Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Mid-life Crisis

I recently overheard someone suggest that men of a certain age who change from a lifetime of sloth and gluttony to suddenly trying to get in shape are probably only doing it because they are going through a mid-life crisis.

I hated to admit it and it took me a lot of soul searching to realize this is exactly what is happening to me.

About 6 months ago, I looked in the mirror and saw my whitening and simultaneously disappearing hair (actually it's just relocating to my ears and back), my sprawling topography of wrinkles, round belly and jiggly man boobs and all of a sudden it hit me:

"Meh, I look OK, I guess."

And yet I still went into my mid-life crisis, nonetheless.

But it was specifically a crisis of my no longer being able to ignore the truth that now that I am over 40, every single year that goes by will be met with a sharp and dramatic spike in my chances of having cancer, diabetes, a heart attack or a stroke, if I continue to eat poorly and do not exercise.

Yeah. Chew on THOSE Cheetos, buckaroo.

That's why I won't dye my hair, buy a sports car that I can't afford or wear gold chains, but I will maybe eat a couple more things every day that are made only out of plants. I will also cross the road just to cross the road and not only to get to the other doughnut.

I am not terribly concerned with how great I look in a bathing suit or if girls half my age still think I am cute (they do), but this "dying while I'm still young" business is a bunch of crap!

Could I still die young? Yes. Statistically, I still have a good chance of dying before I am 50 from chasing down that jackass who cut me off on I-205 on Monday morning, but I suppose it could also still be from a stroke or heart attack before then (especially since stress and anger also apparently help contribute to them).

And if that happens, I more than welcome any and all fat people to say "I told you so!" and dance on my grave (or waddle slowly until they get winded, their choice).

I am 3 days away from starting the 3rd and last month of my P90X workout and I can only hope and pray that it helps me to reach my primary and sensible goal:

To take this wrinkly old fart and make me look sexy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mileposts Along The Way - 2011

It is good when you can look back at markers along the way to remind you of your experiences each year.

Today is the first day of summer and the first day of my having a real beer in one whole year.

My doctor suggested I try a gluten free diet in late June of 2010 and because it had a positive affect on my chronic pain condition of over 10 years, I stuck with it. And the barley in beer has gluten in it.

(I wasn't upset when they came to take away away my donuts, because I didn't have any. I didn't protest when they came to take away my cupcakes, because I wasn't eating them. But when they came to take my beer...)

But then I found store bought, gluten free beer. It is made with Sore gums or sorhghumh (sp?), instead of barley.

It is just like regular beer without all that extra good taste bogging it down!

In fact, store bought, G.F. beer tastes so much like real malted barley beer that I immediately became a huge fan. OF SCOTCH. (Scotch is also made with malted barley, but the distillation process removes all gluten.)

Then my friend Joseph, who has been brewing beer for years, found a miracle enzyme that has long been used to make beer clearer (called Clarex) that they recently discovered in the laboratory also removes all traces of gluten.

And he offered to help me brew a batch! (Although most of my help consisted of handing a guy with a huge beard my credit card!)

It has not been approved for G.F. Certification yet in the U.S., because we Americans always want fads to die down in Europe for a while, before we take them up and pretend we discovered them.

(And in case you're wondering, you cannot just add it to store bought beer, it must be added during the brewing process.)

Here is how the noble experiment took place:

Step One: Unscrew the cap

Step One: Um, unscrew the cap

Step One: Pop off unscrewable cap, tell dog to shut up

Step Two: First real beer in one whole year

Step Three: OMG

Step Four: Thank you, Science! And Joseph!

June of 2011 will certainly be remembered as a bittersweet month for me. My aunt died a few days ago and as she has been frail for some time, it was a minor blessing that she went in her sleep, with little suffering. Many of my family and relatives are gathering for her graveside ceremony in New York a few days and I so wish I could be there with them and my cousins, her daughters. If I could, I know I would share a few hugs and laughs, a few tears and a few beers.

Plato said, "He was a wise man who invented beer". Benjamin Franklin also said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." And I consider myself very much like those two men, in that I am also balding.

I know my aunt enjoyed a beer many times over the years with those she loved. She is with my uncle and grandparents now and is loved and will be missed terribly.

Here's to you, Aunt Tootie.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Aging Gracefully

Nope. This aint it.

I may very well be too immature to proclaim what it means to "age gracefully", but I think I am self aware enough to at least spot ways worse than my own.

Also, one of the greatest purposes of the Internet is to dole out unsolicited advice, so brace yourself.

(A friend of mine refers to this online preaching / soapboxing as aggravatingly "declarative statements". These type of comments and blog posts boast "I am a veritable goldmine of truths and wisdom and if you're standing close enough to get spattered by them, it is your own fault.")

So, here goes.

If as a man, you are around 50 and have finally saved up enough money to afford the crushing monthly payments on your convertible sports car, then good for you.

I have a theory that middle aged men buy super nice sports cars because they secretly wish to know what it is like for pretty girls who walk down the street and are turning heads. Weird, but acceptable.

But if you buy a vanity plate that says something like "AHEDVU" or "GRT2BME" (actual plates I saw in the last month), then it is all I can do to not chase you down and kick you in your old man berries for making us graying, balding types look stupider than we already do. Cut it out.

I also think getting surgery if you're a woman or dying your hair or getting a toupee if you're a man are examples of not facing Father Time like a man (or woman or whatever).

Instead of liposuction or collagen in your lips/glutes, here is a little known secret formula used by the ancient Egyptians and a few other cultures to stave off the ravages of time:

Eat more vegetables and move your ass more.

This will never catch on, as it is so outdated and silly, but is still worth mentioning as a quaint Snapple Fact.

I am in the middle of month 2 of my 90 day P90X campaign and I feel great. As long as "great" is loosely defined as having more energy and being beat up every other day.

I am also no longer eating cake, donuts, cake filled donuts or donut filled cakes with syrup and bacon lard sprinkles. As a result, my daughter is taking me to the mall today to buy some non-stupid pants with a smaller waist, which is nice.

But since these are mostly outward things, I suppose I should touch upon character or personality or something like that. I am admittedly pretty immature. I mostly pretend to be a grownup so people will give me a job. It's one of my many persona. Fortunately, they are all really good looking.

I honestly am not sure what is a happy balance for aging gracefully in that respect. I think gradually becoming more respectful of others, however different than you, is a good sign of maturing. So is not taking yourself so seriously.

And so is sincerely respecting others opinions and feelings, and yet not being so self conscious as to measure your every word and breath with how others might negatively react to it.

But I also eschew the notion that a natural progression of aging is to become more and more serious, if not outright grumpy and miserable. I used to think that was a natural law of the world: "Life keeps kicking you in the ass and after 60 or so years, you're too fed up with that to smile anymore."

I prefer Dave Barry's philosophy, "What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death." And I am think I might just be blissfully stupid enough to pull it off.

In the meantime, I am still saving up for that sports car sans dork plates.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why, when I was yer age...

Austin's graduation party is less than an hour away and it is only fitting, with him embarking on this first post-high school summer, that it be marked with words of wisdom.

But since I am writing this, we will have to settle for words of smart aleckyness.

Now that both kids are graduated from high school, mom and I are pretty excited for the future, in particular for the prospect of once again gaining a dedicated room for my guitars and amps (OK, that's mostly me who's excited for that).

But since he is possibly doing college work online, that may be moot. We'll see. My dad encouraged me to look for my own place when I was Austin's age, with the encouraging words, "get your $%^& and get out!"... but Austin is far less high strung than I was, so I do not see that happening.

He is dragging his heels on getting his driver's license (which I admit doing at his age, and look how good I turned out), but I think I figured a solution. I think we should buy him a really sweet car outright and tell him he can drive it just as soon as he gets his license. And a girlfriend.

I am certain I would have that dedicated music room almost immediately, but then his mom would be mad at me.

Oh well, I suppose I can wait a little while longer. A LITTLE.

We love you Austin and couldn't be more proud of you.

Monday, June 6, 2011


This is one of the exercises in P90X's Plyometrics.

I am on day 2 of month 2 - also known as Phase 2 - of P90X, so I thought I would give an update on my progress. Since I am exhausted right now, I will see how far I can go and just keep it serious this time.

Tonight was Plyometrics night and it is probably the most difficult DVD in the entire set. Whether it is the cardio or weight workouts, each one is very carefully picked to target a specific area as well as optimize the rest of the workouts.

And the Plyometrics one was specifically chosen and structured as punishment for every Twinkie you've ever eaten.

Two. Two paragraphs.

Also known as "jump training", Plyometrics is derived from the Greek phrase "Pry Your Ass Up". It is an hour workout and you spend about 20 minutes of it without any contact with the floor.

The first time I did it, it was the first and only DVD that I could not finish to the end. But I have finished the whole hour every time since then, and now after a month of doing it, I have so much energy at the end, I can sometimes make it all the way to the shower before collapsing and falling alseep.

Seriously though, P90X is ridiculously grueling, but I have felt a little better and have had more energy every single week. Not immediately after the workouts, but definitely each next day and week.

They say muscle weighs more than fat. I don't know who the heck "they" are, but I think they're right. I am losing inches in the waist and gaining some in the chest, shoulders and arms, but I have not really been losing much weight, if any. This is particularly frustrating on Plyo night, because I have to spend the hour hurling 190 pounds in the air over and over.

The only consolation is that it gets just a little bit easier each time.

And that I'll probably never eat a Twinkie ever again.


Other P90X posts:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pixies New Album!

(From inside the CD booklet. This is not the actual cover.
In that picture, she is wearing a skirt.)

The band Pixies just recently released a new album called, "Surfer Rosa". I do not know if you've heard of it yet, but they only just now put it out in 1988 and I finally got a chance to listen to it today.

I have a coworker who listens to NPR (you know the kind) and normally I would hold this against him, but he is the reason I got to hear this brand new CD.

He knows that I typically listen to a smooth mixture of butt rock and church hymns and took it upon himself to encourage me to expose myself more. Especially to different styles of music.

If you have never heard the Pixies before, I can try to describe them. This is only the 2nd CD of theirs that he has lent me, but I feel like I am coming to grasp a little bit of what they're about.

Imagine creating the most dissonance humanly possible with the aid of electronics, crying, maybe animals and sometimes instruments or even the occasional singing and somehow artfully compile it in a fashion that people WANT to listen to it. That's them. But good.

(Oh, and also the lyrics do not make sense. I believe this is probably because they are really deep and I am stupid.)

And not only do people want to listen to Surfer Rosa, but their record sales show that over 500,000 people wanted to do so enough to even purchase it. That is almost half a million! And we know with the advent of the Internet, at least another million people downloaded it illegally and we know for sure that at least one guy ripped a copy of his coworker's CD.

You might recognize song number 7, called "Where Is My Mind". This is my favorite song so far because:

1) it is my favorite song so far
2) I understood some of the lyrics on this one
3) it is the song you hear at the final scene and ending credits of Fight Club, which movie I really like and
4) I realized that if Fight Club were not a 2 hour movie, but a 1 hour music CD, it would sound just like the Pixies

They are very good at what they do, I will give them that (in lieu of money, unless they ever happen to come out with another CD). I give Surfer Rosa 4 out of 5 stars. I do not know what the stars stand for, but I think that is pretty accurate.

And I will admit that even liberal, hippy, NPR listening Portlanders have some good stuff on their MP3 players. Grudgingly.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

You Woke The Bears! Why Did You Do That?!

I iz hongry!

I thought the biggest reason to move to Ecuador (which means Equator, so you know it is good and hot) was because it rains 360 days a year in Oregon. I was wrong.

It is bears.

My local FOXNews affiliate (motto: "News you can trust. Seriously. Trust us. NOW.") just posted a story this morning called - and I am not making this us - "Tips For Protecting Yourself, Home From Bears".

This perfectly normal news story is because a bear showed up yesterday at a nearby Elementary School, in Tualatin. For those who live outside of Oregon, Tualatin is not a forest, it is a CITY.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Pat, you are overreacting... the Tualatin Elementary School is a whole 15.9 miles from your house."

And this is true. But you are forgetting that BEARS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE 500 MILES FROM MY HOUSE.

If they had asked me to write the article (which they should have), here is how I would have written the news story about "Tips For Protecting Yourself, Not Being Eaten By Bears":

Step # 1 - Move somewhere there are no bears.

Step # 2 - They followed you? Seriously? Dude.

Step # 3 - Can you run faster than a 2nd grader? No? Dude.

Step # 4 - Kill and/or eat the bear.

But no. They tranquilized this one. The scariest animal after the shark travels hundreds of miles, clearly with the single-minded intention of snacking on school children and we... make it take a nap and drive it back to its house.

So our bear infestation is still second only to our liberal hippy one.