Fitness vs. Fatness: Birthday Weekend

The past several days have been jam packed with fun. On Friday, we set sail from Baltimore around 4:30 and ran into minimal traffic. About 2.5 hours later, we arrived in my hometown in time for a snack and my parents’ Friday night special: garlic bread with cured ham, provolone cheese, Jersey tomatoes, grilled asparagus, and fresh basil. We then commenced chilling and my sister and I stayed up working through most of Kings Quest 6.

The following morning, I got up around 7 and went to Oh What A Bagel for my obligatory pork roll, egg, and cheese on a poppy seed bagel. My step dad and I loaded the kayak on the roof of his truck and after breakfast, my mom dropped us off at the bay for our trip over to the beach. My mom took several dramatic pictures of us getting the boat into the water, pushing off, and starting to paddle.

About 2 minutes after my mom drove away, we realized that there was no way we were going to make it across the bay. Some maniacal combination of wind and current kept twisting the boat into the wrong position. Nothing short of vigorous paddling one one side of the kayak could keep us straight, and as a result, we made little to no progress.

After a shameful few minutes back to shore, we unsealed our phones from their waterproof bags and hailed my mom to come pick us up. At this point, it was getting to be almost 9:30, we hadn’t picked up lunch yet, and concerns were running high that IBSP may close before we got there. This would have killed my weekend.

Thankfully, we were able to afford a fast stop at Wawa for subs (smoked turkey, american, sweet and hot peppers, and vinegar FTW) and still make it to the beach early enough to get in. Despite my initial concerns that it would not be warm out on Saturday (before we got there) and that the waves would be too small for body boarding (after we got there), my fears were needless. The waves were small, but potent, and actually made for quite fun riding. Regarding the warmth of the sun…my peeling sunburn is a testament to how wrong I was.

Melanoma lures you in with the promise of relaxation.

After several hours of laying, eating, skimboarding, and body boarding, we left the beach and made a pit stop at the boardwalk. One cone from Kohr’s and two caramel apples later, we were back on the road. THEN we stopped at Rich’s ice cream shop for my sister to get ice cream. Don’t ask how it happened, but I ended up with a huge milkshake there too.

One of the many amazing things that started in NJ.

After a nice shower and some more chilling, we had excellent steaks, corn, and tomatoes for dinner. Finally, in one last round of gluttony, we sat down for my mom’s AMAZING carrot cake. Seriously, best I ever had.

It's essentially a health food.

On Sunday, my mom made french toast (the woman has a gift with carbs) before leaving for her business trip. I dragged my feet for a while and finally headed out around 3. My dad and grandparents took us out to eat that night (where I gorged on cheese ravioli with shrimp and a cannoli) and we finally made our way back to Baltimore.

Yesterday, my actual birthday, the three best friends assembled in Baltimore. Work had been especially crazy for some reason, so it was amazing to have a relaxing evening spent exploring my new homestead. We ate at Teavolution (wings and pizza and bread pudding and tea and @#(T^WJEFJSKDNMASKCSD) which was very nice. It also happened to be open mic night, so we got to see some serious characters while we ate.

Thus my birthday concluded with a bulging stomach. My only attempt at health over the weekend, the kayaking expedition, failed so hard that I think it may have made me gain weight. It was all totally worth it though. Now it’s just time to find a gym in Baltimore.


Epic Adventures: Summer Trip (California Part 1)

The time has finally come for me to begin the rundown of the splendid trip that I took over the week of the 4th of July. I already wrote half of this post once, but in an effort to get out of work, I shutdown my computer before saving it. It even asked if I was sure that I didn’t want to save…AND I SAID YES.

So, sure enough, I am starting over. After returning to DC from my grandparent’s place, Jenny and I packed and chilled a bit. Around 3:30 the next morning, we woke and hitched a ride to Reagan with my roommate. The flight from DC to Houston was a bleary blur. Despite my usual inability to sleep at the most opportune times, I surprisingly managed to doze off for most of the flight; however, I did wake for one glorious moment. When the stewardesses were making their rounds, I woke up to get some tomato juice. I’m not even the type to order tomato juice usually, but in my daze I had a real hankerin’ for it. Let me tell you, if you ever fly Continental, get the spicy tomato juice. It’s awesome. FASCINATING.

After a brief layover in Houston, where there was a brief cancellation scare (apparently the only scary part was how bad Continental is at updating their flight statuses), we were on our way to Ontario. Knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to sleep on consecutive flights (because no one is that lucky), Jenny and I started watching The Bourne Identity. It’s one of those films that I’ve always meant to watch, but never really got around to doing. It was pretty damn good too. Not tomato juice good, but you know, nice. That made the flight go by pretty quickly.

The best part about those early morning east-to-west coast flights is that they get you to your destination bright and early. After leaving DC at 6 AM, we were on the ground and on our way to lunch with Jenny’s parents by 11 AM. We stopped for a brief lunch of jajamyun and fried chicken, followed shortly by some bubble teas, and took the short drive to their home. Flying into Ontario was absolutely the best bet; 15 minutes to the house rather than 1+ hour if we had done LAX.

With a full day still ahead of us, we went with Jenny’s dad to the local mountains for a hike. Despite the blazing sun, I had to admire California’s complete lack of humidity. As soon as you entered the shade, and even moreso when we had reached a sufficient elevation, the temperatures dropped to fall-like levels (aka the temperature at which I thrive). The hike itself was beautiful too. Nice and steep at parts, with a stream popping in and out of few for the duration, and terrain varying from southern California shrubbery to nice, tall evergreens. It was the perfect way to unload the day’s meals and welcome ourselves to the west coast.

The following morning, we all woke bright and early to drive to Newport beach. Once there, we hopped on the ferry to Catalina Island for a nice little boat trip and a day of fun in the sun. Jenny, who is no one’s sailor, went 2 for 2 for getting seasick on boats (although there was no puke this time).

Catalina Island itself was magnificent. Only an hour’s trip off the coast, it provided a nice sense of isolation, with just a few roads and a tiny resort town nestled between its mountains. We took a little semi-submarine tour out to see some fish before lunch, where we ate at a little hut serving the world’s saltiest (although pretty good tasting) food. The grilled ham and cheese would have been divine with a tad less sodium chloride.

After lunch, Jenny and I tried our hand at paddleboarding around the marina, where we both had some issues to overcome. As a seasoned kayaker, I felt at home navigating the board around the inlet’s many zipping skiffs; however, as a seasoned oaf, I had to take enormous care to avoid losing balance and tumbling into the frigid water. Jenny, on the other hand, effortlessly stayed upright while navigating her board into a number of anchored boats. Thankfully, by the end of our hour, we had both improved upon our faults and decided that we quite liked the activity.

It's like a multi-million dollar obstacle course.

From there, I bought and devoured an exceptional caramel apple with nuts (the only way to eat them) and we caught the ferry back to Newport. Terrified that we may have made some sort of fitness gains by walking and paddleboarding, we bought a frozen banana in Newport Beach to increase our caloric totals for the day and to entertain my infatuation with Arrested Development.

Because there's always money in the banana stand.

Finally, we stopped by a Korean restaurant on the way back, where I pounded some kimchi and dol sot bimbimbap. We finished driving back, cleaned ourselves up, chilled a bit, and got to bed in order to prepare ourselves for………..


Epic Adventures: Summer Trip (Maryland)

The time has come for me to begin chronicling my adventures from July 1st through July 10th. In this chapter, we will discuss the beginnings of my glorious vacation.

After breaking free of the confines of work and responsibility on the 1st (marked by paying my last installment of insanely high DC rent), I ferried myself out to Rockville for a chill evening. The next morning, we rose at around 7:30 to get on our way to my grandparent’s summer place.

I’ll get this out of the way up front, so that I can spend the rest of this post doing damage control: My grandfather bought a small island in the Chesapeake sometime after WWII. Believe me when I say that it’s not because we’re ballers. I don’t think it cost any more than a regular plot of land, he built the house himself, and he was responsible for laying all electrical cables and plumbing to the place. So essentially, it was like owning a normal house, but much more involved.

Sup Grampa?

After spending nearly ever summer weekend there as a child, I’ve found it much more difficult to find the time to visit as I’ve progressed through high school, college, and into the working world. This is obviously a shame, since my grandparents aren’t getting any younger and it’s a splendid place to visit. My grandma is the ultimate host (perhaps a little too much so) and puts out massive spreads for every meal. The only downside is that I have a reputation as an eater and regularly face tremendous pressure to polish everything off.

Awww mannnn...

Furthermore, I greatly enjoy the multitude of projects that constantly need tending to down there. If you are anything like all of the males in my family, you will understand the unique sort of pleasure that is derived from identifying, evaluating, and solving a problem through a combination of careful planning and brute force. Not a weekend goes by that something on the house doesn’t break, whether it’s a pipe, a downspout, or a boat, and I always enjoy being there to fix them.

On this weekend in particular, a tree had fallen across a path. Sensing a chance to relieve some stress, I enthusiastically grabbed an axe to chop it into tiny pieces. I’ll admit, it was worth every second of effort too. Unfortunately, I forgot to wear gloves, so both hands turned into bloody little blisters afterwards, but that’s the price you pay for being a badass.

When not chopping and fixing things, we spent Saturday and Sunday morning taking some boat rides, eating a lot, watching the requisite movie with my grandparents at night, and going out to dinner in an effort to save my grandmother the effort of cooking another enormous meal. After lunch on Sunday, Jenny and I headed back to DC to prepare for our flight to California at 6 AM on the 4th.

Man, I’m long winded this week. I tried (and failed) to actually get to the California part of the trip for the second day in a row. Anyway, I got home late from work today and the microwave is beeping the termination of some dessicated meatballs, so I’ll put off writing about the important parts of the trip again.

Also, have you ever used a fork whilst preparing dinner and then tossed it in the dish washer, only to realize that you need a !%@#ing fork to eat the meal you just finished cooking? Yeah, that just happened.




Fitness vs. Fatness: Lab Picnic

People seem to have rather varied opinions on work gatherings. From what I’ve heard, they make a lot of people feel extremely uncomfortable; no one wants to cross the line from casual to unprofessional. While I hear that loud and clear, I’m a pretty big fan of work events. Although the planning of the events usually falls to me, which can be frustrating, I enjoy spending time with everyone from work in an atmosphere where no one has any control over me. There’s an immense satisfaction to be found in laying on a picnic table like a bum, with your boss feet away, not having to pretend that you have work to do.

The consummate professional.

As if this intro wasn’t a clear indicator, my annual lab picnic was held yesterday in Gunpowder Falls State Park’s Hammerman Beach. It was a nice venue, albeit overrun with WT. One of my coworkers was proactive enough to get there at 8:30 to hoard 6 picnic tables until the picnic started at 10. Of course, when Jenny and I arrived at 10 (after an hour and a half drive), there were only two people there. Punctuality isn’t a trait associated with scientists.

As with my daily life, all work related activities are almost exclusively a Chinese affair. At this point, I find it more humorous than anything. It can be especially fun to watch my coworkers trying to figure out traditionally American activities, such as starting and using a charcoal grill. I also enjoy the looks from passerby, wondering why there is a white giant hanging out with a gaggle of Asians.

On the whole, the food was very nice. In addition to burgers and bratwursts (I think my boss thought they were hot dogs), there were a bunch of Chinese meat and noodle dishes and 6 or 7 watermelons. I probably ate 2 or 3 of them myself. Someone also brought some of the best store brand cupcakes that I’ve ever had.

Despite the binge eating, I stayed active throughout the day by playing volleyball (which occasionally became heated), strolling around the park, and playing some frisbee. At one point, I ended up surrounded by 3 or 4 of my coworkers kids, aged 3-6, as some sort of ring leader. Luckily, growing up with 3 young sisters was great preparation for this type of thing. Kids remain one of the few things I have patience for (Traffic and most people are two things which I have no patience for).

On the drive back, we took a detour through Baltimore to check out my new neighborhood. It was the first time I’d ever driven there, since I’m usually taking trains and shuttles, and it got me pretty stoked for the move. I realized that I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the things to do in Baltimore.

Way different from where I live now, too.

When we finally got back to Rockville around 6, Jenny and I swung by Microcenter so I could ogle compute components, and stopped by Trader Joe’s. We picked up a Margherita pizza to split for dinner and a pound of bittersweet chocolate with almonds that looks like it’s straight out of Honeydukes. It’s the best for fighting the dementor blues!

Accio chocolate, AMIRITE?

Today was a nice Sunday. Slept in a bit, got a haircut, ate some Korean food (ja jung myun) and walked around DC. I bought a huge watermelon for the week as well. I’ve decided that beginning in July, I’m going to eat two watermelons a week for dessert. It’s in season and it’s my favorite fruit. Why not go to town? Enjoy the rest of your weekend and good luck on Monday!

Fitness vs. Fatness: Motivation and lasagna

I run for a lot of different reasons. Although I discussed at length why I like to run, I feel that I did not adequately cover the various things that get me out the door on any given day. Some days, it’s because I’m feeling fat. On others, it’s the recollection of how much my cardiologist appointment cost and my desire to never schedule another one. Sometimes it’s the false sense of superiority I get from running past someone eating a cheeseburger on a bench (it’ a false sense because if I hadn’t mustered the motivation to run, I would be sitting one bench over, eating a double cheeseburger). On occasion, it’s some vague notice that I should be running, but I can’t figure out why.

I personally need a wide swath of reasons to go for a run in order to trick, motivate, and generally manipulate myself into running on a regular basis. I find that my conscious may be fully willing to accept some BS reason one day, but completely immune to it the next. Today it was just really nice out and I got sad that I have a limited number of days to run my favorite route.

When I got back from work, I ate half of one of the scones that Jenny brought me from New York and pounded a few cups of water. After digesting for 45 minutes, I ran the monument loop and came back to hit the pool. Not having a pool on the roof anymore is going to suck. I rarely take advantage of it, but it’s the most refreshing way to cool off after a run.

Although probably way too balla for me.

The main downside of this running business is the time commitment. It’s already almost 9 and I just showered and settled down. I’m polishing off a piece of the lasagna I made yesterday with the leftover (from Thanksgiving) turkey as we speak. I think I’ll make some headway on Archer Season 2 now. Have a nice night everyone!

Fitness vs. Fatness: Cookies for breakfast and failed hoop dreamz

During the week, I wake up at either 5:30 or 6:40 AM to go to work. It was for this reason that I found myself completely incapable of going back to sleep after I took Jenny to Union Station this morning at 5:45.

Mornings like this are always confusing for me. I absolutely relish the first couple hours of dawn. Sunsets are cool and all, but everyone sees those. I really enjoy those cool hours of solace before anybody gets up. At the same time, I am as subject to exhaustion headaches as anybody, so I wasn’t feeling 100% either.

Not feeling much motivation to sit or stand, despite being unable to resume sleeping, I decided to slump into bed and watch TV, like the Saturday mornings of my youth. Jenny and I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with nutella filling last night, so I happily ate one or two (or four) of those for breakfast while watching the entirety of Archer season 1. If you haven’t watched it, you really need to. It’s amazing, so long as your sense of humor extends beyond what’s found in Family Guy.

Several hours later, I worked up the motivation to finally organize all of the media files on my computer. Despite having folders specifically labeled for programs, music, games, and videos (SD/HD, TV/Movie), things had become terribly jumbled. I can tolerate certain levels of disorder, but this is one of the things that really sets off my OCD. It persisted for so long solely because I would walk away from my computer whenever it crossed my mind.

By the time things were tidy again, a shockingly large chunk of my day had already passed. I played some Dead Rising 2 and Battlefield, watched some of a Bruce documentary, and ate leftover swedish meatballs with half of a watermelon. Feeling sufficiently lardy at this point, I pulled one of my classic workout tricks: getting ready and walking out the door without thinking things through. I’ve found that the mind is incredibly good at convincing the body that it doesn’t need to work out. It will insist that your leg hurts or that it’s raining outside. The easiest way to circumvent the issue is to just zone out until you’re halfway down the block saying “Dammit, not again.”

Unfortunately, this approach does little to make up for eating a heavy meal before a run.

While running along the mall, an incredibly thing nearly happened. It’s what I like to call “hoop dreamz”. It’s one of those moments that you carelessly daydream about where you do something awesome with incredible suaveness; everyone’s got at least one. For some people, it’s having to fill in for an absent musician at a show and TOTALLY nailing it. For others, it’s telling a really freaking funny joke in a large crowd of people. I’m sure you’ve all got a whole bunch.

Anyway, I was running along, probably looking awesome, when a frisbee came sailing directly into my path. I was positive that my time had come to be nonchalantly amazing; I love frisbee. I was poised to make an awesome catch and whip it back without breaking my stride. Things couldn’t have been more perfect. Then it bounced off of my hand and spun away in the dirt. My anger must have shown, because one of the people playing apologized for their errant throw. The next 2 miles were a blur of irritated thoughts and enhanced paces. It wasn’t until I had rounded the Lincoln memorial and come back up to the mall that I realized that my legs were dead and I was panting.

At least I have the consolation of knowing that the opportunity didn’t go completely wrong. Despite my drop, it wasn’t like I had fallen flat on my face. My term for those scenarios is “poop dreams”. You know, like when John Kerry tries to look athletic.

Yep, classic poop dream.

These moments are the true failures. The times when you think you’re going to look awesome but end up looking like a total idiot, usually in front of large groups of people. Thank god I avoided that fate.

To ensure that I didn’t just jinx myself, I think I’m going to spend the rest of the night in my apartment. There is a lasagna that needs to get made, a Springsteen documentary that needs finishing, and a whole boatload of terrorists who aren’t going to kill themselves on my computer. Enjoy the rest of your Saturday everyone! Happy hoop dreaming.

Musings: Sandwich Dreams and Brisk Mornings

This is going to be a quick one. In fact, there’s not much to write after that title. In a very, very sad tribute to what my mind apparently dwells on, I woke up at 4 AM dreaming about a sandwich. I can’t remember exactly what went on the sandwich, but the dream consisted solely of me preparing it, getting ready to eat it, and then waking up. Imagine my disappointment when I remembered how crappy my actual lunch was going to be.

Once I woke up for real, I was met with a very nice morning. If you haven’t been outside yet, you are a bum, but you should run outside immediately. Some of the perfect morning may still be lingering. It was sunny and a perfect balance of warm and brisk. Anytime I can wear shorts and a hoodie comfortably, I’m happy. It’s the type of morning I associate with getting up early in the summer, grabbing some breakfast, and making it to the beach just in time for things to start warming up.

God, I’ve got to get back to Jersey.