Foot Soldiers


“Finding unexpected beauty in the hands of shoe shiners”

This hand: German Orellana, 55, Ecuador.
Photographs by Christopher Griffith.

Don’t miss photos of 15 other NYC shoe shiners in The New York Times Magazine: Shoe Shine Slideshow

SMWI*: Endured Humiliation. But Never Gave Up.

weight, diet, weight loss,exercise,food

  •  William Howard Taft, (1857-1930) was the 27th President of the United States.
  • The only massively obese man ever to be the president of the United States
  • He struggled mightily to control his weight
  • Endured humiliation from cartoonists who delighted in his corpulent figure
  • His weight-loss program was startlingly contemporary
  • His difficulties keeping the pounds off would be familiar to many Americans today
  • On advice of his doctor, he went on a low-fat, low-calorie diet. He avoided snacks.
  • Meals were to be eaten at certain times and meats were to be weighed. Taft was to eat a small portion of lean meat or fish at every meal, cooked vegetables at lunch and dinner (no butter), a plain salad, and stewed or baked fruit (unsweetened). He got a single glass of “unsweetened” wine at lunch.
  • He kept a careful diary of what he ate and weight himself daily.
  • The tale is strikingly modern…The self-monitoring — weighing himself daily, keeping a food diary — are “the fundamental tenets of changing behavior,” said Dr. Kimberly Gudzune, an obesity researcher at Johns Hopkins. “Keep yourself accountable.”
  • He hired a personal trainer and rode a horse to exercise
  • Like many dieters today, Taft lost weight and regained it, fluctuating from more than 350 to 255 lbs.
  • After he had lost 60 pounds…people told him he looked good, yet he was “continuously hungry.”
  • Researchers were struck by Taft’s persistent hunger pangs. Losing a substantial amount of weight and keeping it off amounts to telling the body it is starving…“One of the most important drives we have is to prevent starvation,” Dr. Hirsch said.
  • By the time Taft was inaugurated as president in 1909, he had regained all he had lost, and more, weighing 354 pounds. He became the butt of jokes, with many relishing a story that he had gotten stuck in a White House bathtub.
  • But Taft never gave up. When he died in 1930, he weighed 280 pounds.

Read full article in the New York Times: In a Struggle With Weight, Taft Used a Modern Diet

  • SMWI* = Saturday Morning Workout Inspiration
  • Image Source: Natemaas
  • Thank you Susan

The Diving Board

British Columbia, photography,landscape,Canada, Vancouver

Elton John, 66, is releasing “The Diving Board“, his 31th studio album on Tuesday.  Tim Barber is the photographer who took the shot used for the album cover.  Barber grew up in Amherst Massachusetts, lived for a few years in the mountains of Northern Vermont, studied photography in Vancouver B.C. and now lives in New York City.  Barber’s photos have been used by Vogue, Nike and Levi’s. Barber shares the story of this photograph in the New York Times article titled: How Elton John Chose My Photo For His Album.

“I took this photo about 10 years ago somewhere between Vancouver and Squamish, on the coast of British Columbia. I don’t actually know exactly where. It’s a kind of legendary secret swimming spot where some kids had installed a diving board on the side of a cliff. You had to park really far away and walk through the woods to get there. I was with some friends from Vancouver who knew about it. I think it was October.  When I took the picture — literally, while I was pushing the button — I was thinking, “This looks amazing.” It was just a special moment and the light was crazy that day. The air was super clear. Something I strive for in my photos is to imply a greater narrative, to make the viewer wonder what happened before and what happened after. I think this picture is a good example of that. It’s also the photo of mine that people always think is fake — like that it’s been Photoshopped, or shot on a green screen. I like that. Something that was so simple and real ended up so surreal and hard to believe…”

Read more about how Elton John selected Barber’s image at this link.


Criteria for Husband: Must Love Dogs

cute,photography, close-up. dog, sleepy

“I never would have thought it necessary to establish criteria for boyfriends or husbands, especially one as seemingly unimportant as: Must love dogs. As in:

  • You must be able to share your waking hours and living space and a good amount of your disposable income on a four-footed companion that is basically a child in fur for 12 to 15 years.
  • You must plan every vacation around its needs.
  • You will trip over toys and pigs’ ears and chew hooves splayed across your best Persian carpet.
  • You will be forced to walk it every day, rain or shine, or risk having your favorite shoes sacrificed to the god of canine frustration.
  • If everything goes well and it lives to a ripe old age, you may have to decide to end its suffering, and you will have to be strong enough to stay with it those last moments, stroking its silky ears.

In my life, dogs have always been a part of that equation, a way to find the small, grounding moments in life — the grass, sunlight and sweet bite of plums — that we commonly call happiness. After 20 years of marriage, on our fourth dog, my husband and I are best friends, which must be at least as rare as soul mates.”

Read the rest of this article by Tatjana Soli @ Picking Up The Scent On The Road to Bliss

Related Post: Guess who graduated? With a fancy badge and diploma too…


  • Photograph: Pink Blue & You – the winner of the Cute Close-ups Competition was Gemma Buttery’s dog Neo
  • Thank you Susan for sharing the article.

Swimming in so much hate


In a softer voice, she said her initial reaction to reading it had been “Really?” and then, she said, “Why would someone O.K. that?” Without mentioning the name of its author, Ms. McCarthy said: “I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs.” Had this occurred when she was 20, Ms. McCarthy said, “it may have crushed me.” But now, as a mother raising two young daughters in “a strange epidemic of body image and body dysmorphia,” she said articles like that “just add to all those younger girls, that are not in a place in their life where they can say, ‘That doesn’t reflect on me.’”

~ Melissa McCarthy responding to a reporter about Rex Reed’s review of her performance in “Identity Thief.”  He described Ms. McCarthy as “tractor-sized” and called her “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.”  (Read more…)

Melissa Ann McCarthy, 42, is an American film and television actress, comedian, writer and producer.  She was born in Plainfield, Illinois and currently lives in Los Angeles.  McCarthy first gained recognition for her role as Sookie St. James on the television series Gilmore Girls, where she starred from 2000 to 2007. From 2007 to 2009, she portrayed Dena on the ABC sitcom Samantha Who? McCarthy was then cast as Molly Flynn-Biggs on the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, a role that earned her an Emmy Award win. McCarthy was also nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her work as host on Saturday Night Live.  McCarthy achieved major success and fame for her breakthrough role in the 2011 comedy hit Bridesmaids, which garnered her numerous award nominations including an Academy Award nomination, a BAFTA nomination and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She also appeared in the films The NinesThe Back-up Plan, and Life as We Know It, and her 2013 roles include Identity ThiefThe Heat, and The Hangover Part III.  (Source: Wiki)

Source: New York Times – Melissa McCarthy Goes Over The Top.  Photo:

We are, in other words, one another’s virtual enablers

Word Press & Facebook Like Symbols

NY Times, Sunday, June 16, 2013: Facebook Made Me Do It (Excerpts)

…That feedback loop of positive reinforcement is the most addictive element of social media. All those retweets, likes and favorites give us a little jolt, a little boost that pushes us to keep coming back for more. It works whether or not we post the typical social media fodder of lush vacation pictures and engagement announcements or venture into realms that showcase our most daredevilish antics and risqué behavior.

…Our growing collective compulsion to document our lives and share them online, combined with the instant gratification that comes from seeing something you are doing or experiencing get near-immediate approval from your online peers, could be giving us more reason to act out online, for better or for worse.

…We are, in other words, one another’s virtual enablers.

…the vast amplification of the potential audience a single person can reach has raised the stakes for all online activity.

…“It’s performative.”

Source: The New York Times: Facebook Made Me Do It by Jenna Wortham, Technology reporter

Silence on this Day

Mother, son, mourning father, grave site

I found today’s editorial message in the NY Times to poignantly yet beautifully capture the spirit of today.

“If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the silence at the heart of Memorial Day — the inward turn that thoughts take on a day set aside to honor the men and women who have died in the service of this country.

It is the silence of soldiers who have not yet been, and may never be, able to talk about what they learned in war, the silence of grief so familiar that it feels like a second heartbeat. This is a day for acknowledging, publicly, the private memorial days that lie scattered throughout the year, a day when all the military graves are tended to, even the ones that someone tends to regularly as a way of remembering.

It always seems strange the way the fond, sober gestures of memory coincide with the last flush of spring, while the trees are still lit from within by their chartreuse leaves. The year is still rising, just. And yet it is something you often see recorded in the books and diaries of men and women at war — the sharp interruption of beauty, the moments, hours even, when the vivid tenacity of life itself feels most tangible, even in the midst of death. On a bright, beautiful Memorial Day, you feel, as clearly as you may ever feel, the profound separation between the living and the dead. This is the strangeness of the day, because that separation is a source of both joy and loss. [Read more…]

Give. And give. And give more.

Wharton, Businessweek,professor, education, school, giving

I read this NY Times article a week ago: Is Giving The Secret to Getting Ahead. And synchronicity has been working it’s magic ever since.  I’m seeing giving everywhere.  Yesterday alone with three examples: My post and One Good Deed.  Entering a bone chilling cabin, a flight attendant see an elderly woman shivering and gives her a cardigan. Last night a quote by Sam Levenson: “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.”

Adam Grant, 31, is the youngest-tenured and highest rated professor at Wharton.  He has published more papers in his field than colleagues who have won lifetime-acheivement awards.  He is the author of a new book titled “Give and Take – A Revolutionary Approach to Success” which will be released later this month.  The man lives his personal and professional life as a GIVER. (Miraculously so.)  The story (long) is worth the time to understand what he does and why he does it. Grant’s research divides us into three categories: [Read more…]


Broadway, excellence, complacency

“I can also be stubborn,” he went on. “I’m an idealist. I used to say to Sidney, ‘Pop, your movies are always about people fighting against something, the system or corruption,’ and he said, ‘That’s what life is about.’ I loved that. I’m fighting complacency. Most people think good enough is good enough. I go to the theater a lot, and communion doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s indescribable.” He met my eye. “I don’t come from anywhere, man, but I am always on the search for excellence.”

~ Bobby Cannavale, Actor

Robert M. “Bobby” Cannavale (43) “is an American actor known for his leading role as Bobby Caffey in the first two seasons of the television series Third Watch. He also had a recurring role on the comedy series Will & Grace as Officer Vince D’Angelo, Will’s long-term boyfriend. He portrayed Gyp Rosetti on the third season of the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire.  Bobby Cannavale was born in Union City, New Jersey, to an Italian American father and a Cuban mother, and grew up in Margate, Florida. He was raised Catholic and attended St. Michael’s Catholic School, where he participated in a number of extracurricular activities, including being an altar boy and member of the chorus. When he was eight, Cannavale secured the plum role of the lisping boy, Winthrop, in his school’s production of The Music Man, and later as a gangster in Guys and Dolls, which cemented his love for performing. Cannavale’s parents divorced when he was 13 and his mother moved the family to Puerto Rico. After two years in Latin America, they settled in Margate. Cannavale returned to New Jersey after barely eking out a high school diploma in the late 1980s, in order to be closer to New York to launch his acting career.  Cannavale began his acting career in the theater – with no acting training.”

Image & Quote Source: Broadway’s Hottest Outsider –  Cannavale Bio: Wiki

Big Things

Quentin Tarantino

“I remember reading a review that Pauline Kael wrote about some director’s big epic, and she said: Now, look, it might seem unfair to judge a talented man more harshly when he tries to do something big than a less talented person who’s doing something easier. But when you try big things, you take big risks, and if you’re trying to do something that is maybe above you and you can’t quite pull off, then whereas before we only saw your gifts, now we see your failings.

I’ve always been pushing that envelope. I want to risk hitting my head on the ceiling of my talent. I want to really test it out and say: O.K., you’re not that good. You just reached the level here. I don’t ever want to fail, but I want to risk failure every time out of the gate.”

~ Quentin Tarantino

“Quentin Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1963.  In junior high he attended drama classes and he actually dropped out of High School at age 15 to attend acting classes full-time at the James Best theater company.  After he left the acting school he became an employee at the Video Archives, a now-defunct movie rental store in Manhattan. It was there that he began to truly think about and discuss cinema as he worked with customers to find the best movie for them. He actually credits that store as providing the inspiration for him to become a director by saying that ‘When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.’  Tarantino is the famed director of classics ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Inglorious Basterds.'” (Source: ID Poster)

Sources: Image and bio – ID Poster.  Quote: via New York Times story: Quentin’s World