Category Archives: Life reflections

The Times they are – – –

Jack fails miserably again to get his Wednesday guest post up on time – –

Wendy and I have been ‘zooming’ with a few friends weekly ever since the pandemic closed things down. The group consists of David and Susan in North Carolina, Beth and Brandon in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, ourselves in Wytheville, Virginia, and Barbara and Oliver in Edinburgh, Scotland.

We meet on Sundays at 9 am but because of the five-hour time difference that’s 2 pm in Edinburgh. Except last Sunday was an exception because the clocks in the UK had changed on Saturday night. They don’t change here until this Saturday, so for just one week the time difference is four hours! Being half American and half Scots I was vaguely aware of the anomaly so I checked on line and – yes, this was the week of the lesser hours! A hasty last minute e-mail to Barbara saved the day – and the meeting.

But it got me curious about the whole business of changing the clocks twice a year – Spring forward and Fall back. So I did a bit of research and found some fascinating stuff. Some countries simply don’t do it at all and in many that do there’s a debate about whether to continue with it. That debate is no more heated than in the UK, and the problem is that most of the population is in south or central England where they would not see much difference in winter, whereas folk in Scotland definitely would. The European Union has a plan to stop changing the clocks in a couple of years’ time, so a strange result of ‘Brexit’ is that, if the UK sticks with clock changing, then for six months there will be an hour’s difference between Northern Ireland (in the UK) and the Irish Republic (in the EU).

By now I was well and truly hooked on the history of time-keeping and how the world arrived at any notion of ‘standard’ time. It turns out that the arrival of the railroad around the world had a lot to do with it. Prior to that local areas kept their own time, often just within the sound of church bells or a day’s travel on foot or by horse. It was the arrival of trains and reliable clocks and watches, not to mention the telegraph, that brought the need for standardized time. Since Britain owned most of the world then Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in London became the default standard with all other time zones and/or clock changes measured relative to GMT. Although wasn’t it Mussolini who made the trains run on time?

Of course the arrival of the internet and the ability to speak to and see people on the other side of the world brings me back to what kicked off my interest in the first place – this Sunday we’ll be back to the usual five-hour difference!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

The Wednesday Weight Drop

I didn’t do a Monday book because I am plowing my way through one of Steven King’s doorstoppers. So, stay tuned for next week on that front.


However, permit me to share some good news: since being diagnosed as pre-diabetic in 2018, I have lost 10% of my body mass index (BMI). That’s kinda the benchmark for getting out of the Type II diagnosis.

It was one of those non-decision decisions: limit myself to 90 carbs per day, or accept becoming diabetic. NO way, given the state of healthcare in 2018 (and what it was projected to look like even before 2020 flexed her evil muscles) was I going to wind up insulin dependent. The price of my glucometer sent me into sticker shock from the beginning. First plan: make it a lifestyle, not a diet, so it would stay off. Second plan: count carbs, not calories. That was my doctor’s advice (Thanks Doc Ashley!)

Where do the carbs hide? Bye-bye to flour, rice, corn, and potatoes (notice I did not eliminate sugar; I knows my limits, folks.) It’s REALLY ANNOYING that potatoes are so bad for us because they 1) are easy to grow 2) are cheap to buy 3) taste good and 4) can be made into a thousand different things. But also hi-carb, so I just made it a rule: no tatties, except as a treat equivalent to candy. (I am a sucker for tater tots with ketchup and did indeed pop them in place of M&Ms on special occasions.)

It is easier to cut out what triggers you than control eating it. Ask me about making nachos. “But they’re covered with vegetables!” Yeah, no. Every time, I ate too many, so, bye. It takes about three weeks to get something out of one’s system. And using your triggers as treats doesn’t work.

Rice was easy; I don’t care for rice. Cauliflower rice is a good lesson on why you shouldn’t try substituting one thing for another unless you LIKE the substitute. If you don’t like pasta made from chick peas, give up on spaghetti and find a different food entirely. Pick your substitutes and don’t try to accept the commercialization of things you COULD use instead.

Corn: well, after awhile, it moved to “processed corn.” I became an expert label reader. That sh– er, stuff is everywhere under a lot of “don’t mind me” names. You have to look carefully. But if you do, it’s not hard (or expensive!) to find processed foods that don’t have any corn fillers in them.

Flour: almond flour is expensive, so don’t bake as often. Using the tiny pieces of bread like one buys for party foods helped when I had to have it (and they are almost always found on the day-old baking cart). Peanut butter toast tapas is good stuff. (A word of warning: gluten free is very rarely low carb. Don’t be suckered.)

Last advice for those looking at their own weight journeys: pay attention to slow versus low carb. They’re your carbs and you can do what you want with them, but some of them make you hungrier and some of them fill you up. Think carefully.


Filed under Hunger Games, Life reflections