Friday on my mind

We made it to Friday! Time to party! (Or as I keep thinking a commercial for a local Native American gaming casino says, “Some people like to BUTTAH! all night long.” Yeah, my wife gives me that same look every time I say it, too. “Why would you think she’s saying butter?”) Fine, let’s get to it.

Bad Friday Haiku

Let us hit the streets

The weekend beckons us again

It’s time to buttah!

Coffee, a little bit of Heaven on Earth

My wife and I recently (a month or so ago) found a newly-opened coffee store. But not your ordinary coffee shop that serves beverages, no, this store sells coffee before it’s brewed. It is called, CoffeeIcon. The location used to be the Java Hut –Oh, drink coffee you will– Sorry. And we frequented it infrequently. Then it was gone and the store stood empty for years. 

I forget why we stopped by. Either for the Walgreen’s on the corner and we noticed it in passing (“Stop! Coffee! My precious!”) or we were getting some pizzas from Papa Murphy’s next store. (Funny, but as a kid, I always thought people were saying, “They’re our next store neighbors.”) Anyway, I digress, as usual.

We stopped in and were stunned. Inside there were shelves upon shelves of coffee. Dark roast, medium roast, light roast, flavored coffees, coffees from Africa, South America, everywhere. It was like we’d died and gone to coffee Heaven. 

They have the largest selection of Keurig-style coffee pods I have ever seen. This isn’t your average supermarket selection. This is premium coffees. Coffee that you can sample! Yes, you heard that right. Find a k-cup coffee you’ve never had before? Take it up and they’ll brew it for you. No charge. As in free. 

That’s the best thing ever! Free coffee!

Their selection of brands includes, for example, a nice selection from Twisted Pine, which is a Green Bay Wisconsin roaster that started with their “1265 Breakfast” roast (any guesses what that address is?) and has greatly expanded their offerings. Their “Jamaica Me Crazy” is one of the few flavored coffees I like. Caramel and vanilla flavors blended with a hint of coffee liqueur.

But CoffeeIcon is more than just Keurig cups. They sell beans, as well. In fact, they have a large variety of green beans on the premises and they will roast them to suit your taste and grind it to your preference.

Our most recent visit, I picked up a pound (12 ounces once it’s roasted and ground) of their “Jaquar Espresso” (and I apologize, but I do pronounce it with an X, but I’m working hard to stop), which is an organic blend of several South American varietals. It’s a dark roast, but it’s smooth and delicious. 

The cool thing is, on the bag the barrista wrote the temperature and length of time it was roasted at so the next time I can go in and say, “Could I try it a few degrees cooler this time?”

If you like spicy, get the Marley Coffee “Catch a Fire.” It has natural chili pepper flavor in it. Delish. And yes, that’s Bob Marley’s son, Rohan, who founded it.

They’re online, too, and they ship. Coffee Icon

Running within myself

This morning I experimented running at a pace that allowed me to breathe through my nose the whole time. Usually, I run too fast and I end up gasping through my mouth. I’m not sure if that is beneficial aerobically. But it always leaves me exhausted, almost burned out afterwards. 

Today, I made a concious decision to run slower and I did. Sure, my time was 2-1/2 minutes slower than I had been running for the same distance, but I finished the run still breathing through my nose and actually had enough kick left to sprint to the finish. Usually you can’t tell I’m sprinting because I’m so worn out.

I guess I’ve been pushing myself too hard all this time. I need to slow down in order to build up my aerobic fitness.

Weigh-In Friday

I lost 0.2 pounds. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

I spy a Monarch!

I saw a Monarch butterfly in our yard the other day. I was happy, but at the same time, quite sad.

I was happy because I’ve always liked Monarchs with their bold orange and black wings and because they are so unusual due to their marvelous migratory pattern, traveling thousands of miles from the U.S. and Canada to central Mexican forests.

As a child, that fact alone facinated me; that this delicate creature could survive an exhausting and hazard-filled flight of over 2,800 miles was simply miraculous. I still have a book from my childhood about it, “The Travels of Monarch X” by Ross E. Hutchins.

But I was sad, too, because seeing a Monarch has become a rare occurance. As a child, I remember them swarming everywhere. They were among the most common of butterflies in the summer.

Now, they are endangered. Pesticides, which are decimating our honey bees, are killing the regal Monarchs as well. They are also suffering from a loss of habitat; Man is encroaching on their winter mountain retreats. And let’s not forget climate change (which, if you’re conservative is easy to do). It too is having a negative effect upon the once proud Monarch.

It’s sad to think that one day our children, and our children’s children will not be able to experience the joy and wonder that is the glorious Monarch.

I think I’ll go read that book tonight. Maybe it’ll uplift me.

#climatechangesucks

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Friday wrapup

A bad haiku

Today is Friday

The last work day of the week

Let’s all hit the beach!

Morning running

Let me reiterate one more time, I am not now, nor have I ever been a morning person. And yet, when my alarm goes off at 5am, do I hit snooze until my normal wake time 45 minutes later? (Ok, I did on Monday, but that was because my 70-pound dalmatian must have been having nightmares and used me as a pillow all night long and I woke up too stiff and exhausted to move.)

Surprisingly, I get up and put on my running clothes and head out the door. Granted, I’m not chipper or bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I’m more like an automaton. I have just enough wherewithal to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I’ve completed my run.

But it’s become a habit now. I forced myself to do it throughout June, often battling my normal inclination to say, “This is stupid. I want to sleep!”

Now I don’t think, I just turn off the alarm and keep moving. And I haven’t put a different pair of shoes on lately. Different socks, yes.

Today I made it to 1.75 miles, up from the 1 mile a day I was doing in June. I think I’ll stay at this distance for a bit to let my body acclimate before going further. Granted, I was regularly running 5k on the treadmill, but that was a treadmill. It does a lot of the work for you and absorbs much of the pounding, unlike cement.

I really don’t want to risk shinsplints again. They curtailed my running activity for nearly 20 years the last time. That sucked.

Running wear for colder weather

This morning was somewhat chilly. Around 60°F with low humidity. Not like the humid, hotter temps earlier in the week. Which made me think that I soon will need to address Fall and Winter wear. Running in shorts when the gales of November come is probably not a good idea.

For those of you thinking, “It’s July. Isn’t it a little early to be thinking about Winter?” No. This is Wisconsin. It could snow tomorrow. (Ok, for real, no, from what I could find there isn’t any measurable snow here in June, July, or August. But September is coming up fast!)

For now, I have a pair of those long running tights and a long-sleeved exercise shirt (with the strap that goes around your thumb) which will serve me for Fall. But Winter? I don’t know.

Back in the ’80s I had a winter running suit. Sort of a wind-breaker material with an inner lining that wicked away the sweat from my body. I believe it was something made by a company called Nor’Easter or that was the outfit’s name. I don’t recall which, but it kept me warm even on the most brutally cold days.

Anyone have any recommendations?

Weigh-In Friday

Nothing much to speak of. I lost 0.3 pounds.

My fault, really, because I like junk food. Sorry, Piccard.

Also I ate store bought bagels for breakfast instead of the high fiber English Muffins (Thomas’s) I usually have, so those were an additional 110 calories each day (220 calories with 1.5 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber vs. 100 calories with 1 gram of fat and 8 grams of fiber).

Any loss is good.

Virtual Races

Have you heard of these? You race online, somehow. I just read about it. You can run it from any location. Basically, you run your own race, at your own pace (I guess you can even treadmill it), then get bling, like a medal or something that shows you competed.

Weird, right? But it sounds cool, too. I mean for someone like me who hates crowds and isn’t really much of a people person at all, running a race virtually sounds right up my alley. Or street. Whatever.

But, you ask, won’t people cheat? Well sure, in this day and age of TheRump, his supporters believe lieing, cheating, and committing fraud are the new black, so there is definitely a chance some will cheat. But it isn’t like it’s an officially sanctioned race so you won’t see anyone at the Olympics being announced as, “The man to watch is in lane 3, Brad Liarliarpantsonfire, a relative newcomer to the International race scene. He’s posted the fastest recorded virtual race times in history and with these weather conditions today, he has a good chance to set a new Olympic record.” As far as doing it to get bling, you have to pay an entry fee, so basically, you’re not cheating anyone. They have your money, you have a cheap medal not worth what you paid for it.

For us honest folk, who seem to be becoming a minority, a virtual run helps to motivate us and gives us a chance to see our progress and how we compare against others without actually being passed by an 80-year-old.

I have to look into this further.

And as they say in the Charmin commercials: Enjoy the go.

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Friday and a long holiday weekend

TGIF, people! Although my weekend started yesterday. We’re vacationing in the Wisconsin Dells.

June Challenge Day 30

Today is the last day of my June run a mile a day challenge. It was also the only day I didn’t run on a treadmill; I ran on the street. 

I also ran 1.8 miles, according to the tracker I was using, PumaTrak.

I was a little disappointed in PumaTrak because for the first minute or more, it kept pausing on its own and I had to continually restart it. So I’m not sure if it gave me an accurate rating. Tomorrow morning, I’ll use the ever-faithful Runtastic to get a better measure.

Now that thw challenge is finaihed, what wonderful changes have I seen? To be honest, nothing. I’m sure there is something, but I must be pretty self-unaware. 

Friday Weigh-In

Technically, I weighed myself yesterday, but since I knew today I wouldn’t have access to a scale, I did it early. My new weight? 197.5 pounds. I dropped 2.1 pounds.

Whoohoo. 

Time to celebrate!

Let’s all dive into some Suicide by Chocolate. Bottom layer is chocolate cookie dough, middle layer is Oreos, and the top layer is fudge brownie mix. Baked until it’s one, rich enticing treat, perfect for celebrating life.

We’re also in the Wisconsin Dells at Mt. Olympus Resort for my younger son’s seventeenth birthday. The Dells is an area know for having a ton of great waterparks. 

Poseiden’s Rage. That’s a 9 foot wall of water heading for the crowd

One of our favorite rides, if you will, is Poseiden’s Rage, where a giant nine-foot wall of water crashes into you every ninety seconds.

And that’s it for my Friday report. Time to jump in The River Troy.

Later.

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Freya’s Day

Welcome to another action-packed Friday blog! Let’s get started, shall we?

June Challenge Day 16

I’m still running a mile every day and still doing it in the morning. I know, right? Me, getting up early and running fifteen days in a row? Inconceivable!

I’m not sure what gains I’ve made. I do feel more erect when I walk, so it must be benefiting my core, which is good because I sit at a desk all day at work slouching.

And my legs feel more muscly, less flabby. And as I mentioned before, I feel more sure-footed carrying my elderly, 70-pound dalmatian upstairs at night.

Cardiovasularly, it’s hard to tell if I’m making strides (strides… Running… Ha!). If I push myself to a pace of over 6.7 mph, I tend to start gasping and I’m not sure if that’s helping or hurting my progress. 

I’ve always heard that you should be able to carry on a conversation. Well, that’s only going to happen if I jog at a slow pace, not run, and what’s the fun in that? Besides, I run solo; who am I going to talk to? The television?

Photographic Proof of Bigfoot?

I think I should have taken some semi-naked photos of myself before I started the June Challenge so I could compare and see if I’ve had any visible physical changes. I really regret not taking any “Before” pictures a year and a half ago so I could see how far I’ve come. (I imagine they would resemble a hairless version of the infamous Bigfoot picture.)

Oh. OK. Nevermind. Now that I see him, Bigfoot looks in better shape.

The photos would be helpful because now I look in the mirror and I don’t see much change, but considering I’ve dropped 30 pounds, there must be a change. Photographic evidence woukd have been nice to verify it.

The tape measure, after all, only shows minimal changes in size and that always depresses me. How is it possible that I’m now down to a 34 inch waist in my pants but the tape measure still shows it is 38 inches?!?

Weigh-In Friday

I’m down a pound from last week. I’m at 201.8. I’m still above my lowest weight of 198.6 from back on May 12th.

However, looking back, in the last month I’ve dropped -3.4% in average body fat and gained +2.3% muscle mass. 

So why can’t I lose the weight? Because I love junk food, that’s why. I love salty snacks, especially cheddar and sour cream potato chips. Don’t leave that bag near me or it is gone. Put a few in a bowl and I’ll be fine. Wait. It’s empty already. Just one more bowl.

And last night, I baked the Bigfoot-sized bag of frozen Jeno’s Pizza Rolls for dinner. Sorry, not sorry. Had a craving. Usually I’m good with portion control for dinner, but last night I went a little overboard stuffing those delicious little pizza-filled wonton-like things in my mouth. It was like the old Alka-Seltzer commercial:

https://youtu.be/VFKifpMtlNs

On Becoming an Auto Geek

I’ve never really been a car guy. By that, I mean, a guy who fusses around his cars, spending entire weekends in the garage massaging and oiling and pampering them.

Sure, I like cars. One day, I’d love to get a classic muscle car and attempt to restore it, except we haven’t the garage space for that and to me, a header is the thing at the top of a document.

The closest I came was my 1986 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z. I did change its oil. And I hand washed it. Applied polish. But to be honest, I never understood the process. 

Did you know that polishes and waxes are two totally different things? I didn’t. I learned washing from my dad, who also wasn’t a car guy. You got a bucket of hot, soapy water (dish soap, why spend money on car wash soap?). Then you’d dry it with old beach towels. Then lather on some Turtle Wax. Voila. Done.

And after the Daytona, I kind of lost interest in band washing, mostly for two reasons, 1) We were living in an apartment without access to an exterior hose, so automatic car washes became a habit, and 2) None of our cars really had a very impressive looking paint job.

And up until recently, my philosophy on car washes had devolved to, “If the rain can’t get it clean, it ain’t getting clean.”

That changed when I got the Fiat. Part of the reason I was attracted to it was the paint job, olive green metal flake that sparkles in the sun.

So I’ve been researching how to detail a car to preserve and protect that shine. I’ve spent hours on sites like Autogeek.net watching videos on car detailing.

Thursday, my order from Autogeek.net came. I can’t wait to take my new random orbital polisher and the detailing products to our Vibe and see if I can’t make her shine again. She’s got a bad case of neglected, oxidized paint. White? I thought she was supposed to be dirty dishwater grey?

Stay tuned.

Making Baseball Great Again

Did anyone watch the Congressional Baseball Game last night? It was very enjoyable, and not because the Democrats destroyed the Republicans 11 to 2. 

No, it was enjoyable because you could sense, despite the athletic competition they were in, that there was a sense of comraderie that probably hasn’t been evident in Congress for a long, long time. 

Sad that it took a shooting to make everyone realize that, despite our political beliefs, we’re all still human beings.

And who knows how long it will last.

The part of the game I found touching was (and I swear there was something in my eye), at the end when the Democrats received the trophy for winning, they called out the manager of the Republican’s team and gave it to him to put in the office of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana to keep until he recovered from his wounds.

That’s the spirit of cooperation and civility we should all be living every.single.day.

Currently Reading:

The Complete Guide to A Show Room Shine by Mike Phillips

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Weekly wrap up 

It’s Friday, so that means I’ve got a whole lot of random shit to throw at you. So, buckle up, buckaroo.

Short story released into the wild

I’m really excited to announce I have a short story appearing today in Stupifying Stories Showcase titled, “Without a Leg to Stand On.”

Linkie: http://stupefyingstoriesshowcase.com/?p=1450

Enjoy.

Speaking of writing

My current work-in-progress (WIP), the novel I mention I was writing in Wednesday’s blogpost is coming along nicely. I’m “in the zone,” so to speak and the words are just falling all over the place. Good words. Meaningful words. Words that have me excited for the first time in a very long time.

It’s one of those instances where if I’m not writing the story, I’m thinking about writing the story. Characters and scenes are bombarding my head continuously, probably making me a menace to other human beings as I bump into them because I’m in a creative trance.

So if you see me walking down the street, make way!

Weigh-in Friday

I lost some more weight. Now I’m just ounces — OUNCES — away from breaking the 200 pound barrier! The scale reports in at 200.4!

Huzzah!

New writing instrument

No, I didn’t pick up another fountain pen. Instead, after much research and soul searching and penny pinching, I bought one of those 2-in-1s. Is it a laptop with a detachable keyboard or a tablet with an attachable keyboard? It’s like the old Certs commercials. “It’s a breath mint. It’s a candy mint. It’s two! Two mints in one!”

Anyway, it’s an RCA Cambio 10.1″ 2-in-1. It’s replacing the horrible Samsung Tab 2 tablet I received several years ago when Verizon was having a penny sale on Fathers Day. Hated it almost from the start. No wonder they were giving them away.

I had bought a cheap, half-assed Bluetooth keyboard for the Samsung and that just barely made it tolerable. Just barely. I could write, but not proficiently because the keyboard was a little too small for touch typing and had a few keys, the :/; and “/’ keys for instance, on a different row and I’d hit Enter every time I meant to put in one of those symbols, so I’d have all these random line breaks all over the place.

But this RCA is nice. For one thing, it has a Windows operating system, not an Android, so I can write straight into Word and not have to mess around with apps that just simulate Word.

I’ve done more writing with it in the last two weeks than I’ve done in the months prior on that tablet, which is why I got it in the first place.

I’ve read some reviews that complain the keyboard has a “plastic” feel. Well, duh. It is plastic. What should it feel like? Stone? Leather? To me, it feels solid, sturdy, unlike some others I’ve picked up that seem rather flimsy.

Maybe I’ll review it sometime, except since I only use it for writing in laptop mode, the review would only be useful to someone who also only planned to use it that way as well. I don’t use it for the surfing the web or for email or games or anything else that would distract me from writing.

RCA Cambio 10.1″ 2-on-1

Syria

What the Hell? Trump launched a cruise missile attack? This is why you never elect a bully with small hands and a small dick. In his mind, the use of military force compensates for his feelings of inadequacy.

Can we now invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment?

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The lost weekend

I had a bad weekend. I gained 2.6 pounds.

Should I throw in the towel? Give up? Become angry and depressed over that?

Or should I just take the setback in stride? Refocus on what’s really important, like where I’ll be down the road instead of worrying if I’ll fit into that cute bikini for this upcoming season? Well, since I’m a guy I’d probably look silly in a bikini, so that isn’t the point.

The point is, when you suffer a setback in the short term, you should refocus on your long term goals. When you look at your overall progress, where you were and where you want to be, that 2.6 pound gain will appear to be nothing more than a tiny temporary blip on the entire weight loss graph.

I admit, there are times when it gets frustrating. For instance, when someone says they lost 50 almost overnight, you can’t help but compare. Why has it taken me over 2 years to lost 30 pounds and they did it like that? (Snap your fingers.)

You need to focus on the fact that you lost 30 pounds and not how long it took. That deserves congratulations, not chastisement.

Comparisons are self-defeating. People have different metabolisms. Some lose weight easier while others struggle. Accept that fact and move on.

I work with a guy who was overweight and now he’s not. He did it with an extremely restrictive diet, denying himself all foods that weren’t considered healthy.

If someone brought in donuts to work for their birthday, he wouldn’t eat one.

Wouldn’t. Eat. One!

That’s crazy talk. One donut won’t kill you.

Neither will one bad weekend of fast food and over snacking.

You’re not an idiot, just human

Face it, we all fail from time to time. We sneak that donut. Eat nearly a whole bag of Xtreme Cheddar Goldfish (guilty!). Go on vacation and enjoy all sorts of good foods. Overeat during the holidays.
Everyone except that guy at work, but then he’s always Grumpy and has become a judgemental asshole. “You’re not going to eat that, are you?” “Do you how many calories are in that?” 

Don’t be an asshole.

Treat yourself once in a while. There is no ice cream in Heaven, that’s why we eat it here. Just don’t overdo it.

And when you stumble, pick yourself back up and continue down your path as if nothing happened. Don’t look around to see if anyone saw, their opinion shouldn’t matter.

This is why you shouldn’t check your weight obsessively. I used to check it only once a week on our old mechanical scale so I probably wouldn’t even have known I had trended upward when I finally checked on Friday. That’s my fault for getting a cool new smart scale with a phone app that shows me all my stats. I need to focus on just the Friday readings, as I did before. 

Don’t let one misstep derail your whole program. Think of it this way, sure you might fit into that cute bikini this summer, but if that was your only goal, you’ll just yo-yo back up over the winter and be stressing again next spring.

Think about the long term and how good you’ll look next year and the year after that and about all those nice outfits you’ll be able to fit in for the rest of your life.

I just purchased a cool pair of running tights, something I never would have even thought about 10 years ago. And no, I’m not posting any pictures. 

Stay focused. Think long term. Don’t give up. Don’t be an asshole.
Side note: I had to completely rewrite this entire article because, as I discovered, if you don’t put in a title when you’re writing using the phone app, it forgets the entire post when you close the app. I reopened it to continue editing and it was gone! I could have given up and not posted anything today, but I didn’t. I rewrote the entire thing from scratch. You’re welcome.

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Some weighty thoughts

A long time ago, I read somewhere, can’t recall where, this was long before the Internet, so it was in a magazine, possibly “Prevention,” or “Shape,” or something along those lines.

A so-called health and fitness doctor said, “You’re ideal weight is what you weighed when you graduated high school.”

OK. There is one problem with that. What if you already had a weight problem then? Just because he seemed to have been at an ideal weight for him when he graduate high school, doesn’t translate to everyone having that same idealness.

For instance, I was just skin and bones when I graduated high school. I weighed all of 125 pounds. That translates to an underweight Body Mass Index (BMI) of 17.7. Normal BMI range for adults is 18.5 to 24.9. I was in the 9th percentile, meaning 91% of Americans weighed more than I did at my age and height.

I was able to suck in my gut so far, it would go up into my rib cage.

Skinny-Friend-That-Eats-A-Lot-Y-U-No-Get-Fat_o_101316

Yeah. I was one of those people who could eat as much as I wanted, not exercise, and never gained an ounce of weight. Those were the days.

Except it’s wasn’t my ideal weight. I was too skinny. For my height my ideal weight should be between 134 and 167 pounds. When I reach my current weight goal of 185, I’ll still be marginally overweight according to most health charts and I’ll have a BMI of 26.5.

visual.body1_1

I was a 17 as a teenager and a 33 just a few years ago

But when I reach that, I’ll still be healthier than I am now and I’ll also be healthier than I was when a I graduated high school.

So I have no idea where that so-called expert came up with the notion that your high school weight is your ideal weight, because that’s just a stinking pile of bullshit.

What is your ideal weight? Well, you could look at all the charts and graphs and measure and weight yourself until you come up with an estimate or you could just go see your health care professional, discuss your health goals and desires, and together you can come up with a healthy and reasonable weight goal. They might even be able to prepare a diet and exercise plan.

Do not put any faith into the Internet or so-called celebrity experts.

As they say, consult your doctor before you start any exercise or weight loss program.

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