For My 50th Birthday, I lost 50 Pounds

In ten months. It might actually be sixty-four pounds, according to my doctor, but who’s counting?
Here’s the big thing. I did it without basically changing my diet. Yes, I gave up peanut M&Ms, golden Oreos, and a lot of 7-up. I even cut down on ice cream, though with this weather that’s already changed. But I still have sugary cereal every morning, and a lot of days feature bacon and eggs, ham and cheese, potatoes of some kind, waffles, bean and cheese burritos, burgers, and country fried steak.
Not so funny story: I actually haven’t had cereal in five days. At first it’s because I ran out of milk, but on Friday I bought a gallon, along with a huge container of ice cream, and managed to stuff them into my backpack. It was 108 degrees that day, so I walked as fast as I could toward home after getting off the bus. Somehow the milk jug managed to open the zipper on the backpack and suicidally plunge to the sidewalk! Argh!
But back to it. I’m sure people are going to ask how I lost the weight, so here goes. The first thing to mention is that I have a fast metabolism. I gain weight quickly, but I lose it too. There were days when I lost five pounds in about three hours, and no, I don’t know how that happens, it just does. But that’s not the most important point.
I’ve lived with chronic pain since my spinal injury in my early twenties. Since then I’ve picked up numerous other injuries, especially to my knees. Recently I’ve had a torn rotator cuff, which I decided not to have surgically repaired (best decision ever, physical therapy took the pain away!). Most importantly, I have arthritis in my knees, hips, and every part of my spine.
Last October I found myself having to change domiciles. That meant three weeks of packing, and seemingly hundreds of trips to the dumpster. Worse—biggest of all—was the hundreds of trips back up the stairs to the apartment, stairs being the worst thing for my knees. While there was pain from using muscles that had been dormant for a long time, I quickly realized that my chronic pain did not get worse.
That was the key. In those three weeks, I was shocked to discover I’d lost twelve pounds.
Now knowing I could do things without pain, or without more pain, I joined an aqua arthritis class at the Y, did a lot of treadmill, and managed to get some pretty cheap equipment for a home gym. I’m talking some small dumbbells and resistance bands, rollers, a yoga mat, things like that, not actual giant machines you’d find at the gym. Most of the exercises are courtesy of the people at Bleu Physical Therapy in Alhambra, a place I highly recommend.
So that’s it. The big 5-0. Here’s hoping I manage to get through the day without anyone surprising me with some stupid party. . .

;o)

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Always Look Around

Even if you’ve done the same commute thousands of times, it always pays to look around, and especially up.

;o)

Magic: Andrew Goldenhersh

Also known as Goldenhands, Andrew is my favorite magician. It helps that he’s married to one of my favorite musicians–more on her in an upcoming blog–but he’s won plenty of awards and done numerous big shows to prove he’s one of the best prestidigitators out there.
And even though I’ve seen him do this trick before, this is the first time I was able to photograph it, which made it all the more fun for me. Hi Elmo!

;o)

Travel Thursday: After Arlington Garden

After the visit to Arlington Garden that I blogged about last week I decided to go further north to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, and for the first time go behind Huntington Hospital rather than the usual Fair Oaks route. I was amazed that in the span of three blocks there was so much gawking to be had.

The famous fork in the road. Read about it, seen photos. Life complete.

Considering my preferences for what is commonly known as weak tea, I’d better not go in there.

How libraries start out.

;o)

Travel Thursday: Lindsey Stirling on Jimmy Kimmel

I always give myself 15 minutes to walk to the bus stop for the ride downtown, even though it takes less than ten. (If you’ve followed this blog for a while—yeah right, welcome—you’ll know my fave Shakespeare quote is “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”) But thanks to my favorite app, I see that the bus that runs on my street and takes me to the light-rail station is coming in 5, so I do that instead, and thankfully there was enough of a break in the traffic to let me run across while it was about a block away. I do so love living on the edge. . .
The great thing about the light-rail, besides everything, is that it has a perfectly moderated air conditioning setting, whereas most buses will put it on freezing in the mistaken impression this is the way to go when it’s searing outside. And no matter how many times I’ve told them they don’t need to do that, some people are just allergic to logic.
Since I took the rules spelled out on the Jimmy Kimmel ticket email a lot more seriously than most people, as I saw when I got there later, I took as little as possible with me: no backpack, no water bottle, and definitely no headphones, so no music on the long rides on the train and subway. And they said no shorts! In this 95-degree heat my legs were very confused. (And there were a lot of people in shorts that were allowed in, dammit!) Stopped off at Olvera Street for my usual bean and cheese burrito, followed by a softie vanilla; after that I was ready for anything, including the boring non-musical subway ride that left me at Hollywood and Highland.
The irony did not elude me that I was in the place where I first saw Lindsey Stirling—The Dolby Theater—and I’m about to watch her again right across the street. I hope she plays her Christmas show somewhere else, though not too far away.

Finally I find the right line on the sidewalk and stand between an older couple from Texas and a younger couple from North Carolina; kinda felt weird being the local. It was at this point that one of the employees came by and said we might not get in if enough of the “special” people in the other line came and filled up all the seats. My back was already hurting and I truly felt like giving up, but stuck through another half hour until they moved us up and in; many people after me made it, so thanks a lot for the drama, dude! I regret giving you that fist bump.
You don’t get to put your phone on silent or airplane mode; nope, if you don’t turn it completely off you don’t get in. Then we waited on the stairs leading into the studio, moving another step every time the people in front were slowly told where to sit, off in pairs like we were heading into Noah’s Ark. Turns out the only other person there not in a couple was a girl from China standing next to me, so after a cheery “Hello!” to me—I shoulda remembered to say “Ni Hao!”—she led the way as we were escorted to the very back row. I didn’t mind, though my knees would have preferred not to do all the stairs. The guy doing the talking, a rugged lumberjack type named Linc, then came to the front to run the rules by us, and did a pretty good job with the humor, enough that I thought he might be the warmup. When he said, “Don’t do the El Lay thing, where nothing impresses you,” I realized I’d have to act excited after all, dammit. After he was done everyone rushed to the restroom, which is downstairs—great, more stairs—and are right next to the green rooms. I looked for Kit or Drew for a quick hello, but the glaring security guards kept me from lingering.
Once I climbed the damned stairs back up to the studio, the actual warmup guy was there, a balding big guy who thought he was Rickles, and was almost as good. Being from Michigan, he couldn’t stop heckling the guy from Ohio, and was all gaga for the girl from Virginia who was in the clip about finding North Korea on a map; he named her Queen of the Day and gave her a crown, in fact.
On to the show. Since I don’t watch the series he’s in, had no idea who Milo Ventimiglia was. Have to disagree about his name winning Scrabble, as it has too many vowels. And I didn’t know he was a fellow Bruin until I just now looked up how to spell his name. BTW, after Kimmel’s monologue, while the crew was setting up the desk and chairs behind him, he talked to one guy in the audience who just moved here from Massachusetts to attend UCLA, so it was a beautiful non-Trojan day.
After him was another celeb stranger to me, Jenny Slate, who turned out to be a pretty funny comedian, in that offbeat-sorta-weird coocoo cloudlander kinda way; she’s like a wannabe Zoe Deschanel. Her love for chicken fingers and beer ruins any potential romance with this guy, though.
Okay, on to the important part. Because I was in the last row, I had to wait for everyone else to stream out back toward where we entered, because on the west side of the old lobby was the stage where Lindsey would play. Those in front got to stand right in front of the stage, whereas by the time I got there I was in the very back, behind a pillar, plus there was a camera rig in front of me. I got occasional glimpses of Lindsey and Rooty, could see Kit most of the time, but didn’t glimpse the drum set at all. I did spot Adina once, if that makes up for it.
So there goes “Love’s Just A Feeling,” with all the musicians playing extraordinarily well; they brought it, for sure. Unfortunately the audience didn’t seem to know what to make of it; they were faking it as well as they could, but seemed confused as to whether they liked it or not, or were possibly stunned to see a violinist dancing. Because the crowd energy wasn’t at the level needed, the stage manager informed everyone that the song would be done again, which was fine with me. And then we got the bonus of the full version of “The Arena,” with the same video stuff as the concert playing behind her, and that seemed to be a bigger crowd pleaser. For once I forgot to notice which violin she was using, though I was too far away to tell if it was Excalibur or Bushwhacker anyway.
There were two guys standing in front of me, and during the first try they just stood there like they’d rather be anywhere else, even though everyone around them was at least faking the enjoyment. But when “Love’s” played again they were feeling it, clapping along, tapping their feet. By the time “The Arena” came along they were fully into it, as was most of the crowd around me; whereas before they might have faked the woo-hoos for the camera, this time it was totally genuine. And with Kimmel’s close-to-two-million-viewers nightly average, it’ll be interesting to see if Lindsey gets an uptick in sales and social media follows.
I got to say hi to Drew after, but he was too busy breaking down the skins to hang out.
Looking back, I was surprised at how quickly and smoothly the show went, especially in comparison to other shows. Sitcoms that film in front of a live studio audience take at least four hours for 20 minutes of screen time, while dramas sometimes need eight days! We were done in less than two hours—no idea as to exact times, as my phone was off—almost real time, and it’s a testament that only a few hours later it was airing on the East Coast; they must have been editing as they went along. I know there’s a ton of work that needs to be done beforehand, but they made it look so easy, so kudos to everyone. It felt like we spent more time in line than in the actual show, which for all I know is entirely possible.
With all that done, I debated where to eat. The McD’s fries are always there, and In-N-Out isn’t far away, though always full. I haven’t eaten at Mel’s in a long time, mostly because the price doesn’t equal the flavor, but then I remembered how much I love the Orange Freeze there and set out eagerly. As is my wont in this place, I sat at the counter, ignoring the mini juke boxes while I caught up on the world via my phone. It took longer to be served than for them to make my delicious treat, and they added more whipped cream than I remember, but no complaints here. As usual I took the cherry off and placed it on the napkin, this time leaving it there, not daring to ask anyone if they wanted it, not since the infamous “taking my cherry” debacle of 2009.
Uneventful ride home, the best kind.
And now as I write this I’m watching the show on TV, and now I understand why they put me in the back row (on the other hand, the guy sitting next to me was much better looking). It’s pretty intriguing to see the differences. I remember everything that was shown, but there were also some parts that were edited out. The concert was actually better on TV; as I mentioned, I was stuck in the back behind a pillar. (I promised Drew I’d yell out his name, but he couldn’t hear me from back there.) So while it was nowhere near as good as a full concert, especially one where I sat in the fifth row, it was a pretty interesting experience to see Lindsey with my eyes instead of a TV or computer monitor. It was my day off, and nothing is sore or achy the next day, so no downsides at all.
Now point me to where I can get tickets for the Christmas show, Lindsey. . .

;o)

Food Review: Juanita’s

A lot of people kid me for not liking Mexican food. Others playfully harass me for not being a foodie, which is harder for me to understand, even when they mention my tastes in literature, music, movies, and so on.
The truth is I’m a man of simple tastes (that includes women, before you ask). I order my burgers plain with cheese only, my country fried steak without sauce, my bacon and eggs without anything else. I could tell you about my hypersensitivity to spices and such, but I don’t want to give you any more easy jokes.
So with all that, Juanita’s on Olvera Street makes the best bean and cheese burritos. Whenever I’m at Union Station with time to spare before going somewhere else, I’ll walk over there and talk to Edward about Firefly or cosplay or something else geeky while savoring the easy smooth flavor the only two ingredients mix into. . . three, if you count the tortilla. This is especially important ever since my favorite downtown eatery, the Yorkshire, closed down, and Clifton’s changed for the much worse.
You may now expect my next food review sometime in the next decade.

;o)

Paramount Plaques

7 of Fine! Jeri Ryan was here!

7 of Fine! Jeri Ryan was here!

Every Star Trek except DS9, plus NCIS: Los Angeles.

Every Star Trek except DS9, plus NCIS: Los Angeles.

I shoulda checked if that anachronism still worked or was just a prop. . .

I shoulda checked if that anachronism still worked or was just a prop. . .

Star Trek movies are Pretty in Pink

Star Trek movies are Pretty in Pink

Katherine Heigl was here! So was Terry Farrell!

Katherine Heigl was here! So was Terry Farrell!

Facebook Memories reminded me that it’s been a year since my visit to the set of NCIS: Los Angeles. Walking around the lot doesn’t make for many great shots, with almost everything inside the stages, so I had to make fun by shooting the historical plaques that mentioned shows I loved, or at least actresses I enjoyed looking at.

 

;o)