but also for their families, and for society. I am committed to fixing this.”

Dan Muroff is an attorney and community leader who has worked tirelessly over the past decade to reduce gun violence in Pennsylvania.  As the most recent past-president of CeasefirePA, he is uniquely qualified to address the growing problem of gun violence in the 2nd Congressional District.  Additionally, Dan has served as the president of East Mt. Airy Neighbors and as the president of Conservation Voters of PA.  He has also worked as a Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill, giving him the opportunity to advance a progressive agenda. 

Dan lives in Mt. Airy with his wife Melissa.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Emerge PA's Inaugural 2016 Class

from the inbox:

Emerge Pennsylvania is proud to announce the following women have been accepted into the Inaugural 2016 Class:

LauraEllen Ashcraft - Pittsburgh
Mary Ellen Balchunis - Ardmore
Heather Boyd - Drexel Hill
Carolyn Comitta - West Chester
Kelly Fraasch - Mount Lebanon
Lissa Geiger Shulman - Pittsburgh
Linda Hee - Abington
Kristine Howard - Malvern
Movita Johnson-Harrell - Philadelphia
Kimberly Kaplan - Pittsburgh
Barbarann Keffer - Drexel Hill
Jasmine Kurjakovic   - Pittsburgh
Gillian Kratzer - Altoona
Nikki Lu - Pittsburgh
Sharon Overton - Elkins Park
Sully Pinos - York
Megan Plinkington - Irwin
Laura Quick - Palmyra
Christine Reuther - Wallingford
Elaine Schaefer - Newtown Square
Lauren Vidas - Philadelphia
Lindsey Williams - Pittsburgh

Since the first Emerge state was launched in 2002 Emerge has trained more than 1,500 Democratic women to run for office to date. Fifty-two percent of Emerge alumnae have run for office or been appointed to local boards or commissions. Of those who have run for office, 70 percent won. Additionally, Emerge has a strong record of diversity - forty percent of alumnae are women of color. Follow Emerge Pennsylvania on Facebookfor more updates on the program.

Why Classroom Libraries (Only) Are a Bad Idea

The Philadelphia schools are talking up classroom libraries, having books in each classroom.  While this sounds great, it is a poor substitute for a school-wide library with a trained librarian.  Having books in each classroom is good, no doubt about that, but as an additional to a school library not a substitute for it.  And that is what Philadelphia schools are talking about.  Note this from the Inquirer ("In city elementary schools, a campaign for libraries," by Kristen A. Graham, 11/15/2015):

On Tuesday, Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., and 30 other leaders gathered at Clara Barton School to launch a $3.5 million fund-raising campaign aimed at placing libraries in every Philadelphia School District elementary classroom.

The need is great, especially in a system where few whole-school libraries remain, and fewer than a dozen librarians are on staff citywide.

Here's the problem with only classroom libraries and not school libraries.  How many copies of Harry Potter are you going to have?  You'd need one or two in each upper elementary classroom.  How many books can you put in each room?  How can you have students do research projects?  The few bookshelves in each room can't fit enough books for each student to find something on a subject they are interested in.  Students reading above or below grade level are going to have slim pickings.

That's the beauty of a school wide library -- there are books at all grade levels.  There are books on all subjects.  There's something for everyone!  But to have a school wide library you need someone to arrange all the books -- to put them in some kind of order, say by call number.  Someone has to know the collection to refer students to books they will enjoy.  Someone to handle book donations.

I volunteered in my kids' elementary school library for one hour a week over several years.  I was very impressed by the librarians there (and we had more than one, plus a staff person).  They knew the collection and the students and did their best to connect kids to books they would like or would need for assignments.

A classroom library is a fine idea but it is no substitute for a school wide library and a librarian.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

SEPTA Plans to Use Brake Energy

from the inbox:

SEPTA, Constellation, and Viridity Energy are announcing plans to install an 8.75-megawatt battery storage network that will capture and reuse energy generated by braking subway cars.

 An expansion of SEPTA’s 1.8-megawatt battery storage pilot, the 8.75 MW network will help SEPTA reduce operating costs and ensure energy resiliency while providing a clean power source to support the stability of the electrical grid. 

 When complete, the network will be one of the nation’s largest customer-sited battery storage systems -- the first commercially-deployed for a transit operation – and serve as a model for using battery storage assets to supply power in congested parts of the grid. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Josh Shapiro on "Inside Story"

Josh Shapiro, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, and his candidacy were discussed on ABC’s  (WPVI) "Inside Story" on January 17th.  The host / moderator was Tamala Edwards, panelists were Aajay Raju, Dom Giordano, Larry Platt, and Renee Amoore

Shapiro's team has made the video available.  I watched and took rough notes.  This is not intended to be a formal transcript.  I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

TE: Let’s talk about Josh Shapiro jumping into race for Pennsylvania Attorney General.  Four other people are running for the Democrats, including Kathleen Kane.  Biggest challenge would be Stephen Zappala Jr, from West.  He’s the District Attorney for Allegheny County.  Shapiro has released polls that look good for him, Zappala has released ads that look good for him.  East vs West.  Shapiro would do well in Southeastern PA, the rest of state is a toss up.

AR:  Both Congressman [there was a glitch in the sounds but I think it is Brady] and Johnny Doc may endorse Zappala not our favorite elected rep Josh Shapiro.  We have an early endorsement from Darrell Clarke and it was curious as he usually doesn’t endorse so early.  JS a star not just locally but statewide.  Makes it a dogfight.

TE:  Statewide race.  Who and what endorsements will sway mid-staters more?

LP:  A question of messaging rather than the insider’s game of endorsing.  Clarke’s endorsement could help JS locally.  The thing that intrigues me in terms of JS’s candidacy in terms of zeitgeist.  JS all about reform and management.  AG’s office in desperate need of reform and management.  The downside of JS candidacy according to conventional wisdom is that he’s never been a prosecutor.  But 21 of the nation’s Attorneys General are not prosecutors.

TE:  JS says he polls well in leadership.  Zappala says look at my records;  you want AG to be top law guy.  Which has greater sway.

DG:  I like JS a lot even though we differ politically.  Depends on who can effectively contrast with Kathleen Kane.  He is clean, efficient.  He served in Harrisburg too.   He can raise a lot of money.  Has a lot of support.

TE:  What does it mean that [Gov] Wolf loves him, will do some things for him statewide.  With his connections he can pull in national people.

RA:  JS people love him.  He knows and understands how to cross the aisle.  I’m deputy chair of the Republican Party and he put me on his transition team.  Popular through community he works with.  He has the answers.  People love him.  He’s been in Harrisburg. 

AR:  He’s a star.

RA:  He’s out in the community 24/7.  He’s earned his accolades.  He’s young and he communicates with people.

TE:  We usually disagree but we all agree here.

LP:  Watch what he did with zero based budgeting in Montco.  He remade local government, turned deficit into surplus.  Someone needs to remake the Attorney General’s office.

DG:  That might be a stronger argument than “I’m a career prosecutor” or “everyone likes me and knows my credibility.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Brendan Boyle on CNN's "Wolf"

Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-13, Allyson Schwartz's old district) was on CNN's "Wolf" this past Friday.  The topic was the Iran deal.  His segment is about 4 minutes long and starts at about the 31 minute mark in the program.  I taped the show and watched it this weekend.  My notes are provided below.  They are rough notes and not intended as a verbatim transcript.   After typing them up, while looking for a link to the program, I found CNN's transcript so a link is provided to that.

Since both Wolf Blitzer and Brendan Boyle have the same last initial I just used the first initial.

W:  Republican lawmakers have rejected the Iran deal.   They did so unanimously in the House and Senate from the beginning.   Some Democrats have had their doubts as well.  Joining us now is Brendan Boyle of PA, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. You voted against this bill.  How do you think it is going along right now, any second thoughts.

B:  It was without question, though I haven’t been in Congress long, the most difficult vote I’ve had so far.  And I hope it is the most difficult vote for however long I serve.  I voted against it for several reasons, even though I’m a strong supporter of the president.  First the $56 billion dollars to be released.  W’re unfreezing these assets with no strings attached. Forget 5 or 10 years from now, look at  their support of Hammas, Hezbollah, they’re the bad actors in the region.
W:  Money could be used domestically in Iran but they could do whatever they want. 

B:  No strings attached.  That is something Congress should act on on a bipartisan basis.  If you are funding Hammas or Hezbollah .  Lebanon right now has hundreds of rockets pointed at Israel, most financed by Iran.  If they only use 5% of the unfrozen money on this that will be more than they’ve had to spend on their terrorist activities.  Moving forward how can we protect our most important allies in the region.  Moving forward, how to assure this money won’t be used for terrorist activities

W: response to video of sailors [mention of Republican debate]

B:  Ted Cruz and some others are very tough on the debate stage.  First, I’m privileged to be serving in Congress, not putting life on the line like the sailors.  I in no way criticize their behavior and what they chose to do.  The video and the fact that Iran made it and have them on their knees, shows the true nature of this regime,  what the Iranian government is like.  Leverage has been lifted.  Moderates not in charge.  Empowers hard liners who want to engage in this bombastic behavior.

The CNN transcript can be found at:

Terry Gillen Update

Terry Gillen  was an early Democratic candidate for mayor in the recent election; she dropped out of the race before the primary.  I was very impressed with her.  In today's paper, in the "People on the Move" section there was the following note:

Econsult Solutions Inc., Philadelphia has appointed Terry Gillen a member of its senior advisory board.  She had been director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and spent much of her career in public service in Philadelphia, serving under Mayors Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter in positions strategic to the revitalization of the city. 

The Philadelphia Free Press has a longer article.

I hope she will run for office again at some time in the future.

Monday, January 18, 2016

PA in the WSJ

These are PA related articles I noted in the Wall Street Journal over the last two weeks.  I didn't include anything Cosby related or articles that mention in passing former PA senator Rick Santorum (currently one of the many Republicans running for president).  There is a good chance I missed some other things -- blame reduced mental capacity due to a cold.

PA Businesses

In “Change in the air promises tv bonanza,” by Thomas Gryta  (1/06), the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is mentioned as one of the media outlets owned by Block Communications.  Pittston’s PBS channel WVIA is also mentioned.  The article discusses an upcoming FCC airwave auction.

Another article on the FCC auction highlights a collection of Pittsburgh area stations which are now owned by tech billionaire Michael Dell.  See “Dell to reap billions from FCC,” by Thomas Gryta and Kate Linebaugh (1/13)

“Vanguard hauls in record,” by Sharah Krouse (1/06) notes that investors are favoring index funds these days, instead of managed funds.

Fear not the chocopocalypse!  Hershey and other chocolate companies are working with cocoa farmers to increase output, in “Chocolate makers fight melting supply,” by Alexandra Wexlar (1/14)

Toll Brothers is building apartments, as are many other builders, in “Builders bet on booming rents,” by Laura Kusisto (1/13)

John Touey, of Radnor search firm Salveson Stetson Group, Inc. is quoted in “Dow, DuPont strive to get chemistry right,” by Jacob Bunge and Rachel Feintzeig

There is a short note on the Philadelphia papers on 1/13 “Newspapers donated to a foundation,” by Lukas I. Alpert.

“Insurance-fraud case yields prison term,” is an AP story on the Bucks County Playhouse (1/12).
George Gatto, a Harley dealer in Pittsburgh, is quoted in “Harley sputters in efforts to widen appeal,” by James R. Hagerty (1/12)

PA People

Pittsburgh Steeler Kelvin Beachum is highlighted in the car column “My Ride,” by A. J Baime (1/06).  Beachum drives a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe.

Hal Shorey, psychologist and associate professor for the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology at Widener, is quoted in “Surprise, your best friend brought along a crowd,” by Elizabeth Bernstein (1/12)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ready to Run Philadelphia

The PA Center for Women in Politics is hosting its annual Ready to Run workshop in Philadelphia on Saturday, February 13, from 8 am to 5:45 pm at Philadelphia University.  This daylong workshop is designed to help those who might be interested in running for office understand the process and get off on the right foot.  The event is bipartisan politically, and while it is aimed at women men are also invited.

Workshops like this can be invaluable to potential candidates, or people simply interested in the process.  They are nuts and bolts sessions covering items such as fund raising and media, party politics, and how to launch a campaign.  There is a special program for women of color in Pennsylvania politics.

Early bird registration (by Jan. 15) is $75; regular registrations is $100, a very reasonable cost.

Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 Civic Calendar

The kind folks at the National Constitution Center sent me a lovely 2016 Civic Calendar.  It has a civic holiday on each month with notes about the museum and its collections, historical notes scattered around the days of that month, and a brightly colored picture.  It is a very jazzy calendar. Going by the way it was addressed I think I got it because I took a group of kids there a few years ago.  I'm not sure if they are publicly available but it might be worth investigating.  

Friday, January 08, 2016

SEPTA Police and Body Cameras

from the inbox, amended for posting:

SEPTA Transit Police officers have been equipped with body cameras, tools designed to strengthen relationships with the public, and provide valuable evidence for investigations.

“We’ve done this because we believe it gives the SEPTA Transit Police Department more credibility with the community. They’ll have more trust in us, and feel there are additional checks and balances,” said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III. “These cameras will also greatly aide with our investigative efforts by providing audio and visual evidence of officers’ interactions with the public and response to calls.”

The department-wide launch of the program started Jan. 1, 2016. This followed a pilot test that began in July 2014, with 15 officers field-testing cameras from several different manufacturers.

The success of the pilot program prompted SEPTA to pursue adding cameras for all officers. The SEPTA Board approved the purchase of Digital Ally First VU body-worn cameras and related accessories during its regular monthly meeting in July 2015. The overall program, including equipment costs and training, is approximately $400,000.

SEPTA has also adopted a policy for use of the body cameras. It provides guidance on when officers are required to activate the cameras, which in large part includes instances in which they are interacting with the public and responding to calls from police radio. The officer will provide verbal notice of the recording to the individuals involved. Officers will not record during breaks, while writing reports and performing administrative duties, or while having general conversations that are not related to an active incident. The policy also sets rules for the downloading and preservation of video.

This initiative enhances SEPTA’s overall video coverage of the transit system, which currently includes over 18,000 surveillance cameras at stations and on trains, buses and trolleys. 

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Announcement III: Rob Teplitz to Run for Re-election

State Senator Rob Teplitz announced that he is running for re-election.  The 15th state senate district now consists of most of Dauphin County, from the City of Harrisburg up to the county’s northern borders, and all of Perry County.  His campaign website is:

Announcement II: DerMovsesian in the 152nd

Albert DerMovsesian is challenging incumbent Tom Murt in the 152nd state house district (split between Montgomery County and Philadelphia).  There is another Albert DerMovsesian, an attorney who had also served on the Upper Moreland School Board, but he is the father of the state house candidate.  Here is part of Albert J.'s press release:

Albert J. DerMovsesian, a four-year veteran of the Upper Moreland School Board with a strong record of public service, will announce Wednesday evening , January 6, that he is a candidate for State Representative in the 152d Pennsylvania House District, which includes parts of eastern Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia.

As a legislator, DerMovsesian will work to restore leadership in government. He will take a stand to reinvest in our schools, support sustainable economic growth, promote innovative energy policies and protect the rights of all citizens.

A Democratic committeeman in Upper Moreland for two decades,  DerMovsesian has been a manager, coach and umpire in local sports leagues. He is a Sunday School teacher at Abington Presbyterian Church and has been on the Board of Trustees of the Upper Moreland Free Library. In 1999, he helped found the Upper Moreland Education Foundation, which provides scholarships for college-bound students and grants for teaching innovations.  

Professionally, DerMovsesian works as the dining services manager at Twining Village, a retirement community in Holland, Pa.  He has nearly two decades of management experience in both the food service industry and the print and publication industries.

A 1988 graduate of Upper Moreland High School who attended American University, DerMovsesian was elected in 2011 and 2013 to serve on the Upper Moreland School Board. He is chairman of the district's Facilities and Operations Committee, overseeing renovation of Upper Moreland Middle School and upgrading of athletic facilities across the district.
A lifelong resident of Upper Moreland, DerMovsesian lives in the district with his wife, a preschool teacher, and two children.

Announcement I: Waxman for 182nd State House

Ben Waxman makes it official -- he's running for the 182nd state house district, in Philadelphia.  This is the district currently held by Brian Sims, who is running for Congress, challenging incumbent Chaka Fattah in the 2nd congressional district.  Waxman's campaign website is

Here is part of Waxman's announcement email:

I'm writing to share some big news: I'm running for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives!

Harrisburg is a mess. Lawmakers can't even manage to pass a real state budget, including desperately needed funds for Philadelphia's public schools. Philadelphia needs a champion and it's time for new leadership that can move Pennsylvania forward.

I have over 15 years of experience as a community organizer, labor activist, award-winning journalist, and senior legislative staffer. I bring a unique combination of progressive values and practical experience that is desperately needed in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Senate Candidate Logos

Just for fun, let's take a look at the logos used by the various 2016 candidates for Senate.

Incumbent Republican Pat Toomey and one of the Democratic challengers, John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, both use a simple block letter spelling of their name.  Fetterman plays up his experience as mayor of Braddock.  It is a very workmanlike image.  On white backgrounds the lettering is black, sometimes on a colored background the lettering is white.

Pat Toomey uses something similar.  Sometimes the letters are in a dark navy blue, sometimes they are white.  The use of dark yellow to spell out U S SENATE is an unusual color in political marketing.

The other two Democrats use more traditional images, with red white and blue, and stars.  Joe Sestak is currently using a header with three images on it:  a photo of himself, his name with three stars, and a shoe print with his currently motto (Joe Sestak is walking in your shoes).

Katie McGinty uses the most artist logo, combining red, white, and blue, with Pennsylvania's keystone symbol.

Note the difference is shades of blue, from the bright, light blue used by McGinty, to the Sestak's bold blue, and Toomey's use of navy.  Fetterman sticks with black or white. 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Local Connection to Obama / Seinfeld Video

If you have not already, take 19 minutes to watch Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, featuring President Obama.    It's entertaining.  If you enjoying watching the President on Between Two Ferns, you will love this.  In the Seinfeld video he and Obama cruise around the White House grounds and talk about cars and other matters.

Watch closely at the end and an information card briefly displays thanking Pat Cunnane and the White House Communications Office.  Cunnane grew up in Montgomery County.

Kreuger-Braneky Legislation Signed into Law

from the inbox on Dec. 28:

The governor has signed into law legislation by state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky that will aid in the collection of additional revenue for Pennsylvania, the freshman Delaware County legislator said today. 
Krueger-Braneky's bipartisan legislation will allow Pennsylvania to begin taxing tobacco used to make roll-your-own cigarettes.

Currently, only pre-rolled and pre-packaged cigarettes are taxed under Pennsylvania law. The law (Act 96 of 2015) authored by Krueger-Braneky makes roll-your-own tobacco subject to taxation in much the same way as cigarettes are and ensures the sale of that tobacco counts under the Master Settlement Agreement entered into 15 years ago with the major tobacco companies. 
Under the Master Settlement Agreement, tobacco companies have provided billions of dollars to the state for a variety of health-related programs for seniors and other Pennsylvania residents.

PA in the WSJ

Articles I noticed in this week's Wall Street Journal that mentioned Pennsylvania.


"Icahn wins Pep Boys bidding contest," by Tess Stynes 12/31

"Bridgestone won't life Pep Boys bid," by Ezequiel Minaya 12/30

"Triumph Group names Raytheon executive Daniel Crowley as CEO," by Robert Wall and Anne Steele 12/30.  Triumph is based in Berwyn

Airfares out of Philadelphia are mentioned in "Airlines challenge low-cost foes on fares," by Susan Carey 12/30


"Bill Cosby charged with assault," by Kris Maher 12/31 includes a mention of newly elected Montco DA Kevin Steele

Pennsylvania pensions, the state budget, and Gov. Tom Wolf are mentioned in "States' pension woes spit Democrats and union allies," by Timothy W. Martin and Kris Maher 12/30


The Dormont public library gets a shout out in "To relax, grown ups try to stay inside the lines," by James R. Hagerty and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Tom Hanks, John Morgan, and Me; or, Jane, Extra Sweet

The Inquirer has been running a monthly series by Ilene Raymond Rush on diabetes.  It is all the rage these days.  Tom Hanks announced in October, 2013, that he has type 2 diabetes.  More locally my fellow blogger John Morgan (at the Pennsylvania Progressive) wrote in March, 2014 that he has it as well.  All the cool kids are getting it. 

Not to be outdone, I joined the club myself a little more than two years ago.  The doctor had been telling me for some time that I needed to lose weight and that my blood sugar was on the high side of normal, but I thought there was time.  Most of the people I know who lost significant amounts of weight or drastically changed the way they ate, did so after their children left home, and I expected and planned to do the same.  Time ran out for me, though, and I went from pre-diabetes to full fledged type 2.

Diabetes is serious business and so I took it seriously.  It was like fingernails across a chalkboard or a needle across a record (for those old enough to remember those sounds – for younger readers this refers to something that gets your attention).  I immediately changed the way I ate.  The medication I took to get my blood sugar under control made me nauseous, which helped with weight loss.  In a little more than a year I lost 30 pounds (and have reliably kept 25 of it off).  I was able to go off the medication and, although it has ticked up a bit recently, my blood sugar has stayed low enough that I can control the disease with diet and exercise.  It has not been easy or fun. This is not that common and is impossible for some people, not through any fault of their own, but just due to physiology.  As I get older it is likely that I will have to take medication again, and perhaps eventually insulin, but for now it is manageable without.  I miss pizza, donuts, ice cream, bagels, sandwiches, dinner rolls, mango juice, hamburgers, brownies, candy bars, and the many other foods I no longer eat, but when self-discipline flags I google images of diabetic feet.  This is grim viewing but an effective motivating force.  How many toes is a bag of M&Ms worth?  None.

I found the educational process confusing.  After the initial diagnosis I was referred to a place that provides, among other things, training sessions for newly diagnosed diabetics.  There was an individual consultation followed by four two hour group sessions.  Insurance would only pay for four total sessions.  I chose the individual consultation, where I learned to use, and was given, a blood sugar testing meter, and some nutritional basics, and three of the four group sessions, each of which focuses on a particular topic.  They were very informative, though I think I could have learned just as much from canned videos.  At the end of each session the instructor went over a quiz with us, having us work out the answers together before marking the test paper.  Miraculously, we all got all the answers right!  Some people prefer to learn in a group setting and these sessions would be very helpful for them.  For those who prefer, or find just as acceptable, printed materials or a webinar, the same information could be done for considerably less money.  I think the cost was something like $200 per hour for the sessions I attended. 

It doesn’t make a lot of sense but losing weight for health reasons is different from losing weight for appearance reasons, even though the result is the same.  For me, at least, it starts at either end – slender ankles, just one chin, bony knees and bony shoulders, clavicles, hipbones, and ribs.  The middle part remains doughy.  I had to buy smaller pants, and could tuck in my shirt.  Then I had to buy even smaller pants.  While people’s pants falling off is a staple of slapstick humor and home videos, holding onto one’s waistband with one hand and trying to carry groceries to the car with the other is not amusing in the least.  I now wear the same size pants I did when I was 25, which is great, but not really my goal.  Several friends, neighbors, and co-workers  noticed my diminishing profile and made positive comments.  A regular visitor to my workplace pulled me aside and asked why I was losing so much weight.  I think he thought I was dying.  All the concern and praise was nice but, to be honest, it just made me self-conscious.  The number I thinking about wasn’t so much the scale but my a1c (blood sugar numbers).   And, sad but true, no matter how thin, a body that is 50 odd years old, is not going to look like a body that is 25 or 35 or even 45.  As my mother says “the baggage shifts.”  So, while I no longer resemble the Sta-Puft marshmallow man, I’m never going to have the same figure I did as a young woman.  I sort of look like one of those pasty snow peeps you see at Christmas.  What was kind of annoying was that in the previous year I had cleaned out my closet and gave away most of the clothes I couldn’t fit into anymore, and had bought two winter coats, which were soon hanging on my thinner frame, and eventually just became unwearable.   I don’t really enjoy shopping that much (my husband the household bookkeeper might disagree with this statement) so having to buy two new wardrobes in a year was not as enjoyable for me as it might be for other people.

What I came to be aware of during this process is that, like most things, having some disposable income makes life much easier.  People on a strict budget can’t afford to buy new clothes, or premium test strips to check blood sugar, or fresh fruit and vegetables (or throw them out when they go bad before you can eat them), or prepare two meals so others in the household don’t have to follow your diet, and so on.  Inexpensive food is usually not good for you.  Fast food is pretty much out of the question. 

I’ve had to change more than my eating patterns.  Stress and sleep are also factors.  I can’t stay up till all hours writing blog posts anymore.  I have to juggle this health issue along with work, parenting teens, and all other aspects of life. To cut back on stress I stepped back from some community work – it was satisfying in some ways but at times aggravating.  I put in a birdfeeder right outside my kitchen window and discovered that great refuge of the middle-aged, gardening.  I enjoy my plants and my birdies.  It is relaxing.  I dusted off my sewing machine and quilting hoop.  This, too, is relaxing.   Travel, always one of my great pleasures is no longer as enjoyable. Eating on the road is tricky and enforced sitting is no longer my friend.  I no longer try to group errands at home or work, as the extra trips going up and down stairs are good for me.  Inefficiency is a positive.  I pack my lunch most days to make sure I’m eating right, but that means I have another thing to carry on the train.  I joined a gym.  One or two days a week, weather permitting, I walk the last two miles of my morning commute.  The scenery is beautiful.   When I have a day full of meetings I look for ways to stretch my legs under the table; this is much easier when videoconferencing – no chance of accidentally kicking someone under the table.  I keep a jump rope and a set of weights in the kitchen.  Of course, even with all these measures I still do not exercise as much as I should.  A gym membership does not equal regular workouts.  A kitchen jump rope does not equal regular jumping sessions while dinner is in the oven.

So my life has changed permanently.  I wish I had taken some of these steps before my blood sugar numbers tipped over the edge into diabetes, but I didn’t.  For now things are going well.  I’m off the medication and I still have all my toes.  From time to time I might write about this again.  It does explain, to a degree, why I’ve been blogging less often than in previous years.  Hours sitting transcribing debates or looking at campaign finance reports aren’t that good for me.  Nor is driving a few hours roundtrip to attend a political event featuring food I can’t eat.  But now that I sort of have a handle on things I’m hoping to find a balance that will let me do at least some of these activities, at least some of the time.   I enjoy them and I miss them.  As my children get older my daily parenting duties will diminish (or so I am told) which will mean more time for personal hobbies.  But, most importantly, I still have all my toes.