Saturday, December 25, 2010

End of Velocity diet

Although I started this diet the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I did have some solid food the day before Thanksgiving, then had Thanksgiving dinner, so I decided that I technically started it the day after Thanksgiving, which would put 28 days at Christmas Eve. After 28 days, and a ton of will power, I ended up losing close to 20 pounds. I didn't post my progress the final two weeks because at my second "weigh in" (I was only weighing once a week) I had only lost 2 pounds between the first and second week, after losing 6 in the first week. I spoke to my trainer who said "don't weigh yourself until the end." So, that's what I did. I wasn't exactly sure what I would get at the end, but, I trusted him. Anyway, after starting at 214.8, I ended this part of the diet at 197.6.

During this process, I got so used to the shakes and everything, that I had a tough time going back to "regular" food yesterday. I had a shake in the morning, then scrambled egg whites at tomatoes after playing hockey with my son. I then had another shake, a scoop of peanut butter, dinner (much smaller portion of prime rib, broccoli, salad, and a very little bit of homemade macaroni and cheese), then another shake before bed. We went to the movies, and although my wife and kids had popcorn, I had no interest in it, I also had no interest in the dinner rolls, or cookies we made for Santa.

I really feel like this first 20 pounds is a starting point, and as long as I continue to eat healthy, and keep my portions small, I should be able to get more of what I want off in the coming months. Who knows, I may try this again in a few months to jump start if I don't seem to be taking off as much as I would like. Then again, now that I have lost almost 20 in a month, cutting down to the possibility of a pound a week will seem like it's going really slow, so I have to keep that in perspective as well. I can say that it feels great to be under 200 again, which was my main goal, now I just need to make sure to stay there and get lower while still keeping up my workouts and not losing muscle.

Now, since people have been asking, I'll let you know exactly what I did. First, although this web site had their program, all of their products together would have cost me $500+, which I didn't have to spend at the time. I instead read about the products, and bought what I needed at Vitamin World, and The Vitamin Shoppe. For my protein shakes, I used Isopure Zero Carb in various flavors throughout the month. When I went to New York, I brought packets of Lean Body but after texting my trainer, realized it had too many carbs and fat for what I was doing, so I had to go to GNC to get something for the remaining day and a half that I was there.

Now, for my program, I had one fish oil tablet with every meal, for my first shake, I typically just had it with water before my morning workout. My next shake, I put fiber, flax seed, ice, water, and protein mix in the blender and had more of a "smoothie." My third shake was just a regular shake with water, I also had my multi-vitamin with this meal. My fourth and fifth shakes were typically with just water, or ice and water in the blender. My final shake of the day was with flax seed, water, ice, and a scoop of peanut butter, you have to make sure to have the correct peanut butter, meaning there are only one or two ingredients, this one had peanuts and salt. I tried to have fiber with each shake, either stirred in, or pills that I got at the grocery store. I also had one cup of coffee every morning, and tried to drink a gallon of water every day.

My solid meals were not "cheat" meals. The meals were: week 1, anniversary dinner with my wife, salad, steak, broccoli; week 2, shrimp key west (at T.G.I. Fridays [blech, but it's what the kids wanted]) and broccoli; week 3, Tuscan Pesto chicken at Tony Roma's (2 breasts with artichoke, tomatoes, and onions [but I only ate one]) and broccoli. I'll admit, it was tough when we went out to places like Mellow Mushroom, or having dinners and stuff at Disney World, where I only ordered a water, and had my shake prior to dinner, but I knew what my goal was, and already had the mindset to accomplish it.

In the end, yes, I would have liked the 35 pounds that other people have stated they got, but I'm happy where I am. I may have gotten a couple of more pounds if I added a fat burner into my supplements, but wasn't sure of the right one, wasn't sure about the amount of money for the bottle, and didn't want to feel "jittery."

I'll try to keep you updated in any progress over the next couple of months, although I'm really bad about doing blog entries. We'll just see where it goes from here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Food, Glorious Food. . .

While I'm doing this diet, I have found it pretty interesting how focused our society is around food. I suppose one doesn't really understand that until food is given up for 28 days. Of course, as I explained this diet in my previous post, and people tell me how crazy it is, how the weight will be gained back, and how it can't be done, I just think all of those negative comments show a lack of will power on people's parts. I mean, regarding nutrition, I am still getting 1200-1500 calories per day, more than enough to satisfy daily needs. I'm also receiving the essential fatty acids in the Omega 3 tablets, probably more fiber daily than I have ever had before (meaning 100% of daily recommendation), and multivitamins. Additionally, I'm still exercising as much as I ever have (5 days a week of weights, plus hockey) and not losing any strength or muscle mass, and so far, every time I get on the scale, the number is smaller. I may not hit the 35 pounds off as some others have, but I do expect to drop probably 25-30 by the end of this.

Back to my point about society being focused on food. Everywhere you look, there is an advertisement for food, or someone is having a conversation about their next meal, or discussing something focused around food. I'll admit, I may be a bit more sensitive due to my current diet, but still, you have to admit, there is quite a bit of focus put on food.

Another thing I find interesting is the fact of people saying how there is no way they would do something like this. Especially when I say after about 8 days I'm down 7 lbs, they still say they would have given up. I have shown time and time again that I have the will power in many aspects of my life. When I decide to do something, I go through with it. For instance, waking up every morning at 5:20 to go and exercise, or giving up 3 years of weekends (plus multiple evenings) to get my M.B.A., or deciding to learn to play hockey in my late 30's, whatever it is, I know I can do it, and this is just one of those things. Sure, traveling to New York while on this was difficult, but I made it through just fine. Sure, having one solid meal since Thanksgiving has been difficult, but I'm making it through just fine. Like I said, every time I get on the scale during this, the weight is going down. I expect a more significant drop this week since I am doing my normal exercise regimen, and drinking the correct shakes, as opposed to the "Lean Body" shakes I had for a day and a half in NYC.

I said in my previous post that I started the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. However, I was thinking about it more, and considering I did have more than a typical "solid" meal on Thanksgiving (although not much more), I'm looking at my real start date as the day after Thanksgiving. I had my next (or first) solid meal on Saturday, since Brenda and I went out to celebrate our 10th anniversary. I had a salad, steak, and broccoli. When I weighed myself this morning, I was at 208.0, which means since November 26th, with traveling, I am down almost 7 pounds. At that rate, I am right on track to be down 25-30 pounds, and finish this on Christmas eve. I'll keep you updated as to the progress.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Diary of a fat man

I’m currently in flight and since the wireless decided to go down, it’s as good a time as any (considering it’s probably been months) to go ahead and enter a new blog post.
After months of trying to explain to my insurance whore of a doctor that I work out 5 times a week, and play hockey, he continues to insist that I lose weight. Of course I always try to watch what I eat, but, I guess even with watching it, sometimes everything doesn’t fall into place the way it should. So, I finally decided to just go ahead and listen to him. My trainer suggested using the “velocity” diet.
Now, let me first explain, this diet is not sustainable, not a long term plan, and definitely not for everyone. The typical weight loss on the diet is 20-30 pounds. It is essentially a fat loss diet, and helps re-teach your body to eat the right things once you’re off of it. The good thing about this diet is that you are only on it for 28 days. Of course you are probably saying that it is stupid, and there is no way (1) that someone can lose that amount of weight in that short amount of time and (2) you are just going to put it back on when you’re done. Well, like I said, you are basically losing fat weight, without affecting the muscle weight, and at least for now (10 days into it) I can tell you that you probably won’t put the weight back on, because the idea of doing this again is ridiculous.
The diet, in a nutshell, is 6 protein (100% whey) shakes per day, fish oil caplets with each shake, fiber (tablets or blended in) once per day, a multi-vitamin once a day, flax seed (tablet or mixed into shake) once or twice a day, a zinc tablet before bed, and a scoop of peanut butter (natural) with the last shake of the day. You get one healthy solid meal per week. You should continue to work out as you normally do, since you are not losing muscle mass, just fat. That’s it. I can tell you, it takes a shit load of will power to do this diet, especially during the holidays.
On top of all this, I also traveled to New York for a business conference, and with all of the great restaurants in the heart of Manhattan, I still only drank my protein shakes. I’m going to see where this goes. Unfortunately, the only “before” picture I have is with clothes on at Brenda’s cousins’ wedding. I can tell you my starting weight was a staggering 214.8. I started on Tuesday, November 23rd, and had a solid meal for Thanksgiving. My next solid meal will be on Saturday, December 4th when Brenda and I go out for our anniversary. Of course there are times when I think about this and how crazy it is, then I realize that it’s only 28 days, and since I’m already 9+ days in, I might as well keep going. There are times that I’m hungry, but I just hold out until it’s time for the next shake. I’ll do my best to keep you updated, or at least put how I ended up when I’m done. At least I’ll be done with this by Christmas, and I won’t have to do it as some stupid New Year’s resolution. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Roaring Through the Rockies, Day 10

This post is going to be brief. We got up this morning in Colorado Springs, grabbed breakfast at the hotel, and got on the road. We made it back to the Harley dealership at around 10:15 and got the bike returned. After 637 miles, the bike was back home, and we were on our way.

Sure, if we really tried, we may have been able to catch a Southwest flight home, but we decided to enjoy the day around Denver. We checked into the hotel, relaxed for a bit and made sure everything was ready for the flight tomorrow.

We then went to the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. The pedestrian mall is a nice concept, but it seems to be getting overrun by the homeless and/or street performers. We grabbed lunch and then went to see "The Sorcerers Apprentice." We all enjoyed the movie. It's definitely not going to win any awards, but it's a nice 2 hour diversion. Brenda and I both liked the nod to the original with the dancing brooms, etc.

After the movie, we finished our walk, then got in the car and drove by The Pepsi Center. We got back to the hotel, grabbed some dinner, now it's time to wind down and get ready for the flight tomorrow. Hopefully we'll get home and get our bags in time to make it to Delray before 6:00 to get the dogs.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Roaring Through the Rockies, Day 9

We started off with a late start this morning. It was nice to be able to sleep in a bit. We got out of the room around 9:30 and headed to breakfast. One of the guys at the hotel suggested The Western Omelette. After looking at the reviews on Trip Advisor, I wasn't sure about this, because the other place that they recommended was just above this, and that place was not that great. We got there and ordered. Brenda got a "Harley" which was 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon (extremely big, thick, bacon), and a plate size pancake. When they said plate size, they weren't joking. That thing was huge. I got an omelet with sausage and mushrooms. I also got their chili on the side. Now, remember this is not beef chili like one would think, this is sort of like a green chili gravy. I got the mild, which was actually hot, but very good. The waitress gave me a bit of the hot on the side, I was too wimpy to try it. She said it was made with habaneros, which was too hot for me. Regardless, I asked if we could ship some of this back home, which unfortunately we could not.

After breakfast we went to the Garden of the Gods. We drove around for about an hour or so, stopping to take some pictures and everything. We then went to the gift shop, then headed to Santa's Workshop.

The kids loved Santa's Workshop. The park included rides that one would typically find in a fair, basically a lot of rides that go around in circles sometimes very fast. We spent about 3 hours there until we did everything they had to offer.

After the workshop, we went to the Phantom Canyon Brewing Company for an early dinner. The beer was good, I had a bison burger, and Brenda had the regular burger. Both were very good, and the price was very reasonable compared to some other meals we have had on this trip.

Tomorrow, we are heading back to Denver in the morning to return the bike, then maybe go into downtown Denver, walk around the pedestrian mall, show my son where the Avalanche play, and possibly go see a movie. The vacation is definitely winding down.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Roaring Through the Rockies, Day 8

Today we made it to the top of Pike's Peak. My original plan was to ride to the top while Brenda and the kids took the cog railway. A couple of days ago, I was thinking about it more, and decided that I had not spent as much time with the family as I wanted to on the family vacation due to being on the bike. I decided to forgo the bike ride up the mountain and take the cog railroad with everyone. When we got to the top, I saw a couple of guys who obviously rode up, and I asked them how it went. Now, these guys definitely seemed like more seasoned riders than I am. They said that it was OK, except for the 5 or so miles of gravel due to the construction going on. Now, knowing how I felt at the top of Rocky Mountain National Park, with that construction, I was glad I made the decision to ride the train. Additionally, the guy I was talking to said it would be even more fun going down. We then both joked about staying in first and riding the clutch the whole way down.

I can also tell you that trying to walk around at 14,115 feet I definitely felt some altitude sickness coming on. I felt the shortness of breath and lightheaded, it was a sort of weird sensation, and as fascinated as I am with Everest, and the people that are able climb it, I can definitely understand why they would spend so much time at base camp just to get acclimated. The fact that base camp for Everest is 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the summit of Pike's Peak is just crazy. Oh well, that's what I get for living at sea level. Maybe I can continue to try to get Brenda to move out here so I can get ready to spend the night at Everest base camp.

Moving on, after we made it back down to the train station, we went over to Santa's Workshop. We decided that due to the time we would go back there tomorrow, since it would probably be a couple of hours to get through the park. We then came back to the hotel for the kids to go swimming for a little bit before we went to our dinner.

Our dinner tonight was at the Flying W Ranch. If you have ever been to the Hoop De Doo Revue at Disney, this is sort of like that, only not as campy. They offer a "chuck wagon" dinner, which is beans, applesauce, baked potato, your choice of beef or chicken (steak is a $7 upgrade), biscuit, and spice cake. The food was really good and filling (although my son actually went back for seconds). After dinner, they had their show, which was just four guys playing country music. The show was very good, and the whole family enjoyed it.

Tomorrow, the plan is to go to Garden of the Gods, then back to Santa's Workshop. After that we'll see what time it is and how everyone feels, and decide if we want to do something else like Cave of the Winds or the Olympic Training center. However, knowing the kids, we'll probably just come back to the hotel so they can go swimming.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Roaring Through the Rockies, Day 5, 6, 7

Continuing in Glenwood Springs, the hotel was just acceptable. The room was big enough, and at least there was a door separating us from the kids. However, the A/C was extremely loud, and the view from the bedroom window was of I-70.

After waking up, we went to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Overall, we had a good time. They have a "self-propelled" roller coaster called the Alpine Slide, we all had fun on that. They also have a human maze that if you complete it within a certain time limit, you get a crappy prize (think of something you might get out of a gumball machine), there is also laser tag, the cave tour, and the giant canyon swing. I was actually amazed that my son was willing to go on the swing with Brenda. The swing is one of those mechanical ones where you are sitting in a roller coaster type seat and it swings you out over the side of the mountain. I was not willing to do it. the only downside to the whole day was when we were on the cave tour and the tour guide basically kicked a couple off the tour because their two year-old daughter was talking. He said they could get a refund, but I don't think anyone was really bothered by it, and he could have handled the situation differently.

After the adventure park, we took the relatively short drive into Aspen. Once we got to the hotel, we were told we could park in the garage. We'll just say that trying to park a Tahoe in their garage is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. I spoke with the guy at the desk, and he then told me that usually the bigger cars are parked on the street as long as you can find a spot. After we showered, we went to meet my Houston family for dinner. We got in the car (that took us a good 10-15 minutes to park in the garage), got out of the garage, and entered the address into the GPS. Well, it turned out the place was about two blocks away. I dropped Brenda and the kids off and went back to park the car in the designated section in the street. After dinner (a really good buffalo rib eye), we walked back, and the kids played in the park for a while.

We got up the next morning for our horseback riding adventure. Of course we had breakfast first. We went to a place that was recommended by the guy at the front desk. The place was called Poppycock's. They had good oatmeal pancakes, and that was about the extent of why this place was good. The omelet that I had was OK, but it just wasn't worth the $10.25 price, oh I forgot, + $2.00 because I got egg whites. When we asked if my daughter could have a refill for her chocolate milk, the waitress said "NO" almost in a tone that I thought she was joking, she wasn't. She said she would have to charge us for the refill. Well, with tip and everything, the breakfast came to $65. That is when I realized that Aspen was way too expensive for my tastes.

Our horseback ride was fun. However, the horse I was on had two speeds, slow and stop. Regardless, we all had a great time. After the ride, the kids went swimming for a little while, and then I took them to go see "Despicable Me." Brenda met us after the movie, and we had dinner.

This morning we got up and moving relatively early because we were heading into Colorado Springs. My whole goal of this trip was to make it past Independence Pass alive, and with no damage to the bike. Some of the corners looked familiar, but I was not able to pick out where I had dumped the bike before. The road going up out of Aspen was a little harrowing at times with it narrowing around corners, and multiple corners and S-turns. However, after making it to the top at 12,000 ft+, going down was easy. Oh, the bike and I made it in one piece. We stopped for an early lunch in Salida, then went to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. We took the tram across, walked back across the bridge, where the kids had a good time seeing all the state flags, and we went on the vertical train. We left the Royal Gorge around 3:00, and decided it was just best to follow the GPS to get to the hotel, instead of taking the scenic route through Cripple Creek and the mountains. We made it to the hotel, relaxed for about an hour, I showered, and we went to dinner.

Tomorrow is Pike's Peak, possibly Garden of the Gods, and Santa's workshop. Once again, I'm still working on posting pictures, I just keep doing these entries on my computer, and all the pictures are on Brenda's.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Roaring Through the Rockies, Day 3 & 4

After waking up and getting moving yesterday, we went and had an excellent breakfast at The Mountain Home Cafe in Estes Park. The Huevos Rancheros were out of this world, and the pancakes were phenomenal. After breakfast we went to our ghost tour at The Stanley hotel. The tour was very informative about the history of the Stanley, and gave some ghost stories. We just didn't expect it to take as long as it did. After the tour, we had lunch, and got on the road. Even though it would have been nicer to get an earlier start, we actually got going probably closer to 2:00 - 2:30.

We headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park, and the ride up was really good. However, once we got closer to the top of the mountain, they were doing road construction. Thankfully, the construction crew wasn't out yesterday. However, the road was very gravelly(sp?). The road condition made it very difficult to find the "sweet spot" in the road. I made it through, and probably got a couple of people behind me upset for going so slow, but, oh well. We made it to the top, and made a pit stop at the tourist center. On the way down, the road was at least paved, but once again, I was taking it slow and easy. Then the deluge began. Rain on a mountain doesn't start as a drizzle, and get progressively worse, it starts hard and gets harder. Additionally, my brand new rain gear was in the car with Brenda and the kids, who had gotten ahead of me due to people either coming out of the tourist center, riding their brakes and stopping down the mountain, or stopping to take pictures of moose. With the rain, it also got dark, combine that with a tinted shield on my helmet and wearing sunglasses, and well, it wasn't a pleasant ride. by the time I passed where Brenda had pulled over, and I found another spot to pull over, I was already soaked, and just wanted to keep moving to get out of the rain. She said at one point the thermometer in the car read 45 degrees, picture that temperature being cold, wet, and moving at about 40 MPH. Yeah, as cool as the ride was, that part wasn't fun.

We got out of the park, and did the remainder of our driving for the day and got to Winter Park at about 5:15. The kids did a "Child's Night Out" where they had dinner, played games, and made S'mores while Brenda and I had dinner and walked around the village. The condition was that we spent $60 ($30/child) in the village, and the child care was free. Well, considering the village is almost a ghost town in the summer, luckily, the dinner was $50 alone, so we just had to spend an additional $10, so Brenda got a couple of magnets, and we had coffee.

We really (Brenda especially) like the hotel. She said in a couple of years she would love to go back there with the kids for skiing in the winter. If you want to check out a nice hotel, look at the Zephyr Mountain Lodge.

While we were walking around the village, we asked someone working in the gift shop where a good place to get breakfast would be. He suggested Carvers. Carvers is not easy to find if you don't know it's there. The restaurant had about 10 tables inside, and maybe that many outside, I didn't really see. The breakfast once again was amazing. I had an egg white omelet with blackened chicken, avocado, cheese, and some Mexican type sauce.

After breakfast we got on the road to head towards Glenwood Springs. We were following the map I plotted out, but somewhere missed a turn and got to I-70 about 15 miles east of where I wanted to get it. Unfortunately, we didn't follow the Colorado River as much as I wanted to, because we missed the sign for the Colorado River Road. Regardless, the drive was very scenic, and even the drive on I-70 was scenic, it was very interesting going through some of the tunnels with my sunglasses on, but I just kept at a constant speed and followed the person in front of me.

Once I got to Glenwood Springs, I was sort of on my own. Earlier, before we actually got on I-70, we stopped for lunch. As we were eating, I noticed some very ominous looking rain clouds and really wanted to get going to avoid them. Brenda said to get going and she would catch up to me. As cautious as I have been going, and with her in the car, I figured she would catch up to me before the 41 miles it was to get here. Well, even though she was going over the speed limit, and I was going under, she didn't catch up, so I didn't know the exact way to get to the hotel. Additionally, the signage after getting off I-70 sucks to say the very least. I should have taken a left, and took a right. I finally stopped and asked, and realized where I should have taken the left. Once I got to the road the hotel was on, the signage on the hotel wasn't very good because the words blended into the building, so, I still drove past it. Well, I finally made it, and now I'm posting this blog, and the kids are using the indoor pool.

I'll try to put up some pictures later, they are all on Brenda's computer.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Roarin' Through the Rockies Day 1 & 2

I'm combining the first two days, because the technical first day was just the flight into Denver. During the flight, I was speaking to the guy next to me. I told him about the route I was going to take, and he made a suggestion to go through Boulder on the way up to Estes. I'm glad we did. To start off with, the flight was uneventful. We made it into Denver with no problem. After getting our luggage, we went to get the rental car. I had originally reserved a midsize car. When I went to the lot to get it, I asked which had the most trunk space, since we all had our own suitcase, and a couple of carry-ons. The person told me to get the Dodge Caliber, since it was a hatchback. Well, I pulled it around to put the stuff in there, and it couldn't even fit the two big suitcases. I then went inside to get a bigger car, well, we ended up with a Chevy Tahoe.

The hotel was just outside of the airport. We had dinner at Ted's Montana Grill. Brenda's steak was really good, and I entered the clean plate club with the Bison meatloaf. Needless to say, we may go back there when we get back to Denver next Saturday.

After we got up and had breakfast, we went to go pick up the bike. I knew I had to get new rain gear, which I did (and will probably pretty much guarantee it's not going to rain). I also got a new jacket. The jacket can be used in cold or warm weather as it has a removable liner. I got the bike, and headed out to Boulder. We stopped and went to the Pearl Street Mall, and had a really good sandwich at snarfs. After lunch we walked around the mall a bit, then took off towards Estes Park. We both enjoyed our first taste of mountain roads, and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and beyond. In a way, it's sort of like being on a roller coaster that you control.

After getting into Estes and checking into the hotel, we went for a ride on the Estes Park Aerial Tramway, where we were able to feed chipmunks peanuts by hand. After the tramway, we had a B-B-Q dinner at Smokin' Dave's. The St. Louis ribs were really good, the Bison baby back ribs were a little tough and not very meaty. Although there is a rodeo in town, we decided to just come back to the room and relax.

I've had a headache today, and I'm not sure if it's from a lack of caffeine, or if it's the altitude. A couple of Tylenol seems to have helped.

Tomorrow it's a ghost tour at the Stanley Hotel, the ride into Winter Park, then "Kid's Night Out" where Brenda and I can have dinner together while the kids do activities and make S'mores.

Here are some pictures:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Vacation all I ever wanted

I guess the name of my blog should really be "Very Select Days in the Life of Evan." I tend to get caught up in every day life, such as working and getting my kids to whatever activity they need to be at, and forget for long stretches to actually post something on this blog. Well, once again, the best laid plans may or may not come true. We are going on vacation, as I think I may have put in an earlier post, the vacation is going to Colorado with me on a motorcycle, and the family following in a rental car. I am hoping that I can post a daily recount of what we did each day. We'll see how tired we are at the end of the day, and how much the kids will actually let me get on the computer at night. To begin with, here is the map of our trip.

As you can see, I am trying my best to avoid any major highways, and get some nice twisty, scenic mountain roads. I had some pointers on places to go from Brian Ibbott who has a podcast called Coverville, you should really check it out, he does a great job. I also got some last minute pointers from Ken Bingenheimer, who I found his blog about Motorcycle riding in Colorado. Ken said I had a good route picked, but let me know that the last leg between Royal Gorge and Colorado Springs looked boring, and I should try an alternate. Looking at the map, I think he definitely made the right call, and I'm glad that the last bit won't be boring.

We are planning on a ghost tour of the Stanley Hotel, which is where Stephen King got the inspiration for The Shining. We are also planning a horseback ride when we are in Aspen, and a cuckwagon dinner in Colorado Springs. Aside from that, the only other plan I had to make due to the possibility of it selling out was to get Brenda and the kids on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway so I could meet them at the top when I ride the bike up there.

Brenda did make it clear that she didn't want me making a lot of plans, and didn't want to be forced to be at a certain place at a certain time. Considering how I usually plan things, this is tame for me, and Brenda was agreeable.

Anyway, I'll do my best to blog from the road, and hopefully upload some pictures along the way.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What a difference a week makes

After my previous post, and asking a few other people, namely my Father who had been to a Super Bowl before, I decided to go. I figured I would be happier at the end of the year (10 years, 20 years, etc.) that I went to the game rather than save the money. Now I can cross one thing off my "bucket" list.

All in all, it was a great day, and really an experience I won't forget. I left my house at 8:30 am to drive to Eric's house which is about an hour away. I got there at about 9:30 and we went to breakfast, then picked up some stuff at Publix. At around 11:15 we decided to leave his house and head over to the stadium since the parking lots opened at 11:00. Being that we both went to the Pro Bowl the week before, we knew there was really nothing of interest in the "Fan Experience." As we got closer to the stadium, there was absolutely no traffic to speak of. We got to the parking lot, and just hung out for quite a while. The rules from the NFL were originally no tailgating, then they changed to limited tailgating with no tents and no grills. We watched as the parking lot filled up more, and many people started arriving around 1:00. I think there were two ticket-holder lanyard vendors for every person in the parking lot. We did purchase those and the program in the parking lot. The lanyards were just as good as the ones inside, plus they included a pin. The programs, I came to find out, and a different cover than the ones inside. The picture was the same, the ones inside had some metallic printing. Oh well, everything else I have proves I was at the game.

As we headed inside at around 3:00, we went through the four layers of security, this time with an added metal detector (which did not pick up the batteries Eric had in his pocket). They were giving away free Pepsi Max inside the fan experience. We hung out for a bit, watched the back of Daughtry, and then went to the store, where I got an overpriced embroidered t-shirt. We then walked around the 100 and 400 levels of the stadium, while taking pictures, including pictures of the CBS broadcast, and enjoying the crowd. We got to our seats and there was a Bridgestone bag with a towel inside attached to every seat. More and more of the crowd made their way to the seats and of course, every seat was filled. We noticed how the stadium was almost divided between Saints and Colts fans, each on their respective sides, however once everyone was seated, the Saints fans really seemed to way outnumber the Colts fans. We were sitting in a Saints section.

Once Queen Latifah came out to sing "America the Beautiful," everyone stood up, I don't think anyone sat down again until about half-time, after that everyone stood up again. The stadium was louder than I had ever heard it before. After one of the touchdowns, the stands were shaking. I told Eric the only time I had felt that before was when the Dolphins won their one game of the 1-15 season. The crowd was definitely into the game, and that made for a much better experience than the Pro Bowl where pretty much nobody cared (even the players).

The half-time show was very cool, and it was neat watching how they construct and de-construct the stage. We were also wondering how much they must have spent on that stage for it to probably never be used again.

The Saints were very unimpressive during the first half, but they came to play in the second half, which made the crowd even louder. The whole day was truly an experience. Although we didn't hang around to see the trophy get awarded, everything else about the day is something I'll remember for a long time to come. I'm going to try to post pictures (and a video of the fly-over) tonight. The only other thing I can say is that I don't think I need to hear "Who Dat" anymore in my lifetime.

You can read about Eric's take on the day here and here

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bucket List

I got a call yesterday from a really good friend. This friend gave me what I feel is a unique opportunity. I have been going back and forth for the last 18-24 hours debating on whether or not I should take said opportunity. I'll go into more detail in a few minutes. However, with this, I have also started thinking about what might be on my "bucket list," what I have done on that list, and what I still have yet to do. I will start by saying that this friend has also given me opportunities in the past that I would not have been on the "bucket list" only because I would think there is absolutely no way I would ever be able to do those things. Two of those items were going on the team plane with the Florida Panthers to watch them play a game in Atlanta, and going to Las Vegas to see the first ever showing of "We Will Rock You" with Brian May and Roger Taylor sitting one section away from us. First, let me get to what my first thoughts of my "bucket list" items are, even some that are completed, and not in any particular order.

1. See a Space Shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center (done, 2 times)
2. See a Super Bowl live
3. See a Stanley Cup game live
3a. See the Panthers win a Stanley Cup (this may never happen, but I can't control it)
4. Go to the Winter Classic NHL game
5. See Mount Everest (possibly even go to "base camp")
6. Go to New Zealand
7. Stay in a castle
8. Have an overseas vacation
8a. Go to England
8b. Go to Ireland (Brenda's bucket list item)
9. Graduate college (done, M.B.A. in 2007)
10. Get Married (done, and can happily say I would only do it again with the same person)
11. Own property/house in Colorado
12. Motorcycle riding in the Rockies (done, but really want to go again)
13. Go to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
14. See "We Will Rock You" in London (done)
15. Drive a Lamborghini

Those are the items that I can think of right now. The reason this is coming up is because my friend I was speaking of earlier has two tickets to the Super Bowl, which is being played in Miami this coming Sunday. He called me yesterday and told me he would sell me one for face value which is $800. I immediately called Brenda, and she said to go for it (She really is a great wife and I couldn't ask for anyone better). I started thinking that it should be a "no-brainer" because this is something I really would like to experience once, and if the Dolphins or Texans were in the game it definitely would be a "no-brainer." However, I can't say that I care who wins, and am only rooting for the Saints because it's their first time there. Then I started thinking about what else I could do with that money, such as take a weekend in Vegas with Brenda, or get Disney season passes for the four of us, or keep it aside to try to take my son to the Winter Classic this year. Now I'm wondering for the 4 or 5 of you that may actually read this, what would you do?

Monday, February 1, 2010

N FaiLure

When the NFL announced that the Pro Bowl would be played outside of Hawaii for the first time in years, and would be played in Miami, I thought that it would be a very cool experience. Boy was I mistaken. OK, I can't say it was all bad, actually for the most part we really had a good day and a good time yesterday.

We started out the day in our normal busy manner. First my son had a hockey game at 10:00 and my daughter had a birthday party to go to at 12:15. As I was taking my son to the game, Brenda was making her famous macaroni and cheese, and marinating the burgers and pineapples for our Hawaiian burgers at the tailgate. After the game, I picked up the two girls and dropped them at the birthday party. I got back home and noticed that the tire on the van was almost flat. I rushed my son through his bath that he was taking as I was loading up the van. We then went to Publix to get some onions, swiss cheese, and fix-a-flat. Two out of three I guess ain't bad when you're in a rush, but this Publix didn't carry fix-a-flat, or any automotive stuff for that matter. We then went to CVS, thankfully they had the fix-a-flat. We got back home and used the can, then hopped in the van to go to the gas station to finish filling the tire up with air. The first station we went to had their air out of order. We then had to go to Mobil who charges $0.75 for air (quarters only). I had two quarters and had to go inside to get a third. Of course (since I was already late), the lady could not open the cash register without someone buying something, so I had to wait. The first guy bought a carton of smokes with a debit card so she couldn't open the register. The next lady was getting random items, then the cashier asked me why I needed the quarter, I said for air, she used her remote then told me to go on outside because it was on.

I then picked up the girls, and my sister, brother-in-law and nephew and we were on our way, and only about 20 minutes or so later than we originally planned. We were meeting Eric and Karen at the parking lot, and Eric was calling me freaking out because of the amount of traffic he was already enduring at 1:30, so we all thought the parking lot would be full by the time we got there. It turns out that was the original "surge" and the parking lot didn't actually fill up until close to 4:30 or so.

We "tailgated" for a while. I made the above mentioned Hawaiian burgers, and everyone really enjoyed them. I think it may be something I will try again. We decided to walk in to the stadium around 4:30 so we could spend some time enjoying the atmosphere around the game. As we walked up to the gate, we first went through 4 different layers of "security." The first layer was someone verifying we had tickets for the game. We then went through the "Disney World" maze to get to the next layer of security who verified we didn't have any outside drinks, and directed us to the next layer of security, which was the "pat down," from there we arrived at the fourth layer of security which was the bag check. At the bag check they then informed us that the backpack my son was carrying (the same one we bring to all of the Dolphin games) was not allowed in the stadium. I then had to go backwards through the security, back to the car to put the backpack away, then back through the same four layers of security, bitching at each one of them to let them know they should tell people not to bring backpacks into the stadium. We took some pictures, but didn't really participate in the "activities" because the lines were too long. I'm glad we spent our time tailgating instead of going inside immediately upon arrival. As fun as the atmosphere was, there really wasn't the need to spend hours inside there.

We decided to go into the stadium around 6:30. Once we got in and as we were walking to our seats, we passed the designated driver stands that were handing out free soda coupons for anyone over 21 and putting your name and whatnot on their form. We got the coupon then made our way closer to the seats and saw another one of the designated driver tables, so we filled it out again and got another coupon. Considering sodas were $6.00 each, we just saved $24.00. When we got inside some teeny bopper Jonas Brother wanna be band was playing. They were pretty pathetic, turns out, they were also the ones singing the National Anthem. At least there was a F-18 flyover after the anthem. That was cool as always.

I know the NFL All-Star game is meaningless, and usually a snore fest, and this one lived up to those expectations. Starting off, when the players were announced, instead of running out of the tunnel in the normal fashion, each player strolled casually through the line to their respective benches. The most excitement was when the Dolphins players were announced, then again when the Jets and Patriots players were booed, oh, and the mascots, that was about it for the night. The remainder of the night just seemed to be people on the football field trying not to get hurt or exert any energy whatsoever. The halftime show was a marching band out of Daytona, and I think they brought the most physicality to the field. We left at the end of the third quarter.

I know the pro-bowl will be back in Hawaii next year and I say let them have it. As interesting as it was to be part of the "history" the game itself is quite boring, and the fact that the Super Bowl teams did not participate made it even more so.

On an unrelated matter, the scumbags who stole Brenda's purse last year are back and are trying to change the addresses not only at the old bank, but also at the new back. Somehow they called the new bank, got an ATM card and withdrew money out of our account on Friday. We put even more protections into place, but these assholes are like cockroaches and they will not die. One of the addresses they changed our accounts to is 12124 NE 5th AVE, Miami FL 33161. I would think nobody actually lives there, but if they are going there to pick up the mail, someone should be waiting for them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mini Olympic Sized State of the Union

I was going to comment on the "new" Mini-Stanley the Panthers introduced a couple of weeks ago. To give a bit of background, Mini-Stanley was originally introduced to help the younger kids feel more comfortable around the mascots. The character was (and still is) played by a little person. The original actress has moved on, and a new person is in the costume. At a game a couple of weeks ago, the Panthers had a video set-up of Mini-Stanley being sucked into the engine of a Zamboni, then needing reconstructive surgery to repair the face. They unveiled the new mask, and it looked like it had zombie eyes and very bad botox. I'm not sure if it was because of the mascot or the comments from friends that we sit next to, but my son had nightmares that night because of the new mask. I e-mailed the Panthers, and got a typical response of how it was not their intention to freak out the kids, and they hoped that my son would come to love the new Mini-Stanley just as much.

Moving on, but staying on a hockey subject. I have been trying to get my son to go skating more for public skating sessions, and he doesn't like doing that. He says it's boring just going around in circles. So, when we get a chance, we do "stick and puck" together. This is basically ice time where fathers and sons can get out on the ice and play hockey, practice different things, or whatever, without figure skaters, or random other people getting in the way. This past weekend, we went to a new rink in West Palm Beach called Palm Beach Ice Works. This rink only has hockey and figure skating with no public sessions. The rink is also Olympic sized which means it is bigger than a typical hockey rink. When we arrived at the rink, the person in charge didn't know they had stick and puck scheduled. As we were paying, one other person showed up with his son, and one of his son's friends came as well. So, after the Zamboni cleaned the ice, we were the only five people out there. After about an hour, nobody else showed up, and the guy and two kids left. Therefore, Shane and I had a full Olympic sized hockey rink all to ourselves. I think that is the most fun I had skating, it is just so cool having a rink to yourself.

I just finished watching the State of the Union speech. My first impression is that I'm glad he basically challenged both parties to get things done, especially the Republicans. I'll have to let it sink in a bit more to give more of an opinion, and wait for Fact Check to say what's true and false. I'm also glad he made a point to call out the Supreme Court for the decision last week to overturn centuries old laws and essentially stating the corporations have the same rights as people. That's all for now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Phantom (again)

Last Monday, our CFO received a call from our bank offering two tickets to see Phantom of the Opera on Saturday (1/9/10). She knew Brenda was a huge fan, so she asked me if I wanted the tickets. I called Brenda, and even though we had just taken the kids to see it, she said she would of course see it again. Stupid me for even asking.

We had dinner at the Himmarshee Bar & Grille prior to seeing the show. The dinner was very good, and a good pre-theatre dinner replacement for the River House which is closed. I started with the soup of the day which was "5-alarm" chili. The chili could probably be considered 2 alarms, it had spice, but wasn't uncomfortably spicy. It was also nice considering it was very cold outside. Brenda started with the crab cake, which also came with a nice salad. Four our main dishes I had the buffalo short ribs which came with a gouda mac 'n cheese with spinach and ham mixed in, the entire dish was very good. Brenda had a skirt steak which she also enjoyed. Brenda likes having dessert when we go out to a nice dinner, so the waitress talked us into a piece of carrot cake made by "We Take the Cake." The cake was good, but nothing really spectacular, and I was so stuffed after the dinner it was hard to really enjoy it.

After the relaxing dinner we trudged in the ~40 degree rainy weather (I swear the wind chill was in the low 30's) to the theatre. We arrived there between 7:30 and 7:45, so just enough time to get a drink, use the restroom and get to our seats. I thought this performance was better than the one we saw last week. I don't know if it was the excellent (free) seats we had, the lack of kids, or the evening vs. matinee performance, but it was nicer.

The kids spent the night with my Mother, and she brought them home this morning. Aside from playing Wii, and watching football, I have done absolutely nothing today. Sometimes that is a nice thing to do.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Silly Slovakians, Explosives are meant for Terrorists

I heard a story on Morning Edition this morning (Jan. 7, 2010) about the Slovakian police and their training practices. You can read and listen to the story here. I don't know why, this comedy of errors just amused me this morning.

I have really enjoyed the last couple of days of cool weather, it's nice to get a break from the 80+ degree weather once in a while. I also find it amusing that when the temperature dips into the 40's and 30's here, it is the top news story for days and they take up at least 10 minutes of the 30 minute news cast on just that. I have lived here in Florida for a while, but still in my travels, I have experienced weather much colder than this, hell, standing in the new hockey rink for my son's game is colder than this. Additionally, there are many people from up North that live here, I'm sure they have experienced weather colder than this. Unless it starts snowing (which apparently it did one time back in the 70's), just report what the temperature is and move on. There is absolutely no reason to show some reporter bundled up to explain that it's cold outside. Just enjoy it while it lasts because 80+ degree temperatures will be back before you know it.

As a follow up to my last post. I think I have come to the conclusion that New Zealand may be too far of a trek to try and go for a week. I think that's a trip that will stay on my "bucket list," but won't be happening this year. I also think I would need to go for more than a week. I'm back to two choices, and focusing more in on one rather than the other. My mother told me Paris, and other parts of France are nice. By the same token, one of my friends was sort of turned off by the touristy parts of Paris. I'm tending to believe someone around my own age this time. The trip I'm really sort of focusing on right now is England. I think we could go to London for a couple of days, see a show or two (or three). I want to see Billy Elliot, I'm sure Brenda would love to see "Love Never Dies," and I'm always up for going to see "We Will Rock You." Additionally, I was looking at side trips out of London to go to Stratford upon Avon, maybe spend a night in a castle, and go back to Rules to have another great meal. I think this is something more reasonable that I can still get a sense of history, and Brenda and I can enjoy ourselves. This way, we save Ireland for a couple of years down the road and take the kids. We just have to discuss it more and work out some things. We'll see.

Hockey starts again tonight. I may look into joining a novice league after this session.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Where to go, what to do?

I think this is a record, two posts in one day. I just had more to say that I thought would go better in a new post rather than continue with the previous post.

While I was at my mother's house for New Years Day, after Brenda had left and the football game was on, my mother, sister and I were talking. Sometime in the conversation, my sister started talking about overseas trips, and in the conversation I just piped in with a joking comment about how I wanted to go. My mother then stated that my sister set a precedent for her 40th birthday by having my parents pay for a trip for her to go to Italy, and I would be afforded the same opportunity to go where I wanted.

I was speaking with Brenda last night over dinner. I'll admit, I would love to take my kids with me, but I think at this age, wherever we would go outside of the U.S. may be too much for them. Additionally, I don't think they would be able to sit through the type of meals that people are used to in other countries. I haven't traveled that much, but I do know that for occasions like going out to dinner, one is expected to sit back, relax and enjoy their meal. Essentially, once a person reserves a table, it is theirs for the night. At this age, the kids are lucky to make it through a meal that lasts longer than 30 minutes. Knowing that, and just trying to have them appreciate any culture, I think it may be a couple of more years before we even think about taking them overseas.

Sorry, bit of digression there. As I was saying, I was speaking with Brenda, and I think there are two places I would really love to go. The first place is taking a true vacation to the British Isles. I would think at least a week in London, then heading to Ireland, maybe Scotland, and possibly even go into Paris depending on how the logistics could be worked out. The problem with this trip is that I know Brenda wants to take the kids to Ireland, and we are saving up all of our coins, etc. in a 5-gallon water bottle to try to pay for at least part of this trip. The more I think about it, the more I think this trip may wait until the kids are a bit older and we can actually take them there.

The second trip I would love to take is to go to New Zealand. I know this sounds really geeky, but when we were watching "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, I was just fascinated by the scenery in which the movies were filmed. Yes, I know there was CGI involved in certain spots, and don't expect to see Mt. Doom, but it just seems like it would be a cool trip. I think it could be enhanced by getting a Lord of the Rings tour to see where many of the scenes were filmed.

Aside from those two, I guess it's just a matter of watching the Travel Channel. I mean there is always Berlin, Venice, or trying to stay at the Burj Al Arab in the UAE. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Happy New Year, Good Riddance to 2009

As I stated in the previous post, we had a busy week ahead of us. We started with the lunch and circus. The lunch was actually nice. I met some cousins I didn't know I had, and actually after talking with them they were interesting people. One of my cousins teaches math in New York. I gave him my e-mail address, and I hope to get him some samples of our new Math Fundamentals guides to look at and possibly test in his classroom. The circus went well. We were a couple of minutes late because the kids were riding on the golf cart with John. The show was different this year, which was good. We also had good seats although slightly blocked by a pole. But, for $14 what can you expect?

Tuesday I got my car washed (as of yesterday [1/2/10], it now has bird crap on it). I then took the kids to lunch and showed my wife how much I loved her by taking the kids to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakuel." Needless to say, I am amazed that it got a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, after spending most of the day at home waiting for the plumber, we saw Avatar. Overall, I thought the movie was good. I thought some of the camera angles with the 3-d actually made the viewer feel like they were in the movie. I'll admit I thought the story line was a little thin and predictable but overall worth the price of admission and definitely worth seeing in 3-D.

Thursday I took the kids skating. The rink was incredibly packed. I suppose during holiday breaks from school and being New Year's Eve day, it could have gone either way, but was more than likely to be crowded, and it was. After skating we flew to Montreal. Now, we didn't actually go to the airport or anything. We went to the hockey game. The ticket said it was a home game for the Panthers. Unfortunately, nobody told the 80%+ of the people that were in the sold out arena that the Canadiens were the visiting team. I blame 10+ years of piss poor management of the Panther team for this madness. Quite frankly, it was embarrassing as a Panther fan to be there. After the game we came home and had our Chinese food.

Friday we went to Mom's house for a New Years lunch. Brenda left early because she went to 101 Dalmatians with our daughter. I decided that I was just getting burned out. I discussed it with Brenda and the kids. Brenda decided she wanted to go anyway. Since there was hockey practice 8:30 on Saturday, I was happy to stay home to get our son to his practice.

We finished the practice, came home for a little bit, then went to see Phantom of the Opera. Brenda of course loved it, the kids and I enjoyed ourselves. At the show I saw someone I hadn't seen in a long time. I thought it was nice to catch up with her and meet her husband. After talking for a bit, and knowing what she's been up to thanks to Facebook, Brenda and I both, along with Michelle and Shawn thought it would be nice to get together with the kids. So, hopefully we will try to do that in the near future.

We wrap up today with the hockey game between the Panthers and Penguins. Hopefully there will be more of a home crowd, but I won't hold my breath since it is a "Steel City" Sunday here in South Florida. Brenda decided to skip the football game.

Now I'm looking forward to getting back to work so I can relax a little bit.