Friday, February 26, 2010

Dirty Laundry

There’ve been some articles recently about personal cleaning habits from around the world. Either the news has been slow or there’s something going on from where we need to have our attention diverted. (no, I’m not paranoid, they really ARE out to get me!)

Here’s a recent headline on MSN “7 US Cities with the worst body odor.” In all honesty, who cares (unless you’re planning a trip, then…). I had even noticed a couple weeks ago that during my daily lunchtime walks, there seemed to be an increase in noticing others. I just attributed it to a recent spate of very warm and humid weather, nothing to write about (until now).

But what really got me to make this entry was a woman who commented yesterday on what nice sheets I have. She’s one of the two horny sisters and it did give me a laugh. Ok, maybe I’d better explain as that didn’t sound quite right.

Two lovely women (sisters Loraine and Diane) had just bought the Laundromat near my flat when I first moved in. They are both single, living off of retirement, taking care of their aged mother and were really not making enough to survive well so they invested in the corner Laundromat. I call them the two horny sisters more as a joke on the local guys who come in with only a couple of items calling it a load (it’s a load all right) and chat up these women while their laundry is washed. There’s a table to sit at while you wait, coffee, books, magazines, etc. so it really is kind of a little social centre for all these guys sniffing around.

Diane’s comment about my sheets was really how nice it was that I bring them in so often, certainly much more than what she’d read recently. Apparently some guys think once a year is just fine (then what? Burn them and buy more, preferably used sheets?) I first became aware of this when reading what I consider the best blog I’ve found, Friggin’ Loon. Her comments are located and the referenced articles are enough to make you want to wash up. Friggin’ Loon mentions that you should wash your sheets once a week and I felt badly about that. I mean, unless it’s hot and humid during the nights, there really isn’t much point in going that crazy…I think! Don’t worry, I do wash the sheets on the guest beds after every visit so WHEN you come down under, you can crawl into a nice comfy bed with fresh sheets. Just don’t expect a mint on the pillow (unless you ask).

The Fat Farm Part Deux – Day of Reckoning

Saturday, my first visit to Beaton Park Fitness Centre

I actually made it, finally. I stayed for over an hour, most of which I was actually working out. Half hour on a recumbent spin bike, keeping my heart rate up to the cardio limit and burning a whopping 75 calories?! WTF? What is that, like 3 cheese puffs? That’s like a half very light beer!

So with that bit of discouragement, I went over to some weight machines that are manufactured by the Marquis de Sade apparently. Remembering what Carly told me when she worked at the Island Fitness Center (parents got to go for free, and I took advantage of that…about 4 times) 3 sets of 15 is about what you want to do. So, merrily I set the weight for something manly and off I went, unexpectedly down the path to develop not big, meaty biceps and legs with rippling, sinewy muscles, but my jolly fat immediately turned to lead. I almost had to lift an arm up to the keyboard to type this, what may be my last message.

I read slowly because I’m always inventing voices for characters, sound effects and often background music scores. In this case, I’m hearing the Darth Vader’s theme, “Done done done done, that poor fat slob is done. Done done done, get a fork ‘cuz he’s done.” I could go on if I wasn’t busy dying!

I’m signing off with a heavy (leaden) heart. If I recover and can actually make it out of bed tomorrow, I guess I’ll do it again.

Your B.I.T.C.H. (Body In Training for Cardio Health), Crikey Craig.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Fat Farm

My closest friends and relatives have been hearing this same old chestnut for a few months, “I’m going to get on the stick and start exercising!” There must be a better way to phrase this. But I bought gym shorts, New Balance shoes, gym socks, a towel (to protect the gym equipment from my body instead of using a spray to wipe down after use) and even an incredibly cheap gym bag to throw all this junk into as I head down to the Beaton Park Fitness Centre.

This place looks like was originally a high school with a gym large enough for 3 basketball courts, an outside track and a large indoor swimming pool. There are also several other rooms for free weights, machines, spin bikes and floor exercise. The weird thing is a hot tub is located between the dressing rooms with a window to the hallway, across from the daycare area. I guess they want to scare the kids into fitness by witnessing beluga-like creatures frolicking among the waves and froth of the Jacuzzi.

The fitness centre (operated by the local city council) has a double sided application form that required a doctor’s signature since I am over 35 (45 for women) and don’t participate in rigorous exercise regularly. Odd. I guess the lawyers and insurance companies are as bad here as they are back home. The doctor laughed when I asked him to sign it. He apparently had done several in the past and told me, “Hey! If you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die!’ Such a comforting bedside manner.

So with that taken care of today, I will see if I can get hooked into going to the fitness centre on a regular basis again. I did that several years (decades) ago at the time I met Holly and for a variety of reasons, stopped going. My weight gain really took off while in Japan. I discovered that they make beer deliveries! We’d walk by the little hole in the wall shop and the workers would certainly recognize our Western faces and yell out. I’d hold up one finger (no, not THAT one) and about 10 minutes after I arrived back at the school where we lived, a delivery of a case of quarts (or whatever is the metric equivalent) would show up nice and cold and all too ready to drink. By the time I’d left the land of wa, I was rivaling Holly who had become pregnant with Nick!

In spite of now living here in the Second Fattest Country in the World! I do want to try and fit in (yeah, my pants, too) with the locals. You see, Australia is a far and distant second to the US. You can always tell when factory reps and sales people call on the office that they’re from the US by the sheer size. I understand that being on the road doesn’t allow you to eat healthfully and often evenings are spent at the bar, but most of my fellow workers will look these behemoths up and down, then look at me and quietly go back to work with a strange look on their faces. Probably a cross between pity and relief that they’re not in the same (sinking) boat.

Nick is 24 now and I’ve been fat since shortly after his conception, so this is going to be tough but I’m really going to try and get hooked again on the gym. I’ve even started eating a bit better but just like any past attempt to diet, I’d start buying food that wasn’t all that good and lots of it. Instead, this time I’ve found myself making the Australian adjustment by buying lots of booze. I have a bottle of almost every kind of spirit and I usually don’t drink the hard stuff. I mean, sure a gin and tonic when its warm (it’s almost always warm here, though) or a rum and coke with a slice of lime to liven it up, or maybe a sip or three of some Jameson, but really I don’t usually drink more and beer and/or wine usually. And I do usually drink. I guess I’ll have to…you know…cut down a little bit. Actually in the past, when I would only stop drinking beer, I’d begin to lose weight. At my age now, I don’t expect that to happen, but stranger things have happened and the thought of not drinking beer does seem strange to me, especially in Oz! Well, maybe only on Fridays with Mark, and only in the evenings, and….(joke).

When Holly and I went to Italy in 2003, some of my friends asked me how the Italian woman looked. I told them they had 3 looks. First, they looked at my face, then they looked at my gut, then they looked away. I do notice some people here in Oz do the same thing.

Hopefully by the time I make a return visit in August, I’ll appear a little slimmer than I am now. Notice no pictures, you can thank me later for that. I don’t really want any before pictures but if you want to visualize an after picture, Google “Tony Abbot Speedo” and that should answer any questions as to why I won’t do pictures. Imagine our President in a Speedo and that is similar to Tony Abbot as far as fitness and as a public entity. Actually Abbot only wishes he was Premier.

Wish me luck. I’m hoping to lose at least 25 kg. Carly has been working out with a friend who's in a Nutrition program at university and is an inspiration!

I’m already Australia’s biggest loser as I’m living here without Holly (and the kids) but hopefully that will change in the near future, at least as far as Holly is concerned.

This is Pork Chop, signing off.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Driving in Oz

I’ve had a car for about 8 months now and feel somewhat confident in my driving on the wrong side of the road instead of what we in the US and MOST OF THE REST OF THE WORLD call the RIGHT side of the road. The above picture shows the right side drivers in Red and 'others' in Blue. See how other countries have adapted to the ‘right’ way: Of course, Aussies refer to themselves as driving on the ‘proper’ side of the road. Some passengers, pedestrians and other drivers may disagree with me that I’ve adapted all right, but I just hope they live by creed, Be Quick or Be Dead.

New South Wales actually has a very good system I think for new drivers. Even I can’t even apply for a driver’s license until I’ve been living here for 6 months. Apparently, that’s to ensure that I’ve adapted to traffic being backwards and that I’ve survived crossing the road during my adjustment. Adding to that excitement, Aussies do not stop for pedestrians unless (usually) you’re in a crosswalk. Here, pavement is for cars, period! When I told a co-worker that in the US you’re supposed to stop when you see someone standing on the corner of an uncontrolled intersection, his head shook and his eyes about popped out of his head! He’d never heard of such rubbish in his life and he’s older than I am!

NSW’s RTA (Road and Transportation Authority) which is a combination of our DMV, DOT and assorted government agencies, has 3 designations for beginners, “L”, Red “P” and Green “P”. “P” platers as they’re affectionately known cause more accidents than any other group, naturally because they’re usually young and drunk. The drinking age is 18 and lately, there’ve been rumblings about changing that to 21 (must be an election year). This is going on at the time the US is considering lowering it to 19, which I think is a fair compromise since technically, we can send 18 year olds to their deaths in war, but don’t let them drink!

Anyway, “L” = Learner and “P” = Probationary Driver. Red for the first 6 months and green for the next 2 years! To get an “L” license, you have to be 16 and keep a log book, recording a minimum of 120 hours of driving with a licensed driver! A red “P” plater has to pass all the stuff while an “L” plater including a driving test, and he gets to go a maximum of 90 kmh! That’s 10 more than when they were “L” platers! You are also restricted to only 1 passenger under 21 between 11pm and 5am. A green “P” plater is for 2 years minimum before they can apply for a full driver’s license. All restricted licensees have 0.00% alcohol limits and can’t drive high performance cars, even 8 cylinder cars! here’s the link in case you’re interested in the details.

The reason I’m boring you with all this detail is to suggest that the State of Washington, among other in the US, may want to take a look as some of these ideas/restrictions might be useful in creating better drivers with less carnage. Another thing the RTA does here is require vehicle inspections every year for cars over 3 years old. It is a very comprehensive inspection where goofy things such as worn windshield (or wind screen, here) wiper blades, seat belts that don’t fully retract or even if the ignition key can be removed while the system is on, requires fixing before the annual “rego” (registration or license) can be paid. Even rust spots can disqualify a car from rego and there are specialists who work on rust in order to pass inspection. The result of this is that there are much better and safer cars on the roads, but also you can be assured that if the car has time left on it’s rego, it’s probably in pretty good shape.

My Dream Machine is a 1996 Holden Commodore (think similar to a Chevy Impala) that I call my Hoon Wagon. A Hoon is a loudish, boorish type-lout that is often used to describe morons who drive like…well, morons. Those particular Commodores tend to attract Hoons and I’m proud to say, is the most commonly stolen car in NSW. In fact, there’s a sticker on it that says, “Drive It Like You Stole It!”

The headliner is falling down and in spite of spraying glue up there, continues to fall so every time I get in, I rub it to try and make it stick a little bit longer. My guests have always thought I just loved my car in an odd and strange way until I explain I’m not a pervert, I’m just trying to get the damned liner off my head.

If and when Holly does come down under to join me, now estimated to be June 2011, I think we’ll go out and buy a new car that she’ll enjoy driving. I probably should wait 6 months like RTA does and let her get used to the ‘proper’ side of the road in my Hoon Wagon before driving a new car.

Until then, I’ll be driving and signing to Bob Marley’s Jammin

I’m Hoonin
I’m Hoonin
I’m Hoonin’ like never before,
I’m Hoonin’ on the left cuz they don’t drive on the right.
I’m Hoonin and I don’t mean Chinese….

Maybe it’ll sound better after a couple beers. No! Unfortunately, that's not my car pictured.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The End of an Era

The End of an Era

Thanks to the introduction by neighbour Mark, I’ve had the pleasure of spending every possible Thursday and Friday nights at the Charles, enjoying being served (drinks) by lovely young women. Lingerie Night was one of the highlights of the week for me and the regulars at the Charles, but alas they say all good things must come to an end and in this case, that old chestnut proved true.

The guy who owned the Charles as well as several other assorted (not sorted necessarily) businesses seemed to owe much more than he was worth so went into receivership. The Charles was sold to a group who owns a couple other local Pubs (and probably much more) North Wollongong Pub and the recently renovated Cooney’s Pub now known as the Grand Hotel. By the way, here in NSW most pubs are called Hotels, even the Charles Hotel, as they do provide rooms for those patrons who just can’t make it home. In reality, at least in the case of the Charles, all their rooms are rented out on a permanent basis since they don’t want to bother with the actual running of a hotel and the high cost of maintaining the rooms to a hotel standard. The rent is very cheap with most places probably costing $40 – $50 per night at other hotels, so it is often a good way to go if you don’t plan things out to the second when you travel.

But enough digression, the new owners took over last Friday and that was the end of the titty girls as they are affectionately called, even by the female bar staff at the Charles. I was reprimanded by referring to their breasts as boobs since a boob is an idiot and apparently I made pretty good representation of that. The ‘girls’ work a 4 hour shift, the first half with a complete set of lingerie and the second half with only half of the lingerie. They’re contracted through and the rumour is the Pub pays $400 per shift per girl who gets about half of that fee plus tips so she probably doubles her money. Not bad except most of them commute from Sydney, an hour and a half away.

The girls are actually usually very nice, working to make money for school and quite a few enjoying the attention. We (at the table I usually sit at with the regulars) are very respectful to them as are most people and the girls really seem to have regarded the Charles as one of the better places to work, I think.

One girl had never done this before and it was her first night. She was terribly frightened by the attention and very self conscious. I reassured her that she certainly was safe among all of us toothless old dogs, that we really did respect her and that we pretty much regarded all the girls as lovely and an enjoyable thing to view who happened to serve us coldies. Much as you’d enjoy watching a beautiful sunset or enjoy a mountain view, she added to our enjoyment and it was appreciated. I think it helped her as she became much more relaxed throughout the evening and in talking with others, found out that what I said was pretty much true, that she was appreciated and respected.

The pictures above are some of the ones that I can show you although I do have others which are just fine really. About half the girls will allow pictures being taken with them and most don’t want to ‘show anything’ which I tell them it just fine. It was a lot of fun but now it’s over. I guess I’ll just have to work out my frustrations at the Fitness Centre I’ve been threatening to join for a few months. I could go to another Pub down the rail line where these girls also work, but it just wouldn’t be the same without the old gang of Allen, Bi Jo, Steve (Niko) with Banker pictured, and the rest. It really is the end of a fun era and provided me a glimpse into the Aussie way of living.