Archive for March, 2008

Treading Lightly on New Machine

I’m in love with the new TreadClimber at the gym. When my lower back is hurting– which is too frequently these days– and I know that running will only exacerbate the issue, I do a brisk walk on the treadmill instead. Unfortunately, even after walking 3 to 4 miles on the treadmill at a 14-minute mile pace or faster, I still feel like I’m not getting a good enough alternate workout.

Enter the TreadClimber, a fusion of the treadmill and stair climber. The great thing about the TreadClimber is I’m able to achieve my target heart rate (for cardiovascular efficiency) during the workout, which I can’t when using the regular treadmill. This machine allows me to burn twice as many calories within the same amount of time as on a treadmill.

I had to find my balance the first couple of times I used the machine. But, soon, I was TreadClimbing like a pro, and getting a better workout. Plus, my lower back doesn’t hurt at the end of my workout. Big bonus! The only downside is that we only have two of these machines at the gym and, in spite of arriving there between 5:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., I find that other members have beaten me to them– they themselves having found the benefits of the fantastic contraption.

I hope that the gym management realize how popular these machines have become and would hopefully trade in some of the ellipticals for a couple more.

Airline Ads

I love airline commercials. (I know, I’m seeking therapy for it…) Here are some gems from the 70’s and 80’s when jingles were still all the rave:

This has to be my all-time favorite:

All Parts of a Complete Breakfast

Today, I made breakfast instead of going to a café to buy it. I’m sorry if some of my posts have become breakfast-centric. But I simply love breakfast. 🙂

NOTE: These are not my pictures. They are a graphical representation of what I ingested this morning.

Musings Over an Omelet

There is nothing worse than surly waiters than annoying customers.

This morning, I visited the Cup & Saucer Cafe for the first time in forever. My usual waiter was there, looking like he’d just rolled out of bed and put on the cleanest-looking t-shirt and pair of jeans he could find from a pile on his apartment floor. In other words, he was the quintessential modern-day hipster. I always seem to have this particular waiter every time I choose to dine at this Hawthorne neighborhood staple, so much so that he already knows not to hand me a menu when I walk in. (I always order the omelet special these days.) He also knows that I would immediately go to the back booth if it was available. He also knows to bring me my decaf with cream.

He was busy; I was his tenth table, and he was alone. I had a feeling that service wasn’t going to be quick today and, sure enough, he didn’t get to my decaf until much later. But, I didn’t mind. It was a lazy Saturday morning, and I had a book in hand. I was fine to wait a little bit.

In front of me, a middle-aged couple was settling into their booth, perusing the menu and specials board. They vacillated loudly about what they might order, which irritated me slightly. I hate people who talk too loudly. Unless you’re making a speech, there is absolutely no reason for you to talk loudly to another person who is sitting two feet away from you. Anyway, as I’d already mentioned, my waiter (who is also the couple’s waiter) was quite busy this morning. Although the couple already had their coffee and waters, they’d grown a bit impatient and the woman shouted over to the waiter, “We’re ready when you are!”

My waiter, who is well-versed in the art of surly service, told them it’ll be just a moment. He had smiled, but there were equal parts sarcasm and absolute disdain in his voice. Another table had just sat themselves in the cafe when the waiter went to the couple’s table, and asked them what they would like for breakfast. Now, here’s the irritating part: The woman who’d yelled not two minutes ago that they were ready to order suddenly looked at the Specials Board and said, “Um, let’s see…what would you recommend?”

From where I sat, and surely from the couple’s vantage point, it was clear how annoyed the waiter was. He said, “I would recommend everything from our menu but it would be dependent on your tastes.” Then the woman proceeded to engage him in a game of twenty questions: “Are your breakfast potatoes organic?” “Is your whole wheat bread made with seven grains?” “Are the quesadillas made with gluten-free tortilla?” and then topped it off with, “Ooh, I really can’t decide on what I want.” Again, this was the same annoying lady who’d just yelled to the waiter that she was ready to order. Then she asked, “What kind of vegetables are in your garden sausage patty?”

“What kind of vegetables?” the waiter asked, the annoyed look never leaving his face.

“Yes, what kind of vegetables,” the woman said matter-of-factly. “I mean, it’s a vegetarian sausage, isn’t it?”

The waiter shifted his stance. “It’s a Morning Star sausage, like the kind you buy at Fred Meyer.”

“I guess I’ll have the Lucky Scramble,” the annoying woman finally said. Her husband ordered the Chicken Quesadilla, and the waiter walked away.

I heard the woman tell her husband that she thought their waiter was rude saying that she was just asking him questions to make sure what they were eating were good for them. I almost got up and slapped her. And I felt like telling her, “Look, first of all, when you say you’re ready to order, you better damn be ready to order. And, if you’re concerned about what you’re eating at a restaurant, then maybe you should be cooking for your own damn self at home so that you can be sure what’s in your food. The restaurant does not revolve around you and your acid reflux. And, what? Do you enjoy wearing ugly men’s clothes? What’s the matter with you?!”

But, I didn’t.

I finally got my decaf, placed my order, and, within a few minutes, was chowing on a tasty spinach and red onion omelet. It was delicious and felt healthy.

Stage Reading Actor? Check.

I can officially add “actor” to my résumé now that I’d participated in a stage reading last Thursday to an intimate audience. Okay, so there wasn’t actual acting involved but the cast still had to exude the appropriate emotions and some gesticulation in order to make the characters each was portraying come alive. I was the Narrator and set the stage for each scene while dutifully conveying “action sequences” that cannot, by stage reading guidelines, be acted out by the participants. I also vocalized the “sound effects” like, among others, the door bell, coyote howl, cricket chirping, and cellular phone “ring tones.” (Several members of the audience approached me at the end of the reading, expressing their delight and amusement that I chose “U Can’t Touch This” as the ring tone for one phone, and “Sexy Back” for the other.)

The three-act play was penned by two playwrights/screenwriters who also happen to be employees at the company I work for. The director is a co-worker of mine and brought legitimate guidance and insight to the project from years of experience in her own theatre production companies in New York and Oregon. The cast was a menagerie of employees at the company, most of whom had varying degrees of theatre work in the past or are still actively involved in it. The writers hope to mount a full production of their play by August of this year, and have already approached me for my possible involvement.

I told them to keep in touch. We’ll see where this one goes. 😉

March Snowfall in Portland

pdx_forecast_032808.jpg

Weird for this time of year but wicked cool!

Returning to Vegetarianism?

I’m seriously reconsidering vegetarianism for health reasons. Ever since I incorporated meats into my diet again at the end of ’05– compounded by my advancing years– I seem to have developed one malady after another. And, I’m afraid that if I don’t make some drastic changes, things will only get worse. Of course, eating meat is not necessarily a health risk in itself. Not eating meat, however, benefits many aspects of life apart from one’s health.

From January ’02 to December ’05, I was lacto-ovo-vegetarian, which is a fancy way of saying that I allowed dairy and eggs into my vegetarian lifestyle. I actually arrived at lacto-ovo-vegetarianism through a gradual process of eliminating one type of meat after another for a full year. I gave up beef in January ’99; beef and pork in January ’00; beef, pork, and chicken in January ’01; and, finally, all meats in January ’02. This gradual elimination of certain types of meat helped ease me into my vegetarian lifestyle. There is actually a book on becoming vegetarian gradually.

The toughest part about being vegetarian at that time was when I lived in Puerto Rico, the antithesis to vegetarianism. Every dish in Puerto Rico involved some type of meat or meat product. During my first week there, I was at a restaurant where I’d ordered a “vegetarian” item only to find out afterward that the broth was made from pork fat. And, because of the nature of my job, I had no time to cook for myself and ended up resorting to fast food, takeout, and overall unhealthy albeit meat-free eating. I actually found myself rationalizing: “Hey, Doritos is vegetarian, right?”

Finally, it took a trip to Japan– where I wanted to taste authentic sushi and Kobe beef– to accept meat into my diet again. That was when my health started taking a turn for the worse.

A co-worker of mine announced in January that he had become vegetarian. My Little Bro has been vegetarian for a decade now, I believe. Vegetarianism has also been touted as one of the best ways to “green living.” All the signs are there for me to see.

Of course, I may be blaming eating meat for my poor health right now. I’m certain I’m overlooking other factors such as ineffective exercise regimen and overall inactivity. But becoming vegetarian again can only help.

Right?