March 30th, 2004

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Tall People

The Atlanta paper ran an little news blip this morning that, no doubt because I'm tall, stood out to me as quite interesting -- I just wasn't aware of this!

Europeans growing taller as Americans bottom out

Americans are not walking as tall anymore --- literally --- and it's a mystery that has spawned a number of theories. The New Yorker's (April 5) Burkhard Bilger talks with experts about why Americans' vertical growth rate is flat while Europeans are getting taller. The average American man is only 5 feet 9 1/2 inches tall, or less than an inch taller than the average soldier during the Revolutionary War. Women have shrunk by a third of an inch since their high mark of 5 feet 5 in the 1960s.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Dutch men now average 6 feet 1 and women 5 feet 8. Theories for the differences between American and European growth rates range from quality of prenatal care (the Netherlands has free clinics) and health care in general to nutrition. In a British study, one group of schoolchildren was given burgers, fries and typical snacks. The other group ate World War II rations such as corned beef and cabbage. "Within eight weeks," Bilger writes, "the children on the rations were both taller and slimmer than the ones on a regular diet."

Now, what I wonder is, are Americans just getting so FAT that gravity is keeping them down? Ho ho ho, that was only a half-kid ;)

Meanwhile this got me thinking on my own family and how odd it is to think that actually, at 6'0" *, I'm below the average height for us folk!

Dad6'3"75 in.
Mom5'10"70 in.
Nancy5'9"69 in.
Betty6'3"75 in.
Carolyn5'11"71 in.
Tom6'6"78 in.
Wendy6'0"72 in.

I worked it out and the average height among us Darlings is 73 in., or 6'1". I think the average shoe size is probably an 11 men's. My father and bother both wear size 14 1/2 I think, while I wear a 9 1/2 men's (11 women's, 43 Euro.). I think my sisters and mother are all around an 8 1/2 men's.

* Sorry, too lazy at the moment to work this out metrically. I know I'm about 183 cm. but the rest I don't know.
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Death of the stars seems to come in 3's. We had Peter Ustinov over the weekend and today, Alistair Cooke. Is there another elderly Englishman on the way to the afterlife?
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I'm experiencing that not-so-night feeling of "Ugh, I just paid all my bill..." Allllllllllll of them. Bleh.

I guess I will feel slightly better in a couple days when I pay myself my monthly cut but yucky yucky this afternoon, especially since I also put out a couple hundred bucks to have business brochures professionally printed.
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Just got an email from Atlanta's City Council President, the wonderful Cathy Woolard. She's leaving office to run for U.S. House of Reps! This is a real shock. I have had a lot of interaction with Cathy over the 6 years she's been on the Council. Not only neighborhood- and city-related stuff and her amazing BeltLine (light rail round-the-city using old tracks) proposal, but on a personal level, like actually chatting with her at Home Depot or hanging out in a back bedroom at some party for (mainly) gay City staff. I've met Cathy's partner too. Which reminds me to mention that Cathy is openly lesbian and (duh) Atlanta's first openly gay City Councilor. And hopefully now she'll be moving on to the House of Reps, where she'll no doubt do good work, although the city will miss her. She's only about 5 ft. tall but she's a tower of power!
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I'm so there!

I've heard about MeetUp in relation to the Dean campaign, but hadn't participated. Well, just got wind of International Carfree Meetup Day. I've signed up and voted we got to the coffee shop at Piedmont & 10th, since it was the most transit-friendly option. I wonder how many people will be there, here in Atlanta? I haven't driven a car since 1997 when I drove a UHaul truck. Before that, I hadn't driven in 1996 or something, one of my parents cars. I guess I really am officialy NOT a driver. Which is good since at this point I would be terrified at the prospect of affording to have a car. $52.50/month for my MARTA pass is such a steal! And no unexpected expenses like rising gas prices or accidents.

Meanwhile Thursday I'm going to a big meeting at City Hall as part of a Save MARTA campaign. Because the system is run by incompetents AND isn't getting any state funding (unlike any other transit system in a major city!), they have no cash. So they are going to cut routes and rearrange the bus system again. Bullshit. The way to make more money is, in part, raising ridership, which you don't do by decreasing service. Last time they tried to do this a lot of routes got saved. Nobody here cares about MARTA, it's so frustrating.
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OK. This is getting tough. I was already bummin' that my PARENTS both weight less than me, which I had previously thought was impossible or highly unlikely. Well, now I've just been spending time poking around the FDR Museum & Library site and have found out FDR weighed less than me. I know both he and my dad share the skinny leg thing (which my dad had even before his diabetes) and the same height just about but... It puts stuff in perspective.

I really feel I should do something to dump this extra weight that keeps creeping up on me. And with the self-made schedule I have, I COULD do something. Earlier this year I managed to lose 10 lbs in around 6 weeks and was proud of myself. But now I've gained 5 of that back (what I ate up in NY didn't help) and I'm just getting flabbier all the damn time.

OK, step #1: No more elevator unless I've got groceries.
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