Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adventures in Air Travel

It must be a prerequisite to be an employee of the TSA that you have to speak fluent dick. I mean, I get it. You have a job where you are in charge of overseeing something that 99.99% of people absolutely despise. Airport Security. Just the thought of it made you cringe a little, right? But I can just about guarantee that none of you have a worse airport security story than me, which we will get to in just a moment.
But first, back to Airport security being dicks. I don't get it. I mean, I just don't get it. Surely it wouldn't kill you to smile. I would think that it would make their job a little more pleasant, not to mention a better security experience for the passengers which would undoubtedly lead to less delays.
I went to Disney World one time, a place that bills itself as "The Happiest Place on Earth", and when I went to get one of those famous mouse-shaped ice-cream thingies for my daughter the little pimply guy behind the cart was kind of, well - a dick. So I thought that if I could find a pissy employee at the happiest place on Earth, then shouldn't it stand to reason that conversely I should be able to find a pleasant Airport Security person.
I'm still looking.
So here's what happened. My parents own a lake house in Northern Wisconsin and a couple of years ago my brother and I were flying up there to join them to celebrate my dad's birthday. So over the course of many years we have made friends with many of the locals and my mom who is a sales representative for the Sara Lee Corporation in the Hillshire Farms/Kahns division likes to bring them little gifts from time to time. So she and my dad, who were already in the Northwoods called to say that they had forgot their gifts and would I go to their house and get them. They would be on the kitchen counter in a brown paper bag. "Sure," I said. "I'll just stick 'em in my carry-on" Big mistake!
I place the bag in my carry on, drive the three hours to get my brother, and proceed to the airport where by this time I had completely forgotten about said gifts. See, I can tell you think you know where this is going, but I assure you, you don't.
All is well. We check in a little early. We grab a drink at Louisville Airport's famous Woodford Bar. We buy a few magazines for the flight and head to security.
It actually doesn't look to bad. The only person in front of us is some unfortunate woman with three kids. My brother helps her with her stroller and we make brief small talk before it's our turn at the firing range - I mean, security.
I swear to you, I am suddenly convinced that the Louisville Airport's security are hired from German Nazi training camps.
"Keep the belt moving!" "Place your shoes in the box and keep the belt moving." "Place all metal in the tray." "Keep the belt moving!" And my all time favorite, "Did you pack this bag yourself?" and "Has this bag been in your possession the whole time?" As if, "Um no, actually. I had to run to the rest room so this shady looking Arab man with a large beeping package offered to watch it for me." Duh! Of course the stupid bag has been in my posses ion the whole time. I've had to drag it all over this stupid airport because we had to park in almost Indiana and hoof it for 2 miles. And as for packing my own bag . . . well, lets just think about it. I'm flying coach to Rhinelander, Wisconsin whereupon I will drive another hour and a half to get to my destination where we will partake in viewing the National Lumberjack Competition. I hardly think I have a butler packing my bag for me.
So all questions answered, it's time to got through the X-ray. My brother being the gentleman that he is, offers to go first. Remember the stroller-woman and how nice he was? Well, she wasn't his sister. His bags, of course, sail right through with no problem. Now it's my turn, and of course by this time there is a line behind me that reaches to Churchill Downs. My bags is now stopped in the X-ray machine. I immediately think that perhaps it is over sized and won't fit thought the X-ray and they are going to make my check it. If only.
The lady pulls it out and runs it through again, looking at the screen with a troubled look on her face. She calls over the other guy working with her. He too looks troubled. "Ma'am, we are going to need to search your bag."
"Uh, OK?" I say. What else can I say. And she actually pulls me over to the side and holds my shoes hostage until the bag is searched. I guess she knows I'm not going to run with my cute little Cole Haan flats on the line. She's right.
By this time, my brother is through security and is helpfully putting his shoes back on while simultaneously throwing me under the bus. "I don't know what in the heck she's got in there. It's hard to say with her." Well, thank you very much, Little Brother. Feel free to shut up now.
Meanwhile, my underwear, makeup, and tampons are out on a cold stainless steel table for god and everyone to see. "Here it is," the woman says triumphantly, holding the object in question over her head for her co-worker to see. "It's only a sausage," she says sounding disappointed.
It is indeed. A two-foot long smoked summer sausage meant as a gift for my dad's hunting buddy. The security lady looks at me apologetically and says, "sorry, we thought it might be. . .umm . . .shampoo or something." I just look at her. Because even if it was, shampoo is such a threat to national security. By this time Little Brother is back by my side. "We thought it might be a liquid of some kind,"the woman says a little more confidently.
"No you didn't," my brother declares. "You know what you thought it was."
Oh. My. God. I am officially mortified. Everyone in security is by this time rolling with laughter. I swear to you a couple of them are actually having to hold each other up as I stand there holding my two-foot sausage. "Just shut up," I whisper furiously, shoving everything back into my back with as much dignity as I can manage.
Finally after many hours and three airports and a rental car later we finally make it to the lake house where we are greeted by our parents who say, "Oh we forgot to call and tell you. We didn't need that package after-all."
Of course.

I actually had another couple of stories to share about my air travels but they will have to wait for anther day as I seem to have run on a bit.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Perils of Gambling

I don't know exactly what I was thinking. My luck has never been what anyone would call good, especially when it comes to predicted outcomes. So why I thought it would be a good idea to go to Keenland Racetrack last weekend to play the ponies with my best girl friends - I don't know.
Now before I go any further let me state, without a doubt, that we had a really great day. The weather not only held, but actually turned out to be pretty darn good. We all looked smokin' hot, if I do say so myself. And, more importantly, we had escaped our everyday lives, if only for a day, to celebrate the impending end to one of our good friend's bachelorette days.
The trouble started at the first race. Being a native Kentuckian, I am somewhat familiar with the horse racing industry. I know what the odds are, what exactly a furlong is, the difference between fillies and mares, and I even half-assedly follow a couple of different jockeys. And I could even tell you what it means to win, place, or show and what it means when they list super-fecta, tri-fecta, and exacta winnings. So you would think that I could look at a betting sheet and over the course of 10 races at least manage to come out even, give or take a few bucks. You would be wrong.
Every horse I picked came in dead last. Seriously. One race I picked two different horses, thinking to increase my odds. They came in last and next to last.
The first race I bet $5 on Call It The Blues to win place or show. Led the race for almost a mile then dropped to dead last like he was doing it on purpose. Race 2, I bet on Hot Little Mama because, I mean come on. The name says it all. Repeat of last race. At this point I have lost a small amount of money, but I'm not worried. It's only the third race. My luck's bound to pick up, right? So I bet on Sweet Lemon Chello. This time, she doesn't even make a showing. Starts last and ends last. All right, this is about enough. So I decide to set out race four and just reset my luck a little. I just set back, watching all my friends rake it in. WTF? But, I don't begrudge them any of it ( really, I don't) I just want a little bit of the taste of victory for myself.
So next up comes race 5. Here's where I start to employ a little strategy - so to speak. I look at the odds and carefully choose two horses who appear not to suck too much. Everybody knows that you never bet on a favorite, even if they win, the odds were so good that you almost never win any money. So I put down another $5 on an Irish horse with decent 8-1 odds, that should pay out pretty decent and $5 on a 20-1 horse that had bad odds, true, but was being ridden by a jockey with a better than average track record. This was the infamous last, next to last finish. Meanwhile, my friend (The Bride, BTW) bets $20 on Lucky #7 because, get this, she left her program laying open on the bench while she went to the powder room and a bird came along and, shall we say -picked, it for her. She won. The odds for that particular horse were 5-2, so she didn't win whole lot, but still. I mean, really. People who find bird poop on their programs are now considered to be luckier than me?
At this point I did what any sane Kentuckian would do. I started drinking. Piss on them ponies. If I'm going to throw my money away, I ought to at least enjoy it, right? So I proceed to the Equestrian Bar, a Keenland tradition, where I proceed to consume no less than six (yes - really) Bourbon Manhattans. Say what you will about Kentucky, but the liquor sure is fine and in Lexington my drink was done up right. A whole lot of Bourbon (Woodford Reserve, for those keeping score) and very little Manhattan (sweet vermouth).
The next five races were enjoyable if unprofitable and all in all I had one of the best days out with the girls that we've managed to have in a while.
The moral of this story is this. Don't gamble unless your prepared to lose. And don't prepare to lose with out preparing to drink.

p.s. I didn't totally blow my diet. I had no lunch and I walked off my drink with a nearly mile and a half walk tot he car, followed by a 30 minute drive to the restaurant where I had grilled salmon and broccoli and vast quantities of water. Not the best day nutritionally but, hey. Life happens, you know?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Step It Up!

In my ongoing quest for weight loss (and the immediate goal of being below 200 for my 30th birthday now 25 days away) I have added yet another formerly impossible, but no less insane, workout.
First I did the Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds DVDs in the privacy of my own home. These were great and I still occasionally employ them on snow days or other tragedies of house arrest.
Then I bought the Wii Fit. Let me just say that that little piece of equipment is for sadists. It comes with a 'balance board' which is unfortunate for one who has no balance. And you get your own on-screen computer generated 'trainer'. I picked the male trainer because by and large I get along better with men and the female trainer looked just a little too perky in her little yoga top and jaunty pony-tail for my tastes. Yes, I know, it's a computer - but still. So I got boy, which even though that's what I often call my brother just didn't seem like a good name for this guy. Turns out boy had a pony-tail too. And yoga pants. Very new age. And to beat it all he seemed to have the patience of someone who has nothing better to do than workout all day. Bastard! I did a few workouts with boy before he finally just pissed me off to no end. Turns out boy is gay. ( a group that I generally have a blast with - like I said, women can be bitches - but this guy was a be-otch of the 1st degree) Again, I know he's a computer. I know. I just don't need that kind of pressure. I named him Chet. It seemed appropriate.
So I joined a real life gym. Curves. I figured it was women only so . . . Yes, I know what I said earlier. But the women at the gym aren't bitches - well, at least not at the gym and that's all I'm concerned about anyway. These women are there for the same reason I am and that kind of makes us sisters (in a we are the world kind of way). And it has been my salvation. I try to go three times a week. Often more, but sometimes less. I have slowly lost weight, but m ore importantly I have gotten stronger and have more energy than I ever had before. I love it.
The only problem is that now it's coming. You know 'IT'. NO not the Stephen King book (now that guy is messed up, maybe he needs a few sessions with Chet on the balance board) IT = the big 3-0. Actually I'm kind of looking forward to it. I look and feel better than I have in years. I think it's gonna be huge. People are going to see me at 30 and want to be 30 themselves. They say 30 is the new 20. Well, lets make it 21. I want to toast to it after all. The problem comes in the fact that I set a goal for myself last year that I wanted to be below 200 pound by 30. Yes, that's still a long way to go to my final goal. But still, it's important to me and I want to make it happen. It's just that I'm stalled out at 210 and I only have 25 days left. 25 days, people!
So a few weeks ago I decided it was time to pick up the pace a little. Kind of kick start my metabolism. I am already on the Weight Management Program at Curves, which is really awesome. (I'm still on Phase 2 btw. My trainer says I need to move up to Phase 3 to amp up my mojo, but more on that later) Then I started going to their Pump It Up class which is sort of a high intensity cardio aerobic strength training thing with hip-hop music. I was going once a week and it was awesome. I looked forward to the rush I would get after a class for the whole week. And I think I'm maybe going to start going twice a week, in addition to my regular workouts, just until I hit that 200. It will be hard. But I figure those people on The Biggest Loser workout for 8 hours a day and I am already at some of their goal weights. So working out at a regular pace 3= times a week in addition to 2 high intensity classes should be just fine - if life sucking.
However, back to my original point - finally. This morning's Pump It Up class was different. Previously we had done all these semi-dance moves that kind of made me feel like a really over the hill stripper but gave me a really good workout nonetheless. This morning she changed it to Step It Up. Yes, a step class. Me. The girl who could fall down standing still. Paradoxically I used to be a dancer and can have amazing balance if I focus. The problem is the focus. I seem to have lost that somewhere along the way. It was a lot of step-one-two-three and switch-one-two-three and all that. Plus you change activities every thirty seconds. Well, hell, I would just get one thing down when it was time to switch again. But I stumbled my way through it, with only one stubbed toe and no falls, which is a huge victory for me. Whenever I fall - and I do a lot- it's not just in the privacy of my own home. It's right in the middle of the biggest crowd I could possibly fine so a step aerobics class would be just about right. I didn't though. Knock on wood.
I actually made it through and believe it or not, I'm looking forward to going back next week. That is amazing to me. Just one short year ago I would have been mortified at trying a step class DVD, much less doing it with a group of real live people. Sorry, Chet. But here I am, knock, knock, knockin' on 30's door, and not just doing the seemingly personally impossible but actually looking forward to doing it again.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Save the Boobs!

You know 'em, you love 'em, you probably even have a couple of favorites hanging out under your sweater right now; but are you doing all you can to take care of them? As anyone with eyes and/or ears knows October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Yes, of course you know this. Everyone knows this. The problem is - not enough people act on it.
Why is this on a weight loss blog, you may ask. Well, I'll tell you. Being overweight puts you at increased risk for many types of cancer but most particularly breast cancer. Why? It's the estrogen, silly. See, like everything else it comes in contact with, estrogen complicates things in breast cancer and overweight women. You see, estrogen is stored in fat cells. Handy, right?
So, I've intentionally kept it brief here. I hope you'll use your extra time to schedule a mammogram if you're 40+. Or even if you're not, at least make time to get felt up. Hey it could be fun. But more importantly it could save your boobs and your life.