22 October 2009

One crow value meal, super-sized, to go.

Weigh-in this afternoon? Yeah, you could say it was a good one.

I was -2.6 this week (all that walking, worrying and stress ... and no, I don't recommend that as a way to drop weight), putting me back over the top, for a grand total of -75.8

Since there are no "off program" events, like the Birmingham trip, and since this wasn't an off-the-chart oddity (dropping 5 pounds in one week is highly unusual, not to mention a sheer quirk), then I am now officially at the goal I set for myself nearly 18 months ago, when I joined Weight Watchers.

On May 5, 2008, I wrote about the doubts I had as to whether or not I could follow through on this commitment and drop 75 pounds, and went on to say:

I hope I'm wrong, though. If I am, I'll gladly eat crow. (How many points is that?)

I understand crow tastes like chicken. Guess I'm fixin' to find out. :-)

LEFT: My DL picture, 2 February 2008 ... nearly 300 pounds!
RIGHT: Victory picture today outside the WW Center in Savannah.

So what's next?

I have a secondary goal of dropping further, and getting down to a weight beginning with a 1. At this point I lack 19.6 pounds until I get there. HOWEVER: I am finished stressing about my weight, about being anal and meticulous about point values, and getting agitated whenever my awesome bride wants to do something else for supper, after I've eaten more points for lunch in assumption of a lighter evening meal.

Habits have changed. Many talk about this being less about "dieting" and "losing weight" than it is a "lifestyle change." Numerous times in this space during my regular updates on this journey, I have spoken of my severed relationship with Coca-Cola, with Squirt and with 44-oz. Mountain Dews from the Gate station down the street.

Some foods I will have to continue avoiding. Cashews still call my name like Olive Oyl toward Popeye when she's been abducted by Bluto (or Brutus, depending on which set of cartoons are on). That's a food I could very easily get back into snarfing at my desk, inhaling an entire can in less than two days.

Now to the truth, ugly as it may be to some:

1) Weight Watchers works. Dropping pounds at a slow, deliberate rate is the best way to do it. And the chance of the pounds coming back are far more remote than if one takes the quick and dirty route, e.g. Atkins. Couple years back, my friend in Alabama dropped 75+ pounds in less than 9 months via Atkins. Guess what? Much of it is back on him, and then some.

2) But much as I believe how well the WW program works, I also believe it has a long way to go for it to be a truly inclusive company. There is an embedded hostility to men I see -- not in all of the leaders and receptionist, however it's present in more of them I've encountered than those who are welcoming to members who possess a frontal limb.

3) With some events coming up in the next few months, I have made the decision to end my participation in Weight Watchers. I made the commitment for 75 pounds, and I was successful. WW is a for-profit corporation, not a civic club. It is a company with a product to sell, so I feel no guilt in discontinuing membership, nor should they feel betrayal in my doing so.

I shall continue my journey toward BWA1 (Beginning With A "1"), and if my weight shows an uptick, then I'll throttle back on foods. I already know the Points™ values of what I eat - they won't confiscate my Points™ calculator, so in that way I still have their "keys to the kingdom."

Saturday, I'm attending the 10:00 meeting and will ask for my 75-pound stone from Miz Tina, the woman who presides over the meetings in Rincon, and the one who looked at me that Cinco De Mayo 2008 day I joined WW, and thought I was too set in my ways to be successful at losing weight.

Something happened, and stubbornness marinated in male ego took over and played a role in helping me to get here. I'm going to look Miz Tina in the eye, and tell her she was mistaken. Boy, did she call this one wrong.

Credit and thanks go to the following people: my wife Seraphim ... Kate/Susan ... Melissa (thanks to her, I kicked my sugared-soda habit) .... and, most of all, to Nettiemac. Without Nettie, I'd probably still be pushing 300, with sleep apnea, stamina problems and the beginning of a lower back problem.

I love you all. Know that.

We have a good bathroom scale, and my intent is to do a weigh-in each weekend as I step out of the shower. As you know, I've dubbed that my "nekkidweight."

If - heaven forbid!! - I were to backslide and find myself inching back toward, say, 240 ... then Weight Watchers will still be there, I know it works and I'll walk in and rejoin. Simple as that.

I will certainly make a post when the BWA1 day arrives. For now, while I'll continue to occasionally touch on the topic of weight, I am finished with weekly updates, and I am hereby retiring the Pound-O-Meter®, which you've seen on the left-hand column of this blog since May 2008.

And there you are. Time marches on, and the weight marches down.

Ciao for niao.

--Skinny-Ass Tal

15 October 2009

A small gain ...

The wages of Birmingham, Alabama ... and (wonderful) places like The Greenbrier Restaurant in Madison, and the hush puppies, the same recipe I ate when I began my love affair with those fried pieces of delectable edible pulchritude, at such a time as I was able to hold one.


Now I'm at -73.2 down. I now lack 1.8 until I get back to 75 pounds. I'm hoping this can be accomplished by Halloween, or at the latest November 5 -- my 18-month anniversary on WW.

Ciao for niao.


01 October 2009

An all-too brief taste of success

I knew I'd be up this week. I just knew it. 5 pounds without some kind of 'correction' would have been too much to believe.

But the fates were most cruel ... I was hoping for no more than +2.2, keeping me at 75.0 even.

Try +2.4. I am now just 2/10 of a pound below the 75 level. Well, shit.

One good thing, though: I won't feel the 'pressure' of staying above goal when I head to Alabanana for a few days next week. As usual, I don't count points during those times -- that said, though, it won't be like last year's Birmingham junket. I've come a long way since then. And I sure as hell won't be making a dive for the Thickburgers. 23 points? That's friggin' obscene. A heart attack on a greasy bun. But anyway....

Allrighty, Saturday I'm going over to Alexander City and watch my son's band play in the Lake Martin band tourney. And then over to Birmingham for some fun, frolic, research and roadgeekin'.

When I get back, also as usual, I'll be back on the wagon. And I'll reclaim 75 ... or my name isn't Talmadge.

Ummmm, wait a minute. It isn't. Well, you get what I mean.

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Birmingham Bound" Gleck

24 September 2009

Facebook killed the Blogger star?

Or so it seems. I've been sharing stuff with friends via Facebook and have allowed this blog to grow weeds and become like the many fabulously abandoned and derelict motel and restaurant properties along US-301.

There will be more to say in the coming weeks and months. Quite a few substantial changes in the cards for these Glecks, so you'll want to keep tuned to this flea-powered daytimer AM.

The big news to share right now involves WEIGHT.

Look at the "I'm Melting! Melting!" column to your left to see how I've been doing. As you can see, I went through a phase where - most comically, if not frustrating - I plateaued to the tune of exactly ZERO change, three weeks in a row. I stayed at 223.4 pounds, with a cume drop of -71.8 ... then last week (09/17), I creeped downward by 4/10 of a pound. Yeah, okay. At least it was preceded by a minus sign.

Then came weigh-in late this morning. I didn't know how I'd do, and early this week I'd been stressing in a BIG way over a couple of things (see "substantial changes", above).

Clearly, that was to my benefit.

I stepped on the scale, and the WW receptionist said, "Well, you've lost.", and then reached for the calculator. My heart jumped, thinking maybe - just maybe - I'd dropped 2.8 pounds, enough to get to my big goal of 75.

Since last Thursday, I dropped exactly -5.0 pounds. I HAVE OFFICIALLY MADE 75, passing it by 2.2. -77.2 pounds since May 5, 2008.

So there.

My next goal is to make damned sure I can keep at least 2.2 pounds of that off, so as to stay above 75. And then make my annual trip to Birmingham without worry.

Then I'm going to continue with this journey, without the calendar or obsessive goal-making, hoping to simply be at -100 pounds before May 5, 2010 - my two-year anniversary of leaving 300 pounds in rear-view mirror.

It feels weird, truth be known. A good weird, still weird.

For the first time in nearly three (!) months, I get to say "ciao for niao"!

So, ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Gleck

09 July 2009

Catching up.....

Well, how about that. Nearly a whole month has passed since last I posted in this space.

Guess I orta put some more words up here, lest anyone think (wishfully) that I've fallen off this planet's face.

Weight, weight, don't tell me: I'm pretty much back to where I was about a month ago: -67.0 total (228.2 pounds). This morning's weigh-in had me down -0.6 ... say it with me: "If it starts with a minus, I'm not gonna whine-us." Last week was my first since our visit up to Virginia to spend some time with our friends Kate/Susan & The General, and to see their new daughter Leah for the first time (Both she and Melissa have since blogged about what has gone down in personal lore as - perhaps - the most bizarre roadtrip I've ever made), and with all the cool places to eat up there, I simply 'didn't count points' and took whatever lumps I was dealt.

Such lumpage came in the form of a +2.8 jump just before the Fourth. Not too bad - given that I admit to having 'fudged' a bit Thursday prior to leaving (06/18) ... I weighed in with shorts, which shaved at least a pound off what it would've been otherwise. My reasoning was simple: psychological. I wanted to guarantee a minus sign before going off-program for the week. So you could say I effectively gained a pound out of the deal, something I'll take and run.

The time with the Kosiors was everything time with good friends should be, and then some. I'll have some more things to say about it in the coming days or so, and sum it up with a simple and humble thanks. You're both awesome folk.

In the meanwhile, life goes onward and back downward. 75 pounds by Summer's end ... can Tal do it?? Stay tuned to most of these same blogs to find out.

Ciao for niao.

11 June 2009

Another pound bites it

Nothing much to say except I'm down an even -1.0 ... so I'm satisfied. Total now is -67.0

Oh, and I'm looking forward to our little roadtrip next weekend. Promises to be fun.

That is all.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "228.2" Gleck

04 June 2009

Up, then back down

Last week was not a good number ... I was up +2.6, but tonight I took away -1.8 of it, for an even cume of -66.0 even. Yeah, okay, I can take that.

I must take a minute to gush forth with congratulations to Nettiemac, for she has made her goal weight this evening. -228 down since May 2006. To put that amount into perspective, consider that at weigh-in, my current poundage is 229.2! Annette has dropped ME. How 'bout them fat cells?

She starts maintaining, and I keep going. I lack nine (9) pounds to my big goal of 75, and a sweet 34 pounds shy of The Century Club.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Holy crap!" Gleck

21 May 2009

More on "rotospheres"

So what did those "Sputnik"-like things look like when operational? Glad you asked:

That Rovana Restaurant sign just might be the most incredible thing I've ever seen.

You have reached Talmadge Gleck's breath. It is currently away. Please check back in a few hours.....

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Heart of Neon" Gleck

Crimson and Clover

First, the "Crimson":

So I thought it convenient to drive into town today (I usually work from home on Thursdays, but often burn the midnight - or later - oil, doing most of my work late on Wednesday) and get Rupert's oil changed and his shoes rotumtated. And, while here, go ahead and weigh-in. The center has 12:30 and 2:30 meetings during the day on Thursdays.

Wrong. No 2:30. Well, crap ... and now I don't want to eat anything, it being some three hours 'till the next chance to weigh in.

So I go down to J.C. Lewis and have The Rupert King Family SUVster serviced. They have wi-fi in the service area, so I brought the laptop.

Did I mention how much I love having wireless access in the waiting area? Gone are the days of watching a fuzzy picture on a hinky old TV, or browsing various old magazines.

The buggy needed new brake pads, so I had 'em go ahead and do that ... that would take another hour, which at that point I didn't mind; besides, what else would I do?

Rupert was finished up just in time to head back toward the WW center. Got there, and stepped on the scale:

-1.4 Good. I'll take that and make a mad dash. Woo-hoo!

Total weight-displacement stands at -66.8 I am now 228.4 pounds, a mere 8.2 away from The Big 7-5.

It's been a dank and rainy day around here ... the temperature has hovered around 70 degrees, but I was hoping to do some walking tonight. Guess that's not gonna happen.

In other news, check out the pleasant surprise a visitor to this blog shared with me:
That, longtime readers of Five Flavors (all 2 of you, myself included) will remember, is the Clover Inn of Santee, South Carolina. Thanks a rotosphere to John Ashlin for offering up a truly rare postcard image of that sign back in its prime.

A couple years ago, I made a post about the old "Santee strip", once one of the largest aggregation of motels along the eastern seaboard. While this property has been cleared out, and that old sign removed, it remained - in a rotting state - until 2008:
Above is a comparison of the Clover sign as it looked circa 1967 ... with a picture I took of the sign early in 2007. I wish I had the means and the room to have saved this piece of vintage roadside beauty before it met a rendezvous with a bulldozer and scrap heap.

It breaks my heart to look at the 2007 picture, as my brain always morphs it into her glory days, when her inert gases cast forth a colorful nighttime herald along US-15/301. My mind then starts thinking back to when I was little, and such sights were commonplace.

The Sputnik-like thing on top of the Clover Inn sign is called a rotosphere. Many of those were made in the late '50s/early '60s timeframe, inspired by the whole 'space-age' feel of the day. Each spike had neon tubing, and the whole thing had three separate rotating mechanisms. That whole sign, with rotosphere, was said to have set back the Clover's owner some $20,000. 1960s dollars, mind you. Many thought him crazy. Obviously he had the last laugh.

One rotosphere specimen is a big part of my childhood memories, and it sat atop the Eastwood Lanes in Birmingham, Ala. from its opening in 1959 or so, until 2006, when it was leveled....
This picture is from September 2005. Talk about space-age elegance ... the architecture of the old Eastwood Lanes just oozed it. Especially the circular motif of the front breezeway. Alas, she is no more.

A "damn you!" shout to Kate/Susan. Because of her crazy idea of going to see Janet Evanovich in New Jersey, so does my wife (seeing as how she missed the chance last time the author was in our neck of the woods). Sera wants to go to New Jersey. And, since I've never ventured into The Garden State's boundaries, I do too. So we've planned a roadtrip for late June.

Besides, we're jonesin' to see our new "niece." So we're going. And, as a nice bonus, that puts me back in the close proximity of the last-surviving Horne's Restaurant (Port Royal). I'll be suspending my Format long enough to enjoy another fine Horne's milkshake. Last one was 2003, and I'm ready for another.

Janet E. is "chick lit", and as such doesn't do much for me. Who cares -- the road is a-callin'!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Did somebody say ROADTRIP??" Gleck

14 May 2009

Take the minus and run

Nothing much to add, except it was a week of virtual maintenance .... -0.4 on the big scale, which I'll accept because it's a green number. :-) In any case, I stayed in the format, did a lot of walking, and was just an overall Good Weight Watcher. I'll hold out for the fruits bearing themselves at a later time.

Total to date is -65.4 ..... another week, another downhill pitch.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Wasting Away, Ounces At A Time" Gleck

10 May 2009

A really good week ... and a question

So a few more pounds came blasting out of me this week. At Thursday's weigh-in, I was down an even -3.0, which gives me an effective one-year total of -65.0! Effective, as in my last weigh-in was before my first anniversary on WW (May 5). Therefore, my final answer is that I have displaced 65 pounds after one year of doing Weight Watchers.

10 pounds left until I reach the magic 75.

And now a question which maybe Nettiemac can answer. In looking at the "Melting, melting" chart to the left, where I have a running total of each weigh-in, I see no odd numerals past the decimal. Either it's a weird coinky-dink that all of my drops have been of even-numbered fractions, or else the WW scales go only in steps of .0/.2/.4/.6/.8 ..... hmmmmm .....

On that note, ciao for niao. And - if it applies to you - Happy Mother's Day (that means you, too, Kate/Susan!)

--Talmadge "230.2" Gleck

PS to Kate/Susan: when are you going to add "...mother..." to your exhaustive personal vitae??

05 May 2009

One year ago ... today!

(with apologies to Bill Drake, RIP)

On this date last year -- Monday, 5 May 2008 -- I took a leap of faith I'd been fighting for a very long while. I stepped on the Weight Watchers scale for the first time, as I waited for that number. The number I'd allowed myself to reach, after many years of willful neglect and lots and lots of enjoyable food ... and thousands of wasted calories in the form of Coke after Coke after ice cold Coke. That number was 295.2.

Miz Tina was the WW leader at Rincon, and in this space I've several times alluded to the look on her face. A look which said, "Uh-huh. You're doing this only because your wife is dragging you in here, kicking and screaming." The face suggested I was too set in my ways. That I couldn't make the changes necessary to reverse some destructive habits.

That I liked my cashews too damned much. That I was addicted to Coca-Cola. "Atlanta Holy Water" had been a staple of my diet since I was able to hold a 6-1/2 ounce bottle. Well, except for that "New Coke" fiasco - when I made a brief sojourn to Dr. Pepper - Coke Was It for Gleck.

I will be the first to tell you that I am what some would call a "picky eater." Others - such as my own self - prefer to label my culinary habits "basic and spartan." I am the walking embodiment of a 'meat and potatoes' man. Give me steak, but with A-1. Baked potato? Butter and salt. Nothing else. I'll take a salad, provided it's iceburg lettuce with thousand-island dresing. Don't give me the purple and orange confetti, fakon bits, and other crap. Lettuce and dressing. Period.

I can barely tolerate milk. I cannot drink it straight. In a milkshake, yeah. Carnation Instant Breakfast? Doable. I taste the vanilla far more than the milk in those cases.

Breakfast cereal? I've always liked it dry, right out of the box.

Tuna? I'll eat it straight, with salt. Don't give me any mayo or relish or other garnishment. A little NaCl, a/k/a "Talmadge Dust", and I'm happy. Yeah, okay. A lot of "Talmadge Dust."

My "practice wife" and her family live by a sacred creed of adding as many "bells and whistles" to basic food as they can. And my "picky" habits were always getting in the way. My ex-wife, I'm certain, was embarrassed by my particular foodtastes.

Seraphim, on the other hand, said: "It just makes it easy to cook for you."

(She loves me.)

I've come to realize I have tactile issues with some food. Certain textures will make me gag. Honest. Do not feed me peanut butter out of a jar reading "Chunky." Jello? Plain, mister. Mashed potatoes? Lumps trigger a major gag reflex. I kid you not. I've found the only kind of mashed potatoes I can abide are those from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Dependably smooth.

Now I am not one to be a wet-blanket when it comes to gatherings where food is served. I do my best to find out in advance what's on the menu ... and if it's something I do not care for, I am the model of discretion. I'll swing by a convenience store for a pack of peanut-butter 'nab' crackers. Something to put in my stomach, then I can be sociable at the event - lie through my teeth and say "I'm not hungry" - drink water or whatever they have, and after the event, make a hellish beeline for the nearest fast food place. That way, I'm not acting the anti-social arsehole, ruining a good time for everyone else ... while trying my best to avoid what I find to be a tendency of a lot of people to shove food down my throat. I'm not hungry. Can't you understand?

It's funny. Many such "foodphiles" are women. Women who won't bat an eye at listening to the same 30 freakin' songs over and over on the local adult contemporary station.

And they have the golldurned nerve to say I'm picky??!! At least with food, I can close my mouth without interfering with their enjoyment of whatever food they choose. Unfortunately, I cannot close my ears to their Celine Dion crap being played by Miz Three-Times-Married-Yet-Gives-Love-Advice-To-Others, Delilah, should I be a passenger in their Dodge Caravan.

The fact that I do not like lasagna, for example -- something which angered my first wife; we'd been dating maybe six months when one night she made some, and forced it down my throat, despite making it clear that I. DO. NOT. LIKE. LASAGNA. I loathe it. Revile it. No matter WHO makes it. I ate it, and gagged. She took it personally. I could've insulted her mother, for all she took my reaction.

The fight which ensued I wish I could go back in time and videotape.

I hate lasagna. However, that does not mean I want it eradicated from the menus of America and beyond. Just like it for me. And respect my desire not to partake. It's nothing personal. Honest.

I also detest Mexican food. As I've always liked to say, "There's one good thing in a Mexican restaurant, and that's the exit."

Fortunately, in most cases there's always at least one thing on a menu in 90% of restaurants (read: not Mexican or some other fourth-world eatery), and as long as I can have those entrees, I'm happy. Everybody is happy.

Why can't all these kind of events be like, say, the big Fondue blowout during "Blogfest '09"?? My female friends were all excited about making and enjoying Swiss fondue. And while they did that, my friend Michael - "The General" - and I both went 'into town' for some male bonding over Mickey D's. One more time, with feeling: EVERYBODY IS HAPPY.

So with that as a background, let's backtrack to September 2006. Nettiemac started Weight Watchers that previous May. And we had our first real conversation about it one weekend, when she and Bolivar converged upon our household. I knew I needed to do something about what was a serious plumping-out of my exterior facade. Nothing bad happened yet, no physical event to "put the fear of God into me." Just I knew reality, much as I was fighting it within.

The problem was, I was concerned about how I could reconcile my eating habits to conform within what would be some drastically shrunken room.

The bottom line: I didn't want to further narrow what was already a diet worthy of a Bill Drake top-30 playlist.

March 24, 2008 - my wonderful, awesome best friend and bride Seraphim took the WW plunge. I decided I would "mooch" off her points format, and give it a shot that way.

At first glance, my reaction was "f(BLEEP)k this s(BLEEP)t! I enjoy my food too much and do not want to go without it. I do not want to live on salads and Tab. And I know how much of a royal twat I can be when I'm hungry. Do I want to be a royal twat all the time? Would I have any friends left??"

Then, the more I thought about it, and analyzed what I ate, I began to realize just how I could mesh the Weight Watchers "format" with my 'peculiar' eating habits, and still be able to eat much of what I already enjoy.

Plus, I wanted to be "a team" with my wife as she was trying to lose pounds herself. We need to do this together.

Which brought me to Monday, May 5 of Ought-Eight, and 295.2 pounds. I became Weight Watchers' newest member. And no, my wife did NOT force me. This was 110% of my own volition.

The goal I set for myself on that date was 75 pounds.

Oh, and last Thursday's weigh-in wasn't what I'd hoped. Tiny gain on the scale ... +0.2, virtually maintaining. Making for a one-year cume of -62.0. I can take that. Wish it were more, know it could've been far less.

Let's see what this Thursday brings, eh?

I still remember the trip to Kroger we made after the meeting, how the Chris Rea song "Fool (If You Think It's Over)" came on the PA system. I took it as my inner devil cueing up a record with a strong message. "Yeah right, Tal. You can't pull this off."

As I pondered Chris Rea's song-o-mockery, I was fronted with my first big challenge: trading regular cream of chicken soup for the "reduced fat" CofC. For years, my mantra was "low fat = low taste."

We've substituted lots of things over the year.

What habits have I changed? I sit here astonished that I accomplished the following:
  • Traded regular hamburger buns for the "lite" kind. One point per each. Baby steps; I'm not quiiiite ready for the wheat bun dark side.

  • No regular cream of chicken soup. Now it's the reduced fat kind. The only difference in my 'chicken and rice' plate is that the soup portion is a bit thinner. Otherwise, there IS no difference.

  • Exit Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese, enter the 'reduced fat' kind. Again, I cannot tell.

  • My wife no longer fries the fish portions we get at Sam's. Now they're just baked.

  • Buh-bye, sugar. Hello, Splenda. Unsweet tea or water in restaurants. If the yellow packets aren't available, I'll settle for the blue ones (Aspartame).

  • "Jolly Time Healthy Pop" 94% fat-free microwave popcorn is surprisingly good. It doesn't taste like styrofoam, as the Kroger brand 94% FF stuff does. And two (2) points for an entire bag. Sweet.

  • We've traded regular bacon for turkey bacon. Y'know what? I like it.

  • I gave up cashews, except for the occasional cashew chicken Sera will make. I love cashews, and even to this day I get a wistful feeling when I find myself in the nut aisle. The ugly truth: like potato chips, I cannot eat just one. I used to could go through one entire can of cashews in two days at work. Aye yi yi!

  • Two other deep, longtime loves were also thrown overboard: candy corn, and - at Halloween time - those sweet, luscious, hubba-hubba Brach's mellocreme pumpkins.

  • Ryan's and Golden Corral were pink-slipped from the regular rigamarole. Those had to go, for I could eat upwards of 100 points at one sitting - and in all likelihood DID.

  • No more trips off the island at work. We used to take advantage of the Domino's 5/5/5 deal -- my boss, our news producer and myself would each have one of the $5.00 specials. Sometimes I'd go to the Kroger at Marsh Point for some of their deli chicken nuggets. Today, it's tuna, soup, or - as I discovered I liked a lot - the Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizza. 7 points. I haven't left the island for lunch since before last May!

  • Subway is good. Very, very good. Their pizza is wonderful. A pepperoni pizza - cooked nice and hot in 90 seconds (not zapped) - is only 15 points. And far less greasier than the Pizza Hut 'personal pans'

  • I still have fast food. Just that I keep it within the point limits, and reward myself when I've been good the rest of the week. Instead of indulging in french fries 3-4 times a week, now it's usually 1 - maybe 2 - times.

  • Diet lemonade at Chick-Fil-A. I love it. Plus, I've recently made another big turn: I gave up the classic CFAs in favor of the chargrilled sammiches. A little pricier, but at least they take off 30 cents if one loses 'the garden' (as I do - surprise, surprise!). A regular CFA is 9 points. 8 points without butter. But the chargrilled CFAs clock in at a rip-roarin' 5 points!

    But perhaps the biggest change I've made is in the area of drinks:

  • Originally, I was going to ramp soft drinks down to one per day, and allow for a couple per week of what I used to call BAM-Ds -- that's (B)ig-(A)ss (M)ountain (D)ew, my affectionate name for the 44-ounce 'fountain dew" I used to buy quite often up the road at our local Gate convenience store. I discovered how good they were along about 2006 or so, and I soon got to where I was drinking as many as 10 of those suckers a week. Ten. (a lot of those were freebies, as part of Gate's "bonus beverage club", but I digress)

  • Initially, I quit Coca-Cola cold turkey. Actually, I was weaning myself off Coke by March ... and what helped there was the availability of Squirt in our area. I always loved that soda, ever since I had my first one in Arkansas.

  • About a month into my WW regimen, I tried going without carbonation for a week. While I couldn't make it quite the week, it really made me think about throttling a little further on the soda intake.

  • Then came Melissa's two words, which I believe came in a comment to a blog post early last Summer. The words were "drinking calories." They sank in, as the reality of the situation stared me in the face: why the hell should I waste three (3) points on sugared soda - the 'price' of a 12-ounce can - when I can instead indulge in an ice cream sandwich, for the same point value??

  • At the same time, I discovered that while I cannot abide the taste of diet 'dark sodas' (i.e. Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Diet Dr. Pepper, etc.), I do love Diet 7-UP. And then came trying Diet Mountain Dew. In the fountain (where I can find it), it's just as good - if not better - than sugared Mountain Dew.

  • It wasn't intended as such at the time, however my last "BAM-D" was bought Saturday, 19 July 2008. And thus ended my love affair with sugared carbonated beverages.

  • BAM-D has been replaced by BADD'M-D.

  • Diet Mountain Dew has become my new Coca-Cola.

  • Crystal Light decaf tea and lemonade are now good friends of mine.

  • Most of all, something I never thought I'd ever say in my lifetime, this or any reincarnated afterlife: I never want another Coca-Cola as long as I live!
And there you are. Those habits changed have resulted in 62 fewer pounds of me. I feel better. I don't look all hunched over after I get out of the car (my back, I feel, was showing the signs of giving out). And now I can climb mountains again. Right, Melissa? :-)

Do I miss gorge-outs at Golden Corral? Yup. Will I still have them? Absolutely. We all need occasional vacations from the rigamarole, and that's how I stay on track. One per calendar quarter seems reasonable, just to keep my body guessing ... and stop any temptation toward it going into "famine" mode.

Do I eat at GC on a regular basis? Not on your life. I don't trust myself! Would a recovering alcoholic go into a liquor store? A problem gambler darkening the door of a casino? It's the same thing, people.

I still have a ways to go. More baby steps yet to take. And I'm taking them.

Could I have seen this a year ago? Nope. Honestly, a big fat NO. Doesn't matter, though; I have.

Take that, Chris Rea.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "And the journey continues" Gleck

23 April 2009

Two, baby ... two!

A good result tonight at weigh-in .... I dropped an even -2.0. I do know I've had two good weeks, where I've walked a good two miles at least five days out of each seven.

Cume total is now up to -62.8 pounds, with a weight of 232.4. I'm two weeks away from my one-year anniversary weigh-in (actual date is May 5), and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for hitting 65 by then.

Tomorrow I'm headed for Alabama to see the kid (Friday night he's in his high school's drama production), and possibly engaging in a cool activity on Sunday. I've discovered a place in the middle of the state I'm very eager to check out. More on that after the weekend.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "On a roll again ... we hope" Gleck

16 April 2009

Back above 60 ... for good this time, I hope

Tonight was a good night. For two reasons.

Thursday is going to be our new weigh-in day. Tonight Sera and I went to the meeting at a church in nearby Bloomingdale (west part of Chatham County) ... which just so happened to be presided over by the same leader as does the Monday night meetings in Rincon.

The same one whose face last May 5 said: "I give him one month, tops. Ain't no way he's gonna shake his habits."

And she got to see me officially overtake the 60 pound wall, and passing the number I reached just before our February trip. This week I dropped -1.6 pounds for a total of -60.8!

I wanted to tell Miz Tina just why we defected from the Wednesday night meetings at the Center. That'll have to wait 'till next week, as there were a lot of new members tonight at Bloomingdale -- all in it together, all seven of 'em.

As we walked into the parking lot after the meeting, another woman struck a conversation with us -- she's been doing WW for eight weeks, but started out going to another meeting in town (led by Miss Richard-Simmons-On-Speed) before changing venues herself.

For the same reason we did.

Golly, there's nothing like "independent verification."

But it was something else she said. In fact it was the first thing out of her mouth. She said words to the effect of, "That's great about hitting 60. If you can do it, then I certainly can."

Yeah, that felt good, no two ways about it. Best of all, I cannot remember the last time I felt like I actually got something out of a Weight Watchers meeting. I liked how Miz Tina remembered not just who we were, but also made references to some things I said in meetings last Summer in Rincon. Clearly she showed concern about those in her flock, and not just blowing off everything we say with an "uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh."

At any rate, I'm glad that we can look forward to a meeting again. That we don't have to ask ourselves The Clash Question each time we go for weigh-in. You know: "Should we stay or should we go now?"

Or, as I started putting it, "OOOOOOOOOOOH!!!!!! or Noooooooooooh!!????" (referring to the way our former leader will launch into a hyper-applause as she says the former.)

My only hope is that meetings here don't turn into a major chick-fest, as they tended to do in Rincon. (not that WW meetings aren't already, but anyway.....)

So here we are. The game has resumed, and now I'm past 60. With fingers crossed that it also spells the end of a month-long plateau.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "234.4" Gleck

09 April 2009

Plateauuuuuuuoooooooh @#$%!!!

Melissa called it "delay of game."

I call it "a royal pain in the nethers."

Monday, my nekkidweight™ indicated 231.4 ... the first time I've seen it below 232. I figured on it being a decent week, perhaps just enough to get me back above -60.

Nada. The Platform of Nidetch spoketh: +0.2, resetting the cume to -59.2. If there's any consolation, I'm still above 20%.

BUT: the next morning, the nekkidweight™ was even better: 230.3! Oh, and we got our folders from the center, and will start our weigh-ins down in Bloomingdale next Thursday (04/16).

One thing I've begun doing, what with these nippy evenings, is take a late-night walk around our cul-de-sac, and out to the road behind our house. It's quiet, there are no barking dogs and few cars on said "road behind our house." I put on the earbuds, and start a good OTR (old time radio) mystery program, and just get lost in my minds' theater. The programs last 30 minutes, and I time it to where I'm getting near the house again by show's end.

Ramp up the walks, and uptick the water. But what I do not want to resort to is not using my weekly 35 'flex' points. I freely admit using most of them - usually in the neighborhood of 30 - each week. That's what they're for, and I save 'em for the weekend, usually Saturday. That's my 'reward' for being good throughout the week. The weekly points, I can only ass/u/me, are built into the "format" for a successful drop. Right?

Two things I'm afraid of were I not to dip into the 35: 1) this decrepit body will go into "famine" mode, and my metabolism will slam on its brakes; and 2) I'll be tempted to stray from The Format.

Any thoughts? Lay 'em on me. I really want to blast out of this rut.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "236 even" Gleck

01 April 2009

Boingy, boingy!

Maybe it's the barometric pressure. Yeah.

Last week, I took a +2.8 hit to my score. And tonight, every ounce of it came back off. -2.8 ... putting my cume back at -59.4! Back past 20%, but just shy of the 60.4 I reached prior to the road trip in late February.

Now, maybe we can get this train moving forward again.

We skipped the meeting tonight. I just was not in the mood .... and I was relieved to be in the weigh-in line of our regular 'receptionist', and not Simmons-On-Speed who jockeyed a second line. "SMIIIIILE ... TODAY IS A GREAAAAAAAAAAAT DAY!!!! EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUUUUUULLLL!!!

Please pardon me while I barf.

My beef isn't with sunny personalities. Many with that disposition in life are approachable and have at least one toe of one foot on the ground. And I also deal regularly with Simmons-On-Speed's polar opposite, a co-worker who defines the Eeyore character. That grates on me nearly as bad. She's otherwise solid and reliable as a worker, but the words "I'm not all here today" are getting really old.

In a side note, after being iffy about them all these years, I think I've now accepted the Chick-Fil-A chargrill chicken. Enjoy it, even. I don't like that it's more expensive than the regular CFA sammich, even ordering without the 'garden' (which they knock off the price if you order without a tomato and lettuce), but I do love that such an item clocks in at only 5 points.

Another week in the life......

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "235.8 ... AGAIN" Gleck

27 March 2009

Roadtrip '09, DAY 8: More globetrotting!

Tal & Sera's Big 2009 RoadtripDAY EIGHT - Friday, 27 February.
Destination: Sikeston, Missouri -- Pear Tree Inn.
Miles traveled: 185.4

Morning in our Harrah's "Veranda" hotel room! It was around 8:30 when we awakened, and the weather was much improved from earlier, the storms having already moved east out of the area. According to WMC-TV 5, we had a nice - if cool - day ahead of us, but the weather would again start going downhill this evening, with a good chance of snow -- especially toward the north! (We also realized just how ugly the weather was in Memphis, as Channel 5 had a news story about a church fire, ignited by lightning hitting its steeple)

We got ourselves showered nice and clean to seize the day before us. Last night, I told Bolivar that I'd give him a call after we woke up, to set a time to meet both him and J-Lo for breakfast. Our agenda had us then going northward to Sikeston, Missouri and eating lunch at Lambert's Cafe. We'd probably make a quick journey to and from Cape Girardeau before having supper at a place called La Villetta with an old friend (okay: old flame), Lynda and her significant other, Mike.

[Now, you might be wondering why we didn't instead go to Sikeston from Cave City, Ky. and then southward to Tunica. After all, that would have been a shorter route. Ahhh, but there was the matter of the cost of hotel rooms in Tunica. Weekend rate at Harrah's (and most of the other casinos in the area) run well into the hundreds, $180 being par. However, the Sunday-Thursday rate at the Tunica casinos are the real bargain: $40-50! So, we did a 'fishtail' path and chose to drive an extra 150 miles instead of spending an extra 150 dollars. I mean, gas isn't $4.00 these days, it was less than two bucks.]

I called Bolivar and thought that 10:30 would be an ideal time for us to meet for breakfast. There was a McDonald's near I-55 in Southaven, and that looked to be roughly 45 minutes from our hotel.

Seraphim bought some Harrah-tastic coffee before checking out. Instead of enlisting the bellhops, we analyzed our luggage situation and determined we could do this ourselves with 1-1/2 trips (2 trips for me, one for Sera). So we loaded ourselves and made it down to the lobby and breezeway, where Sera waited as I went to get Rupert. Driving him under the breezeway, we loaded him up, and then went back to the room to retrieve the remaining stuff -- and my "bonus" Diet Mountain Dew from last night.


It was 9:45 when we left Harrah's and made our way northward to US-61 and over to I-69, then north on I-55. Today was going to be yet another day of world travel, too. Yesterday, as you know, we experienced not just "France" (Paris, Tenn.) and "Italy" (Milan, Tenn.), but also "Egypt" (Memphis, Tenn.). We'll have an encore tour of Egypt, and today we'll see "The Netherlands", and "Spain."

I turned on KXJK-AM 950 out of Forrest City, Ark., still doing a classic hits format and sounding as good as ever. Some of you know I have a fetish for well-engineered AM stations still playing hit music (one might be able to count the whole of them on one hand today). It's good to be able to hear those kinds of stations in 2009. I used to listen to KXJK in the '80s, especially while still in Pine Bluff, always wondering the same thing: Why can't OUR station sound as good as that??? They sound so good, so clean, so tight, that one would logically think they were listening to a Memphis station. Nope, this station comes from St. Francis County, Arkansas, a fairly depressed area economically.

We got to the Mickey D's at around 10:25 and waited for B&J. Ahhh, but what's this next door?? DANVER'S?? Hmmmm, and it IS pushing 10:30. Egg McMuffins be damned, I want me some roast beef!! Sera (who understands her husband's addiction to Danver's roast beef sammiches) agreed that it would be better than yet another meal under the Arches.

It was pushing 11:00 when our friends got there, and they too liked the idea of a change of venue. Sooooooo, Danver's it was.
The great Bolivar and J-Lo, in person.

Hard to believe we go back nearly 23 years. What a long, strange trip it's been.

The best-laid plans of mice and Glecks happily go astray

I knew this wouldn't be a quick visit, and didn't want it to be. And quick it wasn't. We stayed at our table and talked it up until realizing that the day wasn't getting any longer. Goodbyes were said at 1:30 (!), and we zipped through Mempho without any delays or traffic congestion. Plans had to be reconfigured -- we'd be doing well to hit Sikeston by 3:30-4:00, certainly too late to partake of Lambert's and leave enough room for Italian food. A decision had to be made, and it was to forego the Italian for now -- neither of us wanted to pass up the (rare) opportunity for catching Lambert's famous "throwed rolls." I'd call Lynda when we got up there, and lay our reasons on the table, hoping they'd understand and go for Lambert's instead.

You see, things in Sikeston have changed since the days when Lambert's was a simple local cafe with a famous gimmick. Lynda no longer feels enthused about the place, and her sentiment appears to be shared by many of her fellow Sikestonians ... it's a sentiment those of us in Savannah understand with The Lady & Sons. When we first moved there, TL&S was a popular hole-in-the wall restaurant in City Market. Paula Deen was a local celebrity, and that was it. Then came Food Network and national fame, followed by a new location of TL&S and the long lines. It's now a 'tourist place', shunned by the majority of the locals.

And so has become Lambert's in the hearts and minds of Sikeston, Missouri. Lambert's is big and now goes for those traveling through on I-55 and 57. As we figured it, though, "We're tourists, and how often can we get those luscious yeast rolls??"

Highway 61 INTERSTATE 55 Revisited (or: "It's Flat-tastic!")

Leaving Memphis, we crossed Old Man River into Arkansas on the I-55 "old bridge" (the one that parallels the two railroad bridges ... it's the one Orlando Bloom crosses on his road trip in Elizabethtown).
"BUCKLE UP FOR SAFETY" sure beats hell out of what used to
be at the bottom of this sign: "HOME OF PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON"

Ahhhhh, Arkansas. I-55 doesn't make but a 72-mile trip through the state, every square inch of her concrete and asphalt flat as a pancake, except for the few "mountainous" areas - in the form of artificial hills for overpasses. I was impressed with the now-completed improved US-63 interchange (Exit 23). The road to Jonesboro is being upgraded to freeway status, and when finished, my college home will have itself an interstate connection: I-555.
The signage at Exit 23 never fails to warm my heart.
...even if it's in the new-style "clearview" font.

I love the terrain of east Arkansas nearly as much as the mountains. Seraphim made the remark that it looked like somebody had Photoshopped the mountains out. It did feel a bit strange driving the delta after many days spent in the rugged terrain of Appalachia. I-55 through Arkansas and the Missouri bootheel is a complete study in the whole of Delta culture, from the Mississippi flavor (Greenville, Helena, Tunica, West Memphis, Marion) to the 'northern' half (Jonesboro, Marked Tree, Blytheville, Caruthersville, Sikeston). Both halves seem a world apart. You have to experience it to understand.

As for the terrain in this area ... you have to see it to believe:
Toto, something tells me we're not in West Virginia anymore.....

This is as flat as it gets! However, people who travel between the Midwest and the South via Interstate 55 might get the impression that all of Arkansas is this flat. Nope. Less than 100 miles to the west of this freeway, the terrain makes a dramatic change, and one enters the high foothills of the Ozark Mountains.

Arkansas, like West Virginia, offers some amazing mountain views, especially along US-62/412 traversing the top portion of the state. We traveled that highway early in 2006 during our weeklong Arkansas getaway, including visits to Eureka Springs and Hot Springs.

This ain't mountains, though. But .... what's that in front of us? Holy crap! A hill!
"My word, I can see clear up to Cape Girardeau from atop this mound!"

I've always loved the way high-voltage power lines in the Delta form an awesome perspective in the distance:
The 'power' to mesmerize.

"Show Me" the world!
"Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me.
I am from Missouri. You have got to show me." - Willard D. Vandiver

Just north of Blytheville, we bid fond adieu to Arkansas as I-55 enters Missouri. The interstate crossing isn't much to see ... it's too bad they didn't find a way to re-create for I-55 travelers the state line on 'the old highway', US-61. An archway, built in 1924, portals the Arkansas/Missouri line on 61. It's seen below: (photo credit)
This is on the Arkansas side, looking toward Missouri. Inscribed at the top of the arch is "ENTERING MISSOURI" This is yet another example of what people miss by not exploring the old highways. I first discovered this archway one Sunday in 1987 while driving with Lynda back to Jonesboro from Sikeston, and taking a 'different way' (or, as Mom would say, "Dawdling!"). Back then my roadgeek self might've been 'in remission', but my heart still skipped beats when it appeared before me.

So we are now in the area of Missouri called 'the bootheel', a world of its own - rather detached culturally from 'upstate' parts. It's more kindred with Tennessee than even Arkansas ... or especially Cape Girardeau.

Side note: At college, I learned very quickly when meeting fellow students from the bootheel -- attending under Arkansas State's "75-mile rule", allowing those in other states within that range to pay in-state tuition -- NOT to include as an icebreaker that I used to live in Cape. Most in the bootheel feel about Cape Girardeau the way most rural Georgians feel about Atlanta. Long story, much of it political. We'll leave it at that.

Shortly after crossing into Missouri, we saw the first billboard for Lambert's:

Get yer catcher's mitts ready: just 66 more miles to go!

Ice, ice baby - redux
As terrible as the trees looked in middle Kentucky from the ice storm in January, things were ten times worse in the bootheel of Missouri. I was amazed to see any treetops left at all! Yes, it was that bad. Tree limbs were piled everywhere -- in front of houses, all over the two rest areas in the bootheel, and even along the interstate itself. I was told the area was buried under as many as three inches of solid ice!

One of the first towns in Missouri along 55/61 is our first world stop. We're now tilting at the "windmills" of Holland, Mo.
This image Sera captured, with the disfigured tree, is a sad one. It's looking from the interstate toward the village of Holland. The exit on 55 carries another nearby town name, Cooter:
Yeah, Cooter. Dunno if they have a road named after Ben Jones, though.

Road geek note: "E" is indeed the designation for that roadway. Missouri has a network of minor-grade 'trunk roads' marked with letters instead of the usual numbers. It's usually a single or double-letter arrangement ... and, yes, there are some Route PPs or Route TTs. In Sikeston, Routes AA and H intersect, making for an amusing sign assembly: one direction it's "AA"/"H" and the other "H"/"AA."

Speaking of which, anyone want to 'take on me' in a game of highway Scrabble?

What was that name again??

Anyway, our next town was Hayti (pronounced "hay-tye"). While passing through here, a restaurant was brought to mind from long ago. I could not remember the name of it to save my life. I think it might've been the on-premises restaurant from Drury Inn's earliest days ... "Papa D's" comes to mind, but I'm not sure that was the name. At any rate, "Papa D's" (?) was a Denny's-like family restaurant in the region.

[edit: Very close. It was called Papa D Family Restaurant].

This is where Lynda and I always ate with her parents in Hayti on those weekends in college she 'went home.' Lynda didn't have a car at the time, so I'd meet her folks in Hayti - about halfway between Jonesboro and Sikeston - and they'd always treat me to dinner at this restaurant both the Friday night I brought her, and Sunday afternoon when I picked her up. They graciously did this as 'appreciation' for saving them the trip all the way to Jonesboro ... but I was glad to do it, not just to "be the good boyfriend", but -- yeaaaah, okay -- there were a couple of ulterior motives in the mix: 1) Missouri had lottery and cheaper gas (average of 59.9¢ a gallon in 1986-87, versus 74.9-ish in much of Arkansas), and - most importantly - 2) I was in range of listening to a very cool AM station: KYMO-AM 1080 out of East Prairie, Mo.

Was that a gasp of shock I heard from you, the reader? Talmadge Gleck, drawn to radio stations? Yeah, perish the thought. But it was true. KYMO was a favorite of mine while living in Cape Girardeau, and I've referred to it a few times in this space. Imagine a small town of barely 3,000 people, with a 500-watt daytime only AM station. Typically, such operations are country, with a very 'hick'-sounding presentation. But not KYMO -- big-ticket JAM "Priority One" jingles, '60s-style "wall-of-sound" audio with reverb in the chain, and a hard-leaning top-40 format, at times bordering on pure album rock. It still amazes me today how such a big sound could come from a one-lung station in such a tiny town. Yeah. What's more, KYMO held out with a live rock format until 1991. Since then, when KYMO-FM signed on, they've been satellite oldies. Oh well.....

As I pondered the restaurant's name, I changed the radio from KXJK - beginning to show signs of fading by now - over to AM 1080, which today simulcasts the FM (105.3). While it lacks the uber-compressed 'bite' from its old-school days, KYMO still throws out very clean audio. Great sound for an AM station. And, gawd love 'em, those same great JAM jingles.

The Marston, Mo. exit along I-55 had a Pilot station, and we figured to give the coffee another try. Certainly this couldn't be as bad as back in Tennessee. We stopped and filled up to the tune of $1.75/9. I got me a DMD, Sera got a Pilot-tastic Trucker's Coffee, and both got a one-dollar scratch-off. I busted, but Sera copped two bucks.

The weather was a shade on the nippy side in Southaven. Missouri, though, was another story. A brisk wind was rolling through the bootheel, and it was very, very c-o-l-d. The kind of weather foretelling one mean snowfall in its future.

It's New Madrid's fault!

From Marston, our next world stop was sunny "Spain" -- New Madrid (pronounced "MAD-rid") has notoriety as being the epicenter of one of the most destructive series of earthquakes ever to hit the U.S. in 1811-12. There's a museum in town, with a working seismograph. The "New Madrid Seismic Zone" is highly active, and depending on who you talk to, the area is way overdue for a major quake.

And when it happens this time (as opposed to 1811, when the population was sparse), it's going to be nasty. Unlike California, with its mostly rocky terrain, the bootheel is nothing but soft ground. Ever hear of liquifaction? Yup, if and when The Big One hits again, much of this area is going to literally turn to quicksand.

It's a sobering thought: This entire region sits on nothing less than a geological timebomb.

'Miner' change of plans.....

We pulled into the breezeway at Pear Tree Inn (originally the Drury Inn - built in 1973, first location of the entire chain) in Sikeston at just after 4:00. Well, not really Sikeston -- technically, the area of US-62 and I-55 is in the small community of Miner. ANYhoo, our 'freebie' room was on the third floor, with no elevator. It being zero dollars, I couldn't complain; Seraphim, on the other hand, was feeling a sore knee. Aye yi yi. So we kept her trips up and down at a minimum. I unloaded much of Rupert, and we got ourselves settled into our room.

And, wouldn't you know it, FREE WI-FI in their rooms. Woo hoo! This is Drury-tastic!

Due to our modified schedule, a quick run to and from Cape Girardeau wasn't going to be happening. We'll save that for next time.

I called Lynda, and explained our change in plans (hey, Bolivar and J-Lo were very much worth it, right?). Lynda and Mike had no desire to eat at Lambert's, although she understood where we were coming from. They were going to eat at La Villetta, and after we finished up at Lambert's, we'd meet them all at 7:00 at Villetta for drinks and conversation.

Both of us figured it prudent to go ahead and beat the long lines at Lambert's by hightailing it over there. The restaurant is just down US-62 (E. Malone St.) from the motel, and we got there about 5:15, and a wait time of practically nada.

Tree limbs aside, Sikeston looked good as ever. It's a down-to-earth small city of 17,000-ish in population. Plus - to my knowledge - it's the only city to have three U.S. highways with consecutive numbers: US-60, 61 and 62!

Think fast! Here comes another!

Lambert's food was good and Lambert-tastic as always. The yeast rolls .... they're evil and must be wiped out of our lives and memories. Probably more Points™ than Weight Watchers can even count. But -- say it with me -- "We're on vacation, dammit!" We're going to partake, by gawd.

A little background, for those who are curious. Lambert's Cafe was the epitome of a small town mom-and-pop eatery ... your basic meat-and-three affair. Their specialty were the giant yeast-rolls, served with dinner and sometimes given out to folks waiting in line for a seat, as the original Lambert's location had a very small seating capacity.

One Sunday - late '70s, maybe? - the line queue was longer than usual, and some folks were standing around talking, keeping the guy with the roll cart from getting to those toward the end of the line. One hungry gentleman yelled at the guy, "Just throw me the damned thing!" Which he did. Another in line said, "Throw me one, too." A third said the same thing.

A tradition was born. The employees - all dressed in blue oxford shirts with red suspenders - come around with those two heavenly words: "HOT ROLLS!!" You make eye contact with one of them, and they'll toss one your way. Another blue-shirt usually isn't far behind with a rolling tub of sorghum molasses, but personally I like mine with butter ... which they have in abundance on your table:
Hucares? I do.

Lambert's is still a family-run business, and have since expanded to Ozark, Mo. (outside of Springfield) and Foley, Alabama - north of Gulf Shores. And Seraphim and I have eaten at all three, thank you (Foley = 2001; Ozark = 2006; Sikeston = 1998, 2006, 2009). What I miss is the presence of patriarch Norm Lambert. He also threw rolls and got into the whole game with the rest of the employees. "Ol' Norm" passed away in 1996. He was a true independent spirit ... and I remember eating there in 1992, during the presidential race. Norm made his political leanings clear for all to see:
If only Ross had won.....

I love how that guy thought. I miss him ... but I can always say I caught some rolls from Norm himself. Lambert's is a great legacy from my days with Lynda: my first weekend up there in 1986 - the proverbial "bringing home to meet the parents" - her parents took us out to eat, and Lambert's was the place. From that night forward, I was hooked.

After our meal, Seraphim bought a lime-green Lambert's T-shirt, and I a "Throwed rolls" cap and a 'stress ball' in the shape of a yeast roll. Then we drove west down Malone to where La Villetta sits. It was about 6:30, and we thought to see if they had arrived early. Lynda and Mike were just going inside when we drove in.

A most surreal evening

It was the first time I'd seen Lynda since October 1992. She looked fantastic, and in good spirits (not just the alcohol kind, either!). Yes, Lynda is indeed an "old girlfriend." She was my longest relationship while at ASU, we were together from Fall 1986 until I made the ghastly mistake of 'dumping her' for someone else in May of '88. Again, those close to me know the story and how Old Bitch Karma took up for Lynda's broken heart and soon dealt me my comeuppance, but that's neither here nor there.....

Lynda and I reconnected much the same way Seraphim did with her 'first love' "Jimmy." You see, there's a spooky parallel involving Lynda and Seraphim: Both were unceremoniously ditched in favor of supposedly newer and shinier "trophies." Only difference: in Jimmy's case, Sera got dumped for ... another MAN. Yup, Jimmy crossed the field to play for the American League.

Unlike my own dating years (an earthquake is smooth by comparison), Lynda and Sera never had much of a history ... Jimmy was Sera's first, and I came along a decade later. And I was Lynda's "Jimmy."

ANYhoo, a couple years back Jimmy wrote Sera an e-mail apologizing for what he did to her years ago, and the two 'reconnected' and are now fair-weather friends. Jimmy's now living in Kansas City (want more 'spooky'? The woman I dumped Lynda for ALSO lives in KC!), and has a happy life 'playing for his team.'

It led me to thinking about Lynda, and how I've always carried a heavy burden of guilt for how I did her dirty. I wrote her, apologizing ... and she wrote back, telling me about her new love, and how happy she is today. I'm glad for her.

I told her about my own crazy life since 1988 (and especially 1991-1997!!), about Seraphim and how I wanted 'another chance' at someone with Lynda's qualities. I didn't appreciate what I had when I had it. Of course in Sera I found those qualities, and then some. Lesson learned.

Sitting at the table with Lynda and Sera ... wow. In my line of vision were the two best women I'd ever been romantically involved with. Two bookends separating a bunch of largely unpleasant literature in my life.

Both women got along famously, and Mike was putting 'em away ... making toast after toast after toast. Lynda's boyfriend was getting plenty sloshed (thankfully SHE was going to take him back home!!). We all had good conversation. I even had one (1) beer. The first drop of alcohol I'd had in at least a year. (ref. "We're on vacation, dammit!") All told, this evening was a fun, if highly weeeeird stretch of time.

We left La Villetta about 10:30 to a very cold rain. The temperature was hovering at 33 degrees, and the forecast called for snow by morning. Snow, in fact, would be following us all the way to Georgia, if the folks at the National Weather Service called it right.

After we got in the car, my wife said something which cracks me up just thinking about it now. She poked me in the shoulder as she said, "I like Lynda a lot .... WHY DID YOU DUMP HER??!!"

After we got back to the motel, Sera went to bed and before I did the same, I booted up the laptop and caught up on some e-mail and various Facebook capers.

Tomorrow was going to be a long day of driving. We must be rested up. G'night, all.

To be continued.......


Dead skunks spotted and/or smelled: 0

Bob Evans restaurants passed: 0 (had we gone to Cape, that number would have been "1")
Diet Mountain Dews consumed: 2 (it was a light day!)Beers uncharacterally consumed by Talmadge: 1
Great-sounding AM stations listened to today: 2Countries "visited": 4 (Mississippi, Egypt, Netherlands, Spain)
Rolls caught and consumed at Lambert's: 3
Trees still fully intact after the ice storm: 4, maybe?

25 March 2009

Three letters.......

W T F ? ? ! !

I cannot even fathom this puppy. My activity quotient does lack, although it's better than in past weeks. I drank plenty of liquids. I stayed within points, except trying out a system where I 'reset' daily points at suppertime (allowing for any curve-balls at night, figuring it's easier for myself to reconfigure lunch plans the next day, ya know?).

The scale said I went up +2.8. Yowzah, that's not a good prize. Cume resets to -56.6

Ate one (1) Egg McMuffin this morning, with a stop through Chick-Fil-A for a large diet lemonade ... and one (1) can of tuna, and nursing a liter bottle of diet lemonade (forget the brand name; can only find it at Fred's, of all places ... really good, almost as good as CFA's). Last night it was a Subway pepperoni pizza with a DMD.

Dunno. Maybe this'll straighten itself out next week. One thing I do know: I've got to find another night to go to a WW meeting. I have officially had my fill of this leader. First, she was jockeying as receptionist, and her "that's good, that's good", and on top of that getting the math wrong (3 POUNDS ... that's fuzzier than what's-his-W!). I cannot talk to her. She does not listen to a (BLEEP)damned word I say. She's just like my maternal grandmother -- saying "uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" as a continuous loop while I'm talking ... when a person does that, they're not listening. They couldn't care less what you're saying.

We're skipping meetings because, frankly, I have no desire to take part in the Richard-Simmons-on-speed uber-cheerleading. "Better living through chemistry" about covers it.

I'm debating the merits of a Thursday evening out in the wilds of Bloomingdale. What say you, Seraphim?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "At least I'm still over 55" Gleck

PS - The rest of the travelogue is coming down the pipe. Give me a few more days.....

19 March 2009

Roadtrip '09, DAY 7: The Globetrotting Glecks

Tal & Sera's Big 2009 RoadtripDAY SEVEN - Thursday, 26 February.
Destination: Tunica, Mississippi -- Harrah's Casino.
Miles traveled: 345.1

Sunrise in our Indian teepee. With the full-size beds, we took the retro factor an extra step, and slept in separate beds - just like married couples did in 1955 (at least if one judges by television).

As previously mentioned, the appointments in the wigwam - the radiator, desk and bedframes, among most bathroom fixtures - are the genuine circa-1937 articles. I slept okay, considering the mattress left much to be desired. I joked that the mattress was probably just as old.

The shower had incredibly good water pressure. That's the good news. The bad? The water heater capacity was smaller than a 2-liter soda.

WIDE AWAKE, we got dressed (and wore short-sleeves without a jacket for the first time in many days), packed our stuff back into Rupert, then I went out to take more pictures in better daylight. The motel's owner opened the old office teepee and let us look around in there, and he even gave us a couple of the old '70s-era postcards.The "big teepee" used to have a restaurant on the main floor, with a full basement that served as the gift shop and the kitchen. The mini-teepees on each side were the restrooms.

The restaurant closed soon after I-65 opened in the mid '60s, causing US-31W to lose its mojo. The gift shop was then moved upstairs. I'm sure he would've let me look around downstairs, were it not time to get going.

Then we received a very nasty surprise.

Seems the water heater isn't the only thing with reduced capacity...

"DECLINED??!!" Seems the credit card we used for the motel was rejected. Ummmmm, that's not good. Ain't no way I'm within shouting distance of the card's limit. This was a card which we kept as a 'zero balance', and put into use for the motel and gas purchases which I'd pay in full from the tax refund (what finances these yearly junkets). The card had a $7,000 limit on it, and the balance was no more than $500. W? T? F?

I used another card for the room, it went through, and we set out. Our next stop was going to be breakfast at Denny's in Bowling Green. Well, that is now our second stop -- the first is the nearest pay phone. I'm calling the card issuer to get some answers.

And boy, did I get an answer.

The card was over the limit. Suddenly my $7,000 credit card morphed itself into one with a $400 credit limit, meaning I was now $100 and change over the top. The charge for gas yesterday in Kentucky went through, as did the cabin in Mt. Nebo. But they weren't about to approve the wampum for the wigwam.

You see, the day we left on the trip, HSBC massacred many of its cardholders. And I was one of them.

I got a supervisor, and explained that we had no way of knowing this went down ... and, I admit, I did make it appear as if we were 'stranded' (we weren't, really), which was good for their raising the limit back.

Back to a whopping $1,100. Bless them.

Well, ain't this a fine and craptastic top-of-the-morning. I am thankful for any blissful ignorance until after we left West Virginia ... any way you look at it, this was a sour start to our day.

Sera and I then hop onto I-65 southbound, destined for Bowling Green and trying to drown our "financial sorrows" with a good, nutritious Denny's Grand Slam breakfast.

Wi-Fi? Do-WHAAAAA???, Part I

Recently, Denny's rolled out internet access at most all of its restaurants. Even in the swamps of the South Carolina Lowcountry one can plug into the 'net at one of their locations.

But not in Bowling Green. There was nothing at this exit except (protected) signals from motels. (At this point, you're just waiting for me to say "craptastic", aren't you?) Other than that, the breakfast was good, the service very pleasant.

Next stop: "Talmadge"-ville

From Bowling Green - home of the GM plant where Corvettes are made - we left the interstate to take four-lane US-68 westward toward Russellville. We were listening to their local AM station (WRUS), which had live announcers and a midday agriculture report and even obituaries (!), truly a quaint idea in this day and age. I hope Russellvillians realize how blessed and fortunate they are ... true live and local "community" radio stations are getting rarer by the year.

We found the WRUS studio building south of town, hoping for a good photo-op (A picture of myself in front of the "WRUS" sign, to go with a pic of Seraphim - real name Amy - standing outside the building of WAMY in Amory, Miss). WRUS' building looked nice and unassuming, but no call letters on the building and just a concrete base out front from which a sign once rested. The only evidence of this being a radio station were the satellite dishes on the premises and the mast in the back with a microwave studio-transmitter link dish.

Well, poot. So much for that opportunity. I thought about going in and looking at their facility -- and I really, really wanted to -- however I wanted us to get to Tunica at a decent hour and to avoid Memphis' rush hour, something we wouldn't be doing with our thumbs up our collective asses in Kentucky. Let's get moving again.

But first, Rupert was fed some Shell petroleum at a station outside downtown Russellville for $1.72/9. We figure that should get us on into Mississippi without trouble. A $1.00 Kentucky scratch-off for each of us yielded a royal bust.

Buhbye, Wildcat Blue ... Hello, Big Orange

From Russellville, four lanes became two as we started out southwest at the eastern terminus of U.S. Highway 79 for the remaining few miles left in Kentucky. The next stop: Clarksville, Tennessee. We figured Krystal - another chain with wi-fi pretty much everywhere - would have a presence in this military town. Or somewhere else, most certainly adjacent to I-24. I recall from our last trip down that highway (December 2006), the US-79/I-24 interchange was a big watering hole.

Indeed, there are plenty of dining options at this intersection. We saw Krystal, and half a block down it was a Starbuck's. Sera was jonesin' for a Star-tastic latte, and Starbuck's also has wi-fi pretty much SOP at its zillions of locations.

Wi-Fi? Do-WHAAAAA???, Part II

And so began a comedy on so many ridiculous levels.

Starbuck's: "Wi-Fi? We don't have that ... I think Krystal has it, though .... "

Sorry, then, no coffee sale.

*sigh* We then double back down to Krystal.

Krystal: "Wi-Fi? Do-WHAAAAAAAA?????"

Good. Gawd.
We were just past lunchtime, and needed a wi-fi connection in order that we may e-mail Bolivar again to let him know that we were going to be in his and J-Lo's neighborhood. We didn't have his phone number handy, so we had to go for e-mail.

On the other side of this highway-o-heartburn was a shopping mall, complete with a Borders. Bookstores have wi-fi, don't they?

Uhhhhh, yes. If it works.

Border's: "It's done by T-mobile and I think it's broke."

I didn't see any open laptops in the coffee shop, so she might be on the level. In any event, even if it weren't "broke", it was a pay-for-play, and that's not an option.

At this point, these Clarksville, Tennessee inbreds were beginning to rub me the wrong way. So much for the Deep South being backwards, eh? I'm serious -- Savannah just swarms with free wi-fi hotspots at gawd knows how many stores. Ditto for many places in Alabama. Even golldurned TROY. These Clarksville people oughta be ashamed.

Thinking about how laughably easy it is to find hot spots -- even here in Rincon -- I was getting very pissed off. I needed an internet connection. This is not 2002, people, so get with the program!!!

I saw a sign pointing toward Clarksville's library. For one thing, we'd already blown through 45 minutes of valuable time; for another, I didn't feel like a wild goose chase to find this city's library; and most of all, using these galoots as a yardstick, I'd probably get the following response from the librarian: "Wi-fi? My granddaddy had one of them things. You stacked them long-playing records on that tall pole and they plopped down and played."

US-79 continued, skirting downtown Clarksville (sound effect: banjo strum) and I knew when we started seeing sleazy "we-tote-the-note" used car lots and title-pawn shops that we must be getting near the entrance of a military installation ... in this case Fort Campbell.

I feel sorry for any military family transferred to this gawd-forsaken place. I hope they bring a wireless card for their laptop. That's assuming they have cellphone service in Clarksville. I don't know. My cellphone was off for this duration.

But I did find something really cool in the middle of all this wasteland:

What a gorgeous thing of beauty! It resembles the old 1952-82 Holiday Inn signage, except for parts of it being turned around.

A postcard I found online has this sign pictured, and it had a postmark of 1965. My question is just how Kemmons Wilson (Holiday Inn's founder and creator/namer of the "Great Sign") felt about this tweak of a trademark. Below are both, side to side. You be the judge:

"One of these things is not like the other"

I can think of a lot of places I'd love to have a "vacation", and it sure the hell ain't here. "Wi-fi? My momma had an Admiral - had a lid on it, too, and the radio dial glowed this green color when we turned it on to hear The Grand Old Opry on WSM. We listened to Daddy's Flatt & Scruggs records on it, too. No, we ain't got no Wi-fi, but we do got black and white Motorola Quasars in every room. They even tune UHF stations, whatever in tarnation them are. No color TV, sorry, except for here in the lobby, but it only gits Channel 5 and not too good."

Every woman deserves a romantic trip to the Eiffel Tower ... even my wife

The next item on our travel agenda found us in the environs of Paris. Do not let it be said that I never took my wife to Paris.
Paris, Tennessee is a pleasant little city, and it marked my second visit to this place. The first time, oddly enough, was 15 years ago this month: February 1994. There's a replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris' Memorial Park, built there in 1992. A picture of me was taken by my "practice wife", the illustrious Whatzername. I thought it would be an interesting A/B pair:

1994 ... and 2009 (I think I look happier in the right picture, don't you?)

Now wasn't that sweet and idyllic?

Next stop: Italy!

From Paris, we resumed our southwesterly jog down US-79 until we came upon the city of Milan. And that's not pronounced as they do in Italy, in Tennessee it's MI-lun.

Since breakfast was had rather late, we opted to go with a very light 'late lunch', and no better place than a Wendy's in Milan which -- part the clouds, sound the trumpets, cue the chorus of angels -- HAD FREE WI-FI INSIDE. And, wonder of wonders, the woman behind the counter knew what it was.

We sat down with our food, and each had our turn with the laptop. I sent an e-mail to Bolivar, with the subject line in all caps - "URGENT!!!" I left our cellphone numbers and hoped he would see it by tonight.

Nice dogg-----BAD DOG!!!

From Milan, we took US-45E into Jackson and right onto I-40 westbound for the leg into Memphis. It was looking as if we'd just miss the worst of rush hour, yet get into Tunica before it was too late to partake of Paula Deen's buffet at Harrah's, where we had a room waiting. Another consideration was the possibility of severe weather this evening -- we wanted to get settled in before any of that occurred.

The next stop proved an adventure, and not of the good kind. It would go on to be the craptastic pitstop to end all craptastia. The Pilot station showing its signage to us at Exit #42 on I-40 near Stanton, Tenn. lured us off the super slab for gasoline, "truckers' coffee" and - maybe - a DFD, as most Pilots had.

Sera went on inside to prepare her coffee while I put some gasoline into Rupert's 16.5-gallon gastric chamber. They were asking $1.69/9 for the privilege, which turned out to be the cheapest price paid for this entire trip. It was ... shall we say ... Pilotastic.

And that was the only good thing about this stop.

There was a black guy walking his dog - a reddish-colored mutt of medium size. The dog saw me and came toward me. I extended my hand in my usual 'I come in peace' fashion, he sniffed it and I started petting him as I made small talk with the gentleman. I made no quick moves (not a good idea with a dog who doesn't know you), but for whatever reason, this dog turned on me. He snapped and shit near bit my hand clear off. I credit whatever blazin'-fast reflexes on my part at keeping just that from happening.

The guy pulled back on the dog's leash, and started a lame apology, then asked if I smoked. "Ummm, no." "He doesn't like smokers." "Well, I've never smoked and I have never been near a burning cigarette today." Hadn't been since our last Pilot visit (Grayson, Ky.) the day before. I meant to say something about that on the last day's travelogue -- that whole Pilot station smelled like a golldurned ashtray. That's Kentucky for you. They lurve their tobacco.

Well, he took a quick powder from the scene, because he could see I was a bit perticked.

It didn't get any better, either. Inside, the bathrooms were n-a-s-t-y, there was no Diet Fountain Dew -- just Coke products -- and Sera said the coffee here looked gross. I got a DMD bottle, and the guy behind the counter made me abundantly aware that I was in the rimshot of metro Memphis, Tennessee. The man had an attitude which made the bathroom so clean you could eat off the floor.

Let's just say that there are certain people in Memphis who are nothing short of hateful and rude toward certain other folks, and leave it at that. I went to college 70 miles from there, and made frequent trips to Mempho, so I know of what I speak. It hasn't changed.

And evidently, the same goes for some of the dogs. Truly and verily, we were a long way from West Virginia and sweet black dogs inside rural convenience stores.

If you think that was the end of our fun, there's just one more thing. It was past dusk, and I didn't see the dark car coming toward me -- without its lights on!! -- as I turned left to the onramp. I came all too close to hitting it.

Okay, I'm getting the hell back onto this interstate. Note to self (and others): never, EVER stop at the Stanton exit (#42) on I-40. Eschew that part of Tennessee entirely.

After a couple of miles, I got my heart jumpstarted and at this point we were done with pitstops and both ready for some Paula-tastic southern food in Tunica!

Long distance information....

Memphis was uneventful, and the interstates all moving at a good clip. I-40 joined up with I-240, and we took it west around the southern rim of Memphis proper, picking up I-55 south to enter Mississippi. What we also didn't know at the time was that the Bob Evans we passed east of Mempho was the last one we'd see for this entire trip. :-(

And you know, after the craptastic time we had through a lot of Tennessee, I almost rejoiced when I saw the sign reading "Enter DeSoto County Mississippi." I never thought I'd ever find Missi-damn-sippi to be a happy sight.

Our last visit to Tunica was in February 2006, and a link from I-55 to US-61 at the casinos was still being constructed. It was finished now, and carries the designation of Interstate 69 (cue Beavis & Butt-Head laughing). I-69 has long been an interstate going from Indianapolis to the Canadian border at Port Huron, Mich., but is now being expanded into Texas, and given the lovely nickname "NAFTA Freeway", as it will connect Mexico with Canada.

How loverly.

For some reason, Mississippi has signed the little casino spur as I-69. And it took us quickly and easily to US-61, and less than mile from the turnoff to the casinos. We missed the clutter and stop-and-go of Highway 61 out of Memphis, with the countless billboards for the Tunica casinos, all reading like a who's-who of washed-up pop acts. Tunica seems to be reveling in its role as a pop music Branson, where stars of yesterday go to rot away.





It was roughly 7:45 when we pulled up at Harrah's to check in, only to be told that our room was at the other Harrah's building, about mile away from this one (and there's yet another adjacent, too!). A shuttle goes regularly between the hotels and this one, with the casino and restaurant. Ohhhh fine.

We go back to the other building (the Veranda), get checked in, and - whoops, we have a mandatory bellhop. They don't allow the rolling carts out of their sight (what, are they afraid we'll steal 'em and get the gold plating hocked for more gambling money??). Fine. Whatever. Just get us and our stuff the hell into our room, so we can hop the shuttle and get our damned food. We're starving.

The lady at the desk said the shuttle ran every five minutes. My ass. We just missed the one as we walked outside, and I counted 20 minutes before the next van pulled up.

I'd say it was about 8:20 before we got into the Paula Deen buffet, and they closed up at 9:00. It gave us enough time to get all full of catfish, fried chicken, rice and good tea.

Anyone who lives around Savannah knows what has become of Deen's restaurant The Lady & Sons. You have to get in line tomorrow to get a table in July. It's so long that we can walk outside into our front yard in Rincon, and take our place in line.

In other words, we had to go all the way to cotton-pickin' Tunica, Mississippi just to be able to eat Paula Deen's food!!!

Gamblin' time.....

Filled with Paula-tastic home cookin', it was time for the serious matter at hand: the wagering of our dinero in the various slot machinage on the massive floor of Harrah's Tunica.

We stuck mainly to the 25¢ slots ... and just as I sat down to start blowing my wad of cash, my cellphone (which I turned on after we left Milan) vibrated. It was Bolivar, and I quickly ducked into the bathroom so I could hear myself talk.

He and I spoke for a few minutes, and gave me an update on what's been going down in his life (I'll let him tell it). He had the day pretty much free tomorrow, so we decided to meet up for a late breakfast at McDonald's in Southaven, Miss. (the city immediately south of the Tennessee line, an extended suburb of Memphis). There was no way, if possible, I was going to miss out on at least a meal with the Bolivar Lifeform. Yeah, and Her J-Lo'ness, too.

That arranged, I got back to the slots. First, I went searching for Seraphim to relay to her our plans with Bol and J-Lo, and tell her the news in his life.

I was sidetracked by her machine having spasms. Yeah, she hit a nice payoff, nearly tripling her seed money. Sweet.

Me, I blew it all. It took over two hours to do it, but I eventually ran dry. Which was all for the better, because my right ankle was beginning another round of gout attacks. The (literally) stabbing pain was getting worse.

It was 11:40 or so when we walked -- or SERA walked, and I limped -- out of the casino and out front to grab the shuttle back to our hotel.

Seraphim had roughly double her original money (we had $60 each to gamble with), and I had nada. So this evening of gambling fun was virtually free of charge. Can't bitch.....

Wild Dew Chases and More Wi-Fi Follies

Once back in our fifth-floor Veranda room, Sera got ready for bed while I was going to stay up a little later. I wanted to get me a Diet Mountain Dew (and pop one of my Indocin pills for the gout pain), fire up the trusty laptop and, maybe, upload some webpages to the Birmingham site -- the ones I put together earlier back in Mount Nebo.

First matter was the procuring of the DMD. I limped myself to the vending nook on our floor, only to find a "damn ice machine." Well, crap. Elevator down to Floor #4 -- yes! A Pepsi machine with DMD. Cue losing horns ... the machine was out of order. Shit.

Figuring I'd deciphered the Harrah's 'code' - soda machines every other floor alternating with damn ice machines - I got back into the Otis to go down to the second floor. And, true to theory, there was a Pepsi machine waiting. The sodas were $1.50 for the 20-oz. bottles, which seemed on par with most convenience stores nowadays. I put in the money, and pushed the button corresponding with the object of my carbonated affection.

This MUST be a casino, because I doubled my winnings. Not one, but two (2) Diet Mountain Dews came out of the machine. Woo hoo!

Back in the room, I unpacked the laptop and booted her up. I tapped into the wi-fi signal from Harrah's, only to find out that they charge for the internet. What??

The charge? $11.95 a night. To quote John Belushi when told by Dan Ackroyd that he was going to visit 'The Penguin': "No. F**king. Way." Not when it's 12:30 in the morning, the weather going downhill, and the sandman is gaining on me.

Screw this. I wrote some more text for the travelogues, as I was hearing sheets of rain hitting the building, and some loud thunder. The TV was on the NBC station in Memphis, WMC-TV 5 (cue riverboat whistle), and there were severe thunderstorm watch boxes for much of northwest Mississippi and parts of east Arkansas. Even a TS Warning for Shelby County (Memphis). It was supposed to blow through and clear up by tomorrow. Let's hope.

It was about 1:00 (CST) when I shut everything down and went to sleep.


To be continued.............

Dead skunks spotted and/or smelled: 2

Bob Evans restaurants passed: 2
Diet Mountain Dews consumed: 4Number of surnames in Clarksville, Tenn.: 3
Kisses exchanged in front of the "Eiffel Tower": 2
Brutal auto collisions narrowly avoided: 1
Dollars Talmadge lost gambling: 60
Dollars Seraphim lost gambling: 0
Dollars Seraphim gained gambling: 125
Dollars of available credit vanished: 5,900
Poxes wished on HSBC: 5,900