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