Friday, February 24, 2012

My Diet: Week 4

At the beginning of the week, I was very excited and had high hopes.  I had just finished reading The Body Fat Solution, which I requested on MOBIUS through our library at Truman, and picked up a few more eating and fitness habits that I want to implement. 

Week 4 has been the week that I worked out as hard as I did the first few weeks, and stuck to a diet that was similar to the third.  I wanted to see a bigger drop this week as a result.  Perhaps my calorie intake is slowly catching up with my metabolism and I need to drop it down again.

The weekends have obviously been killing the diet.  You see the spikes for Sunday morning weigh-ins.  This weekend, we aren't going bar hopping in St. Louis or hosting a chili cook-off.  In fact, I'm signed up to run the ROTC Frostbite Frolic 5K Saturday morning at 9am.  Maybe there will be less of a spike this weekend, and hence a bigger drop off in Week 5?

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Diet: Week 3

Friday, February 17, 2012

This week has been a little different than the others.  First of all, the huge spike in my weight you see on the morning of the 12th is the result of my birthday celebration the evening before.  I ate and drank like a king.  Before going to bed, I tried a hangover cure that I heard about while we were on the Michigan Brewery Tour.  It consisted of having a multivitamin, three ibuprofen, and two Tums with a little water before bed.  I skipped the ibuprofen and took the others, and I felt fantastic the next morning.

Another thing that changed was that I was a little less active this week.  I was frustrated that I was only seeing the minimal change in weight with the amount of activity I was putting in.  So, I spent some time on the internet and focused more on what I was eating.  From my limited research, I found there were a few things that I should cut out of my diet and a few things that are worth adding.  Orange juice was a surprise to me.  This was something that was recommended to be taken out.  Gone.  Some foods that I was thrilled to have stay on my list include coffee, jalapenos, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, eggs, milk, yogurt, and all fruits and vegetables.  A few that I have added to the diet are green tea and fish: specifically, tuna, salmon, and sardines.

When I did this three years ago, I remember getting into the habit of not eating after dinner.  That was a rule that got stuck in my head somehow and I never went against it.  When I began this diet again, I have been sticking to that rule.  Well, I found out something that goes against this philosophy, and that is that you should never, ever, skip snacks (as long as they are healthy).  So, starting on Wednesday this week, I upped my meals from 5 to 6 a day on days I workout by having a small snack an hour or two before bed.   On Wednesday, I had a small dish of yogurt.  On Thursday, I had a handful of some dried apples and an extra cup of green tea  I could hardly believe the scale on each of these mornings.  How could eating that small snack after dinner and before bed make me lose weight?!?

It kept my metabolism right where it was supposed to be to burn fat.  It kept on burning fat right through the night.  I now have to rescind the statement I made on the previous post.  This isn't the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  It is a lot more simple than I thought!

I'm following some suggestions from Men's Health among other websites.   The links that I found most helpful were the 15 foods you should eat and the 6 mistakes you don't want to make.

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Diet: Week 2

Friday, February 10, 2012

 I weighed in this morning at 172.6 which felt pretty good.  Some of my facebook followers have asked how I'm doing it.  It really isn't a big secret.  Let me put it bluntly.

If you want to lose a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time, you need to get it in your head that you are about to do the hardest thing you will ever do in your life.  You need to make a few drastic changes to your life style, and also a few other gradual changes to your lifestyle.  Other than that, the idea of losing weight is simple.  Eat less, and exercise more.  But remember, this is going to be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life.  Are you ready for the hardest thing you've ever done in your life?  If not, don't even try.  You may succeed at losing a few pounds that may stay away for a while.  But they'll be back.  And soon.

Here has been my day-to-day activity:
Friday, 1/27: Strength workout with a 20 minute run.
Saturday, 1/28: 40:38 Spin Workout at a 168 heart rate average (hra)
Sunday, 1/29: 30min run at a 158 hra
Monday, 1/30: Strength workout and 10 minute run at 8 min/mile pace (173 hra)
Tuesday, 1/31: 2 games of B-ball
Wednesday, 2/1: Swim workout consisting of 43 laps (2150 yards), 50min Spin (154 hra)
Thursday, 2/2: 2 games of B-ball
Friday, 2/3: Strength Workout, 44min run (154 hra)
Saturday, 2/4: 31min spin (154 hra)
Sunday, 2/5: 1:04:28 run (157 hra)
Monday, 2/6: Strength Workout, 22 min Plyometrics and short run, (156 hra)
Tuesday, 2/7: 2 Games of B-ball
Wednesday, 2/8: Swim workout consisting of 44 laps, 40min Spin (157 hra)
Thursday, 2/9: 2 Games of B-ball
Friday, 2/10: Strength Workout

Over this time period, I slowly began decreasing the portions that I ate at meals, and began eating 5 times a day.  The 10:00 and 3:00 snack usually is an apple, and 2/3 cup of trail mix respectively.  And yes, I measure the 2/3 cup out.  I'm now at a point that my stomach has shrank in size and I get full with less food.  If Erin cooks a meal and it advertises "makes 4 servings," then we divide it into 4 servings and only eat one serving, saving the others for the next day's lunch. 

It hasn't been easy.  In fact, it is very difficult.  But that is what I do.  To help me stick with it, I post my weight to give me extra incentive.  It has worked.

My Boston Trip

January 4, 2012

I fell in love with Boston not long after I arrived.  On the day of less than 24 hours that I had in Kirksville between my European trip and the Boston trip, I researched the T, which is Boston's subway system.  With that little research, I felt like a native Bostonian as soon as I stepped off my flight.  I purchased a 7 day pass for $15 knowing I would ride it well over the 7 times required to pay for itself. 

ye olde Union Oyster House circa 1715
From Logan Airport, I took the Blue Line to the Prudential stop, which was directly in front of my hotel: The Colonnade.  I unpacked and got myself comfortable before deciding on dinner at Ye Old Union Oyster House (circa 1715).  I ordered the special, which was fresh Atlantic Salmon that was stuffed with shrimp, scallop, and crabmeat served with sugar snap peas, roasted tomato and new potatoes.  I enjoyed dinner with 2 Harpoon IPAs.

I made my way back to the Hynes Convention Center to attend Bradley Efron's talk "A 250-year argument: Belief, Behavior, and the Bootstrap."  I met some colleagues of mine, and tried to talk them into going to a pub that was on my long list of places to visit, but it was unsuccessful.  We went to a place called The Corner Tavern where I had a few more Harpoon IPAs before calling it an early night.  I was so tired from all the traveling I had been doing that I fell asleep on the phone while talking to Erin.  That didn't win any brownie points.  I remembered to send a postcard the next day as an apology.

January 5, 2012

The next morning, after breakfast, I attended two extremely short talks at 8:30 and 8:45.  The first, called "Looking for a few good means," was about Stolarsky means and was enlightening enough that I printed off a paper by them that is sitting in my office for further inspection and study.  The second talk was horrible.  From 9-9:50 I attended "The Sounds of Geometry" which was well done, but not followable for me.  The next talk wasn't until 11:15.  Play time!

I put on some running clothes and ran along the Charles River Basin to the Charles River Dam and back.  It was a short run, but I got to see the Library, the Charles Bank Park, and some beautiful sights of Boston.  Even more, I got to sweat a little, which felt great. I got back in time for a quick rinse before "Teaching Statistics through the Years: What Works? What doesn't? What's next?"  It was terribly unenlightening.  The next talk after that one I planned on attending but it was cancelled.  Oh, bummer.  What to do, what to do?

Outside Cheers in Boston
It was lunch time and I had until 1pm, so I hopped on the T and went to Cheers, which I found out later, has nothing to do with Boston. I didn't care.  I ordered a Frazier's Fishwich and 20 oz. of Fisherman's Beer.  Without rushing, I enjoyed lunch and a little scenery of the Boston Common, and made it back to Hynes and in my seat by 1pm.  No problem  From 1pm to a little before 3pm, there were several talks about games with Sudoku being the main theme.  They were all interesting!  Finally!  After these I attended the Retiring Presidential Address entitled "Our Challenges" which took me up to 4pm.  There were no more talks I would be attending for the rest of the day.  Yippee!

Our concierge told me how to maneuver the T to get to the Cambridge Brewing Company (CBC).  I ordered a sample of their four main beers: Regatta Golden, Cambridge Amber, Tall Tale Pale Ale, and the Charles River Porter.  These were all very solid beers!  The CBC was a great experience because I got into a long conversation with a woman named Liz.  Through our long discussion, I found out she had hiked the 5-mile Multnomah Falls - Wahkeenah Falls loop in Oregon that Erin and I had, and that she had a wife who was a lawyer just like her (gotta love Massachusettes!) 

While talking with her, I ordered another sample of 4, this time the Valley Girl IPA, Big Man IPA, Audacity of Hops, and Bannatyne's Scotch Ale.  These were fantastic beers and I vowed that I would bring Erin here someday, as she would adore such a place.  They had a Feta & Artichoke Heart Pizza that was delicious.  Before Liz left CBC, she gave me a few of her other recommendations noticing that I was a beer lover.  I chose Lord Hobo as my next stop, since it was right down the road.

At Lord Hobo I ordered a pint of Jack's Abby Hoponious Union.  Before it was poured I visited the rest room to take a leak and fart, but my fart turned out to be a splatter and I soiled myself just as the lone stall became available.  I ran inside the stall and did the best clean up job a guy could do in that situation.  I then came back to the bar and had my drink.  The bartenders here wanted to send me to a few places called Deep Ellum and Sunset Grill.  Since I had just shit myself, I opted to pay my tab and go back to the hotel.  I was hungover the next morning.

January 6, 2012

  I attended a talk concerning the Cantor Set at 8am and then an invited address from 9-9:50am called Sum of Squares: Polynomials in OptimizationAfter the talk, my schedule was clear until 3:15 so I went on a journey that would be somewhat random.  I walked the entire Freedom Trail on which I took pictures of the 16 Freedom Trail specific sights and a few pictures of the 7 other sights that you pass by as well. Below you can find some pictures I captured along the Trail.

Old State House and Sight of the Boston Massacre
Paul Revere House (Downtown Boston's Oldest Building)
Memorial at Bunker Hill
Sam Adams Trolley
The Freedom Trail ends in Charleston at Bunker Hill.  I found a T stop at Bunker Hill Community College and hopped on to go back over to Boston.  While on the train, I debated what to do next, which is why the trip was somewhat random.  I didn't know what I would be doing next.  I settled on the Sam Adams Brewery.  When I arrived at the Sam Adams Brewery I noticed a trolly that said Brewery Tours.  Without asking any questions (which is usually my style) I hopped on the bus.  Soon, the bus filled up and the bus driver was loaded with amazing energy.  Listening to him and the people around me, I figured out that this was the end of the tour and this was the final bus ride to the famous Doyle's Bar and Grill (appeared in films "Mystic River" and "Gone Baby Gone").  Oh well.  I was really hungry anyway and don't think I could have lasted through a tour.  Taking the drivers suggestion, I ordered a burger and had some Sam Adams on tap.  That was a good enough tour for me. 

After my lunch at trip to Doyle's, I went back to the hotel to journal, write post cards, and relax a little.  At 3:15, I attended a talk through the Association of Symbolic Logic that I didn't understand at all.  At 4:20 I completely wasted my time going to a talk about Probability Density Functions from Real World Applications.  She simply put a bunch of examples from Exam P from the Society of Actuaries on her slides.  Yawn.

Back at the hotel, I used the free Wi-Fi and my laptop to map out an adventure for the evening.  What an adventure it was!  Jacob Wirth Co. was the place I chose for dinner.  Established in 1868, it had a great German feel to it (and I could tell, because I just got back from Germany).  I ordered the special, which was crabmeat stuffed trout served with carrots, asparagus, and rice pilaf.  That was enjoyed with an Ommegang BPA and a Jacob Wirth Kölsch/Lager style beer.

The next stop of my bar hopping tour was quite the journey.  I had to travel to Brookline and walk about a mile until I finally found Deep Ellum which was a very tiny but awesome establishment.  The food looked really good so I took a mental note which has obviously turned into a written note.  My first order was a Pretty Things Jack D'or farmhouse ale that was served in a wine glass.  As I drank my Jack D'or I struck up a conversation with the two gentleman to my right at the bar whom both approved of my bar hopping plans of the evening.  They also suggested that I visit during the Boston Marathon, so we discussed that while I had a Flagraiser IPA, a product from Slumbrew.

Just down the street I happened across the wonderful establishment of the Sunset Grill & Bar.  The selection at Sunset blew my mind. Interestingly enough, this was my only beef with the place.  It was so overwhelming.  They had separate huge menus for both beer and food.  I remember ordering a Flying Dog Raging Bitch and a Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp and enjoying them both. You could probably guess that by now, I was feeling really, really great.

The plan had The Publick House as my next stop.  However, my body wasn't really screaming for more beer at this point.  I had consumed six somewhat strong beers over the course of my evening, so I opted not to go to The Publick House and save it for another trip.  On the T, I got to talking to another passenger who let me know that The Lower Depths was very close to my hotel, which was a place that my friends from the Deep Ellum had recommended.  I got an extra spark and thought, "What the hay?"  To the Lower Depths I descended, where I sat at the bar and ordered a BBC Coffeehouse Porter from the nitrogen tap.  As I enjoyed this delicious, creamy beverage I admired the mural painted on the wall.  I admired it so much in fact, I had a fellow patron take a snapshot of me along side it before I retired to my hotel for the evening.

January 7, 2012

On Saturday morning I met some former Indiana graduate student colleagues of mine, Nathan Carter, who works at Bently College in Massachusettes, and Chris Wilson from Butler University in Indianapolis.  They were both much more along with their life than me, having 3 and 2 kids respectively.  Chris is expecting his third.  I went to two talks that morning, none of which I could follow in the least, which was very unfortunate.  I really had hoped to attend a lot more talks that I could follow.  Before the noon hour hit, I went back to the hotel to print off my boarding passes and get ready for my flight home via Raleigh, North Carolina.  Funny thing, I ran into another Truman professor (not in math) and a Truman student at that airport. 'Tis a small world.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

European Trip: The Last 4 Days

December 29, 2011

Medienhafen with the Rheinturm in background
I awoke at 4:50am and couldn't sleep anymore.  I stared out my hotel window at the Rheinturm, glowing blue in the morning darkness.  Erin was sleeping and I didn't want to disturb her, so I went downstairs to journal.  As soon as breakfast was available, I poured myself some coffee and had some continuing to journal.  Nathan joined me at the specified breakfast opening time of 6:30am.  When he finished eating, we went on another walk through Dusseldorf timing it so that we would end at the Medienhafen.  We wanted to see this amazing architecture in the daylight.  It didn't take me long to figure out that the blinking lights on the Rheinturm represented a clock.

The 29th was a very full and very fun day.  We took a short train ride to Cologne, and met up with Werner, a cousin of Joseph's, and his wife and daughter.  As we were riding in, we caught a good look at "Der Dom," which nearly took my breath away.  In English, it is officially called the High Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Mary.  It was built over a 600 year span from 1248 to 1880 and survived the war.  No picture in my collection can come close to doing it justice, but the short video to the left almost can.  I first pan in on the actual size top piece replica of Der Dom that is on the ground.  Then slowly, so you can somewhat capture its magnitude, I show the base and work my way up to the top, where I zoom in on the piece you just saw on the ground.  Enjoy. 

Very close to Der Dom is the starting point of bus tours of Cologne.  We took a 40 minute tour around the city and were able to see 3000 year old Roman ruins that really made us feel insignificant.  Kölsch is the beer of Cologne and there are several breweries that produce it (Wikipedia claims 13).  For lunch, we dined at one of the "big 4:" Früe.  I enjoyed two or three glasses of beer, and a mittlewurst with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.  We walked around the old town of Cologne, some of us had some Glüewein, a strong, hot drink that warmed us up in two senses of the word.  As dark approached, we hailed a cab and went to Werner and Gisala's for one of the most enriching experiences of the trip.

At Werner and Gisala's in Cologne, Germany
Having a dinner party in a German home took our experience to a whole new level.  The language barrier was tough to get over, but I feel that we did well.  I remeber having some sweet bread, coffee, bread, meats, cheeses, and grapes.  I also remember having a few glasses of Kölsch (Früe, of course).  It was very interesting to find out of the fierce regional rivalry between Cologne and Düsseldorf.  Not only are they rivals in football, but also in beer.  Those from Cologne mock anyone ordering an Alt, just as those from Düsseldorf mock those that drink Kölsch.  I found this the most bizzare, as a lover of beer.  It would be one thing to be a rival among different brands of the same beer brewed in these cities (such as the rivalry that exists between Milwaukee and St. Louis), but different kinds altogether?  Werner's son and girlfriend gave us a ride back to the trainstation for our short ride back to Düsseldorf.  I stayed up with Trish, Joseph, and Nathan talking about our experience while I had two Schlösser Alts. 

December 30, 2011

The next morning, we had to get up very early for our travel to Brussels.  Comics & comic strips are very popular in Brussels and appear on many walls and buildings.  We passed several on our walk to the Grand Place.  A small detour took us past the Manneken Pis, which was much smaller than I had pictured it.  It wore a running uniform with number, for a 5K run was to happen that evening.  Either because of the winter months, or simply because the little boy didn't have to go, the fountain was not turned on. 

A la Mort Subite in Brussels, Belgium
While in Brussels, we tried to relive Three Sheets, season 1, episode 1 by visiting A la Mort Subite for lunch and beers and the Delirium Café for several more beers before dinner.  We arrived at A la Mort Subite a little too early, so we took a small detour up the road to the cathedral of St. Michael & St. Gudula.  This was a very nice detour.  The cathedral was gorgeous.  At Mort Subite, I ordered a Kriek, Faro (what Zane ordered), and a Gueze along with a Salami sandwich.  By the end of our lunch, we were all toasty warm and a little tipsy.  All of us decided on going back to the hotel so that we could be unconscious for a while. 

Around 3:30, we hopped on a Metro and went down to the Bourse and walked through a large part of the Winter Wonders fesitval that was taking place.  There were several small vendors selling food and crafts.  I remember trying something that had way too much pepper, but I ate it anyway.  After wondering through all these vendors, we began the hunt for the Delirium Café.  This took us a lot longer than expected, but it was well worth the hunt.  The place was packed, but we managed to find a table in our own little quiet(er) corner. 

We started with four Delirium tremens, and then moved on to several other kinds of beer for our second and third rounds.  I remember ordering a Delirium X-mas ale and a Guillatine Bitter.  I also remember trying tastes of a sour beer, another bitter, and a stout.  We brought home a serving tray with the elephant logo.  I used it the first time one morning to serve Erin breakfast in bed. 

For dinner, we found a place that had outside seating with heat lamps.  It was called Le Vieux Bruxelles.  All but Nathan had a three course fixed price meal.  I had garlic prawns, grilled salmon, and some sweetened egg dessert. Besides dessert, everything else was fine.  Back in our hotel, we enjoyed the beers that we purchased earlier that day at the Beer Temple.  Once finished, I fell asleep in record time. 

December 31, 2011

View of Kaiserdom from the Römer
We slept in this Saturday morning, and then hopped on the train from Brussels to Frankfurt.  It was super nice to have our best hotel stay at our last stop.  After getting situated in our rooms, we took a subway to the Opern Platz and began a slow walk back in the direction of our hotel.  We passed several landmarks such as Paulskirche, the Römer, and the Kaiserdom.  The picture to the right offers a view of the Kaiserdom from inside the Römer.

We had a meal at Zum Standesämtchen on the Römer which was a quaint little place with a spiral staircase to the bathrooms below and a mini-elevator on which the food would come from the kitchen.  I ordered Frankfurter Rippchen and had a few Henningens, which is Frankfurt's staple beer.

Back at the hotel, we had a 3 hour break before we would join the New Year's Eve festivities. I purchased 4 bottles of Beck's to enjoy in the room while we watched a German music video channel that played "Can't Touch This," "Ice Ice Baby," "What I Want" by the Spice Girls, among many others.  Who knew you had to go all the way to Frankfurt to watch some retro U.S. music videos.  Around 9pm we began the slow journey to the edge of the Main River (pronounced "mine").  It seemed like one in every five people had fireworks and they were going off everywhere.  As we got closer and closer to the Main, the crowd became rowdier and rowdier.

On the Main in Frankfurt
It blew my mind how many people had fireworks.  And not just your run of the mill fireworks, but the big rocket on a long stick kind; the ones that you pay high dollar for in Missouri.  Not only could you count the mischievous teens, but families with young children had large bags of all kinds of fireworks.  Fireworks were going on all around us all the time, and the intensity grew and grew until midnight.   What ensued was one of the craziest firework displays I have ever seen in my life.  The video must have been too long for the blog, so you'll have to settle for the hazy picture I captured under the shelter of a tree.

We fought through the crowds to slowly make our way back to the hotel through newly littered streets.  The place became a disaster zone.  Erin and I had some delicious Kebops from a place right across the street.  I remember spilling beer on my pants while watching some people blow up fireworks right outside our window.  At 2am, I got tired enough to fall asleep.

January 1, 2012

The 9:15am alarm came way too early and I kicked myself for suggesting such an early time to rendezvous and have breakfast: stupid, stupid, stupid!  We had breakfast at the hotel because nothing was open, and it was one of the nicer breakfast spreads we had experienced.

We journeyed a little further from the city center to see Joseph's former living quarters, followed by a visit to the Palmengarten.  When we had enough of the hot and humid greenhouses and walking among the plants, we decided to dine on dessert at the Café Siesmayor, where I had a Chocolat Framboise and a cappuccino.  We made our way back to the Römer and toured through the Kaiserdom that we had seen a few times already.  I learned that a bomb came through the roof and destroyed everything inside, although the structure remained.  I ordered some Schwienerschnitzel at Haus Wertheym right of the Römer.  I also had a few Pils.  It was all good.

That was pretty much our goodbye to Frankfurt and to Europe.  The next morning we would be in a mad dash to the airport and through customs, only to breakfast at the airport and have a long flight home.  I would have less than 24 hours at home in Kirksville before repacking for my trip to Boston.  That blog is coming soon.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Our European Trip: First 3 Days

On December 25, Erin and I awoke before 5am in Lawrence, KS at her folk's place. We were leaving for the airport shortly after 5am. We had a Christmas lunch in the Atlanta airport with family friends Heather and Brian, whot were on their way back from Honduras. I think almost everyone had a bloody Mary along with lunch at T.G.I. Fridays.

On the flight to Frankfurt, Germany, I watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes, took a few Tylenol P.M. and went to sleep. I knew we would hit the ground running so I tried to get as much sleep as one could get on an international flight.  We purchased Euro-Rail tickets at the airport in Frankfurt, and hopped on a train to Munich.  It took about 3 hours, and although we were tired, we didn't sleep very much because of the initial excitement of being in another country.

December 26, 2011

One of the first things I admired about Europe is that they have English signs everywhere.  It was nice, but at the same time I was a little annoyed.  I wanted to use this trip to use and re-learn the German I learned in two semesters at Iowa State. This also got me thinking about how much of a fuss Americans make about having other languages available in the United States.  It makes me want to puke when I hear some lazy ass American complaining about having to push 1 for English on a telephone.

We ate lunch at the Ratskeller, which made me think of the Rathskeller in Indianapolis, at which I ate a lunch with my friend Jake and his wife.  All of us took time looking over the beer menu trying to find something we wanted to drink.  The waitress, though, when she found out we all wanted beer just wrote down five beers, and we all ended up getting the same thing.  I ordered Grillwurstl Schmankerl, which was a sampler of all the bratwursts they offered.

Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany
When we finished, we walked to the Hofbrauhaus.  Inside were long tables where you should sit at any open spot you can find.  We unknowingly asked to sit at a local table, and only found out later that this was quite an honor.  Directly to Erin and my left (your right when you look at the picture), the band was playing. 

The size of the beers that you order in Germany are half liters or liters.  As you can see, Erin and I are not amateurs when it comes to drinking.  We chose liters.

Unfortunately, with the itinerary we were following, this is the total extent that we got to see Munich.  We hopped back on the Euro-Rail and sped over to Salzburg, Austria. We arrived in the evening, but to us, it felt extremely late since are travels had not stopped since we had left Lawrence.  We checked into the Hotel Guten Hirte, freshened up a little and went to have dinner at their restaurant.  Although I can't recall what I ate, I do remember our complementary shots of schnapps after dinner that made Nathan (Erin's step-brother) get up from the table and run outside to throw some chunks.  In his defense, he slammed the shot rather than sipped it, he had taken something for motion sickness earlier, and he had just satisfied a 48 hour hiatus from smoking any cigarettes (he's a regular smoker) by smoking two fairly fast.  This combination would have been too much for anyone.

December 27, 2011

Mirabellgarten in Salzburg, Austria
The next day we played in Salzburg.  After breaking our fast downstairs in our hotel, we began walking.  Our first stop was exploring Mirabellgarten.  This garden had beautifully trimmed maze-like hedges with unicorn statues guarding one gate, lions guarding another, and a fountain with a horse statue in the middle.  I set up the gorrillapod and got one of our first group photos.

We exited the Mirabellgarten and crossed the Salzach river on the Makartsteg (a foot bridge) and made our way through the old town.  We were able to see Mozart's birthplace and several cathedrals and churches as we hiked up to the Festung Hohensalzburg, which is the Fortress that sits on top of Salzburg.  Erin and I were reminded of our hike through Multnomah and Wahkeenah Falls in Oregon with all the switch-backs we had to go through to get to the top.  The exercise was worth it.  The Festung was one of the highlights of the trip for all of us.  The first video below gives the the north view while the second video gives the south view.

The hike up and down from the Festung got us famished.  The long walk to the Magazin (z was backwards) was worth it.  All of us got lost in culinary bliss with an amazing 3 course meal of steamed catfish as an appetizer, duck on a bed of red cabbage with two dumplings, and then a fruit dish and soft sherbert finish.  We enjoyed some white wine over lunch.  The lighting they used consisted of lights at seat level shining up off of huge disks that were above the tables.  The venue had a cave and/or a wine cellar appeal. 

The Augustiner Brewery - Salzburg, Austria
Dinner just made us more thirsty, so we walked directly to The Augustiner Brewery.  As we walked in, we passed several food vendors whom lease the space inside this brilliant place.  At the main counter, we grab a liter or half liter stein, pay for a ticket to have it filled, and as we wait in line for the person to fill it up, we give the stein a good rinsing at a water fountain. 

While we were there I enjoyed 2.5 liters of beer, a pretzel, and some turnip chips.  We talked with a couple from England that were on their honeymoon. The woman was from London, the guy from Manchester.  So, Erin talked to him about the Manchester United, her favorite soccer team that she no longer follows because we don't get cable anymore.

At this point in the evening, Erin, Nathan and I said goodnight to Trish and Joseph, and parted ways for the evening.  It is hard to wrap my head around what we did, but in involved going to the Felsenskeller for several beers until Nathan felt uncomfortable when he felt that a patron began hitting on him, getting back across the Salzach river to find a fancy restaurant with a bar where we had a few more drinks, getting closer to the hotel and stopping at another tavern to eat some hotdogs and have more drinks, and then finally getting back to the hotel where we foolishly decided to have more drinks.  It was difficult to get moving the next morning.  On this particular morning, we had our only hiccup of the entire trip.

December 28, 2011
We walked a little over half a mile from our hotel to the train station.  Once we were there, I checked for my Euro-Rail pass and couldn't find it!  It must be back at the hotel.  Hungover and sleep deprived, I began my run back to the hotel.  Our room was being serviced when I got back, and I thought for a second it wasn't there until it revealed itself on the desk.  I let out a huge sigh of relief and began my sprint back to the station.  I remember Joseph requesting that I please, never do that again.   

We slept off the hangovers on our long train ride to Dusseldorf. When we arrived, it was too late to see it in the daylight.  We tried checking into Hotel Monopol, but a pipe had burst and they had to give us reservations at a sister hotel, Hotel Karstens.  They paid to have us taxied over there, and I believe we ended up getting a better deal.  We unpacked, relaxed a little bit and met in the lobby at 6pm. 

We walked toward the Rhine that evening and got up close to the Rheinturm, the needle-like tower in Dusseldorf.  We also saw the amazing architecture of Gehry-Bauten in the Medienhafen. It was a long walk that evening.  We made our way slowly to the old town of Dusseldorf and stopped at the Llerige, Joseph's favorite place for Alt bier.  Unfortunately, the place was packed to the maximum, and we couldn't have dinner there.  So, we settled for drinks outside under some heat lamps.  We dined at the Althouse Restaurant that evening and Erin and I ordered a grill plate that was huge.  It advertised as for two, but could have easily stuffed four normal humans.

We had a long but beautiful walk back to our hotel where we retired to our rooms at 10pm.  Erin and I were asleep by 10:30. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm on a diet.

On Tuesday, February 24, after two games of pick-up basketball at the gym, which is part of my regular routine, a b-ball partner of mine gives my belly a little light tap and says, "It looks like triathlon season is over."

There are some that would not handle this well, but I don't get offended with this kind of stuff. He was right. The winter break has been a lazy one for me and I put on a few pounds. I admitted it. Later that week, I realized that this statement was the best thing he could have said to me.

Three years ago, I went on a diet and lost close to 20 lbs. Over the course of 3 years I've gained about 75% of that back. So, time for me to go on another diet. When I go on diets, I go all fucking out. Losing weight is the hardest thing to do in life, and if you're going to do it, you need to be completely and totally committed.

So, here goes. Each Friday, to keep me honest, I'm going to post an updated graph. I will continue to post these until I'm at 165 again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Legalize Marijuana in Missouri and help English teachers around the nation!

Back when I was an undergraduate in college, I fell into that cliche that all English teachers and professors hate.  Yes, I'll admit, I wrote a paper on legalizing marijuana.  For those of you who don't know, many English teachers and professors would rather have dental work done than have to sit down and read through another paper on the benefits of legalizing marijuana.

Instead of falling into the same trap again, and writing a blog debunking all of the arguments against and giving all kinds of benefits for, I will stop with this reason and this reason only:  Legalize Marijuana so that students can begin writing and critically thinking about something other than legalizing marijuana.  
Go!  Find somewhere you can sign the petition now.