Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shutting Down For Awhile

I'm shutting down the blog for awhile. I haven't had much desire to post lately. I'll keep it up here for anyone that might want to see my gastric bypass experiences.

Everything's good, by the way. I'm stuck at 245 (I've still lost a ton of inches while staying the same weight, though), and I'm jogging, working my way up to 5K using the C25K program. Once I get to being able to run 5K, which should take another month or so, I plan on that being my baseline fitness level for the rest of my life, no matter what weight I am. I'm trying to stay off the scale except for once a week. I think I look good.

I'll start posting again whenever I think there's something worthwhile going on.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What a difference a year makes!

Remember when I said I wanted to be thin by the time I was 40? I'm not quite there yet, but I can be pleased with the progress so far.

Old me:

New me:

Award-winning Pictures

Not really much need for words here. This was our Canada vacation:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We're Hooooooome!

Whew. Got back at midnight last night - sans luggage. I went to work today and it felt like a whirlwind. A grocery trip, a quick visit to my mom and dad, and here I am - in front of the computer with a million things to write, but no energy.

The trip went great and I'll write all about it tomorrow. Bear with me - I'm tired.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Heading Up North, Eh?

Tomorrow morning, we're on a plane for Calgary. 8 days of lovely vacation...ahhhhh...

We've got no concrete plans, but we do want to take a hike on Banff, see a glacier, go to Drumheller and see the dinosaurs, experience Calgary's Chinatown, and above all, relax.

This may be the first vacation we've taken where taking pictures is a primary goal. It's supposed to be beautiful up there, and Bernie just finished a photography course.

I can't wait.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Addendum: New York trip

I ate constantly for 3 days and lost 3 pounds. That's what walking does for you.

Now at 248. If I lose another 4 pounds, I'll start up the graph again.

***Reminder - inaccurate scales have caused me to stop tracking my weight loss on the chart to the right. I've replaced the scale and will start tracking again once I lose the 10 lbs that made up the difference between the previous scale and reality.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trip Report: New York

Well, we just flew back from NYC, and boy are my arms tired .

At least our feet are tired - well, everyone's except mine. The Montrail hiking shoes that Bernie got me for my birthday last year are really comfortable, and I was the only one out of the family that didn't have any soreness from all the walking we did.

We flew in early Friday morning and dropped off the bags at the Westin at Times Square. Then we walked to Radio City Music Hall and did their tour, which was much more interesting that I expected. I had no idea that their stage was really three platforms which rise and descend on hydraulic lifts that were built in 1932. Apparently, the system is the engineering wonder of the world. Very cool.

After that, we had lunch at a place that Bernie found on some NY native internet forums, a French place called Le Bonne Soupe. Mom and Dad had a prix fixe meal consisting of onion soup, a salad, and creme caramel for dessert. Bernie had a crepe with ham, egg and cheese, and I spotted something intriguing on the menu - a sort of lasagna dish made with a crepe rather than noodles, with bechamel and bolonaise inside and mozzarella baked on top. That was just terrific. The crepe made it a much lighter dish than a real lasagna.

We went back to the hotel and napped to make up for having to get up at 4 am for our flight, and later on we had dinner at a place that got rave reviews as a Chinese bakery, Fay Da. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a big disappointment as a bakery, but it did have cheap eats - a five-choice for $5 cafeteria (Bernie and I split one). It wasn't great, but for five bucks, it was okay.

All in all, this was about 5 miles of walking on Friday.

On Saturday, we got up and had breakfast at a little bakery right next door to the hotel, Europa Bakery. Basic eggs and waffles, french toast, etc. I had a breakfast panini (well, okay, half of one was all I could manage, but it was really good).

We decided to learn the subway that day, so we rode around, went to Chinatown (big disappointment - take it off your to-do list. Very few Chinese businesses left, and the ones that are are just selling junk and are quite nasty attitudes.) We found out later that only the losers stayed in old Chinatown, and the rest moved to Flushing.

Lunch on Saturday was the famous Katz' Deli, where we all had corned beef or pastrami sandwiches (Bernie and I sharing again). This place lived up to it's long-enduring reputation very nicely, as I have never had pastrami that good ever before and don't expect to ever again. Yum.

After a little shopping and more subway sightseeing, we had to go to the fancy party that was the reason for the trip. This was a retirement/45 anniversary party for a business associate of my father's. The couple happens to be Chinese, and they learned about Bernie from my father, and they wanted to meet us, so we got invited to the party as well. We dressed up nice and took the 7 train to Flushing to a restaurant named Mulan. This is where we discovered the Chinese community in New York. Much much nicer and cleaner than old Chinatown. We lucked out and just missed the crowd attending Paul McCartney at Shea Stadium (the previous subway stop) both coming and going.

The party was great, but no one told me that it was a 12-course dinner until after the third course! I doubt anyone reading this would want a recitation of everything that was said or served, but the meal included roast pork, shrimp, chicken, lobster, Peking duck, shark fin soup, abalone, noodles, pineapple fried rice, steak, steamed sea bass, noodles, fruit, and flan with caramel for dessert. I think I managed to at least taste everything. It was a good thing the courses were spread out over two and a half hours or I couldn't have even done that. I think Bernie really enjoyed it most of all, since she hasn't seen this kind of food since our wedding reception, four years ago.

After riding the subway back to the hotel, we slept and got up on Sunday to hike the streets again. We had seen cruise ships and military ships docking from the hotel room window all weekend, and we decided to walk to the river and see them up close. Of course, it was a lot farther away than it looked from the 28th floor. We made it, however, and we got to see the USS Intrepid, two NCL ships, and three destroyer ships - two Australian and one American. We got to watch the docking of the American ship, assisted by two tugboats. Then we hiked back to the hotel in time to pack and catch our taxi for the airport.

I'm hoping Bernie will post her pics, because we took a lot of them.

Oh, I forgot to mention my accident. You know how hotels have suddenly decided it's cool to put a towel rack in the shower so your towels stay damp all the time? Well, in our hotel, the side of the shower opposite the rack was blocked by the sink and vanity, so you had to enter the shower on the end with the rack, which was exactly at eye level. So Saturday morning, when I'm sleepy and not all that attentive, I get in the shower and BONK! Right on the bridge of my nose. One small cut, but a nice little purple bruise to show for the incident. I look like I got into an MMA event.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Going to New York

Today's my last day at work this week, because we're going to NYC in the morning (EARLY - 6am flight).

On the agenda:

Katz' Deli
Rockefeller Center
Radio City Music Hall
Central Park
Fancy Party at Mulan in Flushing

Is it bad that I'm more interested in NYC food than I am in sightseeing?

This is our mini-vacation before we go to Calgary in early August.

Monday, July 13, 2009

This Week...

A brief update:

Losing weight again, just not as fast. The new scale reads 10 lbs higher than the other, so I'm not updating my curve again until I fall below the last reading on the previous scale. That's getting close.

We didn't go to the gym at all last week, and it threatened rain all week as well, so we didn't swim. At least we 'hiked' IKEA and Concord Mills this weekend for exercise!

I've switched at least temporarily to the Tenor Sax for band, which of course means that I have to spend some money to put my tenor into reasonable condition. Looks like the director wants to have a full-fledged jazz band concert this summer, so I may actually have to start practicing my improv.

I don't know how parents can afford to have their kids play instruments these days. $5 for a reed!

We've got a short work week - going to New York for a 3-day weekend on Friday. Big party for a friend of the family on Saturday night, and sheer tourism for the remaining time. The party is at a really fancy Chinese restaurant - hopefully, we'll have some good pictures when we get back.

This weekend, I learned to make homemade ginger ale. The best ginger ale I've ever had was Blenheim red cap before this, but the homemade stuff beats it. Very nice.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Happy July 5th

Since I played with the band for the fireworks at Tega Cay yesterday, we had our July 4th cookout on the 5th today.

I am worn out. Two hours of playing the saxophone with the concert band, followed by two more hours playing with the jazz band, getting home around 1am, then prepping for the cookout this morning, cooking, and cleaning up this afternoon.

It's a good thing I have tomorrow off. I need the rest.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Scale Has Been Replaced

We got the replacement scale from Taylor the other day and I put it in service yesterday. It does indeed seem to be accurate. Of course, that means it reads 10 pounds higher than the one we've been using - but it agrees with the doctor's scale, so that's really good overall.

It also confirms that I'm losing weight again and the dreaded plateau has been broken.

Here's my theory on why I hit that plateau in the first place:
It's all about stretching the stomach pouch. I've been drinking soda again for awhile now, even though they warned me not to. I thought I was being careful - just sipping it slowly and taking all day to finish one bottle so that the carbonation wouldn't stretch the pouch. Apparently I wasn't being careful enough and during the plateau weeks, I noticed my appetite increasing during meals. So I fixed it - not by quitting the sodas - but by pouring my soda in a glass over ice to get rid of the carbonation, instead of drinking from the bottle. It didn't take two days before I noticed that my appetite and capacity had gone back down to post-surgery "normal", and sure enough, the weight started coming off again.

Let this be a lesson to you gastric bypassers - don't drink carbonated drinks. If you fall off the wagon, pour it in a glass and over ice to minimize the bubbles.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Back in the Gym Today

The needle on the scale started moving downward a little in the last few days. Not enough to count yet, but encouraging. For some reason the portion size at meals that I've been able to tolerate has gone back down to where I think it should be, in the last few days. I've also cut way back on carbs for snacks. All snacking is nuts, nuts, nuts, and some homemade beef jerky.

Today I got to the gym for the first time this week. We went swimming over the weekend and on Monday, I was verrrry sleepy for some reason and didn't want to work out. Tuesday was a very stressful rehearsal for the concert band, so today was my first time back this week, and nearly all I did was cardio. I changed my routine to doing some hard reps on the elliptical and getting a good sweat going. When I couldn't lift my feet any more, I switched to the bike. I did get in one set of chest presses.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today (Wednesday) at the Gym

Yesterday was band practice, so no workout. Today was day 2 at the gym:

25 minutes on the stationary bike, level 6, HR up to 120.
3 sets, each arm, cable pulls (trying to emulate a baseball swing)
3 sets of 20 reps on ab coaster (center, left, right)
3 sets tricep press
10 minutes stationary bike, level 7 (cool down)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Today at the Gym

25 minutes on the stationary bike, level 7. Last 3 minutes sprinting, HR up to 120.
3 sets bicep curls
3 sets reverse curls (triceps)
3 sets of 20 reps each on the ab coaster (1 center, 1 left, 1 right)
3 sets each arm - cable pulls
10 minutes stationary bike, level 7, cool-down.

Note to self: You can play solitaire on the iPhone while pedaling.

The Latest Updates!

Been a busy, but only moderately interesting, week.

I still haven't lost a pound in 3 weeks, but I haven't been going to the gym regularly either, so it's probably nothing to worry about (much).

I played a jazz concert with the Charlotte Jazz Band on Friday night. Our regular tenor sax players have stopped coming to rehearsals, so I have been promoted from 2nd Alto to 1st Tenor - and I had one rehearsal and two days to prepare for it. Luckily, we're not doing stuff that's incredibly hard, and my improv solos sound better on tenor anyway. It was a lot of fun, actually. I even think Bernie had fun with the "band-wives".

We had our neighborhood yard sale on Saturday morning after that. We had to get up at 6am to set up. We've been hearing in the papers that our Latino population has been leaving the country due to the poor economy, and it really showed in the turnout for the sale. We made about $200, got rid of the old TV sets, and I ended up giving away some stuff just so I wouldn't have to dispose of it. I kept some of the unsold "fat" clothes and we'll try to sell them again in the fall. Nobody's buying corduroy pants in 93-degree heat.

On Sunday, we had a Father's Day lunch at my parents' house. I made bbq ribs on Saturday and refrigerated them, and then I re-heated and sauced them in my mom's oven. Everybody liked them, except me. I guess I can chalk this up to more changes after gastric bypass.

I'm going to get back into the gym this week on a serious basis. 4 days out of 5 is the goal. (Band practice is on Tuesday, so I can't go to the gym that day).

I've started on protein shakes for breakfast again - just in case that's the problem with the weight loss plateau.

We'll be heading to NYC in a couple of weeks for a long weekend, and in August, we'll go to Calgary for our vacation and to attend one of Bernie's friend's wedding. Spring just flew by this year, and it looks like summer is going to do the same thing.

We saw a deal where Singapore Airlines has a RT to Malaysia for $698. I've asked Bernie if she wants to go, since the timing is ideal with her not working. She's interested but hasn't followed up with me on the idea. I think I'll ask her again tonight. I can't go, but I know she's pining to see her family. We'll see.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dry Spell

I've hit a HUGE plateau for my weight loss. No pounds lost in 3 weeks, and I'm going nuts trying to figure out what's wrong. I've increased exercise and cut back on my eating somewhat, increased dosage of fish oil and vitamin D.

I've got some ligament issues in my feet that I'm hoping the fish oil will fix and then I'll try jogging if I have to. I hate jogging.

I hope I haven't stalled out permanently at 245. That would really suck.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Nothing Newsworthy

Not much is going on, folks. I haven't abandoned my blog - there's just nothing worth writing about.
We'll be making trips to NYC and Calgary this summer, so there's stuff coming up. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lightning Strikes Again!

It's almost a repeat of last year - the frontrunner with the niche market appeal loses to the dark horse with the more mainstream sound.

I like both Adam and Kris, but Adam got repetitive and didn't keep building his voter base and the rest of the field closed the gap on him each week. Kris simply survived and added the votes of those who got eliminated to his total each week.

Kris is going to be a good one, folks. He might even do better than David Cook will, who is my all-time favorite Idol. The cool thing about Kris is he can put out an album with a bunch of different songs that actually all sound different. I'm not sure Adam could do that.

Don't cry for Adam, though. He's probably got a thousand offers since the announcement. His future looks bright, too.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Star Trek Observation

Two scenes from the Star Trek movie, involving Kirk...

Kirk and Sulu land on the platform of the planet drill with instructions to take out the Romulans hand-to-hand and then sabotage the drill. Kirk bull-rushes a Romulan, then tries to draw his phaser (if you had a phaser, why did you try to tackle the guy in the first place, Jim?) - the phaser is knocked out of his hand and over the side of the drill.

Kirk and Spock beam into the Romulan ship to rescue Captain Pike. Spock pilots the captured future-ship with the black hole-causing red matter out of the Romulan ship. Kirk attempts to sneak past the crew and gets ambushed from behind by the Romulan first officer. He drops his phaser and it goes over the side of the catwalk.

Note to Starfleet: Equip phasers with wrist straps in the future. Good return on investment there.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Warning...

A quick warning to anyone that's had a gastric bypass.

Kashi Go Lean Crunchy! Protein and Fiber Bars are delicious, high in fiber and protein, and will pass right through you like grass through a goose.

It took me two days of rushing home from work and barely making it to the bathroom before I figured this out.

The good news is that I lost a couple of extra pounds during those two days. Seriously, though - this product should be classified as a laxative. Use with caution.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kris Did It!

Kris vs. Adam next week! I'm very happy, because as I've stated before, I think Kris is the only legitimate artist in the top 10 this season. I never thought he'd beat out Danny. had these scores:
29 Adam
27.9 Kris
27.1 Danny

Now, imagine if 100% of Danny's fans vote for Kris next week. Do you think anyone that's been voting for Danny will start voting for Adam? I really don't.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

3 To Go on AI

My thoughts on Idol tonight were that all three guys were pretty darn good. I thought Kris got a raw deal with the judges' song pick, as I hate "Apologize". Kris must hate it, too. Danny and Adam definitely got better songs for the first round.

Adam has started to grate on my nerves, though. He's pretty much settled on a persona and style and unfortunately, it's being a male version of Cher. He intentionally starts songs in a high register so he can screech even higher on the choruses. Frankly, it smacks of a Las Vegas career to me, not platinum albums. When Adam performed his second song "Cryin'" by Aerosmith, it really didn't sound good to me, and while it could have been the fault of the sound mix guy, the backup singer overshouted him through most of the song, and so did the band.

Note: I've complained of bad sound mixing on American Idol during several of the previous seasons, but this year it has been much better.

In my opinion, Danny Gokey's "You Are So Beautiful" was the best song of the night, with Kris's "Heartless" being second. Danny turned "You Are So Beautiful" into "I Believe I Can Fly", while Kris turned a bad Kanye West song into a great acoustic guitar ballad.

In my opinion, which won't be the same as America's opinion:
1. Danny
2. Kris
3. Adam

So who gets eliminated? It'll be Kris. The finals will be Danny and Adam, as everyone predicted from day one.

At 10:45 pm, has it a dead heat between the three, with Adam slightly ahead, but all three with at least 30 percent of the vote so far. This could be close.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Return of Adam

Rock. What a great theme for a show! I wonder why they've never tried this before?

Tonight, Adam and Allison came back with a vengeance. It's almost like it was scripted by the producers. Seriously, the theme was unfair. Rock is the strength of Adam and Allison and not suited to Danny and Kris. At this point in the competition, we should be seeing two songs apiece per performer, and letting them have free rein with song choices. Instead, we get a tilted playing field right at the time when everyone should be able to play to their strengths to let voters choose who really is the best at what they do.

Adam started off with "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin. While not the most innovative performance (it sounded like the original), it was definitely satisfying. I agree with Simon - "Nobody can top that." Adam can rock the stage. I wish they'd done two songs apiece tonight, because I bet he'd have chosen AC/DC for the second song.

Allison went next with "Cry Baby". She was definitely in her wheelhouse with this one. I loved the new hairstyle and she really owned the stage. I'm definitely sensing a fix tonight. First, the perfect theme for the favorite and the underdog - then the order placing them 1 and 2 - then the duet pairings. Tonight was totally in the Adam & Allison team's favor.

Kris follows with a hard edge version of "Come Together". This really sounded good - probably the most creative song of the night - but Kris just can't get on top of the band with his vocals. He simply lacks the power to pull it off vocally. Kris is smart, though - he tries to make up for it with the guitar, which is the skill he has that none of the rest possess, and very nearly succeeds. Randy notices it and gives him props. Good effort.

Then Danny. I feel sorry for him because he's the worst victim of tonight's theme, but not too much because he could have been clever and found a way to think around his limitations. Instead, he gambled everything he had on being able to miraculously channel Steven Tyler on "Dream On". Danny, Danny, know you don't have the chops to go into that high register, but you had to try it anyway. It was a calculated gamble, but the final scream wasn't remotely musical and the song failed.

My rankings for tonight, same as the order of performance:
1. Adam
2. Allison
3. Kris
4. Danny

Now for the duets, which (yeah, right) aren't supposed to be subject to voting.

Danny and Kris decided to sing Foreigner's "Renegade". In my opinion, they mailed it in. OK, but not good. From the comments afterward, it seems like they had a hard time deciding on a song and didn't get much rehearsal time on it. I think both of them just decided to wing it and if it stunk, so be it. It didn't stink, but it wasn't much to write home about. Danny had enough power to get on top of the band, but Kris didn't and his vocals were too thin to impress. The lyrics of this song are too monotonal and repetitive to make it a good choice for a competition.

Adam and Allison did "Slow Ride", which has a lot of the same limitations, but they simply benefited from being able to power it out. They also fed off of each other's energy on stage and that put it over the top. They'll be good together on tour. Simon pointed out that Adam's coattails may have bought Allison a chance to stay in the competition, and I agree.

So who's going home?

My prediction:
Kris. Danny had the worst performance by far, but Allison really won a lot of fans tonight - for the second week in a row - and I think Danny wins the voting over Kris no matter what.

I still stand by my prediction that Kris sells the most albums out of this group.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Devastating News

I had my four-month appointment with the surgeon yesterday and was immediately sucker punched by the results of the scale in his office.

20 pounds higher than my bathroom scale. My expensive, digital bathroom scale that I bought specifically to be accurate just before my surgery in December.

Today, I had an appointment with my regular doctor. Same result.

So, instead of feeling good about being 239, I'm 259 and even though in reality that's not a weight gain, it is a huge emotional hit, because it sets me back to where I thought I was a month ago.

I'm trying to figure out how I can sue the scale manufacturer for emotional distress.

Anyway, I have revised the graphs on the right of the page.

Final Five on AI

Rat Pack night. Five good singers. I was excited and I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed.

Kris opened the show with "The Way You Look Tonight". A completely clean performance, original and satisfying.

Allison next with "Someone To Watch Over Me". She's topping herself every week now - this was good and bridged the classic version with her own style flawlessly. Is everyone going to be this good tonight? I like Allison and I think her chronic bottom-three-ness is due to unfortunate demographics rather than a lack of star power. She's too young for most males to vote for, and the girls are all voting for their favorite guy performer.

Matt with "My Funny Valentine". Very Al Jarreau-like. A bit off-pitch on some notes, but he bends them sloooooowly to the proper tone. Interesting enunciation on the lyrics. It's OK, but a cut below the others. He's toast.

Danny blows the doors off of "Come Rain Or Come Shine". Best arrangement of the night, as it fooled me into thinking it was smoky ballad time, but suddenly became big band sizzle with a huge shout chorus. Danny's vocals were flawless as usual, but he totally rocked the Sinatra vibe and turned up the showmanship tonight. Wow. Once again, a full band can't overpower him.

Adam with "Feelin' Good". Heh. Maybe he isn't aware that this song is the kiss of death on Idol. No fewer than three performers have been sent home after performing this song, including two in the same season a couple years ago. I hate to say it, but this one was the gayest performance I think I've ever seen on Idol. I haven't seen a performance like this since I accidentally walked into the wrong bar in the Castro district in San Fran once. I was totally creeped out. If Adam has straight male fans, he lost them tonight. The judges continue to gush over him, but this was the worst performance of the night for me, just because of the creep factor and the overload of falsetto screaming. Adam has to prove to me that he can sing a song in a somewhat straightforward style before I'll become a fan.

My rankings for tonight:
5. Adam
4. Matt
3. Allison
2. Kris
1. Danny

Predicted to be eliminated:

Comment: Of the bunch, Adam will probably win, with Danny being runner-up. The Idol from this season that will sell the most albums is Kris, however.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

American Idol Top 7 Redux

I got to watch AI tonight since concert band season is over for awhile. I'll give some analysis on this blog for the rest of the season, now that I've got Tuesday nights free again.

I missed Lil's opening act, unfortunately, but I did catch the quick recap at the end. It seemed bland and uninspired, which sort of resembles every performance Lil has had so far this season. Whatever the judges saw in her in auditions certainly has not materialized during the finals, I'm afraid to say.

Kris's performance of 'She Works Hard For the Money' was very Santana-esque. I only wish he had played the electric guitar to push it over the line into full Santana-hood. I like Kris. He is one of the few that can legitimately sing and play at the same time. I'd call this song flawless. Full marks.

Danny did 'September'. I also loved this one, but then again, I'm a sucker for EW&F and full horn sections. Danny can really do R&B well for a white guy. Something that has taken down many an Idol in the past - getting overwhelmed by the band - definitely isn't one of his weaknesses. Again, full marks. I find myself realizing that the final 7 are a pretty strong group, and I can't remember when Idol has had such a large group of solid singers at the same time.

Allison did a slow raunchy version of 'Hot Stuff', which surprisingly did NOT get an admonition from Simon for being age-inappropriate. To be fair, you'd never know this girl is just 16, the same age as Miley Cyrus. I didn't really love the arrangement. I would have sped it up after the raunchy beginning and done a bit of authentic disco. Altogether, however, I think it worked okay.

Adam did 'If I Can't Have You', which has been covered in different styles by many different artists before. Adam kept his originality streak intact, but I didn't love it. Again, I would have changed up the tempo after the slow beginning. Adam is starting to repeat the same old schtick too often with the falsetto wailing, so I'm beginning to wonder if his appeal is strong enough to overcome Daughtry syndrome, where the singer gets taken for granted by the voters.

Matt did 'Stayin' Alive', which was an overly cute song choice after nearly going home last week. I wonder if he considered the wisdom of leaving in the "I'm going nowhere" lines, which could be interpreted as the kiss of death to his career, rather than as a declaration of his intentions to stay on the show. Matt changed up the song slightly by slowing it down a bit and giving it more of a rock beat rather than a disco groove, but it really didn't click with me. Simon agrees with my take on the performance, while the other judges disagree.

Then there's Anoop. I was hoping he'd do an up-tempo tune and really rock it out disco-style, but he chose to stay in the safe zone and do a ballad-ized version of 'Dim All The Lights'. In reality, it was pretty good. His vocals were perfect up until the last note, which he obviously couldn't make up his mind whether to go high or low and instead split the difference. Anoop had a serious makeover for the show tonight, too. His eyebrows and hair were definitely given some attention by a stylist, and someone dressed him better than usual. Not perfect, but high marks for the performance.

A note on the show: I've long lost interest in Paula's commentary, and Kara and Randy have obviously been coached to keep their comments short, and are doing a bad job of it - essentially boiling it down to "I liked it" or "I hated it". I have much more fun these days by trying to predict what Simon is going to say, and, sadly, he's become quite predictable. I'd vote to clear the board and go with 3 new judges next season. Personally, I liked the panel they used on "America's Next Great Band".

My rankings from this week:
(Same bottom 3 as last week, so the judges' save was wasted, in my opinion.)
7. Lil
6. Matt
5. Anoop
4. Allison
3. Adam
2. Danny
1. Kris

Going home:
Lil and Matt, though Anoop's performance may not save him due to his poor voter turnout lately. It could be Matt and Anoop going home. Nonetheless, I'm confident in my top 4.

I urge anyone who follows Idol to check out tomorrow, because their predictions have pretty much nailed it all season.

As of this morning, Dialidol has the voting being too close to call, with the raw numbers showing Lil, of all people, at the top and Kris and Allison as the bottom two!

If Kris gets sent home, how stupid do the judges seem for wasting the save on Matt last week?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Made the Most of it

Three days whizzed by so fast. We got a lot done, including a lot of loafing. I feel rested. We went back to IKEA today and I got two low bookcases with doors that match the tall ones I got previously. The office is nearly there, and it looks like a completely different room. I just have to get a bunch of junk off of the last old bookcase and throw it out.

Bernie noticed today that I don't get tired as often any more. I noticed that I don't sweat like a pig any more when I'm doing things like assembling furniture. I'm at 245 still, wearing XL shirts instead of XXXL, and I've been eating too many snacks this weekend and not going to the gym. That'll change back to normal this week. The holiday is over.

About the only thing we didn't manage to do is fold the laundry. Can't be perfect.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Three-Day Weekend Approacheth

I had a choice of taking Good Friday or Easter Monday off, and I chose Monday due to the better weather forecast. Plus, the fact that no one would be in the office on Friday would make it like a neo-holiday as well.

We're not going anywhere this time. Just settin' at home and chillin'.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Let me start off by saying that we had a GREAT weekend in Raleigh. Bernie got to do her soap-making master class, and while that was going on, I got to bum around my home town for the day. I went to the mall where I used to hang out and walked around, then played disc golf with one of my old buddies from IBM, then picked up Bernie and we went to another new mall, showed her downtown Raleigh, then had dinner with friends at one of my favorite restaurants, then watched UNC win their semifinal game to go to the championship. That is a great weekend, my friends.

Today, we drove back home and washed two cars. They got a coating of pollen on them before they even dried. I washed my truck a second time right before dark and put it in the garage wet. Yes, I know it's going to rain tomorrow, but this was personal - when I wash a car, it stays clean for longer than 5 minutes.

Friday, April 03, 2009

This Week...

Well, I made a big effort to get back into the gym this week and was rewarded with a 2 lb weight loss. I had hit a plateau at 250. I can tell my stomach has stretched a bit, as I can eat more at a sitting now. I had better watch that, because I don't want it to stretch any further.

The new 42-inch-waist pants I bought just a couple of weeks ago are starting to be loose in the waist. I didn't expect that this soon, and I'm resolved not to buy any more clothes for awhile, so they'll just have to be cinched in with a belt.

I played hooky from band practice this week, so I got to see Idol again. Meghan is gone, as I predicted. Scott managed to save face by going the easy route in choosing Billy Joel, while Anoop showed that the kind of music he likes best is not well-suited to his abilities. I'd make a small wager that they reverse themselves this coming week, and Scott will hit the road.

I finally realized what it is about Allison Iraheta that seems familiar. She's a clone of Rachael Ray. Just listen to her speaking voice, her laugh, then look at her face and ignore the hair. It's eerie. In any case, she doesn't seem to have much of a fanbase, even though she really isn't a bad singer. I expect her to follow Scott home, unless Anoop screws up again, which is definitely possible.

It's still a heat with Adam, Kris, and Danny at the top. Matt and Lil are in the second heat, with the other three trailing. Kris has the momentum at this point.

Now a little info on what was wrong with Meghan: If she were to sing a five-note phrase, she'd sing the first note and the last note like a normal person. The second note would sound like Macy Gray. The third note would sound like Rosemary Clooney, and the fourth note would sound like a dying Canadian goose. Unfortunately for her, instead of repressing the goose note, she'd emphasize it and make everyone in earshot cringe. I think she's salvageable, but she needs a voice coach.

That's it for this week. We're heading to Raleigh for Bernie to go to a craft thing, and I'll be hanging around the mall there on Saturday unless someone wants to play disc golf.

Friday, March 27, 2009

First American Idol post of 2009

Unfortunately, thanks to joining the concert band, I no longer have Tuesday night TV. That means that I will not be a regular watcher of AI this season, so I won't be able to do my usual analysis on my blog.

Thanks to our new President, however, this week I was able to see what was up since he pre-empted AI on Tuesday and Fox decided to go on Wednesday instead.

My impressions are that the guys are really good this year and the girls are pitiful. I think the best singers are Adam Lambert and Matt Giraud, with Danny Gokey and Kris Allen right behind. Based on this week's voting which put Matt in the bottom two, however, I'd have to say that Adam and Danny are probably the most popular.

Allison Iraheta is a wild-card at this point, and her future performances will tell whether she can figure into the competition. It looks like with the exception of Matt, the voting each week is more about the performances rather than favorites so far.

My rankings of those who remain:
1. Adam Lambert
2. Matt Giraud
3. Danny Gokey
4. Kris Allen
5. Allison Iraheta
6. Anoop Desai
7. Lil Rounds
8. Scott McIntyre
9. Meghan Joy

I firmly believe that Meghan and Scott will go down in the next two weeks, leaving a very good competition between the other seven. Lil is talented but pales in comparison to similar singers from previous seasons and I think she won't make it past the two weeks following. Allison is intriguing and will have to show versatility and consistency to make it into the final five. Anoop is popular but will need to show something more spectacular than he has so far to crack the final five. I believe it will be Adam and Danny at the end, with Adam winning. If Adam somehow loses out earlier, I think the judges will save him because he is the most marketable of the bunch.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Found Another One

We went walking last night around the neighborhood, and I discovered that a neighbor had gastric bypass 3 years ago. We talked for almost an hour, comparing notes. Apparently, spaghetti is going to be a problem for me. Last week we had some and it got stuck ,and last night we had angel hair pasta and it got stuck. The neighbor said that he had the same problem with pasta today - 3 years after his surgery. I guess I'd better put off that trip to Italy for a few decades.

254 today, by the way. More clothes are being bagged for a big yard sale in our future. I am seriously reducing my wardrobe while I'm at it. At this rate, I'll lose 100 pounds before I see the surgeon for my second post-surgery appointment in April.

I think I have the skin sag under control at the moment. The secret is weight training targeting the muscles under the places where the sag is starting.

Friday, March 13, 2009

This Week...

I took the day off work today - and not to watch basketball, either. I fully expect my Tar Heels to lose and go home to rest before the NCAAs, so I'm not wasting my time with the ACC tournament this year.

No, I'm just tired. This started with daylight savings time, which forced all of us on this half of the USA to lose an hour of sleep to reset our clocks ahead an hour. I have been sleepy and lethargic all week. I noticed on Wednesday that I seem to revive for about an hour after a meal, and that alarms me a little, because it means I'm burning the food I eat immediately for energy and not utilizing stored fat for energy. I'm guessing that I'm eating too many carbs and not enough protein, though I've been drinking my protein drinks like usual. I still have a tiny bit of nausea when I eat something heavy, so eating meat is not as easy as I would like.

Anyway, today's vacation will consist of shopping for smaller pants, getting a passport photo taken so I can send it off for renewal, lunch at Mama Fu's, and then going to see a matinee of Watchmen.

I weighed in at 258 today. Pants size is now 42, and XL shirts now fit comfortably. Aside from the energy problem, I feel healthy.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

This weekend's activities

We're going to Wilmington (the beach, for you non-NC natives) for a birthday party. The first domino in a stack of 40th birthdays has fallen, and all my buddies from high school and college will shortly be having them. Mine's in August, but by then I'm sure I'll be tired of parties with black balloons.

Anyway, the weather should be great, as Monday's snow has all melted and the temperature should be near 80 degrees on Saturday and Sunday.

I'm down to 262, if you notice on the tracker at the right. Very shortly, I'll be entering the 250-range, which was the first point I said I would be satisfied with back when this all started. Of course, I'm not satisfied at all yet, and I hereby renounce those statements.

I'm losing all the fat on my arms and the skin around my triceps is flapping. I'm concentrating on that area in the gym and I think it's getting better. The stuff I've been reading says that weight training will get rid of the fat that clings to the loose skin and allow it to tighten up, so that's the goal. Lots of pull-downs, tricep dips, and butterfly exercises.

I'm eating pretty much whatever I want now, and my portion size fluctuates from "tiny" to "oh my god, did I just eat all of that?". Obviously, some things are going down better than others. Today's un-diet was a ham biscuit for breakfast which took a couple of hours to finish, a quarter of a french dip sandwich for lunch, and a tiny bit of spaghetti with a piece of garlic bread for dinner, followed by a little sugar-free ice cream at 9pm. Dinner took awhile to go down for some reason when logic would dictate that it would be the easiest thing I ate all day. There is still no rhyme or reason to what foods agree with me or not.

So here I am, almost 90 days post-surgery. This is still the second-best decision I've ever made.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Irresistible Force vs. Immovable Object

I've often suspected that there are two armies of angels fighting to influence the events of my life. The results are that I always have extremely good or extremely bad luck, and very little of the ordinary. Current events seem to point this out the back-and-forth between the two armies.

1. Bernie gets laid off of her job. That's not really bad luck, but it's a starting point.

2. To compensate, the guardian angels give us a nice tax return check, a rebate check, a refund from Lowes when the gas logs I bought in December went on sale 50% off, and several other little monetary windfalls in the couple of weeks following.

3. The evil angels can't allow such blatant tampering from the other side. They cause a water pipe under my sink upstairs to burst, flooding my bedroom and bathroom and causing a waterfall from the ceiling downstairs. The deductible on the insurance wipes out the tax return. The plumber bill wipes out the rebate and the refund.

4. Bernie finds out she got overcharged for groceries at Trader Joe's and gets her money back. A small victory for the guardian angels.

5. Bernie vacuums the downstairs carpet after the drying machines are taken out. The vacuum sucks up a piece of plaster and breaks and dies, smelling of smoke. Evil scores a three-pointer.

6. As I look online for a new vacuum (over $100), I notice a review mentions the symptoms of a broken belt. Aha! I take a screwdriver to the vacuum and that's indeed what is wrong with the vacuum cleaner! I find the belt on amazon for $4. Take that, evil angels!

7. The forces of evil strike back in a small way - shipping is $8, twice as much as the belt itself. So Bernie adds a bottle of Dermalogica for $20 to get free shipping. Stalemate?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Week, Another 5 Pounds

I really have no idea whether I should be doing the happy dance or be worried. I lost another 5 pounds in a week, and now weigh in at 265. This kind of loss is probably atypical for gastric bypass patients.

I feel great, I'm eating fine, I'm getting all my vitamins and protein, and I'm working out regularly.

Maybe very few gastric bypass patients actually follow the advice of the clinic? I have no idea. I've passed the halfway point to 200 lbs in just 2 1/2 months. I know this is going to slow down eventually, so I guess I'm choosing the happy dance while the going is so good.

I haven't been this light since I was newly graduated from college and realized I could eat whatever I wanted.

BTW, here's a pic of me in the suit I wore to my concert on Saturday.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Broke a Plateau

I had been stuck on 275 for several days and was beginning to worry. Last week I worked out twice on Mon and Wed, but got lazy on Friday, and Saturday went by without getting much done. Bernie and I managed to get to the gym on Sunday and I did quite a bit of weight training.

This morning, I was rewarded with seeing the scale at 271.2.

I'm not exactly sure what's going on with my body, but I have been very thirsty lately and I think my body is readjusting its water balance.

Another few pounds and I'll be halfway to my unofficial goal of 200 lbs.

I'm still feeling good. I got some blood tests done at my regular doctor and the results were that I am very slightly anemic and need more vitamin D. Neither is a surprise due to the lack of red meat and veggies in my diet, and the fact that I don't take my powdered vitamin D any more. I solved the problem by eating more fortified cereal with milk, and I found some very tiny vitamin D pills at Costco. And they have my protein shakes there for much cheaper than GNC or Wal-Mart! I'm also trying to get more beef in my diet, but it's hard.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Pumping Iron

Today, I started working out. Not just walking on the treadmill, I mean. Bernie and I had an appointment with the trainer for our free orientation session, and he showed us some workouts that we should do for our individual goals. Strangely, mine didn't involve much in the way of weights. He had me doing step-ups while holding dumbbells, an inclined pull up using a long strap, and an inclined push up using the weight bar as a grip. We warmed up with 10 minutes of treadmill, and finished with 20 minutes on the stationary bikes.

I'm relatively certain that my arms will be numb tomorrow and paralyzed on Wednesday from this effort. That's just the way I roll.

Friday, February 06, 2009

275 today

I'm now at the same weight I was when I got married, however, I bet I am a lot smaller, based on the clothes I'm wearing now. Maybe I'll try on my wedding suit to prove it.

According to what I've read, it is time to start lifting weights. To tighten up sagging skin, they say that building new muscle will help more than anything else. Therefore, I start working out with machines next week, on top of my treadmaster training.

I've jumped the gun on 'regular' food. I'm not ready for steak or chops, but I managed a chicken sandwich for lunch today without much trouble. I just have to make sure I don't zone out and eat too much. I almost killed myself after stuffing two extra bites down my throat at breakfast yesterday. It is not worth it! I just wasn't thinking and reverted back to old habits. Never again. I barely managed to avoid upchucking.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Days are going by fast!

Not much to tell today. I'm at 279 lbs - not much change. I realize that I've got 17 months to lose 80 lbs, so a pound a day isn't feasible, but I still get a little depressed when the scale doesn't show a loss every day.

The last three weeks have flown by for some reason. It seems like every time I sit down in the living room, it's time to watch Battlestar Galactica. I think going to the gym after work makes the evenings pass faster for some reason.

Bernie got laid off this week. I've been waiting for this for 2 years and so has she, but it caught her by surprise nonetheless. She's happy about it, so no need for sympathies, everyone. She got to work from home 4 days out of 5 for 3 years doing something that bored her to tears, so she's actually happy it's over. The job was too good to quit but too boring to enjoy. We're glad it's over and she can go find something more rewarding this time. Coincidentally, we got a bunch of checks in the mail from other sources this week - almost like a higher power wanted to send us something to tide us over until she gets another job.

That's really about it for now. I have managed to eat 'soft' but normal food without puking this week. I had a broken blood vessel in my eye last week and it still looks bad, but it's getting better. That's what happens when you throw up too vigorously or too often, so I've pledged to stop making mistakes with food from now on.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year update

We had a nice family celebration lunch for CNY today. Bernie made a lot of stuff and we supplemented with food from the local Chinese take out restaurant. I managed to eat half an egg roll and a couple of forkfuls of lo mein, but it was uncomfortable going down. After the party broke up and Bernie and I went to the gym, I ate leftover orange chicken for dinner with no qualms whatsoever, so there is still absolutely no rhyme or reason to what I'm able to tolerate.

The good news is I am now at 280lbs. Since I worked out today, I bet I'm at 278 tomorrow.

There was a little bit of "changing of the guard" in my closet today. My waist size is still 44, but I no longer need elastic at that size, and in truth, normal 44s are a little loose in the waist. I went through the pants in the closet and took about 80% out of circulation because they were too baggy. This also wiped out the current roster of blue jeans.

So I went to where I had stored the skinny clothes in vacuum bags 3 years ago. I got 8 pairs of slacks out that were once too small and they now fit (some of them are actually loose), including several pairs that still had tags attached. An old, reliable pair of jeans that once fit me are now back in service because they fit again, as well as a pair that never got worn. I've apparently shrunk in height, because almost all the slacks need to be re-hemmed by about an inch. The sad thing about all this is that these pants probably won't be worn long before they are also too big, and then I'll start opening the vacuum bags that are even farther back in the spare closet.

I'm starting to work on my laundry, and I bet there are clothes in the hamper that won't be going back into the closet, too.

It's a good thing I've hung on to clothes that I 'outgrew' while I was gaining weight. Otherwise, I'd be going broke replacing them right now. I expect I'll be wearing t-shirts and shorts from my college days when summer arrives.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Weight Loss Update

I've officially graduated to the 'soft foods' diet that I've been doing illegally for the past couple of weeks. I'm allowed noodles and crackers again, whee!

After a less than 50% acceptance rate, I am crossing grits off my list of approved foods. I have no idea why I can't handle them, but such is life.

This morning, I weighed in at 282.4 lbs. I've hit and passed the 50lbs lost mark. Another ten and I'll have to change to 42 inch waist pants. My mom measured me and I've lost a ton of inches on my chest, stomach, waist, arms, legs, and neck. On the down side, skin is starting to sag and stretch marks are beginning to show. Some of them sting! Couple this with the dry skin that winter brings, and I'm having to slather on lotion when I get out of the shower every day just to keep that crawly sensation from happening.

Bernie and I joined a gym on Monday and we each did 20 minutes on the treadclimber. No issues, no soreness, and 180 calories burned. I wonder if that spurred the drop from 285 to 282?

In any event, I've already lost half of what I originally expected to lose. That's cause for celebration in itself.

We went to a restaurant on Monday night after the gym and the waitress told us she had a friend that had done gastric bypass 3 years ago, had gotten her plastic surgery and everything after the weight loss, then she rediscovered candy and wine and gained it all back. Thank heaven I don't drink or love sweets much.

One disappointment - I cannot tell when I'm full. I guess I'll have to measure portions for the rest of my life. That's a fair trade.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hudson River Plane "crash"

I'm sure everyone's seen the news about the NYC to Charlotte flight that was landed safely in the Hudson River after having both engines damaged by birds immediately after takeoff.

Amazing that no one was seriously hurt. The passengers were all rescued by the ferries on the river, and the plane was towed to Chelsea Piers. The wings didn't even come off.

The newspaper here in Charlotte has comments on the article from people that recognize the flight crew from the photos. That's pretty surreal.

Anyway, the pilot is a hero and I salute him and his extreme competence under pressure. He can pilot my plane any time.

Funny, though...all I can think of is: What happens to the plane now? Do they refurbish it and put it back into service? Or does it end up getting sold to some 3rd world nation's airline? I don't think any American would want to get on a plane that's been crash-landed before.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weight Loss Update

286.4 this morning. 47 pounds lost.

I'm going to start investigating gyms next week. I have a good recommendation from a friend at work about Energy Sports and Fitness, which is close to the office. They have a "cardio cinema room" where you can use the treadmill or elliptical machine in a darkened movie theater and enjoy the show while you sweat.

I think I'm going to concentrate on cardio fitness at first - something I usually shun for the weights. I think the rapid weight loss will keep me interested.

The lightest I've been in memory is 265. I can't wait to break that barrier. After that, I'm going for college-level weights.

Eating is still officially puree, but I've been cheating with soft foods from time to time. Bernie and I went out to eat the for the first time and shared a plate. Baked Mac & Cheese, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, and fried shrimp. The shrimp were a religious experience. They just disintegrated in my mouth and the flavor was out of this world. We took most of the meal home and I had leftovers for three days.

On another interesting note, the budget has never been in better shape in our household. Eating at home has saved us a bunch of money this month.

I went to my first rehearsal with the concert band since the surgery and both me and my recently repaired saxophone did great. The dent in my lip hurts, though.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Better Version of Star Wars (Ep III)

I saw Star Wars - Return of the Jedi on Spike TV tonight, and I realized that I actually prefer the new trilogy to the old one (blasphemy!). Especially Ep III.

Why is that, I wonder? Maybe it's because Lucas semi-successfully managed to shoehorn the whole fall of Vader into one two-hour movie, since he failed to advance the plot very much in the first two movies. He had so much ground to cover in Ep III, that I consider it a triumph that he managed to get it (mostly) all in there.

Not that there's not room for improvement, of course. What's that you say? Prove it? Okay. Here's my personal treatment of Star Wars Ep III - Revenge of the Sith:

First change - the movie picks up 5 years later than Lucas's version. Anakin is 30 years old, a full Jedi Master, and ambitious. He and Obi-Wan are still close friends, but Anakin feels like he's left Obi-Wan in his wake, force-power wise, and is a little bit condescending towards him. Anakin has become the hero of the Clone Wars in the meantime, and has established a home on the planetoid Mustafar, a volcanic world. Padme lives on Coruscant, and they secretly see each other whenever he can get there and stay for awhile, which isn't often.

Act I, Scene I - The Jedi Council Chamber. Anakin is informed he's lost another bid to join the Jedi Council. Anakin takes it calmly, but stiffly inquires of Windu and Yoda why they refuse to let him join the council. Windu bluntly tells him that they know he is the most powerful of the Jedi, but they are aware of his tendencies toward attachment and love of power, and they don't completely trust him to follow the "Jedi way". Anakin says his record of accomplishments in his short time as a Jedi should be sufficient cause for their trust and that he "finds their lack of faith disturbing". (Anakin has gotten over his whiny teenage ways, and speaks slowly with a deep voice).

Act I, Scene II - The hallway outside the chamber. Anakin and Obi-Wan walk and talk. Obi-Wan warns Anakin that the council suspects of his marriage to Padme and that it could be the reason they will not let him on the council. Anakin says that if the council wishes, he'd be happy to leave the Jedi order, because he's fed up with their philosophy and stupid rules forbidding love and expansion of knowledge of the force. Obi-Wan quickly backs off and changes the subject. An alam goes off - there is an attack on the Coruscant - the Chancellor has been kidnapped by General Grevious. Kenobi and Anakin rush to their Jedi fighters to join the persuit.

Act I, Scene III - in orbit of Coruscant. This stays the same. The Jedi fight their way to Grevious's ship.

Act I, Scene IV - the lightsaber duel with Dooku. Almost the same as actually shot, but less encouragement by the "chancellor" is required to cause Anakin to kill Dooku. After beheading the count, Palpatine congratulates Anakin and remarks that he simply can't believe the Jedi are treating him so poorly after all the things he's done to win the war for the Republic. Anakin shows little or no remorse for slaughtering Dooku, or for tapping into the dark side to beat him.

Act I, Scene V - Kenobi and Anakin fight General Grevious. I'm expanding this scene to an epic battle where Grevious intentionally disables his ship and sets it to ram and self-destruct on top of the Republic Senate chambers. Obi-Wan convinces Anakin to take the controls and prevent the crash, while R2-D2 stops the self destruct. Meanwhile, Kenobi kills Grevious.

Act II, Scene I - Republic Senate. Palpatine honors and gives medals to Kenobi and Anakin. He declares Anakin to be the Chancellor's Protector, a new title which gives him a seat on the Jedi Council. Yoda and Windu look shocked and abruptly leave the podium. They whisper that the Chancellor has no such power to name council members among the Jedi and wonder whether they should refuse Anakin his seat. Windu wonders whether they should go further and intervene and force Palpatine from power, since the war is all but over and he hasn't given up his emergency powers. Yoda convinces Windu to allow it, but not to give him voting rights. Windu says maybe this is the time to confront Anakin with their knowledge of his illicit marriage and use that as their basis for refusal.

cut scene to the Seperatists being arrested and hauled in for trial.

Act II, Scene II - Padme's apartment. Big 'ol love scene here. Padme shows Anakin that she's preggers (and barely able to hide it at this stage). They discuss what happens when the Jedi find out, because there will be no hiding the fact that she's pregnant with twins soon. Anakin says if they press the issue, he'll just resign from the Jedi and they can be a real family. Awwww. Later that night, Anakin has his dream about Padme dying. He wakes up abruptly and several of Padme's breakables in the room shatter as he wakes.

Act II, Scene III - Palpatine's office. Palpatine discusses Anakin's new job with him. More sweet talk about how Anakin is being abused by the Jedi council and how ungrateful they are for all he has done to advance the order's prestige across the galaxy. Palpatine tells the story of Darth Plagueis to Anakin and how he was able to prevent death by use of the dark side.

Act II, Scene IV - Confrontation in the Jedi Temple. Windu and the rest of the council deny Anakin a full seat on the council and reveal they know about his marriage. Anakin gets angry (eyes glow red a little) and raises his hand towards Windu. Lightsabers ignite amongst the council members. Anakin resigns from the Jedi order and tells them what he thinks about their philosophy and rules. As he storms out, in the hallway, Kenobi attempts to talk him out of it, warning him that this is what Dooku did. Anakin walks away, saying that maybe Dooku had the right idea all along.

Act II, Scene V - Padme's apartment. Anakin and Padme deal with the aftermath. Padme won't leave the Senate to go with Anakin to Mustafar. They argue a little. Anakin packs his things and prepares to leave, telling Padme to come to him whenever she can. At that moment, a messenger from the Chancellor arrives and tells Anakin that the Chancellor needs to see him urgently.

Act III, Scene I - Palpatine's office. Palpatine lets Anakin into the office. He begs Anakin to stay on Coruscant and remain his protector. He suspects a plot to overthrow the Senate from the Jedi. He shows Anakin a tape of Yoda and Windu talking about removing Palpatine from office (Act II, Scene I). Anakin isn't convinced.

-cut scene to Padme's apartment. A masked assassin breaks in and takes a swing at Padme with a lightsaber. Padme gets away, although wounded across the belly, and sets off an alarm and the assailant flees.

-cut scenes around Coruscant showing several other senators being murdered by assailants with lightsabers.

- cut scene to a hospital room. Anakin sees Padme fighting for her life. The medical droid tells them that she will live, but the babies lives are in danger.

Act III, Scene II - Palpatine's office. Palpatine tells Anakin about the assassin and the fact that he had a lightsaber. Anakin loses his cool completely. Eyes glow red. Palpatine calms him down a little and reveals his true identity as Darth Sidious (shows his real face, which he disguises with Sith science). He tells Anakin that with Sith training and study, he could learn Darth Plagueis's secret to preserving life.

-cut scene to the Sith apprenticeship ritual and naming of Darth Vader. This will be so damn cool that geeks will show this scene over and over again for years to come. Vader will wear a black suit and cape and cowl reminiscent of the one we'll see him in later on, but not full armor.

Act II, Scene III - Anakin and an army of clone troopers march on the Jedi temple.
-cut scene with Palpatine addressing the Senate and showing them evidence of the Jedi treachery. Massive outrage in the senate.
-cut scene with Anakin mowing down Jedi in the temple. This includes padawans, apprentice, and full Jedi Knights. He cuts them down like tall grass, interdispersed with some pithy comments like we've come to expect from Vader.
-cut scene to Palpatine declaring the first Galactic Empire amid massive acclaim and applause.
-cut scene to clone troopers setting fire to the Jedi Temple.
-cut scene to Padme's hospital room, where Yoda and Kenobi witness Padme's unexpected death, and the babies are delivered by cesarian section. At that moment, they feel the disturbance in the force, and rush to the temple in a speeder.
-cut scene to Vader and Windu fighting in the burning, collapsing temple. Lots of angry words exchanged here during the fight. Windu starts to get the better of Vader and manages to disarm him and cut off his mechanical arm. As he prepares the final blow, Vader gets madder than we've ever seen him before, and blasts the holy heck out of Windu with force lightning of such power that the roof comes off of the temple, the walls collapse outwards, and we're left with a shot of Vader standing in a clearing with a charred corpse at his feet. Exhausted, Vader collapses. Yoda and Kenobi arrive to see the total destruction of the temple, get shot at by the clonetroopers and decide to head off-planet.

Act III, scene IV - Bail Organa's ship. Yoda and Kenobi flee on Organa's ship. They have the two babies. Yoda gives Leia to Organa to raise as his own. He tells Kenobi to take Luke to Tatooine and give him to Owen Lars and to wait until an opportunity arises to train Luke as a Jedi to fight the Empire. Organa drops off Yoda on Dagobah. He prepares to fly to Tatooine, but Obi-Wan tells him to go to Mustafar instead, as he has unfinished business with Vader.

Act III, scene V - The confrontation on Mustafar between Vader and Kenobi. First, we see Vader getting a new arm. Then an alarm sounds as Kenobi's ship lands. The confrontation begins and the duel starts. This will run pretty much as originally shot, but when Kenobi gets the higher ground at the end, Vader will blast him with force lightning, which Kenobi will deflect with his lightsaber. The robot platform Vader is standing on will lose power and plunge into the lava, leaving Vader knee deep in molten metal, clothes on fire. He manages two steps toward Kenobi, who reaches and grabs his hand (the mechanical one). Vader suckers him and swings his lightsaber with the other (meat) hand and Kenobi deflects it and cuts off the arm, causing the saber to go flying. Vader ends up lying on the hot sand, on fire, legless and armless except for his mechanical arm. Kenobi says his piece about the chosen one, etc etc, and leaves him for dead, picking up Vader's lightsaber as he leaves.

Act III, scene VI - The emperor arrives and saves Vader's life.
-cut scene to the rebuilding of Vader, pretty much as Lucas did it. The Emperor tells Vader that Padme is dead and so are the babies at the hands of the Jedi. Vader swears to exterminate the Jedi.
-cut scene showing Kenobi going into exile on Tatooine.

Roll credits.

So, what I have done is start the conflict between Anakin and the Jedi earlier, and have a lot of it occur before the movie starts. Then, I've made Padme's pregnancy further along at the beginning, avoiding the conundrum that she gives birth before getting a baby bump. I got rid of Grievous early on, and I've answered the fanboy cries to see Vader at full power, which Lucas didn't give us. I gave the audience one more chance to see Windu fighting and kicking butt. I've also deliberately blurred the line between good and evil, making it easier to sympathize with Vader and casting aspersions on the Jedi and their motivations. I've reduced the role of the Emperor to being a schemer rather than a fighter, making that consistent with the original trilogy. Most importantly, I've gotten rid of the ridiculous "one swing, three limbs" end to the battle between Kenobi and Vader, and made Anakin/Vader less whiny and full of teenage angst.

Friday, January 09, 2009

First Checkup with the Surgeon

I had my one-month appointment with the surgeon yesterday. He was really impressed with the 43 pound weight loss. My blood pressure is high (which I know - we've been checking it) but not dangerously high, so he wants to wait a couple more weeks before doing anything about it. I have an appointment with my regular doctor on the 24th, and he says if she wants to, she can put me back on the Vasotec, but not the diuretic, since I am already fighting dehydration.

Everything else looked fine- he was pleased with the healing of the incisions (they're all new pink skin, except for the drain wound, which is still a scab).

I totally forgot to ask him about playing the saxophone, which I will resume next week. I was planning on doing the old joke about "Well, I never could before!", but now I've missed the opportunity.

Bernie and I went to GNC and bought some pre-packaged Myoplex protein shakes, which will now be my breakfast that I take to work. That should take care of the problem with instant cereals, or eating too fast on my way out the door in the morning.

I made some crock-pot chili last night and had it for lunch today. Delicious, and it's sitting nicely in the stomach pouch.

You know, life ain't bad.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Not Much New

Not much new to say, except I fell below 290. 289 and declining.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Bernie's Got A New Ride

Well, after a week or more of test-driving, researching, pricing, negotiating, changing her mind, test-driving again, etc., Bernie finally made up her mind and chose a new Toyota Corolla.

...then had buyers remorse 5 minutes after signing the papers. Too bad - it's ours now. She likes it, but she misses her old car, too.

Four Little Things

Four little but very positive changes I've noticed since I had surgery:

1. My face has totally cleared up. I used to have an outbreak about once a month. Now I don't even have blackheads on my nose.

2. No more C-PAPs machine. I haven't used it in a week, and the last two times I tried, I woke up and wanted the mask off. I'm sleeping great without it, and no back pain, either.

3. No more blood pressure medicine. I swear, when I was 26 and started needing BP meds, that's when my hair turned gray. I think some blond might be creeping back in now, but that could just be my imagination.

4. I'm cold. I'm cold all the time now, and I never felt cold in my life before this. Maybe this means I won't be hot and sweaty all the time this summer.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Clicky Web Analytics