Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vitamins and Minerals . . .

I stood over my vanity this morning.  Freshly showered, hair combed, deodorant applied.  I reached for my sunless tanning lotion (Yep.  My every-growing vanity has taken me to a liquid form of fake tanning.  Judge all you want.  Your sneers and mockery will not penetrate my orangy glow.) and chomped down on the "peach" Flinstone's Complete Vitamin in my mouth.  

I realized that I have eaten, largely faithfully (I'm not perfect) two Flinstone's chewables and two Caltrate 600 D Plus supplements every day since my surgery.  That is 773 days (the Internet is full of wonderful things like "day calculators" (in my defense I estimated it had been just about 800 days since my surgery).  Two years, one month, 11 days.  

That is 1,546 of each pill.  3,092 pills.

I take these pills GLADLY (I don't want my hair to fall out any faster than it already is, I really, really like having a skeleton in working order and I also enjoy the fruity goodness of these chewables first thing in the morning) but I did some number crunching (as I crunched my Calcium).  

At $14 for every 120 Calcium "treats" and $16 for every 120 Flinstone's "candies" (as Ava calls them), I've spent nearly $400 on daily supplements since my surgery.  If I live another 50 years (God willing) and if the pricing stays the same - I'll spend another $10,000 over my lifetime on these daily needs.

That seems like a LOT of money.  Then I consider that, in my family there is a prominent history of diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, strokes, cholesterol issues, kidney problems, liver problems and depression.  And I think about how quickly my weight would have lead me to ALL of those problems (and maybe more) if I didn't have this surgery as a preventative measure to safeguard my health and I think about the HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars those medications could have all cost over my lifetime and the thousands and thousands of pills I would have taken.  I also presumed that most of those medicines would have simply minimized the impact and damages of these conditions - not cured them or really extended my life.

$10,000?  Seems like a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.  

My bronzing skin glowed.  I was satisfied with my expenses and general health.  And, with my peace, the "peach" Dino vitamin in my mouth tasted all the more delicious!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let's All Sing Along . . .

I sang as a kid.  I was in chorus.  I was in plays and musicals.  I went to All County, Area All State and even sang at Solofests.  I sang a little in church too.  I sang while doing my chores (the birds helping me to hang laundry on the clothes line, etc.) and I sang when I was sad.  I still sing - much to Joy and Ava's chagrin - in the car, shower and while watching Noggin!   

Let me be clear - I don't think I have a good singing voice.  I really don't.  I used to enjoy singing but I've never fancied myself as "talented."  I never dreamed of pop stardom or a role in Phantom of the Opera (that was the default musical to adore when I was a teenager dreaming of life before me) and I never thought about trying out for American Idol (God bless those that do) or doing anything with my "pipes" beyond entertaining myself and my daughter . . . and annoying my wife (I make up lyrics to songs all the time that often involve how bad Joy's feet smell or how much I adore sharing our bed with our daughter and a dog, etc.).

There are those out there that can sing though.  People with real talent that no one beyond their friends, family and fellow parishioners will ever hear sing.  People who could likely, in the right scenario, find themselves truly enriching the world around them with the sounds that vibrate out of their honey-and-lemon-soothed throats.  The simple fact is that many of them will never have that scenario play out and eventually they, like millions before and millions after them, will just stop singing for anything more than ways to pass the time in the shower, car and family bed.

When I was a senior in high school I took a second visit at Quinnipiac that coincided with a friend of the family visiting Yale for a second time.  Our mothers decided we should all carpool down together (they are only about 10 minutes apart) and we had dinner the evening we arrived just off Yale's campus.  

While we were walking to the restaurant I heard something magical coming from one of the many corridors of the Yale Campus.  I did not know what it was called at the time but - in hind sight - I was listening to one of the 3,458,239 a cappella groups that form annually at America's Ivy League and other prestigious/noteworthy colleges and universities.  There were about 20 of them.  Men and women.  Singing "Creep" by Radiohead.  They probably called themselves "Here Comes Treble" or "Bass in Your Fass" or "Harmonies R Us" or something classy like that.  They probably all studied something totally random by day (European Fiction from the 1600s or South American Women's Studies) and they graduated a few years later to work on Wall Street accordingly (ah, Yale).  Regardless - they were talented and I wanted to stand and listen to them sing for hours but one of the women in our dinner party was talking about the gang activity of New Haven ) and how we had to keep moving to get to the restaurant "safely" (let me assure you the "Yale part of New Haven" was and is still safe).  

Anywho - fast forward a few years.  I'm a college "kid."  In the mid-90s.  The world is listening to grunge (Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, BORING!) and rock and hip-pop is just starting to explode (I love you Puffy) and the chick-guitar movement was in full swing.  I was horrified by almost all of it (I still love you Puffy and Alanis) and I was obsessed with such cutting edge, cool music as Barenaked Ladies and a mix CD my friend GUYK made for me of the National Collegiate A Cappella Championships (or something like that) and a guy named Ben Folds (then making music with two other guys who collectively called themselves the Ben Folds Five).  

The 14 years or so since have been wonderfully musical.  I've found a lot of great music that I really enjoy and different sounds and genres have captured my attention (I even went through a "world music" phase in 1999 (God forgive me)) and I have seen many of my favorites just sort of disappear but I've always had a lurking and constant obsession with Ben Folds and a cappella music.  I have bought a few CDs of a cappella music over the years and I have enjoyed the universe of young people singing a cappella on YouTube too.  And the best part . . . the a cappella world seems to enjoy Ben Folds almost as much as I do.

Yesterday was a great day for me.  GREAT day.  Ben Folds, having long since realized the a cappella world enjoyed his music, decided to "go back to school" and tour the country to record several college groups singing his songs.  And he put the best performances together and released them as an album.

The album is GREAT.  Sample it.  Get infected with/by it.  Download it.  Harmonize to it.  Make your showers and car rides and wife mocking more enjoyable because of it.  

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tornadic (and Pedantic) Sprinting . . .

The rain pounded the whole drive up Central.  The tornado sirens whaled in the background.  The radio promised certain doom for all those that would dare leave the safety of a basement or shelter.

I pressed on.  I'm in my second tornado season here in Kansas.  I ain't scared of nuttin' (except the tornado damage I've seen first hand in my time here, of course).  

Perhaps these weather idiots had a valid argument.  This was not going to by my ordinary Sunday grocery run.  

I could barely see the lane lines to my right and/or left and the cars that I passed (or that passed me) sprayed huge tidal waves of rain, leaves and muck up in the air.  The wind pushed against my car in a way that made me hesitant to get too close to a neighboring car - just in case Morpheus the Matrix lost his will go to straight.

I pulled in to Dillon's parking lot and considered my options.  

A) Turn back now and wait out the storm
B) Park the car, climb through the car and get an umbrella out of the back
C) Park as close to the store as possible and run.  Yes.  I.  Said.  Run!

I was too lazy to go all the way home and come all the way back and we have not been grocery shopping in weeks (my parents were here so we did a lot of "for tonight" shopping and ate out a fair amount too, etc.).  I am not the guy to climb through the car and I was not even sure there were umbrellas back there anyway (there are - three of them - it turns out).  My only real option was to park the car, zip up my 1/4 zip fleece (also known as a sweatshirt to those that don't speak cataloguese), make sure my navy blue Chucks were tightly double knotted, tuck my grocery list away in my back khaki pocket and ensure that my foot course was clear.

Perfect.  Some scared soccer mom is loading in to the minivan in the ninth spot up the row with a straight, sidewalked shot to the front door.  

I pull in.  Zip, knot, tuck and prep.  I do a sign of the cross (like any good idiot I'm happy to bring God in to the conversation when I need some help with something) and ready for the run.

Open the door.  

Jump out.

And I'm OFF.  Darrell Green would have been impressed.  

One foot in front of the other.  Long, powerful, confident strides.  Long spells of time where my entire body was in the air.  Cheetahs panting to catch up with me.  NASCAR drivers wondering what was under my hood.

Down the sidewalk.  

Left.

Right.

Left.

Right.

Fast. 

Uh oh.  

Looking ahead I see it.  

Too much rain.

Not enough drainage.  

Puddle is an understatement.  

Owasco Lake is barely larger than this puddle.  

What do I do?

Running too fast to stop before it. 

Not sure enough of my body to try to direct my course.

Left.

Right.

Left.

Right.

One.

More.

Stride.

And.

JUMP!

Through the air.

The first fifteen feet (?) weren't the issue.  I flew with ease.  Over the puddle.  Almost in slow motion.  Waving hello to ducks and boaters below me.  Soaring like a bird.  Then.  Gravity starts to take over.

I realized this would be a rough landing.  My feet were not ready for that first step in the water.  Which foot should I plant?  How deep is the water?  Is it cold?  I'm not wearing socks.  No time to think.  No time to act.

Touchdown.

Right foot.

Left foot pushing through the air.

Left foot never touches the ground.

Right knee not impressed with being forced in to bracing my body in to a puddle.  Decides to "strike".  Hits ground instead.  Left hip right behind.  Elbows split seconds behind that.  I'm missing the graceful ease of my run and my initial jump.

I'm on the ground.  Skidding (more accurately) on the ground.  

"Keep your chin up, pretty man."  I think to myself.  

I'm wet.  I'm scared that pain is coming.  I'm laying in the middle of a roadway in near white-out rains.  I am suddenly aware of 20 people standing ten feet in front of me watching the storm - and me - and plotting their exit to their cars.

I pick myself up.  Inspect my pants and sweatshirt elbows.  Rub my chin.  Pick up my glasses.  Walk the rest of the way across the street and under the protection of the overhang where they keep the shopping carts.

No one speaks to me.  They all look.  At least they are not laughing.  I hear a woman lean close to her husband and simply ask "You still sure you want to run to the car?  Or do you want to go inside, get some Starbucks and wait this out?"  

Starbucks sounds good to me too, sir.  




Friday, April 24, 2009

The Official Snack of Summer . . .

We didn't have Dairy Queens in Upstate, New York when I was growing up (they might not have them now - I'm too lazy to check) but I would see those TV commericals for the Blizzard (back before every ice cream shack in America made a Blizzard, a Snow-Storm, an Earthquake, a Mudslide or some other dessert that is sweet, cold and creamy but named after an often negative-effect carrying act of nature) and I would lust, openly, for Dairy Queen. Sort of like my friend Casey's father lusts for Sonic (which we have PLENTY of here in the Wichi-Wichi).

Joy and I would often stop at a Dairy Queen either on our way to or from my brother Patrick's apartment when we lived in Maryland and we would occassionally hit them up when we visited Kansas too. We enjoyed ourselves a Blizzard. Wifey was in to the randoms like Banana Creme (vs. Cream) Pie and I was in to the traditionals like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Oreo Cookies and extra fudge sauce (don't knock it until you've gotten brain freeze from it).

Long story long, it has been YEARS since I partook in Dairy Queen (three or so, to be exact) and I might have blissfully gone through the rest of my life without having it again if it had not been for Joy having a "I want dessert" moment the other night.

I won't blame her. It has been warm here. HOT, you might say. Highs in the 80s. Lows in the 70s. Humid. Polleny. Spring-is-herey.

I was more than happy to get in the car and get her something to follow dinner with. I drove the Dairy Queen. Saw the drive-thru line. Thought about calling the Blizzard run off and then figured - what the heck - I'll go inside.

And there, as I waited in the equally long line at the counter, I saw the "Take Home Freezer." That frosty tease of a three-door display that rivals only Friendly's in terms of the sheer volume of ways a company can flavor, combine, form, package and market frozen dairy products (Watermelon Roll, anyone?), I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye. There, on the far right and in the back. Just one box left. But an important box none-the-less for, becaues of that box, I am pleased to make a formal announcement.



I found the "Offical Snack of Sean Amore's Summer, 2009." The DQ Fudge Bar. At only 50 calories and with zero grams fat, three grams sugar and four grams of protein. I can feel okay about having one every few days - even with the $7.50/box price tag.



That's right. A frozen snack that even a calorie-counting, dessert avoiding, sugar fearing, post-gastric bypass patient like me can openly enjoy DOES exist. It is there. It is available. And it comes on a wooden stick and it is DELICIOUS.

I highly recommend picking up a box, if you have a summery itch to scratch. Yuhmay!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Movie . . .

If I disappear this weekend, send the search party to The Warren and have them look for me in the theater showing this. SOOOOOOO excited!

Robert Downey, Jr. (and I am NOT a band wagon jumper here) is probably my favorite actor of all time. He can do funny, serious, sad, upbeat, musical and mayhem. He can do 80s, 90s and now. Artistic film. Blockbuster. And he's done it all despite (and while) being a complete disaster over the course of his life.

He's got stuff together now. Onward and upward, etc.

And that is something I can root for. Something I DO root for. Something I live and breathe and eat and drink and sleep.

The fact that this movie allows Downey to be the guy helping guide someone out of and along the abyss is just too good for me to miss.

PS - Download the score. Beautiful music. I. Can. Not. Wait.

Obesity and Climate Change II . . .

Well, if one of the Clintons (who, in nearly 20 years have never given me a bad piece of advice or done me any harm) says that dieting and climate change have something in common - it must be true.  

Good luck with your implied diet, Secretary Clinton but don't take it too seriously.  I think you look mahhhhhvelous just the way you are though.  Pant suits and all.  

Besides - you don't have to meet all of your goals to be wonderful and successful and powerful.  We can't all be President, you know?  Between you and me though - I'm still sad you are not President.  No disrespect to President Obama.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wanna' See Me Get Beat Up . . .

I'm not even going to bother to explain this. It is just me, my big, hanging belly, my sweater vest collection, some terrible eye make-up that Imp layered on thick and mean and some co-workers beating me up. In public!

video

If you are in there area on Friday please DO swing by and pick up a free tree. And/or to beat me up. Your call! See you there.

Going to the Mall . . .

Walking is important exercise.  Get out and walk.  Often.  That is my seldom-followed advice at least (smile).  But, if you can combine walking with shopping . . . you should TOTALLY go.  Enter the mall.  The great, American, urban-sprawl Nirvana of, for you who can partake, Orange Julius and Auntie Anne's and Foot Locker.  And JC Penney.  

Imagine the THRILL in my heart when, as a 12 year old boy, I made my first family trip to DC and we were told that we would spend an entire day on (not "at" - should have been my first clue that I was being set up) The Mall (Big "T" and "M" used to show respect).  The only "shopping" I saw was oversized pretzels, stewed hot dogs and shrink-ready T-shirts.  Luckily there was some amazing historic stuff to buffer my sadness.  

Fast forward 10 years and I called DC "home" and that same mall became my favorite place to go walking.  Shopping be damned (I was an unpaid intern who put every dime I had to beer and food so I enjoyed the free attractions of DC).  

Fast forward 10 more years and my DC days seem long ago, far away and somehow "foreign" to me.  Maybe it is my own changes, maybe it is the stresses that I happily left behind when I got married and moved to Baltimore and then to DC.  Maybe it is just the fact that, at 500 pounds I saw that same mall as my ENEMY by the time I left town (it sucks playing "host" when you are too tired to walk from the bathroom to the kitchen - much less to the beautiful memorials and monuments erected (giggle) to America's history).

Yet - at the same time - I miss that life - specifically the people that I shared that life with.  My friends and family that I loved and left behind.  We have wrestled long and hard with when to get back East and where to go and I'm thrilled to say that Wifey surprised me today with amazing news.

One of Joy's very best friends from her DC days is getting hitched on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend and we are GOING TO THE WEDDING.  And we're going to make a weekend of it (flying in on Friday, out on Sunday) and we are going to go on our first ever true "couples getaway" since we became parents (we have spent four nights away from Ava in three years including one night where she was one hotel room away and two others where she was 10 minutes away at Grandma and Grandpa Terry's house).  

Color me a bad parent (smile) but I am sooooo excited that I get some away time with just Joy and that we are going back to the place where we met.  Where we started our life together.  Where the people we were then first talked about becoming the people we are today.  And to hopefully "reintroduce" ourselves to our friends who knew us "then" is the most exciting part.

We're not going to over schedule ourselves (a classic mistake I make every time I try to go anywhere or do anything) but we are positive that - no matter what - it will be nice to get back and to share some time with people we miss and love.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thinner is Greener . . .

With Earth and Arbor Days both slated for this week - it seems like everyone is "going green" or talking about the need for all of us to "go green" for these two very important holidays (forget the other 363 days of the year, if you really feel like you must) and it seems like - with all the problems in the world today - some great minds of found the real solution to global warming.

Dieting. I totally agree that it is more expensive to be heavy. More taxing. I agree that if you weigh more it costs more to transport you (I think I even blogged about an article that cited better fuel efficiency for skinnier people). I can completely see that the production of modified foods puts more waste in the planet and that the obese eat more modified foods than our skinnier compliments. I can even see the argument that as we get fatter we buy bigger clothes (more waste) fill up airplanes faster (more flights), get bigger cars to accomodate us (more fuel consumed and lower efficiency) and even build bigger houses that cost more to build, maintain and heat/cool and that require more resources to build and more land to be strippped to allow for the homes to be built. I get all that. And I am a FIRM believer that we should get skinnier in general.

But - come on. Really? Do we need to blame the Earth's own demise on obesity? I've seen the dinosaurs (or at least the bones, artist renderings and CGI animations) and some of those creatures seemed fat. I've seen fat dogs (but their poop greens the park around the corner so . . . ) and I've seen skinny CEOs of companies that seem hellbent on destroying our planet to make a few bucks.

So - do we blame all this on the overweight?

Yep. Forget all the recreational things that we do that fill our earth with pollution. Forget corporate responsibility. Forget the government regulations that allow polluters to pay fines to keep on dumping (have you ever seen the cost/benefit ratio to some of these fines? LAUGHABLE). Don't even worry about large cities following New York's example to raise tolls and other fees to encourage carpooling and off-peak travel. Don't you dare encourage hire gas prices as a way to curb elective driving. Why bother redeveloping the hearts of our cities, where people can walk to and from work, home, food, amusement and culture when you have the suburbs and wide open spaces to destroy? I know. I get it. All of that is useful. If we could just get SKINNY though.

Ugh. Plant a tree, hug it and then get back to what you were doing.

Including getting skinny. Maybe I should try Mother Nature as motivation to get me to the gym. I haven't tried that . . . yet.

DISCLAIMER - I'm not really "upset" about people making obesity part of the planetary debate.  I'm really not.  I just think it is "funny" that this article is very matter-of-fact and serious about the importance of obesity in this fight.  Just seems a little misguided.  NO reason to clarify that no one believes obesity is the sole cause of global warming (or whatever).  I get it.  Really, I do.  My rage is just for "effect".  

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pedi Madness . . .

Who's foot is this . . .


a) Mine
b) A mystery woman's (Who's foot I (as a man with a foot fetish) secretly, uh, enjoy)
c) Wifey's
d) Ava's

If you said . . .

a) Be Serious. I would never go with pink and a flower and a diamond all at the same time (any two at one given time MAYBE)
b) I'm not a "foot" man. Sorry, ladies!
c) Nope. Joy did get her nails done but this is not her foot.
d) Yep. Ava got her first pedicure today.

Gamma Amo madness has hit the Wichi-Wichi. The butter loving, toe painting, matching outfit wearing ends tomorrow though, sadly, for another couple of months.

Does any one ever wonder why I say this blog is about obesity, weight loss or ME? I read my own posts some days and wonder how annoying I must be to the average GB patient/fan/curious spectator/etc.

I PROMISE to get back to fat-talk one of these posts. Promise.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Silent Sunday . . .

My dad did us the "favor" of snapping a few family pictures at the Art Show today. Ah. God love him! We had to beg him to take the second one (he was sure he had it on the first take). Which one DO we frame? Another perfect picture of a family memory. I can't decide.


Ava's First Gallery Show . . .

When I was a kid - I fancied myself an "artist" (and a poet, and an actor, and a world champion basket weaver. And a Grammy winning vocalist (best male artist, Contemporary Pop Standards, 1987 - to be exact). And a happy, well adjusted adult despite all of my fame and artistic success).

My parents were all too happy to nurture my creative side. I can remember, from a very young age, taking all sorts of arts and craft classes and then, later, painting, sculpting, fabric arts, pottery, photography and even human body sketching (I was 14 and saw boobies. Real ones. On a real woman. In person (giggle, giggle, smile, blush)). I can also remember getting very frustrated when my artistic urges didn't quite come out as I wanted them to on the paper in front of me. Picture tears, tantrums, ripped up pieces of work, my mother being "scolded" on the drive home (like it was her fault). This self-deprecation and pouting is a weakness I still suffer as a professional - just ask my colleagues that suffer me when I can't get exactly what I want out of a client proposal, viral video or posters for a tree giveaway.

I eventually got the whole thing in check. I went to college. Started just "being". Stopped doing anything that I felt too much pressure to be successful at in terms of my creativity. I did a few plays in college but that was about it. By the time I finished graduate school I had a shrink asking me if I had "ever considered" artistic expression as a way to deal with my depression and issues. "Uh, yeah, I scoffed at her." - and then ran to the Art Store in Georgetown and spent hundreds of dollars on materials to give me some relief.

Worked like a charm, right? Right.

So - fast forward nine years and Ava is taking her first formal art class (to go with the dance, music and tumbling classes she is already engaged in). Ava is "enrolled" in Monart here in Wichita and she LOVES it. She seems very impressed by and fond of her teacher, Miss Pepper (who I can only assume is somehow related to Sargeant Pepper based on her creativity and general presence) and she seems to be really enjoying it.

I put this all in the context of "from what I can gather" as I have never actually seen Ava in "action" at art school. I get a new piece of work for my office every week and I see the new pieces showing up on the fridge and Wifey gives me a debrief each week but - until today - I had never seen the magic that could exist when the "art world" didn't consist of Ava, me, the playroom and whatever arts and crafts supplies she was in the mood for on any given day.

Ava had her first "showing" today at the Monart Open House. We put Ava's hair in "soft, flowing waves" (No, I don't know what that means) and Wifey, Gamma, Gampa, Grandma Terry, (Aunt) Stefknee, Lexy, Ava and I all went and enjoyed the art work, the free cookies and the outstanding blue sand.

I was so very proud of Ava and I can't wait to see the creative things her life might be full of (yes, I'm that Dad - I am convinced my child is magically blessed with artistic brilliance (so sue me)).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Little Sweeden USA . . .

I took today off from work. Spent some time with the 'rents. It was a rainy and gloomy day so we decided to roll north to Little Sweeden, USA.

That's right. For those of you on "the coasts" - if you are looking for Sweeden, only smaller, you are going to have to chart a course for Kansas.

I'm not one to really know the subtle differences of European cultures.

I know the Crepe is French. I know that pasta comes from China (with credit to Italy) and I know that the Nazis were German. I know that my favorite Communist of all time (Olga) comes from Russia and I know that Big Ben chimes in London.

The rest is all just European Pops and Buzzes perpetuated, as Tom Friedman would likely agree, by the introduction of the Euro, an increasingly blurring line between cultural and national roles and heritages and a growing appreciation of the "finer" things that any given culture has to offer by the neighbors, fans, enemies and competitors of that nation.

I don't understand European fashion. What is up with the shoes the men wear and the armpit hair the woman grow? (DISCLAIMER - I am speaking in broad, stereotyped brush strokes here for the sake of showcasing me as an idiot, not to put down the Europeans) What is up with the every Parisian I've ever met speaking gooder English than me and every Italian I've ever met either being drop-dead stunning or, uh, not at ALL drop-dead stunning? What is up with the dual rise of majolica as a pottery glazing technique that is "uniquely" Italian AND "uniquely" Portuguese? What is up with how good Portuguese food is?

I digress.

I have a point, I hope.

We walked around Little Sweeden for about 90 minutes. We stopped in shops. We posed for pictures with the Dala Horses that dotted Main Street and we perused the art galleries. All while smelling the delicious cuisine coming out of the restaurants, cafes and shops and all while enjoying the authentic Sweedish music being pumped in to the streets (literally) from the light poles along main street.

Finally - we had had enough. We had to eat (well Gamma and Gampa did, Ava wanted to go to the park and Joy was anxious to go to the bathroom). We settled in to one of the restaurants on Main Street and ordered the buffets - all around.

I went up and perused the offerings. LOTS of starches. Lots of soups. Lots of mystery gravies, sauces and desserts. Some pasta. Some beef. I grabbed three ounces of the beef, some cheese, two slices of cucumbers and headed back to the table and pondered what it means to eat "Sweedish" food.

Three foods come to mind . . .

1 - Sweedish Fish. Loved 'em. Used to eat them by the box. The Sam's Club sized box, to be specific.
2 - Sweedish Meatballs. Never really got in to them. Not sure why not. They have all the things I should love about a dish.
3 - Hot Dogs. They sell them at the cafe in Ikea. I just said I don't like Sweedish Meatballs. What else would I eat when I went to the home furnishing superstore?

More than just Sweedish foods, I pondered how the various cuisines of Europe might either further, or minimize obesity and how it is that Europeans, as a whole, have such smaller waist lines and healthier lifestyles despite the Freidman-supported influence of American culture on the continent.

Anywho - deep thought abandoned. Ava was dipping her cucumber in gravy and mushing crackers in her hands. I had bigger problems than worldwide obesity and cuisinal influences throughout Europe on my hands.

PS - Full disclaimer. I am an idiot. I called Imp at the office to see if I could bring her back one of those tasteful "__________ Parking Only" signs or "___________'s make the Best Coffee (and Lovers)" mugs that they sold in the gift shops and - when she informed me she was partially Norweigan, I asked, sadly "That is Norway, right?" Uggh. Tom Friedman is laughing at my expense right now. Again. Bastard.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Pie . . .

In the Amore family we have many, many "traditions."

We put the beer and wine in the snow for Christmas Eve dinner (not enough fridge space for all that boozy goodness) and we each open one present on Christmas Eve.

We never spend New Year's Eve as a full family (bad luck, I guess).

We get "love you" notes from Mom on Valentine's Day.

We used to have "lamb cakes" for our respective Saint's Days (my father still gets one on St. Joseph's Day).

We eat Easter Pie. What IS Easter Pie, you ask?!

Well . . . Easter Pie is an Italian tradition (at least a tradition for the Anthony Amore of Italy family - the rest of you Italians might well be scractching your heads and asking what the heck I'm talking about - you non-Italians are probably surprised we don't use pizza or pasta for every meal (smile)).

My father carried the torch from his father and, in our generation, Ryan is the steward of the Easter Pie tradition.

From his earliest days at St. Bonaventure, Ryan would come to DC to spend Easter with his brothers (and hords of other admirers) to hone his skills as a pie-man and to carry on what is probably his favorite Easter tradition.

I would have full-blown Easter Pie "parties" during my DC days. 15, 20 pepole would come to the apartment. We'd spend the day grocery shopping, drinking and baking and then everyone would eat a big slab of Easter Pie and every drop of booze in their system would vanish and they would be sober again.

Easter Pie, you see, is SERIOUS business. Each pie has (and I may be exaggerating here) five dozen eggs, three pounds of cheese (one pound of each of five cheese varieties), four pounds of various meats (all of which happen to be salted, cased and/or tubed (not a drop of organic, free range chicken breast to be found in these pies), a half-dozen spices, three sticks of butter and a flaky, store-bought crust to enclose it all.

I would estimate that the average Easter Pie partaker consumes about 750 calories per slice - and we call you out as a coward if you eat less than one slice.

When I lived with Ben in DC he once ate 1/4 of a leftover Easter Pie out of sheer boredom. And couldn't get off the couch for three days (insert blasphemous Jesus resurection joke here).

I used to LOVE Easter Pie. Love it. I would whoop up on it at the table, eat a little more while I was doing the dishes adn I was the first one to microwave a slab while everyone else was trying to sleep off their first round of heavy, heavy tradition.

I would eat Easter Pie for every snack, meal, nervousness breaker and boredom killer until the pie was gone.

I haven't had Easter Pie in four Easters though. The last time I partook was a particularly stressful day for me. We had Easter Pie at Patrick and Joyell's apartment. Joy and I were prepping to move to Connecticut and were waiting for Ava to be born. Joy was working on a movie so she couldn't go and I was very sad to be alone, tense and with my brothers and some friends for what I knew would be the last Easter Pie I ever enjoyed as a "local" (and, without my knowing, the last time for several, several years). I think I ate three slices. And took home leftovers that I ate on the drive back to Baltimore.

I don't miss Easter Pie. I don't. I still eat eggs and/or Egg Beaters. I put a little cheese on them. I will mix it up with some turkey bacon or turkey sausage every now and again. I leave out the butter and the pie crust.

Life goes on. Food is not as important. I don't miss the misery of a slice of Easter Pie and a half bottle of champagne.

I do miss my brothers and the tradition though. I miss the time with them. I miss Ryan's excitement for pies (he called me twice in the days leading up to their celebration at Patrick's house to share the joy) and I miss that I'm no longer an active participant in the TRADITION of Easter Pie.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Look Deeper . . .

I hate Simon Cowell and I hate American Idol. NOT because of the talented people on the show but because of the mean, dark and cynical nature of the way the "auditions" are televised - the way they exploit people who dare to dream and who dare to get in front of people and share their "gifts" (even when there is no present inside the box (smile)).

Take heed, people.

Don't let looks and general appearances fool you. Strange is not always a negative adjective and surprises can come from anywhere! Watch this whole video.

The best seven minutes you'll spend with Simon Cowell as long as you live.

Enjoy the chills. Get inspired. Give people a second chance - or a FIRST.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter Everybody . . .

Well, Easter is all over but the disposal of the dyed eggs. We had quite the celebration here at Chez Amore. We not only had our immediate family but we had both sets of our parents, one brother in law, one sister in law, our only neice and one of Joy's Grandmas too. A house full of love and a great (even with the cold and rainy weather) day to spend with loved ones.
Gamma and Gampa Amo had the Easter Bunny stop by on Saturday for a pre-visit. He brought about sixteen packages (kid you not) from Upstate New York that included toys, clothes, a DVD, some candy and various seasonal trappings. Ava's favorite gift from the whole pile? Two Easter pencils. She quickly discarded all the rest of the stuff to enact the adventures of "Egg Pencil and Bunny Eraser." Quite the imagination on that one . . .
The Easter Bunny returned on Sunday morning with the rest of Ava's haul (this time coordinated by Mommy and Daddy). We really did try to restrain ourselves this year but this was the first toy-centered holiday (you should see how excited Ava got for President's Day this year (that is sarcasm)) that Ava was truly excited about. For weeks, several times a day, Ava has asked what the Easter Bunny was going to bring her and when he was coming. Turns out all she really wanted was pencils but - he brought her this whole pile of stuff anyway.
The family came over a few hours later for an Easter Brunch. Dad Terry is on one of those "special" diets (and he's been doing very, very well and we are very, very proud of him) so he was our unofficial host for brunch. He was all smiles - until he disappeared while the rest of us ate (poor guy).

We had quite the spread on the Boo's Block. Note the Easter table cloth, egg shaped bowls and dressy attire on everyone. Joy and I were in sweats and t-shirts when everyone showed up. I guess we missed the memo that people were doing the fancy thing this year . . . it was fun to see everyone all dressed up.

We had a kid's table for Ava and Lexy - even with all the leafs in the real table - we just couldn't quite accomodate everyone. Joy made Fancy Nancy Pink Lemonade for the girls. It was a real hit. Lexy looks like a young woman lately. Scary that she's getting so mature looking. In a good way, technically, but scary.


After dinner we all just sort of sat around and talked. Four generations of strong women in the house was quite the thing. Grandma Timmermeyer went ahead and schooled my father and the liberation she feels since leaving the Catholic Church after 56 years of going every Sunday (take THAT Knights of Columbus).
Uncle DJ played the blushing bride during the requisite "dress up" part of the Easter party. He's quite a good sport when it comes to letting a nine and almost-three year old girl pull his "feminine" side out of him. Not to fret, brother, in about two more months our country's birthday will be here and we'll be blowing stuff up at the end of the driveway. Machismo will rule that day!

Other Mother was none-too-appreciative of the picture of her I chose to acknowledge her birthday. She jokingly implied that I might be intentionally picking the worst pictures I could for her. Now - I ask you - if I was not out to protect the best interests of my mother-in-law and to extend and further her dignity - would I really chose this picture of her wearing a crown and cape and blowing out the candle on a plastic birthday cupcake? Well, maybe she does have a point - this ONCE!


Happy Easter, everyone! Thanks for sharing the day with us, family! Missed you terribly, brothers!

Losing My Drive-In Virginity . . .

That is losing my drive-in virginity.  NOT losing my virginity at the drive-in.  To be clear.  

Disclaimer said . . . Joy and I took full advantage of having Gamma and Gampa Amo in town last night. We did something truly unique. Truly bold. Truly entertaining.

We piled in the car with our latest obsession, the Koskies, and headed to Wichita's only drive-in movie theater.

What an adventure it was! 

Here are the ten things I learned at the Drive-In (you could benefit from these lessons too if you don't already know them) . . . 

1 - You can get a car load of people in for $10.  That means, for us, each of us could have watched three movies for just $2.50/person.  Take THAT, Mr. Warren.

2 - You can bring your own food and beverage in to the Drive-In.  No additional charge.  no fees.  Just bring it in and enjoy it.  Brandi made us a delicious grilled, dry-rubbed chicken and grilled vegetables with some grilled pineapple on the side.

3 - Shelton refuses to eat cooked/warmed/heated fruit.  Brandi brought him some cold pineapple.  Wives are wonderful.

4 - Vin Diesel really is the Marlon Brando of our generation.  Sadly he's the later-in-life Marlon Brando (slightly bloated, angry, hard to understand, making questionable film choices, etc.).  Like Brando (and Stevie Wonder though) - we can all fondly remember his great moments and pops of genius and forgive him his late-career indiscretions.

5 - The Chilly Dilly commercial is borderline hilarious when you are with three fellow, late-pubescent 30-somethings in the back of a Nissan X-Terra getting giddy over Fast & Furious (any minute now).

6 - The sound quality of the 30-year-old, wired speakers you strap to your car to hear the movie at the Drive-In make car chases, explosions and mumbled dialogue really "pop" the way the director no-doubt intended them to be.

7 - Once the first person honks their horn during the movie, the next 30 or 40 beeps are "honks" are just something you have to ride out.  Yelling for it to stop, as the guy in the car next to us did, doesn't really help.  It just doesn't.  It might make it worse.

8 - The Kansas wind on an April evening, no matter how warm the air might or might not be, will remind you that winter may be technically over but Spring clearly has more work to do before the shorts and flip flops are appropriate attire once the sun goes down.

9 - Only you can, by frequenting the Drive-In, can stop the decline of American standards and ideals.  It is true.  According to the pre-trailer infomercial and signs posted in the bathroom, it is up to you to ensure that Drive-Ins are here to stay and they don't become another " boring strip mall of shops and stores."  

10 - No matter how much fun you are having with your friends at the Drive-In, when that first movie is over (and the scary movie is about to begin) it is time to pick up the trash, fold up the blankets and the chairs and put the seats back in their normal and up-right positions and get home.  After all - you've already paid your admission.  The future of American culture is secure.  Go home.  Warm up.  Come back soon.  

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lunch Theater, For the Kids . . .

What do you do when your parents - who really enjoy going to the theater and spending time with their grandaughter are in town? Simple. You try to incorporate some dinner theater in to the mix, silly.

One problem. The dinner part. Too late. Too stuffy. Too formal. Too late (smile). I have a solution only a fairy god mother could offer. LUNCH theater.

We have a place right around the corner that caters to the Toddler Theater Set with kid-friendly productions of their Disney favorites proceeded by an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch. That only a kid . . . and comfort food lover . . . could love.

So. We lunched with Cinderella and her ugly step sisters today. We (and by "we" I mean everyone at the table but me) enjoyed boiled hot dogs with steamer-table hardened buns. Soggy french fries. Bland macaroni and cheese and some sort of apple/mystery fruit sauce (it was pink(ish)) and I-don't-think-they-were-100-percent-all-natural-white-meat chicken "nuggets". And a sugar cookie.

I'm not complaining. I'm really not. The whole thing was not for me. This is part of parenting. You do what makes your kids happy (and Ava, who got a chance to wear her Easter Dress a day early, was in HEAVEN). She nibbled at the food. She laughed and sang along with the cast of the show. She wanted to wait in line to get Cinderella's autograph. The production itself was great. The cast was talented and funny and the atmosphere of the place is fun, fun, fun.

Anywho - Lunch Theater. Try new things. Be a well rounded perosn. The lunch part might not exactly fit your post GB lifestyle but the rest of it (time with you daughter, wife, parents and Cinderella) will fit you like a glass slipper. And you can enjoy some egg whites in a whole-wheat wrap when you get home.

Friday, April 10, 2009

They're Heeeeeereeee . . .

My parents are in town. They got in Tuesday night. We are really enjoying their visit (as we always do) and I meant to post earlier in the week but things got a little crazy so - here is a brief update on what we have been up to with Gamma and Gampa Amo since they hit town.

TUESDAY - I picked my parents up at the airport. Alone. You could see the disappointment in their eyes when I confirmed I was "Avaless". Grandparents are cute. I, apparently, am not. Went to Caffe Posto on the way home to waste a few minutes (Ava was napping). My father said he was "surprised" I could have Splenda in my iced tea. First urge to retell the "rules" of post gastric bypass life is held at bay. Dropped my parents off at home. Got them settled. Went back to work. Ava woke up. Put on a fashion show.

WEDNESDAY - Gampa Amo had his first "potty" experience with a 2 3/4-year-old girl. He did quite well and has been Ava's favorite potty-partner ever since. Insert my sigh of relief at having a few less daily trips to the bathroom with the Princess of "Will I or Won't I Go" here.

Gamma made Ava an outfit that she had to make a few fitting-tweaks too. Aunt Joyell is in Pennsyvlania reading this, jealous as hell that Gamma has someone new to try and dress (smile).
Gamma and Gampa have their first "I prefer to be 95% (or more) naked when you I'm read to" experience. They don't seem to mind. Ava asks Gampa if he wants to take his shirt off. We all answer an emphatic "no" on his behalf (and our own).

THURSDAY - Rice Krispie Eggs were made. They are like Rice Krispie Treats - only shaped like eggs and covered in chocolate, frosting and sprinkles (because regular Rice Krispie Treats are just not sweet (or messy) enough. I realize my parents are "those" Grandparents who delight in hopping the kid up on sugar and then washing their hands of the energy burst that follows. I can't wait to be a grandparent!

FRIDAY - I took the day off (which means I only worked from 6:45 AM - 11:30 AM (client presentation)) and came home early. We putzed around for a good part of the afternoon. We went to the indoor "playland" at McDonald's to let Ava run off some energy (the ground was wet at the playground). That place gave me fits. 20 screaming, running, snot dripping kids. 20 mothers just happy to have two mintues of peace and quiet. Let me say this again here - if you have ever made any assumptions about how difficult it might be to be a stay at home Mom - double those expectations and add a few more ounces of credit. These women work. HARD! I respect them. I admire them. I don't envy them.

We took Ava home. Gave her a nap and then headed over to Gramma and Grampa Terry's for dinner - the girls enjoyed mashed potato beaters . . .

. . . my Other Mother's birthday celebration (I won't say how old she is but she's one year short of being eligible for many senior discounts and 11 years away from full social security benefits). Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you . . . . . . and for some egg dipping/glittering/stickering/foiling/smashing/dyeing MADNESS! All the kids (even those of us in our 30s) got involved! Joy's Grandma Timmermeyer (Great Mo Mo) is in town for Easter so we enjoyed seeing her too (and hope to see a lot more of her as the weekend progresses).
I can't believe we're already more than 1/3 of the way through this visit. MUCH more fun to have. The time goes by sooooo quickly.

Workplace Wellness Week . . .

You might not know this but this week is (was, essentially) National Workplace Wellness Week.  That's right.  Let's get healthy in the workplace, people.  Walk the stairs.  Put down the chips and the candy bars.  Don't stress out to the point of exhaustion in your next meeting.  Take 'er easy at lunch.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Hope you celebrated Work Wellness Week in style.  

We did!  We put together a little micro-site with useful tips and even partnered to have some digital bulletin boards (like the one above) put up around town.

Work and BE well, folks! 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

No Comment . . .

I wore a pastel shirt to work yesterday (wearing a pale purple one today too).  It is a 16 1/2" neck.  I could not imagine wearing a butter yellow shirt to work without a sports coat before my surgery.  I would have looked like the sun itself.  Only bigger.  And brighter. 

I love spring.  And standing on the head of a co-worker, dressed like a bike messenger.

I DO actually work for my paycheck.  I swear.  

Vote for A Talented Young Woman . . .

I mentioned Joy's cousin, Airelle, and her music once before here on the blog.  

I'm so very impressed with her stepping up and doing something truly different and tapping in to her talents and ambitions.  Airelle is not a GBer herself but - as you know what she is doing is a big part, in my opinion, of life after GB - to step out of your conventional "roles" and "self" and to really take this chance to become who you really are/were the whole time.  

Anywho - being a vocalist/songwriter/etc. seems to be working quite well for Airelle.  

Airelle has her first "gig" later this month at a jam session (or whatever the hip kids are calling them these days (smile)) and then her first full gig is in early May.  Aunt Melinda also tells me that she's going to be doing some regional touring with a California-based group this spring/summer as well.  

Her group, Degenerate List, is currently featured on a music web site called West Side Willy that helps promote new, upcoming and "lesser known" artists as a new artist to watch.  You can (and please do) click here to link to Airelle's MySpace page where you can listen to and vote for her songs.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Clown Tent . . .

We are doing a new business pitch here at work.  Part of any "good" new business pitch is really understanding the product and the service you are pitching.  

That often involves field trips, meetings, agency credit cards and downtime.

Combine ALL of the above and you get this video . . . 

video

I am toooooo self-conscious about myself and my body to have actually gotten in to the tent to participate in the fun (I did get in there with just Shawn and Imp for a few minutes).  In my mind - me in the tent would have precluded the other dozen or so people from being there.  

I wonder when/if my brain will ever see me as a "regular sized" person.  

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Stool Sample . . .

We've lived in our house for about 18 months (Joy and Ava have actually been here 19 months and I have been here 17 months) and Joy has been anxious to make the house "ours" since the day we arrived.

Life with Ava, school, work, family, fun, sleep, errands, chores, challenges and TV shows we truly adore watching make that difficult but - God love her - Joy has really put her proverbial nose to the proverbial grind the last few months and has really made this house spectacular. There are still lots of things she wants to do and I have no doubt she'll get them done and we'll have this place exactly as we want it by the time Ava is a teenager (give or take).

Joy is a person that really enjoys her home. Wants it to be warm and bright and stately and yet approachable. She wants everyone to feel comfortable. To be "at home" in our home - if that makes sense.

I'm not a "decor" person. I don't care about colors or fabrics or styles (our home, I'm told, is French-Country-Cottage-Chic but I have yet to ask what that even means). I don't want people to roll their eyes or feel awkward about my home but I don't truly care what they think of the place or if they want to stay just long enough to deliver our UPS package or if they want to spend weeks at a time under our care. It is what it is . . .

But - like with many of the things in our shared life - we (as a couple, so I can "we" speak here) tend to default to the person who is more gracious in any given environment so our home is all about comfort and making pepole comfortable and happy.

Enter Joy's latest purchase (and the point of this post) . . . our new kitchen table/island/work station. Wifey went out and hooked me up! She bought me a Boos Block to encourage my budding interest in cooking and making our small and sorta' dreadful kitchen something that feels right and that we can be proud of and make great meals in!

I was soooo excited! And then I got scared.

Island height work stations mean just one thing . . . stools. And stools mean just one thing . . . horrible and unspeakable discomfort and misery for fat people like me. Oh no! So - I tried to play it cool and sort of "felt Joy out" on her intentions for stools.

"Since ths is just a temporary solution in this kitchen I'll probably just find the cheapest stools I can," she casually stated.

OH NO!

So - I went to work Friday morning not really knowing what to expect when I got home. I was sure that it would be "okay" but I was not looking forward to it. I would have to sit on a stool - my large, bulging butt hanging off every side of the circular pedestal atop the thin and surely rickety legs.

I walked in the door.

Deep breath.

"They look (LOOK!) great," I faked.

"Have a seat," Joy implored.

And I did. I sat down. On the stool. My butt FIT on the seat. No drooping or hanging or oozing of the cheeks. No discomfort. I sat. And sat. And sat. Didn't shift my weight. Talked to Ava. Talked to Joy. Enjoyed a glass of water. Just sat. Chatted. Laughed.

I was sure these "ah-ha" moments of post surgery life were long over . That the journey had ended.

Then I sat on a stool and had myself a moment. A moment of comfort. A moment of being at home in my home.

Wifey knows exactly what she is doing, once again.

Smart woman. Wonderful woman!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Our Baby's Getting Married (In 25 Years (I Hope)) . . .

Joy has been buying some dress-up clothes for Ava lately. Our little girl has moved beyond the days where one of Joy's (or her own) purses and a pair of old sunglasses made her feel pretty and special. She's no longer impressed with her acrylic 'high heel" shoes. She doesn't get fulfilled with her tutu as much as she used to (ironic considering how much she wears her pink, white, blue and purple tutus - in PUBLIC even).

Nope. Our little Bidders has moved on to full Princess attire. She dresses as a Halloween Witch. She wears her fairy wings with her snowsuit. She dresses - gasp - like a bride.

The most awkward part of this whole thing . . . how Joy and I both cried when we saw the center of our world in a wedding dress knowing that, eventually, it would really be her wedding day. I really should buy stock in Kleenex!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Smokers Unite? . . .

This article cracked me up this morning.  

I view smokers (I have several friends and family members who are smokers so I am sure this will go over like a can of gasoline in a campfire) as the poster children for personal stupidity.  Yep.  I said it.

I, a man who once weighed 530 pounds and was a binge drinking lush, can look you in the eye and laugh at smokers.  No other drug or vice or addiction, to me, is more hilarious than a pack of Marlboro Reds.  Or Salem Slims, for that matter.

I don't want to seem insensitive.  I get that addiction is a strong animal.  I get that people smoke for many reasons (many of which trickle down to buoying the mind and spirit, frankly) and I get that everyone has a right to do whatever they want to do (by and large) in this country. 

But PLEASE don't ask me to feel bad when they raise tobacco taxes.  There is well documented proof of the millions and millions of dollars a year tobacco costs us in healthcare and productivity.  There is NO mention, that I can find, in the documents that our great nation is based on that guarantee the right to affordable smokes.

You smoke.  You pay.  Plain and simple.  I've already come out in FAVOR of "junk food taxes" (I don't think it will curb eating any more than these taxes will stop smokers from puffing) and I am in favor of liquor taxes and fining (versus jailing) those that abuse illegal drugs.  I'm fine with it.

You want to feel bad about the cost of things - talk to me about rising costs for public transportation.  Talk to me about public transportation being eliminated from some cities looking to trim their budgets.  Talk to me about 85 year old men and women who can't pay for their spiking energy bills.  Talk to me about families that can't afford to really feed their families the necessities of a basic diet.  Talk to me about people who can't afford basic health care and medicines for known conditions.

Don't talk to me about any luxury items that are out of grasp for most of us.  Don't talk to me about how we are all having to make tough decisions in our budgets.  The Amore household is even considering getting rid of one of our DVRs and a few of our lesser-read magazine subscriptions (we're CONSIDERING) in our budget.  Please - send your sympathies.  Don't talk to me about people feeling pinched in buying things they don't need.

We fat people, typically, keep our yappers shut when the dollar menu at McDonald's drops our favorite item.  We don't complain when Burger King raises the cost of the "King Sized" fry by a few cents.  We hardly ever mention when Ho-Ho prices spike.  We don't gripe about the cost of food.  We just suck it up and accept that there is a cost (pun intended) to eating in excess.

Suck it up smokers.  Puff, puff - SPEND!  

Star Jones on Oprah . . .

I am neither a fan of Star Jones NOR Oprah.  However - two of the most annoying women on the planet will join forces today to talk about a number of things including gastric bypass.  

Rumor has it that Ms. Jones will be talking, at length, about how gastric bypass is NOT an easy way out of obesity and that it is NOT something that should be seen as a quick fix or a guaranteed solution.  This from a woman who denied - for years - even having the surgery until it suited her purposes to talk about it (perhaps she is doing it again now - I've lost track, does she have a new show or something) BUT I will take it.  

I'll take any one trying to set the record straight on GB.

Someone please watch the show for me and let me know if there are any good nuggets that come out of it.  Otherwise, I'll try to watch for press coverage of the episode and see what I can post here.

Could we all be inspired by Star Jones?  I'm skeptical but time will tell! 

So Close, Yet So Far Away . . .

We're getting down to the wire, folks.  Only eight remain on The Biggest Loser.  They are all so close to getting off the ranch and going back to real life but I feel like - for many - they are SO far away from being truly ready for that.  

Oh my.  What an episode.  So nice (that is sarcasm) to see the contestants finally moving past all that "let's lose weight and do the right thing and celebrate our successes and each other" and get to the stupid game play and the negativity.

First - it was great to see two former winners of the show looking good and doing well but please GOD, NBC, do a little more work to develop their hosting skills if they are going to stick around (I was sooooo glad to see Allison drag her butt out of bed - a few days after giving birth to a child - to manage the weigh in).  If I had to hear Michelle say "You guys" one more time . . . 

Second - Tara.  Tara.  Tara.  Tara.  You have come so far.  You are doing so well.  Stop the bus heading to crazy town.  Get off it.  Acknowledge that you are changing your life.  Stop being soooo insecure.  Stop lying about how much you want competition.  Stop.  Just stop.  Lose weight.  Be happy.  Be honest.  Otherwise it is all for naught.  Believe you me on that.

Third - Nicole.  You look amazing.  Congrats on your progress and on being disinterested in the game and for letting us, the viewers, see just how crazy everyone on that ranch is by week 13.  It was nice to see the subtle undertones of the show through your eyes.  I'm sorry you had such a bummer of a week.  Go home.  Get married.  Make beautiful and healthy babies.  Feel good about being true to yourself.  Thanks for your tearful and inspiring exit chat.  I ALMOST made it through an episode of The Biggest Loser without crying.  And then you had to say goodbye with so much class.

Fourth - Ron.  Stop making Gastric Bypass out to be the problem.  You had the procedure 13 years ago.  The medicine has evolved.  The understanding has evolved.  The lifestyle has evolved.  You were not ready.  You were not disciplined.  You were not a good candidate.  You failed.  Your surgery did not fail you.  Your surgery did exactly what it was supposed to do.  Gave you a little pouch to replace a big stomach.  That you stretched it out, abused it, overate and regained all your weight and then some is on you.  I say this knowing that - GOD FORBID - it is me and ONLY me that will be to blame if, 13 years from now, I have gained weight back and am struggling.  And to the show itself . . . stop putting mystery around Gastric Bypass.  The bleeding was from existing ulcers.  NOT from gastric bypass surgery.  Enough already.  You're just spreading negativity.  I get your spin/slant . . . that hard work, exercise, color-coded t-shirts and reward challenges are the only way to really lose weight . . . but that is not REALITY.  That is your take.  Some of us are doing it without the t-shirts and the challenges.  The hard work?  Sure.  The exercise?  No comment.

Fifth - The rest of yuns.  I'm over almost all of you.  I wish you all the best but stop with the stupid game play.  Just lose the weight.  Stay above the yellow line.  Be happy for each other.  Encourage each other.  And please, please, PLEASE get hair cuts.  I can't wait for the make-over episode.  I need you all trimmed back and re-colored (Kristin) ASAP.