Monday, June 29, 2009

Honey you really tempt me you know the way you look so kind.

And I guess that's why
They call it the blues
Time on my hands
Could be time spent with you
Elton John
We spent most of the past week celebrating the 40th anniversary of my lovely wife, Jacky, entering this world. I am pretty proud that I was able to pull off a surprise party without her having a clue, well at least no clue until she started seeing her friends cars in the parking lot as we were heading into the High Noon Saloon. A lot of Jacky's friends made the effort on a work night( for them not me) to come out and party even though we didn't get the party started til around 9 pm and didn't wrap it up until they were turning on the lights and stacking the chairs on the tables. And just for the record even though I was pulling back the covers at 3 am I was in the gym at 8:30 the following morning.

We had 40 red velvet cupcakes for the occasion. Well I guess the actual number that made it in the door was 39 as it was a fairly sizable 2 mile drive from the bakery to the bar and I thought it was only right that I taste the cupcakes to insure that my guests were getting something tasty. :)

Here was my chance to be a rock star and the bar featured live band karaoke by the band The Gomers. These guys are ridiculously talented and have well over a 1000 songs at their disposal for you to sing. And they can make even a clown like me sound okay because I'm fairly certain I didn't see anyone running from the building like their ears were on fire during my song.

Hard to imagine me looking goofier than this. So I can imagine you want to know what song I sang. It was a little Jackson Browne 'Running on Empty'. Can be much of shock to anyone that reads this. I believe there is a video copy of it running around which I promise to share with you guys if I get a copy of it.

It was really hot in Madison last week. Creeping into the 90's with a ton of humidity. Now I can sweat in just about any temperature but I can really sweat in warm and humid. I was having to switch shirts and hats midway through volleyball matches, and then sweating through a third shirt just sitting around after the games. It was a little disgusting for sure, and the locals were happy to bitch about the heat. But not me I remember winter all too well and I don't care how hot it is give scorching over snow and cold 8 days a week.
My scale at home has not been happy with my cupcake eating, summer shandy drinking, the last week so I am putting off an official weigh-in as long as possible. I am hoping to avoid the little "hey we miss you, get your fat ass back into a meeting" card I get from weight watchers when I have been delinquent in my weekly weigh in. I have had a really awesome summer as far as working out goes. I was in the gym every morning last week, on the path multiple times as well. I'm lifting weights, doing 100's of sit ups a week, and jogging further and further both on the treadmill and on the path. It doesn't mean I don't sweat walking from the car into the movie theater but at least I don't pant as well. :) I saw Transformers last week and it is a steaming pile of crap. Perhaps the worst movie I have seen this year. I also saw a really cute movie with n excellent soundtrack called Away We Go. Not spectacular but easily more than a handful of laughs. I, like most everyone else, was shocked by the passing of Michael Jackson last week. Flawed in many ways, and the product of an extremely tainted childhood, he still brought joy to millions and his musical talent is unquestioned. Rest in peace MJ Peace and ABC,123,DoReMi, jim

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Don't forget the Motor City.

Every now and then we hear our song
We've been having fun all summer long
The Beach Boys

First off let me wish a Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially mine basking in the sun down in Venice, Florida. I just got back from Detroit. Have another fun filled busy week here in Madison. And now that summer has officially begun lets again declare this to be the best.summer.ever.

I think since the last time I posted I have had two weigh ins losing 3.5 the first week, and 1.1 the second bringing my total to 19lbs since returning from the ridge in April. Okay but not spectacular and if you factor in the 4 lbs I gained between Jan 1 and April 15th, closer to mediocre. But I'll take mediocre when factored in with a pile of fun and a ton of sports.

Here's a turtle someone made on the side of the volleyball court. They were kind enough to put an 'M' on his back and make him a true Maryland Terrapin for me.

Wednesday night volleyball team, and easily my most successful team so far. We haven't lost and we have won 20 of 21 games, and 7 of 7 matches. Monday night lost in the finals of double elimination tournament last week that saw us playing four of the last 5 matches of the night and me hobbling around sore as heck on Tuesday.

I made my first ever trip to Detroit this past weekend to meet up with my old teacher at Biscayne College, Andy Kreutzer. We went and saw the Brewers lose to the Tigers Saturday at Comerica Park. I know baseball is America's past time but my goodness it just bores me to death, Give me college basketball or any football for my sports viewing.

Old Tiger stadium is in the midst of being torn down. And my trip to Detroit was truly eye opening. The city is in complete disarray. It was hard for me to believe that I was still in America at times. The number of abandoned and burnt out buildings was staggering. I have never seen 40 and 50 story office buildings with broken out windows and not a tenant anywhere before. I read today that the average home price was now 18,500. Even the Smirnoff factory was boarded up and I would think that the liquor would be the last thing to dry up.

Here's my favorite picture of my trip to Detroit. This happy couple during the National Anthem. Now if you are making a concerted effort to protest bynot standing during the anthem I can understand, but come on, hang up the phone, get off your lazy ass and act like a respectable member of society. Especially if your goofy date thinks he needs to be saluting during the anthem.

This silo-like building in Ypsilanti, Michigan was voted the most phallic building in the U.S. by whomever votes on those type of things. It sits right on the entrance to Eastern Michigan University.

These are the football and basketball stadiums at The University of Michigan. I believe with the current expansion the football stadium will seat 120,000 people which is a staggering number. Ann Arbor was a really cool college town. I loved wandering through their little shopping district and knowing the the hippie store in Madison was way nicer than the one in Ann Arbor.

Ah My Nemesis!! I saw a couple movies recently and none worth recommending except UP. My favorite movie theater in an effort to make all of us just a little fatter has decided to make the popcorn "butter" self serve. Popcorn is without a doubt, one of if not, the most difficult food for me to control myself around. Now they want me to turn my popcorn into a greasy mess of floating kernels. Oh well just another reason for me to stay away from the theater.

I hope everyone is ready for a wonderful summer. Two short months until I am back up the hill. It feels like St George in Madison today as the temperatures reach the mid 90's. Rest assured you will get no complaints from me. After living through winter I will take the heat any day. All my best and lots of peace and Love, Jim

Friday, June 12, 2009

Space Camp

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did
And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man
Elton John
I can not, this week, type anything else about volleyball, music, working out and expect you to want to read it, so I am turning to the professionals at The Onion to entertain you with one boys excellent space camp adventure . Peace and happy flag day!! Jim

Wow. I can't believe I'm really here. When I told my parents that I wanted to go to space camp, I never thought they'd actually agree. Especially not after they took me to see that doctor and he said that if I didn't lose some weight this summer I might end up getting diabetes. Mom and Dad seemed pretty concerned after that. But, hey, here I am! Ready to learn all there is to know about the stars and the comets and the universe at Planet Thin!
Boy, there sure are a lot of fat kids here at space camp. Wasn't expecting that.
This is going to be the best summer ever. Man, I can't wait until they let us go inside a real NASA shuttle, with all those switches for the rocket boosters and the thrusters. It's going to be so cool. Look over there! I bet that treadmill is the same kind of treadmill the real astronauts use. And that, right there, is like, maybe, the same kind of tire course that real astronauts have to run through.
And…um…that's probably the same gym rope they all have to climb.
All the kids back at school are going to be so jealous. No way are they going to keep teasing me once they find out I went to space camp and spent my summer learning all about navigating the cosmos. Hmm. The other campers don't look quite as excited. In fact, for kids who are about to spend three months making awesome robots that can fly across the surface of Mars, they look pretty miserable. I guess they just don't love outer space as much as I do.
But there's probably nobody in the world who loves outer space as much as I do! That's why being here, at space camp, is a dream come true.
They really do have everything. From the looks of it, I'll even get to eat like a real astronaut. These "Zone Bars" everyone's carrying must be some kind of special freeze-dried food they take into space. There's not a lot of room inside the lunar module, after all, so you need to save space. That also explains why the space camp counselors took away all my potato chips on the bus.
The food pyramid posters are a little weird, though. But, I guess they kind of make sense, actually. Like, say, if you're ever stuck on some distant planet, and you need to know what's good to eat, learning about the food pyramid is probably super helpful. Yeah, that's it. That's what those posters are there for. Boy, this space camp is just the best!
Uh-oh. Better stand up straight. Here come our NASA-trained camp counselors! Strange. They look a little young to have graduated from the flight academy already. And why are they wearing gym shorts and coaches whistles instead of their regulation flight suits? Come to think of it, why am I the only one who showed up wearing a flight suit?
Well, at least they're carrying clipboards. I can't wait to hear them tell us about all the cool missions they've been on! And explain what jumping jacks and self-esteem-building exercises have to do with being a pilot.
Hmm…it looks like we have to take off our shirts. Probably just some standard NASA-protocol thing, I'm sure.
Okay, that was definitely not a space thing. I mean, I can understand them taking our measurements to figure out what size space suits we need. And I can understand them passing out those weight charts, since it's pretty cool to see how much you weigh now, and how much less you're going to weigh on, like, the moon. But telling us that we need to undergo a complete lifestyle change? How does that relate to space? I'm pretty sure Mission Control didn't tell Neil Armstrong he was worrying his parents with how inactive he was. Or how all he did was play video games all day long.
Or how he always turned to food when what he really needed was a friend.
What kind of space camp is this anyway? Where's the high-speed centrifuge? The state-of-the-art communications center? Why is that NASA nurse testing everyone for high cholesterol?
It's almost as if…it's…aw, crap!
No, wait. It can't be. This is not what it looks like. It's space camp. That's why this gymnasium they've taken us to has a giant model of the solar system. Yes! Check it out! A giant, sprawling replica of the solar….
Okay. Those are just a bunch of different colored exercise balls.
Unless…of course! This whole thing—the humiliating weigh-ins, the dangers-of-obesity film, the banner that reads "Get Ready to Kiss Those Pounds Goodbye"—it's all one big psychological experiment. The kind of experiment they put astronauts through to test their mental toughness. Yes, that's what this is! A test! The same test Buzz Aldrin had to take before he could walk on the moon. It all makes perfect sense now! There's no need to be worried. Just, sit down and find your inhaler….
I'm at space camp. This is space camp. Space camp. It's got to be space camp.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Like a Valentine from your Mother

"I've got a lot to lose
And I'm bettin' high
So I'm beggin' you
Before it ends
Just tell me where to begin"
Fiona Apple

It's Criminal how good a summer I am having, and the best part is summer hasn't even really begun yet. I hate to sound like a broken record but I am having so much fun, playing so much volleyball, and seeing so much amazing music. I got a new camera, a new pink and blue shirt, a new laptop, and a new reservation for Fitness Ridge. I will be heading by car to Utah on August 24th with a stop at Red Rocks Amphitheater on the 25th in Denver to see Jackson Browne, a weekend in Vegas and then arriving at the Ridge on August 30th. I will be competing in the last week of the Battle of the Bulge competition where I am a huge long shot to hit the board. It looks like 7 or 8 weeks total for this trip. So if you want to see the greatest songwriter in my lifetime come to Denver in August and if you want to hit some volleyballs in the pool, watch I guy sweat and whimper walking up a mountain, and hang out in 100 degree plus weather you know where to find me this fall.

Thursday night I spent an amazingly enjoyable night with 4 friends at the Jenny Lewis concert and then followed up that show by joining Jacky for two more bands at High Noon Saloon. Jenny Lewis was fabulous, Her openers were pleasant surprises as well, especially The Sadies whom I thought would be a little too country for my taste but turned out to be a fun little rock-a-billy band. It's a little hard to pigeon hole Jenny Lewis' music. Part acoustic singer-songwriter, part country, part gospel, part rocker chick. And her fans positively adore her and with good reason, as she is mega-talented, smart, funny and the definition of a sexy red headed siren.

Wanted to wish a happy birthday to Jon who wore the most appropriate shirt of all time to the Jenny Lewis show on his birthday. And a huge shout out to Allison who may have better musical taste than me, is more lyrically proficient, and who gets the task of lining up next to me 4 days a week in the sand.

Following the Jenny Lewis show I went to meet up with Jacky who was seeing her favorite local Madison band 'Steez'. I got there at 11:30 and was surprised to find the second opener still on stage and then they surprised me even more by staying on stage for 40 more minutes. I was starting to feel my age at this point but sucked it up and made the 12:40 start for my first taste of Steez. Now, yes I own the hippie store in town, but hippie music and extended jams are not my thing. Give me a girl and a guitar or piano and Jimbo is a happy camper. 5 bands, one night, and how bout my new found confidence in my ability to break out the pink :)

I snuck up to Ho Chunk Indian Casino for some off track betting. Cashed the last of my Rachel Alexandra winnings and bet a decent amount of it back on Charitable Man in the Belmont. Came back down to Madison and spent a wonderful early evening picnicking at the Capital Brewery Beer Garden with some good friends. You can't really tell from this picture but this place gets packed each Friday with in interesting combination of live music, families with kids running wild, guys and girls on motorcycles, beer connoisseurs and virtually every drunk yuppie in the city. But you can bring your own food, listen to good music over the din of 100's of people talking, and soak up the sun and suds.

Let me wrap up the rest of the week. Sheryl Crow and Harrison Ford were the answers to last weeks questions. I haven't gotten on the scale for an official weigh in this week yet but "eat less, exercise more" seems to be working out okay. I thought you might get a chuckle out of my current volleyball standings. Same stuff this week, our friend Meiko is back in town Friday, 4 more nights of volleyball and after a week off a night of trivia. More interval work, more miles on the paths, hopefully some more tennis, and of course more time with my friends. Best.Summer.Ever. Peace and Lots of Love, Jim

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


"Tell me do you know?
Tell me do you know?
I get so breathless, when you call my name"
Corinne Bailey Rae

Well we had a little visitor to one of our morning workouts this week. As this little rodent was hanging out between the elliptical and the window. Now seeing as I was the only man around at the time it somehow fell on me to eradicate said visitor. It's amazing how sexual equality arguments fly out the window when it comes to rodent removal. And just so we are clear I am not the type of guy who is very good at this kind of "work." We first tried to get him/her into a box but he had a little too much size for that plan. We went with the towel removal method which consisted of me standing about 8 feet away and throwing a towel at the critter. The 1st one landed about half on him which got him making strange little beeping/hissing noises which in turn got me screaming like baby. The second towel landed on him completely. I slowly crept towards the hissing pile of towels.... I know the thought of me creeping is amusing to all of you.... scooped the towels and bat in one swift motion and threw the entire pile out the window. I would say that the bat and towels were in my hand between .3 and .4 seconds. It was great to assert my food chain dominance. Not the greatest workout afterwards but lots and lots of laughs.

I saw UP this week and loved it. Easily the best animated movie of the last decade and second only to The Jungle Book, cause we all no nothing tops The Bear Necessities. Saw a little live music as well including a volleyball teammate's jazz group and a Tom Petty cover band. I'm not picking favorites but the Petty band also had a 50 person bachelorette party in attendance so the people watching and and shaking my head in bewilderment made that half of the night a little more fun, and okay, the music was slightly more to my taste. I am going to hear Jenny Lewis, who is the lead singer for a band called Rilo Kiley, on this Thursday and I know what you're thinking... "I have no idea who she or them are" But she and them are both really good indie bands and you would enjoy 'Melt Your Heart' by her or 'Silver Lining' by them. I also plan to get a new camera this week so I can get you some fresher pictures. The camera repair method was too pricey. So here's a picture of me staring longingly into my old camera

A wrap up of some other stuff. Had a nice weigh in this week meaning four out of the 5 trips to WW have been good since returning. I am thinking I need a day off this week as I have exercised in one form or another for I think 11 straight days maybe Thursday. We added a new high intensity interval workout this week that consisted of 3 minute sprints and 3 minute walks on the treadmill. We did 33 minutes Monday but should be up to 45 very soon. My volleyball teams bring me such joy and we have been kicking some ass as well. Its been weeks since we lost a match and I relish the chance to get in the sand each day and see the same faces in the same spots each night especially the setter in front of me who is there all 4 nights. I really need to give a big thanks to my friends who not only dragged me to Up but also got me out for 6 hours of pickup volleyball, sprinkled with some summer shandys, on Saturday and again on Sunday for some tennis and basketball. It's been a simply amazing year for me with new friends.

My trivia team competed Tuesday (first place) and Thursday(second place). Here are your final questions... we got them both right. 1) Walmart refused in 1996 to carry this artist's cds after they accused Walmart in the lyrics of a song of selling guns to minors? and 2) In the AFI list of greatest movie heroes this is the only actor to have two roles listed in the top ten? Best of Luck :) Hope everyone is having fun and as always Peace, Jim