Monday, July 30, 2012

Another Goal Met

Funny Smile You Are Losing Weight Fitness Cent...
Funny Smile You Are Losing Weight Fitness Center Sign (Photo credits:
There is power in knowledge.  The more information that one has at their disposal, the better decisions they are able to make.  It is with this in mind that I entered my most recent venture to get my weight down to a healthy level.  For the past 10 weeks, I have faithfully been utilizing the MyFitnessPal app on my phone and using their website.

When I signed up with MFP, I entered my height and weight, my goal weight, and how many pounds I wanted to lose each week.  This gave me a daily calorie goal that I would need to consume each day to reach my goal.  They have a massive database of nutritional information.  With my phone, I am able to scan a products UPC bar code and enter the calories into my daily diary.

Another thing that has helped me this time is that I also decided to take advantage of the community of users available at MyFitnessPal.  I felt that having "friends" in the community would help keep me motivated and accountable.  I also try to regularly go to the message boards and participate.  It has helped a lot.  It also helps that I have my wife and friends at work also utilizing the app.

When I started using MFP, in addition to setting an overall weight loss goal of 60 pounds, I decided to set some mini goals for myself. I figured that if I only set an overall loss of 60 pounds that I might feel like it was too daunting a task and lose motivation. By having multiple goals, I could stay motivated by having a more easily attainable goal in front of me.

I officially started my weight loss quest at 230 pounds. That gave me a BMI of 33 which was in the obese range. My first goal was to get out of the obese range and get my BMI under 30. I reached that goal exactly one month ago. I weighted 209 at the time.

The second goal was to get my weight under 200 pounds. It has been a long time since I have stepped on a scale and not see the weight start with a 2. To be honest, I am not sure how long it has been since I have been under 200 pounds, but know it has been several years, at least 10 years and maybe closer to 20. This morning, I stepped on the scale and it read 198.5 pounds.

Originally, I was going to have 180 pound as my next goal. Now I am thinking that I am going to break the mini goals into 10 pound increments and set 190 as my next target. My ultimate goal is to get down to 170 pounds which would put my BMI into the healthy range.

Having these mini goals has definitely helped me mentally.  As time has gone on, my weight loss has started to slow a little bit.  Knowing that the next goal isn't as far away as the ultimate goal helps keep me focused.  I also have started to notice a very little bit of definition appearing in my stomach area.  The possibility of actually having close to six pack abs as opposed to a keg is even more motivation.
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chrome City Ride 2012

Today was the 11th Annual Chrome City Ride to benefit The Benedictine School for Exceptional Children in rural Ridgely, Maryland. The Benedictine School is special to me for a couple of reason.  First, my nephew attended and graduated from the school.  Second, and more importantly, my son is currently a student there.
This is my second year of attending the Chrome City Ride.

The Chrome City Ride is one of the many fund raising activities that the Benedictine Foundation performs during the year to raise money for the Benedictine School and related communities.  Owners of classic cars, hot rods, and several motorcycles cruise onto the school grounds to show off of their rides.  It is part car show and part cookout along with entertainment.

As I said, today was the 11th time that the event has been held at the school.  Each year, the number of attendees has grown.  This year's event hit a milestone in terms of fundraising for the school, they exceeded the $1 million mark in funds raised for the school.  Simply awesome!  Here are a couple of pictures from today.

I thought this engine was pretty cool.  Hopefully you can see it.  It is signed by the greatest driver in NASCAR racing history, Richard Petty.

And of course, Elvis was there to sing a few songs.

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Eat Mor Chikin

Chick-Fil-A's signature chicken sandwich
Chick-Fil-A's signature chicken sandwich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So what's the fuss?  The president of Chick-fil-A believes in traditional marriage and disagrees with gay marriage.  That puts him in the same company as at least half of the country.  I say "at least half" because even though polls show the country about evenly split and maybe a small majority favor gay marriage, in every state that has put the initiative on the ballot, not one state has had a result in favor of gay marriage.

Chick-fil-A's president, Dan Cathy, is a devout Christian.  That is why you can't go pick up a Chick-fil-A sandwich on a Sunday after church.  If the man was strictly in business for the money, he could easily open on Sundays and make even more money.  I have to admire a man who has principals and stands for those principals.

Cathy's statements in support of traditional marriage has brought out the worst in the leftist arsenal.  Democrat mayors are out there stating that they do not want Chick-fil-A to operate restaurants in their cities.  College campuses are doing the same thing. Many are calling for boycotts of the chain. The left is always quick to call for tolerance and civility.  The funny thing is, they never want to practice tolerance and civility towards those that hold different opinions from them.

Those that want to boycott Chick-fil-A are free to decide how they want to spend their money, but they are missing out on a good chicken sandwich.  I learned a long time ago, that it doesn't make sense to boycott companies, or for that matter entertainers, that I disagree with politically.  If that were the case, I would have to give up all of my Jimmy Buffett music, and that ain't gonna happen.

It is funny, a friend posted a picture on Facebook that said "So you stopped eating at Chick-fil-A because the owner of the company thinks homosexuality is wrong.  Tell me, when are you going to stop buying gasoline because the owners of OPEC put homosexuals to death."  The left never seems to fully think through these things.

I do not have real strong feelings either way regarding gay marriage.  I do, however, have a lot of respect for those that have strong religious principals and stand for them.  I have only eaten at Chick-fil-A a handful of times, however, I am more apt to do so out of respect for Dan Cathy standing on principal.  Besides, it just might piss off a liberal, and nothing would make me happier.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Car Woes

Scion Logo
Scion Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I could really use a new car.  The other day, I had to take my car to my mechanic yet again.  It seems like every three to four months something new goes wrong with the car and I need to take it for a repair.  It is just nickel and diming me to death.

Let me explain a little how I got my current car, which we got a couple years ago new.  At the time, I was driving a car that had well over 100,000 miles on it.  The check engine light was lit on that particular car.  Consequently,  it failed my state emissions test.  When I took it to my mechanic, there were a number of things wrong that was going to cost me well over $1000 to repair.

I did not have the money needed for the repairs.  I called my in-laws to see if they could lend us the money so that I could get the car fixed.  They told me that it was not worth it to repair the car and gave me the number of a guy to call.  My father in law had a friend who was a used car salesman at a small lot.  They graciously bought a sporty little red two door car for me to drive.

Needless to say, I was very thankful.  Still am.  Unfortunately, like a lot of used cars, it has had its share of problems.  On at least two occasions last year, I had to have some fairly expensive repairs done.  Earlier this year, I needed a major brake repair.  Which brings me to my latest to my repair adventure.

A couple weeks ago, I was heading home from work and I heard a little rattling in the front of the car.  When I got out of the car, I discovered a rubber insert for reducing noise in the frame of the fender that was loose and shaking.  I thought that it was what was making the noise.  As time went on and the insert was getting looser, the noise started getting louder.

Monday night, as I headed home from work, the noise was infinitely worse than it had been.  I was stuck in rush hour traffic and going fairly slowly.  When traffic eased and I accelerated to traffic speeds, all of a sudden there was a horrible vibration in the car.  The whole front end was shaking badly.  I turned on my hazards and reduced speed.

Thankfully, I was able to make it to my mechanic's garage and dropped the keys in the late night drop box.  When he called me the next day, he informed me that there was a problem with the wheel and that the studs for the lug nuts was damage.  He also said the wheel was about to fall off.  Thankfully, the repair was a relatively minor $200 tab.

Sadly, I do not have the money to get a new car.  I definitely can not afford a monthly car payment at this time.  I would definitely want to look at a wide variety of cars, especially those that get good gas mileage.  One brand that I would consider would be Scion.

I have to confess that I haven't always thought of Scion as a car that I would want to drive.  Some of the earlier models just were not attractive to me.  However, now they have several models that are very attractive.  I especially like their new limited edition cars.  They are quite sporty, and produced in very limited supply.  Let's face it, who wants to drive a car that is the same as all the others out there on the road.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Music Monday-Ray Stevens "Obama Nation"

I was sitting here trying to decide whether or not to post a Music Monday selection when I received an email from Ray Stevens announcing he had a new video. Here it is.
Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Wino and I Know

When I was growing up here in the state of Maryland, the drinking age was 18 for beer and wine and 21 for any hard liquor.  Shortly after I turned 18, the state raised the age to 21 for all alcoholic beverages, but those of us that already had been able to buy beer and wine were grandfathered and were continued to be able to buy beer and wine.

I took full advantage of being able to legally buy beer.  My favorite in those days was Molson Golden Ale.  At that time, I was also working in a grocery store that sold beer and wine.  They eventually gave me full responsibility for taking care of the beer and wine department of the store.  I became very interested in learning about wine during those days.

One of my store managers in those days started to refer to me as "The Wino."  Not in a derogatory way or implying that I was heavy imbiber of wine, but because I knew more about wine than anybody else in the store.  My friends and I started to really enjoy having wine with our meal whenever we went out to dinner.  They relied on me to pick the wine.

After I turned 21, I did start to buy some hard liquor, but not very often.  I remember the night I turned 21, my best friend and I went to a movie and wanted to take advantage of my newly coming of age.  We didn't have a clue what we would want and browsed around.  We saw some Cherry Brandy and a bottle of Coke on display for Cherry Coke.  It sounded good to us, so that is what we bought.

Eventually, wine became my beverage of choice.  I do still enjoy a beer now and then or even a drink made with liquor, but there is something special about wine for me.  Once, I was on a business trip to California, and the group I was with went to a Sonoma wine tasting for dinner.  The great thing about having dinner at the winery is they really know the best wine and food pairings.

If you ever have the opportunity to go to a winery for a tasting, I highly recommend it.  It is a great opportunity to learn firsthand about the wine you are trying.  They usually will have several different varieties for you to try.  At the end of the tasting, you can buy bottles of the ones you like the most to take home with you.

Reconnect With Long Lost Friends and Family

Life is a very dynamic thing. People grow up, go away for college, get married, and then move away. You may not have had any contact with your best friends from grade school since grade school. The same thing can happen with family too.

People lead busy lives, and not everyone makes the effort to stay in touch with even the people closest to them. If you feel like a part of your life is missing, check out because it can help you reconnect with old buddies, distant relatives, or those with blood bonds.

MyLife is set up in a way where it is so easy to find what you're looking for. The Zip Code People Search option is a great tool that allows you to locate people by their zip code. You may not even need to remember a loved one's zip code to perform a search. In the zip code directory, simply click on a range of zip codes to narrow down to the one you want.

The next page displays all of the zip codes within that range, so choose the one you are looking for. Once you pick a zip code, MyLife will display all of the names of the people currently living in that zip code that are registered in the database. If a familiar name pops up, click on it and you will be taken to the individual's full profile displaying detailed information about him or her.

MyLife worked for me, and I hope it also works for you. It is free to register with MyLife, so act now to fill that void in your life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pop Phone

Retro Bat Phone
Retro Bat Phone (Photo credit: Irish Typepad)
I would be willing to bet that most of you out there have a cell phone.  In fact, a recent Pew Internet report showed that 88% of all Americans own a cell phone.  For the first time ever, more than half of all cell phone users have some sort of smartphone.

There is a growing trend for people to give up their traditional landline telephone and use their cell phones exclusively.  I have considered giving up our landline in favor of the cell only but have resisted for a couple of reasons.  Primarily because our cell phone reception isn't the strongest in our house.  Second, we currently have our landline bundled with our internet and television.

I am not sure when my wife and I first got our cell phones.  I know it has been several years.  They have become an almost indispensable part of life.  As phones have gotten smaller and do more, we always want the latest and greatest.  The size of the phone is one of the biggest features that my wife has always looked for in a phone.  She wants something small and easy to carry with her.  Same here.

I admit that I am not the hippest cat in town these days.  Hell, just by using the phrase "hippest cat in town" proves that.  Having said that, there are a number of things that happen in pop culture that I just do not get.  The "Pop Phone" retro handset for your cell phone is one of the things that I just do not get.  Have you seen these yet?  It is an an old fashioned style handset that plugs into the earphone jack of your cell phone.

Lenny Kravitz with POP Phone by Native Union
Lenny Kravitz with POP Phone by Native Union (Photo credit: Photo Giddy)
This thing just flies in the face of the main attraction of having a cell phone and that's the portability.  Who wants to lug around a full sized phone handset with them everywhere they go?  I know I wouldn't.  I could see it for some women who might also carry around a large tote bag with them.  At least they would have a place to carry it.  But what about us guys?  Lug it around with it draped around our necks? No thank you.

I am sure that I have bought some things in the past that were basically useless that I thought was cool or happening at the time.  Maybe it's a young persons thing, but this is something that I can't see spending my hard earned money on.  Am I wrong on this?  What are your thoughts on the Pop Phone handset?  Would you drop 30 bucks or so on something like this?
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Music Monday-Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw "Feel Like a Rock Star"

Two of country music's biggest male vocalists, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, are teaming up for a summer concert tour. The two also paired up for the duet here.
Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Trip to Golden Corral

English: Golden Corral restaurant at 3800 Nort...
English: Golden Corral restaurant at 3800 North Roxboro Street in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today, we decided that we were going to go out to visit my son at his school.  Now that he is eating a much wider variety of foods, he is doing so much better and putting some weight back on.  With his improved diet, one of his favorite places to go eat is the Golden Corral for their buffet.  We can count on him eating a couple of big plates of foods.  Today was no exception.

I have long suspected that there are certain people who work in my son's dorm that have a lot more difficulty in dealing with some of his behavioral issues than others.  I have felt that rather than alleviate some of his difficulties, they tend to exacerbate the situation.  I do believe that it is important that he learn to behave properly with all of those he comes in contact with, however, I also think that they should learn the best ways of helping him get through difficult times.

My suspicions were somewhat confirmed when I called to check up on him a few days ago.  The lady I happened to speak with was one of those that my son really responds well to.  She was telling me that she almost never has any difficulty getting my son to behave and have a good day.  We did have a discussion about one of the other ladies that I have suspected has a little more of a difficult time with my son.  Turns out, she thinks the other lady has a bit of a personality conflict with my son.  Often when I have spoken with this second person, she has reported that my son has had a difficult time.

The day when my son usually has his most difficult days is on Sundays.  Frequently, the person who he gets along with (lady #1) is off that day.  The one he doesn't get along with (lady #2) is usually one of the ones that work on Sunday.  Often, we have shown up on a Sunday and my son has been having a difficult time.  He has been non-compliant and often is crying. Today, however, he was in a pretty good mood and participating in activities when we walked in.  I think primarily because lady #1 was working, and he knew we were coming.

In my conversation with lady #1 earlier in the week, she probably revealed a little more than she should have regarding lady #2.  She had me that she has tried to tell #2 ways that she could get my son to respond better.  For example, my son loves to listen to his music.  Lady #1 lets him have it as long as he behaves.  Lady #2, on the other hand, takes his music away and tries to force compliance first before allowing him to have music.  Method #1 is far more effective.  Lady #1 did tell me that she had heard that lady #2 will be dealing less regularly with my son.  

Today, lady #2 was around the building but not in the area that my son was in.  I do not know if that will be a permanent change, but if it helps him to do better then I am all for the change.  We will be going back out for another visit in two weeks when it is time for the annual Chrome City Ride at the school.  Hopefully, between now and then my son will have some better days.  The past week has been a difficult one for him at school and in the dorm.  We have told lady #1 that she needs to work with him 24/7 with no days off.  After all, we only want what is best for our son.
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Miss Spectacular

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about some of the people in my office that a friend and I had given nicknames because of habits that those folks have that happen to annoy the two of us.  To show that not everybody on our floor annoys us, I also mentioned another person on our floor that we refer to as Miss Spectacular.

As you can imagine, she has been dubbed as such because she is a very attractive woman.  At least I think so.  She actually reminds me of somebody by the name of Priya Anjali Rai.  Ms. Rai, is an actress of sorts.  I am not sure I want to admit this, but she is featured in films of, shall we say, an adult nature.  <Currently trying to find a safe for work of Ms Rai>

I know, right?  Anyway, I bring up Miss Spectacular because I have had a couple of run ins with her this week.  No, nothing bad or earth shattering.  It is just that our paths have crossed a couple of times and (at least in my juvenile guy mind) made me chuckle to myself.

Our floor is equipped with two network printers that also happen to be copiers.  The machine on my side of the floor has been out of order this week, so I have had to use the machine on the other side of the floor, which also happens to be the side of the floor where Miss Spectacular works. The machine is situated in a little alcove around the corner from a small hallway.

The first run in occurred when I went to pick up a print job off of the printer.  As I was leaving the alcove, she was coming around the corner and we were headed for a collision course.  If we had been automobiles, one of us would have t-boned the other.  My only thought was, "thank goodness she is equipped with airbags!" I know, totally inappropriate and juvenile, but funny.  (I'm a guy, I'm not that complicated)

Another incident occurred when I went to pick up another print job off of the machine.  She happened to be there making several copies.  Her back was to me as I was heading to the machine.  I was waiting patiently for her to finish making copies and stood silently.  She must not have heard my approach because when she turned around, I startled her.  I must move like a ninja.

Before you get the wrong idea, it wasn't like I was standing right over top of her when she turned around.  I was a good four or five feet behind her waiting patiently.  Of course I apologize for startling her, but I still thought it was kind of funny to hear her gasp when she turned around and saw me standing there.

It just goes to show that it take very little to amuse me.  Like I said, I am a guy and I am not that complicated.  And speaking of guys, come check out Dudewrite and check out blog posts from other bloggers who happen to be guys.
Dude Write

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fundamental Transformation

I am about to write a sentence that I didn't think that I would ever write. Barack Obama is right about one thing. We do need to fundamentally transform this country. Unfortunately he is dead wrong about the type of transformation we need.  I am not usually one that finds "messages from God" in everything that I see and hear around me. However, there have been two books and an event, the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo at the Bowie Baysox game, that I attended recently that have left me with the thoughts that I am about to share with you here.  I will deal with each individually and briefly.

The first book was On the Precipice by Chris Hambleton.  The book takes a look at the message to Israel and Judah from the Biblical Book of Hosea and how it could possibly relate to the United States of America today.  It addresses the consequences of how Israel turned its back on God and in turn, God removed His hand of blessing upon them.  As Israel continued to turn to idolatry and foreign aliances, God left them to their own devices leading to the fall of the nations of Israel and Judah and the eventual Diaspora of the Jewish peoples.

Hambleton then compares the message to Israel and taylors it towards the United States.  He argues that the United States was a unique country in history.  Unlike Israel who was chosen by God, the United States was founded upon Judeo Christian principals and relied on God in their early days.  As we have grown stronger and richer as a nation, much like Israel, we have turned away from God and rely on our own strength and wisdom. 

One cannot read our Declaration of Independence and the writings of the Founding Fathers without coming away with the notion that at the very least, they believed in a Creator and Divine Providence.  Our Constitution does not guarantee that people will be free from religion with no reference to God in the public arena, but that everyone was free to worship or not worship however they see fit.  Its purpose was to prevent the government from forcing everyone into the same creed such as the Church of England.  Sadly, we have twisted it such a way to push God further from the public square.

Which brings me to the second book that I recently read that has lead to this post.  That book was called Why Christians Can't Be Democrats by Michael DeLance Thomas.  I have to confess that I did not fully read the description when I downloaded the book.  Originally, I thought it was going to be a humorous look.  Instead, it was a serious look at the policies that the Democrats stand for and how those policies stand in conflict with Christianity.

The premise of Thomas' book is that Christianity is based on being under God's government.  God's government allows man to be free.  He argues that man's government is here to protect our rights under God's government.  However, the more we allow man's government to take control of things in our lives, the more we push God's government away from us, thus reducing our freedoms.  The goal of the Christian should be to vote for politicians that will promote God's government over man's government.

Thomas argues that the Democrats are more devoted to pursuing man's government over God's government.  Under God's government, we rely on each other to voluntarily pursue acts of charity.  Rather than to allow individuals to act freely to help others in need, man's government forces others to pay in the form of taxes to redistribute income to those in need.  The Democrats and their policies rely on man's government to a much greater degree.  To be fair, Thomas does not argue favorable towards Republicans, but does say that they tend to rely somewhat less on man's government.

You may now be wondering how the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo relates to these two books.  Fair question.  During the last segment of the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo, the man who works with the monkeys and dogs for the performance gave a little speech.  He said that we as a country had lost our way.  We had failed to adhere to our founding principals and that we had pushed God further away from our lives.

So, when I say that I believe we do need to fundamentally transform this country, it is in the form of a Spiritual transformation.  I am not saying that we need to become a theocracy.  Nor am I saying that everyone in the country needs to become a born again Christian.  What I am saying is that we need to return to the principals that this country was founded upon and that made the United States what it was.  With God's help, we can.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Working Life

For the vast majority of my working life, I have spent my days in the retail industry, primarily the retail food industry.  My very first job was in a convenience store when I was 15 years old.  I started a couple months before my 16th birthday in order to earn money towards a car.  Through high school and college, I worked in the retail stores at night and attending school during the day.

After I graduated from college, I worked in the stores for another year or so.  At one point, I considered a retail management career, but I really wanted to have a regular Monday-Friday, 9-5 job with weekends and holidays off.  Eventually, I was able to land a job backstage in the buying department of the grocer chain that I was working for at the time.

I spent the next 18 years with that company working my way up to a management position within the buying and merchandising department.  My last position with them was to be in charge of the promotion and sales of our store branded product.  Things were going great for me up until the time that our corporate office decided to centralize the bulk of our merchandising functions to the corporate office in another state.

After losing a job that I had for 21 years, I had a difficult time finding work.  It took me over a year to find a full time job again, and that was in the days when you only got 26 weeks of unemployment, not 99.  After spending my career on the buyer side of the desk, I decided to try my hand on the sales side of the desk.

My first sales job was selling insurance/benefit packages to small businesses.  I spent a great deal of time making telephone calls trying to reach business owners or benefit managers to make my pitch.  I also spent a lot of time on business databases on the internet trying to find names and phone numbers.  It was not something I was very good at.  I might have been able to do a better job had I had access to an email list of decision makers in the businesses I was targeting.

My next sales job was back in the field where I had spent the majority of my career. This time, I was calling on buyers of grocery store chains selling them a retail dry ice program. At least it was something that I knew something about.  I knew what buyers were looking for, and I knew how to tailor my sales pitch to be able to benefit retailers.  Still, it was not something that I was happy doing on a daily basis.

Eventually, I got back into the buying side of the retail world.  I had one position where I managed a program for a distributor selling to retail customers.  After that business failed, I landed where I am today as a buyer for a chain of convenience type stores.  My current company is on good solid ground and I hope to be there for quite a while into the future.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Music Monday-Phil Keaggy "Maker of the Universe"

Several years ago, when I was in college, I belonged to a young adult group at the church I was attending. A handful of us decided to attend a music festival in Pennsylvania called "Creation" which I dubbed Woodstock for Christians. At that event, I saw Phil Keaggy performing. At one point, he played Amazing Grace on his electric guitar and made it sound like bag pipes. I was hooked on Keaggy from that moment on. This is one of my favorite acoustic songs by him.
Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Maryland Live Casino and Bobby's Burger Palace

Today, my wife and I decided to do something a little different from our normal routine.  We decided that we wanted to head out to the new Maryland Live Casino and to have lunch at Bobby's Burger Palace.  Bobby's Burger Palace is a gourmet burger restaurant founded by celebrity chef Bobby Flay.  My wife and I are fans of Flay's work on the Food Network.

I have wanted to check out a BBP ever since the Bowie Living blog posted that one had opened in College Park, MD.  The College Park location isn't that far from our house, but it really isn't a part of Maryland that is convenient for us.  The BBP at the Casino is located at the Arundel Mills Mall which we frequent on a regular basis.

When we got to the Casino and entered from the parking garage, we went to the entrance and saw BBP to our left and The Cheesecake Factory to our right with the casino straight ahead.  We decided to go ahead and eat lunch first.  We got in line and looked over the menu for BBP while trying to find nutritional info on our MyFitnessPal apps on our phone.

There was not a lot of info available on MyFitnessPal for the food available at BBP.  The one burger I saw was listed at over 900 calories.  There was also a turkey burger for 460 calories.  I opted for a Dallas Burger with turkey rather than beef.  It had cole slaw, pickles, Monterrey jack cheese and BBQ sauce. It was fantastic.  My wife had a topless burger salad using a chicken breast instead of beef, basically grilled chicken on a salad.

Video Poker
Video Poker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The ordering and seating of BBP is a little bit different than what I expected.  You go through the line and place your order with the cashier who gives you your cups for fountain drinks and a number for your order.  You then can go sit at a counter or at large tables.  Most likely, you will end up sharing a table with others.  No table for two here.

My wife is not really into gambling.  I like to play a variety of casino games, but at the same time I am terribly cheap.  I do not want to bet $5 or $10 a hand at blackjack or other games.  Currently, Maryland only has slots and electronic table games.  There were plenty of penny slot machines to choose from and we found video poker for $0.25.  My wife loves video poker at the arcades in Ocean City, so she had a good time.  We will probably be heading back again in the near future.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Off the Grid

Electricity pylon - power outage
Electricity pylon - power outage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anybody that lives in the DC area knows all too well about the storm that blew through here last Friday night around 11pm.  They said the storm was something called a derecho, which is Spanish for straight line.  The storm went through quickly but it packed a big punch bringing winds of around 70 mph.  Consequently, there were several power outages in the area, my home being among them.

Our power went out as the storm rushed through.  Saturday morning, I awoke around 6am and decided to take a drive to see how things were looking and to see if any BGE trucks were at the substation around the corner working to restore our power.  My first stop was to see if the nearby Wawa was open so that I could get a cup of coffee.  It was open, but packed, so coffee was off of the table.

After driving around my neighborhood, assessing the damage, and not seeing any utility trucks in the error, I ascertained that this could be a prolonged outage.  I began calling and texting family to see if they had made it through the fire.  My parents had power.  My sister, who usually loses power still had her power.  With temperatures expected to be near 100 in the immediate future, I was looking for a place where we could crash until power was restored.

My parents live in a rather small condominium with one bedroom.  I pretty much knew that their place was out of the question.  My sister immediately offered to allow us to head down to her place.  They didn't have a lot of space, but there was at least a place to crash and do some laundry.  My in-laws had lost their power, but they also had a generator to provide air conditioning and the basics, and more importantly, they had a couple spare guest rooms.

My in-laws did not have their washer and dryer hooked up to the generator.  Not knowing how long power would be out, we decided to head to my sister's house to do a couple loads of laundry and have a bit of lunch.  Her in-laws had also lost power and it was looking like they were going to crash there, so after doing the laundry and having a sandwich, we packed up the car and headed to my in-laws.  We were there until this morning.

Our power came on sometime yesterday afternoon, so we spent nearly 5 days without power.  Since the power came back so late yesterday, we spent one more night at the in-laws because the house needed to cool down plus we had no food in the house.  My power company, Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), has 1.2 million customers.  Out of those, over 700,000 suffered some sort of outage.  As of now, they still show over 40,000 people still without power. 

 In addition to my family crashing at my in-laws, my wife's brother, sister, and nephew all crashed there part of the time. Now, I knew from the beginning that it was going to be a massive undertaking for BGE to restore power to all of their customers.  For that reason, and in part because we at least had a cool place to crash, I tried to be patient in waiting for our power to be restored.  I think we all did a half way decent job of coexisting with one another, but around Tuesday we all started to lose a bit of patience.

For me, it started when I called the outage line on Monday morning.  I was told at that time that our power was expected to be back by 8:30 pm that night.  Later in the day, I checked again, and I was told it would be as late as Thursday around noon.  My frustration grew as it became increasingly difficult to get any information from BGE.  If you called them on the phone, you could only reach the automated line to report or check on an outage.

Thankfully, I am well versed in social media and I had my smart phone and my 3G tablet with me.  I was able to keep those charged thanks to my in-laws generator.  So I started tweeting my questions to @MyBGE on twitter.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get any information from them.  I turned to BGE's Facebook page and posted questions there.  Still no responses from them.

Again, I realize that they had a lot in front of them in trying to restore power to everyone.  It was a massive undertaking.  I also realize that they had a lot of other people trying to get answers through social media.  My beef is that getting info from them was like the proverbial pulling teeth.  I had a fairly generic question that I was eventually able to get an answer to by tweeting it at 6am rather than around noon.  I would have liked the opportunity to speak to a person, even if it had meant holding for a while.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Losing Weight

I have shared here my numerous attempts at weight loss.  Currently, I am using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone to keep track of my calories.  So far, it has been working well for me as I have lost a little more than 20 pounds.  In the past, I have tried a wide variety of diets with varying degrees of success.  Unfortunately, as soon as I stopped following the protocols of those diets, I would slip further back into my old eating habits and gain back all of my weight and then some.

I tried the Fit for Life plan which is supposed to utilize your body's natural cycles to lose weight.  The theory is to eat nothing but fruit until noon and then the remaining meals need to use the concept of food combining.  By food combining, you would not pair a protein with a starch, so no meat and potatoes.  I did great on that until I met my wife.  While we were dating we would go to all you can eat breakfast buffets.  It is hard to stick with just fruit when you have pancakes, sausage, and bacon staring you in the face.

I also had a good bit of success with The Atkins Diet and Sugarbusters.  Both of which were centered around higher protein consumption and reduced carbohydrate consumption.  Sugarbusters is a bit less extreme than Atkins in that it does allow for the consumption of good carbs, ie complex carbohydrates.  I blew those diets in my position as a frozen food buyer when the new samples of Ben & Jerry's came in.  My problem was that if I strayed from these regimens and then went back to it, I would feel deprived and give up.

A lot of people like me that struggle with their weight sometimes need a little help when it comes to losing weight.  Sheer will power and discipline just aren't enough.  In my current job position, I subscribe to a number of different trade publications, one of which is Natural Foods Merchandiser.  In a recent article, they talked about the Dr. Oz effect.  Essentially, whenever Dr. Oz would mention a supplement or product on his television program there would be a run on it at the natural foods stores and they would run out of product.  One product that he recommended for weight loss was a raspberry ketone supplement.

Raspberry ketone supplements contain an enzyme derived from raspberries that is believed to help boost metabolism.  When combined with a healthy diet and exercise, it acts as a powerful fat burner.  I have always believed in using supplements and vitamins on a daily basis.  This is one that I may have to look into for my own personal weight loss goals.


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