Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Holidays are joyful
There's always something new
But every day's a holiday
When I'm near to you
The Carpenters
It's Christmas morning here in Madison, Jacky is sleeping, the dogs are crashed as well, and the tree is full of presents, the stockings are hung and filled as well. It is without a doubt the most white Christmas in the history of Wisconsin as we have set a December record with close to 3 feet of snow. In fact it has a real good chance of being the snowiest month in the history of the state. But I promised not to complain about the weather, so I am biting my tongue. I wanted to take Christmas morning to thank quite a few people who have helped make 2008 a fabulous year for me.

I need to thank my 3 girls Jacky, Daisy Jane and Maggie. I spent a lot of 2008 apart from them. It was hard and I missed them and can not thank them enough for the support.

Hopefully, I don't leave anyone out of this grab bag of thank you's. Let me start with my family my parents and two brothers. We don't get together that much, but we sure have a lot of fun when we do, and for the first time in awhile we all got together and it made me really happy.

I need to send a huge thank you to the staff and owners at Fitness Ridge. I spent 11 weeks in their company this year. They have made an immeasurable impact on my life. Their kindness falls like rain and washes over me. Everyone there is amazing, caring, welcoming and accommodating. I send so much Christmas love to them and I don't want to single any of them out. I have my favorites but everyone there made my life so much better.

My fellow campers, and sweat buddies, fellow hikers, and swimmers, and terryaki bowl eaters, fellow treaders and circuit trainers, and chuck-o-rama pals, my Vegas friends and cohorts, my waking up at 6am and spending the next 12 hours working out partners. The staff at Fitness ridge is the blood but without a doubt you guys are the heart. There is no group of people that has meant more to me, made me work harder, made me appreciate what I have, and no group that has ever made me feel more loved. I'm afraid to do this because I know I will leave someone out but just know that every single person that I interacted with there had a positive impact on me. A special hug to Adriana, Caroline, Ronnie, Donna, Diane, Bonnie, Fran, Heather, Wendy, Nancy, Richard, Kelly Jeff, Heidi, Erin, Al, Janice, Ray, Linda, Cal, Karen, Trish, Leigh Ann, Pam, Beth, Meredith, Rachel, Suzanne, Gen, Cindy, Giselle, Diane, Kristin, Sabine, and most of all to the special angel who anonymously made it possible for me to return.

I need to thank all the people in Madison who helped make my whole year fantastic. All my volleyball friends, the staff at Club Tavern, the opponents in the sand, my workout partners Karen, Jenny, and Tanya. My old friends who I reconnected with, my new friends I made in 2008 of which there were more than ever before, Paul, Laurie and Jason, Tanya and Tim, Sara and Allison, Kay and Jamie. I need to thank my staff at Sunshine Daydream who make us the friendliest store in town. Thanks to my friend Tom and his family for a memorable show in Chicago. Thanks to all the musicians who brought me so much joy this year.

Finally thanks to all of you guys for riding along, especially those of you that take the time to occasionally comment. 2009 is going to have a change to the blog for the first 8 weeks of the year. I am going to use the blog as a food and exercise log to get me from the new year to the return to Fitness Ridge in March. I hope everyone has a magical Christmas and let's make 2009 the best year ever. Peace, Love, Joy and Happiness, Jim

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

All we can do is keep breathing.

I woke up this morning with a funny taste in my head.

Spackled some butter over my whole grain bread.

Something tastes different, maybe it's my tongue.

Something tastes different, suddenly I'm not so young.

Ingrid Michaelson

If you have been reading, or if you have been paying attention, or if you have ever met met me you know that I am pretty much a music freak so I thought I would had out some end of the year awards for music in 2008. And my definition of 2008 is pretty broad in that if I heard the music or it got noticed for the first time this year it can make the list.

I saw a ton of shoes this year two stood out for the music and one for the experience. My favorite show of the year was Jack Johnson at Alpine Valley. I'm sure I am repeating myself but there just are not more than 5 or 6 artists alive that could draw the crowd he did playing virtually by himself. The second show was Sara Bareilles in St Louis with Marc Broussard. I have confessed my love for this girls music since this blog began and she put on a great show, paid her respects to Stevie Wonder and the Counting Crows, and got her picture taken with me. Without a doubt the coolest concert experience for me was backstage at the REM show in Chicago. Just a really fantastic, fun time seeing the inner workings of a major band at on tour.

So the music itself: Top 5 Songs of 2008

5. Time the Conqueror by Jackson Browne, It was really nice to see Jackson with a new cd and the title track is a great song about aging.

4. Die Alone by Ingrid Michaelson, more about her later.

3. Madly by Tristan Prettyman, she gave us or first stage shout out and I am returning the favor here

2. I'm Yours by Jason Mraz, this really catchy tune is competing with Sara's Love Song for the song of the year grammy, I hope she wins but this is a wonderfully sweet song.

1. Boys with Girlfriends by Meiko, This tune is my favorite song of 2008, really well written, a wonderful melody and a funny well thought out message.

Album of the year 2008:

A couple of honorable mentions: The Counting Crows released a splendid album called Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings. They are consistent as hell. Jackson Browne's Time the Conqueror, Jack Johnson's Sleep through the Static, and Sheryl Crow's Detours all wove great music with some political discourse and some fun. Jason Mraz' 3rd cd We sing, We Dance, We Steal Things was consistently strong from start to finish. Hotel Cafe released a fabulous Christmas cd that was a compilation of many of the girls who toured under their

However my album of the year for 2008 is Boys and Girls by Ingrid Michaelson.

Ingrid Michaelson is a 29 year old indie pop artist from Staten Island, New York. She gained some notoriety when her song "The way I am" was used for the Old Navy sweater campaign and also saw a couple of her songs used in Grey's Anatomy. It's a sweet heartfelt cd that deals with lots of acceptance and love issues. She made it work without the support of a major label and is touring nonstop taking her music to her fans.

Last night was the Sunshine Daydream Holiday Bash and it was a really good time. A little drinking, a white elephant gift exchange with some fabulous, some funny, gifts, and being able to thank my staff for being the friendliest staff in town. I hope you are somewhere warmer than me Peace and Warmth, Jim

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Only 13 shopping days remain!!

So I’m told, so the story goes

The people he knew were Less than golden-hearted

Gamblers and robbers

Drinkers and jokers

All soul searchers

Like you and me

His heart was full of love, love, love

Love, love, love

Love, love was all around

Dave Matthews, The Christmas Song

One week back in Wisconsin, lots of trips to the gym, back to playing volleyball, a new weight bench for the house and a trip to weight watchers where the scale said +3lbs. Which in reality I was pretty happy to see. It had been a month since I had been on the scale at WW and I was slightly relieved with the number which seems counterproductive but I knew there had been a trip to Florida, Thanksgiving, a Xmas party and a lot of sitting around watching snow and football. Winter presents a new challenge for me, not in the sense that I haven't faced 40 some winters but it's my first winter since fitness ridge and I am an outdoor exercise, give me some sunshine, kind of guy. I'm also a football addict and by addict, I mean serious Robert Downey-esque addict. I think sitting around snacking and watching football is a big share of my problem, so while it sadly is winding down a piece of me is happy that I can spend that time being slightly more productive. And by more more productive I don't mean watching every ACC basketball game.

So Christmas is rapidly approaching and I love Christmas. I have been shopping, and making lists, checking them twice and what not. I had a great time at a Christmas party Saturday. We have the Sunshine Daydream Christmas party this week which is always a blast. we finally got around to getting this years Christmas tree up and decorated.

That brings me to this weeks top five list which is the five greatest Christmas songs of all time:
5. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams
4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Frank Sinatra
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bruce Springsteen
2. The Christmas Song Dave Matthews Band
1. Merry Christmas Darling by The Carpenter's

As today's title says there are only 13 shopping days left until Christmas and to be honest we have not seen any bump in the traffic at the store. I'm not blaming it on the recession yet, more I am blaming it on the 8 inches of snow this week, and the continued temperatures in the teens, and the fact it gets dark at 4:30 pm. No matter what happens I'm not going to complain, I have had an amazing year, the store has had a great year, and I know 2009 portends for even greater things for me. Peace and Joy, Jim

PS If Bobby C or Eddie Hef is reading this could you guys email me or call me thx.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Back in Wisconsin

We may be different from the rest

Who decides the test

Of what is really best?

We're a couple of misfits

We're a couple of misfits

What's the matter with misfits

That's where we fit in!

Music and Lyrics by Johnny Marks
From the Rankin/Bass Production of "Rudolph, The-Nosed Reindeer"

Okay so I got back from Florida Tuesday afternoon landing in delightful 20 degree weather, waited outside for 15 minutes for the shuttle to my car, where I got to spend another 20 minutes scraping and chipping ice and snow off the car. But this is the last time I am going to bitch about the weather this winter. Everyone knows winters in Wisconsin suck and I choose to live here so I need to stop being depressed by it and I need to stop complaining. It's just the price I pay for living somewhere I love 9 months out of the year.

So yes on Thanksgiving day we did get my entire family together. We didn't have anyone else there to take a picture of us all but I can sort of piece the entire group of 12 together for you. It was the first time all 12 of these people have been in one place and the first time since my youngest brothers wedding in that my 3 brothers and parents have all been together. It was fun and I wish I could say that I thought it would happen more often but retail just makes it hard for us to get together at holidays and we are just a 1000 miles away from each other.

The next generation of Trudeau's, nothing but xy chromosomes in our gene pool.

My nephew playing hoops for Dr. Phillips High School. 9th grade 6'2" size 16 feet. I can still take him, at least in ping pong.

The other part of the trip was to see the Terps play in the Old Spice 8 team tournament at Disneyworld. Started off great with Maryland just waxing Michigan St. However reality arrived the next day with back to back blowouts by Gonzaga and Georgetown. I watched a ton of basketball these three days and without a doubt Gonzaga was the best team I saw. They are a legit top 5 team with three future NBA players on the court. No more Cinderella slipper for them.

With the year coming to an end I will be doing some best of '08 lists and I thought I would start with the best movies I have seen so far in 2008. I am very excited to see two movies that have not opened yet in Madison, Frost/Nixon and Milk so I reserve the right to revise my list.
5. The Bank Job A classic bank heist movie
4. Tropic Thunder Seriously funny and brilliant, easily the best comedy of the year
3. Changeling Clint Eastwood again delivers a wonderfully entertaining movie
2. Tell No One A wonderful French mystery that keeps you guessing
1. Roman de Gare Another French mystery movie, brilliantly told, and executed in a David Mamet sort of way. I loved this movie.
I am now back in Madison for the next three months with no major travel plans until March when I will spend along weekend in Vegas watching the first round of the NCAA tournament and then spend two weeks in Utah at Fitness Ridge. If you have any interest in joining me at one of these two locations let me know. One will be really fun and crazy, the other kinda fun and awfully rewarding. We are getting ready for Christmas at the store and just hoping for less snow and more shoppers. Can not believe it is less than 3 weeks away and you'd never know it was that close if you looked at our sales this week. Oh well, they have to shop sometime :) Peace, and Joy, Jim

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from Florida!!!

My old man, was born to rock,

And he's still trying to beat the clock,

Think of me what you will,

I've got a little, space to fill,

You don't know how it feels,

You don't know how it feels,

No you don't know how it feels,To be me.

Tom Petty

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving from the Sunshine State of Florida. And in honor of being in Florida I have a song quote from who in my mind is Florida's greatest contribution to popular music. Now I think he only had to beat out KC and the sunshine band and Gloria Estefan so it's not a huge honor for the Heartbreakers but a pretty sad state of music for Florida.

I arrived late last week and spent a night in Celebration with Jacky at the Mona Lisa hotel. Disney is the planned community built by Disney. It has a quaint little shopping district, a beautifully landscaped walking path around lakes and ponds, very expensive homes on very little land, and makes St George, Utah look diverse. It is my all time favorite place on earth to walk. I love winding around the ponds and through the town early in the morning.

Next stop was Venice Beach, Florida where my parents retired to this summer. It is on the west coast of Florida about two hours from Orlando and one hour south of Tampa. Lets just say that the people selling early bird dinners, depends, golf carts and pre-arranged funer
als are doing very well in this town. I spent one morning walking the golf course in my folks neighborhood, one day walking the beach and pier, and one day walking a couple of bridges that lead in and out of town.

The fishing pier, which was attached to a tiki bar and where I actually saw some people pulling some fish out of the water. It will be even easier for me to laugh at the idiot ice-fisherman in Madison this winter knowing that other people fish off this pier in warmth while they trek out to frozen ponds and sit on buckets looking at holes they drilled in the ice.

Lunch with my mom and Jacky and some bird who actually lept on to the table during the meal.

Sunday night I got to spend at Raymond-James stadium in Tampa seeing the South Florida-Univ. of Connecticut football game. My college roommate Billy McGillis is the Asst Athletic Director in charge of Football at the school and he arranged for Jacky and I to see the game in a skybox on the fifty with his family and some friends. Now, Jacky who is about as interested in sports as I am in say...Prada handbags said that she was willing to go to any sports event that we could attend in this manner.

Wednesday we headed up to Orlando for Thanksgiving. My brother Jay and his wife and two kids arrived that morning and headed to the Nickolodean hotel and resort. My brother Jeff, his wife and two kids live in the Orlando area. My parents arrived last night around 5 pm. So we have now all been in the same city for 16 hours and I am confident in saying that the most number of people in the same house at anytime has been 6 of the 12. :) We may get it right today for atleast an hour or two. I got up this morning and walked the exterior of the World Quest Resort, then boldly ventured in to the swimming pool. It was about 45 degrees this morning outside and about 70 in the pool. My nipples could have cut glass, but I banged out some laps solo in the pool and then spent some time warming up in the hot tub. Tonight I will be watching the Terps take on Michigan St in basketball as part of the Old Spice tournament. ESPN 2 at 7pm est. look for me holding this up( the plate not the car)
Oh yeah I plan to eat, eat and then eat a little more. :) I have many things to be thankful for this year and high on the list is the many friends I have made from this blog. I hope you all have wonderful thanksgivings and Peace, Jim

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm in a Sunshine State of mind

"If you are chilly, here take my sweater.

Your head is aching, I'll make it better.

Cuz I love the way you call me baby.

And you take me the way I am."

Ingrid Michaelson

I leave tomorrow for Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday. My parents recently retired to Venice Beach, FL and my brother Jeff and his family live in Orlando. Jacky flies in Friday. On the agenda is getting outside and running again, getting outside and being in a swimming pool again, thanksgiving with my entire family(Jay and his family fly in Wednesday), and attending lots and lots of sporting events. I'm going to see South Florida vs Uconn in football Sunday evening thanks to my college roommate, and I get three days of amazing college basketball at the Old Spice Invitational in Orlando Thanksgiving weekend, and a trip to Tampa Bay Downs to see some ponies. I honestly can not remember the last time both my brothers and both my parents were all in the same room. It's not that we don't get along , we do. We have just lived in four different cities for so long, and working in retail we all have trouble being away at the busy holiday season.

I haven't really done anything to exciting this last week. It's the same as it ever was. Volleyball, morning workouts, watch sports and survivor on TV, and catch a music show. This weeks entertainer was Ingrid Michaelson who is best known for her song above which was the cornerstone of The Gap winter commercials last year. She has also had some tunes show up on TV shows most notably, Grey's Anatomy. She pulled in around 600 people for her third trip through Madison this year and played a fun energetic set. One thing about young entertainers is they just seem to be having so much fun up on stage. Some of the classic artists I see seem almost burdened having to play their hits for the zillionth time but the 20 somethings still have that spirit that makes live music cool. I forgot my camera so no pictures but I'll steal a picture of her for you guys. Apparently she loves bunnies...who knew?
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. Don't forget tie-dye makes an exceptional Christmas gift. I will get some Florida pictures up as soon as possible and for my friends staying in Wisconsin. Keep the snow off my car or better yet just keep the snow far away while I'm gone. Peace, Jim

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Powerball numbers

"And Home
Sings me of sweet things
My life there has it own wings
To fly over the mountains
Though I'm standing still"
Karla Bonoff
Okay so the powerball numbers from Saturday night were not so good, but there's some good news for those people that signed on. I picked up 20 tickets for the drawing Wednesday and I will now post the numbers so you guys can play along. And again 20% of all winnings will be divided between everyone who commented on the previous post or this one before the drawing.

4-6-17-21-48 03

13-17-24-28-41 08

2-9-14-41-44 40

24-27-32-34-35 11

22-26-28-33-53 30

7-10-11-27-52 34
4-5-12-24-44 11
4-12-40-43-46 08
6-11-17-26-43 31
14-21-22-26-36 08
11-19-25-31-33 35
10-30-36-46-48 25
7-11-23-40-46 30
20-21-23-24-26 27
1-6-9-16-42 14
31-35-43-44-48 19
9-12-15-21-40 18
6-18-25-40-45 30
13-16-34-44-47 04
2-26-47-48-50 31

So before I share my thoughts on the lottery, let me explain that the last number listed in each sequence is the powerball number. The lottery and especially scratch lotto tickets and daily 3 and 4 digit number drawing numbers are such bad bets that they truly are a tax on the stupid. And the percentage of income that people invest in the lotto is highest in low income families. So while I am all for free will, and adults being able to spend their money how they see fit, I am certain that anyone that puts money into lottery will be an overall loser barring a monster lotto score. It's fine if you occasionally play for fun but if you harbor any visions of being able to profit well the math says you have no chance. The same pretty much goes for slots and casino table games but that's for another time.

We had a spirited game of Taboo Saturday night and my team of boys got handled by the team of girls at the party pretty easily. I always have fun playing party games, board games, and cards and wish I did this more often. Plus, I love hanging out with my friends and it just makes me laugh and smile whenever I get a chance to do so.

I made my way to two concerts Sunday night and they could not have been more different. I saw Karla Bonoff, who is a grammy winning singer songwriter, and Michael Franti who is a hard pumping reggae hippie musician. Karla played to about 75 people and I felt young looking around the crowd. Michael Franti played to over 1,000 people and I felt old and out of shape at that show. The show was all about non-stop dancing and jumping, a two hour Franti show would burn 2,000 calories easy. I really never have seen the type of energy that this crowd and this group of entertainers showed. The music is not really me, but I sure enjoyed being a part of that crowd.

I am excited that I will be leaving for Florida next week to spend time with my family and it will be the first time that all 5 members of my immediate family will be in the same house in over half a decade. Should be a ton of fun and I'll also get to spend some time with my old college roomie Billy McGillis who is the Asst. Ad at South Florida, and get my first look at the 2008-09 Terp basketball team as they are in a 3 day tournament at Disneyworld. So if someone checks these number and they are lucky call me and the same goes if something more likely happens like you get bit by a shark, struck by lightening, or abducted by aliens. But like they say you got to play to win. Peace, Jim

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Powerball for you!!

"'Cause I know better not to be friends with boys with girlfriends
Oh I know better than that
I know better than that"
I know better
You play the victim and I'll be the bad guy"

So Jacky and I had a wonderful time at the Hotel Cafe Tour and again it was really everything that is right about music and everything that is good about young artists trying to find audiences. The five solo girls shared a 4 person back up band, came out and sang back up for each other, switched off all night long as to who was singing, played for over three hours, had a damn good time getting drunk together, and played their hearts out.

The highlights for me were Meiko (above) and Rachel Yamagata(below).

I have mentioned this before but Rachel attended Holton Arms school in Bethesda which is a sister school to my high school Georgetown Prep. We talked about our respective schools and getting back to the DC area, and of course her music. She was really sweet and just has an amazing voice. Meiko had a damn good time. I think it was her third trip to Madison this year and she commented that she always gets really drunk in Madison and she did not disappoint on that front.

They had a raffle last night for the Keep Wisconsin Warm fund. Jacky and I each bought ten tickets for $10 and we took home four of the prizes. Including a teddy bear, a $25 gift certificate, a$50 gift certificate, and a duffel bag filled with stuff. We felt kind of bad so we donated some more money but for two $21 tickets, and $20 in raffle tickets we took home $150 bucks worth of stuff and got three plus hours of live music. So because of our good fortune and good luck I bought 14 powerball tickets for tonite's jackpot. I am pledging to donate 20% of all winnings to the Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund, and in the spirit of redistributing the wealth will share with any of my blog readers who comment here an additional 20% of the winnings. You have until noon Monday to leave a comment and be eligible to share.
I had so much fun with the last video I thought I would share some video from the sound check last night. The lady who owns the bar was nice enough to let me stay inside during sound check while every one else had to wait outside. It's nice to be the owner of a store that promotes a lot shows at her bar. Meiko walks in front about half way through and screws up the picture and she wasn't even drunk yet. Peace, Jim

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's a new day

Poor men wanna be rich, rich men wanna be kings,

And a king aint satisfied till he rules everything.

I believe in the faith that could save me.

I believe in the hope and I pray that some day it

Will raise me above these


Bruce Springsteen

Okay so anyone who knows me or anyone reading this blog knows I was very happy with the results of the election. It's nice to have a President that can string a couple of sentences together without getting exacerbated. It's nice to have someone running the country that can get a positive score in jeopardy. And it is nice that our elected leader believes, as do I, that health care should be a fundamental right of every citizen. Because if you are not treating your sick, your injured, and your most needy people really how civilized are you? Best of Luck to President-elect Obama. I spent election night at two parties and was surrounded by genuinely happy people who were proud of their country mates and elated to be part of the historic night.

It wasn't all perfect by any stretch. Alaska baffled me voting to send Ted Stevens back to the senate after 7 felony convictions. California, where proposition 8 passed, removing a civil right from a minority that had only recently been awarded the civil right to marry. And a special shame needs to go to the California African-American population where on a night where we elected our first minority President they overwhelmingly by a 2-1 margin voted to not allow another minority, gays, to marry. I can only hope that under this new regime we as citizens can become much more tolerant of those different than us and see that we should all be guaranteed certain rights including health care, the right to marry whomever we love, and affordable education.

So I have a really cool weekend coming up. I spent Thursday night with friends watching my Terps get throttled at Virginia Tech. Clockwise from me Luke, Rich, Alex and my all time favorite teacher Paul Schwartz. Paul was my freshman English teacher at Georgetown Prep and we recently discovered that we both lived in Madison. Friday night I am going to see the Hotel Cafe Tour at my favorite Madison bar the High Noon Saloon. It's five acoustic female singer-songwriters including two girls who I like a lot, Rachel Yamagata and Meiko. We have a game night planned for Saturday night at the house and I get to show off some of the pictionary skill learned in Utah. Sunday afternoon we have our year end volleyball party and Sunday night I get to see Karla Bonoff in concert.

My exercise has really picked up and I will play between 8 and 10 hours of volleyball this week. I'll also get in 3 circuits, some outdoor walking and an hour of swimming. Eating has flattened out and I had a decent number on the scale this week. I really need to invest in more new clothes but I don't know if the time is right. And lest you think I have gotten cocky I had a cashier at a gas station whom I had never spoken to or seen before in my life tell me as I checked out with 12 much cheaper gallons of gas, a USA Today, and a Diet Pepsi. "You should talk to my sister she has lost over two hundred pounds" And even as what ran through my head was "You should talk to my sister she used to work at a gas station and now has a job that isn't crappy for minimum wage," I bit my tongue, smiled, and said have a nice day.

I am always sad when we turn the clocks back because I know my dreaded nemesis Mr. Winter is coming. It is already getting dark here at 5:30 and I know 4 pm darkness is just a month away. But that also means we're one day closer to spring. Hope all's well Peace, Jim

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Meet me in St Louis, Looie

"Leave unsaid unspoken

Eyes wide shut unopened

You and me

Always be

You and me

Always between the lines"

Sara Bareilles

I know it's been a while and I apologize but again fall on my common excuse that my life just isn't that exciting and I sometimes find that I have trouble mustering up words that I think you will find entertaining. Anyways we finished our fall outdoor volleyball season on Monday night with a 2-1 victory played in snow flurries and temps in the mid 20's. Not exactly what I would call ideal conditions for outdoor play but I refuse to complain cause it was still fun and I can still sweat in the cold. I did wear my first ever under armour type shirt and even though the owner was a school friend I don't get the hype.

Jacky and I traveled down to St Louis on Tuesday to pick up a bunch of sweatshirts and t-shirts from my brother Jay. Well that was one reason but the real reason we made the 12 hour round trip drive was to see Marc Broussard and Sara Bareilles in concert at The Pageant. Which is a wonderful venue just down the street from the first Sunshine Daydream in St Louis. It was a great show and as anyone who has read this blog knows I am a monster Sara fan. She did not disappoint at all. She was funny, respectful and thankful of her crowd, showed her keen sense of music awareness by covering the fabulous Counting Crows' tune Sullivan Street , and really made sure that everyone was having a good time. I know I gush about her, and believe me Jacky teased me a ton about how glowing I am, but Sara truly gets what being a popular musician should be about. It was such a highlight when she brought up both of her openers for a rousing version of Stevie Wonder's Living for the City.

Marc Broussard, who was fortunate enough to get his picture taken with Jacky, was the second opener and he is so talented and an amazing singer songwriter. I've praised him recently but really enjoyed seeing him live for the first time. Even got to tease him about his beloved LSU Tigers getting slammed by Georgia the previous Saturday.

I knew you guys would have been greatly disappointed if I had not made the effort to score some pictures with the star attraction. She was really gracious and went out of her way to sign cds and pose with her fans. Just can not say enough good things about her.

Your standard self shot facebook photo holding the camera myself. Also happy to get a photo with an artist that didn't look petrified that I was standing next to them (Mike Millls of REM and JT)

This is my first attempt at video so we' shall see how it goes . It is a short snippet of Sara playing her song City in St Louis shot on my camera.

So this weekend is Halloween everywhere but it is a major event in Madison named "Freakfest". It is a big weekend for the store and seems to have settled down a bit in that the riot police on horseback have not been needed the last couple years and the looting and glass breaking seems to have stopped. We can only cross our fingers like we do most years. I expect to see a whole lot of Sarah Palins walking the streets along with a bevy of naughty schoolgirls, nurses, librarians, angels, cats and rabbits. The weather is going to be magnificent which is far from the norm for Madison the last weekend in October. Plus the partiers get an extra hour on Saturday as the clocks go back.

I waited for the fitness update until the end. Short term I am still having some issues. I am working out hard, I'm smart I know what I have to do, and I need to travel less and cook at home more. Long term I'm in a good spot. I got a new driver's license today and I look better than 2003, even I can see that. It must be the tan :) Seriously I'm happy, I look forward to continuing, working hard, having fun and being a better person inside and out. Peace and VOTE!!! Jim

Saturday, October 18, 2008

October Road

"There's a slight conversation

Filled with hidden revelations in your eyes

Baby I'm so into you

Every whisper from your soul to my heart

Baby I know its true

You're a sweet little mystery sent to me from the stars

And that's the beauty of who you are"

Marc Broussard

I need to start today by giving a huge shout out to three long time Fitness Ridgers who wrapped up very, very successful stays in Utah. My friends Ronnie, Adriana, and Giselle ( all pictured here after conquering a tough hike) all stayed at the Ridge for a minimum of seven weeks and each worked their asses off both figuratively and literally. Congrats to the three of you for losing a combined total of 114lbs during your stays. Have fun in Youngstown, Puerto Rico and San Fran. and keep up the good work and don't forget to schedule a little "check up" next March at both the Ridge and Utah.

Sorry bout the sappy nature of the my previous post. All's good and I have settled in to a good spot in Madison with my workout partners, the support of both my new and long time friends, and lots of volleyball. Now if someone can call Al Gore and have him schedule some global warning for the upper midwest this winter I'll be a happy camper. Remember there are only 66 shopping days until Christmas and its never too early to start thinking about those people on your list. I am sure most all of those people would love a tie-dye, tapestry, or a hacky-sack and I know where you can find all of those things at a reasonable price.

How bout those football scores from this week. BYU (sorry Eric, Cam, Emily, John, and most everyone else at the Ridge) went on the road played a real team and got completely exposed as not-BCS worthy. Holy Disaster at TCU. Maybe the Las Vegas bowl vs UCLA again. Still time to jump on the Utah Utes bandwagon. And the always mystifying Terps won their fifth straight game and third game this year vs. a top 25 team. Now if they can stop losing to miserable teams maybe they will have found something. Speaking of college sports. The third Friday of October brings the start of college basketball season and of course time for all of us to start hating Duke again.

Some new music as well this week. Today's quote is from bluesy singer-songwriter Marc Broussard. How have I missed listening to this guys music? If Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Carole King had a love child his name would be Marc Broussard. Go buy his cd Carencro and thank me later. How bout this double feature Sara Bareilles and Marc Broussard in St Louis on October 28th. Good thing I'll be in gateway city on "business" that day.

This week is Breeder's Cup week which I know means nothing to most of you but to horse racing fans like myself it's like a two day Super Bowl. Look for me to spend two days at Prarie Meadows racetrack in Altoona, Iowa betting the simulcasts of the races from Santa Anita. To say I am completely unprepared for this year's running would be an understatement. Hopefully that's good news because all the time I spent preparing the last couple years has proven fruitless. I am expecting big days from the European imports of which there will be many. Hope all is well in your neighborhood. Peace, Love and Happiness, Jim

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I love the fall

"And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world"
Elton John
Let's wrap up last weekend. Saturday was an amazingly perfect Indian summer day in Madison. It really was too warm to call it perfect football weather, but it was damn close to perfect tailgating weather. We did the best we could but we are not perfect tailgaters, in the sense that some of the people tailgating around us had ridiculous set-ups, complete with bars and bar stools, or pop up grills, or full stereo systems cranking the UW marching band. We had the only TV around which led to a very long day and night of watching football, eating lo-cal jello shots and having an exceptional good time. The game? you ask. Didn't actually see a play live, and the Badgers suffered their worst home loss in a decade 48-7 to PSU, but I'm not a fan and the game was merely an excuse to tailgate so I was content.

Quite a few random people have nicely made comments that I look good. They love to ask how much weight I have lost. And I love to answer "quite a bit." They always seem to give that look that says they want the number but I don't like to share that number because it's just a number and there's plenty more where it came from. They also want to know "Do you feel different?" Well of course I feel different I've lost over 100 lbs. But the difference to me is I get around tons better, I'm up for trying anything, and I'm just more comfortable being places and doing things. Volleyball is so much better, Walking distances is so much better, not feeling out of place or worrying about what people think or who I could be offending is much better. Do I feel different inside? No, not really. I feel like I am the same person. I have the same thoughts, I still obsess over food but in a better way, I still get nervous going new places, I still go out of my way to make sure everyone feels included and is having a good time, and I still feel naked without a hat. Am I an inspiration to others? People tell me I am, but I'd rather people were inspired by who I am, than by the mere fact I lost weight. My weight has defined me for so long and how people perceive me, that the mere fact I have lost some of it doesn't seem inspiring to me. If it helps other people who are struggling I'm glad for that, but I also know truly inspiring people overcome struggles not of their own making, and make the world a better place.

Speaking of Volleyball I have played more volleyball in the last week, than I have ever before. I have made the transition indoors and love playing on the hardwood. My knees like the sand better but the rest of me likes the speed of the indoor game. I played 3 times for two hours last week and just love it. No major plans for this weekend. Still nice enough to get outside and walk/jog. The leaves are in amazing color which is good, and they are piling up on my lawn which is not so good. I had a decent minus 4 lbs this week at weight watchers but still not back to the leaving Fitness Ridge number. I bought a bunch of new clothes this week in a size I haven't worn this century. I am looking forward to handicapping the Breeders Cup next weekend. And John McCain has stopped running ads in Wisconsin because he is hopelessly behind here so my TV viewing is slightly better. I'll be glad when they all stop running election ads. Hope all's well wherever you are reading this Peace, Jim

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hello, It's not me!

"So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key"
The Eagles
As I picked out today's music quote it occurred to me that maybe I had used this exact quote before. I'm certainly way too lazy to read through my previous 70 or so posts to find out if I have used it. So I figured I would make this offer to my loyal reader (s). If I ever duplicate a song lyric, and I will no doubt do it one day, the first person who posts a comment saying I repeated the lyric gets a free Sunshine Daydream t-shirt.

Speaking of music I saw two concerts this week that really epitomized most everything that is
both great and bad with live shows today. The first show was rock legend Todd Rundgren. He played in a 1,000 seat venue, $26 ticket price, maybe 350 fans. He had a full band, no opening act, and played 19 songs. Of the 19 songs 12 were his entire new cd called arena. 2 were covers of other artists songs and of the 7 remaining tunes one was a mainstream hit. He chided the audience for requesting songs and told them they would need anger management classes when he was done. These are his fans and he is talking down to them. His signature hit "Hello, it's me" was nowhere to be found and it seemed he took pleasure in denying his audience what they wanted. Shame on you Todd Rundgren. Easily one of the most disappointing shows of the year.

The next night I got to see young singer songwriter Matt Wertz. He played to a crowd of maybe 200 in a venue built for about that number. Ticket prices were $16 and he had an opening act, and a full supporting band. I was easily the oldest person at the show as at least 80% of the audience looked to be UW students. Matt Wertz had a lot of fun, completely engaged his audience, talked about Madison, let his audience choose songs, and played snippets of Bob Marley, Cheap Trick, Colbie Collait, Taylor Swift, and Michael Jackson. He was genuinely excited to be performing and regenerated the faith in live music I had lost the night before. Go buy his new cd Under Summer Sun or bug me and I'll burn a copy if you promise to buy one of his other cds when you realize how good it is.

Some other tidbits from this week. I went back to Weight Watchers this week and it seems that somewhere between Ivins, Utah and Madison, WI. I swallowed a cinder block. I get to spend the next couple weeks getting rid of the last week. Oh well, I didn't expect the number on the scale to be the same number I left in Utah but I'll get it back. I played indoor volleyball for 2.5 hours Wednesday afternoon. It is a different game than the sand version. You move so much quicker and jump much easier. I think it had been over a decade since I had last played indoors and that part about jumping, well it was a new thing landing on the hard ground and my knees reminded me of that for the next two days. Undefeated Penn St, and their legion of crazy Pennsylvania people and one really old coach come to Madison this weekend and I am tailgating most of Saturday for only my second tailgate in my time in Madison. Should be fun and the temperature is expected to be in the mid-70's. Perfect fall day. And I hope it's perfect wherever you are. Peace, Jim

Saturday, October 4, 2008


"There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb

There are oceans and rivers enough to cross,

Enough to last till the end of time.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love

It's the only thing that there's just too little of

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,

No, not just for some but for everyone"

Burt Bacharach

So it's a fall saturday in Madison and of course that means football. The Ohio St Buckeyes are in town for a night time game and the city braces for the onslaught of drunken badger fans. Also in town this weekend is the Midwest Harvest fest which is a 3 day rally for legalization of Marijuana. We also wrap up the World Dairy Expo which brings a ton of people into town to celebrate cheese, milk and cows. Now we'll get some people in the store from the first and third groups, but that middle group is right in our wheel house and should make it a busy weekend at Sunshine Daydream.

I really had a pretty strong case of the Fitness Ridge post-partum blues this week. I felt like I was deserting the friends I left behind, especially Adriana who has three weeks left and arrived the same day as me. I also miss the staff, miss the feeling of being part of a "team" struggling together, and miss the structure of the program. But that's part of life and you can't live at the Ridge forever unless you marry into the owners family and that's not going to work for me. I am hoping to stop feeling sorry for myself, and get a lot more serious this week. I have workouts scheduled next week with my workout partner Karen. The weather should be slightly more friendly( it was cold here this week), the Brewers should be eliminated so I wont have to hang out in bars to be with my friends, and I'm ready to win my bet with my friend Alex ( first to lose 20lbs but I have to lose 25 as a handicap).

I have a pretty fun week ahead, and the busier I am the less likely I am to sit around and eat out of boredom. Volleyball game monday, Todd Rundgren concert tuesday, Matt Wertz concert wednesday and big tailgate next Saturday for the PSU-Wisconsin game.

I was happy to hear that there were a few changes being implemented at the Ridge. Even though no matter how hard I begged I couldn't get them implemented before I left, I feel like I left a few gifts for my future camp mates. They have started grilling on friday afternoons and at first it was going to be boca burgers but after a petulant temper tantrum about the merits of boca I was told that yesterday was ground turkey burgers. I know that Paige has added some tennis rackets, and basketballs to the fitness equipment at the Ridge. I got some basketball in when I was in Utah. Unfortunately I left behind enough bricks for a new dorm. And finally my Ridge sources say a pool volleyball net is on the way. And let me just say it well take a team to yank me out of the pool if that is indeed the case.

One last word about today's music quote. It takes a very special person to identify the "hitmaker" as Burt Bacharach. There was no one that supplied more singers with hit songs in the 60's and 70's. He's gone on to own and race champion race horses and recently has taken the reigns in trying to get states to allow jockeys to race at a more humane weight. He is one of the good people and still gets out with his orchestra and entertains. Love, sweet, love Jim

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wisconsin cold, dark, cheesey and home

"Yeah now I’m rolling down this canyon drive

With your laughter in my head

I’m gonna have to block it out somehow to survive

And I’m alive"

Jackson Browne
So as I am driving through the Rockies and I got a call from someone I love telling me that a person who has brought much joy to my life has passed away. Everyone knew Paul Newman was sick, and his death came as no big surprise but still I would certainly be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the contribution that Mr. Newman made not only to cinema but also to making the world a better place. He starred in the two greatest movies of all time The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He started a charitable food business that raised over 250 million dollars for various charities. If I could have 1/1,ooo,oooth of the impact on people that Paul did I would consider my life a success. So I gladly salute you Butch Cassidy, Eddie Felson, Reggie Dunlop, Judge Roy Bean, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, and the great Mr. Henry Gondorff.

So I wrapped up trip two to Fitness Ridge last Saturday and headed out on my 28 hour trek across the country from Utah through Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin. I
had a very nice weigh out Friday checking out down 32 lbs for the trip, down 9 per cent in body fat, down 6 points in BMI and down 17 inches on my chest, waist, hips, arms, and legs.

I need to thank so many people for aiding me on my 5 week stay. It is hard for me to imagine a place where I feel more loved than at the Ridge. Again the staff is simply amazing, supportive, motivating, and friendly. I need to give a few special thanks. There is no one cooler at the ridge than marketing director Eric Jackson. He pushed me through extra circuit classes, kicked my ass in two on two basketball, shared some meals and lots of sports talk. If you have problems at the ridge he is the guy to talk to, and he knows deep inside that a mountain west team in a BCS bowl is well not appropriate. He shares an office with new program director, Paige. She has really added to the program and gave me a great sounding board about how I think the program can move forward. Finally, I can never say enough about Sharon. She is the most compassionate, loving personal trainer God has ever created. She motivates every camper that comes through the door, and when anyone contacts me who has been at the Ridge they always ask about Sharon.
As great as the staff is; the greatest thing about the ridge is the other campers. Each week you throw together 30 to 40 people from all over the map wake them before sun up, torture them with 6 hours a day of exercise, and feed them table scraps. And you know what it does for them? It binds them together, gives them a sense of teamwork, and makes them want to help everyone in the same boat as them. There are way too many people that shared my 5 weeks to list here and I am sure I would omit someone from the list so let me just thank everyone who was at the Ridge with me. I owe all of my success to the the campers and when I feel like I can't take another step, I can see you guys cheering at the stop sign or fake laughing at something stupid I said or convincing me that a trip to Vegas will be "relaxing" and it makes me take that next step. I hope some of you will consider coming in back in March for a week or two when I make trip 3 to the ridge. Until then you can always get an update on my life here. And aster 28 hours of driving I am happy to report that my volleyball team won 15-5, 15-7, 15-7 Monday night. Until next time Peace and Love and one picture that sums up what all of you think, Jim

Thursday, September 18, 2008

8 days left

"I find it magical (hey)
I feel like I'm loving you in 1963 (hey)
Flowers in my hair (hey)
Little bitty hearts upon my cheek
Baby, you'll be on my mind 'till I kiss you next time"
Rachael Yamagata
So I have finished close to four weeks of my current 5 week stay. Jacky got on the plane this morning and is safely back home in Madison. She left losing three pounds in her 3 day stay at the ridge and and with a little more respect for what her husband has been doing for these 10 weeks in Utah. She really held her own, participated in the hikes and classes and lectures, and made some new friends. It was good to have her see what I have been living.

Here's a picture of Jacky and her hiking group after completing a very tough hike named camelbak

Thursday is of course treading day at the ridge and I spent my hour of class jogging laps around the pool. It was over 100 today and I was sweating like Sarah Palin at a Teen sex clinic but it was a damn good workout. We had the frittata again( breakfast never changes) and a turkey BLT for lunch. I was at the frosh football game again and settled for Subway for dinner.

Weekend plans call for the five people pictured here and 1 or 2 not pictured to head to Vegas. We'll be staying downtown at the Golden Nugget and have plans to see Mamma Mia Saturday night at 10 pm. There's no one in that picture that has stayed up past 10 pm in weeks but I have high hopes we can get it done.

I need to again thank the person that made it possible for me to spend this additional time at Fitness Ridge. My total weight loss is over 120 lbs and I'm going to need some new clothes that's for sure :) I'm looking forward to getting home again. I have a volleyball game next Monday the 30th of September and I plan to be home for it. The badgers have back to back home night games coming up the first weeks of October vs Ohio St and Penn St and I'm not sure there is enough beer in the state to satiate the UW students those two weekends. I hope everyone has a weekend as exciting as the one I have planned. my last trip to Vegas for a while but it feels fresh again for sure. Peace and Love, Jim