December 7, 2010


This past Saturday a very short article appeared in our Chattanooga Times Free Press, page A4, 5th column

“Unmanned U.S. Spacecraft Returns After 7-Month Trip”.

Seven months ago the DoD lunched the very first unmanned spacecraft to fly outside the Earth’s atmosphere.  The X37B slipped out of orbit and landed safely at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California this past Friday.  The stubby-winged robotic aircraft began re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and landed successfully at 0116 hrs PST (Pacific Standard Time).  The mission was secret and the “official” purpose was to test the aircraft itself.  I was born at night but not last night consequently, I suspect there was more to the voyage than we need to know.

My comments do not address the secrecy of the mission but the marvelous engineering that made this mission a resounding success.  Can you imagine the remarkable complexity such an endeavor would bring?  I was a lowly Captain in the USAF Logistics Command and worked on the missile that fired the Gemini crews so I have an appreciation for the split-second timing and planning that must be accomplished for success.  I know that all engineering disciplines had to be in play to bring this project to completion.  Mechanical, electrical, civil, engineering physics, etc etc—all were needed and used.   I am also amazed that communications were maintained throughout the entire seven months—ASTOUNDING!!!     I can’t walk from my front porch to the mail box without my cell phone dropping out fifteen times.  ( DoD must not use Virgin Mobile. )

 It takes smart, trained, energized, optimistic, hard-working engineers and scientists to pull something like this off.  You don’t make this happen with high school drop-outs.  Drop-outs will not find themselves as members of a DoD or NASA team. You are not allowed to write code that would affect trajectory and a flight plaths with merely a high school degree and certainly not as a drop-out.   It is a national tragedy that approximately 30 % of high school students choose to drop out before graduation.

I think what we have just witnessed is a forecast of things to come.  “The Rise of the Machines”—OK, maybe not but, more unmanned flights-definitely!  The technology involved and project management are just stunning. I think we need to keep this story alive so high school students, and even grammar school students, realize that engineering is a most exciting profession and there are still jobs available—even in our country.  The best is yet to come.


December 4, 2010


(There is no such thing as being too thin—-or even kinda thin!)

Portions of this document are excerpts from the following individuals or institutions:

1.)      Mr. Julian Kaufman and Ms. Rachel Burke—Fitness Together, Chattanooga, ftchattanooga@fitnesstogether.com.  (I am a client of FT in Chattanooga and have the pleasure of knowing these two very fine professionals.)

2.)      WebMD, “Estimated energy Requirements” and “Body Mass Index Chart, BMI”

We have all heard the jokes:

  • She’s the only girl I have ever dated who has her own zip code.
  • When I hop on the scales, I don’t get a reading.  Just a message that says “one at a time please”.
  • When I wear my yellow rain jacket I’m frequently mistaken for a cab.
  • That guy is so fat he shows up on radar.

OK, funny for a moment—a fleeting moment, but obesity is the time bomb that keeps ticking louder and louder.  Several months ago I wrote a blog that tried to draw correlations between obesity in the United States and our growing national debt.  I constructed a timeline that indicated how both trends parallel each other.  The only factor common to both —THE LACK OF DISCIPLINE!   We eat each meal as though it was “The Last Supper” and our Legislature spends as though there were no tomorrow.

This blog is about obesity and not the national debt so let’s take a look at several facts relative to weight gain.  These facts come from Fitness Together, Chattanooga.

  • Beginning at age 25, we lose up to one-half pound of lean muscle tissue every year.
  • The loss of lean muscle tissue means our resting metabolic rate is slowing consequently; we lose the need for about fifty (50) calories per day. 
  • For every 3500 calories we consume and don’t burn, we gain one pound.  If we consume just ten (10) calories more per day than we burn, we gain a pound of fat per year.
  • If you can save fifty (50) calories per day, you will lose five (5) pounds per year.
  • A can of coke is 140 calories. By substituting water for coke, you can lose approximately fifteen (15) pounds per year.

As we age, our bodies change—things happen.   As a kid growing up in the South, it was primarily quantity and not necessarily quality that drove me as a teenager.  The Sportsman’s Barbeque had the best fried onion rings in the eastern part of the state; The Dairy Queen on Central Avenue definitely had the best foot-long chili dog; Kay’s Ice Cream on Brainerd Road  provided, hands down, the best banana split IN TOWN; Krispy Kreme the best doughnuts; John Frank Inc. the best deep-dish pizza.  Of course who could forget Knox McCardell’s Tick-Tock Restaurant on Ringgold Road in East Ridge?  That’s where we went for Sunday dinner.  Best pecan pie in the South.   I marched through those calorie-laden years none the worst for the wear but, I played football, baseball, ran track, loved to swim at the “Y”, etc etc.  I even worked in a family-owned business.  It did seem to even out; calories vs. the expenditure of those calories. 

Let’s now take a look at what we need.  The following table is based upon estimated energy requirement (EER) from the “Institute of Medical Dietary Reference”.

                     GENDER VS. AGE VS. NEEDED CALORIES 

Child 2 to 3 1000 1000 to 1400 1000 to 1400
Female 4 to 8 1200 1400 to 1600 1400 to 1800
  9  to 13 1600 1600 to 2000 1800 to 2000
  14 to 18 1800 2000 2400
  19 to 30 2000 2000 to 2200 2400
  31 to 50 1800 2000 2200
  51+ 1600 1800 2000 to 2200
Male 4 to 8 1400 1400 to 1600 1600 to 2000
  9 to 13 1800 1800 to 2200   2000 to 2600
  14 to 18 2200 2400 to 2800 2800  to 3200
  19 to 30 2400 2600 to 2800 3000
  31 to 50 2200 2400 to 2600 2800  to 3000
  51+ 2000 2200 to 2400 2400 to 2800


  1. Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  2. Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  3. Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day activity.

As you can see, the need for caloric intake is quite different between the three lifestyles.   For the sedentary and moderately active individuals, the caloric needs drop as we age.  The active individuals can consume more calories, even as they age.  Looking at several “popular offerings”, we find the following:

  • Outback  Blooming Onion         787 calories  70.3 fat grams
  • McDonald’s Quarter Pounder 430 calories   190 fat grams
  • “Biggie Fries”                                 610 calories    260 fat grams
  • Medium Pepperoni Pizza          340 calories    170 fat grams
  • Beef   Pot Pie                                   525 calories    30   fat grams
  • One Piece of Blueberry Pie       380 calories    17   fat grams
  • One Piece of Carrot Cake           385 calories    21   fat grams
  • 1 Croissant                                      235 calories    12   fat grams
  • 1 Doughnut                                     235 calories     13   fat grams
  • 1 Slice of Pecan Pie                      575 calories     32   fat grams
  • 1 Taco                                               195 calories      11   fat grams

The important thing to remember is information such as this is available on the web so not knowing the calorie count of any food is not really an excuse.    The fast food guys are now required to publish their calorie count for each food sold so the information is available.  When we talk about avoiding foods with high calorie count, we don’t necessarily mean always and forever.  There is no “sin” in taking your grandchildren to Mickey Ds and enjoying a burger with them.  Just don’t do it every day or make it an ongoing habit, for your sake and theirs.  I have a buddy who says there will be an Outback in Heaven because that’s the closest thing to Heaven on Earth.  He may just be correct BUT he is a calorie counter.  When he takes on a “blooming” onion here on Earth, he “gives back” by reducing his calorie count for the rest of the day—or possibly the remainder of the week.   In other words, he does the numbers.  He also, at the tender age of 72, is an exercise freak.  Never met a treadmill he did not love at first sight.

Another measure of how we are doing is the body mass index.   This chart is courtesy of WebMD.          

(POUNDS)  5′-0″ 5′-3″ 5′-6 5′-9″ 6′-0″ 6′-3″
140 27 25 23 21 19 19
150 29 27 24 22 20 19
160 31 28 26 34 22 20
170 33 30 28 25 23 21
180 35 32 29 27 25 23
190 37 34 31 28 26 24
200 39 36 32 30 27 25
210 41 37 34 31 29 26
220 43 39 36 33 30 28
230 45 41 37 34 31 29
240 47 43 39 36 33 30
250 49 44 40 37 34 31


In looking at the various categories, we deduce the following:

  • 18.5 to 24.9                         Normal healthy weight
  • 25 to 29.9                             Considered to be overweight
  • > 30.00                                  Obese
  • > 40.00                                  Morbidly obese

Overweight conditions can be corrected.  Lives can be turned around by exercising and exercising eating discipline.  I know it’s hard because I love to eat good food.  The best food in the world is Italian.  A tie for second is Spanish and French.  I have been to all three countries and have sampled their offerings multiple times.  I gained absolutely no weight on my trips due to the number of miles I walked each day.  That’s the secret—expend more calories than you consume.  It’s simple math.  Keep count, you will be surprised at the progress you make and the results just might be life-saving.  Stay away from the gimmicks, the pills, the mechanical devices that have you developing the fabled “six-pack” as you sleep and the miracle Hollywood elixir that will cleanse your inner system and make you lose 80 pounds of “gunk” lodged in your lower intestines.  You get the picture.  Eat right, drink enough water, sleep at least seven hours per day and exercise to expend at least 1200 calories per week. 

Stay healthy!

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