Friday, July 18, 2014

Day Zero Project #73: Finish a crossword on my own without cheating.

Finish a crossword?! How difficult can that be, right?


Crosswords are hard. At least the ones in the newspaper are. I could have cheated and bought one of those World's Easiest Crosswords books, but where's the sense of accomplishment in that?

So, like any problem, I attacked it with a plan. I knew that I probably wouldn't finish the first puzzle I started so I figured I'd just try every single puzzle in the Sunday paper every week until I finally finished one. That first Sunday I got to the puzzle and made a little progress but eventually failed.

Next Sunday. Failed again.

Next Sunday. Failed again.

Then I repeated that process for many more Sundays.

But then I learned a secret from a friend at the Cheers of coffee shops, Brew D Licious. Sunday is the toughest day of all the crosswords. I was doing the crossword puzzle equivalent of picking up a guitar for the first time and booking my first gig one day later at Madison Square Garden. I was destined to  fail.

"Try a Monday one," she said. "I think you'll find that much more to your liking."

Turns out crossword puzzles get more difficult as the week goes on, culminating with the ultra-difficult Sunday version I'd been failing at for weeks. And so I tried a Monday one.

And aced it!

A few lessons here. One, if you can't figure something out, go hang out at a coffee shop until someone shows you the answer. Two, you gotta crawl before you can walk...or finish a crossword.

And now I'm off to try my hand at the Tuesday puzzle.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Day Zero Project #84: Lose 10 lbs.

Common Internet knowledge is that if you want to get a whole bunch of hits on your blog you title your post something like "How to lose 10 pounds" or "Super Awesome Amazing Shortcut to Cut the Pounds Fast." So, if you've come to this post to look for the absolute best way to lose 10 pounds through some sort of miracle food or shortcut or something along those lines, I'm sorry.

That said, I did manage to lose more than 10 pounds (over 16 actually), but it took a pretty long time and I didn't do anything that special. My miracle advice? Eat whatever you want, but track your calories (I use LoseIt, but choose what you like).

In fairness, I have some sort of weird metabolism that allows me to lose weight just by thinking about it. But my wife does not have this same genetic defect and managed to lose weight the same way. Sure, you could probably spend a whole bunch of time eating superfoods like wheatgrass shots and kale shakes, but personally, I prefer to just eat my Funyuns and drink some 3 Daughters Beach Blonde Ale in moderation. It's just easier for me because, seriously, have you ever tried a Kale shake? Not a pleasant experience.

I wanted to try and lose an even 20 pounds but 1) Katie said that if I lose any more weight she's going to leave me and 2) I'm really bored with tracking calories. Oh well, I feel like I'm at a healthy weight and so I'll go ahead and mark this goal done.

Also, who came up with these healthy weight range charts?

I'm 5'10" and this thing is saying that my healthy weight range is 132-174. Good news is that I'm in my range (albeit on the high end). Bad news is that I could read this and think "Hey, I should really weigh in the 130s." If I weighed 132 pounds I would be grossly skinny.

Get it together Mr. Government Health Guy.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day Zero Project #46: Build a blanket for and sleep in it.

I learned something interesting over the past week. If one adult tells another adult that they have spent the entire weekend in a blanket fort the typical response is something along the lines of "That's awesome!"

I would have expected such responses as "Why?" or "That's stupid." or even "How old are you, 12?" But nope, every single adult that I know seems genuinely excited that we spent last weekend in a tiny house made out of a comforter, two sheets and a whole bunch of pillows.

And they should be. It turns out that being a grown-up in a blanket fort is just as much fun as I remember it being when I was a child.

Sure, the type of fort is totally different. For myself, blanket forts were war bunkers where G.I. Joes fought the Transformers until the little green army men swooped in and destroyed them all. For my wife, I'm sure they were hangouts where her and her best friend would talk about which boy from Party of Five was cutest.

As adults, much to my chagrin, there were no little green army men. And Katie was disappointed when she learned I have never even seen one episode of Party of Five. But that's okay. What we did have was our own little world away from the bigger, sometimes more stressful one, where we could enjoy each other's company while eating pizza and ice cream and watching movies: New Jack City because Katie's never seen any old rated R movies (and I saw too many) and Adult World because Emma Roberts and John Cusack are both the bee's knees.

And, unlike when I was a child, I didn't have to wake up with a sore back because I'd somehow fallen asleep on Optimus Prime. Instead I just woke up with a sore back because I'm old and that's how I wake up every day.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Day Zero Project #75: Attend a roller derby.

This is one of those goals from my list where I had no idea what to expect. Outside of a very basic idea that roller derby might be a bunch of people in tights going around in a circle and eventually pushing each other into alligator pits à la this crazy Roller Games show I watched as a kid.

The show was terrible. It was also the basis of all of my roller derby knowledge, which I have now learned was almost entirely false.

True, there are some people in tights (although not quite as flamboyant as on the show). And, true, they do go around in a circle. But that's where the similarities end.

I had expected some sort of theatrical violence with no real semblance of a sport, but what I got was a lesson in a new sport that is actually pretty cool once you can figure out the rules. By the end of our evening at the roller derby we both found ourselves cheering on the jammers and noticing some of the finer points of the game. And perhaps most importantly, the team that I decided to root for (the Switchblade Sisters) managed to take home the win over my wife's choice (the Black Widows).

I highly recommend checking out a match if you ever get the opportunity. If you happen to live in the Tampa, FL area, check out the Tampa Bay Roller Derby at Downtown Skate in Tampa, FL. Before you do, take a quick look at some derby rules online and it will save you a lot of Googling at the track. It was a lot of fun, but I will say that if you don't know the rules, there's a whole lot of wondering what they heck it is that you are watching.

I take horrible action pictures, so I apologize, but here's some more scenes from our night at the derby.

As you can tell from the pictures there was no sudden death over time with an alligator pit. But that's okay, the game was plenty fun without it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Day Zero Project #57: Have a picnic on the beach.

This a excerpt from my upcoming novel, "A Day In The Sun," a story of a singular, almost uneventful, day in the life of a most extraordinary seagull named Freddie "Whole Roll" Rollins.

The life of a teenage seagull is one of leisure. It was after one of these such days, one of flying through the warm skies and darting in and out of the crystal clear waters of the Gulf that Sammy arrived home to find his grandfather, Freddie "Whole Roll" Rollins sitting outside with his lifelong best friend Gully arguing over who had caught the bigger fish that time that they flew all the way down to the Keys for a little change of scenery and to escape the constant nagging of their wives about the need for a little less hanging out on the beach and a little more help around the nest. 

"Sammy, come on over here," said Gully, "Has your Gramps ever told you the story of how he got the nickname 'Whole Roll'?"

Sammy had no desire to sit through another one of these drawn out stories about nothing, but he was always taught to respect his elders, so he waddled over to the pair of old birds and settled into the sand for another wasted two hour story session.

End Excerpt.

Oh yeah, we also went to Fort Desoto.

 And had a picnic on the beach.

We ate Caprese sandwiches and honeyed grapes with walnuts.

And watched the beautiful Floridian sunset.