Thursday, November 30, 2006

Just like Kindergarten

Woohoo! I got my second gold star tonight. I feel special, just like a little kid. Maybe next I can be student of the week.

It is hard for sarcasm to come across when writing. I promised to keep my weight log public, so I am down to 221.4 lbs - which means I've officially lost 31.4 lbs - and that means a gold star for 30 lbs.

Weight watchers is working, though I feel the 'rewards' are a little corny. The ribbon for 10 lbs, the keychain for 10%, and the gold stars to put on the ribbon for each additional 10 lbs. I guess when you hit goal and lifetime they give something to add to the keychain.

It is funny - you can tell this is mostly women - as I don't know ANY men that want more crap with their keys! Men have to keep them in their pockets, not a purse, so we want as little as possible there. Women, and this includes both my ex and current wife and my daughter, so I've got a tiny bit of experience (which is the most ANY man can ever claim as it is) seem to love having huge globs of chains and doodads hooked together, with a key somewhere in the shuffle of rings if they are lucky. Diane pulls out a huge glob from her purse each time.

Me, I've got 5 keys total, on a double ring that comes apart. One ring holds the key to the van and to her car. The other holds the house key, the key to my desk at work, and the key to the Band Boosters PO Box, simply for convience. I can separate them easily, for when I'm in the can and someone forgets something (ok, that someone is usually me) forgets something and needs to run back in - I don't have to stop the car.

But I digress (and if you haven't figured out that I do that a lot, well then you just haven't been paying much attention. It says it right there in the title, this is a twisted ride - I never claimed I would ever get to the point, or that there was, in fact, a point at all.)

The point is to check in. I'm down more, that is good. I got another gold star, that is cute. I'm tired and going to bed, as I just realized it is after midnight, and that's all he wrote (tonight).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Life Story

I was born a poor black child. No, wait that is the beginning of “The Jerk” and while that may be fitting for me (I’ve often been called worse), it isn’t really how my life story starts.

Actually, I don't think I want to put it up here. Not that I don't want to share it, but I don't know if it fits in my current stream of unconsciousness type of commentary that I've got going on here.

So instead I think I'll put it up on my normal home page - like that can be called normal by any means. So check the links to the right if you want to know all the juicy details of my life.

Why am I writing my life story? Well it's an assignment. Both to write it, and to examine it, to see where my life shows my purpose and where it doesn't.

A lot of this may not make sense (but then, I never said that any of this would) if you haven't been to any of the premier seminars that Diane and I have been attending the past year. If anything, these help you to learn to examine your beliefs, and determine which of them are valid and which aren't, so that you can live your life the way you choose to live it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Turkey Day Recap

Ah, the great american celebration of Gluttony and Football has come and gone once more, as well as the annual homage to the gods of capitalism and commerce.

I actually like Thanksgiving the best of all the holidays. It's about family and friends, but without any of the stress or pressure from Christmas. Now that I'm the one behind the scenes every year, Christmas just doesn't seem to have the magic it once did. Take it from me - knowing how the magic really works doesn't make it better, it spoils the show.

I don't even mind the leftovers. In fact, I kind of like them. But, once again, we are out of turkey already. I cooked a frickin' 20 pound bird, and nothing is left. Granted, we let our guests take home as much as they wanted, and that seemed to be all they wanted (we have lots of potatoes, stuffing, green bean cassarole and gravy left, but no turkey. Kind of weird to make a plate of all of that without it. But tonight is probably close to the last of it. We are heading to bd's Mongolian Grill tomorrow night for a friend of mines birthday (it was actually on Saturday - Happy 26th Birthday James!), and by Wednesday they will be a little old. Of course, the boys are already sick of them, but that is kids for you. Not even any to make Turkey Cassarole with.

I've been telling that story, so I'll put it out here as well.

When I got married, my mom gave us a bunch of her recipes on cards. One of them was for the Turkey Cassarole - labeled "Mike's Favorite Turkey Cassarole", and her saying how much I loved this recipe. Mom always remembered how much I looked forward to her making it after each Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now don't get me wrong, it is good and I like it, but it is not on my top ten list by any means. She completely mis-understood me about it.

See, the turkey cassarole was always what she did with the last of the left over turkey. So I would always look forward to it, not because I wanted it so much, as it meant that the leftovers were gone, and we could go back to eating normal meals! So it wasn't the dish itself, but what it signified that is what I loved so much.

Of course, the kids hate it. Matt also hates Green Bean Cassarole, and none of them like stuffing much. I have to hang my head in shame - I don't know where I went wrong. We had 12 people, so I made a double batch of GBC, and it was barely touched. When I was growing up, we not only stuffed the bird, but had a second big pan of stuffing as well (the in-the-bird stuff always went first - much juicer and better). Of course, I have most of the stuffing left as well. The mashed potatoes were really good - a whole bag of idaho's (the yukon gold's we had gotten a week before were bad), a stick of butter, a pint of sour cream, and this garlic/herb mashed potato mix that Diane found (it was intended for 3 lbs of potatoes, we had 10, so it worked out nicely, adding just a little bit to it, but not overwhelming them). And I made a huge amount of gravy, simply because you need it for all the leftovers.

I did good on the gravy as well. Once again I turned to my Mom. I remember every year, she would have the neck and giblets boiling all day long on the stove, and make gravy with them. So once I was out on my own, I had to ask her what the recipe was. Boild the giblets (I knew that part), and chop them fine. Then add them to canned gravy. Yep, my mom's secret giblet gravy was from a can. I don't quite do that (I don't like the canned type), but I do use the powdered gravy mix for mine. But I try never to use plain water, I use the broth from boiling the giblets, and the juice from the turkey, plsu some chicken bouillon.

Another cute item. After dinner, we were talking. Amy (James' wife) and her mom were sitting at the table, and I mentioned something about the giblet gravy. They both turned a little pale. "You put the giblets in the gravy?" "Of course" "But I hate giblets." And especially her mom, who hates giblet gravy but had two helpings of mine! :-):-):-)

And I think my weigh in this week will be ok. Diane, Becky and I went and did Step-Aerobics on Thursday morning at the rec center (they had one special class - admission was canned food). That kicked my butt hard (my calves are still sore). They need to do a step class for uncoordinated white guys. It wasn't the exercise, it was trying to keep up as she kept changing what we were supposed to be doing, especially when it was just one step of something. But it was a hard workout, allowing me to eat more. And mowing the lawn one last time to pick up all the leaves on Friday, then going to the rec center both Saturday and Sunday to work out. Now I just have to be good until weigh-in (and going to The Melting Pot on Friday for a family dinner didn't help, but I think I survived it. (For the past several years we have made it a tradition to do one big family dinner out the day after Thanksgiving - before it had been to Sake' - a local Japanese steakhouse and sushi restaurant) , but we decided to splurge and do something a bit bigger (and more expensive) this year)).

Monday, November 20, 2006


I don't like driving. I know in today's society, that is not a very masculine thing to say. Men are supposed to dig cars and speed and be masters of the road. In my opinion, a car is to get from place to place - period. It is not an extension of my personality nor a status symbol, nor compensation for my 'physical' shortcomings. Yes, someday I want a convertible, because the one week I drove one ten years ago it made it a bit more enjoyable. Mustangs are cool, but I won't pay a lot for one.

In the US today, you generally have to drive to get around. Sure, there is public transportation in some larger cities, if you are on the routes. You can fly, but it is often prohibitively expensive, at least for my budget most of the time. And when you drive you can bring as much stuff as your car will fit, for no additional cost, save maybe a slight bit of decreased gas mileage when you weigh the station wagon down so far that it is almost scraping the pavement.

I'm not a great driver. I get by, but I make mistakes. I once heard that 70% of american drivers believe they are in the top 10% of drivers. I don't. I know better. But I have to do it.

We went to Chicago this weekend. It is about 5 hours drive time. Of course on the way up we went to see Jon at college - so that added about an hour and a half. But that wasnt' the big deal. We went up for another seminar (Keys to Success: Living a Purposeful Life). This is our 6th seminar in Chicago, not including the one I staffed. So we are kind of used to going up there. These end at 4 on Sunday. We have stayed over a couple of times, but that means an additional day of vacation is needed for it, so we generally head straight home. So we usually get out of there by 5. Chicago time. Which is 6 our time. The time change is kind of nice going there - sucks coming home. Plus an hour usually to eat something. And yesterday we stopped to get some Giordano's pizza for one of Diane's clients (and one for us). And at least one gas stop, plus a couple of pit stops.

Diane doesn't like to drive at night, as she doesn't see as well. Me, if I have to drive, night driving isn't so bad. Much better than having the sun in your eyes - I really hate that. So, of course I drive the whole way home. She sleeps for part of it. I work at staying awake and alert. Caffeine. Sugar. Eating junk food, or at least eating. Chewing gum. And you can't let up. It's not like you can just quit 50 miles from home and relax - you need to be up and alert all the way.
So leaving the hotel about 5, stop for the pizza, stop to get dinner (side note - we found this nice Mexican place in Lafayette Indiana by accident last time that has really good Shrimp Chimichangas. I don't remember the name - but it is on 43 about 10 miles off the interstate, just on the left as you go into town. We will definitely plan on being back after the keys in May), stop to get gas, stop to pee, stop to stretch legs and pee again anyway. Drinking diet pepsi, eating the rest of the peanuts, a snickers bar after dinner. A couple more diet pepsis, plus sparkling water (at least that didn't have caffeine).

So we get home without a problem. A bit of stuff to unload, because we brought the food for lunches - so we had a couple of coolers and bags, plus the banner for our Keys Family, and the luggage (just one bag, and my computer - which I couldn't get the wireless or wired internet to work at the hotel), and our books. The dog ignores me as usual, is so happy to see Diane he almost pees himself. Briefly look at the mail. Then upstairs. Brush teeth, get undressed, go to the bathroom. Check the alarm and get in bed.

And lie there. Waiting. Feeling the car still. Feeling the road. Alert. Awake. 12:30 at night, Enya playing on the CD player. Having pushed myself t be alert and go, now I can't stop. Diane is snoring next to me - not too load at least. And she slept for a couple of hours in the car as well. Because she didn't have to stay awake and alert, she could relax. No tension there. And I'm staring at the clock.

It takes me an hour and a half to finally unwind, let go and fall asleep. 2:00 frickin am in the morning - I remember seeing the clock. Of course, I then wake up at 3 and 4:30 to pee - because I'd been drinking pop and water all evening to stay awake. And 6 am doesn't come any later than usual. Time to get up, get to work, where once more I'm supposed to be awake and alert - and even worse actually use my brain all day - which is now completlely trying to shut down, screaming "SLEEP!". So coffee all morning, to keep me wired through the day. And lots of water - got to get back on the diet (weighed myself after working out at lunch - right now I'm close to even, so have to be real good to not gain, especially because the Body Shop (the workout facility here at work - everything has a car theme) closes at 5 on Wednesday - so while I can workout on Wednesday, I can't do it right before weigh-in like I've been doing), so that means I'm still peeing all day long it seems. Then go home and get to do the laundry that I couldn't do while I was in Chicago, so I'll have underwear tomorrow (I'm too old to go Commando).

So I hate driving. It makes me tired and cranky. :-)

PS. The irony is, my new number name is "Driving my life". Somedays I just can't win.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Suffering from my own success

That title sounds so ominous. But not inaccurate, to a small extent.

I'm doing good on my diet. Down 28 lbs. As of last night I was 224.8. Anyone familiar with weight watchers will know what that means. Yep, because I'm doing so well, I now get penalized. Well, it isn't really a penalty, but it sure doesn't seem to be a reward, or even an incentive. See, every 25 lbs is where the daily points are calculate. Not pounds lost, but on a absolute scale. Because the bigger you are, the more food you need to eat to sustain yourself. So some skinny little anorexic Barbie barely needs anything, while a growing boy like myself (that's a laugh - a 42 year old growing boy. Actually shrinking, which is better. The only direction I hae grown in 20 years is out (not up, I don't ever claim that one!)) needs a bit more food.

So loosing 2 points shouldn't be a big deal. It's not the first time, won't be the last (when I get into my goal range I'll be down to a whopping 22 pts a day - I have a hard time picturing how I'll ever make that). But I go and do this one week before Thanksgiving, the American celebration of Gluttony and Football. It already makes me feel hungry.

What I need to do is become a nursing mother under 16 - then I get an extra 12 points per day for a given weight. :-)

Enough whining - where's my non-fat no-sugar added yogurt?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Used cars

Diane killed her car. Not on purpose, but it is dead. Not quite buried - as we are still waiting for the insurance check - but the totalled it.

We can't be a one car family - just won't work. So we had to shop for another car.

With everything else going on, we can't really afford to take on car payments. We just managed to consolidate all our debt into a second mortgage, we don't want to add more.

So of course, I went to the internet. Not a real pleasant experience, but better than what was to come. I found some on there - one local dealer is very good about putting their cars up. I ignored any without prices - I don't want to deal with that.

Diane looked at a couple of private owners. She knows I'd love to have a convertible some day, so she keeps finding those. I finally tell her to stop looking there - without a garage we will have to be replacing a convertible top every couple of years at least. It is a dream, but not one we can do anything about now.

She does find one car - but our mechanic doesn't like it.

Looking at what is available, I figure we need a little help, so I go to the credit union here at work. That was good - it looks like I have actually managed to repair my credit after so many years. To the point that they release the security deposit on my mastercard, as well as pre-approve me for a small loan - I could have gotten a lot more but don't want the payments.

I talk with people at work about things, and someone mentions they are selling their Toyota. Now we aren't seeing any Hondas or Toyotas in our price range (between 4 and 9K with the loan) - simply because they are too good of cars. So this sounds interesting, but we want to look.

So Friday night, we go out looking. What time to you think car dealers would close on a Friday night? I'm stupid - I assume something like 8 or 9 pm. Lots of stores are open that late - and I figure lots of people would be looking for cars after work on a weekend. Did I say I was stupid? Why would I assume something so . . . so - reasonable. They frackin close at 6. 6pm. On a Friday. They were all closed.

Well we can still look around a bit - so we go to the one that had them on the web. We see most of them - but can do nothing about it. So we go to another dealer.

We went to several. None of them would list prices on the used cars. At all. When I saw that, it just made me feel like there was a big sign over the door saying, "Take a dab of vasoline, grab your ankles, and have a nice day while we screw you over as thouroughly as we can."

I'm not a person to make a fuss, or cause a scene. I won't do it, but I did have an idea that would be fun if I had the guts to do it. Go into one of these places, when it was actually open. Walk around looking at cars, until a salesman comes up. Should be about 3.9843 milliseconds before the slimeball arrives. (I know, I'm being harse. 95% of used car salesmen give the rest a bad name). And when he asks me what I'm interested in, I'd say "Well, I wanted to buy a car. But since there aren't any prices on anything, then it is obvious that you don't have any for sale. Have a nice day!" And leave. My chance to dig at them a little. Won't happen, but I can smile at the thought.

On an aside, we did look at a local import dealer (he had VW's as well as Jaguar's and Porsche's, so we figure we can look). Again no prices on the low end cars. But we did see a big red tag on a Porsche convertible that said $10,000. It looked nice, and I have no idea what year it might be. So I get out to look. Turns out the red tag was $10,000 off! The car was $102,000. Guess not.

Anyway, we are pissed about this, so head home, give my friend from work a call. Pick up his wife's 1998 Camry the next morning to drive it a bit - they are going out of town for the day. Take it to our mechanic - he likes it - though it needs new strut plates or struts. So we negotiate a bit, and later that evening write them a check and get the second key.

The irony is Diane really likes the Camry. Sure it is decked out, but it is a 1998, with 109,000 miles on it. I've offered to let her have the 2003 Van (53K miles) as she needs something reliable for work, but she now wants this one.

So she has a car again. And we didn't need to use the loan after all, which is even better. Now if the insurance would just pay up, but that is another rant.

Monday, November 13, 2006

And how does that feel?

One of the pieces of weight watchers is the meetings. They provide information and support, as well as help you track your weight. And it is this information and support that make the program worthwhile for the weeks and months after you get the startup packs, because, face it - once you know how to do it, you could just do the rest on your own. Calculate your points, do the diet and exercise. But if you could do it on your own you already would have.

So I'm not begrudging them the $12 a week for membership. And pre-paying keeps me going, and I've still got 50 lbs to lose.

And they give you incentives. A blue ribbon for the first 10 lbs. A keychain when you hit your 10% goal (and it is fairly nice too.) A gold star for every 10 lbs after the first. Something (I don't know what) at goal and lifetime.

The ribbon and gold stars make me feel a little bit like kindergarten. "If I'm a good little boy then I get a gold star for the day!" Yes, I have my ribbon and gold star on my bulletin board at work, for all the world to see.

What gets me, and the point of today's rant (see, sometimes there actually is a point, though not often) is that when you get one of these awards - they always ask, "And how does that feel."

I want to say "Still FAT", but that won't work. I don't know what to say. "Not as disgusted as before?" I never know what to say. I snore a little less I guess, but I'm not sure since I'm asleep at the time. It frustrates me, because I still get winded climbing the stairs. No matter how much I work out. I hope that goes away soon.

One thing I did notice today - my "man boobs" are shrinking - so much so now that don't sweat any more - which is a good thing. Now it wasn't that they were moist or anything - just that they were big enough so that the flap of flat lay on my chest - and it was between that fold of skin that would get sweaty and be uncomfortable. So my man-boobs have shrunk and they don't sweat anymore.

Next I need to get to the point where my thighs don't rub together all the time, wearing out my pants prematurely. Which is why crickets don't wear britches - rubbing your thighs together wears them out. And unlike crickets, it doesn't attract the ladies, especially because it causes my workout short to ride up - which is oh so attractive to see my fat butt with my shorts riding up the crack after I work out. And it isn't 'polite' to pull them out of it - so you just have to try and spread your legs and wiggle a bit, hoping that you can create enough of a gap that the sweaty material will go back where it belongs - all while standing at the water cooler trying not too look like an idiot.

A fat, sweaty idiot with his shorts riding up. But at least his man-boobs aren't sweating anymore.

(and on a side note, I guess the new Bob & Tom album is named "Man Boobs" - I heard part of the title song when I started up the van this morning, but only enough to identify that was the song, not enough to actually remember anything about it.)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Not in the writing mood

Lately I just haven't felt like writing much. Been extremely busy at work, and lazy at home. I've also been fighting a cold, which doesn't help.

Weight wise doing ok - lost 1.2 lbs this week - for a total of 26.2 - weight is 226.6. Which means that by Thanksgiving I'll have less points to eat - wonderful, just fracking wonderful!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Interesting Times

The chinese have a curse "May you live in interesting times."

Well, things do seem to be that at least.

Last week I get my bonus - better than the past two years combined, and nearly the past 3. So that is good. And a fairly decent raise as well. The buyout of the company goes through, as expected, so today I get my restricted stock bought out - again a nice bonus.

Of course, we can't have good without bad. Got the estimates for fixing the ceiling in Jon's room and the kitchen - $3K! A lot more than we expected.

Then Diane totals her car on Tuesday. She is fine, but now we have to get another car. The insurance will help a little, but not all that much. So there goes all the frickin bonus.

I got my 10% award last night at Weight Watchers - down exactly 25 lbs so far ( to 227.8 ). So that is good. Kind of waiting for the next shoe to drop.