Month: July 2017

A Trail by Fire

A Trail by Fire

Thanks for noticing, but no, I didn’t misspell “trial.” I was just being clever. It’s an intentional twist on a popular phrase. Why? I’m glad you asked. 

I was recently invited to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I was invited to take a week off and hike a 100-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail. I immediately accepted, and over the next 24 hours, I was excited, giddy … and terrified. The prospect left me feeling a little like Frodo. “I will take the ring! I will take the ring to Mordor … though … I do not know the way.”

I’m not exactly in shape. Granted, “round” is a shape, but I don’t plan to roll along the Appalachian Trail, so I need to get into another shape. And how’s that gonna work? Well, let’s start with diet. Not “diet” as in “let’s eat little-to-no food, and when we do eat, let’s have Styrofoam-tasting wafers.” I mean “diet” as in “di·et /ˈdīət/ noun: the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” (Thank you, Google!)

Basically, Frodo went to the fire to achieve his goal of destroying the One Ring. I’m going to have to go through the fire to reach my goal of destroying the One Ring Around My Belly. And I think I’ve already put together a good guide. I’m sticking to it at least for breakfast. (Don’t judge! I’m slow to start sometimes … most times.) Anyway, dinner is being worked on by my sweet wife. That leaves me with lunch … in downtown D.C. … Wow. Yeah. So many restaurants, so little time. And that’s why I’ve decided to boil lunch down to this: A protein shake. “But Ken, won’t it be hard to drink your protein shake while others are sitting at the table with their luscious, scrumptious food?” Ha! Get thee behind me, Popeyes! That’s exactly what the next part of the plan is for.

Exercise. And I don’t mean “exercise” as in “do cardio till you can’t walk, and lift weights till your muscles cramp, you ball up into the fetal position, and whimper like a little baby.” I mean … no … wait. That is what I mean. But I’ll do it during my half-hour lunch break. I have a gym in the basement of my building at work. (Quit looking at me like that. I’ve been down there before! They have a water cooler. Yeesh!)

I’m going to be mixing it up with cardio (mostly treadmill), and weight lifting, because I’ll be carrying a hefty pack on my back throughout the trip. — unless I can hire someone to carry it for me. … which probably isn’t a good idea. Yeah, nix that. I’m probably throwing in some core exercises as well, although I admit that I currently have no clue as to what those are. Enter Google. I’ll find ’em.

So, all this to say, I’m planning on dropping as much weight between now and the first week of June. I’d rather carry as little with me as possible over 100 miles of trail. And, if I’m able to keep up the pace, I’ll have made some good, lifelong habits. Wish me luck!

UPDATE: I didn’t really lose a lot before the hike. I tried, but c’mon, I have a Dunkin Donuts right around the corner. Oh the inhumanity! However, I did lose 14 lbs. the first four three days of the hike. I’ll take whatever I can get.

Bruised Eggo

Bruised Eggo

So, sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Sometimes the curve ball is flat, toasted, and looks like it’s been beaten with a set of football cleats. Yes, for me, it was those tasty curve balls know as “Eggo Waffles.” A hot waffle is something akin to heaven under the right circumstances. I was hungry, and that was all the circumstance I needed. I bought the economy box (Translation: Waffles in bulk), and made my merry way into the kitchen. And to show that I’m not a selfish guy, I made waffles for everyone. Granted, my son doesn’t like waffles, and since my parents always hated it when we wasted food, I made the sacrifice and had the waffles my son didn’t want. It was basically waffles with a side of waffles. Each one was bathed in butter and dripped with golden syrup. Sticky, gooey, yummy syrup. Wait … I need to wipe the drool off my chin. … … … Okay, I’m back.

So yeah. There I was, stuffing my face with hot pastry — Are waffles pastries? How do you classify those little non-pancakes? — when all of a sudden, I remembered I was on a diet. Well darn. Screwed that one up! I’d been bested by … by … whatever it is you’d call them. Pastries. Sweet breads. Football Cleat Cakes. Whatever. Did I mention the syrup? Oh heaven!

I dragged myself over to my chair to think about what I’d just done — and also because I was sure the sugar spike would send this diabetic dummy into a wicked mini-coma. As I began to lose consciousness, I had this one thought, “Why did I … where … ummm … coconuts.” [Drool]

I’m reminded of the demotivator poster of a sinking cruise ship. It read, “Sometimes your life is meant to serve as a bad example to others.” Yep. That’s me.

Fundraising 101

Fundraising 101

So I’ve been taking a course in fundraising as of late. … Well, maybe not an official course, but with the amount of junk mail I’ve received, I could easily write my own. Wait. … Why don’t I? I could probably earn a healthy little living without leaving the comfort of my recliner. Let’s give it a try. …

Dear Friend,

Did you know the world is set to explode in less than 90 days? All your freedoms … all your worldly possessions … everything and everyone you hold dear … will soon be incinerated in a planet-engulfing fireball of cinematic proportions … ALONG WITH EVERY KRISPY KREME DONUT SHOP ON THE PLANET! It’s true. We read it on the Internet.

OH NO! HOW CAN THIS BE?

You’re probably wondering, “Oh no! How can this be?” (Hence our craftily crafted subheadline.) Well folks, there are evil people in the world, and they are absolutely … well … eeeeevil. How absolutely evil? Well, let’s just say that even Dr. Evil, the evilest evildoer in the history of evildom has an evil master. (Think horns and a pointy tale. … Big time evil.)

There’s this thing called the World-Ending, Donut-Shop-Incinerating, Cinematic-Fireball Machine (WEDSICFM, for short), and they have gained control of it. Who is “they,” you ask? It would take too much time to explain. Suffice it to say, “they” are eeeeevil. (See paragraph above for details.)

But don’t worry. We can stop them. … And you can help!

UH-OH! HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST?

Why friends, frankly we’re shocked and a little bit hurt that you’d think us capable of fundraising on such an Earth-ending, soul-crushing, freedom-stealing event such as this. Besides, where would we spend our ill-gotten gain? All the donut shops — the good ones, anyway — would be gone. … blown into the ether. … roasted to inedible bits like McDonald’s french fries. … Oh, the poor pastries!

But I digress.

Now is the time to stand. Now is the time to fight. Now is the time to … Wait! You can’t do this alone. You have to work. You have bills to pay. A roof to keep over your head. Donuts to buy! And so, my friend, we will fight this battle for you!

For your extremely generous, selfless donation, we will send our editor — who is also a highly trained ninja assassin — into the belly of the beast to disarm and destroy the WEDSICFM and bring to trial and justice all the eeeeevil minions “they” have employed in this sordid little affair. All for three easy payments of $29.99!

So, can we count on your support? Please give right away. EVERY SECOND COUNTS (and those seconds are counting down to Doomsday)!!! *tick, tock … tick, tock*

Stand with us and open your wallets, before your donuts and your freedoms die horribly.

Sincerely,

The Fundraising Dept.

A Midnight Meal, with a Healthy Smattering of Asides

A Midnight Meal, with a Healthy Smattering of Asides

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked will I depart … unless I stay up and do laundry.  And let’s face it, a 275 lb. man running around in the buff is a bad advertisement for both jello and nudist colonies.  So here I sit, staring down the barrel of midnight, waiting for my skivvies to dry.

“Aren’t they cute?” my wife asks.  (No, she’s not mentioning my unmentionables.)  I look over to see a nine-inch length of rainbow-colored yarn.

“Cool,” says I. “Whatcha makin’?”

“Mittens for Kenny.”  I blink. … And look again at the nine-inch length of rainbow-colored yarn.

“Um. … Cool,” I say warily.  (I’ve been married 15 years.  I know better than to ask obvious questions like, “Shouldn’t it look more like a mitten than a belt?”)  I watch as she pauses, holds up the yarn, and slowly scans the row she’s crocheting.  I know from experience and dumb questions that she’s counting the stitches, and this is why I could never crochet.  Me and math don’t get along so well.

I tried.  I really did.  I wanted to be a physics instructor like my father.  But the numbers were against me.  When it came to math, the only equation my brain knew was A + B = Cya later!  In fact, the best math grade I ever got was for extra credit in Algebra — I rewrote “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” and made it into a song about … ummm … algebraic stuff.  (Nifty, huh?  I’ve never had the opportunity to use “algebraic” in a sentence before!)  Granted, it may have helped that I presented her with a Christmas gift afterwards, but I’d like to think I did it on the strength of my lyrical prowess alone.  I realize how delusional that sounds, but the doctors say it’s okay.

So there I sit, or here — existentially speaking, it doesn’t really matter — when the dryer buzzes rather loudly.  (Does your dryer buzz loudly?  Mine sounds like the buzzer for Family Feud set at 300 decibels.) I nearly fall out of my chair, which makes my wife laugh, which is a good thing, considering the fact that she’s been muttering to herself for quite some time as she undoes row upon row of crochet stitches.  (See?  I’m not the only one who can’t count.)

I hop up out of the chair, realizing at the last possible moment — that moment named “point of no return” — that my leg is asleep.  Down I go, all 275 lbs.  in forward, descending motion, arms flailing, mouth agape, praying loudly and quickly to God.  BOOM!!!  That’ll leave a mark. … and a crease. … and maybe even a fracture or two.

My wife jumps up quickly, concern in her voice, until I mutter a carpet-muffled, “Amen.”  Then she laughs, because she knows I’ll be alright … eventually.

So I pick up myself, my basket of laundry, and what’s left of my pride and head upstairs for a well-deserved — and obviously much-needed — night’s sleep, while my giggling maker of rainbow mittens crochets long into the night. …

Rush Hour Romance … Or Not …

Rush Hour Romance … Or Not …

Sometimes, guys just aren’t smart.  Yes, yes, I realize saying so publicly gives women more ammunition in the Men vs. Women debate, but I’m just trying to save myself from a protracted argument that I’d probably lose anyway.  Consider as evidence the story of Mr. Clueless, whose story I recounted in a recent Facebook status.  It’s the story of one man’s persistent hope in the face of … well … just read for yourself.

Adventures in People Watching, Episode #331: “Cabin Lights”

Our story unfolds as the couple in seats 18 & 19 — who, by virtue of the fact that they got on the bus at different stops, are not a couple — find themselves on a dark ride home on a cold November evening. …

The young woman in our story, a tall, thin blonde with a pleasant face, is sitting happy as a lark in seat 19.  As the bus rolls to a stop, a tall, gangly fellow steps on board and makes his way down the aisle.  Passing up several seats beside other men, he does his best to nonchalantly plunk himself down into seat 18, next to the young blonde.  “Not obvious in the least bit,” we all think to ourselves.

His efforts fall short as it’s blisteringly clear he could have sat next to another man.  Our lady friend’s back instinctively straightens.  She sits woodenly, clearly irritated at this unwelcome intrusion into her personal space.

Naturally, he is as clueless as a man can be.

Looking up, he fumbles with the control panel above his head.  Fingers grazing across the right button, he presses, clicks, and their space is filled with a light as dull and white as he is.

Her head snaps in his direction, eyes squinting as her pupils narrow to mere pin pricks of black.  “Do you mind?” he asks, despite the fact that even a fool could see that she really does.

“No,” she lies coldly.  Turning her head, she stares out the window at the passing cars, wishing her meager paycheck could afford her enough cash to make a car payment and, thus, rescue her from such uncomfortable situations.

Mr. Clueless deftly works his New York Times crossword puzzle, oblivious to everything and frustrated that he can’t find a five-letter word for “imbecile.”

He sighs deeply.  She rolls her eyes and glances at her watch.  Twenty more minutes till we reach the bus station. … An eternity. …

Her attention drawn by the sound of newspaper pages turning, she looks over to see him reading Dear Abby.  “Daughter Leaves Ominous Signs,” reads the headline.

She purses her lips.  “If you scoot any closer to me,” she thinks to herself, “I’ll give you more than just an ominous sign, buddy.”

Raising her hand to her mouth, she pretends to yawn.  Dreamily, she closes her eyes and presses her head to the window, feigning sleep.

And while he may have the brains of a snowball, we find that Mr. Clueless is at least a gentleman.  Seeing his cabin mate drifting to sleep, he puts his paper away, clicks the light switch off, and closes his eyes to join her in Dreamland — sadly, the only place in which he’d have a chance with her.

He snores. … She wakes.

*fade to black …

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