Friday, March 27, 2015

The Favorite Day

What is your favorite day of the year? Top 5? They could be very obvious, that's acceptable. Your birthday. Christmas day. Thanksgiving day with all of that turkey and football, yes. absolutely.  Here's my top 5 favorite days of the year.

1. The first day of College Football - it's usually right around labor day. A lot of the games are blowouts. I don't care. Real football is back and I love it.

2. Umstead 100 Day - it's coming up this weekend! The Umstead 100 mile footrace through Umstead State Park. Once again I am in the pacer pool, and seriously looking forward to it. The competitors run 8 laps at 12.5 miles each to make 100 miles. This year I'm on the hook to pace 4 laps with 3 different friends. First up is a co-workers husband for 2 laps, then a professor from my alma mater and my old blogger friend Tammie. I can't wait! and yes, that means I'm supposed to run 50 miles.

3. Any day I cross a marathon finish line. To be more specific, I would have to say the Myrtle Beach Marathon day every year. Even if I'm not running the marathon that year, there are always plenty of friends down there turning in solid results.

4. Baseball's opening day - by the time it rolls around winter is over and I'm ready for some spring and bike rides.

5. The day I accomplish my big goal for any given year - if it's 300 days of yoga or running 1200 miles that always rocks.

I'm looking forward to the Umstead 100 this weekend! One of my favorite days of the year. Goal is 50 miles, let's see how that goes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Disney Weigh-in

Ah, the reported MMNW post vacation. It's always a disaster. So I had low expectations.

The day we left for Disney I hit the low for the week at 171.8 lbs and 16.7% body fat. That pretty much rocks, as Friday's usually do.  Of course, I didn't weigh in while we were out of town.

But, coming back to the scale showed quite the different tale. 178.2 lbs and 20.3% bodyfat on 3/16. Yep, added a solid 7 lbs. This week wasn't much better, coming in at 177.2 and 19.7% on 3/23. So it's not coming off quickly. I did a fruit fast and got down to 174.8 last week, it did feel good to get down below the threshold weight of 175. But that vacation weight needs to be released and never come back. I'm sick of it!

I did enjoy lots of clean eating and lots of fruit last week as well. It felt really good to get back into some solid workouts. It felt really good to get back into the water! Regular swim practice was fun, and you know I had a special outfit for St Patrick's Day!

it's a green speedo
Got in some good swims and then on Thursday night we took the kids to a play. The local community theatre was putting on a production of The Velveteen Rabbit, and it was delightful. Afterwards the kids had to get a few pictures with their favorite cast members.

With the Velveteen Rabbit

Evil Genius with the Little Steve
I did run an easy 3 miles without any hip problems. Afterward, i would say there was some discomfort there, so I decided not to run again until this weekend. I'm not too worried about it though. I have also been hitting the weights regularly and *sheepish grin* hitting the stationary bike at the gym again. It's one thing to ride, it's another to actually enjoy it. I got about an hour and a half on there saturday, after an hour of solid weightlifting.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Disney - A Dissenting Opinion

Orlando is a scrotum. Seriously, it's a hot, sticky, disgustingly wrinkled place and nobody's ever really comfortable when you're down there. The only reason Disney put the resort in Orlando is because the land was so cheap. It gets all of the heat and humidity of central Florida without any of the wind benefit that make the coastal regions more pleasant. I have no idea why people choose to live there, it is truly an awful place.

As you might have already guessed, I'm not a huge fan of going to Disney World. I'm glad the wife and kids have fun there, they can have it. I went once as a small child, then again twice in high school with various choirs and after that I had no desire to return but still had fond memories of the place. As a responsible parent, I know taking the kids to Disney is one of those things that you just have to do once when they are an appropriate age. I did it, check that off of the responsible parent list, and I won't go back until we're taking the grandkids. And as much as I don't like writing negative posts, I bet I'm not the only one who thinks the magic kingdom is a gateway to Hell.

When we were in Orlando last week the parks were in full scrotal conditions. It was the kind of dead of summer heat that makes my Seasonal Affective Disorder kick in. I get upset just walking from my air conditioned house to my air conditioned car in those conditions, and I'm supposed to enjoy spending all day outside in that? no. All the no's.

I hate large crowds of people. As an empath apparently this is typical behavior. I'm certainly not a germaphobe, in fact I'm more in the "purell gives you cancer" crowd, but large crowds of people, especially with a high concentration of non-americans can bring a very high probability of new bug exposure. Anyone remember SARS? I saw an older asian woman cough violently near me while holding a t-shirt, then put the t-shirt back on the rack in front of me. That's when I was ready to leave that store. And of course the kids had to touch everything they could possibly come in contact with. The voice in my head screamed "don't touch that" every 10 seconds. Call it a diverse bacterial pool.

The long lines don't really bother me. They did when I was younger, but now as an old guy I have patience, and they usually make you stand in line in the shade so it's actually more comfortable than standing around in the rest of the park. And you get 3 fastpasses a day now, which is a thing of beauty. With a fastpass, you arrive at a ride at a specific time and you go to the head of the line so there's no waiting. The downside to this is that anyone without a fastpass on that ride now has to wait longer thanks to you. So the rides you don't have fastpasses for have a longer wait than they used to.

I don't understand the appeal to waiting in line to get a picture & signature with a princess. Some of those things had 90 minute wait times! It's just a college student in a costume. Why not put like 5 of them in every park so nobody has to wait?

The main reason I prefer snow to heat is that I am a fairly affectionate person. I like to hug people, and hold hands with the wife sometimes. But in sticky heat when I have to be covered in sunscreen I don't want anyone to be near me or come anywhere close to touching me. It's the main reason I don't really enjoy going to the beach in summertime. I feel miserable, disgusting, and don't want anyone else to be close enough to smell me. If I could design my own personal Hell it would be a hot sticky sweaty disgusting place filled with large crowds of people where you spend 80% of your time waiting on something.  Oh wait, that's Disney World.  Every day I woke up, took a shower before breakfast, then put on sunscreen. I felt clean for - at most - 15 minutes a day.

The meal plan sucked. I mean, it didn't totally suck, but man. I like to eat 3 meals a day of reasonable proportion and a few snacks with plenty of water. The "meal plan" is one snack, one counter meal, and one sit down meal for each night you're in the hotel. What that really meant is that I spent all day hungry until we got to sit down and eat until I hated myself, thanksgiving style. We had 4 nights in the hotel and 5 days in the park so we ran out of meal plan in the end (which is what you're supposed to do). What they called a counter meal was a normal portion regular meal. The sit down meals were typically in the $25 - $50 per person smorgasboards. And yes, I will totally admit that the $33 steak I had in the Beasts' castle is one of the better steaks I've ever eaten. So it's not all bad. But if you want to be all inclusive then be all inclusive. I should be able to eat 3 meals a day. Every meal comes with a drink and dessert, that really is bad form too. Alcohol is not included in the meal plan. If every meal comes with a drink and you sell Bud Light, you're not really being all inclusive. The basic premise of skip breakfast, eat a light lunch, and gorge yourself on dinner is why America has an obesity problem. The meal plan is only trying to spread that plan to the rest of the world.

I did actually gain 7 lbs the week I was in the park. Even with all of that walking.

Originally, I was actually excited to have my family in central Florida. I wanted to leave the parks around noon on Friday so we could go do this gator tour thing I did when I was in Cocoa Beach for a work thing last year. The kids would go nuts in the Ron Jon Surf Shop, and I found the best fish tacos at a restaurant in Cocoa Beach that Kelley would love. Then on Saturday the Mets were playing a spring training game in Port St Lucie about an hour south of Cocoa. we could drive to Tybee after the game. But I was so miserable the entire time in the park the mission on Friday became to get out of Florida as soon as possible. Halfway through Thursday I was totally done and ready to head back to NC. But, you know, it's a magical place.

My butthole is a magical place too, but you don't want to spend too much time there either.

At the end of the day, Disney is a for-profit, publicly traded, Giant Evil Corporation (GEC). And as much as they want to create magic. all they really care about in the end is sucking as much of your money away from you as possible, like any other GEC. They are really good at it. Just because they don't pay off politicians like Koch does, or buy legislation like Monsanto, they are just as evil. And just as hungry for those profits. There's 3 gift shops for every ride now, and every show ends with another gift shop. I didn't buy any souvenirs while I was there. Kelley and the kids went nuts. They charge an obscene amount to include staying at the resort hotel, going to the park, and eating on the meal plan. it's awful.

My favorite part of taking a trip like this is the spontaneity. I don't like to plan more than a hotel reservation, and even those can be optimistic. You go somewhere, explore, find a cool restaurant nearby, maybe discover that the town has an aquarium or museum. Time becomes fluid on vacation. Kelley has been planning this trip since October. We had to plan what parks we were going to be at on what days and what times we were going to ride the fast passes and where our dinner reservations were. We had to set alarms to wake up on time 4 of the 5 days. Disney starts out with Hell, then takes away all of the fun parts and you pay three times as much as a fun vacation.

So what went right?

These complaints are all in the environment that was created here and have no reflection on my lovely wife who planned the whole thing or my parents who paid for the entire trip. I just don't understand why people think that place is fun? Why would you go there without kids age 5-10? Why would you go back after you've been once and know how awful it is? it makes absolutely no sense to me. But surely the entire thing couldn't have been totally miserable for me?

I am very grateful for getting to spend that much time with my family and my parents. There was all of the normal conflict like when EG doesn't want to pose for a picture, but for the most part everyone got along really well. And it has been many years since I've been able to see my parents on a daily basis, much less spend the entire day with them!

It may be true that I only eat steak about once every 2 or 3 years, but as I mentioned before that was a fantastic steak. The other sit-down meals that we had were incredibly tasty, even if they were over-indulgent. The Gray Stuff dessert was actually delicious at Be Our Guest, I didn't have to ask the dishes. The buffet of appetizers in Norway was incredible, much better than the pork chop entree. So the ridiculously overpriced food is really tasty, even if the meal plan overall is very frustrating.

Beer. I didn't know they sold beer in Disney, and that was really a saving grace. Getting to knock back that many cold ones with my dad was really fun. And Germany in Epcot center has some really good beers.

Now I know, definitively, that Hell still contains plenty of girls with giant hooters. Somehow, that gives me comfort.

And finally, today, Mom mailed us printouts of her pictures and that included this one. Evil Genius is now the luckiest guy in Disney World.

And that is the best way to me to get off of my soap box and back into happy positive healthy-training-weight loss-swimming-running-Raleigh Rocks blogger mode!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

It's Tybee Time

Finally, Friday night we made it into the family beach house at Tybee Island GA very close to the lighthouse. I really wanted to make it down to Tybee this year and it was a perfect halfway point for us to stop at while driving from Orlando back to Raleigh. I couldn't have asked for a more pleasant visit.

We hit the sugar shack Saturday morning for breakfast. That's when Evil Genius set her goals for the day.

"All I want to do today is be 16 years old with my own car and cell phone, and really hot boyfriend." No shit, those were her goals for the day. I am so screwed. She even refused to keep that shirt on her shoulder like a good little 7 year old.

It was certainly colder there than it was in Florida but that was a bit of welcome relief.  We hit the beach anyway, and the kids apparently have no nerves left in their legs. They hit the water anyway.

I've got that windblown look

Having fun at the beach!


Drama with sand toys

I'm digging a moat daddy

So pretty. So evil.

Bubbles in Tai Chi

it's too cold for this

Kelley and the girls walking down the beach

Me and Ella with the lighthouse in the background

Saturday night we had dinner at A-J's, I had the oyster po-boy. That place is fantastic. Sunday I took the girls for a walk on the beach but it was ended prematurely when the kids wanted to get covered in sand and salt water and I wanted them to stay clean enough to get in the car for the drive home. They didn't believe me, but one day they will put "long walks on the beach" under their online dating profile.

The drive back to Raleigh was pretty uneventful, but we did develop a theory I could use your opinion on. I think the major highways are now considerably more crowded because GPS devices have a preference to stick to the larger ones. For us, that meant I-95 was crowded and we took it all the way from Florida into North Carolina. When we go to Greenville to visit my parents I-85 has been considerably more crowded particularly from Burlington to the SC state line. We think that since more people are listening to their GPS devices we need to find back roads and there may be a setting or demand for a backroads GPS app that can calculate routes that avoid the heavily traffic'd highways. We ended up taking backroads from Savannah to Raleigh, and it was way more pleasant and without all of the heavy traffic on I-95.

This ends our 9 day vacation. I was so glad to be home again! We really did have a wonderful trip. But by the time we got home around 7:30 pm on Sunday night, knowing I still had to go into the office and work Monday morning, I got to rest easy. It felt good to be back in the air conditioned office again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Disney Continues

Our adventure actually continues in Epcot center wednesday night. I missed the last of these pictures!

It was totally a magical evening.

I make fun of Kelley for putting her hand on my belly during pictures. ugh.

Thursday we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for another day in the sun! It started with a character breakfast at some kind of Pooh's magic castle thing.

Ella wanted to wear her croissant like a mitten

Mom & Dad wanted some of that Tigger action too

We had to get in on Eeyore

After that we waited in line for about an hour for a safari ride and to see the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse

EG fighting Jack Sparrow

Snuck in a picture with Dad

We got to go to another Beauty and the Beast thing where EG got to play the Beast because she really has a good scream. It was a really scary scream, but I've heard it before.  They had a blast putting on the play. Ella got to play the Dresser.

I let EG drive!

I hate how my hat got caught in my sunglasses. Always put the shades on first!

The highlight of Magic Kingdom Thursday was meeting the Frozen princesses. That was our last fastpass of the day and there was a 90 minute line so I was really glad we had that.

Cinderella's glass slipper! Squee!

Friday we went to Epcot center for a bit before calling our time in DW done.  I think we were so tired that these are the only pictures we took!

When the day was over Mom & Dad headed to the airport, and we loaded up the car and drove to Tybee Island GA to the family beach house there. We arrived around 8 pm and crashed hard.