Wildlife! Plus: A New Variety of Apple?

November 11, 2011

Yesterday, I narrowly avoided being attacked by both a mountain lion and a bear.

OK, OK, I may be, um… stretching the truth a little bit, but lately, the Burbank hills are alive. And not just with the sound of music.

Yesterday’s post went into detail about my run through the foothills of Burbank, which was my old stomping ground before I moved to North Hollywood almost five years ago. It was a fantastic run. And, it turns out, I might not have been alone as I jogged those hillside streets. I heard on the radio a few hours after my run that 24 hours before I pounded the pavement, a mountain lion (!) was seen, in broad daylight, gallivanting across someone’s lawn mere blocks from where I ran. Mountain lions aren’t rare in southern California, but seeing one sauntering about in the middle of the afternoon is, since they’re nocturnal and tend to keep their distance from humans. Here’s an article about the lion’s midday stroll, which includes tips on how to avoid being a mountain lion’s lunch, like this one: “Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.” Gulp! Guilty as charged, Officer!

I’m not going to let one dumb mountain lion prevent me from training for my 10k on Sunday. If I stop running, than the mountain lion wins. Plus, I’ve already conquered mountain lions – check out this post that equates my weight loss to a mountain lion (and other random objects).

The mountain lion wasn’t the only massive mammal meandering for a meal yesterday. Roughly 12 hours after I completed my run, a 500-pound black bear was seen moseying through a neighborhood in neighboring Glendale. Read the article here, which includes a photo of the beast traipsing through someone’s garden!

What if I had run into both the black bear and the mountain lion, and they fought over which one got to kill and eat me? SyFy Channel, I think I just came up with your next original movie project! “Giant Bear Vs. Mega-Mountain Lion”! You’re welcome.

I’ve seen a few wild animals in my day. When I lived in Burbank, I saw, on two different occasions, coyotes in my neighborhood. The first time I saw one, I thought it was a stray dog, and spent 15 minutes following it, trying to coax it towards me, and got within 10 feet of it before realizing it probably wasn’t someone’s lost Fido. A year later, I saw a coyote on the other side of the street, and it knew pedestrian etiquette! It used the sidewalks, looked both ways at an intersection, and stayed in the crosswalk when it crossed. Smart coyote!

I’ve also come across a bear in the wild. Four years ago, my entire family took an Alaskan cruise, and at one of the ports, my siblings and I all went hiking around a glacier. While we were on the hike, we saw a baby bear up in a tree. It was probably 20-25 yards away, and our guide advised us to stay quiet, as the mama bear was probably nearby. I did snap this picture, although the bear’s head is obscured by some leaves:

 

Another quick memory: I remember being really nervous in the days leading up to the hike, worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete it. I was so much heavier back then, and not very active, and the brochure had described the hike as being “intermediate” in difficulty, and around 2 hours long. I had these thoughts that I’d be panting and wheezing, and holding up the group, but I made it, and it was really fun. Here’s what I looked like on that hike – I was in a head-shaving phase:

The paved sidewalk was only around the visitors’ center – the hike itself was on dirt trails that wound up the mountainside, with the occasional hop over a fallen tree.

MOVING ON…

Yesterday’s activities included a trip to the store, which resulted in me buying the following produce:

What do we have? From left to right: A pineapple, bananas, a red onion, apples, baby carrots, red peppers, grapes, cucumbers, pears, and celery.

I’m relatively knowledgeable about apples. I’m familiar with most of the varieties you see at stores, and know which ones I like most (honeycrisp and pink lady, I’m looking at you). But these apples are a variety I’ve never heard of before: they’re Pippin apples!

Before now, the only association I had with the word Pippin was that it’s the name of a fun musical from the ’70s that I saw in college. Apparently, it’s a type of apple, too! More Pippin info to come!

I also bought something else I’ve never seen before:

Pickled green tomatoes! I may have tried fried green tomatoes once at a restaurant, but I’ve never seen them, fresh or jarred, in a store before. Guess how many calories are in a serving of these pickled green tomatoes? Three. That’s got to be a typo, don’t you think? Maybe they meant 30? Oh, and if there’s any Southerners out there who have suggestions on how to eat these guys, speak up in the comments section! I haven’t cracked open the jar yet, and I’ll wait and see what ideas you guys send my way. Do I enjoy them straight out of the jar, like pickles? Put them in a sandwich? Cook with them?

Lastly, my orange-peeling challenge continues. To recap, I’m trying to remove the entire peel of an orange in one piece (a skill my father excels at), and keep that peel as narrow as possible, and leave as little pith on the orange as possible, too. Here’s my most recent attempt:

Woo-hoo, that peel is in 1 piece! My most successful peel-job so far! I’m still gonna work on making the peel narrower and longer – I think I may have to sharpen my knife so there’s less sawing on my end.

Keep it up, David!

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My Weight Loss in M&Ms, Bowling Balls and MORE!

April 11, 2011

A few weeks ago, inspired by a photo from last November of me next to 147 pounds of dog food, I broke out my abacus and scoured the interweb, and compared my weight loss to a bunch of commonplace (and not so commonplace) items, like Oreos, quarters, tubas, and statues of Bigfoot.  Check it out here – it’s a fun read (and even more fun for me calculate and write)!

The post got a great response, and, ever since, I’ve been thinking about what else I could compare my weight loss to.  I’ve lost 164 pounds, so here’s some more items that weigh roughly 164 pounds.  Thanks to a friend who shall remain nameless (which I’m sure he’d prefer), for an assist.  

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, I PRESENT TO YOU, MY WEIGHT LOSS IN…

…M&MS. I’ve lost the equivalent of 86,592 M&Ms.  Can’t visualize what that many M&Ms looks like?  They’d fill a 20-gallon aquarium to the top, and there’d still be about 5,600 hundred M&Ms to spare!  Here’s another fun visual:  If you lined up 86,592 M&Ms, end to end, they’d almost make it all the way across the main span of the Mackinac Bridge in northern Michigan (it’d be just 106 feet short).  Here’s a picture of the Mackinac Bridge – it’s the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere, and the third-longest suspension bridge in the world:

…BOWLING BALLS. The heaviest bowling ball allowed for use by most bowling leagues and associations is 16 pounds.  I’ve lost ten 16-pound bowling balls!

…WATER. One gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds, which means I’ve lost almost 20 gallons of water!  (The exact number is 19.64 gallons).  The photo has four of those 5-gallon jugs that go upside-down into a watercooler, and it ain’t easy to pick up one of them!

…PREDATORY CATS. Adult mountain lions, which live in the mountains surrounding Los Angeles, weigh, on average, 150 pounds, so I’ve lost one mountain lion.  That means I’ve also lost one cougar, one puma, and one panther, because they’re all the same animal.

…MAJOR SPORTS TROPHIES. I’ve lost more weight than these six major sports trophies combined. I had to look up what the Commissioner’s Trophy was for – I’m not much of a sports fan!

…EMMY AWARDS. While I may not be a sports fan, I’m a huge television fan, so I’m happy to share that I’ve lost the equivalent of 34 Emmy Awards, which is how many Cloris Leachman, Candice Bergen, Mary Tyler Moore, Tyne Daly, Shia LaBeouf, and Betty White have collectively won.  Yep, Shia LaBeouf has an Emmy Award – it’s a Daytime Emmy that he won in 2003 for the Disney Channel show Even Stevens.

…TIRES. These Michelin Harmony 205/60R15 tires weigh 22 pounds each, so I’ve lost seven of them.

…COUNTRY MUSIC STARS. On the March 20, 2011 episode of Celebrity Apprentice, John Rich said, to Donald Trump, “I’m 160 pounds of rompin’ stompin’ meat, brother!”  My ears perked up for two reasons: 1) that sentence could easily have been said by Yosemite Sam (although I doubt Yosemite Sam weighs 160), and 2) he weighs 4 pounds less than what I’ve lost.  So, I’ve lost John Rich

…FRIED CHICKEN. I’ve lost 27 12-piece buckets of KFC Original Recipe fried chicken.  I’ve never been a big KFC eater, but that’s a lot of chicken!  Based on the nutritional information on the KFC website, all that chicken adds up to 78,570 calories and 4,212 grams of fat.

If you have ideas for other items I could compare my weight loss to, leave them in the comments section!  No need to do the research or math – leave that up to me – I’m good at it!

One more thing…

…Keep it up, David!


Hello, Americana!

January 30, 2011

This week I cleared out space in my closet and dressers.  I few days ago I got, in my hot little hands, the gift cards that were so generously given to me by Ellen (which arrived to the Ellen offices when I was in Michigan, so I didn’t get them until I got back).  Which means that yesterday, I was in the perfect position…

…to go shopping!

My friend Jen came along with me – she can work her way through a mall better than most people (certainly me), and she has a great eye and fashion sense.  Here are three more reasons I love shopping with Jen:

  • The day after I asked if she’d come, she emailed me a game plan – she had gone to the mall’s website, scoured the store directory, and identified all the stores we needed to hit.
  • When we were driving to the mall, she directed me to a side street where we got a great parking space, avoiding paying for parking at the mall itself.
  • She was excited to document the entire excursion with photographs, which will make writing this post so much easier (and so much more fun!).

We went to The Americana At Brand, the mall where I was given the gift cards.  It’s in downtown Glendale, California (only about 15 minutes from my place), and it opened a few years ago.  We only focused on clothing, but there’s also a big movie theater, a Barnes and Noble, a bunch of restaurants, and other shops and retailers.  There’s a park in the center, with some dancing fountains, and there are apartments and condos above all the stores:

By the time we left, it was turning dark.  Here’s one of their signs:

So…  wanna see the fashion show?

First stop was Urban Outfitters, where I picked up 2 shirts:

The orange plaid shirt may not be a keeper, I haven’t decided yet.  I like the colors, but it’s a tiny bit tight through the back and shoulders, so I may return it.  Those photos, by the way, are totally against the rules:  Jen was asked not to take photos in Urban Outfitters.  Whatever.   Oh, and guess who we ran into at Urban?  You’ll never guess.  My friend Glory!  I love Glory, she’s so hilarious and so much fun to be around.  Wanna see Glory in action?  She was on TV last month, and her skirt got ripped off – it’s very funny.

Next stop was H&M.  Glory had a few spare minutes, so she came along, too.  I probably tried on 10-12 different things, and found some keepers:

I love these pants.  It’s hard to tell in the picture, but they have a subtle gray/black/white plaid pattern, and a bunch of fun details.  The brown polo was really thin, and I didn’t love it, so I didn’t buy it.

My friend Jim will love that I bought this gingham shirt:


I also picked up a couple V-neck tees ($6 a piece) and a pair of black workout pants.

Right next store to H&M was Forever 21, which apparently has a men’s section.  I’d never been in a Forever 21 before – but this jacket was literally the first thing I picked up after walking in:

A saleswoman saw Jen take this picture and told her photos weren’t allowed in their store.  Oops.  She also asked Jen to delete the photo off the camera, and Jen did a bang-up job miming doing just that.  And I bought the jacket – it was only $37!

We headed into American Eagle Outfitters, where I picked up two t-shirts (buy one, get one 50% off).  Here’s one of them:

I wanted to see if I could find a new pair of sneakers to work out in, so we ducked in the Puma store.  They didn’t have anything I liked in my size – I’m a size 14, and end up buying a lot of my shoes online – but I did find this shirt, and it was 50% off:

And there you have it, folks!  Everything I bought today at the Americana.

There was a lot of stuff I tried on and didn’t buy.  We went into A/X Armani Exchange, where I tried on a pair of pants and a zip-up top:

The photo doesn’t do justice all the details and seams in the pants, but they were too snug around my waist, and not quite my style – maybe if I owned a motorcycle.  The top, though, I debated.  It’s actually a dark navy zip-up dealie, and there’s a brighter blue lining that you can’t see.  It was on sale (50% off), and I would have bought it if they had it in a different color – I already have a zip-up hoodie that’s navy with brighter blue details.  I liked Armani Exchange, though, and will remember to go back once I settle into my final goal weight (which I haven’t determined yet).  They have fun, different clothes, but it’s too pricey for transition clothes.

Figuring out what stores I like and don’t like was actually one of the best things about this excursion (apart from buying lots of new stuff and not paying for a single cent of it).  I never stepped foot in any mall stores for probably a decade when I heavy, because I never could buy anything at any of them, and now, there’s just tons of places to check out.  I like Armani Exchange, but we also went into Calvin Klein, and I didn’t really like their stuff at all.  I tried on a couple things at J. Crew, found it pricey for transition clothes, but will probably go back once I reach a final goal weight (or, at least, check out their outlet store).  There’s stuff for me that I like at H&M and Urban Outfitters, too!

I’ll end this post with a couple definite ‘no’s.  This J. Crew long sleeve tee was not flattering…

…nor was this long-sleeve number from Urban Outfitters:

All told, I walked outta Americana with 4 tees, 4 button-down shirts, 1 jacket, and 2 pairs of pants.  Not too shabby!

Keep it up, David!