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31 December 2006

Emily's New Playset

It's not quite done yet, but here's a picture of Emily's new playset, designed by myself, Adrienne, and my dad.  Dad actually built it 6-8 months ago and it's been sitting in his workshop waiting for us to get approval for it.  Well, we haven't gotten approval yet but we decided to put it up anyway.

Click for a larger image!

I'm actually pretty impressed at how nice it's turned out.  The very top part will have a canvas roof, and there will also be a canvas roof angling up over the area in the back that is enclosed by fence boards.  The swing is sturdy enough for even my 250 pounds to swing on.  Though I don't think I'd want anyone giving me an underdog.

I'll post a picture of the completed work after I get the canvas up and the fence boards on top.

Oh, it has a fireman's pole on the back for sliding down.  We haven't installed it yet.

Posted by rickroot at 2:20 PM | Link | 1 comment

Low Carb Products - or Good Healthy Choices?

I know that some of you out there don't support the low carb lifestyle.  I'm not "low carbing" anymore, so to speak... but I'm still limiting my "bad carb" intake.  Avoiding things like non whole-grain flour, potatoes, and bad sugars like high fructose corn syrup is always a good idea.

I realized that I can probably still eat French Toast as long as I make it with a whole grain bread (not just wheat bread, or "made with whole grain", but a bonafide 100% whole grain bread).  But I can't exactly eat french toast without syrup (my wife does).

So while in the syrup aisle at the grocery store, I was investigating my options.  Pure organic maple syrup can't be that bad - it comes out of a tree after all and is completely unprocessed.  But it's EXPENSIVE.  And still loaded with calories.  And it tastes vastly different from your run of the mill fake maple syrups (we usually buy Hungry Jack, in the microwavable bottle).

I decided to give the "sugar free" syrup a try, and I picked up a bottle of Log Cabin sugar free syrup.  Unlike the Hungry Jack syrup, which has a primary ingredient of corn syrup and then water, with less than 2% of everything else, the Log Cabin sugar free syrup is made of water and then sorbitol ... and less than 2% of everything else.  Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol, so it doesn't really affect your blood sugar.  The sugar free syrup also has only 35 calories per serving, as opposed to 210 calories in the same 1/4 cup serving of the Hungry Jack syrup.

And here's the best part - it's a reasonably tasty substitute.  My friend Mike tried a splenda sweetened brand of "low carb" syrup and said it was so nasty they threw the bottle away.  But I've found the log cabin sugar free syrup to taste pretty much like regular syrup.

That's one product that I'll continue to buy - even when I'm not low carbing.

Flat Out Carbdown Nutrition InformationAnother one is the "Flat-Out" brand flatbread wraps.  Particularly, the lite, low carb Italian Herb version.  You can see an example nutrition information for the non-lite version here if the image is broken.

15 grams of fiber, 11 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fat, with only 110 calories?  That's a LOT more good stuff than you're going to get out of 2 slices of any whole grain bread!  And this bread is a bit thicker than your average whole wheat tortilla shell that people often use for sandwich wraps.  They're quite suitable for pizza crusts as well.

The lite version of the same bread has only 15 carbs - 9 grams of which are fiber, and only 80 calories (the same number of calories found in your standard slice of bread).

On a side note, the flat out bread bread is apparently manufacturered in my home town of Saline, Michigan.  They have a web site too that describes all of their varying products - only some of which are available in the stores around here.



Posted by rickroot at 6:40 AM | Link | 5 comments
30 December 2006

Diet Update

253.6:  -13.6 pounds, 34 days

So, it's the holiday season, and as I've mentioned, I'm in a 3 week "maintenance phase" of my diet.  The first week included Christmas.  The second week will include New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and the third week will include our trip to Disney World.  Of course, weigh-in day is the day I get back from Disney World.  We'll see how that goes.  It's hard to spend 10 hours in the car without loading up on munchies!

As you can see, I survived week 1 with a loss of 0.1 pounds.  I actually gained several pounds between the 23rd and 26th, because I did what everyone does around Christmas time.  I ate!  I did have a pretty healthy christmas eve dinner, and the some of the snack crackers I bought were all nice whole grain crackers like triscuits and soy pretzels.  But of course I had quite a bit of dip as well, and the sweet potato casserole I made for Christmas dinner.. well, it had a lot of sugar and marshmallows in it.

But, all is well!  Adrienne and I are going out to dinner on New Year's Eve - maybe to Tony's, maybe somewhere else - and we're going to the hockey game (Canes vs. Flyers) and maybe the party after the game.  And of course on New Year's Day I'll be watching Michigan football at my folks house with the rest of the family.  Go Blue!

Then it's back to work for a few days, and next Saturday - a week from today - we leave for Disney World!

Posted by rickroot at 6:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
29 December 2006

Talking Steve Irwin Doll For Sale

I was looking through some of the crap we'd put out in the garage sale while cleaning the garage the other day, and I found a talking Steve Irwin doll that I'd bought as sort of a gag gift for Adrienne a year or so ago.

Now that he's dead (Crikey!), I figure it's worth putting up on ebay.  There are several other similar items out there right now.  Looks like he's worth at least as much as I paid for him.



Posted by rickroot at 7:41 PM | Link | 2 comments
25 December 2006

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve Dinner went off without a hitch.  Penny and Chet were here, along with my friends Mike and Stacey.  We had baked cornish hens, a long grain and wild rice stuffing with dried cherries and almonds, steamed asparagus, cranberry walnut whole wheat bread, and deviled eggs.  Yes, I made it all - from scratch.  The wild rice stuffing actually turned out really fantastic, and the bread was awesome too.  I'll definately be making both again.

Note my use of long grain rice and whole wheat flour.  =)

We also had that fruit tart for dessert, and it was pretty awesome.

I woke up this morning to the sounds of little feet running around - Emily had snuck downstairs without waking us.  I woke up Adrienne and told her it was time to get up because Emily was already downstairs.  When I left the bedroom, Emily was coming up the stairs and she said "Santa was here!  Come see!"

Emily got a bazillion gifts, but since this is my blog, I'll tell you what I got.  I actually gave Adrienne a list this year, and because she doesn't know when to stop, she bought pretty much all of it.  I'm not complaining, but the same thing applied to Emily. =)  Anyway, I got a nice new electric griddle with a removable cooking surface for easy cleaning, a bluetooth headset for my cell phone, some noice cancelling headphones for listening to the Zen on car trips, plane trips, etc, Family Guy Season 4 on DVD, and Pinky & The Brain Volume 2 on DVD (a last minute request!).  I also got a neat little "strainer spatula", and a nice big calphalon covered skillet for cooking.

Well, I need to get ready for the Christmas party over at Laurie's house.  Blog ya later!

Posted by rickroot at 10:27 AM | Link | 0 comments
23 December 2006

Christmas Eve Is Here!

Check out this amusing flash animation starring.. me!


Upload your own picture - or a picture of an enemy!

Posted by rickroot at 11:07 PM | Link | 0 comments

Last Pre Holiday Diet Update!

253.7:  -13.5 pounds, 27 days

Not bad.  I didn't quite make my goal, but I feel pretty good about my progress.  Losing over 13 pounds in less than a month isn't too bad.  I'm not going to expect continued results at that level.

In fact, what I am going to expect?

Well, I'm hoping to survive Christmas, New Years, and our trip to Disney World the second week of august without INCREASING my mass.  That means I'd like to come back from vacation on January 13 still weighing between 250 and 255.  I'm going to have to work hard to do that because... well, it's the frakkin' holidays!  And Disney World!

Once I get through the holidays, I'm setting a goal to lose 55 pounds by my birthday - that's July 24.  So assuming I "start" losing weight the week of January 14th, that gives me 27 weeks to lose 55 pounds, or slightly less than 2 pounds per week.

I think I can get there with a good healthy diet, and lots of cardio and lots of weight training.

And at 200 pounds, I'll be at a weight I haven't seen since I was a freshman in college.  If any of my old college buddies are reading this (Rory and Rob in particular might remember it!), I was quoted one drunken night upon realizing my weight.. "200 pounds!  Good lord, I'm a lard ass!"

And now, here i am, 16 years later setting that as my goal.

Wish me luck!

Posted by rickroot at 9:53 PM | Link | 1 comment

Christmas Eve Dessert from the Guglhupf Bakery

A few weeks ago, I was going out to lunch with Mike (one of my coworkers) and he suggested we try out the Guglhupf Bakery over on 15-501 in Durham.  It sounded interesting, so we headed over there.

The place is really hidden in the back of a building and you wouldn't even know it was there when you drive by.  After finding a nice illegal parking spot because the lot was full, we walked in, and I was a little shocked by how "trendy" the place looked.  They'd apparently only recently added the "Guglhupf Cafe" portion - they'd always been just a bakery.  The restaurant was two stories, with the kitchen and ordering line on the first floor with some tables, and a stairway up to the second floor with more tables.  The second floor was open to the first floor as well, like a loft.

Guglhupf Bakery Fruit TartWhile in line to order lunch, I had the opportunity to see a few items in their dessert case, and there was a yummy looking fruit tart, which I've included a picture of for your viewing pleasure, right here.

Doesn't it look good?  I'll let you know.

It's certainly not low carb, nor any kind of healthy.  But for diets weren't made for holidays.

Posted by rickroot at 9:39 PM | Link | 0 comments
20 December 2006

Bring on the Carbs!

I've decided that 3 weeks and 12 pounds into my weight loss program, it's time to start adding healthy carbs, and doing some weights.

My toe still hurts - I think I strained a ligament on the treadmill and it's been getting worse.  So I decided since I can't spend 40 minutes on the treadmill (and I don't like the bikes or ellipticals) that it was time to start the weight training.

In order to lift weights, I needed to eat some carbs.  Lunch today consisted of a south beach turkey club wrap.  260 calories, 24 grams of protein, 22 grabs of carbs.  Most of the carbs came from the two small whole what tortillas, I'm sure!  14 of those carbs were fiber so they obviously supplemented the bread with "extra" fiber).

Dinner wasn't quite as healthy - I had some fancy "Spice Sesame Pasta" .. gourmet linguini ... but made with "Enriched Semolina Wheat Flour" - ie, refined white flour.  Added to the pasta some grilled chicken and a bag of organic vegetables I picked up at Trader Joe's (brocolli, peppers, mini corn, water chestnuts, etc)... cooked the chicken and veggies up in some olive oil, then simmered in some sundried tomato salad dressing, and tossed in with the pasta.  It was a damn fine dinner!  But next time I've got to do it with a real WHOLE wheat pasta.

After dinner, I headed over to the gym for a good workout.  Did my warmups then did three different leg exercises.  Don't ask which ones, I don't know the names of the muscles, nor the equipment.  Perhaps I'll be sore tomorrow. =)

I'll continue to post daily weight updates through Sunday, but after that I'm switching to weekly weight updates... if I'm doing weights and eating carbs I don't expect to have the same kind of results that I've had in these first 3 weeks.  I'll also set a new goal (which I'll tell you all about tomorrow)

Posted by rickroot at 10:01 PM | Link | 0 comments

Diet Update

255.2:  -12.0 pounds, 23 days

I only did a mile on the treadmill last night - and a slow one at that. My toe hurts. Still, I was good. I skipped the delicious offerings at the bowling alley (our league does a christmas potluck every year) and instead cooked my own dinner last night - baked salmon in a tequila lime marinade, with sauteed asparagus.

I had to get up at 4am this morning. Erin scheduled a 6:10am flight and I had to take her to the airport. So it's not even 8 am yet and I've already been at work nearly 3 hours! The Coke Zero isn't even helping my heavy eyelids!

Posted by rickroot at 7:42 AM | Link | 0 comments
19 December 2006

Family Guy

Anyone watch this show?

I'm a huge fan.. every episode makes me laugh... but sometimes more than others.

Like in Sunday's episode when Brian took Meg to the dance.. he gets all drunk, makes out with her, then vomits and said "That wasn't you, that was the beer". I had to pause the show til I stopped laughing.

I'm always amused anytime Brian exhibits CLASSIC dog tendencies, and in this episode, Meg shook a bag of dogfood and he came running.

Even though I'd swear he eats at the table with the rest of the family.

I also found myself wondering exactly how many star wars references they've made in the entire series. My favorite was when Cleveland was starting to get angry after Quagmire slept with his wife, and Lois was trying to talk him down. Suddenly, Emperor Palpatine shows up and says "good, good, use your anger" and lois yells "YOU'RE NOT HELPING!".

I love Family Guy.
Posted by rickroot at 2:16 PM | Link | 3 comments

My Webcam is back on!

I finally reconnected my webcam.  Downloaded a piece of software called VisionGS Private Edition to handle the uploads.  It seems to work fairly well.

Watch away, freaks!

Posted by rickroot at 11:36 AM | Link | 3 comments

Diet Update and Other Stuff

256.0:  -11.2 pounds, 22 days

Yes, it was a good day yesterday.  I was on target as far as my eating, and I spent 60 minutes on the treadmill, going 3.6 miles and burning 711 calories.  Afterwards, I wasn't really hungry, but snarfed down one of those Atkin's Indulge bars and had maybe 5-6 ounces of turkey smoked sausage for dinner.

I probably won't get to work out tonight unless we get out of bowling early again.  I had 2 scrambled eggs and 2 sausage links for breakfast, and I'll be having an Atkins shake for lunch.  Dinner tonight will consist of baked salmon in a tequila-lime marinade, and steamed asparagus.

Are you using craigslist yet?

I've been using craigslist a lot lately.  The raleigh version, that is.  Most major metropolitan areas have their own craigslist - even Norfolk.  In the last few days, I've purchased a 16" pink bicycle for Emily for $20 (it's a birthday present so don't mention it to her!), and a very nice Yamaha musical keyboard for $50.  I've also sold some items on craigslist lately too - a wood entertainment center that we'd purchased at Ikea about 18 months ago, some bose bookshelf speakers I'd purchased in the early 1990s, and a few other things.

Ebay is nice for things that are easy to ship, but certain things are a lot easier to sell on craigslist, and you can get rid of items at a fixed price much quicker.  Heck, my parents sold a utility trailer that they bought 15 years ago for over 70% of the original purchase price!  And they did so within 6 hours.

Posted by rickroot at 8:39 AM | Link | 5 comments
18 December 2006

The Purina Diet

Thanks to my dad for this one!

I was in Wal-Mart buying a large bag of Purina for my dogs and was in line to check out. A woman behind me asked if I had a dog........ Duh!

I was feeling a bit crabby so on impulse, I told her no, I was starting The Purina Diet again, although I probably shouldn't because I'd ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care unit with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IV's in both arms. Her eyes about bugged out of her head.

I went on and on with the bogus diet story and she was totally buying it I told her that it was an easy, inexpensive diet and that the way it works is to load your pockets or purse with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The package said the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again. I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was by now enthralled with my story, particularly a tall guy behind her.

Horrified, she asked if something in the dog food had poisoned me and was that why I ended up in the hospital. I said no.....I'd been sitting in the street licking my butt when a car hit me.

I thought the tall guy was going to have to be carried out the door.

Posted by rickroot at 3:51 PM | Link | 2 comments

The Hobbit - Peter Jackson Or Not?

I'd been meaning for the last week or two to look into whether or not Peter Jackson would be making "The Hobbitt" or not.  Last I had checked, he had no plans to do so until at least after King Kong.  Yes, it was quite a while ago =)

Well, I found a web site that has all kinds of interesting information regarding the movie, and there's been a lot of news very recently.

MGM says Peter Jackson is making the movie.  New Line says they're looking for a new directory because Peter won't do it until the law suits are settled.  If you didn't know, Peter had to sue New Line to get his share of the profits from the movie.  I'm not sure about the details of the law suit.

Apparently, the rights to produce The Hobbit revert back to producer Saul Zaentz at some point in the near future.  Mr. Zentz, whom you may remember produced the 1977 animated "Lord of the Rings" directed by Ralph Bakshi, is apparently friend with Peter Jackson and in a recent interview said the Peter will produce the movie but will likely wait until the rights revert back because he's fed up with the studios (New Line) because of the lawsuit.

We'll see what happens.  I hope they make it before either Ian Holm (Bilbo) or Ian McKellen (Gandalf) die!  McKellen is 67 and Holm is 75.

Posted by rickroot at 3:17 PM | Link | 0 comments

Pot Poury

Yes I know how to spell potpourri... hmm, maybe I don't.

258.2:  -9.0 pounds, 21 days

Very frustrating.  I had a good week, I used the treadmill 6 days in a row (Monday - Saturday), and was fairly good on my diet.  We did have our department christmas party Friday at lunch, and Adrienne and I went out to dinner Saturday night (more on that later) but I don't think I deserved to gain 3 pounds over the weekend.  Oh well.

I made 8 batches of peanut brittle this weekend to give out to friends, coworkers, and neighbors.  Naturally I had to eat a little, but I considered myself to have been pretty good.  Have to test the stuff to make sure it's "right" before cracking it up and giving it to my neighbors.  It's a finicky thing.  I blew 7 batches of peanut brittle earlier in the week before realizing that I needed Karo *BRAND* syrup, and not just Target brand corn syrup.  It makes a difference, apparently.  The first 7 batches I just couldn't get to set properly.

Friday was the University Development christmas party.  It's always a daytime thing, partly so they can put on the traditional skit (which spouses just wouldn't appreciate), and partially (I think) to avoid having to pay for the spouses as well.  This year it was at a place called the Starlu Restaurant in Durham, at the corner of University and Shannon.  I thought it was overly fancy, the service was slow (considering they were serving 3 entries to 100 people, they could've done things quicker than they did), and the food wasn't that good.  My dinner consided of a grilled hanger steak with mashed potatoes and some kind of sauteed leaf (kale, perhaps).  I had a ceasar salad to start and finished with a flourless chocolate almond torte.  I had some baked brie, crackers, and a few toasted baguettes with a warm crab dip for an appetizer.  The crab dip was the only really outstanding part of the meal.  I did win the centerpiece  from the table though, which was a small basket of goodies from Southern Seasons.

I didn't want to blow things completely, so I went to the gym about an hour afterwards for a vigorous 40 minute walk/run on the treadmill, and had only an Atkins shake and some cheese for dinner.

Saturday started out really good - by the time 5 o'clock rolled around, I had only had a south beach meal replacement bar for breakfast, and an Atkins shake for lunch.  But I was really craving cajun food so Adrienne and I headed out to Tony's Bourbon Street Oyster Bar for dinner.  Check out their cajun/creole menu.  YUM!  Obviously, this wasn't going to be a low carb friendly meal, but I probably would've gotten the Shrimp Creole, and some clam chowner.

Unfortunately, they were closed for a private event.  Still craving Cajun, we went downtown Raleigh to the 42nd Street Oyster Bar.  They brought out hushpuppies immediately when we sat down, and I knew it wasn't going to be a good night for dieting!  They had a limited amount of cajun food on the menu, but I'd been really good all day so I ordered some  new england clam chowder for starters, and had the cajun fried shrimp platter with mashed potatoes and cole slaw.  Yes, batter fried shrimp and mashed potatoes - clearly not low carb items, but they were good.

I didn't even eat the whole thing!  Probably only ate half of the shrimp and potatoes, along with all of the cole slaw and maybe 5 or 6 hush puppies, with only water to drink.  But I was absolutely stuffed by the time I was done!

On the way out, we ended up giving our leftovers to a fellow out by the parking lot who asked for them.  He may not have any money to cook his own meal, but hanging outside a restaurant like that probably gets him some good meals!  From us, he got cajun friend shrimp, half a crabcake, some steamed vegetables and some hushpuppies.

On Sunday, I had a south beach bar for breakfast, one of those south beach wrap kits that they sell in he grocery stories for lunch, and filet mignon with stemed broccoli and long grain rice for dinner.  Oh yeah, plus I had to sample the peanut brittle to make sure it was cooked right.

It was a good weekend!  Just not for dieting.

Posted by rickroot at 12:09 PM | Link | 0 comments
14 December 2006

Bubba Knows Everyone

Bubba was bragging to his boss one day, "You know, I know everyone there is to know. Just name someone, anyone, and I know them."

Tired of his boasting, his boss called his bluff, "OK, Bubba how about Tom Cruise?"

"Sure, yes, Tom and I are old friends, and I can prove it."

So Bubba and his boss fly out to Hollywood and knock on Tom Cruise's door, and sure enough, Tom Cruise, shouts, "Bubba! Great to see you! You and your friend come right in and join me for lunch!"

Although impressed, Bubba's boss is still skeptical. After they leave Cruise's house, he tells Bubba that he thinks Bubba's knowing Cruise was just lucky.

"No, no, just name anyone else," Bubba says.

"President Bush," his boss quickly retorts. "Yes," Bubba says, "I know him, let's fly out to Washington." And off they go.

At the White House, Bush spots Bubba on the tour and motions him and his boss over, saying, "Bubba, what a surprise, I was just on my way to a meeting, but you and your friend come on in and let's have a cup of coffee first and catch up."

Well, the boss is very shaken by now, but still not totally convinced. After they leave the White House grounds, he expresses his doubts to Bubba, who again implores him to name anyone else.

"The Pope," his boss replies.

"Sure!" says Bubba. "I've known the Pope a long time." So off they fly to Rome.

Bubba and his boss are assembled with the masses in Vatican Square when Bubba says, "This will never work. I can't catch the Pope's eye among all these people. Tell you what, I know all the guards so let me just go upstairs and I'll come out on the balcony with the Pope." And he disappears into the crowd headed toward St. Peter's.

Sure enough, half an hour later Bubba emerges with the Pope on the balcony. But by the time Bubba returns, he finds that his boss has had a heart attack and is surrounded by paramedics. Working his way to his boss's side, Bubba asks him, "What happened?"

His boss looks up and says, "I was doing fine until you and the Pope came out on the balcony and the Japanese tourist next to me asked, 'Who's that on the balcony with Bubba?'"

Posted by rickroot at 9:26 AM | Link | 1 comment

Diet Update, Day 17

255.8:  -11.4 pounds, 17 days

After spending another 40 minutes on the treadmill yesterday, I'm feeling pretty good about my ability to get below 250 before Christmas.  After all, I've got 10 days.  I could theoretically even get to my original goal of losing 20 pounds, but I'm not going to push it.  I'd like to enjoy the christmas party tomorrow.

I'm starting to get a little tired of heavy duty low carbing.  Lots of eggs, sausage, chicken, etc.  I'm going to "cheat" a little tonight and have meatloaf, but I suppose i'll still avoid the starchy side dishes.  I'm not quite ready to re-incorporate good carbs like long grain rice and such.

Posted by rickroot at 8:25 AM | Link | 1 comment
12 December 2006

Diet Update, Day 15

258.1:  -9.1 pounds, 15 days

It was a pretty good day yesterday.  I had an Atkins shake for breakfast, some grilled chicken for lunch, and roast pork tenderloin and zucchini for dinner.  For added flavor, I dipped some of my pork in honey mustard - but probably less than a tablespoon.  I also had a spoonful of rice.  I overcooked the zucchini.  It's easy to overcook steamed zucchini.

After dinner, I went to the gym and spent 55 minutes on the treadmill - keeping my heart rate between 130 and 140.  It said I burned 524 calories.  I might try to hit the gym for 20 minutes after bowling tonight, but it depends on the timing.  I usually don't get out of bowling until well after 9pm, and the gym closes at 10.  We'll see what happens!

Posted by rickroot at 12:22 PM | Link | 3 comments
11 December 2006

Diet Update

259.7:  -7.5 pounds, 14 days

Clearly I'm not going to lose 20 pounds before Christmas.

We had dinner at a fancy restaurant Saturday night on someone else's bill.  Bistro 64 was the location for my wife's department Christmas party.  There were about 20 people there, in a private room at the upscale Cary restaurant.  Typically, her director's wife brings a fabulous homemade cheese danish to hand out to everyone as well, so I had that to look forward to as well.  Not exactly low carb.

I partook of the bread, had a couple of adult beverages, ate the mashed potatoes that came with my beef tenderloin (along with asparagus and a stuffed roma tomato).  And of course, the cheesecake for desert.

The worst thing about it was that the cheesecake wasn't that good.  In fact, it was possibly the worst cheesecake I'd ever had next to the time I tried to make cheesecake at home.

Well, having been disappointed by dessert, I chowed down half of the cheese danish when we got home, rather than waiting until morning, and restarted my diet yesterday.  I broke down and had some popcorn at the Disney Princesses on Ice, but not much.

I was actually down to 259.0 on Saturday morning.

This week I'm going to be good, but another free fancy meal will occur Friday at my departmental Christmas party at the Starlu Restaurant in Durham.  It's pointless to low carb at events like this, and I wouldn't want to ruin my own fun by even trying.

So I'll be vigilant the next 4 days, and head to the gym tonight too.

Posted by rickroot at 8:58 AM | Link | 0 comments
08 December 2006


Anyone remember "ASCII Art"?

         _U ^\_
        /   ___/ -- Being the President has its advantages.
       /   \  U
      /   /\\   __
   \_/   /--\\-0 x\__o
     \  /        ___/ -- George, can we get
     | /| /----||        in trouble for this!
     ||_||_    ||_

I know this is old, but years ago, someone did a complete ASCII animation of the movie "Star Wars".  Check it out here.

Here's a "screen shot"

                          ( oo|    They've shut down
                          _\=/_    the main reactor.
          ___         #  /  _  \
         / ()\        \\//|/.\|\\
       _|_____|_       \/  \_/  ||
      | | === | |         |\ /| ||
      |_|  O  |_|         \_ _/  #
       ||  O  ||          | | |
       ||__*__||          | | |
      |~ \___/ ~|         []|[]
      /=\ /=\ /=\         | | |
Posted by rickroot at 11:52 PM | Link | 1 comment
06 December 2006

Joined a gym today!

260.6:  -6.6 pounds, 8 days

Check out www.brianvanderark.com - his new live CD "Live at Eddie's Attic" is really awesome.  I'm a huge fan, you should be too.

Now, on to the topic at hand.

After dropping Emilyi off at the Academy for the Performing Arts for her dance class this evening, I walked over to "the strip" (aka, downtown Apex), and decided to wander into the Nautilus Fitness Center.  It's a pretty small place, about 4,000 square feet, but they pack a lot of equipment in.  One side has some nautilus machines and all of the cardio equipment, while the other side has free weights.  It's not fancy, but the people are friendly, and the price was right!  I signed up for 12 months, payd $180 and got 3 months free - a holiday special.  That works out to $12 a month.

Not bad considering I paid $40/month at Kx Fitness.

After taking Emily home from dance class I went back to the gym in my workout clothes and spent 40 minutes on the treadmill.

Posted by rickroot at 10:03 PM | Link | 0 comments
05 December 2006

Star Wars Episode 7: The Fallen Hero

Plot Summary

This web site credits the following text to someone named Tom J. Garrison.

This web site credits George Lucas. Wikipedia is not kind to the author of this web site.

Star Wars Episode VII:  The Fallen Hero

Thirty years have passed since the Battle of Endor (Return of the Jedi), where both the Emperor and Vader met their doom. During the decades since Endor, the remnants of the Empire have been defeated and the New Republic formed out of the ashes of the Empire. However, enemies against the New Republic still exist. A rogue group of Dark Jedi have emerged that threaten the fragile stability that the New Republic enjoys.

The Cloud City of Bespin has been converted into one of the many Jedi training facilities located all throughout the galaxy. The Jedi's numbers are beginning to grow to Old Republic heights. The New Jedi Order consists of about 7,000 Jedi Knights. Bespin is now the home to both Jedi Masters, Knights and Apprentices.

During routine Jedi training on Bespin, the Dark Jedi invade wearing jet packs, which send them like a swarm dropping into the upper reaches of the cloud city. These Dark Jedi are seeking to re-establish the legacy of Darth Vader and, hence, they wear a more-advanced-looking version of Darth Vader's mask, helmet and body armor in honor of their fallen hero.

As the Dark Jedi attack Bespin, their sleek battle satellites swarm the floating city and rain down turbolaser fire on the city. The Jedi are taken by complete surprise. However, the Dark Jedi seek not to conquer Bespin, but to capture some of the Jedi's prized holocrons, which hold vast quantities of information about the ancient ways and customs of the Jedi. As hundreds of light-saber battles erupt between the Jedi and their Dark Jedi counterparts, some of the Dark Jedi use concussion grenades to cause damage to Bespin's superstructure.

A few of the holocrons are captured by the Dark Jedi. With their mission now complete, the Dark Jedi retreat from Cloud City and fly away from the city using their jet packs which they wear on their backs. The Dark Jedi fly into the nearby clouds and disappear. The roar of engines can be heard as the Dark Jedi escape in their customized Tie Rager star ships, which were hidden in the clouds above Cloud City.

The 12 members of the Jedi Council are present in the Jedi Council chamber in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Several Jedi, who survived the battle of Bespin against the Dark Jedi, relate to Luke Skywalker (the head of the Jedi Council) that several Jedi holocrons were taken during the battle. Luke informs the Jedi Council that the Jedi will have to find these lost holocrons and bring the Dark Jedi under control.

Meanwhile, just outside of the Jedi Temple, a shape-shifting Dark Jedi named Asp morphs into Ben Skywalker and enters the Jedi Temple. Asp makes his way to the Jedi super computer area where Asp hopes to disable the Jedi's computer network. Padawans Anakin Solo (son of Han Solo and Leia Organa) and Ben Skywalker (son of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade) are walking by the computer area. They both sense something and enter the computer area. Ben and Anakin are shocked to see someone in the room that looks exactly like Ben. Asp sees the padawans and flees the room. Ben and Anakin chase after Asp.

Asp makes his way to the garage at the Jedi Temple and steals one of the Jedi swoop bikes. At a high rate of speed, Asp flies down the streets of Coruscant. Ben and Anakin each get a swoop bike and pursue Asp. After a thrilling chase, Asp wrecks his swoop bike. The Coruscant zoo is nearby and Asp enters the zoo to hide from Anakin and Ben. Anakin and Ben park their swoop bikes and quickly follow Asp into the zoo. A spectacular light-saber duel erupts between Asp vs. Ben and Anakin. As the duel rages on, Asp begins to lose so he uses his light saber to release Rygor tigers from their cage.

Ben sees the tigers and says: "I've got a bad feeling about this." The tigers spot Ben and Anakin and then charge at the two padawans. Ben and Anakin battle the tigers. Within in a few minutes, Ben and Anakin have killed all seven of the ferocious tigers. However, by the time Ben and Anakin are finished fighting the tigers, Asp has escaped to parts unknown.

Elsewhere, Shindor, the leader of the Dark Jedi, is elated to learn that some of the Jedi holocrons have successfully been taken from the Jedi. Shindor is currently at the Dark Jedi's cloning facility, which is located on a planet nearby Coruscant. Shindor is using this facility to make clones of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. The Dark Jedi plan to fulfill Darth Vader's prophecy that he and Luke should rule the galaxy as father and son and bring peace and order to the galaxy. The Dark Jedi are using Imperial DNA samples of Vader to produce a clone of the Dark Lord of the Sith and are using DNA samples from Luke's severed hand to produce a clone of the venerable Jedi Master. Skywalker's severed hand is currently owned by one of the chief Dark Jedi named, Spiden.

Meanwhile, Spiden hatches a plan to leak the Dark Jedi's efforts to clone Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker to spies working for the New Republic. Spiden hopes the leader of the Dark Jedi will be destroyed by forces from the New Republic so that he can become the new leader of the Dark Jedi. Spiden leaks this information. The New Republic military and a Jedi army plan to raid the Dark Jedi hideout.

Also, Spiden contacts Luke Skywalker and asks the great Jedi Master to meet with him on the planet of Sluivan. Spiden tells Luke that Spiden is a smuggler who came across Luke’s severed hand in a preservation box. Luke learns from Spiden that the Empire recovered Luke's hand that Vader cut off at Bespin. Spiden says that the hand is in perfect condition and can probably be re-attached to Luke’s arm. Luke agrees to meet Spiden on Sluivan.

Luke arrives on Sluivan with R2-D2 and C-3PO. Luke enters a room where Spiden told Luke he would be waiting for Luke. Luke sees Spiden holding his severed hand in a transparent preservation box. Suddenly, the door behind Luke closes. Spiden sets down the hand and pulls out two light sabers. Spiden holds one in each hand and ignites them. Spiden tells Luke that he will now avenge the deaths of Sidious and Vader. Luke pulls out his light saber and ignites it. Luke and Spiden fight with their sabers. Luke manages to cut off one of Spiden’s hands. Spiden continues to fight with his other hand. R2-D2 rolls up behind Spiden. R2 ignites his rocket boosters and crashes into the back of Spiden at a tremendous speed. Spiden falls to the ground. Spiden stands back up dazed. With a slight movement of his hand, Luke uses the Force to send Spiden flying across the room. Spiden slams into a wall and is left unconscious. Luke thanks R2 for his valor, then Luke recovers his severed hand and then cuts the closed door open with his light saber . Luke, R2 and C-3PO exit the room. On Coruscant, a team of Jedi doctors re-attach Luke’s hand to his arm.

Luke learns that the Republic is planning to send a military unit to the planet where the Dark Jedi are cloning Vader and Luke. Luke orders the Jedi star pilots to scramble to their fighters and join the Republic forces in the fight. The Republic and Jedi star fighters arrive at the planet where the Dark Jedi cloning facility is located. Hundreds of Dark Jedi fighters are waiting for them. A massive space battle ensues.

Luke and a dozen or so other Jedi make their way to the surface of the planet and enter the Dark Jedi cloning facility. Light saber battles erupt between the Jedi and the Dark Jedi. Luke finds the Dark Jedi leader, Shindor, and they engage in a light-saber duel. Luke eventually decapitates Shindor. The remaining Dark Jedi flee the cloning facility with the growing clones of Vader and Luke. The Jedi set explosive charges all over the cloning facility. The Jedi flee the cloning facility. A few minutes later, the cloning facility is destroyed by the exploding charges.

While the Dark Jedi cloning facility has been destroyed, the New Republic and Jedi are unaware that the Dark Jedi succeeded in preserving the growing clones of Vader and Luke, which will be utilized in the Dark Jedi's grand scheme to conquer the galaxy. Back on Coruscant, Anakin Solo and Ben Skywalker are brought before the Jedi Council. For their bravery in combating the Dark Jedi, the Jedi Council makes Anakin and Ben full-fledged Jedi Knights. The two are given their official Jedi robes. Fade to black. Roll end credits.

Posted by rickroot at 12:00 AM | Link | 100 comments
04 December 2006

Diet Update: One Week

261.9:  -5.3 pounds

I didn't post weight updates this weekend because I didn't like the numbers =)  Must've been scale fluctuations.  I've been really good!

Skip and I went to the hockey game Saturday night to see the Carolina Hurricanes take on the Boston Bruins, and I was even good at the game - I stopped by Quizno's for a chicken ceasar salad, and had only a bottle of water at the game.  As much as I would've liked a pretzel or even some BBQ and slaw.... pulled pig isn't too terrible for the Atkins diet, but the slaw probably has some carbs in it, and certainly the western carolina BBQ sauce which I prefer has some too.

I actually ate a good meal last night!  We roasted a beef shoulder filet, and I had some broccoli (with cheese sauce) and I treated myself to a spoonful of rice =)  In order to make sure the numbers keep going down, I'm going to start dramatically increasing my water intake.  So yesterday I probably drank 2 liters of water.

I'm pretty certain I can't get to 20 pounds in 3 weeks - but I am going to aim for 249 by Christmas, which is still 18 pounds.

I'm going to go up to the Nautilus Fitness Center in downtown apex and maybe join up.  It would be useful to add some weight training in.

Posted by rickroot at 8:25 AM | Link | 2 comments
02 December 2006

WMU Broncos going to the International Bowl

I remember the old days when the Mid Atlantic Conference didn't get to go to bowl games.  And then some time in the early 90s, they started going to the California Raisin  Bowl - in mid December, it was one of the ONLY bowl games before Christmas.

Well, in this day and age, just about everyone with a decent record in a Division I-A conference can go to a bowl game because there are something like 33 bowl games.  There are only 118 Division I-A football programs, so with 66 of them going to bowl games at the end of the season, that's just about everyone with a winning record.

Well, my alma mater, the Western Michigan University Broncos, had a pretty good season, and although they didn't win their conference or even play in the conference title game, they're still going bowling!  The Broncos were invited to the inaugural International Bowl in Toronto on Saturday, January 6.

Personally, if that were not the day I was leaving for points south (Disney World) I might've considered a weekend trip to Toronto.  I've never really been there before (only once on business, and only then for about 4 hours.)

I'm a lifelong Michigan Wolverines football fan, having grown up in Ann Arbor, but I will always have a soft place in my heart for the Broncos.

Plus, they crushed the #6 Wolverines last night in hockey.  GO BRONCOS!

Posted by rickroot at 11:31 PM | Link | 0 comments
01 December 2006

Day 5 of the Atkins Diet

263.4:  -3.7 pounds

Sorry I forgot to blog yesterday, I was at 263.7 pounds.

I always weigh myself in the morning - after I get up and go to the bathroom, and right before I get into the shower.  I don't want things like clothing or breakfast to mess up my consistency.  It's silly to weigh every day anyway, but during this phase of the Atkins Diet, it's fun because you do actually lose weight every day.  After 4 days, I've lost 3.7 pounds.  I'll need to exercise a LOT more vigorously if I'm to lose 20 pounds in 3 weeks.  It can be done!

I may give myself 4 weeks, but that would take my right up to Christmas, and I can hardly be expected to diet on christmas eve.  Plus, I've got a departmental holiday luncheon to attend (I might be okay for that), and then the University Development Christmas Party which will be at Maggiano's again this year.  No way am I low carbing for THAT!

The holidays are a hard time to lose weight - but especially right aorund christmas and new years, so I got started right after Thanksgiving!

BTW, thank god it's Friday.

Posted by rickroot at 10:44 PM | Link | 0 comments