Monday, September 30, 2013

Really?

Ah, Fall.

While I do sometimes miss the brilliance of the Autumn foliage you see up north, Fall has become my favorite season since moving to the South. I think because I loved the Summers in Upper Michigan so much, Fall up there was nothing more than the abbreviated harbinger of Winter.

Down here though, Fall is different. The seasonal change signals the end of Summer's oppressive heat and humidity. The hazy skyline turns crystal clear and the Golden Hour begins to align with Happy Hour.

Even though I've never been a huge sports fan, the Friday night sounds of high-school marching bands stir something inside me. And every Saturday is made for watching college football, even if the games are just the background noise to conversations with friends.

The weather in Atlanta isn't always cooperative, but it seems you can rely on more perfect outdoor days in the Fall than in any other season. That's why I think moving Pride from June to October was a brilliant decision on the part of the Atlanta Pride Committee. While Pride is still two weekends out, the neighborhood bars and restaurants are already in the spirit, and rainbow bunting is everywhere.

Yesterday was spent with friends walking from pub to pub and enjoying their outdoor patios. When JB got out of the shower I surprised him by being dressed in my lederhosen. He asked, "You're not going out like that, are you?" Was that a dare? If it was, he lost.

As an introvert, I'm not usually comfortable being the center of attention, but yesterday I soaked it up. I only got one negative comment toward the end of the day when we stopped at one of the local gay bars. Some snooty queen looked me up and down and in a tone that dripped with contempt said, "Really?"

That became our catchphrase for the rest of the evening. Not just the word but the tone and inflection. My abs hurt from laughing.

Last night I put the lederhosen back in storage for another year. I'm hoping that the next time I put them on will be in Munich.



Friday, September 27, 2013

Breakfast, Day 60

Wow, sixty days. The diet must be working because this week Mister "I can do it on my own" JB started on his own Good Measure Meals plan this week. He says I'm motivating him. Yeah, motivating him by once again trading the title of lightest person in the house. Does everything have to be a competition?

No, but what fun would that be?

I think we both have an irrational fear of being "the fat one". That's a whole other topic I might cover someday.

This was yesterday's breakfast. This morning's oatmeal was not photogenic.

After passing the symbolic 200 lb milestone more than two weeks ago, I plateaued at 199. I learned a while ago I shouldn't let plateaus frustrate me because it's often during these periods I notice progress in other aspects.

But two weeks seemed to be pushing it, and I finally snapped. After tossing and turning for a while Sunday night, I quietly got out of bed, dressed in the dark, snuck out of the house and drove through Taco Bell for one of the Cool Ranch Taco Supremes I saw advertised on television earlier that evening.

It wasn't that delicious and I immediately felt weak and ashamed. (Actually, I was feeling weak and ashamed before I got in the car.) But then – and I don't want to jump to any conclusions – the next day the scale started moving down again. The plateau was broken!

That blood pressure alone is reason enough to eat
like this every day. I can't believe my doc wanted
 to put me on blood pressure medication.

Progress since Breakfast, Day 1 (July 30): 18.1 lbs lost.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Smell Of Decompression

This is what I get for laughing at Stevie B when it happened to him.

On Sunday I decided to get handy in the kitchen. A few years ago I installed some halogen puck lights beneath the cabinets above the sink. This replaced the original fluorescent fixture which, while it did the job of helping me determine if I sufficiently rinsed the glassware, failed in so many other ways.

Since the sink part of my counter faces out toward the living room, I found it difficult to hold conversations between the rooms. The light from the cold, bright tube would shine directly in my eyes and my guests became faceless torsos with a brilliant halo. I could never tell if I was having a dinner party or a near-death experience.

The Grundtal halogen pucks from IKEA were a dramatic improvement, focussing their light directly down upon the work area. But the tiny halogen bulbs were in constant need of replacing. As soon as I changed one, another would burn out. Out of six lights it seemed there was always at least one that was out, usually more.

Last week I was down to one functional Grundtal puck. Replacement bulbs at IKEA are reasonably priced. But that means driving over there, parking in the deck and walking past the wafting aroma of cinnamon rolls and meatballs. That's before entering the maze of a store which has a way of making me feel like a rat in a Swedish lab conducting research in Attention Deficit Disorder. And not the brightest rat in the lab either. One of the stupid ones that goes in for just a bite of cheese and – by the time he does find his way out – is pushing more flat packs of dense particle board than he can fit into his little rat car.

Meanwhile, at my convenient neighborhood Home Depot, 20-watt G4 halogen bulbs are $5.99. Each. And I need six. Lost in the irony of my struggling with basic arithmetic in a light bulb aisle, a friendly bear in an orange apron asked if I needed assistance.

"Thank you, yes! What's five-ninety-nine times six?"

Having offloaded that task I awaited the result. The helpful orange bear took my dead bulb and held it up to the light as if it was a factor in the calculation. It was during this awkward escalation from simple math to algebra that I realized the answer was moot. There were only three G4 bulbs left hanging on the rack.

"Scratch that. Where can I find under-the-cabinet task lighting?"

So this weekend I replaced the Grundtals in my kitchen with energy-efficient and, most importantly, low-maintenance LED puck lights. Since I was going to have to reset the microwave clock anyway, I went ahead and replaced one of the kitchen electrical outlets with the GFCI safety outlet the home inspector told me I needed back when I was closing on the place. I did this while giving quiet thanks that at no time in the past ten years have I or JB been electrocuted in our kitchen. I promised myself that this New Year's I'd make that anti-procrastination resolution I've been putting off.

When I was finished, I snapped the circuit breaker back on and basked in the glow of my self-satisfaction. That's when I noticed a slight but distinctive aroma of electrically-generated ozone. I sniffed all around my handiwork but couldn't trace the source. I figured it was probably just that new-LED smell.

It was only last night that, after reaching fruitlessly for a handful of ice cubes, I realized what I smelled was very likely the immaterial spiritual essence leaving the still-twitching corpse of my refrigerator compressor.



Monday, September 23, 2013

Men In Hosen

This weekend was the official kick-off of the 180th Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Germany. This year I chose not to join my friends on our annual beer & sausage pilgrimage. My vacation days (and budget) are earmarked for February's Big Gay Cruise.

But Sunday, with nearly all my friends out of town, I found myself wistfully reminiscing about last year's trip. I even went so far as pulling my lederhosen out of storage and trying them on. I sent a pic to my friend, Alice, who tried to convince me to come over to her restaurant in my Bavarian getup. I considered it for a minute but chose to stay home. Maybe next weekend.

While putting my lederhosen away, I decided I need to take them to a good tailor for some alterations. The leather has relaxed considerably since I first tried them on last year. What was then claustrophobic are now feeling a bit loose. I'd like to say the diet has something to do with that, but I noticed this relaxation occurring as last year's festival progressed. I guess they're kind of like a baseball glove. They're getting more comfortable as I wear them in, the laces just need to be tightened a bit.

Also one of my suspender buttons popped off last year in the gay tent. I kind of expected those buttons to be the weak link, but it was still a great excuse to get on my hands and knees. I never did find my button but the pants came with a couple spares. I just need to remember where I put them.

I don't see why I need to rely on these buttons to fasten the suspenders when I can't imagine why I'd ever need to detach them. I'm going to see if they can permanently attach the suspenders to the pants and keep the buttons as purely decorative.

I'm also considering asking if they can replace the buttons on the inner fly, beneath the flap, with a zipper. This would make trips to the urinal troughs much simpler, perhaps allowing me to better focus on the scenery. While I'm at it, why not have them put in velcro for affixing the flap? While this may spoil the "authenticity" of my fancy pants, I'm not worried about their resale value. I don't foresee my needing to buy another pair of lederhosen in the near or distant future.

One last modification I'd like to make to my lederhosen came to me during last year's festivities. While I never once felt unsafe in Germany, a large crowded event like Oktoberfest is bound to attract pickpockets. And after a gallon of beer, I don't need anyone's help losing my wallet or dropping cash while reaching into my pocket for a Tic-Tac.

It occurred to me that the best place to keep my cash and cards would be in a zippered pocket placed strategically behind the decorative chest strap that connects the suspenders. (I'm sure there's a German word for that thing. Brustgurt?)

I'm going to get a zippered pocket installed in the backside of my Brustgurt.


A good pair of lederhosen arelike a classic car.
It's does them good to take them out for a spin
every once in a while.




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nowhere Fast

Of all equipment in the gym, the apparatus of which I've always been most circumspect is the treadmill. At some point I ran the numbers in my head. Factoring in both my lack of physical coordination and my gym-induced social anxiety, the risk-to-benefit ratio was just a little too high. With "risk" defined as the potential spectacularity of failure.

On the elliptical machine I could miss a step and probably no one would notice. Whereas it would be pretty hard to miss a clumsy ox slamming ass-first into the back wall. Especially when there would probably be a ten second pre-show consisting of flailing, cursing, thumping, more cursing and various skin-on-rubber squealing noises.

I always thought that if I wanted to run, I'd do it the way God intended: on a synthetic, all-weather track wearing Nike Shox. Running on anything else just wouldn't be natural. Especially a machine which can trace its lineage directly to the belt sander. Only instead of 00 grit, this belt is coated with staphylococcus.

But recently I've been making an effort to overcome my fear of the treadmill. The unusually wet summer combined with a brand new pair of fluorescent lime-green Nike Free runners has made the option of running indoors seem more attractive. And even when the gym is busy, it seems there's always an available treadmill. Sure, the LED display may be fritzing, the belt might resemble a large strip of vulcanized bacon and it only inclines on one side, but it beats having to call the "only 20 minutes when others are waiting" police.

And yes, at first it was almost everything I was afraid it would be. The sensation is less like running and more akin to having the rug continuously pulled out from under me. And if I found running without going anywhere to be disorienting, that's nothing compared to once I get off the treadmill. I feel like I'm walking uncontrollably fast, like one way or another I'm destined to slam into that damn wall.

The first few days on the treadmill I spent power-walking while familiarizing myself with the location of the emergency stop. I then worked my way up to power-walking without white-knuckling the control panel. And then I got fancy, hands-free power-walking through a simulated alpine pass.

That was yesterday. I have yet to get up the nerve to actually run on the thing. Maybe today. If you workout at LA Fitness Ansley Mall, you may want to have your iPhone ready. Things may get spectacular.

Monday, September 16, 2013

BearBuds

I admit it, I'm a follow whore. When I first started on Twitter, I always felt compelled to "follow back". It just seemed the polite thing to do. On the few occasions when I did unfollow somebody, it was usually because of some offense they committed.

These days, politeness isn't foremost on my mind when I fire up my Twitterric app. I know I need to do some maintenance and pruning of my list of Twitter follows. Just like I know I need to go through my 200 gigabyte iPhoto library and delete all out-of-focus, duplicate, double chin and naked selfie pics. It's on my to-do list.

If I had to rely on my Twitter timeline, I would have chopped the list a long time ago. But early on I discovered Twitter's private lists. At first I used lists for organizing and categorizing the people I follow, but it soon became clear that was way too clerically anal, even for me. One list quickly became my favorite and it's now my default timeline. I call it "BearBuds".

Since BearBuds is really just my list of favorite people, one does not necessarily need to be a bear to be on it. But unlike who I choose to follow, I'm very selective of who goes into my favorite list. Only 6.6% of those I follow make the cut. Don't worry, if you've read this blog more than twice, chances are you're on my BearBuds list.

I've decided to occasionally spotlight members of my exclusive list here, starting this week. Since it seems to be a fairly incestuous group, chances are you're already following them. But if you're not, you can rest assured their tweets meet Pac's highest standards of quality.



Friday, September 13, 2013

28 Days To Pride

I know I've been a broken record lately, repeatedly posting my progress as I attempt to lose weight and get back in shape. How do I know? Little things. Like how BosGuy now reflexively comments "Great job!" even on the occasional posts where I do visit another topic.

Don't get me wrong, Bos, I really do appreciate your feedback and support. And that you're still responding to my transparent fishing (fishings? fishes?) for validation just cements my opinion of what a truly nice guy you are. That's why I promise to give it a rest for a while. After this post.

On my birthday trip to Denver last May, I looked at a photo of StevieB sitting next to my brother. What the...? It took a few seconds of cognitive dissonance before realizing that wan't my older, heavier brother in the picture. I recall that being my turning point. Booking a gay cruise not only provided extra motivation, but also a deadline: February 2014.

At the time, February seemed so far away that I decided I needed an intermediate goal. A point midway between June and February. That's how I set Atlanta's Pride celebration as my reality checkpoint. By empirically quantifying the progress that's been made between June and October, I'll have a better idea what I can realistically accomplish by February.

Pride offers the opportunity to expose my shirtlessness to America's experts in healthy, realistic male body image: Atlanta's gays. Based on this feedback, I'll know whether to stay the course or how I need to tweak my plan; either by doubling down on the cardio or locking myself in the bath with tequila, two quarts of Moose Tracks and a can of Spam.

So yes, I admit to being a bit focussed right now. My friends will tell you that. My Twitter and Instagram followers will tell you that. Even JB is getting weary of it; phoning in his back-pats. Oh, he still goes through all the motions of being supportive, but I can tell. The other day I stepped off the scale, crunched the numbers and said, "Dang, I lost 0.3 pounds of lean mass last week."

His response: "Great job!"


You'll need to subtract the weight of my iPhone 4 from this number.
Not an iPhone 4S and certainly not an iPhone 5.
Everyone knows the 4 was the heaviest of all iPhones.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Milestone


Ten more pounds to get to my goal weight. Twenty if you ask my buddy, Gilbert. But what are friends for if they don't make you question your goals?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Seeking Pool Pal

I think I deserve an "A" for effort. B- minimum. Maybe I should try Craig's List?



Friday, September 6, 2013

Casual Friday

I'd written earlier about the trauma of going from 34" jeans to a 36" waist size. While at the time this move was purely logical – based solely on comfort and public decency – it seemed like it might have sent my ass the wrong message. By springtime my Christmas jeans were starting to feel a bit snug. I knew then I had a choice: Will my next pair of jeans be 38's or 34's?

While getting ready for work this morning, I decided it may soon be time for a shopping trip.

Sorry for the blurry photography. That's the best I can manage
in the closet at 6am.

I'm not done by any means. I'm still 12 lbs from my goal weight. And the Big Gay Cruise is only 162 days away.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Breakfast, Day 37

I didn't get a picture of the cake, but this one from
cakewrecks.com is a close approximation.
I'm still on my low-cal prepared meal plan and it's going pretty well. By "pretty well" I mean I have yet to wake up to find myself sharing a bed with one or more pizza boxes.

I've been allowing myself one "cheat meal" per week. Each Sunday without fail I've been visiting my local gay steakhouse and getting a skinny margarita and a spicy buffalo chicken wrap. This seems to be enough to keep the recurring chicken-wing dreams at bay. (I don't care if the margarita dreams never stop.)

I seem to have leveled out emotionally from the initial few weeks. I'm not letting the little things get to me as much and my fuse seems to be returning to normal length. And those intense cravings spells triggered by television commercials have subsided. I find turning the TV off after Jeopardy and going to bed before dark helps.

I'm gradually reintroducing myself into the social scene, and all of its temptations and emotional triggers. Last weekend I accepted an invitation to a birthday party. I had no idea what to get one-year-old, so I showed up with a card stuffed with cash. And, because I knew there'd undoubtably be lots of children, a 12-pack of beer.

Fortunately the mom is a bit of a health nut so there were plenty of veggies for snacking. The disturbing, Elmo-themed cake never once tempted me, even when paired with ice cream. As I added my Miller 64 to the ice chest full of seasonal microbrews, the dads in attendance made fun of my watered-down factory beer. But I noticed it was all drank up before I could get a fourth bottle, while the "caramel apple" and "pumpkin spice" beers went largely untouched.

I became the most popular guy in the house when I volunteered to help the children apply their temporary tattoos. Some of the kids understood when I explained that – when it comes to ink – quality is far more important than quantity. But most of them didn't. I had fun guessing which kids are going to cause their folks the most trouble in 10 to 15 years.

The next morning I awoke with no regrets. Except maybe that Oscar the Grouch tattoo on my neck.