A pound of flesh

That’s what I theoretically dispensed with this week.  Although it didn’t come from the belly as my girth is unchanged from last week’s 47.5″.  Disappointing that.  But for the Buddha-like proportions of my mid-section I’m actually relatively slim.  Meaning my legs and ass are more muscular than fatty.  And no, my thighs do not rub together when I walk.

Anyway, this week finds me at 257 pounds, down one from last week and 21.5 overall.  Onward and downward!

God Bless America!

I had so much fun completing all the paperwork for Jee Yeun’s fiancee visa.  Now my Uncle Sam has generously allowed me to complete essentially the same documents for the permanent residency process.  And all it’s costing me is a piddlin’ $1070.00!  Is this a great country or what?

Breaking the pound barrier

Week nine of the diet finds me blasting through two, count ’em, two barriers on my journey to svelte-ness.

Today’s weigh-in finds me tipping the scale at 258 pounds.  That’s an amazing 4 pound drop from last week.  I’ve been averaging around a pound a week for the past few weeks, so the amount of weight loss this week is quite unexpected, especially since I haven’t done anything different that I’m aware of.  So, getting under 260 feels like an accomplishment.  An accomplishment tempered by the fact that the last time I was in the 250s was 2009 and back then I was thinking “damn, you are fucking fat!  You better get off you ass and do something about it!”  Now four years later here I am in the 250s and feeling sorta good about it.  As Einstein might say, everything’s relative.

The other noteworthy barrier is the magical, mystical, irrelevant but still awesome, achievement of a 20 pound weight loss.  20.5 pounds to be exact if you are keeping score.  That’s about a third of way on the journey I’ve undertaken.  I don’t expect it’s gonna get any easier down the road.  In fact, I fear this was the easy part.  Sometime soon my body is likely to find its low carb equilibrium and I’m going to have to try something radical, like exercise, to continue losing weight.

Girth remains unchanged from last week’s 47.5”.  So, wherever those four pounds disappeared from, it wasn’t my belly.  Shame that.

Ah well, I’m encouraged that my deprivation has not thus far been in vain.  Onward and downward!

Regarding Boston

Alright, so it appears the Boston bombers were Muslims from Chechnya.

I want to say this here and now so there will be no misunderstanding. I don’t know a lot of Muslims, but the ones I have met personally have all been good people and I have absolutely no doubt or concern that they are somehow “different” or more dangerous than anyone else you might encounter in this messed up world in which we live. I expect some ignorant commentator somewhere will say something stupid that lumps all people of the Muslim faith in with the sick few who engage in acts of terrorism. The vast majority of Muslims are peace loving and almost all Americans recognize this fact.

I completely understand the outrage my Muslim friends must feel when they are judged based on the actions of a few or when it seems it is their religious beliefs that are under attack. Having said that, I’ve never understood why there is not similar outrage against those of their faith whose actions are clearly contrary to the teachings of the Prophet. I don’t think terrorism can or ever will be eradicated by warfare and drone strikes alone. Perhaps I’m naive, but I believe the Muslim community must take a clear and unequivocal stand that they will not tolerate acts of violence in the name of Islam.

I also anticipate that we’ll be hearing from the moral equivalence crowd saying the USA has killed more innocents than all the terrorists acts combined. Spare me. It is indeed an unfortunate fact that in war non-combatants suffer greatly. We all grieve when the women and children the cowardly terrorists surround themselves with become victims. But unless and until Americans start planting IEDs in public places or fly planes into office buildings, your comparisons are complete and utter bullshit.

In a kill or be killed world, we are going to continue to take out the bad guys whenever and wherever we find them. It’s a war on terrorists, not Muslims.

What’s not on TV tonight?

Everything.  Well, everything is not on except Comedy Central.

Alright, truth be told I don’t watch much television.  I have a few shows I like (Game of Thrones, Shameless, and such) which I normally record on the DVR and watch when the mood strikes me.  It’s been about a week I guess (Jee Yeun’s kids have been watching Korean dramas on Netflix), and I wanted to see the latest episode of GoT.   When I turned on the DirectTV box, I got this message that the receiver was overheating and to wait.  So, I just unplugged it and waited.  When I turned it back on the only channel that worked was the aforementioned Comedy Central.

I’m pretty much a techno peasant, so I called DirectTV’s customer service department.  Geez, navigating the maze of recorded options was disconcerting.  Hell, that damn robotic voice and I got into a bit of an argument.  Me: I want to talk to a human being.  Her: I don’t understand what you are saying.  Me:  A service rep.  Her:  I still don’t understand.  Select an option on your keypad.  Me:  There is no option I want, other than to talk to someone who actually breathes.  Her:  I’m sorry, I don’t understand your request.  After awhile we both got frustrated and the robot woman transferred me to her human overseer.

The friendly and breathing woman in tech support began by thanking me for being a loyal customer of DirectTV since 2011.  Then she asked what was the problem?  I told her my satellite was not working.  So, she walked me through a diagnostic procedure on the receiver, at the end of which it advised that my receiver was not receiving a signal.  Yep, that much I knew.  The friendly human said the dish could be out of alignment or there could be something wrong with the receiver.   Alright then, what’s the fix?  She said they’d have to send a technician out to have a look.  For $29.95!

I told her let’s get this straight.  I’m paying you guys over a hundred bucks a month for 300 channels I rarely watch.  And when I want to watch one and can’t, you are going to charge me an additional 30 dollars to fix it?  She said it’s normally $49.95 for a service call, but because I’m such a loyal customer I was getting a discount.  Hmm.  It felt more like a good rogering.  So, I said I have a better idea, why don’t you transfer me to the department where I cancel my DirectTV service?  She obliged.

Shortly thereafter I was connected with Ron in customer service.  He began by thanking me for being a loyal customer since 2011 and asked how he could help.  I responded that I wanted to cease being a loyal customer effective immediately.  He sounded somewhat taken aback and asked why I wanted to do such a thing.  I explained that I was paying for TV I couldn’t watch and wasn’t willing to pay an additional fee to get what I was paying for already.  He then went into this long drawn out story about how leasing the DirectTV receiver was just like leasing a car.  He concluded by asking “now, you don’t expect the car dealer to provide free repairs and maintenance on the leased car do you?”

I was momentarily dumbfounded.  I wasn’t seeking to get a free oil change for my satellite receiver.  I’ve never leased a car, but when I buy one it comes with a warranty.  So, if the engine blows up after two years I expect it will be fixed for free.  Several pithy and unfriendly things to say to Ron crossed my mind, but he seemed like a nice enough fella so I just said “let’s just cancel the service.”  Ron wasn’t having any of that.  He suggested I buy a service plan that would cover problems like this for only five dollars a month.  Which means if I had another problem within six months, I’d be golden.  That didn’t strike me as a good value so I declined.  He reminded me that the service call had already been reduced from the normal $49.95 based on my loyalty, but I just wasn’t buying it.

“Here’s the thing, Ron” I told him “You guys aren’t the only game in town.  AT&T is always knocking at my door trying to get me on board with their TV service.  How about you just cancel my account and I’ll get some brand new equipment from them?”    Well, then Ron went on and on about how much better DirectTV was than AT&T–more channels, more HD, more everything!  I told him that other than HBO and Showtime I get just about everything I want to see on Netflix anyway.  “Netflix!” he almost shouted “Why do you have Nexflix? We’ve got everything Netflix has!”  Well, except for the Korean dramas.  Always the salesman, Ron said we have an international satellite service too.  Well, yeah.  But it requires putting another dish on the roof and an additional sixty bucks a month.  No thanks.

Admitting defeat, Ron finally said that he would waive the service call fee.  So, they’ll be out tomorrow to fix whatever is troubling my television reception.  Poor guy.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be cancelling anyway prior to my return to Korea in August.  I had to respect his moxie.  I guess that’s why I’m such a good and loyal customer.

What’s cookin’?

I pretty much starved myself today.  Not really by choice, just got busy with stuff and since snacking is such a hassle in the LCHF lifestyle…well actually that’s not it.  I’m just pretty bored with what I can eat that I don’t enjoy it enough to be bothered.  I had a few celery stalks with peanut butter for breakfast and nibbled on some nuts in the afternoon.  And then I got hungry.

So, I looked in the cabinet and what did I see but some walnut brownie mix (purchased late last year pre-diet).  Just because I’m doomed to a life of blandness doesn’t mean everyone around me has to suffer, right?  Ah, they surely did smell good in the oven.  I’m told they tasted real fine as well.

Then I took some New York strip steaks out of the freezer (I can’t afford rib-eyes anymore!) and drenched them is some Lawry’s herb and garlic marinade.  Popped some sweet taters in the oven, and boiled up some corn-on-the-cob.  And then baked a loaf of garlic bread too (ok, it was one of those frozen ones).   I put some burgers on the grill with the steaks so I could enjoy a meatier breakfast tomorrow.

My timing wasn’t perfect, the burgers were closer to charcoaled than charbroiled.   But the steaks were nice and medium, just the way my Korean family prefers them.  The potatoes were baked to a gooey softness, the corn sweet, and the bread crispy.

So yeah, I went a little off plan tonight, diet wise.  Had half a small sweet potato (with a glob of real butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon), a crust of garlic bread, but I passed on a taste of the brownie dessert fearing I’d not be able to stop myself.  I’m pleased to report my hunger is now pretty much satiated.  Although writing about what I ate does kind of work up a bit of an appetite.  Hmmm.

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind…

…you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and you don’t mess around with Slim (aka The Prez).

One day before North Korea’s expected launch of a ballistic missile, President Obama said that the United States was prepared to respond to the threat with “the strongest possible adjectives.” In remarks to reporters at the White House, Mr. Obama said that North Korea should fear the “full force and might of the United States’ arsenal of adjectives” and called the missile test “reckless, reprehensible, objectionable, senseless, egregious and condemnable.” Standing at the President’s side, Vice President Joseph Biden weighed in with some tough adjectives of his own, branding North Korean President Kim Jong-Un “totally wack and illin’.” Later in the day, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called the North Korean nuclear test “supercilious and jejune,” leading some in diplomatic circles to worry that the U.S. might be running out of appropriate adjectives with which to craft its response. But President Obama attempted to calm those fears, saying that the United States was prepared to “scour the thesaurus” to come up with additional adjectives and was “prepared to use adverbs” if necessary.“ Let’s be clear: we are not taking adverbs off the table,” Mr. Obama said. “If the need arises, we will use them forcefully, aggressively, swiftly, overwhelmingly and commandingly.”

I say go for it! Tell Mr. Kim one more false step and we will throw the book at him.

You don’t want to mess with masters of the carefully crafted invective!

(This is recycled from a blog posted in 2009.  Some things never seem to change.  Credit goes to Andy Borowitz, but the original link no longer works)

A matter of inches

I overheard a couple of Naval aviators discussing the fact that female pilots have a difficult time mastering carrier landings.  “It’s completely understandable” one of them explained “because they have a serious depth perception problem.”  “Yeah” said the other “but you really can’t blame them.  Their whole life they’ve been told that this…

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…is six inches.”

Speaking of inches, it’s time for this week’s weigh-in report.  Today marks eight weeks of denying myself all the carbohydrate-rich goodness I’ve come to know and love.  I wouldn’t say it’s getting easier–man, did I have a craving for ice cream last night–but I’m more or less resigned to going without.  At least until I reach my goal, which sadly is still 42 pounds away.

Today’s weight: 262.0, down .5 from last week and 16.5 pounds lost overall.  Slow and steady as she goes I suppose.

In somewhat more encouraging news, today’s girth measurement is 47.5″ which is down 1.5″ from last week and 4″ since February 19.  A couple of people say they can tell I’ve lost weight.  They are family members who know about the diet though so they could just be telling me what I want to hear.  Although my yobo says she felt my hip bone while we were lying in bed for the first time in the 5 years she has known me.

I’ve actually noticed that my Levi’s are riding higher up on the belly (I wear suspenders BTW) and that my shirts are not quite as ridiculously stretched across my middle as they used to be.  So there is that.  Onward and downward!

Marathon man

It’s tough to stick to the LCHF diet when I travel. And this weekend I went slightly off plan.  Friday night I succumbed to the Mexican restaurant featured in the Tuscany casino.  Had the shredded beef taco and enchilada plate ($6.95!).  To my credit, I didn’t touch the rice and only indulged in dipping three tortilla chips in the salsa.  I did better Saturday night, satisfying my hunger with a nice slab of prime rib (with sides of slaw and baked beans for $12.99).  Sunday I threw caution to the wind and enjoyed a Carl’s Jr. burger and an authentic hand dipped strawberry shake (gawd it was so good!).  I forsook the fries however.  At the airport in Phoenix last night I consumed a Coney Island hot dog (chili and cheese) but didn’t eat the bun.  Limited myself to two french fries.  So, I wasn’t totally bad and hopefully what you eat in Vegas stays in Vegas.

On the other hand, I got in quite a bit of exercise.  In addition to my sprint across the Charlotte airport I participated in a marathon of darts on Saturday.  I was in the dart hall from 3:00 until almost 11:00, mostly on my feet and walking, and all I consumed during those 8 hours was a mixture of diet cokes and light beer.  I won 16 of the 45 legs (games) I played, exceeding the goal of 10 wins I had set for myself going in.  Keep in mind, this was a professional tourney.  In fact, one of my opponents, John Part, is a three time world champion (he kicked my heinie pretty good, although I had one opportunity to win a leg but I blew it).  Anyway, I was physically exhausted when it was over so I must have gotten in some pretty good exercise, right?

This week’s weigh-in finds me at 262.5, down .5 from last week and 16 pounds overall.  Girth is holding steady at 49″ (down from 51.5″ in February).  I’m a little disappointed that I’m not getting smaller around the middle, but I think that’s about the last place you lose your excess weight.  I’m also a little worried that my carb binge hasn’t registered yet.  We’ll see next week I suppose.

Baggage blues

If ignorance truly is bliss, the airlines must be laughing hysterically.

As I mentioned in an earlier post at some point during my lengthy from fair America, domestic airlines started charging fees to check bags.  Of course, the consequence of this misguided policy should have been readily apparent–people would stop checking bags, at least whenever possible.

On every leg of this trip the airline has requested volunteers to check bags at the gate due to space in the overhead for carry-on luggage.  At no charge of course.  So, what have the saved or how have the profited by charging to check bags in the first place?

Anyway, having figured how the game is played, we bought two small carry-on size bags and consolidated all that stuff (rice cooker, stove, etc.) knowing full well we’d get to check them at the gate for free.  Sweet!

I’ll never do that again!

Got through the day yesterday with only one hitch.

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At the Clark County courthouse for a marriage license.

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At the cheesy Las Vegas wedding chapel where our vows were exchanged.

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I count myself a lucky man.

After the ceremony was concluded it was time to rush back to the hotel and start the honeymoon.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking darts.  The blind draw doubles event of the New World Dart Series.   Hey, Jee Yeun was a darts widow even before I married her!

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Puttin’ on my game face.

The importance of being Ernest

Man, it’s been a long time since I did domestic travel.  Things are worse than ever.  That crappy airline food they used to give away free (and it was overpriced even then), you now have to pay for.  And that luggage you brought along with the price of the ticket now comes with an extra charge.  Just more crap in the pain in the ass that modern air travel has become.  Here’s the story of my getting to Las Vegas.

I mentioned to Jee Yeun that we’d have to pay the baggage surcharge so she somehow managed to get EVERYTHING in one bag (not counting our jammed carry-on backpacks).  So, I paid US Airways twenty-five bucks for the privilege of actually checking a bag and put that sucker proudly on the scale.  It was 58 pounds, eight pounds over the limit.  “That will be $90.00 unless you can lose 8 pounds” the counter person said brusquely.    Being properly motivated, I opened the bag and transferred the kimchi and portable cook stove (two items Jee Yeun won’t travel without) to a carry on sack and that brought us down to 49.5 pounds.  Mission accomplished!

I asked the counter person about getting me and Jee Yeun seats together and she asked if we could do the exit row.  WooHoo!  More leg room methinks.  But apparently there was a problem, so she gets on the phone, then comes back to explain that the exit row is only available from Charlotte to Phoenix.  “Phoenix?” I ask incredulously.  “I thought it was direct to Las Vegas!”  She then explained that indeed my flight was going to Las Vegas, but it was making a stop in Phoenix first.  OK, well I don’t remember seeing that on the itinerary when I bought the ticket, but whatever.  She said she could put us in a different exit row from Phoenix to Las Vegas, we’d just have to move upon landing.  Alright, fine.  I can do that.

Upon landing in Charlotte I noticed that I didn’t have a boarding pass for the CLT-PHX leg, just a “reboarding pass” to my new seats to Las Vegas.  No big deal, the counter person fixed me up and we settled in to wait for take off.  Presently, they announced the flight was full and they wanted folks to check any bag that wouldn’t fit under the seat (no charge of course).  We were going to be waiting for the one bag we checked anyway, so being the nice guy that I am I volunteered.  I asked Jee Yeun’s daughter Sohee (who speaks very little English) to bring me the small suitcase she carried on the plane.  She said the man took it from her when we boarded the small commuter jet in Columbia.  OH SHIT!  She gate checked the bag and didn’t pick up when we landed in Charlotte!

I go back to the counter and explained to the man there what had happened.  He gave me a look that said “you are so screwed!” and told me my only option was to go back to the gate where we landed and see if it was still there.  Problem was, we landed at “E” terminal and were departing for “B” terminal.  If you happen to be familiar with Charlotte’s airport, you know those two points are as far apart as east is from west.  Plus, the were boarding my flight to PHX-LAV which gave me about twenty minutes tops to retrieve the wayward bag and haul ass back to “B” terminal.

So, I did the OJ Simpson run through the airport and when I arrived back in “E” terminal I realized I wasn’t exactly sure which gate we had arrived at.  E-3 looked kinda familiar so I started there.  No dice I was told.  Try E-6.  Then I got sent to E-4 where a ground crew guy took pity on me and looked it up to confirm I had arrived at E-6.  He said not to get my hopes up because if no one picks up the bag, they send it to baggage claim.  Which would mean me exiting the terminal and going back through security.  I definitely did not have time for that!  As luck would have it, my bag was indeed still waiting at E-6.  And I now had less than 10 minutes to get back to “B” terminal.  When I told the ground guy what time my plane left he gave me that same “man, are you screwed” look and suggested that I “run”.  So, run I did and made it back as the last of the passengers were boarding.

Now, if you’ve seen me you know I’m not in as good of shape as I once was.  And a brisk walk is about as fast as I ever go these days.  After running from one end of the Charlotte airport to the other I was sucking wind.  When I sat down in my seat I was convinced I was having a heart attack.  I could almost hear that tired workhorse in my chest pounding, I was sweating like crazy, and really breathing hard.  I was hoping there was a doctor on board just in case I conked out at 30,000 feet.  I am happy to report I didn’t.  But I might have.

Oh, and those exit row seats I’d scored in Columbia?  They were not the “good” exit row seats where you have about 6 feet of leg room.  It was the row behind that one.  I’m not sure why it’s even considered an exit row.  You get no additional leg room, and given my belated boarding, I had to put my overstuffed backpack under the seat in front of me, leaving next to no space to stretch my tired legs.  And my seat didn’t even recline!  Suffice to say I had an uncomfortable ride to the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.  Which has got to be the coolest name for an airport I ever did hear.  Although the airport itself is old, outdated, and overcrowded.

The rest of the journey went pretty much without incident.  Both the big and the wayward bags found themselves together on the baggage carousel and after a short cab ride we arrived at the Tuscany Suites hotel right around noontime not much worse for the wear.  Check-in time was 3:00 p.m. but I was told that for a mere $12.00 (plus tax) I could get an early check-in.  I said “Let me get this straight.  You have a room that I’ve paid ready and waiting for me, but I can’t use it unless I give you another twelve dollars?”  The clerk nodded affirmatively.  At first I said fuck it, check me in.  But then it occurred to me that this was a matter of principle and I declined to pay the surcharge.

When I told Jee Yeun and the kids what I had done, they were not happy campers (an no one does “unhappy camper” like a Korean.  We had started our day at 0400 and everyone was tired (although I was the only one who had done wind sprints).  Admitting defeat, I went back up to the check-in counter and announced to a nice young man named Ernest that I had reconsidered I would indeed take the early check-in.  I told him again how ridiculous I thought the charge was.  He gave me a conspiratorial look and almost whispered “I’ll waive it for you”.  Alright!  Now you’re talking!  When the paperwork was complete I congratulated him on his customer service skills and said “that’s the importance of being earnest!”  He looked at me like that was first time he’d heard that witticism.  Today.  Ah well. Sometimes I can’t help but go a little Wilde.

Turns out, what the Tuscany gives, it takes away.  Wireless internet is twelve bucks a day.  Per device!  Bastards.