Scott meets the baby

Scott and his newphew
Originally uploaded by BigAssSuperBlog.
Big Ass Superstar meets a superstar-to-be, Ewan.

A heart-warming, gut-churning trip to Ontario

Hey, what a trip.

We flew out to Ontario on Saturday for a week-long tour. We flew with Westjet, and really enjoyed it. The price was on par with Air Canada, and a lot more fun. The satellite teevees in the seatbacks made the time fly. The cabin crew cracked jokes and sang. Free cookies. Lots of fun.

My dad picked us up from Pearson and drove us to Stratford for a quick visit with mom, and then over to visit my sister Shannon and her hubby Chris, and their new baby Ewan. Chris and Shannon are taking to this parenting thing really well.

My folks hooked us up with a mack-daddy suite at the Arden Park Hotel, which was our base for the first half of the week. They also kindly lent us the pick-up truck for easy and reliable transportation in the cold and snow. Cold (!!!) and snow! What a novel concept this winter!

Amanda drove us in to Toronto on Sunday. She went to Ajax to visit family while I spent the afternoon with my good friend Sandra. It was nice to spend time with my buddy, talk, and play some video games like in the old days. Amanda and I went out for a classic dinner with Sandra and Byron at Swiss Chalet, then headed back to Stratford to rest.

Spent lots of time hanging out with Shannon and the baby. I got to hold a baby for the first time. It was sweet. Such a little tiny person. Y'know, cats are great. I love my kitty. Kitty is fun to play with. But it's not the same as holding a baby and just watching its face. And this baby certainly has Simpson in it -- it can fart like a cannon.

Dinner at the the Boar's Head was cold (air, not food) but nice. The baby kept quiet through the whole meal.

Got some hearty exercise from shovelling my parents' driveway. Holy crap, apartment living has its benefits -- indoor parking and no shovelling.

Back to Shannon's for dinner on Tuesday, with some tasty lasagna. Things took a churn for the worse later that night, though, as you'll see in the Un-Weighted entry below. Dinner with mom and dad Wednesday at the hotel was nice, but would've been nicer if I'd had an appetite to eat more than a few forkfuls of the tasty stir-fry.

We got a whole bunch of fantastic pictures and videos from the Stratford leg of the trip. The baby and family are photogenic, for sure. I panicked when my camera choked on the new memory card, though. I bought two 1GB CF cards on sale at Future Shop during the boxing day sale, and tried them out on this trip. Somehow the camera believed there were no photos on the card at one point. Then, the pictures showed up. Then, memory card error. Then, no pictures. I went back to the old card for safety. Thankfully, all the photos have been recovered. Check the galleries later to see what gets put up.

After spending as much time as we could with my side of the family, it was off on the VIA train to Toronto on Thursday for a visit to the folks at my old station, 680News. It was nice to be recognized and welcomed by so many familiar faces. Howdy to Leah, Anne, former bandmate John, Kevin, Peter, Sultan, James, Ron, Thomas, Cara, Taiwo, Marlane and anyone else who I got to see again. The place looks the same as ever, but with more awards on the walls and new faces in some of the seats.

Wendall picked us up and took us up to Bradford for the next leg of the trip. We were greeted at Amanda's mom's place by two of the most enthusiastic dogs I've ever met. Smoochie and Molly love to play. As much fun as I wish the cats would play catch with us, I still prefer kitties.

After chilling with Amanda's sisters Amy and Ruth (who's heading off to Australia for six months) and family members visiting from the west coast, we all got dressed up Saturday for a wedding. Amanda's cousin Stephanie married Phil at The Doctor's House in Kleinburg. It was a lovely ceremony. The four-course dinner was delicious -- cream of broccoli and asparagus soup (yeah, yeah, but it was good!), spinach leaves with almonds (yeah, yeah, but it was .. spinachy, but good), those little miniature chickens stuffed with wild rice (yummmm) and cheesecake for dessert. I got to chat with some regular readers -- apparently this blog is a popular read with Amanda's family, including one prominent member who reads while at work for the Peel Police. Well, that explains some entries in the server logs! The Derbyshires were warm and welcoming folks.

Sunday we visited Amanda's granny at the Sunrise Senior Living home in Aurora. Nice place! They have a separate family dining room that Barb booked for the whole clan to have lunch. And lunch was delicious. It's a pricey joint, but appears to be well worth the money.

Amy and her boyfriend Kendall drove us back to Pearson for the return flight home. By then, Amanda was quite sick with a cold and unable to fully enjoy the Westjet experience.

We arrived back at BigAss HQ in Halifax and sat down to some grub before unpacking. It was nice to be back in our own beds after a wonderful, rewarding trip to see friends and family who are far away but not forgotten.

It'd been more than a year since I'd seen my mom and dad. Months since seeing Shannon and Chris. Longer still since seeing Sandra and Byron. Bloody ages since seeing many of the folks at 680. But it's heartwarming to feel that things are still the same after all this time.

Thanks to everyone who helped make our trip so special! I love you all and miss you. We look forward to seeing you again, whether here, there, or on the infernet.

And special thanks to Laura for taking care of Kitty and Kitty while we were away. We think they missed us, but they're not as easy to read as dogs.

BigAssSuperstar: Un-Weighted: Weeks Eighteen & Nineteen

Let's start out with the scale for week 19:

Start weight: 220 pounds
Last week: 210
This week: 208
Change: -2
Total loss: 12 pounds

Week 18 was steady at 210.

So, I have two weeks to recap here. First off, I was excited as heck to go shopping for some new clothes to wear on the bigass vacation to Ontario. We went to Old Navy a coupla days before the journey to seek out some new jeans and maybe a shirt or two.

Not only did I find two pairs of jeans I liked -- they're size 36! I haven't been a 36 since the 1990s. Hell, I was a 36 back in high school. My goal size, set out in Week Zero, was 36. And now I have size 36 jeans that fit, and fit comfortably. I've been a 40 or 42 for a long time, so this is quite a treat.

I wrote last time about skipping the chocolate milk and energy drink in the morning. That went alright for the week. I didn't entirely eliminate pop -- I had a couple of cans of Diet Pepsi during the week -- but cut way down.

But that's not to say my eating was completely good. In fact, it started to slide, with some icky consequences.

The company president was in town for a chat on the Wednesday, and I figured there would be sandwiches served to mark the occasion, thus negating the need for me to pack a lunch. No sammiches, so I headed across the street to Burger King to cash in my long-held Free Whopper Combo coupon. Didn't feel great later, but kept going. Friday the gang went out to karaoke at the Lion's Head. I arrived with a belly full of delicious basil chicken from Talay Thai, and consumed three beers. And I don't usually drink much beer. Saturday we went to the airport, and had Burger King again before take-off. Subway soup and half-sub on arrival at the hotel in Stratford. Prefaced by a beer at my sister's. Sunday started with an all-you-can-eat brunch at the hotel -- and honestly, I didn't eat a *lot*. Sunday dinner was Swiss Chalet quarter chicken with fries. Monday began with a chocolate chip muffin and chocolate milk from Tim Horton's, and later a steak sandwich with fries and onion rings at a Stratford pub. Oh, with beer. Tuesday, I think it was Tim's for breakfast again, and lasagna and salad at my sister's for dinner. Another beer. And I drank a Diet Pepsi at my mom and dad's place that had expired in August 2006.

Well, that was it. I didn't feel well. I went back to the hotel and felt nauseous.

I proceeded to vomit. Vomit, vomit, vomit. And on the third voluminous vomit, I think I caught the edge of the toilet rim and covered the floor of the bathroom with puke. I estimate 14 square feet of puke on the tile floor. It hit the walls of the shower, the tub, the bathmat, the walls, my arms and legs, and even the bathroom door. Then I puked some more. And shat all night.

Perhaps my body was telling me something: eat well and fell well. Eat poorly and feel rotten. What's astonishing is that I used to eat much worse than this on a regular basis. I felt like the guy in Supersize Me.

It took a few days to get my appetite back, and even then, it was a return to moderate consumption. Well, except for the wedding.

I'd figured I would have lost at least a few pounds through the ordeal, but two pounds off is enough.

I'm an uncle!

Yay! I'm an uncle!

Tonight, my sister gave birth to Ewan James. My first nephew! Nearly two weeks overdue, and probably well worth the wait.

Eight pounds, two ounces. I don't know anything about baby weights, but that sounds pretty cool.

New birthday, then, to add to the BlackBerry!

Congratulations to my sister and my bro-in-law, and my parents who are now grandparents. Whoa!

BigAssSuperstar: Un-Weighted: Week Seventeen

Ate better this week and got downstairs to the gym a few times. So, I was expecting some results on the scale ... no dice, unfortunately.

Start weight: 220 pounds
Last week: 210
This week: 210
Change: 0
Total loss: 10 pounds

Fair enough.

We watched a marathon session of Channel 4's You Are What You Eat, aka "the poo show." Quack nutritionist "Doctor" Gillian McKeith examines the eyeballs, tongues, fingernails and excrement of fat Brits to diagnose specific vitamin deficiencies. She badgers people about their evil food intake and bullies them into eating aduki beans, quinoa ("keen-wah"), millet (budgie food), and other tasteless food, plus hounds them into exercising. And, inevitably, they end up feeling bright, cheery, horny, happy, and about two stone lighter at the end of the eight-week intensive. As much as I think she's a fraud on several levels, there's no arguing with her success.

Point being, it's hard to sit through three hours of this stuff without feeling like making a change oneself. One episode spotlighted a big lady who drank a ridiculous amount of diet cola. I'm a diet cola apologist. I don't see the big deal. It's calorie-free. Granted, also nutrient-free, but aside from taking in some carbonic acid, what's the problem? Well, Mizz McKeith's voodoo science suggests that the caffeine assaults my adrenal system, leading to a cascading stress response, and blah blah blah don't drink diet cola, you big hump.

I considered my own caffeinated beverage consumption. It's not outrageous. Usually a sugar-free energy drink in the morning (Red Bull or an imitator), and a can of Diet Pepsi in the evening. On weekends it might be two, perhaps even three Diet Pepsis. Certainly nothing in the caffeine-addict range, or even approaching what a regular coffee or tea drinker might consume. Even so, I thought it might be interesting to experiment with water instead.

So, today I skipped my morning chocolate milk and energy drink, and went with water instead. Now I'm hankering for a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps ... er, chips. Damn British television. Holding steady.
(Late-day follow-up: I gave in to hunger and bought a pack of peanuts from the diner downstairs. I figured it'd be better for me than a chocolate bar or bag of chips. Wrong. The peanuts had 35g of fat and 450 calories. Doh!)
Also switched out the William Shatner All-Bran Bar in my Regular Healthy Lunch in favour of an orange. A previous round of "Doctor" McKeith's What Not To Eat Poo Voyeur Spectacular convinced me that I should be eating more fruit. Turns out an orange has fibre, just like a Shatner bar, but it has significantly less fat (several grams versus no grams).
Sandra recently noted that I haven't been talking much about my gym efforts. Apologies to she and other readers, as I truly have not been talking much about my gym efforts.

You'll recall that I signed up with Nubody's a while back. I went regularly. For about a week.
Since then, I've been doing my working out in the gym in my building. I took Amanda's suggestion of doing a couple of weeks of strictly cardio stuff before trying the muscle-building, and then neglected to go back to the muscle-building.

My workout is typically 20-30 minutes on the treadmill. I walk and jog and run about 1.6 to 1.8 miles at an average pace of roughly 3.8 miles per hour. Some of it is on an incline of up to six degrees. Sometimes I'll run at about 6mph for three or four minutes a shot. My heart rate usually floats between the 145 and 155 bpm range. And I'm sweating, so I think I'm getting a good workout.

But, yes, if I'm going to get any real gains (or losses augmented by gains), I must return to Nubody's and get back to the resistance training. More muscle means more metabolic activity, more strength, more tone, better fitting shirts and a general he-manly sense of visible testosterone.

Next week's update may be slightly delayed or absent, as I'm heading to Ontario. Gonna see my parents, who I haven't seen since December '05; gonna see my sister's new baby, which is expected today or thenabouts; gonna catch up with Sandra and Byron; and Amanda's cousin is getting married, so there'll be a wedding to attend. Gonna be a busy trip! Looking forward to seeing y'all!

BigAssSuperstar: Un-Weighted: Week Sixteen

After turkey, chocolate, caramel corn and leftover turkey, chocolate and caramel corn, my weight ballooned up last time. Thankfully, a more normalized diet and a return to moderate exercise has halted the upward trend.

Start weight: 220 pounds
Last week: 213
This week: 210
Change: -3
Total loss: 10 pounds

We had McDonald's on the weekend. Actually, we had a surprising amount of bad food on the weekend. My Saturday started out with Kellogg's Frosted Flakes for breakfast, Toblerone and Baked Lay's throughout the day, Kraft Dinner and hot dogs for dinner, and then we went bowling. At bowling, I did something I very rarely do any more: drink full-sugar pop.

Soda pop ("fizzy drink" as the brits call it) is, as I understand it, terrible stuff for you. If you saw how much sugar goes into a can of cola, you'd probably think someone was trying to scare you. And you should be scared. It's freaky. And it may be worse in the U-S-and-A, as their Coke is made with high-fructose corn syrup instead of plainly nasty refined sugar. Anyway, regular pop is bad, so I drink it rarely.

But on Saturday night at bowling, I drank two bottles of Coke. And I didn't feel great from it.

Then we went to McDonald's afterward, for the first time in what seems like months. I used to eat McDonald's at least once a week, and usually more. I used to just love McDonald's, despite knowing it was bad for me.

Gotta tell ya... after eating well for a long time now, McDonald's just doesn't taste as good. It's salty. It's sweet. It's greasy. But none of it in a glorious, sinful way. Just .. kinda .. gross. I envisioned gorging myself on a McChicken and delighting in the sublime moist oiliness of it all, while nibbling on golden french fries. In reality, it was like smoking French cigarettes just because they're French -- sure, you get the thrill of the absurdly indulgent, but it's ultimately anticlimactic and a little bleh. (Aside: what happens when you madly search all day for exactly the right word to describe a phenomenon, then decide that the word you were searching for was "anticlimactic"? Irony?)

Ironically, Sunday night, CBC Newsworld aired Supersize Me, which I hadn't seen since its initial release on DVD. Perfect timing. I think it should be required viewing at all schools. I'm still craving a Big Mac (minus pickles and Mac sauce) despite knowing that it smells vaguely like rotting garbage.

My stupidity costs me money

Two stories of Big Ass Stupidity...

Mere weeks ago, I was bored at the end of my shift, and thought ... hey, I once bought a cool laser show projector off eBay. And after a week, I clumsily knocked it off a shelf and broke it. Why not get another one? They were only about $50. It'd be cool, and I want one.

So, I went to ebay, did a search, and found an even cooler one on an auction ending in less than four hours, with a high bid of $50. Perfect. I showed my co-host, and bid, let's say, $52. Immediately outbid. Okay, how about I put in $55 as my max bid. Cool, I was the top bidder.

Then I saw the shipping cost. $42. Forty two AMERICAN dollars, on top of my bid price. Jee-zus. I started hoping that someone would outbid me.

Nobody did. Next morning, I greeted the computer with, "AW, FUCK!" at seeing that I now had to pay $94.50 US for something I really was interested in spending maybe $60 for.

Thing arrived, and yeah, it's pretty cool. Postage actually cost about $17.50, but I can't really be too pissed off at Extreme Lasers, since they posted the shipping "and handling" price in the auction listing, and it was my own impulsivity that led me to forget to check that.

Now I guess I have to buy a fog machine to make best use of my investment.

Next story ...

Tuesday night after work, on a not-too-happy-feeling day, I realized I was almost out of cash, so I stopped at the Esso to use the Royal Bank machine and took out some dough for the next day. Eager to get to my bus, I withdrew $80, got my card and receipt, and hustled home. I checked my wallet late that night and found I only had $10. Oh, crap.

Turns out I left the $80 sitting in the bank machine. I called the Esso -- dude had just come on shift and didn't know anything. Went back the next morning -- crew didn't know anything. Went back 24 hours after the incident and talked to that shift -- they said a lady appeared to take some money from the machine, but nobody could identify her.

So, my "stupidity" has cost me about $180 in the past couple of weeks. Stupidity has cost me a lot more in the past, so I shouldn't be toooo hard on myself. But you can bet I'll be watching my dollars and cents more closely for a while.

BigAssSuperstar: Un-Weighted: Week Fifteen

Turkey, Toblerone, sparkling wine, brownies, chips, and the laziness of Christmas added up to a predictable outcome ... last week, I forecast that "I wouldn't be surprised to see me back at 213 or 215 next week." How did my prediction turn out?

Start weight: 220 pounds
Last week: 210
This week: 213
Change: +3
Total loss: 7 pounds

Okay, then. No surprises. So, it's back to the routine. Gotta get the veggies back into the routine and ease up on the indulgences. And, of course, get back to getting sweaty. I returned to the gym on January 1 and felt good about it. Let's see if I can shed that holiday weight by next week!

2007 starts with a bang

The view from our balcony at midnight, January 1, 2007, as fireworks explode above Halifax City Hall.

Today was my last day at work, and I'm okay with that

Today marks a weird spot on the calendar for me. It’s one of those landmarks that really doesn’t mean anything, other than to illustrate the...