Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Bonanza

I use the term Bonanza because not only did I make out like a bandit, I also ate like a horse.  We'll get to that, though.  First, I'd like to share a few holiday pointers that help me get through the season without losing my head, because there's a lot of you that turn into monsters out there.  That's just not within the spirit of the season.  Yelling at your elderly mother because she can't make speedy Christmas decisions about what, or if, she's going to buy something in front of your teenage daughter just doesn't send the best holiday message (or teach your daughter to respect you).  Trust me, if my mom makes it to that age, I'll just be happy she's around and I'll wheel her all over the Piggly Wigglies of the world if she wants me to (though we still may still argue politics along the drive).  Anyway, I know it's too late for Christmas, but these seasonal tips can be adjusted for year round purposes:

#1 - No matter how good or how bad you are at Christmas presents, remember that the people that love you will still love you the same either way.

#2 - Don't think of people out in the world during the holidays as rational beings capable of thought.  Think of them as nothing more than objects in space that you have to navigate around to your objectives.  Let's face it, people during the holidays don't have their minds about them, and you can't assume they can think.  I just think of myself as Han Solo in that asteroid field, and expect things to get in the way.  Navigate around and avoid any damage to the Millennium Falcon and be on your way.  This works for the driving, the store, or wherever.

#3 - Reflection not perfection.  Remember the big picture during the holidays and life in general.  It's great you want to create a perfect Christmas for your family.  There's hardly a person alive that doesn't, but the most important thing at Christmas is having a calm, relaxing day with your family and being thankful for the blessings you have been given (even in  especially in the rough years).

I had to reboot this calming holiday program this year, because I just could not think of any gift ideas for anyone.  Normally, I am a cool as a moose in Manitoba, but it got to be two weeks before Christmas, I had nothing for anyone, and I was sick.  I was just blanking.  It was awful.  Instead of panicking, moping (too much), or lashing out, I just decided to follow my wife to a few of her shopping locations and hope things strike me as I go.  That worked out just fine, and she's a wonderful collaborator when it comes to gifts for my mom and sister.  I've haven't bought so many gifts without aid of the internet in ages.

With that out of the way, we had our friends mini-Christmas on the 23rd, which usually results in a good mess of present unwrapping carnage, loads of dirty plates and glasses, and bottles of beer strung all over the house.  It was a little tamer this year thanks to the two growlers in the fridge (less bottles) and some of the usual friends missing because of moving and/or spending the holidays out of state.  I also planned on moving the party to the Electric Six show at Saint Andrews, but I didn't get any takers, which was too bad, because they covered this:

Christmas Eve, both of our families were coming over, and other than the Christmas cookies made the night before, it was up to me.  My wife had to work, and she wasn't going to get home until 5:30.  We told everyone about 6ish, but still expected her dad earlier (he's always early), and maybe even as early as the start of the Lions game.  I figured I should be done cleaning about 3ish, then start work on food while taking in consideration prep and/or cooking times.  With one of the family members now knowing they have a gluten allergy, I had to take that into consideration as well, and make a few substitutions.  Long story short: the house got really clean, my brother and father-in-law swear I made the best meatballs they've ever had, cheeseballs are very easy to make and this is a bad thing for me to know, and gluten-free Rice Krispie treats taste the same as regular ones.  I'm a big hit everywhere I go, even when I stay home, and my wife is really lucky I can handle myself around the house.  I know a lot of clueless men and women out there that can't pull this off.  The success goes double considering I did the bulk of my genius while the Detroit Lions were knocking the snot out of the Chargers in the first half.

Lions?  Playoffs?!  Merry Christmas to me!
Needless to say, we had a wonderful Christmas Eve with the families.  We also went to her grandparents for the traditional spaghetti dinner on Christmas Day and over to her brother's place for some grilling on Monday.  There's nothing better than grilled food in the winter.  As far as the loot, let's just say I received several gifts that will complete my goals of becoming an old man (including a very nice cardigan and a long topcoat).  I also received two that will continue my determination/dysfunction battle in the running universe.

Brewing Kit!!!!
Hydration Pack

Friday, December 23, 2011


Well it's official, my Fatbrent's Fantastic Food F***-up Fridays has now surpassed the Police Academy Franchise with Eight.  That's only if you count the lazy ones, but there are Police Academy movies that weren't exactly supreme efforts either.  Anyway, ball's in your court Mahoney.

Spent most of it still sick, but we did stop at Tia Helitas to eat after going Christmas shopping for a bit, and I did help finish a big nacho and had the fajita dinner.  So that pretty much screwed the entire day.
Ate super light all day.  I even took a load of calories off at the weekend Olive Garden trip (please Lord let my family find another restaurant some day) and got some Venetian Apricot Chicken thing.  Like anything else there, it was okay.

However my attempts were somewhat foiled by Jessi's no bakes
Don't mind if I do...
Monday & Tuesday
I was pretty good.  I brought my lunch to work and everything.  We did make an Applebee's pit stop after our Christmas shopping run Tuesday at Applebees, and I got something fairly decent for me.

Chipotle Lime Chicken

I sort of ruined the day by chasing dinner with two Brewtuses of Sam Adams Winter Lager....
Glub Glub
This bastard got me again, but oh well, I cut off my feeding tube after lunch so it wasn't a huge disaster.  It's just too easy and cheap to do on Wednesdays when I swing by it (while actually on my way to the comic store) on my lunch break.  Besides, I got to talk to my cousin and wish him a Merry Christmas.
Gotcha Again
Had another "Punt-the-Day" Lunch yesterday.  I haven't grabbed an egg nog shake yet, and it was just my time to do so.  So off to Halo Burger it was because theirs are the best (and have nutmeg in them I think).  So it was QP combo w/the shake. 

Probably ran 1/4 of this off with Jason yesterday, but then he gave us some peanut butter balls his mom made in a little tupperware thing.

Started off the day with a Twinkie and a cheese danish, so not going too well early.  Continued the day pretty much with a lot of beer and not much else....Moosehead, Frankenmuth Red Sky, Bell's Porter.  Finishing this blog now about 5 sheets to the wind and starving...

Monday, December 19, 2011

You Better? You Bet

When I'm sick, I tend to always backtrack and start thinking what I did to get myself sick or at least start looking back trying to remember anyone in my vicinity that was visibly ill so I can quietly hold them accountable.  Then, of course, there's always blaming the weather changes and just the season, or whatever.  The thing is, I'm not a December illness person.  In fact my last recollection of being that sick near the holidays was when I was 6 and had chicken pox.  So what went wrong?

Well, as far as blaming people around me, there are plenty of options.  It seems like, taking a non-scientifically random sample, about every 10th person had the same throat/sinus/achey thing going on.  I could also blame myself for under-dressing when going out in the cold, and keeping on wet running clothes way too long (like the one day I wore ratty clothes running and immediately went out to the cold garage to change my oil without a coat).  Even easier, I could blame me for the recent diet (or lack thereof).  C'mon, you've seen what I've been putting up here.  It's an artery clogging nightmare.  If there were a human equivalent to the Castrol GTX commercial where they bomb a car with oil sludge, I'd be looking to the sky and trying to avoid a torrential downpour of butter and buckets of cheese, or maybe that marshmallow goo from when they wax Mr. Stay Puft in Ghostbusters.
Ever wonder if it was delicious?
Anyway, I didn't come up with any real cause, but I did have to think to myself, "If I'm avoiding crap food when I'm sick, why don't I do this when I'm well?"  So I'm going to try to get nearer to the wagon if not actually on it again (at least most days).  I had a really good winter last year, and I need another one to stay on track as I try to ramp up even a bit more next year.

One problem with that is keeping focus right now.  With the Witchy Wolf cancelled, there's not really even a long race on the horizon until April or so.  That throws a small wrench into all my high and mighty 2012 goals.  Even if I haven't said what they are yet, there are already two races that I had the rug pulled out from under me on.  The first I've already mentioned, and the second was Bayshore, where I really wanted to do the half marathon, and it sold out in like 4 hours.  I tried several times in the morning to load the website (when work slowed down enough) on December 1st to no avail.  When I was finally able to load it after lunch, all the slots were gone.  I thought for a second about going for the full, but I really wouldn't want to train for my first marathon and have it be a down and back course.  That just seems like something a lot more mentally challenging than a loop or something like that.  I just thought back to the Martian being my first half, and being annoyed/discouraged that a good chunk of that was down and back.  I'm not really interesting in setting up that same frustration for my first full.  Besides, it's pretty early for me to lock into something I haven't, as of yet, even come close to being able to do.

I need some early year races to look forward to that aren't ones I could run (at least now) with a beer helmet on after competing in a Nathan's hot dog eating contest.  Speaking of, even if I rededicate to turning over yet another new leaf (progress is still progress kids...I'm not shooting for anything more than improvement), I mean to get myself into Rockford's Hot Dog Hall of Fame in this upcoming new year.
It will be mine, oh yes
However, I continue to decline my friend's insistence that I could conquer Mt. Nacheesemo if I wanted to.  I don't believe I could.  I can't eat like that anymore*.  Anyway, ladies, this is why we live shorter lives than you.  Those fewer years aren't anything but the accumulation of minutes of life lost due to dares that our other male friends have forced upon us over the years.  Each one takes its toll on the body, and each group of men has a different dare protocol, but in the end these practices are all a danger to male public health.  Be on the lookout for the warning signs that your significant other is a dare taker.

1)  He's constantly insisting he can do things to a group of men that insist otherwise
2)  One of his catchphrases is "Challenge Accepted"
3)  There are overwhelming amounts of discarded milk jugs, cinnamon spice containers, and Saltine boxes in the "man cave"

Anyway, outside of all that, I'm well again.  I went out for a late night run today with the Tron shirt and a new little $5 toy (a Nathan LED Safety Strobe).  Now, I've looked at a few of the reviews for these and they're all mixed, but at the end of the day, it's $5.  I didn't have any issues with it coming unclipped like some of Amazon reviews complained about, and I had the thing on my wristband, so it was jerked around pretty decent.  Honestly, the most important thing for me was that the designer put enough thought into it for one of the settings to have the lights blink sequentially one way and back the other.  Visibility and battery life be damned, I say, I'd rather buy a light that blinks like the front of Kitt from Knight Rider.  That's the important thing.  

"A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a blogger who does not exist"

* - Unless I get into that unexplained zone of insatiable hunger that exists with the right amount of "the sauce," and there are a lot of breweries/brewpubs down there.  Even then, I'm still probably looking at pretty long odds.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sickness Saturday (& Fatty Friday Make-up)

First of all, I know everyone's just dying to see what kind of wonderful food blunders have happened this past week.  One reader in particular may even be enticed into eating her computer screen one of these days, but I won't name names.  Sad part is, it isn't bad this week because I've been out of commission the past few days and have pretty much subsisted on soup and tea.  As we speak, if I were actually well I would be at something called a "dessert party" with my lady at her friend's sister's place (the one who built our wedding cake).  You gotta figure that wouldn't end well.

Tea, not beer, I swear

Instead I've got some sort of sore throat/sinus thing going on, and I fought it off a couple hours to get some Christmas shopping in, but I'm pretty much dead again now.  I've wasted the last 3 days lying around doing nothing productive other than filling out my health insurance open enrollment form for work, which I missed Thursday and Friday.  Besides that, I haven't done much else other than watch some old episodes of Psych and Doctor Who and sit under blankets hanging out with Scully.

Honestly, even earlier in the week, the eating wasn't all that bad (at least as a whole), so there's not a lot to report, but why break a weekly tradition?

Last Saturday

False Advertising (it's not EVERY weekend)
There was also some homemade cake and homemade ice cream had from a 1-year-old's birthday.  Probably the neatest first birthday ever.  She didn't understand that everyone kinda wanted her to smash the cake and make a mess.  Apparently, even at 1, she's intent on acting like a lady.

Lucky's Again



I had another Big John Steak, Onion, Cheese, and Mushroom with a large Dr. Pepper.  I must have got a pretty greasy batch of steak too, because the grease off it fell on the paper and dried almost immediately like candle wax.

Bavarian Creme Eclair
Started feeling sick when I got home, and tried to burn it out of me with some "Extra Hot" Yellow Curry.  When you order Thai food that hot, you better know what you're getting into, because it's pretty killer.  My sinuses were so backed up, it barely phased me.

Yellow Curry (with the taters, chicken, and carrots already eaten)
Thursday & Friday
Nothing horrible to report other than quite a bit of 7-up

Bring back Cool Spot!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Politically Incorrect Cookies 

This b/c of that horrible MSU loss

Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo, oh yeah!
My wife's birthday, as well as Repeal Day, so we went to the Frankenmuth Brewery.  Cheese ravioli with meat sauce for me, delicious burger for her, avocado bruschetta to split, and beers.  I think she had a good birthday.

The Smile

The Take
Two, and I tried the new BK fries.  I know, I'm bad
Add in the chocolate truffle wave cake for Jessi's belated birthday, because she didn't want cake the day before after dinner.  

Hot & Ready got me again

Two of these

Those fake Lucky Charms from Meijer that I love

I'm currently using my lunch break to write this while I eat my wife's delicious chicken stew she made way too much of (I'm guessing at least 3 day's worth).  Since I can't ever get breadbowls anywhere anymore, I'm doing the next best thing and using some wheat bread essentially as a slowly disappearing (into my tummy) spoon.  Suck on that all you Atkins and Paleo nuts.  Yeah, so you're in good shape...I got bread....bread....BREAD!!!!  That's the very reason why people say "best thing since sliced bread."  It's delicious (apologies to my gluten-free sister who may read this).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Exoskeleton Engage...uhhh...ENGAGE!....ENGAGE?!?!...engage??...

Ok, it's time I get this off my chest.  I am not one of those people that whine and complain about how much I hate winter.  I actually really like cold weather.  I love snow (even with the shovelling).  Most of all I love breaking out the "bundley" clothing that winter allows.  The long-sleeve shirts, the sweaters, and (especially) the hockey jerseys.  In fact I can say with completely truth that winter is only #2 to fall.  So I'm not really one to say I hate it and get as huffy as a bicycle just because it's cold and dark out.  However, I am in a mini-funk of resentment toward it at the moment.

I haven't quite adjusted to the cold yet, and it's not that I feel like I'm freezing, but there is definitely an unevenness to the temperatures I'm feeling across the Brental region.  I can't decide what's too hot or cold and where at any given time.  It's like I'm feeling a bit of both all the time, especially around my face.  My eyes haven't gotten used to cold air blowing directly into them yet, so I have the early winter involuntary waterworks going on with them.  I still haven't been able to make proper decisions regarding the amount of layers I want, either.  It's an adjustment, but right now, as far as winter goes, I'm a hot (or cold) mess.

On the other side of things, it's just so much nicer being inside.  As much as I love some outdoor aspects of winter, some of the inside ones are equally part of my winter love.  The feeling of walking into a warm house, and curling up with a good book, with some light music going on the stereo, some coffee, hot tea, or cocoa is very much part of my love for winter as well (not to mention the candy canes, sugar cookies, and the gingerbread).  We loaded up on Christmas music the last two weeks (Johnny Cash, Trace Bundy, She & Him, etc.), and every year I make a nice Christmas mix for my friends.  This year, I'm planning a two disc set with a disc of very cheerful pro-Christmas songs (Fezziwig), and then a disc of the semi-anti-Christmas songs (Scrooge, which ironically put me in a better Christmas mood than the happy ones).  Either way, as usual, everyone can expect disc 2 to open with "Fairytale of New York" (don't play this at work or with children present...it is mildly offensive), which I expect at least one of them to eventually know by heart, because I don't want to try to do both voices in that song at karaoke.  How about you?  Any personal Christmas favorites, other than "I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas with a Dalek?"
More Plum Pud-ding?
Anyway, like I said my winter toughness just hasn't set in.  After my run, I spent two hours of last night outside for the annual Flint Holiday Walk trying to toughen up a bit.  However, I still think I enjoyed being inside the Buick Gallery and the Flint Institute of Art more than any of the outdoor activities (including the hot cider and Christmas cookie part).  So, I suppose wussy indoor me is still winning.  What measures do you take to adjust to winter and speed along the acclimation process?  I could use a few tips.
Cultural Center

The Tree and Whiting
My Spark Plug Reindeer I made at Buick Gallery

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Run Recap from the Heartbreak Hotel

I guess it's just a good day for wearing red and white.  Brent here coming to you live after watching my Michigan State Spartans blow another very important game in heart-breaking fashion to Wisconsin, and finding a way out of going to our first Rose Bowl in 24 years.  It's okay though, we're all used to walking around with our hearts ripped out of our chest.  That's all we know.

Before I go sulk for the rest of the night, I do have to say that the Santa run was great this year.  I saw bib numbers approaching the mid 1500's, so it appears that it grew three-fold from last year.  Mike brought his lady this year, and since she has a bum hip right now, they decided to walk it.

This was probably my last chance to prove I'm still better off the end of this year than last, and not put up some near-30 minute 5K pace.  I knew I was in a Santa suit, and that would slow me down a bit, but I took some extra measures with a belt and safety pins to make sure my suit didn't malfunction this year.  I figured not losing my pants this time just might help.

Santas Everywhere

Even Santas on the roof
Once we got going, I thought it was a pretty slow pace.  A lot of people stopped to walk less than a mile in.  I heard a small child about a 1/4 of a mile in ask his mom if they went a mile yet.  Everyone within an audible distance of that let out a little chuckle.  A lady running near me was carrying a bag and handing out candy canes to the volunteers and spectators alike.  That was really thoughtful of her.  The medics on call were singing on the ambulance's speaker "Here comes Santa Claus. Here comes Santa Claus running down Robert T. Longway."  Nice.  

...And they're off
When we got just past the first water stop I heard a guy yell out 13-something as the time.  I freaked out thinking that I was running like a 12 or 13 minute mile, and tried really hard to speed up.  My mom, brother, and sister came out to see me again this year and I waved at them as I passed the cultural center.  
Action Shot
The last mile me and another guy in a Wings cap were fighting each other off, and he eventually just turned it out on me at the end, and I didn't have enough to get it back.  We had a nice fist bump of recognition at the end, and a good conversation to follow.  He had another friend that was shooting for a sub-35 time and we watched for him as he pulled in around 33.  Then I talked to the both of them, and found out they came up from Detroit.  Hopefully I'll see them around.  I need some new friendly competition since a lot of the guys I used to see are M.I.A.  Anyway, I manages a 27:38 by the clock, and it took me a little bit to get to the start line since I was sitting in the middle of the starting pack.  I'm happy with that.

After, we went to the Torch for a delicious burger and I had a few Atwater Vanilla Java Porters, which was the peak of this Santa's jolliness today.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to wash away some Spartan depression with a bad 80s movie ("Three O'Clock High") and some Saugatuck brews.

Friday, December 2, 2011


From the depths of a Chinese buffet coma, I'm prepared to kneel and confess some more bad eating habits.

The Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Problem Continues
Mom took me out to Lucky's for pre-Birthday dinner.  Ate way too much dinner bread and butter and chased it with one of these...

Chicken Parmesan w/side of Alfredo


Big John Steak & Onion

Pumpkin Spice Latte f/ 711

Around the Horn @ Sullivan's Black Forest

Followed that with eating 2 spring rolls, half an order of curry puff, and half of a Gra Pow Gai Dinner @ Bangkok Peppers.

Finished the Gra Pow Gai, ate some green bean casserole, some more pumpkin pie, and ate a pretty decent-sized turkey leg.

Did pretty well with the whole pitas with grilled peppers and onions (w/hummus & guacamole).  However I did have some of those lying Steenstra's cookies
Santa does NOT live in a Windmill or ride a horse
(unless he's been in an Old Spice commercial that I am unaware of)

"I'm on a horse"

More damn pumpkin pie (it's almost over, I swear).  Finished up the pita stuff, had a sweet onion chicken teriyaki at Subway, and drank a very large bottle of hard cider and a little sip of New Holland's Whiskey

I like you...
Work's annual Christmas luncheon at the Empire Wok

Let's just say I ate pretty much every chicken in existence there (sesame, teriyaki, peanut, sweet & sour, etc.), a couple shrimp egg rolls, and 4 of those crab rangoon things.  Let's just say that the only dinner I had tonight was a nap.  I'm done.

Santa Run is tomorrow, my knee's killing me, and my friend Jason can't make it now.  Boo!  Details later.
Locations of visitors to this page