4.5 Hours of Supposed Willpower in Silicon Valley

So it's iPhone 5 Day, and Apple's latest shiny toy has been on sale for almost four and a half hours.

I don't have one yet.

And I don't have any plans to run out and get one today, either.


This isn't willpower, though.  I just had to go in to work, so I couldn't stand in line.  And I don't qualify for a fully subsidized price point, either, and I'm too cheap to spring for the ridiculously high full price.

But it sounds so much more impressive if I say it's willpower, doesn't it?


8-10 Minutes of Pure and Complete Terror

(Note -- humor is my coping mechanism.  I may sound flippant about the following, but in all honesty I am still very completely freaked out... it's just that I've always been determined to keep my blog whimsical and fun, since I don't like to do the whole drama thing in public.  That's why I've only been posting entries when we've done something exciting or entertaining, and will continue to do so.  I hope that this entry will be the sole exception.  Also, there might be some swear words in this entry -- not completely sure just yet, but giving this warning just in case anyone might object to panic-induced profanity.)


So Lucie and I have been hitting the track down at the Campbell Community Center a few times a week, where I walk laps and Lucie does a walk-jog combination that my knees can't handle (at least not yet.)  And that's pretty groovy -- we get some exercise, and we sweat, but again it's not so strenuous that it knocks us out or anything.

And we've both been working out with our personal trainer since the beginning of this year (I've been doing it since July of last year; Lucie started this January), and while she's been working us pretty hard every time it's never been so hard we can't handle it.

And we've both been dieting as well for about the same amount of time, and we've both lost a pretty decent amount of weight.  So that's pretty awesome, and we do make sure we get a sufficient amount of energy and liquids so we don't feel any ill effects.

Except for this last time.

We just finished up a week-long staycation, where we did a few day trips but mostly stayed at home and rested -- at least one blog entry to follow regarding one of the day trip; I haven't gotten to it yet because I'm a slacker who's still mostly on vacation time.  And, you know, this whole episode sort of got me sidetracked a bit.

Anyway, I went back to work the day after Labor Day, while Lucie took one more day off.  That evening, we had our Tuesday session with our personal trainer as usual... except it wasn't really all that normal.

At the very last part of our session, Lucie was a little winded, so she was sitting down for a quick rest talking to our trainer about jogging (our trainer -- who I shall henceforth call J -- runs, jogs, sprints, and generally does lots of cockroach-fast movement type stuff on weekends, and has been giving Lucie helpful tips since Lucie's been working up to doing the 5K run at the next Komen for the Cure event in Fresno.)  As the conversation went on, Lucie started to feel more exhausted, and her vision started to tunnel a little.  This turned into her having a little trouble breathing, which turned into her tilting to one side without realizing it, which turned into both J and me on either side of my wife, trying to help her sit back up, which turned into her being helped onto the floor, which turned into her turning a horrifying gray color and lapsing into unconsciousness while J tried to wake her up and I was running around in circles in a sheer panic, gibbering like an idiot only much less coherent or effective.

J -- who already was pretty nifty a person but who shall from now on be top-shelf awesome as far as I'm concerned -- kept her cool and had me call 911 while she kept trying to get Lucie to wake up.  Now, when it comes to my own health and safety, I am apathetic at best, and downright masochistic when I'm feeling particularly hard on myself; but it's a slightly different story when it's my wife under duress.  After this episode I will never again scoff at all of those cliché scenes in books or movies where the husband goes all goofy when his wife is in duress.  Because THAT shit got REAL, and fast.  My iPhone says that the call only lasted ten minutes, but that is so obviously a floating digit error or something because I know for a fact that what followed lasted no less than thirteen full years -- or maybe that's just how much my life was shortened.

During this time, under the seemingly calm and polite but insistent "recommendations" of both J and the nice lady on the other end of my 911 call, I gently and carefully moved out of the weight room where we were situated, so as to get better cell phone reception (possibly breaking a Raymond-shaped hole in the wall like a hapless animated coyote -- my memory is a bit hazy); proceeded in a docile manner into the reception area of the building (possibly hurling the children playing basketball out of my way like they were cabers and I was a caffeine-fueled berseker Scotsman at the highland games -- can't quite recall the specifics) where I politely requested the presence of the gentleman there to assist with J's efforts (I seem to remember grabbing some sensitive body parts to drag him, and there may have been some kicking and screaming and threats -- but that might just be vague remnants of a non-related fever dream); coolly related the verbal instructions from the 911 operator to J and the reception guy in a levelheaded manner (possibly shrieking the instructions over and over in the voice of a preteen girl, like a stuttering castrato auctioneer on crystal meth -- really, who's to say?), and kept everyone nearby calm and quiet until the paramedics arrived.

I mean, seriously... I was a freakin' rock.

Lucie had regained consciousness by the time the EMTs arrived, and I had handed my phone over to J so I could be with my wife in the cellular dead zone while J could wait for the EMTs by the front door and direct them to where we were.  Pretty sure J was panicking like a girl or something, but hey -- what can you do?  The four firemen who arrived first, and the three paramedics who showed up shortly afterwards, were to my recollection all huge manly men, at least seven feet tall and muscled like superheroes, glowing softly with a beautiful golden aura like Zeus surely must have when he came down from Olympus to hook up mere mortals with EKG pads, and with chins that thrust out proudly and in a masculine manner which would put Bruce Campbell's to shame.  They lifted her onto a gurney (I swear that I remember seeing one of the guys lifting her up with just a single finger, and spinning her like a basketball held aloft by a Harlem Globetrotter as he moonwalked over to the gurney because they were ALL SO HUGELY INCREDIBLE PEOPLE) and wheeled her out to the ambulance to drive her to Kaiser Permanente hospital.

J kept asking me if I was okay to drive over there by myself -- really, it was sort of quaint how nervous some people get in this situation -- but eventually relented and let me go, with the promise that I keep her informed.

I got into Meg, beat the ambulance to Kaiser, and eventually met back up with Lucie in the ER where she was relaxing in bed like nothing had happened.  At first the doctors were sure it was just dehydration, but due to the duration of her syncope they had some concerns about it being heart arrhythmia or something worse so they kept her overnight for observation.  My vision of the "something worse" being Mola Ram sneaking into Lucie's room all ninja-like and pulling the beating heart out of her chest did not come to pass, which was unexpected but in a good way.

Slightly dramatized...

At this point they've pretty much decided it was dehydration due to the minimal amount of food and drink Lucie had eaten that day, but they're doing a treadmill stress test and echocardiogram in a few days to completely rule out any potential cardiac issues. Until then, she's released from the hospital and back to normal, and it's just maybe potentially possibly theoretically the case that any time Lucie coughs, or changes position when she's sitting on the couch, or makes any sort of movement or noise WHATSOEVER I freak out and ask her if she's okay.  Hopefully I'm subtle about it, though, so she doesn't notice.

Lucie's biggest regret about the ordeal?  She left the black bandana she was wearing as a sweatband in the weight room when she collapsed and had to be wheeled out on the stretcher, and she thinks she might have lost it.  She *liked* that bandana.


I'm hoping I don't wet myself when I have that heart attack.


The Pho-1-1 on Where to Get Your Soup On

So we've been appreciating Vietnamese food lately -- I've got a Vietnamese coworker who has made us some tasty fresh rolls and bun bo hue (spicy beef soup), and there are some decent places that are within walking distance from our apartment so we can get some exercise walking to get some healthy food when we're in the mood.

Lucie is a fan of either the pho or the egg noodle soup, depending on where we go, and I can dig just about anything, so we thought it might be fun to write about the Vietnamese restaurants we visit most often.  And with as much as we're enjoying this type of fare, who knows -- this might just be a recurring blog theme.

The first place we started to visit was Tung Kee (possibly also known as TK Noodle, or maybe King Noodle; seriously, those joints seem to change names more than San Jose expressways do.)  They're not really known for their pho, which is fine -- we didn't really know what we were missing when we ate there anyway.  Their chow fun is good, though, and I'm just a big fan of their egg flour cake, so we did enjoy eating there... and their Vietnamese ice milk coffee is mighty tasty, so there's always that going for them.

The soup isn't actually bad, just... not exactly remarkable.  Sort of like McDonald's hamburgers, if you're a burger person.  And yes, that's a comparison made by a very, very Asian-food-ignorant white person, so please take that into consideration.  They have small pieces of crunchy pork fat in the soup, which I find tasty but which irritate Lucie's throat when they catch her unawares.

But we wanted something better than that, so we stepped up one rung on the fatter ladder and tried out Pho Hoa.  Their pho is decidedly better -- it's in their name, so they've gotta be decent; they're like the Smucker's of Asian restaurants (and yes, that's a simile made by a very, very Asian-food-ignorant white person, so please take that into consideration) -- with a good ginger flavor in the broth and some decent egg rolls.  Their soup sizes are impressive, and most of their locations are open way late so it suits our night owl tendencies pretty well.

However, they're also a restaurant chain, like Tung Kee TK King Noodle, and therefore not exactly a provider of what most Vietnamese would call "authentic" Vietnamese food... sort of like Denny's offers a steak dinner, but it's nothing like what you can find at a good steakhouse in the Midwest or New York.  And, sorry, but please understand that that's a comparison made by a very, very Asian-food-ignorant white person, so please take that into consideration.

Enter Khanh's, on Winchester Boulevard across from Santana Row; only like 10 minutes walking distance from our apartment and also open relatively late so we can walk there after work if we're in the mood.  These folks have Lucie's favorite egg noodle wonton soup, as well as having some satisfyingly spicy chicken curry or a nice crisp Saigon crepe when I'm in the mood.  Their fresh roll appetizer is also one of our favorites, with the peanut sauce a very velvety consistency and worthwhile savory accompaniment.

And for the piece of resistance (or, "pièce de résistance -- I surrender!"), their desserts are fantastic.  Petite, elegant, not-too-sweet works of art whose delicate flavors perfectly cap the subtlety of flavors usually found in Vietnamese cuisine (fish sauce notwithstanding), they make you feel extravagant having one while knowing that even indulging in three of these babies would still net you less than 10% of the calories in anything you'd find at the Cheesecake Factory.  Like every other restaurant we've tried on this list, they also make a mean ice milk coffee that goes well with the desserts -- just order it ahead of time to let it steep.  I always forget until we order dessert, and I end up poking and prodding at the tiny little French press, trying to get the drink ready to drink faster.

In early March, another Vietnamese joint opened up almost right across the street from us, so we made a point of going there as well.  While Khanh's is a single location, Pho 24 is along the lines of Pho Hoa or Tung Kee, i.e., another link in a restaurant chain.  Their food is decent for the most part -- we bought our first Saigon crepe there and found it awesome, though the meatballs in the pho are quite inconsistent in their texture -- but at least in our experience the service is lacking.  We've been there five times by my count, and had an issue ranging from quirky to downright irritating every time... from forgetting items we ordered to go; to bringing the appetizers, main course, and bill to our table almost all at the same time; to adding tendon to Lucie's pho when she didn't order it, which made the soup less than appetizing for her.  As far as pho goes, they're not bad, and they've got some cheap prices; but in this case I feel you really do get what you pay for.  Unfortunately, these guys also failed pretty badly on my ice milk coffee -- mine tasted like it was made with evaporated milk instead of the sweetened condensed milk that gives Vietnamese coffee part of its huge kick to the taste buds.

To be fair, we haven't been back here since early May, though, so maybe they've ironed out the kinks.  If we give them another chance and they've improved I'll definitely update this blog as well as my review on Yelp.

Our latest find is Pho Wagon, on Meridian Avenue near the main post office.  We'd seen the restaurant a few times before, when we were making a trip to the post office to pick up a shipment of coffee or some shoes ordered online, but hadn't bothered to try it out.  Not really sure why -- maybe it was that we were always in a hurry to get someplace, possibly it was that we were already happy with Khanh's and didn't at that time feel the need to branch out, mayhap it was the prevailing opinion that "pho wagon" sounds more like a food truck than a brick and mortar building... but after being disappointed with Pho 24 and wanting to try something different, we read some reviews of this place on Yelp and decided to give it a try.

...And for the most part, we're definitely happy we did.  The service is welcoming and friendly, but a little bit lax in their attentiveness -- they say they offer free refills on their iced tea, but neither of us has ever actually gotten a refill, whereas Khanh's must have like three guys <I>just</I> on beverage refill duties, since they're fully on the ball when it comes to unobtrusive yet fantastic service -- but without a doubt Pho Wagon wins it in the pho department for the places we frequent.  The broth is light and not oily at all, the noodles are plentiful and have a good mouth feel when you're sucking them down, and the ingredients have never been anything less than top notch.  Their egg noodle wonton soup isn't as good as Khanh's, but their fresh rolls are up there with our favorites, their desserts (banana cake and a densely sweet coconut ice cream with fried banana) are the second best as far as taste and value, and their pho is the best we've had so far.

(This is not pho related, but we've also been to Dakao Sandwich Two in Milpitas -- haven't had the soup there yet, but they make a superb barbecue pork banh mi.  Very affordable, fresh and crunchy bread, and a surprisingly large amount of meat stuffed into a nicely satisfying lunch option.  If you're more in the mood for a sandwich than soup, we both highly recommend these guys.)

To date, these are the only places Lucie and I have both tried that offer Vietnamese food (other than my Vietnamese co-worker's house -- she does make some groovy fresh rolls and the best bun bo hue I've had yet, but I wouldn't count her kitchen among the places to stop by unless you're cleared ahead of time; she tends to hit people.)  I've been to a few other places that Lucie hasn't -- yet -- but she's game to try them out as well, so expect an update or two as we expand our pho adventure.

Current ranking:
Fresh rolls: Khanh's
Pho: Pho Wagon
Egg noodle wonton soup: Khanh's
Banh mi: Dakao Sandwich Two
Desserts: Khanh's
Service: Khanh's


100 Pounds. Yep.

So in the slightly less than one year since I started my efforts to actually take care of myself, I have officially dropped a full 100 pounds as of this morning.

I think Lucie and I are going to mark this occasion by walking over to The Breakfast Place and having a celebratory horkfest... their bacon waffles and the Monte Cristo are particularly yummy.


Coming tomorrow: "96 Pounds and Counting..."


10,000 Steps for Some Kid in Bolivia

It's no surprise to anybody that knows me that I'm kind of a techogeek. And it's also not too much of a surprise to those same people that I tend to buy cool toys -- err, tools, sorry -- that can feed my geek while also helping fulfill other needs. And while it's also possible -- some may say probable -- that I make up some of those needs just so I can justify buying a new toy -- er, tool, dang it -- there are some times where the need is real. Or at least real enough to actually warrant buying said tool. Er, toy. No, TOOL. Crap.

At any rate, this brings me to my latest tech gadget, my Striiv pedometer. Lucie and I each got one with our tax return this year, and it's been really helping out our desires to become more physically active. It's a smart pedometer that tracks your steps, stairs climbed (technically, equivalent stairs which it also means it counts uphill walks), minutes of activity, and distance walked; and encourages you to increase all of those with a nice combination of physical activity challenges, a Farmville-addictive game, and even a karma boosting pro-social benefit. All told, it's one of the better ways I can think of to spend money if you're in the market for a small piece of highly mobile exercise equipment.

Let's start with the game. MyLand gives you a cute little island where you can build either vegetation or buildings, which earn you gold and potentially attract woodland critters who wander around your property. The hook is, you buy the tree or bush or vineyard or hut with the gold you harvest, but you grow the flowers or topiary or statue or parthenon with energy points, which you can only earn by exercising. Which means, if you want to attract that golden lemur by building the Lemur Treehouse, you'll need to spend 175,000 gold to plant it, which you can get just by being patient and harvesting gold; but you then need to exercise for several hours before you get enough energy points to fully grow it. Oooh, sneaky.

Energy points can be gained organically with just your normal movement through the day -- take more than 500 steps, get 1,000 energy; beat your average number of stairs in a day, gain 2,500 energy -- or with challenges the Striiv gives you, or when you choose to have a challenge offered to you. The latest software upgrade has also added a social element, where you can challenge a nearby friend (or Striiv-created character) to a race to win even more points.

Say I'm sitting on the couch at home watching TV (not exactly an uncommon occurrence.) During a commercial break I check out my Striiv, and I see a challenge: "take 25 stairs in the next 10 minutes." That's just two trips up and down the stairway in our apartment, and I can get 6,000 energy points for it? Heck yeah! So I get off the couch and exercise for a minute or two before the show comes back on, instead of just sitting there like a lump. Go me!

(Of course, the argument could be made that it would be even better if I were to be exercising the entire time instead of sitting there watching TV, but I would also suggest that the people who might make that argument kindly shut up, since they're probably talking during the show I'm trying to watch. My efforts at healthy living do not include giving up episodes of Grimm.)

However, if games aren't your thing, but you still want some sort of feel-good reward for exercising, there's the donations you can make. Striiv has teamed up with GlobalGiving to offer three different ways you can donate with their Walkathon widget: For every 10,000 steps you can conserve a parking space sized area of Tanzanian rain forest; or for 25,000 steps you can provide one immunization shot against childhood polio; or for 10,000 steps you can provide one day's worth of clean drinking water to a child in South America. Not only can I get healthy by exercising, but I can maintain my karmic neutrality the next time I cut in front of an ambulance when it's making all that noise. Yay for being a good person!

And if you don't like playing games, and don't care about helping out your fellow man, you can always feed that internal apathetic sociopathic weirdo by challenging people to races to prove your superiority and physical dominance. The Striiv has a social widget where you can challenge nearby friends with their own Striiv to a race; or if you've pushed away all of your friends by your aggressive behavior and outspoken disdain for polio victims, you can square off against several AI challengers that the Striiv provides. And one of the AI characters is named Sir Bacon, who's so darn cute I could just eat him up (after killing, gutting, cleaning, slicing, curing, smoking, and then pan frying him, of course), so bonus.

Simply challenge Waddles, Sir Bacon or the Walkatron to a 1,000-step race, win (or forfeit the 500 energy it costs to challenge), and spend all those valuable energy points fully building that Acropolis of Heroes.

And then maybe lose that aggressive sociopathic vibe you got going there, 'cause you're kind of starting to scare me.


1 Midlife Crisis, Geek Style

So I just turned 41. I don't have the answer to life, the universe, or really much of anything (Douglas Adams says that’s not supposed to come until next year)... but I do have an awesome wife who is willing to feed my geek (and also geek out at how we feed, which comes into play in a bit.) Combine this with the fact that I've collected a bunch of rewards points at my job -- which they give in lieu of actual bonus checks -- and the end result is that within the last few weeks I've picked up an Xbox 360 with the Kinect accessory, the new iPad, and a slew of digital media; participated in a public art project; and invited our families and friends out to a full cowload of barbecue.

First off, I pick up the Xbox for a few different reasons... first, because I'm a geek. Also, I end up playing games with my nephew whenever we go to Fresno, and I'm sick of getting my butt handed to me when we challenge each other, and the only way I can get reasonably competent is to practice more than once every month or two, which means getting one for myself. Plus, even though I'm doing well with my weight loss -- almost 90 pounds down now, thankyouVERYmuch -- I'm still too fat to be able to use the Wii Fit balance board. Ouch. I can, however, use the Kinect; so I get The Biggest Loser game for the Kinect to help with my exercise and technogeeky regimens.

Plus, hey... Rage. All the best of a post-apocalyptic first person shooter combined with the fun of vehicular combat. You can go from cleaning out mutant-filled sewers with your trusty shotgun to cruising through a canyon taking out dune buggies with your car-mounted missile launcher -- what else could a guy want?!

So I cash in a bunch of my rewards points to get Best Buy gift cards and use them to get some console goodness. Added bonus: I get Best Buy rewards points for buying the Xbox, so I should be getting a gift certificate from them in the near future. Woo-hoo! XBL gamer tag: Silverfist 71, yo.

As for the iPad... You can pretty much just read my previous entry about the iPad 2 to know exactly what happens here: Step 1: Resist the urge to pre-order. Step 2: Keep repeating the mantra of “I have willpower! I have willpower!” Step 3: Relax on opening day, content in the knowledge that I do, in fact, have willpower and that I’m not some loser standing in line like a sheep, waiting to buy the newest shiny Apple product. Step 4: Actually read a review of the newest shiny Apple product and/or see one in person. Step 5: Willpower crumbles like the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, and I run out and buy one as soon as I possibly can.

But in my defense… this thing is TOTALLY new and shiny! Just read some of the reviews!




And, of course, to go along with my new tech I have to get games, right? What good is a game console or ultra-high definition screen without something to go with it? So I also pick up a bunch of games for the Xbox (which kind of ruins that whole “not having to spend money on an Xbox because I’m using reward points” concept) and buy new (and upgrade current) apps for the new iPad with better graphics (which includes Angry Birds Space because I’m a sucker for a gimmick [which I believe might have been mentioned before…]) and I even grab Game of Thrones on Blu-Ray for those times I may want to enjoy some wholesome entertainment instead of something violent like a video game.

So I successfully feed my inner geek's needs. And in lieu of getting a sports car or getting a hair weave, I decide to help the middle age part of myself feel younger by taking up art.

Or, more appropriately, I do the minimum possible to participate in an art project by submitting my workplace coffee mug to the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art’s online portion of their exhibit The Office, so just like a supermodel I now have my mug posted online. I feel younger and more hip already! Except that I just used the word “hip” to denote coolness, which shows just how old I am. Crap.

Luckily, there's one more way to feel good about getting older, and that's treating my family and friends to a big greasy meal and saying to heck with my diet for a day. We decide on meeting between Fresno and the Bay Area, at Hot City Barbecue in Los Baños. We love these guys -- I've talked about them before, on more than one occasion -- and they dig us as well. The owners know us by name, they've told us before that if we call them when we're on our way down they'll stay open late for us if we want to eat dinner on the way to Fresno, and even their staff recognizes us and knows our usual orders.

We ask Hot City if we can do this, they agree, we have fun with RSVPs, almost everyone who responded in the positive shows up, and a beefy, porky, chickeny time is had by all. Hot City is ecstatic about the extra business, we're happy because we're able to get more people trying out their food, and everyone with whom I spoke had good reviews for the food itself. Woo-hoo, yum, and burp.

So that's it... I'm officially a year older by the calendar's reckoning; I still feel a lot older than I actually am because of my weight and stress from work; and I still act a whole lot younger than I actually am. By my math, this averages out to be even. So there you have it; a middle aged geek, getting my tech on.

Next year, I want a Segway.


1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward

So, the good news -- over the last two weeks, I've lost a total of two pounds. This is progress.

However, it's not all that impressive when you consider that this week I managed to lose a little over 5 pounds, which means that last week was not exactly helping me reach my weight loss goals. Maybe it was one of the managers at work wanting to thank me for working overtime two Sundays in a row by taking me to an Indian buffet for lunch, where a spicy, heady combination of deep fried carbs and lamb sucker-punched both my colon and my calorie count; maybe it was taking one of my coworkers to The Hukilau for lunch, where I gave in to temptation and had a loco moco, which is that wonderful meal consisting of two fried eggs on top of two hamburger patties, which are in turn on top of steamed white rice, with brown gravy smothering the whole lot, and with macaroni salad on the side; maybe it was when we went to Effie's for dinner after work one day, and a slice of cheesecake that must have weighed over a pound accidentally fell into my mouth after my dinner of pasta and cream sauce; however, my belief is that I still managed to lose weight anyway, and that my scale somehow got messed up. All three times I weighed myself, to make sure there wasn't a hardware malfunction, although in retrospect there certainly must have been.

It could happen.

Anyway, after I got the unfortunate reading we did our best to get back into the healthy eating frame of mind, which is all just a really long-winded way of getting to my main point, which is: we had a really good dinner at the Fish Market.

We've been meaning to increase the amount of fish on our diet anyway, since many types of fish are high in omega-3 acids and relatively low in fat and calories, and because people say it's healthy and stuff. Or something. It's also entirely possible I harbor some deep resentment toward Nemo, but I don't want to go there.

Anyway, Fish Market. After a shorter-than-expected wait in the crowded lobby, we get seated and try out an appetizer that Lucie had read about, a Fireball -- this is a sushi roll of sorts, with a mushroom cap stuffed with spicy tuna, then covered in tempura and fried golden brown. It tastes as good as it sounds. We also get the ahi poke, which is heavier on the sesame flavor than what I'm used to with poke but also downright delicious. It comes with fried wonton strips, and served over limu (seaweed) salad, slightly tangy and vinegary and very subtly sweet, and something which I learned to appreciate from our trips to Hawai'i.

Just about the time we finish our appetizers, our main dishes arrive. Lucie goes with the mesquite grilled salmon, with sautéed veggies. I choose something that one of my fellow foodie coworkers has suggested, the seafood salad with avocado -- it's a large bed of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, hard boiled egg, haricot vert, what looks like an entire sliced avocado, dressed very lightly in a basil vinaigrette, and with your seafood of choice in the center -- in my case, crab.

There's a lot of crab, too -- easily half a pound, probably more, with many jumbo lump pieces scattered throughout. Sweet, fresh in flavor, and the perfect accompaniment to the salad, it takes that was already a good salad and raises it up to "one of the better salads I've had" status, only a little below the 13 Dolla' Salad from Wok Star on Maui (both in economic value and awesome tastiness.)

It's such a good salad, in fact, that we both decide that later this year, once it's warm and we're in the mood for a nice cool salad for dinner, we're coming back and having it again. I might opt for the lobster instead of the crab -- they also offer shrimp or tuna variants -- but that seems a bit extravagant for a salad. Delicious, certainly, but extravagant.

And we all know just how freakin' low-key and humble I am.


1 Big Fat Whiny Dude, at Lunch

So as I sit here, eating my black bean gardenburger with sauteed mushrooms and sugar-free NOS energy drink, unable to lift my arms above shoulder height without pain because Lucie and I had one of our sessions with our personal trainer last night, I totally appreciate the fact that because of this freakin' diet and because of the weekly sessions with the perky and athletic and far too happy twentysomething chick who tries to kill us with exercise, that since I've started my diet I've lost 70 pounds and 8 inches of waistline.

This, in spite of gaining ten pounds on our Hawaiian vacation -- thanks in no small part to those sugary tropical drinks at sunset -- and basically plateauing during the Thanksgiving and Christmas shutdowns where I sat around all day instead of working; so all things considered, I'm totally stoked at the progress.  Heck, even without those things taken into consideration it's still pretty impressive.

So, groovy.

But, as I sit here, eating my black bean gardenburger with sauteed mushrooms and sugar-free NOS energy drink, unable to lift my arms above shoulder height without pain because Lucie and I had one of our sessions with our personal trainer last night, I SO totally want a cheeseburger.  I'm talking a huge, greasy, red meat bonanza; a half pound, minimum, of ground cow on toasted bun; a cholesterol-laden unhealthy monster patty made of 100% beef and 98% yum, smothered in melted cheese that's a color not found in nature.

I want Five Guys.  I want The Counter.  I want St. John's.  Heck, I even want Red Robin.

Dieting is worth it, they say.

Well, THEY can suck it.  Gimme a cheeseburger.