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Thursday, Jan. 9, 2003 - 11:46 a.m.

Drink for your health

My father had a heart attack a few years ago and high cholesterol is in my history as well as my family's. Heart problems could be in my future. In fact, one doctor has already advised me to start taking aspirin daily when I turn 40. (I also have prostate and colon cancer to watch out for, but I'll take those uncomfortable preventative steps when the time comes.)

But I'm going to fight off heart disease by drinking. Regularly.

People talk all the time about how healthy the French are, whether or not they bathe. They don't have the most balanced diet, but they love their wine, which makes a difference, apparently. Casey and I have wine a few nights a week, and on many of the others, I have a beer or two. The best thing about the aforelinked study, is that it doesn't matter what you drink or how you drink, only when you drink at least every other day. The report I heard on the radio coming in said that the researchers followed a bunch of health professionals for 12 years, and those who drank 3-7 days a week had fewer cardiac episodes ("Worst. Episode. Ever," said Comic Book Guy) than those who drank less.

How far can I take this? What if I were to crack open a beer at lunch, in the office? "Hey," I'd say if anyone protested, "it's medicinal alcohol." What a concept! "Medicinal alcohol!" Incidentally, it'd also be a good name for a rock band, as Dave Barry would say. I suppose I could take more lunches out of the office, either at home or at a place that serves alcohol. That would help. Of course, I could just drink at night at home, but that's too easy.

I can't get too carried away with this, though. It's a medical study, and next week there will be another announced that contradicts this one. It happens all the time.

My haircut this morning was much the same as last time, only it seemed shorter. And this time, Tony had other customers. One man was in the chair when I walked in and another was waiting. Two more arrived after me, and Tony's wife was nowhere to be seen. I read while waiting, and few words passed between any two parties in the room. Tony gave his customers a cheery "Hello" and "Have a good day" when they arrived and left, but there was little chit-chat happening otherwise. That's fine with me; sometimes I don't know what to talk about, and neither do they, I think.

When I left, however, I noticed in the window of the neighboring toy store a moving toy. Only it wasn't a toy but a cat, stepping gingerly over the displays in the window, meowing at me through the glass. The store wasn't even open yet the gate was still down across the front. But the cat made himself at home, sitting in the window and watching the streetlife.

Now that I've had myself cleaned up by getting rid of my expanding hair, I should do the same for my car. Not that it is hairy, but clean it up. It needs a wash badly the road salt is turning my black car gray from the ground up and should have an oil change soon. With a weekend trip to Boston tomorrow and another to Baltimore next weekend, I should probably have that done. Maybe at lunch today or tomorrow, or perhaps tomorrow morning. The Hand Job Car Wash down near Geraldo's building does both, so that could be both cost and time efficient. I would like to start changing my own oil, however, to save a few bucks here and there. It'd be a bonus on top of what I've saved just by getting a new job that pays more than my old one, doesn't require a 60-mile commute one way, and, by extension, cuts down on the frequency of my oil changes and fuel fillups.

When I bought the car (this month's payment means I'm halfway finished with my payments!) two and a half years ago, I was determined to keep it in the best condition, to service it regularly, wash it weekly and know what was going on inside and out. I haven't exactly done that. It was only yesterday that I finally pulled up to the air pump after getting gas and checked all four tires. All were underinflated. When I got them all back above 40 psi, I felt the difference on the road. The ride was smoother and seemed faster. It's probably more fuel efficient, too. When I went over a small pothole, I did not feel it as much as I had driving over similar potholes in the past few days. That's a good thing.

It feels good to be responsible.

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