Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The saga of Barney the Beagle - Part 1

      This story was 20 years in the making and I've had countless requests to tell the tale, so here it is.  As I start this, I am not sure how many blogs it will take to tell the tale well, but I do know the number is more than 1.  I hope that we became better pet owners as we aged, but those of you who are just starting out, use this as a cautionary tale.  You have my word that each of these incidents is the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.....

Barney and the kids

     We got the news about the offer for the house and were elated. We had moved in and out of 3 apartments by then and wanted something that we could make our own, and change how we saw fit.  Home ownership
All puppies are cute, it's a universal truth. 
was in our blood, show me any graph that documents how renting and investing the savings puts you further ahead than actually owning a home, and I'll ignore it, cuz we want what we want.  The house came first, but shortly thereafter came the thought of owning a pet (well, we already had a baby).  You see it wasn't possible in any of the other living situations, so we were drunk with the idea that we could actually do this now, and therefore rushed into the decision like an 21 year old who is finally able to legally drink, that is to say, with reckless abandon. The Saga began with me reading 5 simple words in an ad in the local paper, "Free to a good home...".   "Honey" I shouted from my perch on the couch, "There is a couple giving away a free Beagle a few streets away from where you work, and it's a purebred with papers and everything" (Author's note"  Just cuz something says it's pure doesn't make it better, pure horseshit, after all,  is still horseshit). Char was as excited as I was, and we did have a short discussion about what kind of dog it was,
There is a sucker born every minute.....
to which I added, "Oh we had a Beagle mixed breed when I was growing up and she was great. (Shout out to Princess, our family mutt for most of the time I lived in my folk's home).  We called immediately and amazingly were able to go over and see the dog right then (Act Now!).  I later thought of all the things that could have happened to not put Barney in our lives, paper not delivered, me not reading paper, car wreck on the way to see the dog, running into anyone who knew anything about Beagles prior to going to see Barney..... The list is endless but it wasn't meant to be, that dog and I were destined to be together, one way or another. 

     The couple introduced us to Barney, who was as cute as you'd thought he'd be.  He was six weeks old and small and placid, and just begging for us to pet him. As I replay that first meeting in my mind, I'm sure that I asked some probing questions, but every time I did, I was presented with dog cuteness and getting answers
We did our research, after the fact
to my questions seemed suddenly less important.  They did claim that the dog was house trained (Cool, less work for us!), and they had to let the dog go, as they lived in an upstairs small apartment and it wasn't fair to the dog to keep him there.  We had a big yard and immediately envisioned the dog outside playing in it (Oh, they were good).  They showed us his water and food bowls (they were thrown in), and they did mention that they had let Barney sleep with them in their bed.  We thought that was cute, but had no interest in letting a dog share our bed, but were sure we could correct that behavior.  After a half an hour's visit, our decision had been made and we started to arrange when we could pick up Barney, but they insisted we could take him then, why wait?, so we headed home as proud dog owners, and with a purebred to boot!

     We got Barney home and introduced him to Molly, and of all the bad things I will write about this dog, how he treated our kids will not be one of them.  Barney took immediately to Molly, and later to Danny and Nolan.  He was no different than most dogs, as he didn't like to be bothered when eating,(who does?),
but he was always affectionate towards our kids (Now, the neighborhood kids are another story, but I'm foreshadowing too much already).  That evening we settled Barney down on a small bed that we had purchased, and went upstairs for some much needed sleep. Barney, however, had other plans. We had barely gotten tucked in when he jumped on our bed and started to snuggle in.  We liked to sleep with the door open, so we could listen for the baby at night, so this presented a conundrum.  We made the trip down the stairs a few times, explaining each time (to a dog), how this was where he was supposed to sleep, but somehow the dog didn't understand and came back up each time.  We finally closed the door and listened to the dog whine outside the door, but once again were confident that we could overcome this, we had let Molly put herself to sleep successfully, after all, and isn't a baby crying worse than a dog whining? Of course it is.  The failing in our thought process was that Molly was a pretty sharp baby, and unfortunately, no one ever accused Barney of being smart, ever. We eventually bought an eye-hook and a short chain and started chaining Barney to the wall near his bed downstairs when we went to sleep.  He still whined each night, but we couldn't hear it as well from a floor away.  It was the 2nd or 3rd day of doing this that I noticed the molding on the wall next to Barney was all
The wall near Barney's bed
chewed up.  He had been eating the wall each night while we slept.  By this point we were soliciting advice from neighbors, friends, family and complete strangers.  The advice came fast and furious but usually ended 
with "Oh, I don't know if it works for Beagles"   You see, the smart dog owners classified dogs in 2 classes, Trainable (non-Beagles) and non-trainable (Beagles).  We, on the other hand were still learning this lesson.  We tried one trick of painting the wall with Tabasco, which made the wall a nice orange color, to only find out that Barney had a taste for Tabasco (Shout out to my friend Mike Shasky who represents Tabasco, he would have loved Barney, but he didn't have to live with him).  We eventually learned of the "cage training" method and borrowed a cage that my mother owned for a few weeks so that we could "train" Barney.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the "House Trained" dog that we got for free, wet in our house every night since the very first night that we owned him.  So we borrowed the cage to help with that too, but it was a short term loan, after all, How long can it take to train a Beagle?.......

End of Part 1

No one, EVER accused Barney of being smart


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We spent a few days in Arizona last week....

     I had occasion to travel to Phoenix on business last week and decided that this would be a good trip for Char to accompany me on.  We dropped Nolan at "She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named"'s place and off we went.  I won't bore you with the business part, but here are some things we did afterwards....

     We are big fans of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" so we like to check out places that the host has visited
Outside of Matt's
when we travel.  We found the first gem right in Phoenix and it's called Matt's Big Breakfast.  We waited for 20 minutes and then got our seats and the meals did not disappoint.  I had country sausage, peppered bacon, hash browns, 2 eggs over easy, whole grain toast and fresh squeezed orange juice.  Char had the eggs, bacon, toast and had homefries with rosemary. We liked the hash browns better as the homefries were delicious but they weren't crispy.  By the time we left, there were 20 people outside waiting and it looked like an hour wait to get in, and I had consumed 1350 calories, all by myself.

     We left Phoenix that am and headed to Sedona, but stopped first in a small town called Prescott.  I
Outside view of the Palace bar
sat next to a guy on the plane and he had recommended a stop there.  In particular he told me a great story about the oldest bar in Arizona, called the Palace.  The story goes that in 1900 or so there was a fire on Whisky Row that endangered the Palace.  The bar patrons couldn't extinguish the fire (there wasn't enough water), but they could save the bar, the back bar, and ice cooler.  They picked them all up, and carried them to safety across the street and continued to drink
while the town burned.  The bar continued to operate in that location until the new bar was built.  This story says a lot to me about what motivates guys and the lengths they will go to, once motivated.  We did have a drink at the Palace and can now say that we drank in the same bar as the likes of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and some of their friends.  The picture on the right shows the back bar, the bar itself and on the end, the free standing icebox.  Amazing that it all survived.

   We headed to our resort in Sedona next and were
treated to a spectacular view from our balcony.  The beauty in Sedona is indescribable, but I'll try.  The iron in the sandstone and rocks make everything red or pink and the mountains stand out against the sky, so well.
View from our balcony
There are cacti all around, and scrub bushes.  We didn't see any wildlife but they have deer, and elk and rattlesnakes.  They have Agave plants too, but not the good kind that tequila comes from, these are hard and pointy and will kill you if you fall off from your horse onto one. They do have the good kind of junipers there, that is the ones used to flavor gin.   We ate at the resort restaurant the first night, relaxed in the hot tub, did a wine tasting, and then settled in for the night.   

     The next morning a red open air jeep picked us up at the hotel for a 2 hour tour of the red rocks of Sedona.  The tour guide, Bevin, was very knowledgeable about the history of the area and could identify the plants very well. She would have made a good Boy Scout.  Sedona was named after the wife of the first settler there. It barely escaped being named Schnebly Crossing or something like that, but the guy was convinced to use his wife's name instead.  Smart guy.  We got out of the jeep near a summit and hiked down for the next picture, which is a good panoramic view of what we saw.  We learned that an earthquake shot these peaks up over 10,000 feet a while ago, and about 6,000 feet still

remain.  Eventually it will just be desert again, so get there now while it still exists.  It was about 40 degrees that morning, and a little chilly in the back of that jeep, but I'd risk the frostbite again to see this kind of beauty.  We headed back to the hotel, packed up and then headed off to explore on our own.

     We stumbled across "The Chapel" built into the hill by Frank Lloyd Wright and it was breathtaking too.  I've always enjoyed his architecture and this
building was no exception.  It blended so well into the surroundings, but was a marvel in itself too. We meandered towards Flagstaff for the rest of the afternoon, and other than the snow at the top of the mountain, the views never changed from spectacular.  We stopped at another Triple D location in Flagstaff, called Salsa Brava, but honestly didn't find this place as charming as it should have been.  We
have never been disappointed in a Triple D
My lunch
recommendation, but this one was tough to distinguish from your average Mexican restaurant.  I had the stuffed Sopapilla and it was just all-right, The smoked chicken actually tasted like pork. 

     We headed back down to Phoenix at the end of the night, ordered a pizza and a movie and just chilled.  Although it was a whirlwind tour, we got to see 4-5 cities in Arizona, got a little flavor or each one and learned a ton.  I'd recommend the area if you get the chance, but work out first, so you can enjoy Matt's Big Breakfast without guilt. 

Relaxing with a cigar at the open fire pit
Sitting Pretty

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brother, can you spare a job?

     The hardest job I ever had, was looking for one.  If you've ever gone through a period of unemployment, then I think you'll get a sense of what I am saying.  At a regular job, you have set hours, and expectations, and goals and a workplace, but when you are job seeking, you have none of this.  When does your day start?  end ? Where are you supposed to be, and is your goal to find any job or the right job?  This blog is about the 2 times that I was unemployed in my life and on the support offered to me by my family during those times.....

     My Dad worked 2 jobs, most of his life, and sometimes 3 to support our family.  I've always been able to get by with one, with the few exceptions when I did some freelancing on weekends, catering or managing a restaurant.  There were two big differences between Dad's family and mine in this scenario, the first was that
Dad had 12 kids and I have 3, and the second was, Mom worked as a homemaker, and my wife has always held a job and additionally done most the duties of the homemaker.  We have been blessed with incomes commensurate (or more) with our educations and as a family we really haven't wanted for much. I'll repeat, we've been blessed with good opportunities, but that's not to say there haven't been transitions in our employment, more mine than Char's.  

     About 14 years ago I was working as a Distributor Sales Rep for a local food company.  It was the 4th such company I had worked for in the same position over a 16 year period and I enjoyed the work immensely.  After your relationships were established, it was like driving around to visit your restaurant friends each week, oh, and you sold stuff to them.  I worked on commission only and some expenses were borne by the company and some were mine.  I never had a problem taking my cut, as I made it a point to always bring value to my business partners, sampling products frequently, giving advice and consultations and sharing what I had learned both formally and during my time on the streets.  As I said, I really loved the work, and could have retired in that job, but it wasn't meant to be. During my 3rd year
Job search triangle
working for the last distributor, the owner, a man I like and admire, got some bad advice and instituted Draconian cuts to the commission plan of the sales team.  The new proposed plan would have cut my pay by more than half, and while I first tried to change the plan working from the inside, I eventually quit that job in search of a better one.  My former boss had alerted me to the fact that the DSR job was one with a declining pay scale, he had just got his numbers wrong.  During that time it had slipped from paying an average of 3% on sales, to 2.8% on sales, but the fact was, if I were to stay in that job, I could expect to make less, so I decided to shift careers.  Helluva a catch, aren't I?  Not only did I quit my job without having another one lined up, I also decided to disqualify the jobs that I am most experienced at.

     The normal progression out of the DSR job is to move on to become a food broker. These folks, God Bless them, represent 30 or so manufacturers and sell to restaurants like I had done, but only the specific lines that they represent.  I worked part time for a friend of mine in this business, and quickly discovered that I did
Typical Food Trade Show
not have the temperament to survive in this job.  I like to work independently and unencumbered by management, but in that job everyone you deal with, operators, manufacturers, distributors, and your boss all think they have a right to manage your time.  Recognizing that this was a bad fit for me, I eliminated the next series of jobs that I was most qualified for, and set my sites on securing a job as a manufacturer's rep.  Mind you, I had no experience at this job, and I was skipping a step entirely by not doing my time as a broker first. Each time, however, that I came in the door, or downstairs to tell my wife of the new evolution of my job search, she smiled and wished me luck.  Here she was, working more than full time, and she supported me in what seemed, at the very least, a dubious plans to change careers at that time.  Amazing !  She would pass by my
Bill,  job searching
office, and I'd be dressed casually, on the phone, feet propped up on the desk, yucking it up with some of my old cronies, and never once did she shake her head, or question my job search method.  She had faith that my work ethic,and skills would bring opportunity to our family again, and she turned out to be right when within a few months, I got an offer from Mrs. Smith's Bakeries to become their Northeast Regional Sales Manager.

      It was 4 years later that I was exited from that job, a new management team came in and I didn't fit the picture of what they
wanted, so I found myself unemployed again, but for the first time, not of my own doing.  I took a burn to it at the time, but truly wouldn't have found the great job I have now if that door hadn't been opened, so my ego got over it pretty quickly.  The bigger paycheck helped a lot. My job search methods hadn't changed much for that search either, feet on desk, call a few cronies, check the job sites, sign up with a recruiter, etc. I had jaw surgery 2 weeks after the job loss, so this period of unemployment lasted almost 4 months, but once again, my wife and family jumped in to support my search to find the right fit.  The kids were really cute, offering to give up their savings or extra curricular activities that cost us more. My wife increased her work hours, once again, to provide more income during my down time.  After we were celebrating the new job, I posed the question to her about seeing me watch TV or have friends over, while she worked harder, and whether that was difficult for her. Her reply was "Sometimes, but you have never failed to provide for this family, so I had faith in you, if not your methods, that you would better your position again."  She is a remarkable woman (I've said it before, marrying well is half the battle).

     So, starting this morning, I am getting an opportunity, for the first time, to support my wife during a job search period.  For 17 years, she has worked at home as an independent medical transcriptionist.  She dutifully got up each morning at 4:30 am and got paid for only the work she did, by the character she typed, oh, and made a heck of a living doing it. This job allowed her both a nice income, and the flexibility in her schedule, so she could raise our children and be available for the important events in their lives.  I firmly believe that this time spent was directly proportional to the caliber of the kids that we raised.  Prior to that job, she worked in a medical office and a health insurance company and her degree is in accounting.  I would ask for your assistance in helping us to determine the next path for Char. My last 2 jobs came from networking, not job postings, and I suspect it will be the same for Char.  Let us know if you hear of any interesting opportunities, and spread the word about an intelligent, motivated, individual with an unparalleled work ethic being available.  Pray for us, that we are able to recognize the right opportunity when it comes, and that we have the patience to wait for it until it does come.  I've passed along the advice, to her, that I've received about trying to enjoy the time off as it is normally pretty fleeting, but I know how hard this is when you are so wrapped up in finding work, so reach out to Char, feel free to pop in and just give her a break from the worry of job searching.  Lastly, pray for me, that I can be as supporting of a spouse that she has always been to me, especially during the times of my unemployment.  She deserves nothing less.



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's elementary, dear Watson, you can bond at the movies.

     My sons went together recently to see the Sherlock Holmes movie.  I was working at home that day, and watched them pull out of the driveway, all the while wishing I could join them. You see, we had gone to see the first one together, but I had just too much work to do that day to join them (is anyone else hearing "Cat's in the Cradle" right now?).  They came back from the picture show, laughing and smiling and while I was still sad for myself that I had missed the experience, it was great to see them interact like that.  It also got me pondering whether it was possible to "bond" during such an activity, and I say, yes.  

     The first movie that I went to see was Walt Disney's Pinocchio.  It was in a small theater in downtown Canandaigua, that no longer exists, and I went for a friend's birthday party (shout out to Mark Vitalone). I remember we carried in a garbage bag full of popcorn and it was a wonderful experience with that group of
kids.  Mark and I weren't close, but we lived close, and back then, sometimes, that was enough.  We'd have Friday night sleepovers at Mark's and pick-up football games on Saturday mornings.  I really liked playing football, but at that time, I really loved watching Saturday morning cartoons. At home, we had to do all of our weekly housework before Mom would let us turn the TV on, so I frequently got to Scooby Doo, just in time to see the reveal and hear the "I'd have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids" line.  At Mark's I could get up first, turn on their TV and lay in front of it, and watch a couple of hours of early am cartoons.  The rest of the group would slowly get up and inevitably they'd want to head out, right in the middle of Scooby Doo.  I'd try and stall them, but it didn't endear me to the group, but back on point, we all bonded that day we went to the movies.  I suspect Mark's mom knew that already, because a lot of Saturdays would end with Mark yelling at his friends about some trivial thing, and he'd stomp off back home (he had a little bit of a temper), but not that Saturday, it was the most pleasant one I'd ever spent with that group.

     A lot of first dates are spent at the movies, and while I posit that you can bond at the movies, you don't always do.  I remember in high school going with a girl to see the premiere of Arthur.  I rode my bike to her house, survived meeting her family and over sized black lab, and we jumped in her car and went to the show.
The only Arthur.
The movie was absolutely hilarious ("Arthur, take my hand.  Why, that would leave you with one", Classic) and I see no reason to remake that movie, when they could just re-release the original, but back on point, we sat together and watched the movie.  We later had fish sandwiches at McDonald's (big spender) and then headed back to her house.  She was a nice girl, but at the end of that movie date, I wasn't feeling "it", so we said a chaste goodnight and I pedaled back home.  I really didn't feel "it" until a few years later, while working with my, now wife, and then I wanted to be with her in every way possible, and I have been doing just that for over 25 years now.  Funny thing is, it was the same girl in both instances.  Ha! You didn't see that one coming did you?  I'll chalk it up to 2 things.  The first is, I wasn't mature enough to recognize the caliber of women who accompanied me on the first date and second, Char isn't the kind of girl whose shell you're gonna crack during an 2 hour date, and in fact there are still pieces that she keeps private these many years later.  That's all right though, I've got time.

     I'm not sure I ever bonded as well with my daughter at the movies, as my wife did, but admittedly, they shared the same tasted in movies.  When she was 6 or so, we were on vacation and went to see "Harriet the Spy" together, well it was kind of together, Char and Molly actually saw "Harriet the Spy" in one theater and
I went to see Demi Moore in Striptease in another.  It was serendipity, when I went to buy my tickets, they both ended at the exact same time.  I figured if God had wanted me in theater 3 with Molly and Char, watching a coming of age story of a little girl spy,  he wouldn't have put Demi Moore with no clothes on in theater 4 playing against it.  I doubt that Molly even remembers this, but she knows now.  She repaid me years later when I tried to introduce her to Forrest Gump at home and she sat with her laptop open the entire movie, missing the innuendos and small important points, and at the end declared how badly it sucked.  We did not bond then, but I did learn not to introduce her to my favorite movies, when she was committed to multitasking during them.  I'm old, but I can learn.  I also learned that it's tough to bond with a theater wall separating you.  As I said before, Char and Molly have their movie thing, but the boys and I have ours, and that is fine.  I'll take Green Lantern over the Notebook every time.  Occasionally we all watch a movie together and bond, but it's a rare event in my house.

    At the house I grew up in, I don't remember going out to the movies much, but we would lay around the living room watching movies on the TV as a family sprawled out and draped over various pieces of furniture (It resembled more of a
CSI crime scene most nights than a family movie viewing).  
Bud and Lou with the Andrews sisters
 We'd watch the Abbott and Costello movies on Sunday mornings after church or the Wonderful World of Disney showing on Sunday nights,and I still get nostalgic when I find these on the guide today.  As I got older, I remember when my folks got watching "The Graduate" one night and forgot that I was still up lying on the floor and watching too. I still can't watch that movie today, without thinking I'm going to be sent to bed at any minute.  A few years later, we had a repeat incident with the movie "10" (Weird that it starred Dudley Moore too) and I was certain that I was going to be sent to bed in the middle of the scene where Bo Derek jogs in slow motion down the beach, but, Thank God, I wasn't. Yes, Dad and I bonded watching movies together too.

     Wow, this is a long one (That's what She said).  I suppose I've pontificated enough on whether it's possible to bond while sitting, mostly silently, in a movie theater or in a cozy living room watching a movie.  The blog wouldn't be complete without the mention of our favorite family bonding movie, "It's a Wonderful Life".  We make time, each Christmas season, to try and watch this as a family and we definitely bond during it.  Maybe we connect with the altruistic George Bailey who does for others, but never goes out and pursues his dreams, until he realizes that all along he had them in front of him.  Hmmm, kind of sounds like this kid I know who took a girl to Arthur one time....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's time to lose some weight again ....

     I realize how cliche it is to do a blog the first week in January about resolutions, or on weight loss, yet here I am doing just that.  Since this blog is primarily stories of what is happening in my life, the fact that I am starting a diet is a valid topic, and the way I'm hoping to lose the weight may be worth a story or two while it is happening....

     Don't we all know the signs, too well, of the need to shed some pounds?  Clothes fit too tightly, you might look ridiculous trying to get out of a deep seat, or you don't like your reflection in a mirror, or you don't recognize your face in a picture taken of you, yes all of these are subtle hints that you may have added some girth to your frame.  I've had all of these happen this year, and now it's time to pay the piper and try and get back into shape (other than round, which they tell me is a shape).
My weight, as I start this diet, is one of the highest weights that I've been in my life, around 182 lbs on my 5' 6.5" frame. This puts my BMI at 28.9 which falls in the overweight range and is teetering perilously close to the obese number.  I have been working out this year, so I'm proud to say some of this really is muscle, which I've never had much of in the past, but it definitely was getting harder to see the muscle underneath the outer layer of  "not muscle" that I've been carrying.  I've convinced myself that I probably already have a six pack, but just can't see it yet.  So point is, I'm larger than I want to be, so how did this happen and what am I going to do about it?

     For regular readers of the blog, I really don't have to explain how this happened.  In my case, it's simply having too many vices, and not enough virtues to balance them out.  Some of my vices are my love of food, my inability to eat reasonable portions of it, and my larger than normal intake of alcoholic beverages.  It's not unusual for me to eat a large breakfast, have a big cheeseburger for lunch and have a 3-4 course dinner 4 or 
I'll miss you, my friend.
so days of the week.  I like to relax with an alcoholic drink like wine or a gin and tonic and a lot of nights 
3 of these are added to my caloric intake.  The half an hour of exercise I do daily really isn't enough to combat all of these vices.  This is definitely not a diet conducive to weight loss or even maintenance.  It's pretty amazing that I don't weigh over 200 lbs already, so I probably have a pretty good metabolism in place, although it's not the metabolism I had as a youth.  In my senior year of high school my brother Ace and I would eat dinner at 5, go play 3 games of racquetball at the Y, and then make the loser buy a 12" sub at Papa Franks, which we would eat 2 hours after Mom had made us dinner.  I weighed 132 lbs then, and the 3 games of racquetball barely winded me.  Now, I could probably play 3 games, back to back, but I know if I finished, I'd be more than an little winded.  Of course, carrying 50 lbs more than I did back in high school, doesn't make it any easier to accomplish.  So it is, what it is.  I would not try to get back to that weight either, I'm allowing for the fact that I am older, slower, and I'm alright with carrying more lbs on me than the skinny, chicken wing slinging, kid I was back then.  I'd like to lose about 20 lbs though and get my BMI into the healthy range.  So how am I going to do it?

     Incentive.  That's what I need and my family is going to supply some of it for me.  My sister,  "She-Who- Shall-Not-Be-Named" is starting a 12 week weight lost contest on our family website, and I have joined it along with about 12 members of my family.  I am a very competitive individual, so once I get involved in
something like this, I'll do my best to win it.  The second incentive I will have is that I am going to give up alcohol entirely until I meet or exceed my 20lb goal.  Wow, even I could hear the collective gasp from the readers of this blog, and I suspect several bartenders in Canandaigua NY just had to be revived after passing out.  I've given up alcohol for Lent before, so I know I can do it, and since I do enjoy drinking socially, this will give me that added oomph I need to see me to my goal (In the interest of full disclosure,I am excluding a 4 day planned vacation in Jan from this restriction).  I anticipate getting to my goal in 6-7 weeks.  I've downloaded an app to my phone that will help me track what I eat, and I'm likely going to go on the South Beach diet.  My wife and I have had success with this one before and we both can stay on it, so we are less likely to fall off because we can support each other.  The last thing I am going to do is to increase my exercise to an hour a day.  This should double the amount of calories I burn each day, so it should get me to my goal that much quicker.  My exercise is going to be a combination of walking, biking, Wii exercise, weight lifting, and using an elliptical.  I have some arthritis issues, so I've picked exercises that I can do any day, regardless of any arthritic flare up. That's the plan, plain and simple. 

     As I finish this, I'd ask for your moral support in helping me reach my goal.  I'll take both prayers and well wishes.  If you need a DD in the next few months I am available (What? I said that I would stop drinking, not stop going out, after all)  It's going to be an interesting couple of months, and I'm sure I'll share my progress with you on this blog.  Wish me luck, and I'll let you know if I find that six-pack.