Downtown Detroit

September 9, 2011

A quick plug: My first public speaking gig is now less than two weeks away!  I created a “See Me at Whole Foods” link at the top of the page that has all the details.  So click on it, and RSVP.  I wanna see you there!

I have strong feelings about the city of Detroit.  While I’ve never considered myself a Detroiter, as I’ve never lived within the city limits, it’s always been there, not that far from my childhood home in one of its northwest suburbs.  It’s a major American city with a long and rich history (it’s the oldest city in the Midwest – founded over 100 years before Chicago, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee) that has given the world everything from mass-produced automobiles to Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross to the ice cream soda.  The first regular radio reports were broadcast from Detroit, and Detroit was home to the first paved road, the first tri-colored stoplight, and the first urban freeway.

You don’t hear many good things about Detroit in the news; it has a pretty bad rap.  Detroit has plenty of huge problems, and people tend to say plenty of terrible things about it.  I’m not one of them.  I like to think that Detroit will, one of these days, get out of the slump it’s been in for past 40 or so years, and rise again as a place where people will want to live and want to visit.

It’s easy for me to be positive – I live 2,000 miles away, unexposed to the crumbling infrastructure, the poverty, the rampant unemployment.  I just don’t think that being negative is very productive or helpful.  I have fond memories of Detroit from my childhood, and have heard many more wonderful stories from my father, who grew up there.  You may think me naive or unrealistic, but I think the city has a lot of potential, and I will always root for it.

My attitude towards Detroit are best reflected in this 1985 television commercial produced by the local ABC affiliate.  It’s dated and super-cheesy now, but it used to air all the time, and I remember loving it as a kid.  And since I’m sharing local commercials from the ’80s, check out this one for the Detroit Zoo, which is one of my favorite commercials of all time.

Thank you for indulging me in my little pro-Detroit rant.  It’s been on my mind because yesterday I headed downtown to meet up with a buddy for lunch.  Matt is a friend from high school who lived in Los Angeles after college, then moved back to Michigan with his wife and started a family.  He’s the author behind The Dad Scene, a funny and smart blog chronicling his experiences as a first-time father.  Matt is a tremendous writer, so you should definitely check it his blogno, really, check it out.

Matt works at Compuware, a software company that moved their world headquarters to Detroit about 8 years ago.  Their building has an impressive atrium that rises up 16 stories, and that’s where I met Matt:

We apparently just missed a doggie fashion show in the atrium that wrapped up minutes before we got there.  I hate when that happens.

Here’s the both of us:

For lunch, we headed a few blocks away to Vicente, a Cuban place that Matt likes. 

I’ve had Cuban dishes before, at restaurants that featured cuisine from across Latin America, but this might have been my first visit to a full-fledged Cuban restaurant.  Everything on the menu sounded good, but I settled on the Pan con Bistec, a pressed sandwich with skirt steak, swiss cheese, grilled onions, mustard, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes.  I considered having them hold the cheese and mayo, but decided that since I eat Cuban food so rarely, I should enjoy it as it’s intended.  My sandwich (with a side of plantain chips):

Matt’s sandwich was similar, but with chicken:

I love a pressed sandwich.  They’re dense and flavorful, and this sandwich was fantastic.  It was also huge, and both of us ended up eating only half.  We boxed up the other halves to take with us, but as we walked back to Matt’s office, we were approached by two homeless women who asked if we’d consider sharing, so we gave the food to them.

After I parted ways with Matt, I did something I haven’t done since I was a kid: I rode the People Mover.  The Detroit People Mover is a rather silly example of mass transit.  It’s a 3-mile-long monorail that encircles downtown Detroit and doesn’t really go anywhere.  No stop is more than 10 blocks from any other stop, so it’s not very efficient for commuters, but for someone like me who just wanted to see a little more of the city, it was perfect.  Here comes a train now!

I took some pictures from the monorail’s windows (it was gray and rainy, so they’re not great).  Here’s Woodward Avenue, which extends from the heart of downtown all the way out to my neck of the suburbs:

The old Wayne County Building:

The skyline, looking east from Joe Louis Arena (where the Red Wings play).  The towers on the right are the Renaissance Center, which I’ve blogged about numerous times before (most notably here and here, and it’s featured in my Skyscraper Collection):

I like that picture because you can see raindrops in it.

Time to get international!  This is a picture of a totally different country – it’s the skyline of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, which is directly across the river from Detroit.  I took this picture specifically for my trainer Craig, who grew up outside Windsor and asked that I say hello to it on this trip.  Hello, Windsor!

Finally, one of Detroit’s most famous landmarks, the 8,000-pound statue that honors Detroit resident Joe Louis, the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937-49:

OK – bedtime for me.  Gotta hit the gym in the morning!

Keep it up, David!


Some Exercise Successes

June 19, 2011

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything, and that’s because I’ve been busy lately, but I happy to report that I haven’t been neglecting my own health or weight-loss efforts.

I just finished 48 minutes on the recumbent bike in the gym in my building, but it seemed like hours because my iPod was out of juice – I forgot to charge it last night.  I did have a couple magazines that I flipped through (the new Entertainment Weekly and my college alumni magazine), and I also chatted with a neighbor for a few minutes before he headed out on a power walk around the neighborhood.

My building has a lot of units in it, but despite living here for over a year and a half, I don’t know too many of my neighbors.  I’m friends with the folks in two units in my corner of the building, and they’re great, but apart from them, there’s a handful of people I nod to in the elevator, and a bunch of people I’ve met at some point, only to forget their names the next time I see them months later.

So I was really flattered and surprised when I guy I chatted to today, Don, complimented me on my weight loss!  “You’ve lost a lot of weight, haven’t you?”  he said.  “Yeah, I have!” I responded, while all the gears in my head were frantically turning, because I wasn’t sure I’d even seen this guy before.  Apparently, he’s seen me though!  My weight loss journey began about 2 months after I moved into this place, so he’s paid attention, too!  “How much have you lost?” Don asked, and his jaw dropped when I responded with my 164 pound total.  What a nice moment.  Compliment aside, I enjoyed talking with Don, and he’s definitely added to my short (but getting longer) Friends in my Building List.  There’s a building BBQ coming up soon – maybe I’ll see him there.

In other news, I just pulled out my calendar to update my last few workouts on it, and I realized that I’ve now worked out the past 6 days in a row.  Nice!  A definite improvement over the 6 days prior, which only had 2 workouts in it.  This 6-day stretch started with Craig’s Boot Camp Class on Tuesday, two days of cardio on Wednesday and Thursday, a Friday workout that was mostly weights, Richard Simmons’ class at Slimmons on Saturday, and then today’s bike.

I also just realized that there are two other exercise-related successes from a few weeks ago that I never blogged about.  Unacceptable!  So I’m gonna write about one today, and write about one tomorrow.

Today’s success is StairMaster-related: I have another building to add to my skyscraper collection!  In case you don’t know, my motivational tool to use the StairMaster (which I don’t enjoy very much) is to equate my workouts to various skyscrapers around the world.  You can click here to see all the skyscrapers I’ve “climbed” since I started keeping track in the fall.  And on Friday, June 3rd, I got on the StairMaster for 15 minutes, and ended up climbing 79 stories – the second-highest amount of stories I’ve ever climbed (the highest amount of stories is 80)!

Here’s the building I’m adding to my skyscraper collection:

Does it look familiar?  It’s the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, Michigan.  This building has popped in my blog before.  The center tower is 73 stories, and in the fall, I set a goal to climb 73 stories on the StairMaster, with the reward being a visit to the tower to eat the fancy restaurant on the top floor (a visit I took with my Dad in December, which you can read about here).  But when I completed the workout where I reached that goal, I ended up climbing 80 stories, so I added the CITIC Plaza in China, which is also 80 stories, to my collection.  Even though a few weeks ago I climbed 79 stories, today I’m adding the 73-story Ren Cen to the collection.  It’s the tallest building in Detroit, the tallest building in Michigan, the tallest hotel in the western hemisphere, and from 1977-1986, it was the tallest hotel in the world.

Since it’s now been over 2 weeks since my last StairMaster workout, I’m due for another one.  Ugh.  I don’t look forward to them, but I love the skyscraper research that comes after.

Keep it up, David!


Eating Out 4 Times in 2 Days

December 15, 2010

When I was looking at my calendar earlier this week, I realized that I had plans to eat out 4 times on Tuesday and Wednesday.  It could potentially be really easy to fall off the wagon with a schedule like that, so I decided I would photograph everything I consumed during those 4 meals to keep myself accountable (and to share on my blog).  So let’s get to the photos!

#1) Tuesday Dinner at COACH INSIGNIA, Detroit, Michigan: I’ll start with dinner last night.  The occasion for eating at Coach Insignia was that it was my reward for reaching, a few weeks ago, my workout goal of climbing 73 stories on the StairMaster without stopping.  As some of you may recall, I chose 73 as my magic number because it’s the number of stories in the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, so I set the goal specifically so I could reward myself by going to the restaurant on the top floor when the goal was reached.

How tall is 73 stories?  The top floor is 696 feet off the ground.  But since that’s hard to visualize, let’s look at some pictures!  I took this from the sidewalk before entering the building:

And here’s the view of the city from the 73rd floor:

I like that it’s high enough that you can see the curvature of the earth.

I went to Coach Insignia with my father.  He grew up in Detroit, and I remember him bringing me to this restaurant when I was in kindergarten or so.  Back then, it was called something else, and the whole restaurant rotated – a complete 360 degrees every hour – but the gears that make that happen fell into disrepair and they opted not to fix them.

We had a fabulous meal, and thoroughly enjoyed everything we ate.  Coach Insignia is an excellent and elegant four-star establishment.  We split an appetizer, the Maine Lobster Corn Dog.  Each piece was half of a lobster tail, flash-fried in a light tempura batter and served with some cabbage and a mustard Hollandaise sauce:

Then I had the Poached Pear salad, which included gingerbread croutons (!).  It looked nicer when it was first presented – I had taken a few bites and dug around a little bit before remembering to take this photo:

My entree was the venison (which I’ve never had before in my life), which was grilled to medium rare, and served with roasted parsnips and haricot verts (green beans):

I really enjoyed, and will remember, sharing this celebration with my dad.  Oh, and we skipped dessert.

#2 – Tuesday Lunch at L. GEORGE’S CONEY ISLAND, Berkley, Michigan: Earlier on Tuesday, I meet up with my friend Debbie, whom I’ve known since middle school.  Debbie and her husband recently became parents to beautiful little boy, Quentin, and I had a great time meeting him, and catching up with her.  We went to L. George’s, a Coney Island in her neighborhood, where I got a large Greek salad with grilled chicken on it.  It was ginormous!

My guess was that there was 3 breasts worth of chicken in that salad, and a good amount of feta underneath it, as well as beets, olives, tomato, and lettuce.  I ate about half of it, and 1 piece of the pita from that side plate, and ended up taking the rest home:

#3 – Wednesday Lunch at BEANSTER’S CAFE, Ann Arbor, Michigan: I spent most of Wednesday in Ann Arbor, where I lived for 5 years when I was a student at the University of Michigan.  I saw a lot of friends and former professors, and for lunch, my friend Nancy, whom I haven’t seen in 8 years, and I went to Beanster’s Cafe, which is in one of the student unions on campus.  Both Nancy and I had the Michigan Salad, which had greens, blue cheese and walnuts (which I only ate some of), and dried cherries (which is the Michigan part of the Michigan salad, as Michigan is a major cherry producer):

#4) Wednesday Dinner at QUINN AND ADRIENNE’S, Ann Arbor, Michigan: This last one may not count as ‘eating out’, because I wasn’t at a restaurant, but I wasn’t at home, either.  I went over tonight to visit my friends Quinn and Adrienne at their lovely home, where they made dinner.  I’ve known both of them since college – Quinn and I started as Freshman together in the same department, and while Adrienne is one year younger, it took me 5 years to get my degree, so she and I were in the same graduating class.  They were high school sweethearts and have been together ever since, and I’ve gotten to see them 3 times in the past 12 months, and you can’t not smile and have a fantastic time when these two are around.

Adrienne is a regular reader of this blog, too, so they were very health-conscious in their menu planning, which was very thoughtful.  Dinner began with a salad (greens, shaved apple, and a little dressing and grated asiago cheese):

Followed by a shrimp and vegetable yellow curry served over brown rice, featuring green beans grown in their backyard garden this past summer:

And a little blueberry and pomegranate sorbet (or sherbet? Can’t remember.) for dessert:

Now that I’ve covered a lot of my caloric intake (everything except my breakfasts), I feel I should also mention the exercise I’ve been doing lately.  The last time I mentioned working out was on Sunday, when I swam 1450 yards in the pool at the gym.

Since then, I’ve had 3 wonderful workouts:

  • On Monday, I returned to the pool, and swam 1900 yards (76 lengths of the pool) in around 50 minutes.
  • On Tuesday, I did a variety of stuff during a 90-minute workout: 10 minutes of jogging around the indoor track, 35 minutes of toning, 10 minutes of abs, 25 minutes on the elliptical, and stretching at the beginning and end.
  • This morning, I was back in the pool, where I switched up my workout (after getting great ideas from my sister Sarah in Colorado, who swims for exercise every week at the kick-ass pool at her local rec center) and ended up going 2300 yards (92 lengths of the pool) in 50 minutes.

Keep it up, David!

P.S. Remember the Buddha’s Hand I bought a few days ago?  I used the rest of it to make something delicious, which I’ll share in tomorrow’s post.  Come back to check it out!


Workout Goal ACHIEVED!

December 1, 2010

I’ll start this post with a couple skyscraper photos.  Anyone know what buildings these are?

On the left we have the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan.  It is the world headquarters for General Motors, and the middle tower is 73 stories high, making it the tallest building in the state of Michigan.

On the right we have the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, California.  It is also 73 stories high (although its 73rd floor is 271 feet higher than the RenCen’s), making it not only the tallest building in California, but also the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

As you regular blog readers know, when I post skyscraper photos, it means I’ve climbed the equivalent number of floors on the StairMaster.  You regular blog readers that really pay attention and have good memories may recall that climbing 73 stories without stopping is one of my workout goals (click here for my current list of goals).

HEREGO, since I posted the above photos, it can be concluded (and I’m confirming it right now) that I’ve reached my StairMaster goal! It happened about an hour and a half ago, when I went to the gym and faced my most-hated of cardio equipment:

Last time I StairMastered, which you can read about here, I climbed 70 stories in 17 minutes, and then practically fell over.  So today I set the machine for 20 minutes, and started climbing away.  I covered the display with my towel, so the flight count wouldn’t tease me throughout, and removed the towel around 16 minutes in, and had already gone almost 70 stories!  I pushed through for two more minutes, and after 18 minutes, stopped it (and practically fell over).  But the display shared the good news:  81 stories!  Woo-hoo!

So in addition to reaching my RenCen and U.S. Bank Tower goal, I also can post this photo:

It’s the CITIC Plaza, all the way in Guangzhou, China.  It’s only 80 stories, but it will do in a pinch, as I had trouble finding a tower somewhere that was exactly 81.

I’m getting excited for my reward to myself for reaching this goal – to go to the restaurant at the top of the RenCen when I’m back in Michigan later this month.   The views are great, hopefully the food is good – regardless, I’ll be sure to post pictures!

Keep it up, David!


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