Monday, April 28, 2008

What's New

"All I wanna do is have some fun

I got a feeling I'm not the only one"

Sheryl Crow

I apologize to anyone still reading this dribble. My life just does not generate that much excitement when I'm not traipsing up the hill. But anyway I feel obligated to at least make an attempt to update every once in awhile.

Let's start with volleyball. Tonite is monday April 28th in Madison, Wisconsin and our game has thankfully been "rained out". Why thankfully? Because by rain I really mean the freezing rain, sleet, snow mix that began falling today at about 3pm. Mix in temperstures in the 20's tonite and playing volleyball in the sand is no fun. The good news is my team is now 3-0 winning 8 of the 9 games we have played. Not too shabby for the ragtag group of players that I can promise you instills no fear in our opponents eyes when they look across the net.

Live Music update. Been to a lot of shows in my life, waited in lots of lines, have been first in line at ticketmaster plenty of times. But today for the first time ever I scored front row seats for a fairly major show and I was THIRD in line. I went to the venue this morning at about 9:15am and there were two people in line. When tickets went on sale at 10 am there were about 10 people in line. They opened two windows so I had to pick which line to go into. I had heard one old dude talk about hating the floor so I knew not to go behind him. Dude in front of me is buying one ticket, and there's a six ticket limit. I hear the teller tell him I can get you sect 1 row A. I say I'll take the four next to him if he doesn't want them. She says nothing. Guy in front of me pays for his ticket and the lady teller hands me 4 tickets in the first row. And the best thing about it no ticketmaster fees at the venue. $68 per ticket. Who am I seeing? SHERYL CROW. I did get some live music viewing in friday night this past week when I saw The Lucas Cates Band at Club Tavern. Only problem was the openers played until about 10:30 and they didn't hit the stage until after 11. Kinda late for us old people. Especially when you have an 8:30 24 stage circuit workout scheduled for the morning.

Workouts and eating have been going well. I am hungry a lot but I have learned to deal with it. My second weigh in at Weight Watchers was good for -4.4 lbs. I have not missed a day working out since taking sunday off a week ago. Trying to do treading twice a week, Circuit training 3 times a week. Various other stuff on other days. On top of the gym workouts I have been able to get out and actually walk some this past week. We actually had nice weather some of last week. Went around the Oregon High School track yesterday just to time my self and and see how far I go based on my Tom Petty mix playlist, so i can take that anywhere and measure myself. Plus after dinner saturday night I needed some extra cardio.

Saturday night was the 11 year anniversary of one of the greatest parties ever thrown and of course the accompanying marriage to my sweetheart Jacky. We celebrated with dinner at my favorite Madison restaurant The Capitol Chophouse. I had shrimp cocktail, Wedge salad, 10 oz filet, and baked potato no toppings, and one Amstel Light. Seemed like a good amount of food, and it tasted really, really good :)

This saturday is of course the first saturday in May. And that can mean one and only thing. The Kentucky Derby will be taking place at beautiful Churchill Downs. I am making the trip down to suburban Chicago for opening day at Arlington Park ( the closest horse track to Madison) and to bet the Derby and friday's Kentucky Oaks. So who will win the Derby? I'm no favorite player by any stretch, but one horse has really shown me a freakish turn of foot and I will be playing the favorite saturday. Big Brown looked the part in his Florida Derby win and I think he repeats that big run on saturday. Use him over Bob's Blackjack, Cowboy Cal, Recapturetheglory, and Pyro. Best of Luck to all the participants in this weekends big races and best of luck to all of you as well. Peace, Jim

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sara, Sara, Sara !!!!

"I do it for love, love, love, love

Oh, only gonna get get what you give away,

So give love."


So I went to the House of Blues in Chicago to see Sara Bareilles headline a show with the opening act being Rachael Yamagata. For you long time blog readers you may remember that I was extremely dissapointed to miss Sara's Madison show which was held at my favorite Madison music venue, the 200 seat High Noon Saloon. A funny thing happened in the two months since Sara came to Madison. She has blown up and has the current number one song in the country. So the house of blues 1300 seat venue was sold out as was the show in Milwaukee and Minnesota. But thru the good people at ebay I was able to secure a seat.

The House of Blues is a pretty small venue that is pretty much standing room only. But they offer a package that if you spend $50 bucks in the restaurant/bar you get a reserved bar stool for the show. The seat was great, 30 yards from the stage dead center. I had tablemates that were two very friendly local ladies who bought me a couple of those blue cans you see on the table. First booze in 3 months but only 105 calories each. I was afraid this show would be predominately young girls in the 14-18 range but the crowd was very mixed all ages and lots of guys.

About the music, Rachel Yamagata is a fabulous depressed singer song writer who grew up in the DC area and attended one of my high school sister schools Holton Arms. She can rock, has a fabulous cd entitled Happenstance and delivers a strong live show.

Sara Bareilles gave an amazing performance. I can not be more impressed by this girls music, talent, stage presence, and attitude. She is a UCLA grad, smart, clever, and she gets "it" which is so refreshing. She introduced her band twice, thanked the fans repeatedly, was self deprecating and funny, and has the voice of an angel. This girl has the voice of Linda Ronstadt and the song writing ability of Joni Mitchell. Nothing but big things for her from her on out. She also broke out an acoustic version of Van Morrison's Into the Mystic. Just an awesome night of music and a great time start to finish.

Week two at home has gone well, we won our first volleyball match monday night. Our second match on wednesday was "sunnied out". Wednesday was the first 70 degree day in Madison and the bar we play at has free beer the first 70 degree day and the volleyball court was a giant beach party. The weather obviously has improved here and that's great for the store and great for the owners disposition as well. I got out and walked 4 days this week and hit the gym every morning I was in town including saturday morning for a 30 station circuit workout with my friends Karen and Jenny.

We had our first cookout last night and people over to watch fitness ridge dvds and play wii. My wife makes a great hamburger. There was also a big veggie tray, the amazing buffalo dip in a slightly healthier version, and a bundt cake that looked good but I didn't partake. Had my first weight watchers weigh in wednesday this week. My first week at WW I lost 7 lbs.

Thats all the excitement in my life. I hope everyone reading is having fun cause I am. All my best Peace, Jim

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My Dogs

"Well, I been pickin' it up around me
Daisy, I think I'm sane
Well, I'm awful glad
And I guess you're really to blame, blame"


This is Maggie, She is a little bit of a freak and has an unnatural fear of roofers and pretty much anything above her head. She will not eat your cat.

This is Daisy Jane who was named after the song by America. She likes to bark at UPS trucks, school buses and especially loves barking at farm vehicles. She will eat your cat and has proven this twice now.

The girls have actually gotten pretty friendly. But they both share a strong love for sleep. Greyhounds are not skittish or high strung, they are more like walking teddy bears. They chill about 23 hours a day and have very sweet dispositions.

Daisy Jane wearing her slave clothes. She was actually a decent racer, and eventhough 6 years her senior she can still outrun Maggie. Her stride is fluid and she can still really move.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Madison is still freezing

We ask of the days too much
expect of each other nothing but, revelation
one day, none of that will matter any way
Maybe all things in time diminish
let me just have this sense of wonder at the finish

Meg Hutchinson

Just thought I would give a little wrap-up of my first week away from the ridge. First it is very hard to believe spring is ever coming to Madison because it is the 12th of April and it is snowing. The temps are around 32 so if it's not snowing you get some freezing rain, sleet, rain with lots of wind. Ugh!!!

I signed up at Weight Watchers on wednesday night. Of course the lady who checked me in remembered me from previous attempts, and of course she was very impressed by my.....TAN. Anyway, much like the ridge, weight watchers is 90% women and the diversity of sizes is similar some people are really fit, others have plenty of work to do. I am really starting to spend a lot of time with women in my fitness struggles and let me just get this over with now. I apologize for whichever member of my gender made an idiot of himself. That's pretty much what we guys do.

I spent a fabulous friday night pursuing my goal of seeing as much live music as possible. High Noon Saloon hosted two wonderful Boston female singer-songwriters Meg Hutchinson and Kris Delmhorst The pictures above are from the show. Meg opened the show and is the cutie in the picture with me. Very talented songwriter and came back to sing with Kris during her set and enjoyed a shot and beer as well. Kris has been compared to Norah Jones and she has a big, big voice and had tons of fans in the saloon. To be honest I had never heard of either of the singers before the show, but female acoustic is right in my wheelhouse and it was pleasant start to finish. And special thanks to Meg for posing for the picture me.

I can not stress this enough GO SEE SOME LIVE MUSIC!!! But if you do, do not be like the people behind me. People who talk while the musicians are playing drive me insane. These people are working hard to entertain and it is rude to them and to your neighbors who are trying to enjoy the show. I do not give a damn about your mixed doubles tennis schedule. Take that talk outside or atleast away from the stage. Sorry about the rant. Volleyball starts Monday. Time to defend that fall championship. Looking forward to being quicker in the sand. Worked out every morning this week. Treading, Circuit, long cardio on the treadmill. Feel good just need some warm weather. Have a great week. Peace, Jim

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Summer Goals

Mellow is the man who knows what he's been missing
Many many men can't see the open road.

Many is a word that only leaves you guessing
Guessing 'bout a thing you really ought to know, ooh!
You really ought to know...
Led Zeppelin

So I have three main goals this summer 1) I want to exercise, eat well and lose weight, 2) I want to play as much volleyball as possible, and 3) I want to see as much live music as I can.

In keeping with that third goal I went to a local tavern last night to see a band called "No Quarter" They are a Led Zeppelin tribute band. Thats them in the picture above. Now I am not what you would call a huge Led Zep fan but I certainly respect their impact. Now these guys really rocked, they dressed like the Zep guys and did a fabulous job. They played for 3 hours non-stop, did acoustic songs, broke out a mandolin and a double neck guitar all for the 20 or so of us watching in a little Madison bar. Congrats to group that obviously knows what they are doing and has a lot of fun.

I didn't get home til 1 am and wanted no part of working out this morning, but I have a workout partner and so I dragged my butt out of bed and made it to the gym. My partner was a no show but that's not the point :) I got on the treadmill, did some upper body work and sweated for a good hour. And let me add that although I spent 3 hours in a bar last night it was just water and diet pepsi for me. I don't feel like I am missing out not drinking, and I don't crave it when I am there. I wish I could say the same for the Nachos the dude next to me got. Am I a bad man for wishing the stranger would go to the bathroom so I steal a few chips off his plate?

Today is windy, cold and rainy in Madison. Terrible for business but a great excuse to go see the the new Rolling Stones Imax concert movie, Shine a Light directed by Martin Scorcese. The Stones are without a doubt the hardest working band in the history of rock and roll. Mick gets a better workout on stage than I would get going to the stop sign three times. And they are all fit as drums. The movie is not Marty's freshman effort "The Last Waltz" by any measure but it is entertaining and a must see for any serious Stones fans. Casual fans are going to be a little bored because the concert is not a greatest hits show at all. Lot's of deep tracks and rarities. You do get to see Keith Richards in 50 feet of glory. There is no one on the planet who has packed more living into his life than Keith and it shows. But I have no doubt a good week for Keith is equal to 20 years of fun to us mere mortals. So to sum it up if you like the Stones you'll enjoy the ride and if you love the Stones you will be very entertained.

People are very kind given the chance. We have the jeopardy college tournament in town this weekend and it is way sold out, but a girl from South Carolina who is competing in the event dropped off tickets for all four of the tapings for us at the store. So we are going to go root for the girl eventhough I'm not sure where she goes to college. I tell you good karma is wonderful.

That's all the news here in Wisconsin, Have a fun weekend, go support your local musicians and Peace, Jim

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The wrap-up

"And as the moon rises, he sits by his fire,
Thinking about women and glasses of beer;
And closing his eyes as the dogies retire,
He sings out a song which is soft but it's clear—As if maybe someone could hear.
Goodnight, you moonlight ladies;
Rockabye sweet baby James . . .
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose;
Won't you let me go down in my dreams
And rockabye sweet baby James."
James Taylor
It took me about 25 hours spread out over three days to make the drive from St. George to Madison with the only minor problem being the snow and unavailability of hotels in the Vail, Colorado area of the drive. I spent the first night in Denver, the second night in Omaha, and the third night in my own bed.

As I mentioned before saying goodbye was always the hardest part of the time at Fitness Ridge and friday was the worst of all the days because I had to say goodbye to my fellow campers and all the great staff people at the Ridge as well. There is a litany of people at the Ridge I should thank, however, it's best to just thank all of the wonderful people who made my stay in Utah memorable, enjoyable and rewarding. I look forward to seeing many of you again in the late summer and hope to convince many of my fellow campers from the past six weeks to come in for a little "tune up."

I know you guys want totals so I will pass the grand total on. It was 63 pounds in the six weeks at the Ridge and one week in Vegas. It's a nice start but plenty more what that came from. I got my first workout in this morning and I know you will find this hard to believe but it was a full "treading" class without Michelle reminding me to "make my body want to change." I also spent sometime researching some walking paths and will get on those tomorrow if the rain stops and we can get the temperature up above 40. I'm keeping a food log because the one thing that is most important for losing weight is calories in. Exercise is great but you can always out eat your exercise, so for now it under 2000 calories a day.

This year's NCAA tourney was as bad as I can ever remember. Although it was a highlight for me to watch UNC lose twice on Saturday. Just when they got their fans to believe they were coming all the way back from 28 points down they hit the wall and lost by 18. It was also fun and painful to watch future NBAers from Memphis chuck up some ugly free throws late in the game. A 9 point lead with 2 minutes to play gets it done 95% of the time but not last night. Congrats to Bill Self and Kansas.

I also saw the movie 21 about the MIT blackjack teams. The book was a pretty fun informative read. The movie was silly and a bag full of inaccuracies, ridiculousness, and lunacy when it came to portraying these very successful blackjack teams. Read the book, "Bringing Down the House" don't see the movie.

Let's hope we all have fabulous summers. I am signed up for volleyball 4 nights a week and can't wait for the season to start next week. No major travel plans except of course back to Utah in late August. Again thanks to my angel whomever you may be.

As for you blog readers. Take the time to leave a comment if you want me to keep this going through the next 6 weeks at the ridge. I have gotten a lot of nice feedback from the readers but have no idea how many of you are out there. I have had two people find this blog who will be attending the Ridge shortly and I want to wish them both good luck..... Kristin and Kelly have FUN in Utah. Like me hopefully you will be able to come home with an awesome tan, and if you see a crotchety old lady on the stop sign hike, flip her off for me. Peace to all my friends and come visit Madison it's beautiful in the summer here. Jim

Friday, April 4, 2008

Two Amazing People I need to thank

"I’ve got an angel
She doesn’t wear any wings
She wears a heart that could melt my own
She wears a smile that could make me want to sing
She gives me presents
With her presence alone
She gives me everything I could wish for
She gives me kisses on the lips just for coming home
She's so busy changing the world
Just one smile can change all of mine
We share the same soul"
Jack Johnson

I have two extraordinary thank yous I need to pass on today. The first one is to my loving, wonderful wife who has sacrificed so much for me to do this. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge her contribution to my journey not just at fitness ridge but all of my life. In no way would I have been able to do any of this if she had not stepped up and run the business, the house, the dogs, and everything else it took to keep us floating while I was attacking this mountain. I am forever grateful for her ability to love me.

Last trip to the stop sign and representing Sunshine Daydream on top of the mountain( a sweaty rep)

Manly man getting his facial, probably should have waxed that hairy chest instead.
Diane and her dog Lucy. Diane has been here 5 of my 6 weeks and will be missed dearly. She is a delightful, charming, beautiful woman whose husband needs to recognize all her gifts.

My second big thank you goes to I'm not sure. Someone, and to be 100% honest with you I have no idea whom, has made an incredible gesture of kindness to me. I fear I will never be able to properly thank them for what they have done. It is without a doubt the nicest thing short of saying I Do that I can ever remember someone doing for me. Whomever is responsible for this I hope you will let me know because I want to thank you properly, but if you choose not to I will respect those wishes. I am flabbergasted that someone would do this, I was frankly shocked and amazed when I heard.

As I was sweating my ass off yesterday in treading class on the treadmill, John the reservation guy said he needed to see me. In his office he told me that someone, and he would not tell me whom, had made it possible for me to spend 6 more weeks at Fitness Ridge at no additional cost to myself. He said I could do it right now or later. I need to go home for a little while. I need to take to this stuff to the real world. I need to see my wife, my dogs, my business. But I will be back, and I will be back soon, most likely in late August and September for 6 more weeks of Fitness Ridge. And to whomever made this possible I can only say. Thank you, I love you, and will use your kindness and extreme generosity to make you proud.

Thanks again to all of you for your support and I will give you all a complete wrap-up when I get home. I will do my best to keep this thing going with updates during the summer, and I will kick it up a notch when I come back. Peace, Jim

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A few more pics

Al and I at the stop sign after 4.5 miles of fun

I really never thought this day would arrive when I started this journey six weeks ago

The merry band of Mormon gypsies pick up a hitchhiker

Heather who carries her dog Coco up the hill with her.

I thought the background of the picture was really cool so I threw it on. You can also see the great joy I express on the walk each morning.

I am now less than 48 hours away from heading north out of Utah. The car is back in working order. I got my first massage ever in my life. I was nekkid for it and got to listen to Jack Johnson. Thanks Sheila. One last trip up the mountain tomorrow. Thursday is pizza day at the ridge. I can't believe it's almost over. :) Peace, Jim

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

To The Top

"There ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you"
Written by Ashford and Simpson
Sorry about the delay after a brief weekend trip to Vegas the old battery in the Maxima spazzed out, causing the security system to freeze the car including making the trunk unopenable, and the trunk had the laptop in it.

Lets start with the best or most exciting thing to report. Monday morning I scaled the entire mountain. All 4.5 miles including the ridiculous incline of the last mile now have my footprints on them. I got my picture taken by the famous stop sign. I really think the people that work at the ridge were happier for me than I was for myself but it was a major accomplishment from where I started 6 weeks ago. They really should put my picture up about halfway up the mountain with a sign that says this slob made it to the top you'll be really embarrased if you don't make it. I really need to give a special shout out to Al from Asheville, NC who jumped out of the van to coerce, encourage and basically will me the last mile. She was alot of help to man who needed it.

A quick Vegas wrap-up. I spent friday night in the Venetian Sportsbook with about ten guys from Wisconsin including my good friend Alex. We watched the Wisconsin-Davidson game and while there were some very disappointed badger fans there was one really tan guy in the group, the only one not drinking, who was happy to cash his bet on Davidson. I also got to spend some time with my good friend Bobby who was in from London. Bobby was also the first person to see me since the trip to Utah that was more impressed with the weight loss then the tan I am sporting. It made me feel good cause I could have gotten a really good tan sitting on a cruise ship for less money and alot less work.

This week is another big week at Fitness Ridge. They are really starting to push the limits of the current facilities. It's not going to get any better with the surge in popularity generated by the plug on Biggest Loser, but hopefully they realize that you can only put so many people in the pool or weight room at one time. Also unique this week is the number of new campers. We only had six out of this weeks group of 38 stay over from last week.

I really am ready to go home, see my wife, see my dogs. It has been over seven weeks since I left Madison and I am ready to take all of I have learned and achieved here and apply it to life. It is going to be very hard to say goodbye to all the people who have been so supportive of my efforts here but all I can do is hope to make them proud. I need some volleyball players if you live near Madison, the season starts next week. Hope all is well Peace, Jim