Wednesday, May 5, 2010


It dawned on me the other day that I've now been out of High School longer than I had been alive when I graduated High School. Thinking back, these past 10 years have flown by, not to mention the decade before them. Where does the time go?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fried on fried (and sugar)

Moving Christmas off the treadmill has not happened yet. Actually, I just need to beat a path through Christmas and find a different place for an eight-foot artificial tree, but even that seems to be a challenge at the moment.

So I'm going to put the treadmill on a back-burner for the moment.

Now before you start ranting that I'm falling off the proverbial wagon by failing at my last two attempts to modify my lifestyle, let me first say that I'm not just pushing it aside, I'm moving something else in to take its place: Fried food.

Or rather, the removal of such from my diet. This has actually been a goal of mine since the start of this whole "Live Healthier" effort, but I wanted to tackle the soda first and then try portion control. Soda's still completely out of my diet after almost 3 months. I miss it, but I'm happy it's not there anymore. Portion control failed miserably. Fried food I can do. Or not do. You know what I mean...

Of course, it's not completely a coincidence that I'm bringing up fried food now. I happened to have a pretty unpleasant day last Thursday after eating too many fried items at lunch. I ended up tasting that lunch for the rest of the day as it sat like a rock in my gut. Determined that this was no way to enjoy a meal, I decided that it would be the perfect time to modify "fried" out of my gastronomic vocabulary.

No more french fries, onion rings, fried chicken, battered cod, corn dogs or anything else that requires submersion in boiling oil to achieve a "cooked" state. Fries are my big one... the rest not so much, but they do creep in from time to time so I thought I'd mention them.

To go along with fried, I'm also excising all items that are overtly sugary like the hot cocoa I sometimes drink at work or the half-and-half tea (half sweet, half unsweet to those living outside the South) I've been ordering at times at restaurants. Seems obvious that I shouldn't be drinking them anyway given the whole "no soda" effort, but I guess they've been a crutch. (Artificial sweeteners don't work for me, don't ask me to explain.) Well, no more.

I've been sticking to these new rules since Saturday morning and so far I've lost 3 pounds. I was actually lighter this evening after dinner than I was when I woke up this morning. And that's eating normal meals, just skipping anything fried, breaded or battered and ordering water in place of tea at restaurants.

Hey, this could work!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yes, I'm a geek

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are proud to present This Week's "The Big Bang Theory" Moment From Carl's Real, Actual, Non-edited or Embellished Life.



A father, CARL, and son, CONNOR, sit on a glider. CONNOR is in CARL's lap, and CARL is reading from the children's board book "STAR WARS SPACESHIPS".

Pointing to a picture of the DEATH STAR surrounded by other ships, straight from the final battle scene in RETURN OF THE JEDI.

            Death Star... this ship has a Dangerous Laser.

CARL closes the book, revealing another picture of the DEATH STAR on the back cover. This second image is just the DEATH STAR, there are no other ships.

             The End.

Pointing at the DEATH STAR on the back of the book.



            That's no moon. It's a space station.


This has been This Week's "The Big Bang Theory" Moment From Carl's Real, Actual, Non-edited or Embellished Life. Please join us next week for another exciting installment.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lost: "Dr. Linus" [Spoilers, m'kay?]

I've been a rabid fan of Lost for several years and with the final season upon us, I've been talking about Lost a lot with a few of my coworkers and friends who are nice enough to suffer my rantings. I've been coming in and shooting off an e-mail with notes and questions about the previous night's episode for a few weeks now and figured these would also make good blog posts and maybe elicit some discussion from all 3 of you out there who read my blog.

So without further ado, my notes for last night's episode. To help understand some of my ramblings, any characters name with an "X" after it refers to the version of them in the Flash-Sideways reality (the one where the plane never crashed on the island). I'm also abbreviating Flash-Sideways as "FS" in some places.

• So, it looks like my friend Terry was right after all that the “chains” Richard were in were the chains on the Black Rock and that he was most likely on that ship when it came to the island. Good call. (I'd been thrown by Ilana's reference to Richard as Ricardus and thought that maybe he'd been from the Roman era... not too crazy an idea given all the Egyptian artifacts on the island.)

• I’m sooo completely retracting my thoughts about how the character episodes lined up with Season 1. Ben wasn’t even in Season 1. (There was a theory that the Season 6 episodes were paralleling the Season 1 episodes, at least regarding which character was being focused on... the past 2 episodes have refuted that theory).

• While we’re on BenX, some more hints as to what happened on the island after “the incident”, or at least the hydrogen bomb version of the incident that we saw last season. BenX’s dad had an interesting choice of words, saying “if we hadn’t left”. Seems to imply that there was choice in the matter. “If we hadn’t had to leave” or “if we hadn’t been forced off” or “if we hadn’t been sent back” would have implied no choice. So what exactly did happen after the whiteout that the inhabitants didn’t have to leave unless they wanted to? Does this imply that the sinking of the island wasn’t an immediate effect?

• BenX’s dad isn’t mad at him for killing his mother. Does this imply that there was a forgiving moment at some point after the incident or perhaps that she died in some other way and the alcoholic bitterness never existed. If that’s the case, I’ll wonder again if the incident changed events from 1977 forward only, or if it had further reaching impact in the past.

• While we’re on fathers… BenX didn’t kill his dad and seemingly wasn’t hated by his dad. JackX has a son and is a much better father than ChristianX, though it would seem that ChristianX was still a bad dad. LockeX’s father presumably didn’t factor much into his life, otherwise Helen wouldn’t still be with him. It remains to be seen how he was paralyzed in the FS timeline. Next week is looking to be a Sawyer episode… will we find out that SawyerX’s mother was never conned by LockeX’s dad and both his parents are still alive or died from other causes that didn’t result in him wanting to seek vengeance on “Tom Sawyer”? It seems that all the “father issues” in the original timeline are non-existent in the FS timeline. Though much more pedestrian, the FS timeline inhabitants lives are seemingly better. Lends some weight behind my theory that the FS timeline will become the dominant timeline at the end.

• Exception to the father issue theory would be AlexX… she doesn’t seem to have a dad (RousseauX has 2 jobs) or maybe he’s just a deadbeat. Perhaps since she’s one of the few who had a father that gave a damn in the original timeline, her FS self is the one with father issues? Also her being at BenX’s school reinforces the thought that somehow all the island inhabitants in the FS reality are going to join up at one time in one place like some Close Encounters moment and their gathering will shape the end of the game. Remember that Ben told Lapidis that the island got him anyway? Foreshadowing by the writers?

• Last word on Ben (for now). In both timelines, even though he’s an insufferable manipulative bastard, you kinda feel sorry for him now. It was good to see his “redemption” last night. And was it just me or did anyone else notice the soft focus lens they used on everyone when he got back to the beach after being forgiven by Ilana? It fringed the picture with a white haze. Almost like he was entering some heavenly place. Just coincidence of lighting?

• Curious to find out what’s up with Widmore. Is he going to park the sub at the Dharma dock or the Looking Glass or join up with Locke at the Hydra? Is he bringing Wallace with him? You don’t need a lighthouse if you’re underwater… this could be that “other way” that Jacob referred to.

• For that matter, I’d love to find out about WidmoreX, EloiseX & FaradayX. Also RichardX.

• The number 6 keeps appearing. 6 numbers, Oceanic 6, 6 candidates (6 seasons?). Strange that Ilana would say that there are 6 candidates left when she knows that Locke is dead and believes that “Kwon” means either Sun or Jin but not both. Who’s the 6th? Wallace?

• I would have liked more of a soliloquy moment form Jack last night. His conversion from man of science/fact to man of faith/hope was almost too sudden. It would have been nice to have heard a little more of his reasoning about why he’s suddenly putting his life in Jacob’s hands. It wasn’t as bad as some of the sudden character changes in Heroes that drove me away, but it was close. A few sentences about not being able to explain all the crazy things he’s seen would have reinforced his conversion. Saying that he’s decided that he wants to either end it by dying or end it by finding out why Jacob chose him but either way he was tired of the game and wanted it to end… that would have been good too. I’m waiting to see the “Let go and let Jacob” bumper stickers.

What’d I miss?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Portion Control Fail

Ok, so the Portion Control portion of my "get healthy" routine was an abject failure.

(No, this is not one of our pugs)

I guess in a way it was doomed from the start. It's really something that I should have saved until later this year or at least a few more steps down the road. So for now, I've drawn a red line through it on my spreadsheet, which means I need to revisit it at a future date. For anyone who's interested, both weight and waist are hovering around the same place they've been for a while, for obvious reasons.

All is not completely lost however, as I did begin taking a multi-vitamin and a separate Vitamin D pill over the past 3 weeks and that's now a daily routine.

So, for those keeping track, I started with "No Soda", which is still going strong, and "Sit Ups & Push Ups", which is not quite as strong, but I'm still doing them when I remember. They'll be easier to work into a full exercise routine.

And lucky me, I've arrived at my predetermined week to start walking on the treadmill 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes. Don't laugh, but I'd be afraid what 30 minutes would do to me and I really don't want to end up unable to get out of bed one morning because I tried to do too much too fast. I'd have started with 15, but I'd be laughing at myself at that point. So, we're working up to 30 minutes, ok?, and then eventually 5x a week and then for longer periods until I'm on the thing for some yet-to-be-determined number of minutes, hours or miles every day.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The trouble is that the treadmill is buried under Christmas in the basement. When all was said and done in January, there was literally no room in our basement storage closet for most of the Christmas decorations because it's already been filled ...
with the ever increasing piles of Connor's toys ...
and clothes ...
and much larger piles of my own toys ...
and random things in file boxes ...
that need to be cleaned out ...
but haven't yet ...
but I swear I'll get to them one day soon ...
so don't get on my case about my 47 file boxes ...
that I've brought from San Diego ...
to Chicago ...
back to San Diego ...
and now out to North Carolina ...
and hid away in the basement ...
hoping I wouldn't have to deal with them...

...where was I? Anyway, I'm taking a day off next week to work around the house and priority 1 for me is excavating the treadmill and getting it into working order so I can start walking next week. I'll keep you posted.

Should be fun.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yahoo says "Save $250/month"... unless you're already a financially responsible individual

Popped onto Yahoo this morning and aside from the terrible news coming from Chile (what's with all the devastating earthquakes?) there was an article on how to save $250 a month. They've had a number of similar articles in the past, all trying to help their readers reduce their monthly expenses. Problem is, in almost every case, the "savings" are made up by eliminating things that most rational people should have already eliminated if they were facing true financial woes.

Let's run down today's list:

1) Pause your Netflix subscription ($14)
To fend off outright cancellations of their service, Netflix allows users to "pause" their subscription for up to 90 days (think of it like a vacation stop at the Post Office). Too bad I canceled my subscription last year. Money + Toddler + School = no really good time to sit down and watch a 2-3 hour show.

2) Switch to generic birth-control pills ($21-31)
Makes sense since generics are cheaper but still as effective. Except if, like me, you have a Y chromosome. I know they make cheaper condoms, but I'd be willing to bet that route of "swapping for generic" is a bit riskier...

3) Instead of having a drink with dinner, get free appetizers at the bar with your drink ($40)
Not sure where they're eating, but they claim that restaurants are offering free apps with a bar purchase to draw in customers. Would work for me if my doctor hadn't diagnosed me with a fatty liver last year (another reason I'm altering my eating & exercise habits this year). Also, I'm willing to bet that chips and salsa and chicken wings aren't many people's idea of a balanced diet.

4) Ask your stylist to leave your hair wet ($15-20)
Apparently most haircuts have an included cost for drying your hair and by skipping this your stylist will reduce their fee. If blowing your hair dry adds $15-20 to your haircut, how much are you overpaying to begin with? Again, this is a case where that Y chromosome affects this tip because most men's haircuts cost far less than women's, but my haircuts cost less than $15 to begin with. I may not have the most stylish hair, but I'm no longer willing to pay $50+ for a salon (though I am above having my wife or a friend cut my hair... did that once, never again... unless they have some history and glowing testimonials.) Besides, given most people's relationships with their stylist, they'd be too embarrassed to ask about excluding the blow-dry.

5) Unlock your iTunes library ($10)
Call me a troglodyte here, but although I won an iPod Nano at a convention some years back, I've only bought a handful of songs on iTunes and probably haven't used it for a good 4 years now. I couldn't even begin to explain to you how this "share" option works, and they don't explain it in the article, but it sounds an awful lot like some type of limited peer-to-peer sharing scheme... wasn't iTunes supposed to end all that?

6) Buy unpackaged produce ($5-10)
The thinking here is that by slicing your fruits and veggies yourself, you save over the pre-packaged variety. And the article says you'll save "tons". Does $5 sound like "tons" to you? Also, what about those of us who only get close to veggies when they're called "guacamole" or "ketchup"?

7) Don't buy new shoes, repair them ($55-60)
It's about the point when they start talking about how much a new pair of stilettos will cost that I realize this is not only an article aimed at women, but it's also from the "Shine" section on Yahoo, which is apparently their answer to printed women's magazines like Cosmo. As for this tip, I've repaired shoes in the past and got less life out of them than if I had bought a new pair and you can only repair them so many times. Why not try buying cheaper shoes instead? Or fewer Choo's... er, shoes. And what Carrie Bradshaw wannabe would be willing to repair the heel on last year's fashions anyway...

8) Your insurance plan may reimburse your gym membership ($20-25)
If you have a gym membership. I had one for years... never went. Now, for the sake of my sanity and the same reasons I canceled Netflix, I don't have one. No use trying to convince yourself you're going to use it if you never have the time. Unless you're big into aerobics or yoga, it's probably cheaper in the long run to buy a used Bowflex off craigslist and start jogging around your neighborhood. You'll save money and might actually meet your neighbors.

9) Hold a rotating potluck dinner with your friends once a week ($60)
The article says "dinner parties" but the reality is that it's probably going to feel a lot less expensive and stressful to just make one dish than to have to cook a full 3 course meal for 5 or 6 people. And then there's the week when you have to eat at the friend's house who can't cook, or the friend who comes to your night, but is never able to host it themselves. Better to just have everyone bring a dish, then the friend who can't cook can bring something simple like carrots & dip and the deadbeat friend never has to host. Regardless, this takes a lot of coordination, though it seems like it might be fun... I'll have to talk to my friends about this, though they'd probably be just as happy meeting up at a bar for drinks and those free chicken wings.

10) Use your old jewelry creatively ($15-30)
Again, not really applicable for guys. Also, I don't know many women that would know how to turn an earring into a pendant or even have the desire. Fine for the crafty set... go save you crafty people you!

11) Buy liquor at club stores ($12)
Unfortunately, North Carolina still hasn't gotten past some of the outdated post-prohibition era formalities, like the fact that you have to go to a state-run store to purchase anything stronger than Budweiser. So no Costco vodka here and definitely no Beverages & More. I'm told that we do end up paying less than we would because the state keeps their margins low, but it's effectively a monopoly, so you really can't perform a proper comparison. Then there's that pesky liver.

12) Switch to dry pet food ($10-35)
We've never fed wet food to the dogs, so this doesn't apply to us. Dry food is healthier (as the article also states) and though the wet food is tasty I'm sure, it's mostly a case of us anthropomorphizing our pets by thinking that steak tastes better than oatmeal and assigning the same logic to their taste buds. My dogs love the dry stuff just fine. Make the switch to dry and you'll also save on vet bills related to dental issues later in life.

Conclusions: All in all I could save $60 of the proposed $250, but is the extra time needed for coordination, cooking & travel worthwhile? How much could you save?

Monday, February 22, 2010

So how's that portion control thing working out for you...

Yeah, we won't discuss what I had for lunch. Suffice it to say I'm going to have to take a much sterner look at how I approach ordering food and how much I actually eat and how much I take home.

As for weigh-in this morning I lost 1.7 pounds but gained 1/4 inch. The increase in my waist might be due to the sit-ups, who knows. I'd feel better about the weight if it wasn't coming off pounds I'd put on during the Superbowl and while my parents were visiting. I guess the positive spin is that I'm at least moving in the right direction again without much effort beyond my 3 modifications (no soda, simple exercises, portion control for those keeping track).

Friday, February 19, 2010

More through less

Anyone who knows me well knows that I've struggled with my weight for most of my life. I'm not morbidly obese, but I'm by no means skinny.

With the exception of the first 9 years of my life - when my parents feared that I was malnourished because I wouldn't finish my Happy Meals - I've always been either overweight or dieting. Those Happy Meals I didn't finish turned into Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger Meals that I'd chow down without a second thought just 4 years later, which put me in a weight class in PE Wrestling with all the really tall, really buff guys in my grade. Needless to say, I didn't like PE.

Throughout it all - the weight gain, diets, weight gain, etc - I've remained largely unchanged (no pun intended). Short of restricting myself to veggie sandwiches at Subway, I've tried most of the diets out there, some more seriously than others, but all with the same results... I fall off the wagon and gain it all back within 6 months.

So this year, I've decided to take a different route. No fad diets, not even going to concentrate on weight. I'm just going to make small tweaks to my eating habits and lifestyle to improve my general health. And if I lose weight in the process, great, but it's about getting healthy first and foremost.

To this end, I gave up soda on January 4th and have not had a drop since. My close friends may now pick their jaws up off the floor. My 6-pack a day habit was the stuff of legend. I'm not off caffeine - still drinking green tea at work - but at least I'm off the sugar.

The green tea was an earlier tweak (lifehack?) from last year when I switched from Earl Grey. As yummy as Earl Grey was, I tended to like it with a lot of cream and sugar which I'm sure negated any health benefit. When I also found out that Bergamot inhibited the body's uptake of Potassium, I promptly switched. I'd been suffering from some pretty bad calf-cramps at night and ever since switching to green tea they're gone. I'd always connected the cramps to a potassium deficiency, but I couldn't figure out why I was so deficient.

I'm going to continue to either remove an unhealthy habit or add a healthy habit to my life once about every 3 weeks this year (since they say... somewhere... that it takes 3 weeks for you to turn something into a regular habit). Later in January I started doing sit-ups and push-ups and now I'm into Portion Control...

To see how these changes affect me, I'm tracking my weight and waist measurement (around my belly & love handles, not where I wear my belt). Both dropped significantly after giving up soda, but have since plateaued and actually rebounded a bit. But hey, that's OK, this isn't about weight, it's about living healthier. And I do feel healthier.

Future tweaks will include giving up fried foods (yes, no more french fries, though I may have to make an annual exception for latkes), starting to walk on the treadmill again, eating less red meat, adding more fruits and veggies to my diet, etc. So far it's been easier to remove than to add, but that's to be expected.

So wish me luck and I'll try to post more frequently to keep you up to date on my progress and as an added incentive for me to commit to some of the harder tweaks (since I'd rather not report failure).