Monday, February 13, 2012

Night of the Living Beach Boys!


I watched the Grammy Awards last night just to remind myself how old I am and out of morbid fascination to see what the Beach Boys looked like on their 50th anniversary.

I'd seen Brian Wilson perform a few years back in what was billed as a Beach Boys concert. But he was the only Beach Boy there and he just kind of shuffled across the stage while much younger musicians covered the vocals, keyboards and guitar. At least there were four of them on stage at the Grammys. And although it wasn't overly embarrassing, it wasn't pretty.

But as geriatric as the Beach Boys looked, at least I knew who they were. I can't say the same for 99 percent of the musicians performing, presenting or nominated. If they hadn't wheeled out oldies like the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Glen Campbell and Tony Bennett, I wouldn't have recognized many of the 20 somethings hip hopping across the stages.

To his credit, Paul McCartney's voice still has it. I do miss the Beatles, though part of me is glad that John and George didn't survive to make a come back. I prefer to remember the Beatles the way they looked singing on top of their Apple Records studio for the album Let it Be.

As for the rest of the token aged musicians, Glen Campbell seemed sober, so that was something. Tony Bennett didn't seem like he knew where he was, but he sounded okay.

I am bummed that I miss Lady GaGa making her entrance on the Red Carpet being carried inside of what looked like an egg from the movie Alien. I did enjoy the blank look on her face when the camera zoomed in on her during the Beach Boys performance.

I was pleased to see the Civil Wars perform a 10 second version of their song Barton Hollow as a opener to Taylor Swift's performance. Judging from the crowd's response, I was the only one who recognized them. So I am not totally out of it.

I was pleased that 23-year old Adele walked away with six Grammys. Though until the Grammys, I had never heard of Adele. Great voice though.

To make up for my woeful lack of knowledge of the current music scene, I am listening to the Grammy playlist on Spotify. By this time next year I should still be woefully lacking in my knowledge of the current music scene. But I am hoping Paul Revere and the Raiders will perform.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

On my ghost radar


Although I don't really believe in ghosts, I have always been a sucker for a good ghost story. I guess it is human nature to want to believe that we don't just end when we die. If I knew for certain this was it, I probably wouldn't spend so much time on the treadmill and I'd have that bacon cheeseburger I craved in my last whiny post.

But I digress.

Since I don't have an iPhone and only recently got a Blackberry that approaches smart phone status, I have been blissfully unaware of the multitude of apps out there. But Blackberry App world is slowly introducing me to the multitude of possibilities out there to waste time with my phone without actually using it as a telephone.

Enter the Ghost Radar app.

Ghost Radar is created by a company called Spud Pickles (a company name you have to trust) and claims to turn your smart phone into a ghost detector by measuring electromagnetic fields, vibrations, and sounds. In short, Ghost Radar claims to analyze the quantum flux. I have no idea what quantum flux is, but it sounds pretty paranormally.

When you fire up Ghost Radar, you see what looks like a radar screen with constantly changing numbers in three of four quadrants. The fourth quadrant occasionally shows what appear to be random letters being typed by apparently dyslexic spirits. Occasionally colored dots appear supposedly indicating paranormal activity. Blue means a little activity. Green means more and yellow means even more. Red means look over your shoulder.

The really eerie part of Ghost Radar is that out of the blue (or green, yellow or red) words pop up on the screen and are spoken with a voice synthesizer. This startled me at first because I downloaded the free version that comes with virtually no instructions. Apparently you have to pony up 99 cents to get the premium version that tells you how to use it. I had to Google the thing to learn that the words are supposedly triggered by entities using your smart phone as a translator.

Most of the time the thing just spouts gibberish not unlike you hear from strangers sitting on the bus. Mine just said "fish", followed by "couple." Then "lying." One could interpret this as someone lying about the couple of fish they caught. But who doesn't lie about catching fish.

Occasionally the thing spouts things that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I was sitting on the train waiting for it to leave the station. I turned on the Ghost Radar. Almost immediately red dots appeared and the thing said "nuts." I was staring out the window at some graffiti that read "Hot nuts."

Coincidence you say. That night I took my phone into my daughter's room. After I read her stories and tucked her in, I sat in a rocking chair until she fell asleep. I turned on the Ghost Radar. Dots appeared. And the thing said, "Tim." I turned it off.

Okay, I think the thing just scans your phone and finds data. Of course my name would come up. But I've read other people's experience with the thing and some claim that it says the name of people in the room with them. It is pretty unnerving.

I've just asked the Ghost Radar how I should end this blog and I'm waiting for an answer. Wait for it...here's the first word: "recently." Okay. Wait, here's the next word: "sang." Hmmm. Oh, there are lots of red dots now. The last word is coming. This should be good: "butter."  The spirits have imparted these final words, "Recently sang butter."

Eerie.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Pound of flesh


You need to burn 3500 calories to lose a pound. In theory to lose a pound a week, you would need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories per day or burn an extra 500 calories a day. Of course, you can do a combination of the two (i.e. god forbid, reduce your calories and exercise more).

Why am I stating the obvious that you can find anywhere on the Internet or plastered on the headlines of magazines on the racks at the grocery store checkout? Because I have once again stepped up my self imposed efforts to lose weight. I say self imposed, but at my last check up, the doctor noted that my weight was up and suggested I might be "over fueling." Her suggestion was punctuated by the lab results. My cholesterol was up along with my blood sugar levels.

My immediate reaction was self loathing (not a healthy reaction). There was also an epiphany about self delusion. A few years ago after an examination to get life insurance I was forced to acknowledge that I was at an unhealthy weight. So I did something about it. I altered my diet and increased my exercise. I lost 52 pounds.

Once I was at my "healthy" weight and could wear jeans with a 31-inch waist and still breath, I assumed I could ease off the strict routine of diet and exercise. So I allowed myself occasional lapses of eating not so healthy food (i.e. stuff that actually tastes good). And I stopped weighing myself. Now granted, I didn't go crazy. I still worked out for an hour a day and avoided the worst food choices like fries, ribs, hamburgers, and pizza. But my workouts became lower energy. I just used the elliptical machines and stopped running on the treadmill.

Instead of passing up the constant snacks co-workers would leave out at work, I'd start nibbling here and there, especially as the holidays approached. I told myself a little bit here and there wouldn't hurt. I noticed my clothes weren't feeling as loose and I couldn't really wear jeans with a 31-inch waist anymore. Even my 32-inch waist pants were a bit snug. But I kept looking in the mirror and telling myself that I didn't look like I was gaining weight.

 That's when the doctor pointed out that I had gained 20 pounds by over fueling my body. This was about a week before Christmas. I kicked up the workouts a notch and started running again (which I hate with a passion). I also stopped snacking and cut out many of the remaining foods I like (bread being a major one). The good news is that I can once again wear my 31-inch waist pants and I've lost the 20 pounds.

 The bad news is all I really want to do is eat. And the temptation is there now that I have lost the weight again to just ease off. But the reality is that I'd just be back where I started. I want to be very clear that the weight thing isn't about vanity. Since men at my age are essentially invisible it doesn't really matter what I look like. It's more about my health and a desire to see my young children graduate from college.

 Though I have to say I am sick of reading about the top 20 worst things for you to eat which coincidentally are also on someone else's top 20 best things for you to eat list. I've come to the conclusion that nothing is good for you. Diet soda apparently can make you fatter. Non-fat products have more calories and bad things in them. Natural foods generally are kept natural through chemicals. Comfort foods comfort you by sending you into a food induced coma.

Being healthy sucks. I just want a bacon cheeseburger.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

It's Groundhog's Day (again and again)



Once again groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow on Gobbler's Knob so we can expect six more weeks of winter (which near as I can tell pretty much coincides with the first day of spring). And once again I post a photo of my face Photoshopped on the face of a groundhog and post about Punxsutawney Phil.

I appear to be stuck in this point on the space time continuum somewhat like Bill Murray in the classic film Groundhog's Day.

Coincidently, I rewatched Lost in Translation last night. It is one of my favorite Bill Murray films. It has nothing to do with Groundhog's Day so I'm stuck in another digression.

Ironically, when I began writing this post, the title was "It's Groundhog's Day (again)." Turns out that I used that same title two years ago. So I really am stuck in the whole Groundhog's Day phenomenon of repeating myself.

I think age and having small children has something to do with it as well.

Regardless, here's to six more weeks of winter.