Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions That Probably Shouldn’t Be On Your List

•  Quit smoking and chewing tobacco at the same time

• Make sure you drink at least one Slurpee per day

• Read more… or at least watch more movies based on books… or at least watch more TV shows based on movies based on books… or at least just watch more TV.

• Exercise at least one minute per week

• Quit drinking coffee after 10 p.m.

• Floss semi-annually

• Take up something new, like salsa-dancing or salsa-eating

• Cut internet time down to 26 hours a day

• Spend more time with friends, family and/or strippers

• Work at reducing debt by purchasing one lottery ticket per day

• Organize office by setting desk on fire

• Each week, spend at least 12 hours improving Angry Birdage skills

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Don’t Read This!

I’m serious!

This is personal, something just for myself.

I know, it would probably make more sense to simply keep this as a regular document on my computer, but I’ve already started a blog post and I like to finish things that I start (except for that ship-in-a-bottle project that I started in 1989; damn my giant hands!).

Instead, I’ll run you all off by explaining, in excruciating detail, the rules of cricket.

According to Wikipedia, Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the runs scored by the batting team. A run is scored by the striking batsman hitting the ball with his bat, running to the opposite end of the pitch and touching the crease there without being dismissed. The teams switch between batting and fielding at the end of an innings. In professional cricket the length of a game ranges from 20 overs of six bowling deliveries per side to Test cricket played over five days. The Laws of Cricket are maintained by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) with additional Standard Playing Conditions for Test matches and One Day Internationals. Cricket was first played in southern England in the 16th century. By the end of the 18th century, it had developed into the national sport of England. The expansion of the British Empire led to cricket being played overseas and by the mid-19th century the first international matches were being held. The ICC, the game's governing body, has ten full members. The game is played particularly in Australasia, the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies, Southern Africa and England.

Okay, that should have gotten rid of everyone off by now.

Now Jack… Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack…

Think about how good you feel right now, right this very second. You’ve been eating well and exercising regularly for the last week or so.


You fell off the wagon and you were draggin’ the entire time. You had no energy. Your get-up-and-go just got up and went. The connection was obvious, but you couldn’t put two and two together.

So here’s your reminder, dumbass:  Good health and weight loss is a giant boulder that, once it starts rolling, can bust through virtually any obstacle.

But when it comes to a stop, it can be next-to-impossible to get moving again.

So do yourself a favor…

Get it rolling.

Keep it rolling.

And keep it rolling some more.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm Bad

My tummy rollin’ o’er my belt in some too-tight slacks,
I’m weighin’ way too much, it’s time to face the facts.
I was goin’ nowhere in the middle of my life.
Time to pick up my pride, and put down the fork and knife.
Time to quit eatin’ ice cream after dinner every night.
Get busy exercisin’ and straighten out my diet.

Oh, I'm fat… I'm way too wide.

Yes, I'm fat… I'm way too wide.

Turns out I feel much better when I sweat a little sweat,
When I eat fresh veggies ‘stead of freshly baked baguette.
When I eat fresh fruit, ‘stead of processed crap
Makes me feel much better, makes Jack a healthy chap.

I was fat… was way too wide.

Yeah was fat… way. way too wide.

Well, I was movin' down the road in my runnin’ shoes,
Thinkin’ to myself, “Hey, what have I got to lose?”
With my brand new muscles and my newfound will,
Nothing feels as good as feeling healthy feels.

I’m not fat… not way too wide.

I’m not fat, fat, fat, fat, fat… I’ve hit my stride.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Health and Fitness Year in Review

With outbreaks of Listeria from deli meats, hot dogs, unpasteurized dairy, raw fruits and veggies, paralytic shellfish poisoning, Vibrio Vulnificus from raw oysters, Botulism from canned foods, E. coli from fresh produce, raw juice, milk and ground beef, Salmonella from raw meat, processed foods, fresh produce, poultry and eggs, Campylobacter from undercooked poultry, Hepatitis A from improper food handling, Ciguatera Poisoning from fish, Scombrotoxin from fresh tuna, C. Perfringens from meat, stew and gravy, Staph from sandwiches, salads and pastries, everyone agrees to quit eating everything.

The FDA urges the corn industry to stop using the term “corn sugar” in an effort to differentiate the effects of high fructose corn syrup from sugar. The corn industry agrees to change the name to “corncaine.”

Scientists declare that Vitamin E does nothing to help skin, mental health or weight management despite earlier claims to the contrary. Later in the day, scientists declare that Vitamin D is a super-supplement reported to help skin, mental health and weight management.

Folks around the world embrace The Paleo Diet, a program heavy on meat and vegetables and free of grains, in conjunction with a focus on lifting heavy rocks and sprinting away from sabre-toothed tigers.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiative to ban people from using food stamps to purchase soda is struck down by the USDA. This development doesn’t bode well for the mayor’s other health initiatives, which include forcing kids to eat oatmeal every morning, outlawing chocolate-covered raisins,  making all cabbies stop at least once per hour to do 200 sit-ups and giving vegetables the right to vote.

According to an American Cancer Society study, men and women who sit for more than six hours a day are as good as dead.

President Bill Clinton celebrates his heart healthy vegan diet with a double bacon cheeseburger with extra cheese and a side of bacon.

Race-day spectators watch in awe as Amber Miller crosses the finish line at the Chicago Marathon and proceeds to go into labor. They are even more impressed when–hours later–she gave birth to a healthy baby who immediately runs a 5K around the hospital grounds.

Talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz creates a stir when his study finds that apple juice contains potentially dangerous levels of inorganic arsenic. He pressures the apple juice industry to make a change and start using organic arsenic in their products.

Dancing With the Stars invites Chaz Bono to be a contestant in its celebrity dance contest, which raises awareness for overweight transsexuals.

Earlier in the year, the USDA proposes changes to the nation’s school lunch program for the first time in 15 years. This month, Congress blocks those changes, not only declaring tomato paste on pizza a vegetable, but also proclaiming Jell-O and tater tots to be superfoods.

Researchers warn of potential injuries caused by those popular barefoot running shoes, which contain little if any padding and lack the support and cushioning many runners need. Also, say scientists, they look kinda dorky.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Nog Nog

Nog Nog.
Who’s there?
Claudette who?
Claudette all the fruitcake!

Nog Nog. 

Who’s there?
Julie who?
Ju leave any cookies for Santa?

Nog nog.
Who’s there?
Eisenhower who?
Eisenhower late for the Christmas party.

Nog nog
Who's there?


Botany who?

Botany of those special flavored coffees at Starbucks yet? They’re yummy!

Nog nog.

Who's there?


Justice who?

Justice once I’m going to eat some fruitcake, okay?

Nog nog.

Who's there?

Baby owl.

Baby owl who?

Baby owl try to exercise some during the holidays. 

Nog nog. 

Who's there?

Norma Lee. 

Norma Lee who? 

Norma Lee I say I'm gonna exercise some during the holidays but don't.

Nog nog.

Who's there?

Ice cream soda. 

Ice cream soda who? 


Nog nog.
Who’s there?
Chicken who?
Chicken your stocking and see what you got.

Nog nog.
Who’s there?
Hannah who?
Hannah partridge in a pear tree!

Who’s there?
Luke who?
Luke under the tree at all those presents!

Nog nog.

Who's there? 

Augusta who? 

Augusta get back on my diet soon.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bad, Badder, Worstest... The Holiday Edition

Bad: You overindulged at the office Christmas party.
Badder: You woke up splayed out in the fountain at the mall.
Worstest: You’re hooked up to a vodka IV right now.

Bad: You ate all the candy out of your kids’ stocking.
Badder: You ate all the candy out of your kids’ stockings… and blamed the dog.
Worstest: You ate all the candy out of your kids’ stockings… and blamed Santa.

Bad: You’ve drunk your weight in eggnog.
Badder: You’ve thrown out all other food in your fridge so that you can keep more eggnog on hand.
Worstest: CNN does story about worldwide eggnog shortage and your name comes up repeatedly.

Bad: Pants are entirely too tight.
Badder: You’ve had to cut the necks out of all your turtleneck sweaters.
Worstest: You can’t find a shawl that fits.

Bad: You realize you haven’t done any meaningful exercise in December.
Badder: You realize you haven’t done any meaningful exercise in 2011.
Worstest: You realize that you have same muscular definition as newborn baby.

Bad: You ate 25 deviled eggs at a holiday party.
Badder: Hostess comes up to talk to you just as you’re jamming entire cheese ball in your mouth.
Worstest: You’re first to arrive at holiday party and food is all gone before second guest arrives.

Bad: You’ve succumbed to a peppermint bark addiction.
Badder: While in line at Starbucks to get Peppermint Mocha Latte, you’re plotting route on your phone to the next closest Starbucks to get another Peppermint Mocha Latte.
Worstest: Doc informs you that your blood type is “O positively peppermint”.

Bad: You’ve decided to put off your healthy living quest until the new year.
Badder: Gym is so busy in January that you’ve decided to wait until it clears out some.
Worstest: Decided that 2012 can just go to hell.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

You're Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Fatass

You’re beginning to look a lot like a fatass.
Ev’rything you eat
Is fried in bacon grease, portions tend to increase.

How long has it been since you could see your feet?

You’re beginning to look a lot like a fatass.
Snackin’ at ev’ry turn,
But the craziest thing you do is eat until you spew.

Won’t you ever learn? 

One day you looked in the mirror and saw things much clearer.
A change just had to be made.
Now you’re eating much better and are now a sweat sweater
It’s a healthy living crusade.
Now you can hardly wait to get your chunky bottom weighed.

You’re beginning to look a lot less like a fatass.

Ev’ryday you go,
To the gym and do some lunges and eat some healthy lunches.
It’s amazing how you’ve done it, don’t you know.

You no longer look so much like a fatass.
Your pants aren’t way too tight.
You’ve gotten much, much thinner since you don’t eat two suppers for dinner,
And stuck to your diet.
You no longer look at all like a fatass.

You’re finally on your way.
And the thing that makes you smile, makes the whole ordeal worthwhile:

Each day’s a brand new day.
It’s a new one, starting today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Few More Holiday Health Tips

• When you're at a holiday party, one way to keep from overindulging in to lock yourself in the bathroom and play Angry Birds on your phone for three hours.

• Instead of eggnog, how about egg substitute-nog?

• You can make healthy "candy canes" by twirling lines of mushed beet paste around stalks of celery.

• If you're at a zombie holiday party, and you see a gelatinous mold in the shape of a brain, don't just assume it's Jell-O.

• Don't fill your coat pocket with ranch dressing even if it makes for more convenient dipping.

• You can burn a load of calories by going to the mall on Christmas Eve and doing all your holiday shopping.

• Print out my blog and carry it around with you at all times in case you find yourself requiring an inspirational lift.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Fat Ass-trology for the Holidays

ARIES-LING (Mar 21 - Apr 19)
You'll realize you have a problem when you hear "Why did you eat that gingerbread house? It was just for decoration!" for the third time this holiday season.

TARTUS (Apr 20 - May 20)
You go for a walk wearing a white track suit and kids start screaming "Ayyyyyy! A snowman came to life!" 

GEMINCEMEAT (May 21 - June 20)
Good news: you'll manage to keep all of your upcoming New Year's resolutions. Bad news: only resolutions are not to eat any prunes  and not to wear any clothes made out of seal-skin.

CANCEREAL (June 21 - July 22)
You've got some explaining to do to your kids on Christmas morning when your kids find letter from Santa that reads "Who ate my damn cookies?"

LEOREO (July 23 - Aug 22)
Expect not to get invited to any more holiday parties after what is hereafter referred to as "The Deviled Egg Incident".

VIRGOOBERS (Aug 23 - Sept 22)
You'll experience a major bummer when your hyration-pack-full-of-eggnog experiment fails spectacularly.

LIBROWNIES (Sept 23 - Oct 22)
Realize New year diet is off to a bad start when you read in the paper that  Dunkin Donuts is planning to open new location in your living room.

SCOOPIO (Oct 23 - Nov 21)
After using it for three months, you realize that the app you downloaded to track your calories counts a king-sized box of Milk Duds as 10 calories.

SPAGHETTARIUS (Nov 22 - Dec 21)
You realize you've hired the wrong personal trainer when he refuses to wear any pants during session.

CANDICORN (Dec 22 - Jan 19)
Your vow to quit drinking diet cola faces a tough obstacle when you have a sudden realization:  you really like diet soda!

AQUARICEARONI (Jan 20 - Feb 18)
You'd better come up with a better excuse than "I thought it was a cookie-eating contest!" or else everyone at the cookie exchange is gonna be furious with you.

REECE’S PISCES (Feb 19 - March 20)
You will meet a handsome stranger at the train station. Did I say "handsome"? I meant "overweight". Did I say "at the train station"? I meant "in the mirror". Oh, SNAP!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why I Blog the Way I Blog

Weekly weigh-in: 249.5
Loss: -6.5
Total loss: -42
Emotion: Jacked up

I don’t blog like most weight loss warriers, sharing my menus and workout routines. Oh, I have menus and workout routines. Don’t believe I don’t have them! I HAVE THEM!

I just find them incredibly… boring.

When I’m rolling along, I’ll go weeks at a time eating the same breakfasts and lunches, maybe changing my exercise routines up slightly but maybe not at all. It is the opposite of fascinating.

But here’s the thing: I’m in for the long haul, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

So… for me, blogging is about staying engaged in what I’m doing.

If I write a post about silly weigh-in tricks (never eat any black cat on your weigh-in day, jump on when the scale’s not looking, skip your pre-weigh-in snack), it’s not because I think weighing in is silly; it’s because if I’m weighing in on anything weight- or health-related, my mind’s in the game.

So, I’m back getting after it. I’m eating a little less, eating a little better, exercising every day. I’m blogging the silliness out of my system and taking a no-nonsense approach to my health.

That’s what works for me.

What works for you?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Health Tips

• Instead of a cup of eggnog, how's about a cup of eggnot?


When you make holiday cookies, throw a couple of stink bugs in the batter. They won't be so tempting if you're scared you'll get a stinkbug cookie.

• To curb cravings, gnaw on a pine cone.

• To get it out of your system, go to Starbucks and order a venti Gingerbread Peppermint Mocha cinnamon eggnog latte. Whoa... That's actually pretty good!


Limiting yourself to one piece of gingerbread doesn't make it okay to eat an entire gingerbread house.

• FDA does not - I repeat does NOT - recommend that you get four to six servings of fruitcake each day.


Speed carol.

• At holiday parties, ask hostess to please hide all delicious food out of your sight.

• Holiday stress often leads to overeating, so consider slipping into a coma for the month of December.

• On January 1, lots of folks are going to be joining gyms and clogging up the works before they quit after 2 or 3 weeks, so my advice to you is to go ahead and join a gym now so you it won't be so crowded for the 2 or 3 weeks you use it before you quit.


Jingle all the way (or at least as much of the way as you are able).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How The Binge Stole Fit-mass

Every Sh*t 

Down in Sh*tville

Liked fitness a lot...
But the Binge,

Who lived just North of Sh*t-ville,

Did NOT!

The Binge hated fitness! Hated it worse than Gigli.

He just wanted folks to relax and eat pigily.

It could be that he just never learned to eat right,

Or that he sat on the couch and watched TV all night.

But I think that the most likely reason of all,

May have been that his pants were two sizes too small.


Whatever the reason,

TV or tight pants,

There he was every Fit-Mas, his same hateful stance.

Staring down at the Sh*ts with a sour, Binge-y grimace,

At the active people working to unthicken their thickness.

For he knew every Sh*t down in the area down yon,

Was busy now getting their exercise on.

“And they’re doing their lunges!” he snarled with a sneer.

And watched all the lunging while swilling a beer.

Then he growled, with ranch dressing all over his chin,

“I MUST find a way to stop Fit-Mas, my friend.”

For, tomorrow, he knew...

...All the Sh*ts on the streets.

Would wake up bright and early. They’d down healthy eats!

And then! Oh, the tweets! Oh, the tweets! Tweets! Tweets! Tweets!

That’s one thing he hated! The TWEETS! TWEETS! TWEETS! TWEETS!

Then the Sh*ts, young and old, would head out for a jog.

And they’d blog! And they’d blog!

And they’d BLOG! BLOG! BLOG! BLOG!
They would blog with their run-times, and how they were feeling,

Which sent the Binge’s blood pressure up to the ceiling.


They’d do something he liked least of all!

Every Sh*t down in Sh*t-ville, the big and the small,

Would all get together, no matter how fat.

They’d log onto their computers and they would all chat.
They’d yak! And they’d chat!


And the more the Binge thought of this healthy life chat,

The more the Binge thought, “I must stop this crap, stat!”

“Why for many a year I've put up with this brutal sh*t.

How to stop Fit-Mas from coming?

I’ll just Google it!”

There he got an idea!

An awful idea!



"”I know just what to do!” he said grabbing some bacon.

And he put on a fancy chef hat and an apron.

And he chuckled, and clucked, got his skillet well greased
“No Sh*t can resist a big Binge-y feast!”

“All I need is some hash browns...”

The Binge checked for taters.

And fried them up nice with some peppery flavors.

Was that enough for the old Binge...?

No! The Bingle simply smiled,

“No one can resist homemade biscuits, child.”
So he whomped up some biscuits, then got some eggs fryin’.

No one could resist the food he’d be supplyin’.


He piled on his dishes,

Loading bowl after bowl.

He wanted to tempt

Every last Sh*tville soul.

Then the Binge said, “Let’s roll!”

With his sleigh full of yummies.

And he headed to on down
To feed food to the dummies.

The Binge entered town, a big clumsy drunk dude.

With a mind fulla malice and a bag fulla junk food. 

When he came to the first house there in the town.

“This is stop one,” The Bingey Chef said with a frown.

And he threw his beer can down on the ground.

Then he entered the house, and in a move most unethical,

Went to the pantry and stole every vegetable.

Potatoes! And bok choy! Radishes! Kale!

Carrot sticks! Watercress! Turnips, as well!
“Let’s get rid of this stuff,” he said with a slow drawl.

And stuffed the whole mess down the disposal.

Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Sh*t’s  fruit!

The apples. Oranges. The gnarled ginger root.

He cleaned out that icebox being oh-so stealthy

And replaced all the foods with stuff most unhealthy!

He dropped off some Pop-Tarts.

He left marshmallow fluff.

Pre-packaged lunchmeat.

And other bad stuff.

And the one healthy speck 

That the Binge left for grazin’

Was a piece of a part of an old cruddy raisin.


The Binge went and

He did the same switchin’s

Leaving crap

Way unhealthy

In other Sh*t’s kitchens.

It was quarter past dawn,

The very start of the day

With the Sh*ts still asleep,

When he set up his buffet.
Loaded it up with omelets! 

And sausage! And cornflakes!

And gravy! And waffles!

And cream cheese! And corncakes!

He loaded the tables with dishes overflowing,

And smiled as he thought of waistlines a’growing.
“Pooh-pooh to the Sh*ts” he was binge-ish-ly grinning.

This banquet I’m throwing is just the beginning.

By lunchtime, they’ll be full up to their chin,

And then I’ll serve up more goodies again.

Then all the Sh*ts down in Sh*t-ville will all DIVE RIGHT IN!”

“That's a sight,” grinned the Binge,
That must be observed.”

So he paused, the Binge there by the food that he served.

But something was goin’ on that was kinda confusing.

The Sh*ts weren’t hurrying over after their snoozing.

Why, they paid no attention.

There was no rush to the feast!

He’d provided every temptation,

And they couldn’t care in the least.

He’d offered up calories there by the bazillions,

And couldn’t entice these hardcore Sh*t-villians!

The Binge popped his eyes!

Then he shook!

What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Sh*t down in Sh*t-ville, the fat and petite,

Were limbering up for a jog down the street.

He HADN'T stopped Fit-Mas from coming!


The Binge stood there frowning and sipping his beer.

He watched them run by, his apron still splattered with grease.

“They didn’t want my crumbcake, not even a piece!

They passed up my hash browns! Said no to French toast. 

Didn’t want my eggs benedict served on pot roast!”

And he puzzled three hours, `till his feast had gone cold.

‘Til in the Binge’s head, a thought finally took hold.

Then the Binge had a idea,

"Maybe Fit-Mas," he said. "Doesn't come from a meal.

Maybe Fit-Mas... perhaps... is a much bigger deal!”

And what happened then...?

Well, some like to admit,

That the Binge’s tight pants

Made him want to get fit.

And the minute he started on down the right road,

He felt a tremendous lightening of his own heavy load.

So he threw out the food!
All that unhealthy schlock!

And he...

The Binge jogged ‘round the block!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's On!

It’s on.

It’s on like white on rice.

It’s on like brown on... ummmm... brown rice.

It’s on like LeBron eatin’ a prawn with Grey Poupon on.

It’s on like James Caan readin’ The Gospel according to John.

It’s on like Vince Vaughn doing a remake of the movie Tron.

It’s on like Little John twirling a baton in The Gulf of Oman.

It’s on like Don Juan and that chick wearing the chiffon from The Black Swan.

It’s on like Genghis Khan playing ping pong versus Donkey Kong.

I’m telling you, it’s on.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Long Slide

Man, this is a tough post to write…

I wish I could say that was because someone had reprogrammed my computer keyboard so that all the letters were in different places…

Speaking of which, did you know that there’s an alternative keyboard layout to the traditional “QWERTY” one? It’s called “Dvorak” (named after educational psychologist and professor of education August Dvorak).

Apparently, the QWERTY keyboard was designed in the 1870’s to actually slow down typists due to mechanical limitations of early typewriters. By contrast, the Dvorak  keyboard was designed with emphasis on comfort, high productivity and ease of learning.

As you can see, the Dvorak keyboard has the most-used consonants on the right side of the home row, and the vowels on the left side of the home row. It’s set up to facilitate keying in a back-and-forth motion -- (right hand, then left hand, then right, etc.) which makes typing quicker, easier and safer (you’re less likely to suffer carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries).
But I’m getting off track…

And getting off track is exactly what I seem to have been doing the last few months.

It started when my wife Anita informed me that our scale … my precious scale… was 10+ pounds off. Ten pounds off? You mean, it’s saying you’re ten pounds heavier than you really are?

Of course not…

I accepted the new number, but didn’t recognize it on my blog. I’ll knock that ten pounds off before I officially weigh in again, I told myself (which is the kind of thinking that usually gets a person in trouble).

So there I was, oh-so busy and traveling all over creation during October, then busy and… ummmm… slacking off in November. And December started kind of the same as I was blogging about Italy instead of focused on making some headway on my health and weight loss goals.

But here’s the deal: it wasn’t an off-kilter scale’s fault, wasn’t the vacation or the holiday’s fault, wasn’t even those evil Italian gelato vendors’ fault.

It was just a breakdown on the accountability front.

I may not be able to fix all my weight-related issues in the blink of an eye, but I can damn well be more accountable easily enough.

I usually wait until the weekend to weigh in, but somebody told me that there’s no time like the present…


Weekly weigh-in: 256.00
Loss: Are you kidding me?
Total loss: -35.5
Emotion: Ready, Willing and (Hopefully) Able

Here’s to doubling-down on the commitment front, to recognizing problems then taking steps to correct them… and to fresh starts.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Worst. Flight. Ever.

I was still a trifle exasperated trying to get the iPhone that I dropped on my flight from Florence to Paris back, so I wasn’t paying attention when my wife Anita was trying to relay some more bad news to me as we boarded the loooooooooong flight back home…

“I think they screwed our seats up.”

We had ponied up the extra dough for premium seats with extra legroom, like we had gotten on the overseas flight over. However, there was a mix-up somewhere along the way and our reserved seats had gone bye-bye.

I was trying to get some dumb old lady out of my aisle seat when the stewardess looked at my boarding pass and directed Anita and I to the middle two in a four-seat row.

Are you kidding me? At 6’4”, flying is never exactly comfortable for me, but this is looking like a death sentence.

At least each seat has its own built-in portable movie player, only the one on my seat doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t…

And as soon as we’re off the ground, the person in the row in front of me decides she’s going to lay her seat back horizontally so she can get comfortable.

It’s okay… we only have ten hours of flying time ahead of us.

I break out my notebook and start writing a bunch of posts about my trip to Italy.

Thus concludes the adventures of Jack Sh*tily, Goin’ to Italy. Regular Jack Sh*t, Gettin’ Fit programming will continue tomorrow.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Goodbye, Italy. Goodbye, iPhone.

Here’s my problem: when a plane I’m traveling on lands, I’m ready to get off RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.

My wife Anita said that on our next trip, I have to sit perfectly still until everyone else has left the plane, then slowly and casually get up from my seat, check that I have everything I started with and make certain I have the right bag.

Had we been following that protocol, I wouldn’t have jumped up out of my seat and had my iPhone fall out of my lap without me noticing it.

We were in Paris, and were on a long shuttle between gates when I realized that it was missing. Grrrrr…

I found an Air France representative who – miracle of miracles – was friendly and spoke some English. She made some calls and managed to get someone to board the plane and look under my seat, where they found my phone. My lucky day, right?

Nope, because she can’t get anyone to bring it over, even though I’m offering all of my remaining euros to anyone who’ll exhibit the tiniest amount of customer service.

The lady at the Air France desk is confident that my phone will be returned to me in short order and gives me an email address to write to in order to arrange delivery of the phone, which is going over to Bag Services. I make her repeat the email address three times, and then look over it to see if it’s correct.

I realize this isn’t going to end well when I send an email an hour or so later, while sitting on my flight back home, and get a bounce-back message telling me that it’s an invalid email address.

I spent the next two weeks explaining, begging, screaming, arguing and berating Air France employees. The bad news: my phone mysteriously disappeared again.

The good news: I learned to say “You suck!” in French (“Vous sucez!”).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our Last Italian Restaurant Adventure

After a restful week in Cortona, Italy (with a few side trips to some surrounding towns), my wife Anita and I packed our belongings and headed back to Florence.

We spent a few hours buying last-minute gifts for our daughters and friends, and then started looking for a suitable place for dinner. The pressure was on because this would be our LAST DINNER IN ITALY.

I scoured the internet, reading reviews, checking out menus, considering recommendations. In the end, we just wound up (as was so often the case) just wandering around, but kept poo-pooing dining establishments for one reason or another.

“Too touristy.”

“Too expensive.”

“Too much fish on the menu.”

“Not enough fish on the menu.”

“Too not open.”

We were about to pull the trigger on another fairly well-reviewed spot that we weren’t exactly excited about when we turned the corner and happened upon a little dive that the couple entering was absolutely raving about, proclaiming it was one of the favorites of the Florence locals.

Even though it was kinda early, the place was jam-packed, and we got one of the last available tables. We overheard the group at the table next to us going on and on about this place, saying how great (and cheap) the food was.

We ordered, feeling confident that we’d lucked into a good choice and a fitting end to our Italian getaway. Then the food arrived and it was… really, really unremarkable. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about. Yes, it was cheap – the cheapest meal we had on our trip – but I can remember nothing about it other than it was cheap. Oh well…

Sometimes you win, sometimes you whine.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another Crazy Italian Dining Experience

For the next couple of days, Jack Sh*t is chronicling his adventures on his recent trip to Italy as well as including tips to help you plan your own international travel. It is his special way of saying "Nanna nanna boo boo, I went to Italy!" to all his loyal readers.

 Our first dining experience in Cortona, Italy, turned out to be a lovely, up-scale restaurant that was just a slight bit unnerving because we were the only diners there. However, the food was fantastic, the wine was exquisite and the service terrific.

The next night, my wife Anita and I decided to try one of the city’s most popular places, a well-reviewed, don’t-miss spot that we (having not learned our lesson) haven’t made reservations for on a Saturday night.

But it’s way early, so we decide to give it a try right as the doors open. The owner/maitre d' is a friendly, garrulous godfather-sort, smiling broadly as we tell him our sob story about why we don’t have reservations (“We’re stupid!”).

He leads us to a table two feet away from where we’re standing, at the front door. With just the slightest hesitation, we give the wait staff our coats, take our seats and give an “it-all-worked-out” smile to one another. The waitress pours us some water and we start looking over the menu.

That’s when all kinds of crazy started to break out…

A group of would-be diners entered. Apparently it was some folks the owner knew, because they all stood there talking loudly and animatedly in Italian. Another couple entered and went to the bar, which was right on the other side of our tiny table. All of a sudden, it was as if we were sitting in a beehive.

Anita and I looked at one another, each of us getting more and more uncomfortable with the setting and realizing that it was only going to get worse as more people began arriving. However, considering that restaurants here charge a seating fee and no-telling-what for water, we were already on the hook.

It got louder and louder, until we finally agreed that even if the food was the best ever prepared, there was no way we were going to enjoy this meal. We were having the other kind of reservations, we told the waitress, who didn’t speaka the language. We wanted out!

The owner came over and made a big show of releasing us from our dining obligation. He was friendly enough, but there was a slight tinge of sour grapes that had nothing to do with the wine list.

Shaken slightly, we headed back to the restaurant we had enjoyed so much the day before, hoping we could finagle our way in on a busy Saturday night.

It turned out not to be a problem, as we were the only other diners once again. And once again, it was an outstanding meal (except, if I had it to do over, I probably wouldn’t order the sea monster).

Obviously, this was our place.


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