Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The 16 Rule

While the world sat back and watched Italy celebrate victory in the World Cup final (at the same time wondering “What in the world was Zidane thinking?”), I was commemorating a milestone of my own.  I have embarked on a new chapter of sorts in my life, which represents not so much a lifestyle change, as a lifestyle adjustment.  July 9, 2006 will go down in world history as the day the Italians brought home the Cup.  But in my history, it marked week one of adhering to “The 16 Rule”.

No, “The 16 Rule” is not some new dating regimen that I conjured up (I should be so lucky…).  It refers to the number of alcoholic beverages I am allotted per week.  That’s right, no more than 16 drinks, whether it’s a beer, a glass of wine or a G&T, in any given week.

People’s reactions to this idea are quite predictable.  When I tell them, they respond in one of two ways.  It’s either:
“16 Drinks?!?  You’re cutting down to 16 drinks?  Who in the world has 16 drinks in a week?”, or
“No way, man.  Impossible.  Give up before you start.  There’s no way you can restrict yourself like that.  It’s just not natural!”.
Either way, they inevitably arrive at the same questions – why 16 and why do it?

The number 16, I’m embarrassed to say, came from some TV program I happened to surf past several years ago.  I can’t remember much more than a perky host describing how a common plan for problem drinkers involves limiting themselves to 16 drinks a week.  When I started this self-imposed regimen, that’s all I knew about the reason behind 16.  The ensuing public ridicule has encouraged me to do some follow-up research.

But, before getting to that, there’s the other “why” question.  Am I a problem drinker or a raging alcoholic?  Is my life in ruins and in need of drastic measures?   Well, of course not! So why do it?  

Put quite simply, I’m a social drinker, always have been.  But, I’m also a very social guy.  This means going out for dinner an average of 5 or 6 times per week, and often having two different activities planned on any given night.  The common thread binding all of these is, of course, alcohol.  It’s such a natural aspect of social activities.  
“Let’s meet for a drink.”
“Come on over and we’ll have a glass of wine on the patio.”  
“I believe it’s your round, lightweight!”

The turning point for me was counting the number of drinks I’d actually consume in any given week.  Now, it’s currently summertime in Vancouver, and since it’s our only respite from 10 months of rain, alcohol consumption tends to go up when the sun shines.  Even so, count drinks I did, and I was surprised by what I found.  

On a Monday evening I’d have dinner on a friend’s back deck, followed by a round of disc golf at a nearby park.  Dinner was accompanied by two glasses of wine, we had a beer while golfing, and stopped off at a pub with a great deck on the way home.  Monday – six drinks.  Not necessarily excessive, but then along came Tuesday with the same total, and Wednesday, and Thursday…  Before the weekend had even started, I’d have consumed over twenty drinks!  Some week’s totals exceeded 40.

For even a social drinker, that’s a lot of alcohol.  In fact it’s too much.  I knew I needed to cut down, but my half-assed attempts to do so always failed.  I needed some way to gauge my intake, and a framework to enable me to realistically curb it.  Using a method that others had adopted seemed like a reasonable plan, so “Dave’s 16 Rule” was born.  

I've since looked into where the number 16 comes from, and it's loosely based on a "safe and healthy" alcohol consumption guideline.  Most agencies (Health Canada, CDC etc) encourage limiting alcohol consumption to two drinks per day, and never going over four drinks per day.  Consuming beyond these recommendations opens the door to a litany of potential illness.  The 16 Rule allows for those two drinks each day, and adds an extra on the weekends, without going over the recommended maximum.

Now, I'm not an angel, so I don't expect to never have over 4 drinks in a day again.  However, the process of counting alcohol consumption is a good one for me, and is going to contribute to my overall health as I muddle my way through middle age.  And, as an added bonus, I've already noticed a drop in my bra cup size!

The 16 rule isn't easy, but I am comfortable with where the motivation comes from and know it's the right thing to do.  That makes it easier to switch to water after a glass of wine or two.  In the end, that’s exactly what I want – to enjoy alcohol in moderation.  The last thing I want to hear is some doctor telling me I can’t even do that.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Halliburton Rules

The headline says it all, and just in case you’re interested, I’ve included a link to the actual article where you can learn more and really get your blood boiling.  Here it is:
Army Plans to End Contentious Halliburton Logistics Pact and Split Work Among Companies
The pact paid Halliburton more than $15 billion to do jobs like deliver food and fuel and construct housing for U.S. troops around the world.

When is it going to end?  I mean, there have always been political shenanigans going on behind closed doors, but this has been the most flagrant conflict of interest I have ever seen.  There’s nothing “back door” about it.  The Bush administration, led by the anti-christ himself – ex Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney, has been flaunting this one in front of the cameras for years!  They haven’t made any attempt to keep it from public view, which in my mind is the brilliance of the scheme.  It’s the only way they’d have been able to get away with it.

The premise is really quite simple.  We’re at war (aren’t we?), and that calls for drastic measures.  But wait, it gets better.  We’re not at war with an actual enemy; we’re at war with a concept!  It’s not a war on Iraq; it’s a war on terrorism.  And, as long as we’re at war, we can ignore things like rules and regulations and the Geneva Convention.  Well, the jury’s still out on the last one, but you get my drift.

So, the war on terror not only gives the Bush administration (and any US administration that follows) the right to march around invading foreign nations, it apparently also gives them the right to give their business cronies buckets and buckets of money.  Dick Cheney was instrumental in building the construction division of Halliburton, and now his administration (oops, I mean the Bush Administration) has been giving that very division billions of dollars worth of no-bid government contracts.

But why stop there?  Surely there’s other human suffering to profit from?  Hey, that’s it, target suffering and terrorism!  Why not give Halliburton billions more dollars to “help” reconstruct New Orleans?  It was a natural disaster, after all, and that calls for drastic measures.  (Note the reoccurring theme here.)  There’s surely no time for accepting bids from other contractors.  May as well just give a blank check to someone we trust.  Of course, our buddy Dick has arranged to give that check to a company that still pays him dividends and bonuses, and whose stock he happens to own in amounts measured by the truckload.

(Halliburton may not escape the New Orleans debacle, however.  Those numbers are being watched, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some Halliburton heads will roll.  Certainly not Dick’s, though.  He’s a federal politician, and has acted as best he could given these trying times.  No, Dick will come out smelling like a rose.)

Why haven’t we been screaming about this for the last five years?  Moreover, why hasn’t the press been hounding Dick Cheney everywhere he goes?  I realize that the anti-christ may be a somewhat foreboding character, but he should still be held accountable, right?  But here’s the brilliant part, and it’s beautiful in its simplicity:  You can’t be held accountable if you’re not doing anything wrong!  There’s nothing to punish if no crime has been committed.  So, harkening back to lessons learned in Nazi Germany, the Feds have been feeding us the “Great Lie”, and we’ve been eating it up.  Whether it’s illegal prisons, wire-tapping or unjust wars, as long as it’s being done right in front of us without an air of secrecy, we accept it as not only legal, but reasonable and necessary.  And, our blind faith has resulted in Dick and his buddies becoming very, very rich.

When will it end?  Probably never.  All I can say is that I bought Halliburton when it was at $32.  Lots of it.  Suckers!!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Italy vs Germany

During today’s World Cup match people were asking me whom I was voting for.  Since I really didn't have a favorite, my response was "Let's see now, the Renaissance vs. centuries of repeated attempts at world domination.  Hmmm...  I'll have an Espresso!"

However, my favorite line of the day was from a friend Kathy who, when one of the Italian players had been hit in the head and was rolling about the pitch in apparent agony, suggested that the doctor "Just pour some water on it and make him take his shirt off!”  Spoken like a true fan of the game.