Friday, August 27, 2010


So I turn 35 tomorrow.

I’ve been asked how I feel about that.

Not too shabby, thanks for asking.

Don’t get me wrong – the number sounds a bit odd, like it’s not real. It doesn’t seem quite right. It seems like life hit the accelerator about 11 years ago and started flipping calendar pages with reckless abandon.

It doesn’t seem possible that I graduated high school literally half my lifetime ago.

So…although I’ll admit to the occasional head-shaking as to how NOW got here so quickly and stealthily, I can’t complain about life at 35 one tiny little bit.

I’m in good health and in good shape. No ailments, aches, pains, or meds.

I have great friends who make me laugh.

I live in a nice house in a nice area.

I am able to do lots of things in my life that make me happy. Travel, improv, softball, food, drink…in no particular order.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…I like my job—the work, the people, the company. I like all of it.

Most of all, I married the right woman. She makes all the aforementioned stuff 10 times better.

Not too shabby.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Responsible Fast Food Consumption?

It would be nice to have a healthy, sit-down meal loaded with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein 3 times a day.

It would also be unrealistic.

Sometimes the drive-thru happens.

However, if you play your cards right, there are ways to avoid dropping a 1,200 calorie bomb on your attempts to maintain your weight. And I’m only going to mention things that leave me satisfied enough to avoid raiding the vending machine at 2:30.

General rule: Stay away from fatty sauces (regular salad dressings, and anything cheese- or mayo-based). Also, there’s only so much you can do if you order something with a shitton of rice or fried potatoes.

Taco Bell:
It might surprise you to know that a regular taco contains only 170 calories. Three of these makes a reasonably-sized meal. You can even shave 20 calories apiece by ordering “Fresco style”, which replaces the cheese with pico de gallo. I don’t do this, but you can. Also good choices: the new cantina tacos, which have the traditional corn tortilla/meat/onion/cilantro/lime construction. They’re not bad, especially for drive-thru food. Steak (the tastiest of the three) = 160 calories, Chicken = 170, Carnitas = 200 calories.

Panda Express:
There are plenty of good choices here, and they make it easy by displaying the “Wok Smart” logo next to any entrée with 250 calories or less. Get a two-entrée plate, avoid Orange Chicken and Beijing Beef, and you’re set…as long as you choose the mixed vegetables as your side. Here's why: Chow mein noodles (400 calories), steamed rice (420), fried rice (570!)…and vegetables (35).

Lots of low-cal choices, but that doesn’t matter when I am famished two hours later. Plus, it’s just not tasty. I rarely eat at Subway. If you must, do one of the lean 6-inch subs (they're marked as such) with double meat.

They finally published their nutritional info after refusing to do so for many years. It’s probably because a standard burrito there with cheese and sour cream weighs in at 970 calories. Even now, they have a very defensive disclaimer on their info insisting that their calories are far better for you.

To the numbers: the tortilla itself has 290 calories. With that in mind, order a Burrito Bol, or better yet, a salad (if you do the latter, use salsa instead of the 260-calorie dressing).

A Bol with rice, beans, meat, salsa, and cheese will come in under 600 calories. Sub fajita vegetables for beans and it’s under 500. A salad (again, use salsa for the dressing) removes the rice and about 100 calories.

Note: All the meats have roughly the same calories; if you feel like steak or pork, they’re no worse than the chicken.

It’s tough to stay under 600 calories and still get enough to eat here. A McDouble is 390 calories. A six piece McNuggets with one small sauce is 330. Get one of those with a small fry (230), I guess. When I have to resort to this I’m usually hungry again sooner than I’d like. I guess you could do a fruit and yogurt parfait (160) instead of the fries. I mean, if you're into that.

The grilled chicken salads are a reasonable option at 220-320 calories before adding dressing. The balsamic (80 calories/packet) and Italian (120) are the best dressing choices. I just don’t care for the salads I’ve had there.

This is kinda fun. I’ll do a few more when time permits.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A-Rod's 600th and the Hall of Fame

When Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th career home run yesterday, lots of discussion was stirred about his legacy.

The biggest topic: will he be elected to the Hall of Fame?

As most of you know, A-Rod admitted using steroids before this baseball season began. That put him squarely in the company of convicted cheats (Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez), assumed cheats (Bonds, McGwire), and admitted cheats (Canseco, Giambi).

Note that every single one of these players would be a Hall of Famer (yes, probably even Giambi) if we knew nothing of PED use among major leaguers.

Why does the steroid issue bother baseball fans so much more than, say, football fans?

Simple: baseball's history and context and the ability to compare players from different eras are what make the sport special.

The steroid era has made those comparisons impossible, at least right now.

There needs to be a contextual adjustment to understand the full effects of PEDs

And that's why my answer to the question--will A-Rod (or Bonds, or McGwire, et al) get into the Hall of Fame--is yes. Eventually.

In the 1980s, 400 home runs was a magic number. The only person with that many home runs who wasn't in the Hall was Dave Kingman, whose only skill was hitting home runs. He was also a notorious asshole, which didn't help.

But that's basically all it took - 400 home runs.

Now, some people are saying players with 600 home runs (or 762, for that matter) shouldn't be in the Hall because of what they've been caught/admitted to/are suspected of doing.

That leaves two options: close the Hall of Fame to an entire generation of players, or let the chapter close and look at the numbers to understand the context in which they were achieved.

Baseball fans - the seamhead, sabermetrician type - are notoriously obsessed with numbers. Once the pre- and post- random testing numbers have been posted by the players, they will be applied an infinite number of ways in an infinite number of iterations to statistical career norms to understand what they really mean.

From there--and this will likely be 10 years down the road--we will finally have context.

And this numerical context will finally let us know who was truly great, steroids or no.

From a moral standpoint: Look, I'm not a moron - I know steroids had a huge part in shaping the statistical history of MLB's last two decades. But I also believe that the players are no more guilty than the owners, the union, and the commissioner in allowing their use to be as prevalent as it was.

Steroid use undoubtedly provided an unfair advantage. I also believe their use was not only condoned, but encouraged.

I think this middle-ground opinion and time will be the things that get those tangled up in the steroid era to their proper place in history.