February 2011 Archives

Team Hike, Open Letter, Crossfit Update

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1. Team Hike! A few years ago I wrote about "Team Hike", a group of friends from college who started a hiking/camping group that I met through my buddy Matt about four years ago. The Team Hike crew also did what they called "Team Extreme", which was hiking and camping during the winter, and I decided to do this with them over the Presidents Day weekend.

This had been planned for weeks, and we had no idea what weather to expect aside from it being winter. Snow? Wind? Cold Snap? Whatever was going to happen over the weekend, unless it was a blizzard, the team was going.

The hike itself took place near Tuxedo Park, NY, a bit over an hour's drive from Hoboken. We drove to the parking site, and hiked along the Appalachian trail, which was covered in snow, up to 8 inches deep in some places. The hike itself wasn't too bad, but the snow definitely made it harder. We hiked about two miles, found the site, which had a lean-to, and immediately started a campfire.

We had about thirteen guys on the hike, or "The Baker's Dozen" as "Gramps" (there are a lot of nicknames amongst Team Hike members) coined it. Our plan was to hike Saturday, camp Saturday night, and hike out Sunday morning. The only issue with the whole day wasn't the cold weather, but the wind. The wind itself wasn't the issue, but the campfire was swirling and blowing in all directions, which made it hard to stay warm when the smoke would blow directly in our faces, also sending ash & embers at us. As the night progressed the wind died down, but the temperature plummeted. We had lots of beer and liquor, and like any team hike we had a ton of people showing off their culinary skills and eating well wasn't an issue. I was stuffed before I turned it at 1am.

Some may ask - "How can you be in a tent when it's so cold?!"

Sure, it was cold, but actually I was in my sleeping bag, wearing a wool sweater with a few hand warmers lining the interior of the bag. By the time Matt woke me up at 7:30am, I was still happy to sleep for a few more hours. But, as we learned in the past, it's best to make an early exit and get back to Hoboken to beat any Sunday traffic.

2. Open Letter! In July 2010, I wrote an open letter to City Hall about creating an online ticket system. Imagine my surprise when I read Dawn Zimmer's State of the City speech on NJ.com and she wrote:
"Within the next several months we are implementing an online service request and complaint system. Through our web site residents will be able to submit and track all kinds of service requests, whether it's to report a pothole, graffiti, or a street that needs plowing.
This system will provide a performance measurement for my Administration, so that we can continue to increase accountability and better understand where our resources need to be directed. Residents should not need to figure out whether to email me, their council people or our directors to get a response. You should have one place to go, and you should be able to depend on a timely response.
This new system will be only the latest in our efforts to use technology to be more efficient and make services available online. As you may know, last fall our Recreation Division began accepting online registrations for recreation programs. People love this system, and it's helping us work more efficiently."

I'm not going to hold my breath to get a "Thank You" from City Hall for my suggestion. Still waiting for someone to take my next open letter ideas. From what I was told online registration for dog tags is in the works.

3. Crossfit! I'm entering week three. I can understand why they force everyone to do the fundamentals class first - no matter what your fitness level. I'm learning now that what I thought I was doing right was about 70% correct. My form was way off, and my endurance levels are low. Plus, my flexibility is in pretty bad shape, especially with my shoulders. Each class we are learning something new, and i'm also learning how weak I am. The one good thing about the classes is that they go really fast, and just at the moment you are hating the workout - it is time to leave. On an interesting side note, i'm kind of surprised about how many girls are into Crossfit. I was expecting this to be mostly guys - but in my training class alone we have 5 guys and 4 girls.

Here's the exercises we have learned in the last week:

Front Squats


Wall Ball Shots

Overhead Squats:

Medicine Ball Cleans:

4. Rocco! What? I haven't written about Rocco enough? Look, he's great. One funny thing about him is that when i'm watching TV, he will sit in front of me and just....stare. Here's a picture of him in action. 022311.jpg That's it. That's what he does. Sits there and doesn't move and tries his best to catch my eye. If I try to block him from seeing my eyes with my foot, he shifts slightly to the left or right to keep looking at me. As if to be using telepathy to say "YOU....MUST....PET....ME..."

Otherwise, Rocco is a great dog. Completely housebroken. Doesn't bark. Doesn't eat the furniture or my shoes. When he's unhappy, he snorts. His only downside is that he gets sick easily. If I expose him to the dog park too many days in a row, he will somehow find a way to get sick (respiratory infection & throwing up or bad diarrhea that goes on for days). Usually that means a trip to the vet and a $150 doctor's bill to fix him. This is the curse of the pure breeds.

Also everywhere I go, I still get stopped by complete strangers who fawn over him. Did I mention before buying a carabiner? I take Rocco with me anytime I need to run an errand, like going to CVS or Taco Truck or whatever. The only time I latch Rocco outside a store is when I can see him through the glass window or the door. I know there are some dog owners who completely refuse to do this - and that's their choice. At CVS, there are no windows to see Rocco, so what I do is talk to the homeless guys standing outside. I ask them if they can watch my dog, and I will pay them $1. I know most of the guys, and they are all really nice and know me by now. I go in, shop, and come outside and hand the guy $1 for watching Rocco. Everyone wins. Also, if there's no one outside CVS to watch Rocco, I wouldn't go into the store.

Plus, with Rocco I try to go to places that let dogs into their store. Hoboken Vine, for example, has always been dog-friendly, and even have treats behind the counter for dogs. Dames Coffee is also another dog-friendly business. I think I want to make a list of dog-friendly businesses in Hoboken.

Anyhow, that's all for now!

Valentines Day, Or As I Call It: "Monday".

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Last weekend was my birthday weekend. Unlike others, I kept it low-key and drama free. I invited a few guy friends out for cigars and to watch Nova vs Pitt on Saturday night at Wicked Wolf. In years past I had invited lots of friends out for bowling or a drink fest at the local pub. Wasn't really interested in that. The cigar store in Hoboken is cool because it's BYOB. So after four of us had some cigars and a few beers, we headed to the bar where a table was reserved to watch the game. Unfortunately the game was ridunkulously bad to watch - sloppy basketball all around. After the game, we said our goodbyes and I went back home.

Crossfit last week went well enough. In my last session, I learned the meaning of glamor muscles. If you aren't familiar with the term, then you must not watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In Episode 5.06: "The World Series Defense", Dennis explains to Mac that Mac's muscles aren't real muscles, but just for show:

Mac, Dee, and Frank arrive at the Park. Dennis notices their bleeding eyes. They desperately want to get into the Park, and Mac suggests he scale the wall.

Dennis: "Okay, I hate to tell you this bro, but you do not have the core strength to scale the fa├žade of Citizen's Bank. You just don't."
Mac: "What!? I work out all the time!"
Dennis: "Yeah, but you only work out your glamour muscles, and you know it."
Mac: "I work out my core!"
Dennis: "No. You do not work out your core. You're totally arm heavy. You're all bis and tris and everything else is just... fat and ribs."
Mac: "Bro, I could do way more push ups than you and that's like 16 different muscle groups right there."
Dennis: "That is beyond retarded what you're saying right now. I could do way more push-ups than you even though I was just hit by a car."

They look at each other and get down on the ground to do push-ups.

What does this have to do with me? Well, I haven't lifted a weight since October. Crossfit was a cold splash of water last Thursday for me. Our first 30 minutes was all about technique of a deadlift and proper form.

I thought I knew how to do a deadlift. I have done them when I worked out, but they weren't part of my regular routine. But clearly after this workout, I had a lot to learn. We didn't lift heavy weights, we were just interested in getting the form right.

Once that was done we ended our sesson with the following:
Deadlifts w/kettlebell

Not too hard, right? We started at 10 deadlifts, 10 pushups, 10 situps, then 9, then 8...all the way to 1 at our own pace.

Back to the glamor muscles - this is definitely me. I'm not ripped, but also not too flabby. Doing pushups my bi's and tri's were definitely standing out. Standing out and saying "YOU'RE WEAK!"

I knocked out the first 10 with no problem. Then I did the set of 9 without an issue. Once I hit 8...I also hit a wall. Crossfit is much different than lifting. When I lift, I can knock out 10 reps and 3 sets, get a good pump and do something else. Over the years that makes for decent arms and chest, but not much else. I rarely did situps in the gym. And it shows.

I was able to finish the workout, but I was dead last. I could have stopped when everyone else did (I was around 4 and gulping air), but I wanted to finish. I literally got to the point in the pushups where my muscles were giving out and I couldn't even hold myself up. To switch from pushups to situps, I couldn't even flip myself over right, it was like a half roll.

Yeah, I bet the girls there were impressed. LOL.

Anyhow, the good news is that I feel stronger and i'm also not very sore anymore. After winning my Super Bowl box pool last week, I figure I can take $800 of the money I won and put it towards 6 months at Crossfit. Happy Birthday, to me.

Hey! It's A Top 5 Random Stuff!

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I didn't have any great, major "events" to write one post about, so this will be a few quick stories to chew the fat on...but each one is mildly interesting...

1. Beer: Pacifico is dead, all hail Leinenkugel! Yes, it's true. I was out with friends the other night, and we are at the Cigar Store in Hoboken. Great thing about the Cigar Store is that you can smoke in the store, bring your own beer or liquor, and watch TV on their flat screen TVs. So, the other Saturday night i'm there with Jason, Chris and Keith - and Keith whips out a 6 pack of Leinenkugel. Leinenkugel? I never heard of that beer before. I scoffed it off, and drank my Pacifico.

The next night, my buddy Matt is watching his son, and his wife had a night out on the town with her friends, so he invites me over. I figure, hey, why not grab a 6 pack of Leinenkugel, and we can watch some NBA games. Bottom line? Buy Leinenkugel. Buy it now. This beer was so popular that on Super Bowl Sunday I went to Hoboken Vine, my favorite beer store in Hoboken, to buy Leinenkugel - and they were sold out. FUCK.

2. Whud Up Wid Dat? My "Whud Up Wid Dat" moment was the next day after #1 I woke up pretty tired on Saturday, cigars and alcohol gave me a wicked hangover, so I took a tylenol (which I normally don't do) because I had a massage scheduled at Body Balance for 10am - I didn't want a massage while my head was pounding. I took Rocco for a walk and nearly got into a fight.
There was a guy who parked his delivery truck in our condo driveway, effectively cutting off the sidewalk because of the large snowdrifts and the angle of his truck. His truck was wedged in such a way that there was no getting around him, I would have had to pick up Rocco, walk into the street around the back of his truck, through a puddle of slush & water. This delivery guy was working for the new construction at the Jefferson Trust Bank, and from Day 1, this new construction has been a pain in our ass at the condo. The developer has been rude and inconsiderate of the tenants living on the block. His car, and the cars of others are double parked along the street every weekend. It was just another aggravating instance, and with my hangover, my fuse was short to begin with.

I look around, and see a few construction guys milling around the outside of the building and say "Who's truck is this?", they all shrug their shoulders. I can see through the tinted window of the truck that there's a driver sitting there. I yelled at the window: "MOOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE". The driver rolled down the window, with an angry look on his face and snapped back: "Bro, who do YOU think you're talking to? F*ck you, bro."

Well, i'm not one to back down - so we had a good 1 minute "Fuck you, no FUCK YOU" fest. I 'm telling him he's on our easement and it's our private property and he's telling me he's on the sidewalk, not the driveway. He's refusing to moving and snarls, "Go fuck yourself, I would have moved if you asked me NICELY." Fuck that. He's a fucking delivery guy driving a van, and thinks that *I* need to ask him all nice to move his fucking van from blocking the entire sidewalk??

It was getting to a point where either a fistfight starts or I call the cops. The delivery guy simply refusing to move and me being stubborn about walking AROUND his truck, I just called the Hoboken cops to report the guy blocking our driveway. A minute after I hung up the phone, a police cruiser was driving by with his window down. "Officer!" I yell. The police cruiser stops. "I called the front desk about this truck blocking our sidewalk...", I began. The police officer says, "OK, you called the front desk? Someone will be down to help you..." and drives off without saying why he couldn't take two minutes to help me.

His sirens weren't on. He was just rolling down the street. Maybe he had another call to go on - but I didn't get that impression. I got the impression he didn't want to deal with it.
The next cruiser shows up about 5 minutes later, but the guy driving the truck left by then.

3. Gambling: Every year I do a Super Bowl box. A friend of Chris's does a Super Bowl box, and it's $300 a box. $30,000 in the kitty. Well, wouldn't you know that we pull GB 1 and Pitt 7. Not bad numbers. NOT BAD AT ALL. Turns out we hit in the 3rd quarter on Sunday night, and won a cool $2,000 each. Huge win for a $150 investment. Although, i'm sure after all the years gambling on Super Bowl boxes i'm only up $500.

4. Online Dating: I really have to write a new and improved Dissecting A Personal Ad, after reading all the online dating personal ads - seems like not much has changed. I haven't used the site for a date, i'm kind of curious about it, and figure what the hell, may as well look around. I was out at Mulligan's last Saturday night, and the age range of women was 22-26 years old. Sorry, a bit too old for that age range & I detest the Manhattan bar scene.

5. Crossfit & Diet: Crossfit starts Tuesday & Thursday nights. Got a lot of email about that, and will write up my experience on it in a few weeks. I have been good about my diet. I have been strict during my work-week, cooking up my protein the night before, baking sweet potatoes on Sunday and refrigerating them, and steaming my vegetables (broccolini or asparagus) while I get ready in the morning. I pack it all in a tupperware container, and bring it into work. So far, I have had a few "cheat" meals, but if I eat maybe 20 times a week, I'd say I had 3 times where I ate something off the diet. 15% isn't bad. I lost about 10 pounds, and i'm back in my old jeans again. I still have a bit more to go, and hoping with Crossfit that it accelerates the process.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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