July 2008 Archives

Little League

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When I write, I often think about my childhood and how little events then have a profound impact upon my life today. This is one of those stories.

Sometimes, like when I watch a baseball game, I have a recurring memory of growing up in Richboro playing little league.

The year was 1982.

It was July and we were out in a non descript, large school field in Bucks County. The game was just starting on a makeshift baseball field that didn't even have a backstop. Just some worn lines in the dry green grass, with each corner of the baseball diamond marked by an old square dirt stained canvas base, lined up for kids in the 8 to 10 year old age group.

I was playing second base that day. By this time in my life, I played little league for maybe two or three years, and it was my first time, ever, that I was playing in the infield. Most of my years playing little league I was in the outfield, and thought, at the time, I was good at it. I remember a parent once asked me after a game, with my brother and father standing there, what position I played.

I told him proudly that I was a "right fielder".

My brother later pulled me aside, telling me that I shouldn't be proud to play right field - that is where they put the losers, the kids who can't play baseball are shuttled into right field.

I was nervous. My dad was standing off to the side wearing his trademark shaded sunglasses, next to the green military canvas bags that held our baseball bats, watching the infield. It was the first inning, and I remember standing at second base, in the classic crouch position, ready for the first hit.

Imagine my surprise that the first hit of the game comes to me, a grounder!

I try to field the ball, but bobble it and by the time I get it to first base, the runner is safe.

First hit and I goofed.

My dad, the coach, waves in the right fielder, and replaces him with me, right after that play, in front of everyone watching on my team and the other team. I could just feel the eyes of everyone on me as I took the long walk from second base into right field. The embarassment was palpable.

I remember standing in right field and I was embarassed and angry at the same time. Any interest I had in playing organized sports died that day. It was humiliating. I never forgot that day, and often I could be doing anything - washing my car, walking in a park, watching a baseball game, sitting at my desk at work and i'll remember that day.

I don't blame my dad. I think, in his mind, he knew I was over my head and he was a competitive guy, and wanted to win. He just made a move to fix the situation, like any coach would do, but handled it poorly. If anything he should have made the switch between innings.

Kind of tough to deal with at ten years old.

Interval Training

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When I moved to Hoboken, my waist was a 34. A few years passed, and I moved up to a 36, and that's when I joined the gym (right after my trip to Vegas). After about two years of working out, my size 36's were getting too tight and I switched to a size 38. Only about 6 months later, by last December, I was out jean shopping because my size 38 jeans were getting too tight. I got to the store, and asked what the next size was, and they showed me the size 40's. I tried them on, but they were a bit too baggy for me and I looked dumpy.

Size 40? How did I get to this? I was lifting three days a week (mostly upper body), but not much cardio, and my hips and waist were just slowly, slowly getting bigger. I couldn't figure it out because I felt I was eating well (not perfect, but well) and still gaining fat around my hips and glutes.

I didn't buy the jeans, and decided, right then, that I had to come up with a better plan to lose weight BUT keep muscle.

My first plan was about watching my diet, and that went well, but I started to fall into my old neurosis about becoming a food nazi. I would count calories and/or not eat food even when I was hungry. I wasn't happy about this, and I wanted to be able to eat what I want, in moderation, but also figure out a way to keep the weight off.

A friend of mine at work was talking about this and mentioned his time in crew. He would row in college five days a week, and he would tell me how he could eat anything he wanted. His body was constantly burning calories because of all the cardio he was getting in and even when he wasn't rowing he was burning calories.

He suggested that if I could get in about four to five days at the gym, with three to four days of cardio, along with a good diet (again, not a perfect diet), that I would see definite results. I was already, at that point, going consistently to the gym about three days a week. I used an article from bodybuilding.com to adjust my lifting routine from three days to five days.

I have been doing 'interval training' based on an article I read in Men's Health.

It's been fairly good to train this way, since I keep trying various forms of cardio but found that running has been the best way for me to drop weight quickly. I also don't want to be on a treadmill for an hour jogging, because its so BORING. Plus, I have to be careful about my leg, ever since I hurt it three years ago.

Basically it's 20 minutes of running. Broken down into the following:

Minutes 1-3: Walking at a normal pace, around 3.5-4.0 mph. (interval 1)
min 4-5, run at whatever speed gets your heart goin like 5.5 mph.
min 6, walk
min 7-8, run (interval 2)
min 9, walk
min 10-11, run (interval 3)
min 12 walk
min 13-14, run (interval 4)
min 15, walk
min 16-17, run (interval 5)
min 18-20, walk

The first few weeks, I kept it at 3.5 walk speed and 5.5 run speed. Once I felt like my leg could take it and my lower back wasn't too sore, I have been raising my run speed each week by .5 mph. I'm up to 7mph now after about four weeks. I did run into a few problems when I first started to jog again and here's what I did to fix them:

1. I stretch before running. I do a hamstring stretch, the runner's squat, Calf stretch, Quad Stretch, and Knee to Chest stretch. If I forget to stretch, i'm usually more sore the next day.

2. My lower back was giving me all sorts of problems, but I have been doing a lower back raise, and just did it once a week, about 10 reps with 3 sets. That tightened things up and my back has been a lot better.

3. Been careful with my heart rate. One thing that has really helped is a Polar wireless heart rate monitor that I wear when I workout. At 36, my target "max" heart rate is 181. I have been careful about not pushing myself above that, and I have found that on my first day of running at a new speed, my heart rate jumps by the last interval (interval 5) to be around 170-175 bpm. Day 2 of the same week, my bpm on interval 5 is usually at 165-170. On Day 3, around 160-165. My body definitely gets used to running at the higher speeds, and I have to keep challenging myself to that next level. The goal isn't about faster speed, it is about getting my heart rate to 90% of my max rate (which is about 163) .

4. Diet, diet, diet. At Bradley Beach, my diet is non-existent. Burgers, dogs, donuts, Red Bull and Vodka, Taco Bell and ice cold Yuenglings are my diet. Weekdays, i'm much more careful about what I eat, and have cut out all alcohol from Sunday - Thursday. So far, it's been working fine, but I certainly know that I would get MUCH faster results if I didn't drink and eat bad on the weekends.

All in all I don't count calories or really judge how i'm doing by my weight. I figure that my jeans fit really well, and that is what makes me happy and i'm able to keep a moderate diet.

I figure it has been working for me, and maybe interval training is something will help others out there who are also trying to lose some extra weight & still live in the "real world" of Hoboken where dieting is extremely hard to maintain if you expect to have a social life at the bars.

Bradley In July

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It is mid-summer and been getting down to the beach a lot more.

I have been getting to know my house mates more, and they are all a very interesting cast of characters. To their credit, everyone is really cool when it comes to sharing food & alcohol. I often drive down with food, ready to grill, and bring enough to feed about 10 people. Most of the other house mates are much in the same mindset.

Yesterday, for example, one house mate had an idea for our breakfast, we will call him "Boston". Boston said, "Ok lets get some crab cakes, lobster bisque and eggs. We will poach the eggs, put them on top of the crab cakes and drizzle it with the bisque."

At first we were a bit incredulous, but Boston jumped up, got into his car and drove to a local fish market to get the ingredients. He gets back with a ton of food, and 20 minutes later eight of us are eating his version of a seafood Eggs Benedict, which was outstanding.

One of the house mates teaches me a cool trick that I never knew about.

On Saturday night we are all sitting around trying to come up with something to make for dinner, but it was 8:30 and we realized that by the time we cook something up, we would be eating by 10. Pizza enters the equasion, and we tried to order from a local pizza shop (Pizza on Main), and they tell us at 8:30 that they are closing soon.

Someone mentions that they saw a Papa John's nearby, but wasn't sure of the phone #.

If you text message GOOGLE on your cell phone (466453) and enter things like a name & state - it will text back to you, automatically, the name, address and phone number of a business.

I entered "Papa John Asbury NJ", and got back the phone # and address of the pizzeria.

Five seconds later, I have the phone number and order. Much easier and faster than calling 411.

Here's also a Top Five list of things I have noticed this summer....


1. I remember in years past the drive along the Garden State Parkway being a parking lot. Everytime I drove down, on Fridays, the drive has been quick, with some traffic. Maybe less people are renting or driving this year, but it still takes me only an hour to get to the beach.

2. What's up with people on the beach not respecting each other's space? Growing up in Ocean City, I remember everyone would keep about 5 feet from each other when setting up their chairs, umbrellas and beach towels. At Bradley, it is more like a 2 foot rule. People will come to the beach, with 4 kids, a radio and their loud squawking set up right next to you and think nothing of it.

3. On Saturday I was sleeping away when a 4 year old nails me with a shovel full of sand. He had no idea he hit me, because he was flipping it over his shoulder, making a hole in the sand. I wake up, and I give a typical Philly reaction of "YO!". The kid stands there, dumbfounded. The father notices this, says to his kid to make sure he says he is sorry, which he complies, and I pat the kid on the shoulder and reply, "It's ok." I get off my chair to brush off my chest full of sand. I'll give a thumbs up to the parent to at least teach their kids to say they are sorry.

4. What's up with the quasi military police who patrol the beach in military boots, guns and billy clubs? Two of them patrol up and down the beach, and they aren't checking beach tags - but I suppose looking for people drinking alcohol or smoking pot. I just find it a bit surprising, you would never see that in Ocean City - you may see the cops, but they are more laid back in collared polo shirts and shorts. Very strange, to me and part of that major difference between northern and southern jersey beaches.

5. I always remember Jersey Beach water being so disgusting, but I was pleasantly shocked the other day. Maybe it is the environment or our efforts to clean up the beaches, but on more than one occasion I have waded into the water only to see that the water was pristine and clear, I could see to the bottom of the sea floor. With the Category 2 storm Bertha this weekend, the sea was churned and foamy, so it wasn't so clear this weekend, but has anyone else noticed how clean the ocean water has been?

CVS Newark and Washington Expansion

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As some of you may know, CVS leased the empty property next to it (formerly the Sam Goody store), and has been working slowly on renovating the space & merging stores into one super store.

Well the day is here. The pictures show the partially completed work, and a few comments from me after...


1. Notice how they really didn't expand the amount of registers! Jesus, they were slow with 1/2 the store can you imagine what the lines will be like now?

2. Who put together the asiles? I sincerely hope it is a work in progress because you can see with some of the photos that some aisles are very narrow, where other asiles are much wider. It was like a bunch of teenagers decided to slap the aisles together (I know i'm not far off here, really).

3. I only did a small glance at their beverage prices, but some items are about 20% higher than at local Mom and Pop stores.

4. CVS would make a big killing if they expanded the grocery portion of their store. There isn't a true "super market" at this end of town, aside from Kings at 333 River & there *is* the Garden Of Eden, but to my home it's not very convienent.

My Over Competitive Brother

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Last week, I was on vacation.

Well. Not a true vacation, but certainly had off from work with nothing to do.

I spent the first weekend at my family reunion on Saturday, at Ridley Creek State Park. The reunion was small, with about 25 family members attending from my father's side of the family. Our patralineal family members are mostly scattered across the country, with various cousins or siblings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York Metro area and Albany. The last time I was able to see the majority of my father's family was at his funeral, which we will mark the 4th anniversary of his passing this August.

K* (brother asks I never use his name, his wife's or his children's on the blog), his wife and I planned go stay overnight at my mother's house in Phoenixville after the reunion, which is on a golf course. We planned ahead of time to go golfing. I wanted to go to our old Country Club, where our family was a member for about 10 years before my father passed away. We weren't members anymore, but we still had many friends there, and getting a round on a Sunday wouldn't be simple, but I figured calling in a favor to the two sons of Frank to play one round wouldn't be a major issue.

K said it would be "cheesy" for us to try and get a round on a very private golf course that we weren't members. To me, we haven't ever tried it before, and I was told by friends of my family that they would be happy to get me out for a round anytime I wanted. I didn't think it was a big deal, but I wasn't about to argue with him over this.

I haven't really spent time on here writing about K. He is a good guy, but like anyone has his faults. He told me a story that the German based company he works for, did a character profile on all management, using various tests and intereviews and determined two characteristics about him: 1. He's ambitious. 2. He needs to work on his empathy & compassion.

Gotta love those Germans. Right on the money as a businessman and as a brother.

What my brother doesn't know is that one of my brother-in-laws was supposed to golf with us on Sunday. But since I get so few moments to hang out with my brother alone, I approached my mother seeing if it would be rude to ask to golf alone with K (my brother-in-law at the time was in Italy on vacation). I get so few chances to have 1 on 1 time with him, and adding another to the round just changes the dynamic. My mother and sister both thought that P* would certainly understand.

Golfing with K was about as I expected. He played bad at first, and wasn't talkative, but unlike years past he wasn't as grumpy. I played well, especially early on, and he didn't have anything to say. On my first four holes, I chipped on and 1 putted on three holes and had one chip going in for par. When I golf with my other friends, I may get a sincere "nice shot" or other compliment. From K, I got either silence or "What luck!"

After our first 9 holes, I shot 51 and he shot 58. I didn't say anything to him. Didn't make a joke at his poor play, I helped him find lost balls, and didn't call him out on his scoring.

On the back nine, my game got worse and his game started to get better. What do you think happened?

He becomes Mr. Talkative, making fun of my poor play and commenting on my scoring. I will be first to admit that i'm a poor loser and the LAST thing you want to do with me is mock me when i'm playing badly (or any of my sports teams for that matter). After one comment too many, I turned to him and growled, "Hey, I didn't say shit to you while you sucked on those first nine holes - fuck you, you douchebag!"

He didn't say anything after that, while I quietly simmered & fumed over my poor play and his big mouth. Final score to the round - he beats me by 1 stroke.

That basically sums up our years growing up. He's three years older than me. He was competitive and ambitious about everything. We could be eating cereal and it would be a sport. It served him well as a businessman, he has been very successful. I'm ambitious, but not nearly as ambitious as him - my attitude is that I work to live, I don't live to work. As brothers, I don't think we are that close. We see each other at Thanksgiving, and at our family reunion. Twice a year.

He is who he is. He really hasn't changed since we were kids, except now that he is successful, he wears it like a badge.

One Thanksgiving, we were at the table, having port and his in-laws were there. I said how a key difference between K and I was that I was more cerebral. In my mind I was thinking of me, as the nerdy kid in my bedroom putting together the Commodore 64, chemistry set and rocket launcher while he was practicing jump shots for the LaSalle High School basketball team.

I'm sure in his mind I was saying he was dumber than me, and being the competitive person he is, K took offense, chortling in contempt, "You aren't more cerebral than me! Take a look around at this house?"

Two examples over a lifetime of the basic idea, "I'm better than you".

The weekend wasn't a disaster, it was just another less than satisfying experience with my over competitive brother. We didn't leave angry, and I got over his bullshit after the game.


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This page is an archive of entries from July 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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