Sunday, May 29, 2011

The James Bond Shower

I've recently started taking what is referred to as a "James Bond Shower" to help me wake up in the morning.

Basically, you take your normal hot shower. Get clean. Then, the last part of the shower, you turn the water down. Maybe not to freezing, but enough to chill you a little bit. I typically stand under the water for about a minute or two before I wuss out and towel off.

It's really refreshing. I'm sort of surprised, but sort of not. I've had experience with the icy hell that is the cold shower.

After spending two months in Columbia with no gas (thanks to the former residents who didn't pay their gas bill) and having to take cold showers every day. While it was happening, I hated life. I hated to get clean. I never felt like the soap was rinsed off of me. But one thing I did notice was that I was alert and ready to go. I vowed to never take a cold shower again.

And here I am, the punctuation of every one of my showers now is a cold one.

It turns out there are several health benefits from this hot and cold shower: better circulation, relieves depression, strengthens immunity, and makes your skin and hair healthier.

Click here for the article on all the health benefits of the James Bond shower.

The reason the person on the site referred to it as a James Bond shower is that James Bond would finish all of his showers like this in the books. It adds a little flair to hygiene. Makes me feel a little more manly, a little more secret agent and British.

I have to admit. I've been drinking a lot less coffee lately.I used to need coffee just to get out of bed, but now I usually only make a pot if Sallie needs some.

I've also been motivated to work out more. I normally work out about 3-4 times a week, but recently its been closer to 5-6. Definitely feel more active and want to get out more often.

This cold water shower is really benefiting me.

Now the downside to this is the four months in the winter when its too freakin' cold for me to even think about having cold water on my body. Hell, I would wear a hoody in the shower if I could in January. I think I'll probably go to my old ways of drinking 10 cups of coffee a day to keep me warm and moving.

Good news is, there's also health benefits to drinking coffee. Goodbye diabetes and Colon cancer! To between the summer and winter regiments, I should be one health American boy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rapture and the Macho Man

So, guess what, Rapture didn't happen.

Who would've thunk it?

Even though the one guy that was saying rapture was going to happen was mostly though as a crazy man, there's always that bit of fear in the back of your mind that, maybe just maybe he could be right.

Unfortunately, if he was right, and rapture would start at 6pm on May 21st, I would've been experiencing it on an airplane.

He really shouldn't have predicted it happening down to the minute. The current calendar configuration we use, the Gregorian calendar, was only put into use in 1582. The bible wouldn't refer to an exact date. Jesus or God would literally have to come to us and say, "On your calendar, one this exact day, rapture will begin" to actually be able to predict it. I just don't feel like that's God's style.

The only victim of rapture was Macho Man Randy Savage. He was a great wrestler and entertainer, a huge part of my childhood. I remember being brought to a wrestling event when I was maybe four or five with my uncle Eric at the old arena. The entire event held my jaw wide open, but it wasn't until the main event that I was for the next 10 years, a full on supporter of wrestling.

The Iron Sheik and Sargent Slaughter came out cursing America, flipping off the fans who were booing them. Then things got quiet, the lights went out. And we got an entrance from the Macho Man like this.

Him and Hulk Hogan were fighting for the fans in St. Louis and all of America really. He was one hell of an entertainer.

May you drop the flying elbow on heaven Macho Man Randy Savage.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why I hate summer

Most people know I hate summer, especially summer in Missouri.

There's the obvious things like the humidity and heat. I hate mowing the lawn. The sun burn on my scalp. But the thing that gets me the most are the invisible creepy crawly feelings.

I was out running tonight and I had a constant feeling of mosquitoes landing on me and biting. I was slapping my skin, itching the surface, basically looking like a crazy person freaking out in public.

I got home and took note of the damage. None. I didn't see a single bit. I've been so conditioned over 26 years to spazz out at the mere feel of a mosquito that I have phantom bites. I don't know if its the mosture or sweat, but something sends the same nerve receptors off.

The other invisible bastard is spider webs. These are a little harder to deal with. Once you hit one, you feel them all over your body. Every step you take feels like another web stuck to you with scary spiders slowly crawling their way up your arms wanting to lay eggs inside your ears. F that!

When there's six inches of snow on the ground and the wind chill brings the world down to ten degrees, I can be damn sure that there aren't any spiders or mosquitoes out. Life is good cause I know they are all dead below the ground.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Fun Parts of Arizona

It's weird being in an entirely different eco-system than you're used to. Arizona is exactly how you see it in those old wild west movies. Sprawling mountain ranges, towering flat topped mesas, cactus everywhere, and a brutal sun that can quickly be exchanged for rolling storm clouds.

Sedona is an area where all the hippies like to go. There are energy vortexes and crystals and positive energies and possibly random jam sessions.

Even if you aren't there to seek out vortexes and crystals, there's positive energy and beauty as far as the eye can see.

You get scenes like this in a 360 degree view.

The place we were staying was exceptional. The beds were large, each room had full on cable and a jacuzzi, and there was a babbling creek right behind it filled with mountain run off water. It was beyond peaceful.

The town was your typical tourist town with rows of stores selling air brushed shirts, rocks, and random postcards that had nothing to do with Sedona, yet had the city name stamped on them.

I was excited to try some new beers from the region. Sierra Nevada has many many more flavors than we get in St. Louis. There were a lot of gluten free, vegetarian, hippie crap too that was also good.

The best part about beer though is at the elevation we were at (around 4,000 feet) each beer is as powerful as 1.5-2 beers. Nick, Sallie, and I sat around the hotel room and after a beer were all feeling pretty good.

My father's ceremony was also nice. Done by a hippie, at the foot of a mountain called Cathedral rock, next to a flowing creek, with the sun hitting the perfect lighting during the short but fulfilling ceremony. The hippie that officiated had the most relaxing voice I've ever heard. I would pay her to just come to my room at night before I go to bed and just talk. Seriously, her voice was like a massage and a back re-alignment rolled into one. It was great.

Everything about Sedona was a light state of Nirvana. The wedding ceremony, food, drinks, weather, everything was just perfect.

I wish we could've had another day there, but like all good vacations it had to come to an end. Hopefully we'll be able to make another trip, Brett included, on a long weekend later this year.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Burden of Travel

"That's it!" I said. "I'm not flying American Airlines ever again. Well, unless there's no other option."

I hate traveling. I love the destination. I know that sounds like an obvious statement, but I do know people that find this sort of inner peace when traveling.

Our flight leaving St. Louis was at 6 am, which meant we had to leave our house at 4 AM.. So the night before, I took a pill to help me sleep, and passed out at 11. Sallie had to work and didn't get home until after midnight. So, I got the most sleep at around 4 hours. Sallie the least at 2.

Surprisingly we were all feeling pretty good. We parked in lot D, well before the sun was coming up, packed onto a trolly, and were dropped off at the airport.

Things went smoothly. We went through security in about 10 minutes, made it to the plane right as it was boarding and we were off to Dallas.

Thus far, American Airlines had only irritated me with how they handled Brett's cancellation. They wouldn't give a full credit for a ticket, only about half of one. It would be one thing if the plane was empty and Brett's ticket mattered, but it was filled to the brim.

My second irritation came shortly after because we hadn't really had anything to eat. Our stomachs started waking up shortly after take off. I've flown Frontier, United, and Southwest... all offered pretzels or peanuts or something. American did not. We did get a drink, but I needed some real calories.

Dallas... ahhh Dallas. I always complain about the humidity in St. Louis, but Dallas is truly the armpit of America. The 100 feet we had to walk through to get into the airport caused my body to almost shut down from sweating so hard.

The airport is set up like a figure 8 almost, with an indie 8 and outside 8. You can't get to any other terminal without jumping on a little tram they have that rides along the entire outside of the airport. Things weren't labeled the greatest, but we found our way. The hour we had for a layover meant nothing, by the time we made it to the terminal for our connecting flight, it was boarding and getting ready to take off.

This was a larger airplane, so I hoped against hope that maybe they would have some food. They did not. In fact, I realized that I am too tall for American Airlines because I couldn't pull the tray table down thanks to my long legs. And when the large man reclined in front of me, I could barely breath.

The trip to Sedona was pretty easy. It was the trip back that was rough. It had become significantly warmer, Sallie wasn't feeling well, and we had a good 32,000 round-abouts to take before we left Sedona. After spending a little over two hours in the car, we sat at my dad's waiting to go to the airport. We arrived, got through pretty quickly and started the wait.

It was apparent something was wrong. Our boarding time came and went. We saw American Airline folks getting nervous. Our airplane started getting pulled away from the gate. Before they made the announcement, Sallie jumped in line, knowing that something was going down.

They announced that the flight was going to be delayed an hour and a half, which meant we were going to miss our connecting flight to St. Louis. They handed us a 1-800 number and told us to call them to get taken care of. We called the 800 number and they had no idea what was going on. Apparently, the people at the front counter only listed the plane as delayed and the 800 number can't do anything with that. So we went back to the counter and eventually got our flights changed. They put us on a flight the next day. We would have to spend the night in Dallas.

They couldn't tell us anything that was going to happen until we flew into Dallas. We showed up and found out we had been booked into a Marriot down the street and gave us a meal voucher for breakfast.

The Marriot was nice enough, but the room we were in was a $500 a night room and there was nothing special about it. There was one king sized bed and a chair. There was one television and they didn't even have HBO, just HBO family. Why would anyone stay in a hotel like that?

So the only restaurant open was the hotels and we spend $50 for "ok" at best food. We then pass out for 5 hours, get on another plane, and come back to St. Louis.

We thought the travel misery was finally over, but then realized we had to play for another day of parking and on the way back from the airport, got stuck in construction on 170.

So now, after eating several days of fast food and not showering as well as I would want, I'm at home, popping vitamins, looking for fruit, swearing to not get into a plane again for a few months.

Next up... the fun parts of the trip...

Monday, May 9, 2011


I'm not the biggest fan of Indian food, but the one thing I love there is the Indian flat bread known as Naan.

Typically, Indian buffets will have 3-8 different sauces (usually various Chutneys) for you to dip your naan in. It's delicious. For real.

Every now and then I get this intense craving for Naan, but its not worth me paying $14 for an Indian buffet when all I'm going to eat is some flat bread and sauce.

A few days ago I was carving naan pretty badly and decided, "Dan, you are a baker now. You've made multiple types of bread. Let's find a recipe, and make this happen." So I did.

Naan is much easier and takes a lot less time than other breads I've made. Typically, fermentation of naan only takes about one hour and twenty five minutes, whereas other breads, like Ciabatta, ferment for days before you actually bake.

However, with artisan breads, you typically want to be very gentle. Even when mixing the dough, you want to be careful not to deflate the dough or work it too hard. It's all about providing a gentle wave of creation over the dough.

With naan... that doesn't work. You have to make naan your bitch by punching and rolling and flipping it until its a thin, flat, piece of dough. Then you basically throw it on a 400 degree grill and burn it into submission.

It was a very different experience than I'm used to. I was constantly second guessing myself and wondering if I was doing things right. Then end result was awesome. I'm probably going to start making it regularly because it makes such a good snack and staple of just about any recipe.

I'm going to refine the recipe a bit and then I'll put it in that cook book I've been promising all of you for years.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Free Comic Book Day 2011

That's right folks! It's the first Saturday in May, which means FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!

I haven't been to a free comic book day in a few years, so this morning, I woke up early, and drove down to the local comic depository.

It was a great atmosphere. A dozen or so nerds bee-lining to the free comic table to choose which books they wanted before they disappeared. Then, the genius hidden ploy of free comics day, they all felt like they had to spend at least a little money at the store. Their attention turned to the dollar bins, where they tore through a decade of un-bought discount comics.

Every time a new person came through the door, the owner of the store would wish them a happy free comic day, and the other customers would mutter a cheer in their direction.

I wandered in and immediately picked up the last copy of the free Spiderman comic (probably the most popular of comics today) and a Captain America\Thor comic.

I started perusing the racks for other little gems like all the other fan boys. It was hard to get into the areas I wanted. The Punisher section had a line (probably because it was close to the Star Wars and Star Trek comics) and the Captain America and Nick Fury comics had already been picked over.

That's when I saw him. The sort of guy I wanted to see. He was about 5'10", 230 lbs, of glorious, cape wearing, nerd-dom. That's right, homeboy had a cape on.

He ran to the table and looked over the selection, frustrated. Then, I saw his eyes immediately start going to everyone's hands. I knew already what he wanted. He was looking for the Spiderman comic. His eyes hit the copy dangling from my hands and then followed my arm up to my face. He approached me.

Now I learned long ago, that if a man in a cape approaches you, you try to make him as happy as possible.

"Hey, how you doing?" He says to me, sweat forming on his forehead.

"Pretty good, how you doing?" I reply, knowing what his intentions are, not wanting to easily give this guy anything without him asking.

"Hey man, can I ask you a favor? I've been to four comic book shops already looking for that Spiderman comic. Every place has been out. Is there anyway you could give that copy up? Please?"

I guess it was partly the desperation in his eye and partly just going with the spirit of the day, I handed him the comic, and made him possibly the happiest caped person of the day. I went to the table and grabbed what would've been my third choice, a Star Wars comic.

On my way through the checkout, I was also handed one of the last Green Lantern figures, and I came home like a 13 year old. Giddy and excited, I soon caught a nice high off of the smell of newsprint that carried me through the rest of the day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just Saying

I just wanted to say, doesn't today just feel like a great day to be alive?

Work has been terrible for several weeks now and its been non-stop cloudy and rainy.

Today, I've got the windows open and can hear the animals outside. The cats are happy. The weather is perfect. It just feels like a great day and I wanted to share that.

Just really makes you want to listen to a little E.L.O.