30 August 2008

I "MeMe" Mine

Nettie did this one earlier today, so here goes nothin'......

1.Your rock star name (first pet, current car)
Wolfgang 3 (or Wolfgang Escape).
(That's what I get for driving a Mazda. And a Ford. Last year, it would've been "Wolfgang Civic Hybrid", or - better yet - "Wolfgang Element.").

2.Your gangsta name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe)
Vanilla Whatever-Is-On-Sale-At-Kmart.
(yeah, that'll go over well at the corner of 35th and Barnard....)

3.Your Native American name (favorite color, favorite animal)
Blue Dog.
(sounds like a pay-per-week computer seller catering to those who can't get credit to buy a piece of bubble gum)

4.Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born)
Russell Birmingham.
Days of Our General Restlessness in Another Passionate World ... the continuing story of Russell Birmingham, and his ongoing struggle with a fatal addiction to boiled peanuts)

5.Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name)
(Luke, I am Your Bitch. Now bend over and squeal like R2D2.)

6.Superhero name (2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
Green Diet7-up.
(but ... but ... didn't my wife already annoint me as "Gleckman"??? Oh well, at least it isn't Green Squirt. That's sick.)

7.NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers)
Bennie John.
(I thought this was a NASCAR name, not scrambled early '70s Elton John records)

8.Dancer name (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
Fried Seafood Candy Corn.
(In the words of Leo Sayer, "You know I can't dance, you know I can't dance, I CAN'T DANCE!")

9.TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Whitfield Wilmington.
("....aaaaand Whitfield Wilmington with your Exclusive Eyewitness Newscenter Bureau Super Dopplerscan Accutron Max Three-Million Radar Forecast!")

10.Spy name (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Autumn Aprilfool Kudzu
(With a name like that, who needs Robert Novak and Karl Rove to out me??)

11.Cartoon name:(favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now)
Banana Shorts.
(Part of the new lineup of ABC's "Funshine Saturday '74", starting next week!)

12.Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)
Carnation Instant Breakfast Oak.
("hi .... *toooooooooke!!!!* .... wow, man ... Hi, this is Carnation Instant Breakfast Oak, layin' down the groovy happenin' on FM 109, the underground sound in town. While I finish off this dime bag and have some sweet lovin' with Mushroom Melanie Daisylonghair, here's Pink Floyd's withit song, all 23 minutes of it, "Echoes"................")

13.Movie star name (first pet, first street where you lived)
Wolfgang High.
(I might fudge here and go with our second street, Meadow Drive. "Wolfgang Meadow" sounds like real Oscar bait.)

The rest of you ... you're it. Well, except for Annette. She already gave at the office.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "YouYou" Gleck

28 August 2008

Red Cross = Redeemed Conduct

This afternoon I made another attempt at a pulmonary donation. My wife tried the same at the blood drive today on Armstrong Atlantic's campus. Unfortunately, she was turned away due to being a few notches low in her blood iron. That's what she gets for not taking her Geritol.

Geritol. Every day. And now, here's Myron Floren with a medley of dixieland hits, while Guy and Ralna do the lambada......

ANYway, the Red Cross had a Bloodmobile parked in front of the Walgreen's here in town, and I paid 'em a visit after getting my ears lowered (seriously, it doesn't take too long to cut what's left of my hair; Miz Jenn is competing with God, and Jenn is losing fast).

Talk about an about-face in attitudes. Everything the last experience was, this one wasn't. These people not only were professional in their conduct, but they showed signs of humanity. They had .... senses of humor on display!

The woman who did the "torturing and puncturing" was named Ernestine, and she was funny as she asked the questions .... if you've ever tried to give blood, you know the questions they're required to ask. She rolled her eyes as she asked some, I rolled my eyes as I answered, both of us quietly knowing there's no deviating from the routine. It's a far cry from "YOU STILL GOTTA READ THE BOOK, YA PUNK!!!!" (And yes, I read the book. Fully expecting to answer questions on the SRA booklet after reading, too. Maybe I'll make it from gold to the aqua unit, at last......)

My blood iron level checked out just fine, and I was sent to the first open bed. There was just one person ahead of me; within 20 minutes, though, there were at least half a dozen people in the queue. Good timing on my part.

The guy who jockeyed the needle knew his stuff. I have to say, I did not feel that sucker going in. I filled the bag in about 15 minutes, got up and went to get my treats. Only one option: Tropicana Orange/Pineapple drink. Ecch. Even if I found it to my liking, it has sugar in it. Dealbreaker. So I just had the animal crackers (I'm a kid at heart; oh, and that was 3 points), and stepped off the bus. It wasn't but a mile back to the house, anyway, and I could have a nice, crisp, refreshing Diet 7-UP.

This was a positive experience. It's what Red Cross should be like, especially for the nervous first-timers. And I'll be forwarding notes of my positive experiences to the Blood Services division. Good conduct should be reported with just as much verve as the bad.

Okay, here's something I'd like to pose to the boiled-peanut gallery. On the Mayo Clinic website, one of the "benefits" of giving blood is 650 calories burned. Ummmm, just HOW? You aren't "burning" them so much as perhaps you expend 650 cals as your body works to replace that pint of blood you just gave up. And that's typically a five-day process.

I suppose that would mean roughly 12-13 extra points one could conceivably consume without any negative weight results during a week one gives blood.

But another angle to this is I read somewhere that one pint of blood contains 650 calories in transit around the body, so when that hits the Red Cross bag, you're down 12-13 points, meaning you could - again, conceivably - put away a "free" Quarter Pounder.

What do you think?

Oh, and I dropped a pound just by giving. Whoopie. Should've done that YESTERDAY, before weigh-in.... ;-)

In closing, why does my left arm look like a shriveled banana .... oh, all right, I've already used that worn gag. Never mind.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Bright Green Bandage" Gleck

Hanna Savannah?

Last night, Pat Prokop said this storm would make the typical curve and threaten Bermuda, if at all. Above is the NHC forecast track as of 11:00 this morning. Some models have Hanna doing that curve in just enough time to make everyone from Cape Hatteras to Cape Canaveral sweat bullets ... to making a left turn instead and going toward Florida. Ohhhhhh, schitt.........

"Gunga Jim" Cantore must be having multiples by now. If I start seeing Weather Channel reporters descending on this area, then I'll know it's time to Worry.

Ahhhh, there's nothing like an early welcome to September.

--Talmadge "I don't want either of both worlds" Gleck

27 August 2008

A pretty good week*

Or: GOOD FOR MEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

Tonight was our first WW meeting at "the center", located on the Southside. New venue, a few more people and a different leader. She's very nice, and extremely (!) fired-up about Weight Watchers ... we'll call her "The Anti-Daria." Sweet as she is, her, ummmmmm "uber-bubbly" personality is gonna take some gettin' used to.

This WW center, it must be noted, is right next door to a Ci Ci's! (yes, we ate there after the meeting .... yes, we got a table away from the window ... and YES, we both ate responsibly!)

Oh, and how I did this week? According to the scale, I was -3.4 yet again. It's true, but then it's not. Let me explain, in the spirit of full disclosure:

* = Since I began WW, I've been stepping on the scale with my shoes on. It's one of those things I'd have done differently if I could get a redo. The shoes add exactly two (2) pounds to the mix. However, we had an impending problem: the shoes I currently wear have passed the expiration date. On borrowed steps, as it were. The new shoes I bought a few weeks back (Champions, at Payless .... pretty much the same league as the Wal-Mart specials they'll be replacing) weigh a little more. I didn't like that.

I then made a decision to start weighing in without shoes, and take the two pound "loss" as a one-time bonus. What I waited for was to pass not just the 10 percent target (29.5), but to get 10% of what the weight would've been without the shoes on ... if that makes any sense. -31.5 was that magic number, and last week I surpassed it.

So off went the shoes. I'm taking the two pounds as my reward for good behavior and making the 10% within my goal time. Half the battle of weight-loss is in the mind, and getting another 5-point star the second consecutive week is a powerful psychological boost.

Best of all, even if I'd kept the shoes on, the drop would've been a decent -1.4 ..... pretty good as far as they go.

What's cool is, my weight is exactly 260. Next week, with a little luck and continued adherence to The Format, I'll be in the 250s.

Cume weight removal after 17 weeks in Weight Watchers: -35.2 pounds. 4.8 to go for my next goal of 40 by October 1, the last meeting before my Birmingham retreat.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Barefoot and getting less man-pregnant" Gleck

26 August 2008

Use Sitemeter. Get mor chikn hitz.

A couple of hours ago, I had a visitor from Atlanta, using an ISP belonging to the Chick-Fil-A home office. They visited my blog after doing a Google search for: kentucky fried chicken cravin filet. It directed to my post early this month in which I comment on this new sammich on the KFC menu.

It appears somebody within Mr. Cathy's Lair is doing a little research on the new competition. (the second such contender, as Mickey D's now has their Southern Style Chicken) I don't know if they'll come back, but just in case they do, I'll say - as one person - that Chick-Fil-A has nothing to worry about. The Cravin' Filet is good. It's a passable substitute - better than the McDonald's imitation - however nothing can top The Original Chicken Sandwich.

Now, then. Please build one of your fantastic CFA restaurants up here in Rincon. Pretty please? With a large diet lemonade on the side?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Chicken Junkie" Gleck

High school clothes: FOUR stripes??!! Nooooooo!!!

Or: "Don't feed the shirt animals"

Nettiemac's post about clothes shopping has nudged some memories to the forefront, and I cannot let these go by without offering up my own experiences.

I graduated high school in 1983, meaning I was at ground zero of some profoundly interesting clothing trends. Just between 1978 and 1980 alone was like 20 years ... collars got shorter, things got 'preppy' (so how many layers did girls wear in 1982? Turtleneck, oxford shirt, sweater, another turtleneck, yet another oxford, with a Members Only jacket just in case you're still cold after all that insulation), and we began sporting embroidered animals and shoe stripes as Major Status Symbols.

Yeah, shoes. Back in 1980, you could tell the brand of "tennis shoe" a person wore at 100 paces. Adidas shoes had three stripes, and had been around for awhile .... the Adidas shirts were very popular in the late '70s. Adidas, as some of us remember, stood for (A)ll (D)ay (I) (D)reamed (A)bout (S)ex, but that's neither here nor there.

I think it might've been Nike, which seemed to explode in popularity along about 1979, at least in Cape Girardeau. And it seemed like the "swoosh" ushered in distinctive symbols of the other athletic shoe brands ... Converse, long famous for their "Chuck Taylor" basketball shoes, also sold leather shoes with a pointy bracket to the right of a star. Pony shoes had a right-angle along the back. New Balance had, and still has, the letter N. There were a couple others, but they escape the stale and hardened mind as I sit.

Then you had the department store brands. I can remember some of the names today .... Payless had a line of tennis shoes branded "Pro Wings." One of the other shoe stores - Kinney, maybe? - had "Jox." Yeah, Jox. But that's no match for Kmart, who proudly sold a brand of athletic shoe called Trax. My, how uber-'80s-digital-new-wave-with-it. A Franke & The Knockouts cassette and a pair of green and white Trax. Oh sweetheart, you're so screwed.

Trax, Jox, Pro Wings and the other faux-brand shoes all had four stripes. Adidas had dibs on three. And those fake stripes were skinnier than the Adeeds, so there was no bright idea of unraveling that dreaded fourth chevron. They were ahead of you, smart-aleck freshman.

And then we have Sears. Good ol' Sears, Roebuck & Company, the company in the upper left hand corner of my Dad's paychecks between 1965 and 1993. You know the Sears brands like Kenmore and Craftsman, but they also had their own lines of clothing, right down to the shoes on your feet. Tennis shoes - if memory serves, their 'private label' brand of Converse "Chucks" were branded Jeepers. Jeepers, Creepers, where did you get those sneeeeeakers??

But in the late '70s, Sears decided to be "modern" and they trotted out an athletic shoe called The Winner II. (I don't recall a shoe called just "The Winner"). I think W2s were made by Converse, and while they didn't have the dreaded four stripes, it was instead some weird design I can see in my mind, but difficult to describe. Two stripes and a horizontal line back to the heel - can you form a mental picture from that?

And The Winner II was the brand of shoe my brother and I had to wear up to and including 9th grade.

I told myself at least it wasn't TRAX<<<, or -- did I mention Montgomery Ward's brand of tennis shoe? They were called Skips. I swear on a stack of 45s. Skips. Four stripes, each with one word, forming the sentence: BEAT ME UP, NOW.

At least we didn't have a Dad working for Ward's, I told myself time and time again.

My parents were the paragon of a united front. They weren't terribly affectionate with one another in front of us, but they didn't argue and disagree in our presence, either. But it appeared clothing soon became a rare point of contention.

If it were up to my Dad, this pimpled white boy would've been dressed as a 100% Sears fashion plate. It was the kiss of death, to be sure. And at age 15, I did not understand, but as I got older (side note: I love torturing my 16-year-old son with the phrase "You'll understand when you're older") I saw Dad's view for what it was: loyalty to his employer. I appreciate that now, especially seeing as how Sears - back then! - treated its workforce very well.

Understandable, but loyalty didn't mean a thing to a 15-year-old quasi-retard trying to at least visually "fit in."

It was Mom who did what she could to get her two children into a few brand-name duds. It started in 9th grade, when my pair of Winner IIs were pretty much ruined (pronounced: "roo-ent") during a bike trip to a nearby state park. Ankle Deep in the Muddy Creek. It was an accidental incident involving missing signage and what I thought was part of the equestrian trail was actually a dry creek bed, feeding right into a larger mudbed - within view of the Mississippi River, no less.

Oh boo hoo, my cheap Sears tennis shoes are roo-ent. Cry me a drought-plagued Old Man River bed.

I don't know what happened Behind Closed Master Bedroom Doors, but Mom took me shopping for some replacement shoes. Two months into 9th grade, I was the proud owner of a pair of $38.00 Nike Leather Cortez shoes. Hot bediggety damn on a muddy pair of Skips, I own a pair of Nikes!!!!

Never mind how much 9th grade was below hell. Part of me felt good wearing the Nikes. I still looked like TIMMYYYYYY!!!!!!!!! in P.E. class, but golldurnit I looked like TIMMYYYYYY!!!!!!!!! in a spiffy pair of leather Nikes.

And Mom -- just as Nettie's mother said -- made it abundantly clear to me that if anything happened to those Nikes, that I'd be wearing The Winner IIs forever and ever, amen.

Jeepers, Mom!

No, son, The Winner II.

Then came Fall 1980. Back-to-school shopping was a little different this year. I started 10th grade with two (2) gen-ewe-ine Izod Lacoste polo shirts. One red, the other brown. And two -- count 'em -- two pairs of gen-ewe-ine Levi's jeans. Not the "Roebucks" stuff from Sears, the real deal. Levi's.

With my Dad cringing on the inside, I walked into Cape Central High School on day #1 of my sophomore year wearing my red Izod with Levi's jeans. And Nike Cortez shoes.

Dad was cringing because I wasn't wearing HIS animal. Izod had the alligator, of course. JCPenney had their "fake Izod" polo shirt with a fox (I commented on Nettie's blog post that wearing The Fox Shirt meant, "I wanted to be stylish, but I hit the brick wall of parental resistance."). Not to be out-crittered, Sears had to throw their animal into the circus, and the bright minds in the Sears Tower chose a dragon. The Braggin' Dragon, it was called.

Dad was proud of that Dragon. But both of his children were mortified of it. Fortunately, Mom was a strong advocate. We got the alligator. (The Fox was the absolute last thing we had to worry about wearing!)

Then in 11th grade, I was given a yellow-colored specimen of something called a Polo shirt (with a capital P). 1981 was the first time I'd ever seen the Ralph Lauren polo player. And I'd go on to own a handful of Polos over the course of the decade.

Then and now, it's amazing what clothes can do for a high school person. And that's a big reason I think school uniforms are a very, very good idea.

My brother, though, ultimately had it much easier. For along about 1984, Sears started its "Brand Central" concept, introducing real brand names into its stores. Now you could buy a pair of Levi's jeans or Nike shoes at Sears.

The battle was over. The dragon lost, and left the building ... taking that pallet of Winner-II shoes with him.

Today? I'm wearing a $15.00 pair of Wal-Mart specials I bought last October. They're about to fall apart, too, so I don't think I'm gonna get a whole year out of 'em. Oh well.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "It's different at age 43 and having to buy shoes with my own money" Gleck

25 August 2008

Mr. Cantori pitched a tent this morning.....

This one bears watching. Some models have this puppy going into the Yucatan, but others have him entering the no-man's land of the gulf (and the forecast 'cone' includes a possible scenario of this turning right and going up the Atlantic).

I don't know which option worries me more ... the Atlantic path, or the Gulf. The latter would do wonders for these plummeting gasoline prices.

For some reason, I think the CEOs of Big Oil are rooting for another Rita or Katrina, right alongside Jim Cantori. Just a hunch.

(And I stand by what I posted a year ago this September about hurricane "reporting." I'm serious, one of these days these Gunga reporters are going to hit the Whammy. What if we see a piece of debris perform a decapitation or impaling, right on live TV. "This is Shish-ka-bob Cantori for The Weather Channel.")

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Category-5 Snark" Gleck

23 August 2008

Tal's Great Meddle Test: Passed!

Today was a Savannah Saturday. This week was Fall registration at my wife's college, and she had to pull a 10-2 Saturday shift. I drove in with her and then went over to their library where I hung out with the laptop. After 2:00 rolled around, we went to grab some lunch.

Well, not exactly "grabbed", but instead we "buffet'ed" our lunch. We ate at Ryan's, this being notable for it being the first time I'd darkened the door of a buffet restaurant since before joining Weight Watchers. My last visit to a Golden Old Ryan's Country Corral Buffet was Saturday, May 3 - at the Golden Corral in Bluffton. It was a melancholy meal, because that pigout was my final free-for-all. ("Free" being a relative word; dem places ain't cheap)

There's no ambiguity about my feelings, dearfolk -- I was afraid. Afraid, when faced with the steaming pile of fried chicken in the bin, that nearly four months of good behavior would shatter. And, once I fell off the wagon, it'd be easy to do again.

It's ironic, you know that? My wife is the one who first joined WW and wanted to change her habits and drop some pounds. Seraphim joined up late in March, and many of you remember I was going to "mooch" off her literature. I looked at the point values, realized what I was going to be missing out on, and said - in the words of my friend Lance from college - "F(BLEEP)k this s(BLEEP)t." My eating habits, most of you know, were more embedded than those graffiti-covered Cadillacs along Route 66 in Texas. I knew I too badly needed to shed some lard ... just that I had zero confidence I could pull off the changes in food regimen. I loved my cashews too much. I loved my Coca-Colas and Squirts too much. And I loved my Golden Corral too much.

For six weeks I tried a few changes, like drinking tea at restaurants and cutting out Coca-Cola altogether. Eventually my brain's "cosmic tumblers" hit 7-7-7, then issued the memo to my body, and on 2008's Cinco De Mayo, I joined up and "went on program", as they like to say in WW.

And I'm proud to say I've largely stayed on the wagon. It's MY WIFE who's tumbled off the Radio Flyer a few times. I figured I'd be the one to bend, twist, contort, sneak, cheat, fudge and otherwise pull a full frontal Bill Clinton on the Weight Watchers plan. No, my wife has done the "misbehaving", such as it is. To her credit, she's done amazing well, considering. She's dropped around 36 pounds, more than she's ever done - not counting that disastrous flirtation with Medi-Fast back in the '90s (before I knew her).

Have I been 100% Boy Scout-like in my behavior? No. I've "bent" a time or two, usually a point here and there, saying I'll "walk it off" later in the evening and end up not doing so. Since May 5, I'd say I have consciously fudged between 5 and 10 points. That's for 16 weeks. I don't count the popcorn miscount back in June, nor the back-to-back meals at Bennigan's and Logan's Roadhouse, when I had to guess at most everything I ate. Truth is, I guessed as honestly as I could.

I've been amazed at myself that I could pull this off. What I find most interesting is that I don't feel as hungry during the day as I used to. Popcorn in the morning helps a great deal. The breakfast of champions, boy! It's a long way from cashews, frosted cherry Pop-Tarts and Lay's Stax, washed down by Coke after Coke after ice cold Coke. Things go better with Coke. Or used to.

All these thoughts were at the front of my mind as we entered Ryan's. My hope was to consume no more than 50 points (all 38 daily + 12 points drawn from the weekly pile), leaving enough for something from Subway for supper later in the evening. Could I do this?

I knew this really was a brand new era when I ordered water. Total cost $0.00 (instead of the outrageous $1.69 for sodas and tea). And it being Saturday, the total tab was $17 and change.

What did I have? Well, I went wild with the fried chicken, as I usually did. Had four breast pieces (it was 2:30 and I was, like, starving). 8 points per cluck ta-ta. Then I had corn (1 point), half a cup of rice (2 points), and about 6 ounces total of baked fish (damn good, and 4 points for that spread). My total pointage for this meal at Ryan's? 39. My daily allotment of points is now 38, and I'd already accrued one (1) point of activity for 15 minutes' worth of walking to and from the library. Zero sum. So I did a buffet restaurant pretty much within the daily limit.

It's an event of seismic change. I did a rough total of what I'd put away at Golden Corral or Ryan's in times past. Usually 3-5 chicken breasts, as many as half a dozen pieces of fish (fried, not baked), french fries (x2), two or more slices of pepperoni pizza ... and, of course, as many Cokes as the server could bring me (provided they actually remembered us!). What it amounted to was, on average, I figured I managed to consume as many as 75-80 points (sometimes more!!!) in one sitting at a buffet restaurant.

But you know what? I didn't feel any pining for the old habits as I ate. What I instead felt, as I looked toward the serving bars, was "I don't want to go back to those days." What didn't hinder that feeling was seeing two of the restaurant managers, both of who looked in their 30s. Both of them had massive guts. Of course, my commenting on "spare tires" amounts to something containing the words "pot", "kettle" and "black" ...... I'll just say that my gut at its worst (295 pounds four months ago) was no match for those managers.

The fact is, I can't - and won't - go back to that number again.

It also gives me hope for my upcoming trip to Birmingham at the first of October. That trip is one of two "backslide" weeks I've built into my weight-loss goal schedule; the other backslide being West Virginia this coming February. I won't go back into sugared drinks (I can never again do so), however I won't count points during vacation weeks. I'll consider anything less than 1.5 pounds gained to be a "success", and then back on program I'll go.

This foretells a week in Birmingham that won't be as off-the-chart as I've been afraid of. If I could behave myself in the Devil's living room, welllllll thennnnnn...... We'll have to see if this mindset holds up. As always, news updates at :55, bulletins at any time.

As for today, though, I defeated The Great Buffet Satan. I jammed that bastard's head right into the sneeze shield.

That meal was followed by us racking up 40 minutes' worth of walking around both Forsyth Park, then the Ogeechee Canal park outside Pooler. Later for me it was chicken sammichs for supper ... leaving me nearly 15 of my weekly points. I've done good.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Feeding Trough" Gleck

Talmadge v. Satan

....on the the Devil's own turf, no less.

How will he do?

The answer still to come.


22 August 2008

The radio not taken

The other day, my recent "salute" to KGMO got the attention of a couple of folks from its loyal competitor, Q-99.

And they've created a Facebook page dedicated to the station, as a gathering place for the people who worked there, as well as those who listened and fondly remember this one-lung FM which toppled a full-power "heritage" station.

The minute I pulled up the page and saw the default picture - what you see to your left - well, it's hard to describe what I felt. I remember the "Q-99 Rocks Me!" bumper sticker, and my first encounter with it. The logo dates to around 1983 or so, a year after my parents (who hated Cape) eagerly jumped at the chance to move when Sears offered my Dad a gig at their new store in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

This encounter took place on the way to school one morning, as I came up behind a car with a Missouri tag, and a car dealer logo on the back indicating a Cape Girardeau lineage. On the car's bumper was that very sticker.

On my radio at that moment was KKYK 103.7 in Little Rock, at the time the city's only top-40 station. Craig O'Neill was the morning jock, and the song playing was Willie Nelson's "Always On My Mind", which that damned station still played as if it were current.

There was, flatly, nothing good about central Arkansas radio in 1983, and seeing that Q-99 sticker unleashed a lot of pent-up frustration. Suddenly, not only did I miss Q-99, but the lack of KGMO in my life contributed to this screaming void. Why could a city less than 1/4 the size of Little Rock have not one but two rockers engaged in what was termed "guerrilla warfare"?

And Hot Springs, Ark., with a population greater than Cape's (HS: 34,000 versus CG's 32,000) had zero rock music stations. Zero. Nada. Hell's bells, the damned place didn't even have a Burger King!!

Compare the 1982 radio dials of both cities:

960 - KGIR: Adult Contemporary/Top-40
1170 - KJAS: Adult Contemporary/Oldies

1220 - KZYM: Country
1550 - KEWI: Country

90.9 - KRCU: college rock - 10 watts (would eventually become a full-power station and convert to NPR status)

99.3 - KJAQ "Q-99": Top-40/Album Rock

100.7 - KGMO: Top-40

102.9 - KFMP: Easy Listening (run out of a converted garage on Independence Ave., very much a shoestring operation in its day)

590 - KBHS: Country (my first radio job, 11th grade)

1340 - KWBO "The Cowboy": Country - would soon change to KZNG and Music of Your Life
1420 - KXOW: Adult Contemporary (and very downtempo at that)

96.7 - KSPA: MOR/Easy Listening (sister to KBHS - babysat this puppy 6-12 Mid. 5 days a week)

97.5 - KGUS: Easy Listening

106.3 - KACQ "The Country Q": Country

But Hot Springs had nothing, not even a nighttime rock show. Nothing for the teens to gather around. No hallway battles over which station was better. No button spotters. No lockers decorated with station bumper stickers.

People said "Nobody wants to listen to local radio when there's Little Rock 50 miles away." To that I said, ummm, bovine stink pickles. Why, then, did Troy, Alabama - a city barely 12,000 in population, and more backwards than Rot Springs - have WTBF, which rocked after dark; plus, before 1983, they had a fulltime FM top-40 (WRES). And Troy was within reach of stations from not one, not two, but three larger cities, all with competing rockers with good signals over the city. Five alone, not counting WRES. And WTBF, with a lousy 500-watt night signal, competed nicely with all of them.

I was behind this Cape vehicle for no more than three miles, but that's all it took. That day at school, I'm sure I was wearing my ass for all of Lakeside High School to see. I felt like Kevin Bacon in Bomont. And the movie Footloose hit close to home, because there were lots of cities around me in that part of Arkansas that banned dancing. No proms. Can you say "Senior Banquet"?

Others said, "You can't sell a radio station catering only to teenagers. Wrigley's Gum and Coca-Cola can't cover the overhead by themselves!" That last sentence was said more than once by the GM of KBHS/KSPA. Well, explain to me, pray tell, how both KGMO and Q-99 were able to do just that!! And 70 miles to the east in Pine Bluff, KOTN and its FM station KFXE rocked out. And they were closer to Little Rock.

Those in power in Hot Springs back then clearly didn't grasp the concept of, ummmmm, dayparting. True enough, you cannot program to teenagers at 10:30 a.m. during the school year. That's why contemporary stations leaned AC in middays ... tweaking the music to include a larger percentage of oldies, and not playing the harder stuff. The dominant audience in middays were the housewives. And they weren't fans of Deep Purple or Jimi Hendrix, so you didn't play 'em. On the other hand, you kept the MOR-leaning or crossover-country product away from "teen time" (most older adults are parked in front of the TV during primetime and typically don't consume as much radio).

I worked at KOTN in the late '80s, its top-40 days clear behind them, and remember seeing all the 45s in the on-air library still with their '70s-era file folder labels affixed: the really uptempo records had "AFTER 3 PM ONLY" typed on 'em. And the uber-hard stuff, i.e. Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog", were appropriately marked "AFTER 6 PM ONLY."

We soon made a Spring Break trip over to Alabama, with a stopover in Tupelo, Miss. And in March 1983, Tupelo had a little top-40 war of their own going. Obviously, they didn't get the memo about rock being unsaleable. WTUP - my favorite retarded top-40 (it made KGMO on its worst day sound like WLS and WABC combined!) - was still playing the hits against 100,000 watt giant WZLQ ("Z-99: Your Kind of Music"). And less than a year later, another full-power FM ("KZ-103") would fire up to take on both. Tupelo. Yeah, Tupelo. THAT Tupelo.

Over the last 48 hours I've thought more about Q-99 than I ever thought possible. It was an amazing station with the most dedicated of staff. As it says on their Facebook page, "Whatever it required was the requirement."

It agonizes me even to this day for another reason. I left Cape days after I turned 17. I would go on to land an evening job just months later at KBHS/KSPA, a station which redefined dysfunctional. I learned much, but mostly on my own. While I was taught the basic mechanics of it all (what I didn't already know from pestering the jocks at KGIR and KZYM back in Cape), I had no development or real mentoring when it came to my on-air sound. I was thrown to the lions and had to learn a lot of stuff the hard way.

I still wonder "what if." In 1980-81, I was in the Central High School "Radio Club" (yes, they had one). And our big activity was writing and editing a five-minute newscast on Saturday mornings called, strangely enough, The Central High News. This aired on all the area stations, and we were 'farmed out', so to speak, to each station. I was assigned KZYM-AM 1220, and one October Saturday in 1980, I made my on-air debut.

Your Blog Host, early in 1981, striking a disturbing limpwristed pose. Is that hair I once had?

Eventually they allowed me to sit at the board as I delivered the newscast, then upon finishing up I punched the cart with the station jingle and started the jock's first record. Talk about a near-orgasmic rush!

I was beginning to talk with Mr. Zimmer (KZYM's manager and owner) as 1981 came to an end, and things were pointing toward him taking me on as a green weekender at KZYM.

What if. What if I instead cut my teeth once a week on a 250-watt daytimer instead of 6 PM to sign-off weeknights on a 5,000-watt daytimer at 590 on the dial, with a coverage area stretching from Memphis to Oklahoma City (no joke). KZYM, and its (barely) single lung, was a class act. To have been able to be part of it. To have been properly and fully trained and guided by great radio people like Mr. Zimmer.

And from there, what if I could've snagged evenings on KGIR? Or -- maybe -- taken under the wing of the professionals at KJAS/Q-99? Or, yes, even .... *gulp* ... KGMO??

I love reminiscing about Q-99, although it comes with a dark side: being reminded of the road I wasn't allowed to take, all because Hot Springs was Mom & Dad's Promised Land.

Q-99 didn't rock me when their bumper sticker did. My loss.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Radiohead" Gleck

Fay, Fay, Fay

....is not a Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson remake done by Buckwheat.

The last two days in the happy and content idyll of Rinconland have been very, very wet. We've been getting a lot of rain from tropical storm Fay, as she's made an erratic journey through Florida. Buttloads of rain bands have been parading through the coastal Georgia area -- in particular yesterday. Rain comes down, hard as nails, wind kicks up 30-40 MPH, then 20 minutes later the sun's back out. An hour or two later, more rain and wind. At least two inches of rain have fallen in our neighborhood, as of yesterday.

And early in the evening, along about 7:00, the weather was beautiful, simply beautiful ... a nice 10-15 MPH breeze, and a bit overcast. It couldn't have been more than 75ยบ. Seraphim and I took a good neighborhood walk, breaking in my new "Jolly Time" pedometer -- .988 miles, and 2,277 steps. It was August 21st, but it felt like mid to late October. A sweet hint of Fall just around the corner!

But late last night, as Fay started her westward jog, that put us in the dreaded northeast quadrant, where tornadoes can occur. Those rain bands can hide a nasty twister like a snake in tall weeds. F-0 or F-1 and short-lived, but still damaging. Our weather radio started going off after 1:00 in the morning, with a tornado warning for Jasper and Beaufort Counties in S.C., a cell said to have spawned a waterspout off Hilton Head. It was moving west, with Effingham County in the path.

Sure 'nuff, 20 minutes later, the wx radio tripped again, with a tornado warning for Effingham County. I was still up, and Sera awakened. We were ready to hit the hallway, but luckily the squall was just that. More wind and rain. But you can't be too careful. As the rain fell (and I listened out for the sound of a CSX in search of a set of tracks), we watched some of the Olympics, catching a volleyball game between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Russia U.S.S.R. v2.0 .... using a volleyball that looked more like a basketball. I wondered out loud to my wife if a basketball game was going on in an adjacent venue, where the players were dribbling a volleyball. "Okay, Wilson, help nail this three-pointer for me. (*swish!*) BOTTOM!!!!!"

Who was that in the pressbox with Bob Costas, and why was he whistling "Sweet Georgia Brown"?

Another thing we noticed were the excessive touchy-feely and butt-patting of the American volleyball teammates. Now I don't feel so bad about not being able to serve that volleyball over the net during 9th grade P.E. (then there was that one time it DID clear the mesh, and everyone stopped, then broke out in applause).

I hate volleyball. If God wanted a ball to stay in the air, He would've given it a set of wings.

Anyway, back to the weather. On the way in this morning, we went through a nice squall around Georgetown. For a minute, the wind was getting awfully Dorothyish. Today, the weather has been hellzapoppin' with tornado warnings. I loaded the EAS* box Wednesday with a fresh roll of paper, and now I'm seeing red. No, not mood. The tape. Red along the edges of the paper indicates it's fixin' to run clear out.

* = EAS stands for (E)mergency (A)lert (S)ystem, the successor to the old EBS ("This is only a test!"). Each station has a box that can automatically choke off audio and insert weather warnings and Levi's Call abducted-child alerts. They're characterized by the three long soundbursts and three short bursts (some of us in the business have come to call 'em "duck farts", because that's what they sound like).

It looks as if we'll be in the northeast line-of-fire for the rest of today, and maybe into tomorrow. Here's hoping Fay will beat it toward Alabama, giving them some much-needed rainfall.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find my oars so I can get to my car.

Ciao for niao.

--Tropical Talmadge

18 August 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words

At long last - and right on the goal date I'd set for myself earlier this Summer, I crossed the 10% line ... and then some!

Seems I've removed two week's worth of weight in one swoop: -3.4 .... and best of all, I didn't have to go all anal over the 29 v. 29.5 quandry. Sera's working late this week (Fall registration), so I said I'd check the scale at home, and how it read determined whether I'd go to the Monday meeting, or hold out 'till Wednesday. Most of all, I wanted to nail this down on August 18. And I did.

Total removed to date: 31.8 pounds!

This feels really good. And not only did I get the requisite "10%" keychain (looked at from the above angle, it resembles the number 10), but I also got a "16-week" charm. It's shaped like a pair of hands clapping, and evidently some sort of recognition for having stayed with the program for as long.

Sure, the whole "charm" thing does prove WW to be very much female-skewed. I'm not going to put it on a keychain or anything (next thing you know, I'll be eschewing boiled peanuts for salads and "Tab"), but instead display them for the milestones they are. They're to the right of the computer, serving as motivation for this still-new journey.

With 10% now behind me, I can focus on my next goal: 40 pounds removed by the beginning of October, when I head over to Birmingham for a few days. I call it, simply, 40 BY THE 'HAM.

Stakes: $100 set aside for annihilation at Charlemagne Record Exchange in Birmingham.
Benefits: Some good listening, more want-list holes plugged, and - possibly - a few ego-gratifying remarks from some folks over there I haven't seen in a year.

The downhill slalom continues. Tune in next week when I'll probably be down a whopping 3.4 ... ounces!

Ciao for niao.

--Ten Percent Tal (not to be confused with "Ten Second Tom", of Adam Sandler fame)

16 August 2008

Houston, we might have a small problem....

A good problem, but still a problem.

A few minutes ago, I was trying to shake a stray piece of shrinkwrap off my left hand.

And my wedding band almost flew off my finger.

It really bothered me because I haven't taken that thing off since the day Sera put it on there in 2001.

That just may be the first real physical evidence that I'm dropping some weight. Since May I've lost almost 30 pounds.

Sooner than later, I'm gonna have to have something done to that band.

Not complaining, mind you.......

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Putting the SHRINK in shrinkwrap" Gleck

What song is it you wanna hear?

"Life is too f**king short to play or hear Free Bird."

--Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse)

One big reason I long ago crossed concerts off my list was underscored by the latest post from The Georgia Road Geek:


Instead of a "HIGH TICKET PRICES" warning sign, perhaps Gov. Sonny Perdue would be wise to borrow from the playbook of the infamous Lester "Axe Handle King" Maddox, and erect billboards like those which he did in the late '60s outside of Ludowici. At the time, it perhaps the most infamous speed trap in the country:
(this billboard so angered local officials that Gov. Maddox assigned the State Patrol to guard it 24/7)

But this isn't about speed traps. It's about "music traps." I'd say there are but two things that've risen faster than inflation: 1) health care, and 2) concerts.

Have you seen ticket prices lately? Holy schitt, just one nosebleed seat for your average rock concert can easily set you back $75-100.

It reminds me of the glory days when I saw Van Halen open their 1984 tour in Little Rock, of all places. One (1) ticket - general admission - was $14.00! Loverboy in 1982 set me back $12.50.

And prices in 1970? Listen to these promos and hear for yourself:

Stevie Wonder, 10/31/1970 - Troy State

WBAM Fall Spectacular - 11/27/1970 -- Karen & Richard Carpenter meet Height-Ashbury? Or Iron Butterfly meets Chocolated Ex-Lax?

And while $5.00 (for choice seats at the Big Bam show) wasn't small change in 1970, compare that to the cost of filling the average fullsize car's gas tank in 1970 -- 24 gallons at 29.9¢ -- $7.17! Minimum wage that year was a whopping $1.45 an hour.

Best of all: no service charges, Ticketmaster, Clear Channel and their slimy ilk.

For me, the turning point came in 1990, when my significant-at-the-time-other and I went to see Heart and Cheap Trick at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery, perhaps the worst accoustics of any venue -- even Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, and that's saying a mouthful.

Several things I gleaned from that experience:
  • Concerts had devolved into strictly a promotional tool for a group's current album. While that was long the norm, there were always "classic favorites" a group would play onstage. Heart - and especially Cheap Trick - loaded their respective shows with filler cuts from their most recent releases. Cheap Trick did one (1) 'classic' - "I Want You To Want Me" - which made it even worse: comparing the rendition done before me, at 5,000 dB in an acoustically pathetic horse barn, with that on vinyl (1979's classic Live at Budokan). Heart gave us two "older" songs, one rather obscure (although likable on my end): "Love Alive", and something from 1985. I think it was "What About Love." Everything else was from their (forgettable) 1990 album, whatever the hell it was called.

  • Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Although - so sue me - I thought Ann Wilson looked kinda sexy with some extra meat on her bones.

  • If you're a crappy, has-been act, make up for that by cranking the amps up to 11. It worked for Spinal Tap. Perhaps even the puppet show they opened for, too. Cheap Trick, again, was the worst offender. At least Heart compensated with more bass.

  • My ears stopped ringing along about 1994.

  • The tickets were comps (Whatzername managed to score 'em through her job), but the face value for the (general admission) concert was something like $30.00! Double the admission for the Van Halen show just six years earlier -- and VH was still a headlining act, as "Diamond Dave" was still up front.
I walked out of there, deaf as Beethoven, vowing never again to attend another rock concert. Besides, they weren't selling T-shirts, and groups had since breached the sacred rule of allowing concert shirts to be sold ONLY at the shows. Anyone who went to high school in the '70s and '80s remembers how cool it was to wear your T-shirt the next day at school, and just by walking the halls you could see who all were at the concert with you.

Even in college, my disposable wampum went toward buying LPs and CDs instead of going to concerts. I thought them a better investment. More than one said "Why don't you go to any shows in Memphis?" I pointed toward my records and replied, "That's why." Plus, I want to be able to bloody HEAR those albums when I turn 50!

The only rock concert I've seen since then was in 1999, when Sera and I went to the Riverfest in Columbus, Ga. That year, Kansas was playing an outdoor show; I seem to remember it was free as part of the overall admission. Good thing, because you wanna talk about falls from grace.

How long to the point of no return? As long as it takes to go from selling out arenas to a makeshift stage on the banks of the Chattahoochee River.

All they are is dus------

Never mind!

Ciao for niao.

--Tinnitus Tal

Zoom-Zoom = Ka-Ching.

"We don't sell cheap tires ... we sell tires cheap!"

(old slogan for a tire store in Little Rock - forget the name, though)

How long should a set of tires last on a car?

It depends on a lot of things, among them the brand, the model, the type (passenger, performance, etc.), and how they're maintained.

That last part is a lot more squirrelly than you think. I'm not outright neglectful about tires -- I rotate 'em, although it's usually been 7,000-ish miles. One problem I freely admit to is, I haven't been one to poke a tire pressure gauge into the valves every week. I visually check them regularly, and that's been the extent of it.

With those habits as a background, consider:

On average, over the various cars I've had, I believe I've averaged 40,000 miles on a set of tires.
More recently, on the '05 Civic Hybrid we used to have, I got a good 38,000 miles on the original set.

But on the '04 Element (a/k/a Psychedelic Milk Truck, Toaster-On-Wheels, Love Child of a '72 International Scout and a '76 AMC Pacer) I managed the incredible: 50,000 miles on two of the OEM Goodyears it came with .... and when we traded her in last August (one year ago the 25th), at 67,000 and change, the back tires were the originals!!

All that with a less-than-anal care regimen.

Which brings us to the present day. And our '07 Mazda3 - named Kitt (for the dashboard which resembles something from out of Knight Rider) - came with a set of Toyo tires on alloy wheels. A sharp look for zoom-zoom.

How many of us think about the tires when car shopping? I think it's going to be on my list for any future car buying.

It never occurred to me that you can't get zoom-zoom out of a Civic, Corolla or a Focus, with basic wheels. It requires something called "performance tires." (my mind recalls the old Super Shop commercials, complete with obscure Santana music bed, that used to be a mainstay advertiser on many AOR stations in the '80s)

And said "performance tires" aren't known for their durability.

The honeymoon was over when I began to hear a 'woop-woop-woop' sound coming from the tires. Cupped tread. Whoookay, let's check alignment. Check, nothing's out of kilter. I called the Mazda place in Hardeeville to schedule an appointment to have the suspension looked at. The tech I talked with asked how many miles I had on the vehicle. I said "about 22,000."

His response said it all: "Damn!" As in, he was impressed that I was able to get more than 20,000 miles out of a set of the OEM Toyo tires that come on Mazda3s. And various reviews I saw online appear to confirm this tire's very limited lifespan.

I'll say it again: how many of us think about tires when car shopping? Especially those of us who do a lot of commuting?

They were wearing on the inside. The only problem might be pressure. The newer cars come with the TPMS monitoring system which trips a dashboard warning light if one or more tires are 25% low on air. The light's never glowed on the Mazda, so it leads me to think these "performance" tires have a very low margin of tolerance. So I started watching the pressure like a hawk.

I hoped to stretch those things to 25,000 miles, but the woop-woop-woop sound that was largely confined to two of the tires now spread quickly to the other two. Especially over the last week, that car sounded like the audio from a 1990 episode of The Arsenio Hall Show. The two front tires, the ones that just joined the chorus, were now worn nearly bald.

The odometer reads 23,600 miles. 25,000 was not going to happen. So I started tire shopping yesterday. Calling around, I got a nasty case of sticker shock. One local chain - with a good reputation, I've heard - quoted me an out-the-door price of $580 for a set of four with some funky Korean name I'd never heard of. *choke*

My next call was to our local tire store. With the passion of Daria, he quoted me a similar price for a similar batch of tires. "Do you have any specials going?" "ummmm, no."

I thought about Sam's Club ...... but the ego kiboshed that idea, reminding Mr. Id just who owns Sam's. Don't get me wrong; Sam's is good for cheap gasoline, bulk groceries and 578-roll packs of toilet paper, just not for putting my trust in tire installation. It's too close in the family to that other place.

Sears had some Indian guy answer the phone. I managed to gather that they had a rebate of up to $50 on four Goodyears. Talk about a drop in the bucket. "Up to." Meaning, the basic tires carried a middling $20 rebate. Yeah, 20 is 20, but that won't even halfway fill a gas tank today. After wondering whether to thank him or to book a single room with king bed, I continued my search.

I began thinking of one of the few positive things about life back in Troy, the Expert Tire on Brundidge Street. It's there I learned that the 'private label' tire brands like Lemans were surprisingly good. That's where I bought all our tires, and where I had all the car servicing done.

My next call was to Tires Plus on Abercorn. They had a special going on the Bridgestones - buy three get one free. They had room for me after work, so there I went. They did a check of the alignment, and it checked out fine. The total damage for a set of Bridgestone Potenza G019s, with special, complete with the road-hazard warranty (more on that in a minute), was a mere $420.

The four new tires we put on the Civic Hybrid at 38k miles (at the friggin' dealership, no less!) totaled less than $300!

One more time, with feeling: how many of us.........

Online reviews I read about this tire were mixed, yet tilted positive. You take your chances. Sure, I'd love to have put some Michelins on that car ... sure, if that wouldn't have cost $1,000. Bottom line: the Bridgestones were the best bargain all around. Here's hoping.

The real silver lining in this experience: when he mentioned the road hazard plan, saying it was good at all Tires Plus, Firestone and Expert Tire locations.

Expert Tire? Yup, that's right. While I knew Firestone and Expert Tire were somewhat related in some kind of way, I didn't know Tires Plus was part of that same group. The people were nice and courteous, and straight-talking ... just as I remembered from Expert Tire in Troy.

So how's that for a nice experience?

As for these Bridgestones, they come with a 50,000 mile warranty. I'll be using the tire gauge regularly and keeping an anal eye on things. I'm going to try and squeeze every mile out of 'em. And there's where the little compressor I bought the other week will prove a very wise purchase.

And as for Mazda ... while the Mazda3 looks spiffy, handles beautifully and I enjoy driving it, I don't know that I'll go with another one when it comes time to trade in. Better to go with the 'ordinary' cars with 'ordinary' tires, since we both have 'out-of-ordinary' commutes.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Tire'd" Gleck

11 August 2008

Emeril wasn't the first one to go "Bam!"

"Sprite ... Sip the light fantastic."

Right now I'm transferring an old 1970-vintage cassette to CD (I never knew Bell & Howell ever sold their own brand of recording tape, but anyway....). It's a 30-minute aircheck of "The Big Bam", WBAM/Montgomery, which an acquaintance of mine from Birmingham sent me -- a pleasant surprise in our mailbox today. It's dated September 1970, when he was "teen DJ of the week." He found it amidst long-lost clutter and asked me to bump him a CD copy of it. (And, yes, I'm making myself one - don't act so surprised) The cassette, for being 38 years old, was remarkably free of glitches.

We're talking the glory days of AM radio here. And the commercials ... wow! WBAM was spotlighting their "Big Bam Fall Spectacular" -- their quarterly super concerts featuring a gigantic bill of talent. And a diverse one, at that. The Carpenters and Iron Butterfly on the same show!!. Even ex-Monkee Michael "Wool Hat" Nesmith showed up to perform his 1970 hit record, a beautiful, tender, sweet and heart-warming ballad called "Joanne."

There's a promo for a Stevie Wonder concert ... at The University Formerly Known As Troy State.

(My wife just said, "If he only knew...")

Have to say that was impressive; Stevie wasn't exactly B-list material in 1970. Maybe somebody at TSU at the time cashed in a few owed favors. I'm sure that day Stevie Wonder was grateful not to have sight.

Also on the tape is a political spot for Jere Beasley, who was running for Lieutenant Governor (and went on to serving two terms; today Beasley is a high-flight trial lawyer).

In closing, the Bell & Howell cassette has the letters HD on it. Obviously their "line" of tape, i.e. TDK SA, Maxell XL-II, etc. So there you have it. High-definition audio did exist in 1970.

Put that in your "Sprite" bottle and start sipping.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "In-A-Gadda-Da-Close-To-You" Gleck

My theory is proved

That theory being my subconscious is screwing with my mind. It knows I'm this close to nailing the 10% target. I was 8/10 of a pound away. So, how was it this evening?

Let's just say Kate/Susan is still ahead. I had a very crappy weigh-in this evening. My worst yet: -0.2. I guess it's the old "shouldn't-gripe-it-starts-with-a-minus-sign" thing, however it's also the old "there-is-no-f(BLEEP)king-explanation" thing at play, as well. The cume snails forward to -28.4 fewer pounds.

After a very very nice surprise late last week, when the first-thing-in-the-morning number (which I heretofore call nekkidweight™) was a hair below 260, it rebounded -- in spite of my having stayed within the boundaries. About the only thing I can think of is the late-night meal we had Sunday. Plus, a bowl of popcorn while watching a movie. Late. Again, all within points.

Otherwise, it might be the barometric pressure. At least as Seraphim thinks.

Then it might've been the dozen laps around the AASU walking track I did late this afternoon before the meeting.

I can only hope next week will make up for this sluggish "maintenance." Because this is very frustrating. Why? Simple. For 18 months pre-WW I was loosely tracking my weight, and from October 2006 through May 2008, I maintained in the 295# range, with some terrible habits.

WTF????? There ain't no golldurned way I ate enough points to gain 3-4 pounds in as many days.

Some habits have forever changed (I'd just as soon not have another sugared soda), however these are the times I want to go to Walgreen's -- right now -- and buy a can of cashews and, true to old form, inhale the mo-fo. I crave some right now. Honestly.

As we were walking, I brought up the idea of us changing to Wednesday night. We both have had our best numbers at that time of week, and - let's face it - Monday truly sucks for weigh-ins. Saturdays are my "let loose" day. It cannot be any other day of the week, other than Sunday.

Wednesday nights they hold court at the WW center on the Southside. 6:00. That one is quite doable on both our schedules.

Another reason for making this change was driven out of the park tonight. The late meeting in Rincon is down to where Sera and I are the only consistent attendees. There have been three or four men to join WW during our meeting period, however they never come back (at least not to this meeting time, anyway).

Lately the meetings have become chick-fests. Some meetings are more bearable than others, although there have been a handful of times (tonight, for instance) I've left the building feeling like John Edwards at a Promise Keepers rally.

I'd like a few penises in the room with me. Is that asking too much?

But the kicker was before the meeting. One of the other members had just bought one of the pedometers, and the leader stuck it into my hand, saying "You know how to work these things, don't you?"

"Ummmm, no. I've never before used a pedometer" (yet, anyway)


"Y'all can do that just as easily as I can."

"Well, you men are always more technically savvy."

I was a little perticked at this point (-0.2 didn't amuse me), so I retorted, "Ahhhh, so we're into stereotypes now. Okay, then, when are you gonna cook me supper?"

Backpedaling, she said, "Would you mind helping her with it?"

So I took it into the room with me, and gave it a once-over ... and read the instructions (more stereotypes: I thought us men never read the instructions??). The (tiny) manual seemed clear-cut enough, so that even a "stupid, technically-challenged female" can understand.

Miz Tina started the meeting with a question. "So, (Talmadge), did you figure out that pedometer for (other member)?"

My response: "I cannot make any other settings until I first enter the weight of the user."

Our fearless leader said not another word.

(I wasn't ticked at the other member; she didn't ask me for the favor, anyway!)

That's it from Removal Row for another week. Slugging along, I bid you ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Token WW Bastard" Gleck

07 August 2008

"How hot WAS it??!!"

It was so hot that just being outside automatically qualifies as "activity points."

Yesterday (Wednesday, 08/06), the high temp reached 103° at the Savannah airport, breaking the previous record of 101. And in Effingham County it was said to have reached 105.

Today the temperature was on its way to an encore -- it was over 100 already by 2:00! I'm at home "teleworking" (although I actually got the bulk of my editing workload done late last night -- went to bed about 4 AM). I went outside with the compressor to air up the flat tire, and then went over to Randy & Rhonda's and had it patched up.

Time spent: less than 10 minutes.
Service: Exceptional. They took time out and took care of it, and didn't put me in line behind the big jobs.
Cost: $8.50. Higher than that garage in Eclectic, Ala., but it's cheaper than Wal-Mart. No gripes.
Having a good auto service business less than a mile from our house: Priceless.

I don't know what the hell this is, but it was a thorn in the side of Rupert's left rear Continental.

Soon afterward, the weather turned vicious. For a few minutes (as I was in Wal-Mart ... I figured as long as I can't get any work done, I might as well get in some "activity" walking) the wind kicked up to at least a good 50-60 MPH. It looked positively tornadic out there for a couple of minutes.

The good news was, Seraphim's plants got a good bath. The even better news was, the temperature went from 101° on Rupert's thermometer down to 74° in short order. Right now, at 533 PM, the WeatherBug icon reads 77°.

That's about it. Now back to work!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Inflated" Gleck

05 August 2008

White Flight Blues (or "Deflated Hopes")

...or, even, "That's 45 minutes of my time I ain't gettin' back!"
No! I've got it: "Remember how they dazzled Nettiemac with their sheer brilliance and breathtaking automotive competence?"


There are plenty of advantages of living in a place like Effingham County.
  • Better schools.
  • More bang for the housing buck than Chatham.
  • Lower crime rate (read: not like Savannah, where 9 out of 10 houses have little blue signs advertising whichever alarm system they use. -- "I HATE Safe Touuuuch!!!!!!!").
  • Lower property taxes (especially in Rincon, which assesses no city millage).
  • Quiet neighborhoods (you hear trains, not sirens).

  • In general, friendlier service at establishments.
But, to be fair, there are drawbacks:
  • There's only one way to get into and out of Effingham without resorting to extremely counterproductive and out-of-the-way routes: Highway 21.

  • Regular: $3.77/9 (price at Gate as of about 30 minutes ago). At least Sera and I are blessed in that our work schedules and locations are so staggered so as to allow us to take one car into Savannah on most days.

  • Restaurant options are still extremely limited. Rincon is the fastest-growing municipality in the state of Georgia ... 4,376 folk as of the 2000 census (and probably pushing 6-7k by now). But from a growth standpoint, business still thinks Rincon is a sleepy railroad settlement of 200 people along a bucolic, two-lane Georgia 21. But hey - we're getting a new Dairy Queen! Uptown we go!

  • And merchants haven't gotten the clue yet: Easily 2/3 of the residents of Rincon, and elsewhere in south Effingham County, commute into Chatham County to work.

  • Have you seen Highway 21 at 7:30 a.m., or at 6:00 p.m.? Granted, it's not commuter hell like Georgia 400 or (I'll pause while you get the defrib paddles) I-285. (check out my friend Steve's "salute" to the illustrious 400) But for Slow-vannah, it's our little version of Hotlanta.


  • And most of the car garages, including our favorite 'shadetree indies', close shop at 6. Now, it's not a real inconvenience in most cases when we drop off a car to get serviced. When they call me at work to say it's ready, I give 'em the credit card number over the phone, they run it through and lock the receipt in with the keys. We drop back by on our way back in and retrieve freshly-oil-n-lubed buggy with our other key. No problem.
Unfortunately, today I realized that early closing times present a big problem when one encounters a sight we did yesterday morning. The left rear tire of Rupert King Family SUV-ster, a/k/a our 2008 Ford Escape, was flatter than flitter. Seems I ran over something Sunday night while running errands.

I couldn't do anything about it last night due to our WW meeting, although I did swing by Pep Boys on the way to picking up the missus and bought a small air compressor. Figured we needed one - it sure beats the hell out of Fix-A-Flat. And is more conducive to making friends and influencing people among tire store employees.

Wellllll, this evening, faced with the only option of getting a flat fixed in Rincon, Georgia after Sidewalk-Rolling-Up-Time -- Wal-Mart -- I fired up this new toy and in less than 10 minutes, that tire was back to its usual 32 psi (this gadget even has a built-in pressure gauge).

And after I turned off the compressor, that tire was hissing worse than a Certron cassette full of teenybopper tunes recorded on a Yorx all-in-one stereo system.

In other words, this was a doozy. I could see the little shrapnel I'd run over, too. Phew!

I thought it prudent to haul my pimpled white assparts over to The Tiger Ridge Discount House Of Groceries, General Merchandise and All-Around White Trash Heaven, because 1) they stopped taking cars at 7:00 (it was now 6:45); and 2) I wanted to get there before that tire lost its mojo again.

I got there, and after waiting upwards of 10 minutes, the guy finally came out with his little blackberry-like device. The first thing out of his mouth was to ask for my home phone number.

Can you say "1-800-LIKE-HELL-I-WILL"?

After giving him 912/555-1212, he goes on to enter all my information into the device - name, address, zip, mother's maiden name, tax bracket, number of cockroaches in my sister-in-law's trailer - he tells me that it's going to be a 90 minute wait.

90 f(BLEEP)king minutes.

To plug a golldurned tire.

I mean, this isn't a mount/balance of new tires, an oil change, or rotation. Fixing a flat is something as easy as wheeling the jack outside, with the basic tools - pliers to remove the offending foreign object, and plug kit - within reach of an air hose. It's a simple procedure, requiring no longer than 15 minutes on the part of the service tech. I know, for I've had it done at least a dozen times at service stations over the years.

Service stations. You remember those, don't you? Back when a gas station had a mechanic on duty who could fix a flat ... instead of a guy named Patel who has all sorts of overpriced sodas and snacks inside a small kiosk.

Well, I grumbled and handed this guy the keys. It would be awhile before he could pull Rupert into the service bay. (Did I mention by the time he hemmed and hawwed with his hand-held steely dan computer-thingy, the tire was again close to flitter-flat?)

I called Seraphim to tell her that I'd be awhile, and as I was talking to her, I realized something: a couple of years back, when Nettie was down here visiting, she had a low tire. She took it by this very Wally World on her way out that Monday morning. And, if memory serves, they royally fooked things up for her.

Much as I could've used the 90 minute "actunity" (as our WW leader calls an 'activity opportunity'), and the 9 points therein, I was in no mood to walk around that place as I slowly developed loose teeth, heard banjos in my head and started having carnal urges for my first cousin.

Plus, my stomach was getting the rest of me into Tal-Hungry-Pissy mode. Waiting 'till 9:00 to eat supper was not an option.

I went into the service area to request my key back and to strike my name from the list. The woman working the counter scared me. She looked like she came from the depths of the worst trailer park in the central business district of Greater Tiger Ridge.

The cherry on the sundae: I saw the price board behind Miz Deliverance. Wal-Mart charges $9.95 to fix a tire.

I don't think so, Tim. The little garage in Eclectic, Ala. where we took Tiger's car when it had a staple in one of the tires, charged $5.00 per plug. And we were in and out of there in less than ten minutes. Sorry, but I'm not gonna spend a ten-spot for two hours' wait as they somehow manage to f(BLEEP)k up a simple tire repair.

I had the compressor in the vehicle, now regarded as one of the smartest investments of $34.95 I've ever made in my life, so I could put more air in there to get me back home. Let the sick tire deflate in the convenience of my driveway, and Thursday - when I'd be "teleworking" for the day - I can air it back up and drive it over to Randy & Rhonda's, where THEY would do the job, do it right, and without my having to wait for several weeks.

Oh well, it's my own fault. I know better than to trust my car to Wal-Mart.

And in spite of it all, I do like it out here in Effingham.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "...but 21 sucks!" Gleck

04 August 2008

Sorry, state's closed. The sign out front should've told you.

After several years of laying aside the time-tested "Wild and Wonderful" slogan in favor of the cringeworthy, smacks-of-desperation "Open for Business", West Virginia has returned to its proper branding. Kudos to the fine WV'ians who voted on this referendum. The Mountaineers have spoken.

Moral: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I look forward to seeing the IMPROVED signage upon emerging from the East River Mountain Tunnel on our next visit. (Dammit, we're just halfway there -- next February can't get here soon enough!!)

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Montani Semper Liberi" Gleck

We surge forward, getting ever so closer...

...to the brass ring of 10%.

After the two consecutive virtual plateau weeks, I readjusted the goal of hitting 29(.5) pounds -- which initially was August 18, then moved back to August 11 after a couple of 2+ drops early in July. After the anemic period (-0.4, -0.8), it was back to the 18th.

Wellllll, the 11th might be possible yet. I'm still keeping the date for two weeks, however after what was a surprising drop this week of -2.8, I am now within distance that I could clinch it next week. I'll let the wifely one go into detail, but she also had a good week. It's possible that we, as a couple, could hit 10% on the same week. How cool is that??

I'm either just 8/10 pound from the WW figure (29.0), and 1.3 pounds shy of the real (29.5) 10% marker. Again, I'm not going to change the goal. Remember what happened when I said "Next week, 25!"? It took me two weeks to get there, that's what!!

My total removal as I have now been doing Weight Watchers for a full 13 weeks -- one calendar quarter: -28.2 pounds.

Here's hoping for at least a normal week come next Monday.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "267 even" Gleck

02 August 2008

Jolly times, Cravins, and a 10% quandry

It's a true "five flavors" stream-of-concussion post, coming your way on a Buster Poindexter kind of Saturday!
  • Seraphim is in Atlanta this weekend for a Wilton Cake Summit. She'll be back tomorrow with the trunk full of free samples and such.

  • That means it's just Puddy and me. And the ol' girl has been my shadow the whole time. I haven't done a whole lot of stuff. Call this a "Stephen" weekend, if you catch my drift.

  • I've been very good so far this week. No "blind" restaurant visits. No yeast rolls. And lots and lots of water.

  • Today I gave the new "Cravin' Filet Sandwiches" from Kentucky Fried Chicken an audition. They're in a foil-lined pouch, just like a certain other chicken chain. Inside is an "original recipe" filet sandwich, plain bun, with pickles only. Just like that other place. It's damn good. I've been waiting for such a thing ... KFC did have an original-recipe sammich in the late '90s, but with those pretentious corn-starch buns (eating 'em while driving, especially with dark clothes, was not recommended). Evidently, McDonald's is doing very well with their Southern Chicken. The Cravin' Filet is way better than Mickey D's, but of course you can't top the genuine item.

  • A Chick-Fil-A sandwich without butter is 8 points (9, with). The KFC isn't on a buttered bun (neither is the Southern Chicken, for that matter). So that's how I'm counting it.

  • I have grown to love the 94% fat-free microwave popcorn, now that I tried something besides the Kroger brand - which tasted like styrofoam. The ACT-II was middling, however my favorite is the Jolly Time Healthy Pop. More butter than the other ones, and even my wife notices how much better it smells when it's popping. That's what we've been buying for the last several weeks.

  • Jolly Time had a promotion recently where you could send off for a "10 free download" card with three proof-of-purchase labels. I did just that. It said "allow 8 to 10 weeks for delivery." They should've said 8 to 10 days. That sucker came in the mail this morning! With it were several coupons - $1.00 off two boxes - and a cover letter that was actually signed by hand!

  • I didn't know this 'till now, but Jolly Time (a/k/a American Pop Corn Company) is a family-owned outfit from Iowa. Not part of a corporate behemoth.

  • From now on we're buying popcorn only from Jolly Time. And I recommend you do the same. Family businesses on a national scale are extinct in this day and age. They must be preserved, especially when they add a personal touch (can't you tell I was impressed by the letter?).

  • The downloads came from something called USA Music Cards, which caters to promotional things like what Jolly Time was doing. Initially I thought, "Oh great, the selection's going to be very, very limited. And they'll be in some proprietary file format."

  • The selection was surprisingly good, much like Rhapsody or iTunes. And you didn't get 10 downloads -- you instead are fronted with 1,000 "points", and most songs were 89 points each. The majority appeared to be in WMA format, although a number of 'em were good ol' MP3.

  • The answer to your next question -- "So, Tal, what did ya download??" -- is an easy one. One of the missing Van Morrison albums in my want list (No Guru, No Method, No Teacher from 1986) was on there, and the entire album - in 256 kbps - was 890 points, leaving just enough pointage for one song.

  • That song was "The Walls Came Down" by The Call, from 1983. I had it on a cassette dub from a friend's 45 copy back in college. So now I have a better specimen.

  • And now to my quandry: Weight Watchers considers 10% of starting weight as the first major brass ring. On my "membership book" it has 29 listed as my 10% Target. And here's where my Anal-ness asserts itself: 10 percent of my initial starting weight (295.2) is 29.52 ... or, rounded off, 29.5 ... an entire half pound. 29.0 is roughly 9.85%, not 10%.

  • The problem is that, while WW might consider it a 10% drop, if I'm not quite at 29.5, I won't think of it that way.

  • This is the really frustrating part of my commitment. I was mentioning this and my general approaches to my dropping weight to a co-worker the other day, who responded, "There's no doubt - you're an Ops guy, all right."

  • As of last weigh-in, I am 3.6 pounds away from WW's "target" amount, but 4.1 from the TRUE 10% marker.

  • Or, if I step on the scale, and it reads between 266.2 and 265.8, I could just drop one shoe and be done with it.
Your thoughts?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Does Anal Rententive have a hyphen?" Gleck