Friday, 28 August 2015

2 Months - 5 Pounds

I mentioned back in June that I was starting the Curves Diet again. I hope that combining that with spinning will help me lose weight. It is working, but an an insanely slow pace!

At the end of June I bought a fancy scale that could measure body fat and muscle mass as well as weight. I think it could also tell me my BMI but I find that BMI is a problematic measurement, since it is completely tied to weight. Muscle weighs more than fat, it is much better to have muscles and less fat, just looking at weight is missing some key results of the difficult lifestyle changes I am making. I much prefer to monitor my body fat percentage and try to lower that number, while also watching my muscle mass percentage, trying to raise that one.

So, in the two months (June 26 to August 28) that I have had the scale and been tracking (each Friday morning) my body's reaction to eating healthier and exercising more I have noted the following changes:

Lost 5 pounds
Lost 1.5% body fat
Gained 0.5% muscle mass

The time period includes my trip with Teri for two weeks along the west coast of the USA. The numbers are moving in the right direction but it is not going as quickly as I would like.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A-cute Angle

-----------from Facebook (found by Jenn)

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Travel Diary - Saturday August 8, 2015

Date: Saturday August 8, 2015
Theme/Title: It's All Over
Overview: The San Diego Airport is right near downtown. It took no time at all to drive over there in the morning. We returned the rental car only to find out that the company charged us to add extra drivers (Jason and Greg) when they had previously said that they wouldn't. Teri went to get it corrected and was successful. We hung out in the airport waiting for our flight, I found a Starbucks to have a smoothie for breakfast. Had a direct flight back from San Diego to Toronto with no issues. Went through customs with  60 pashminas bought in San Francisco Chinatown for Jason and my wedding without a problem. Jason picked us up at the airport and drove us downtown for dinner at Greg's pop-up restaurant.
Meals: Amazing food at the August weekend pop-up for the restaurant concept Greg and his friend are working on - Satay Street is going to be a hit!
Highlight of the Day: Finding out we put 2,144 miles (3,500 km) on the rental car!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Travel Diary - Friday August 7, 2015

Date: Friday August 7, 2015
Theme/Title: California Girls
Overview: I woke up early to go to a free yoga class offered at the hotel - there were just two of us and it was very enjoyable. We had breakfast at the healthy cafe next to the hotel. Teri and I drove to La Jolla for a kayaking tour we had booked online. It had been cheaper to get a double kayak instead of two individual ones, so Teri and I shared. I was in the back 'steering' since I am heaver. Our tour featured the 7 Caves and the guides were amazing, we learnt a lot about the local culture, history, geology, and marine life. We even saw Dr. Seuss' house. The kayaks fit in the last of the seven caves and the guides took us in a few at a time. There were so many sea lions!! They were jumping in and out of the water, rolling around, playing everywhere, even really close to people swimming and snorkeling nearby - we were so close I was scared of accidentally hitting one with my paddle. Unlike elephant seals, the California Sea Lion is small and super cute. On our way back to shore, Ter and I tipped in the shallows from the waves. Besides getting ourselves soaked, Teri's SLR also got wet but luckily the case kept it dry enough. Ter and I had both assumed that the kayaks would be the covered type but they were not. I got a terrible burn on my shins since I skipped the sunscreen there, assuming my legs would be tucked under plastic. After the tour we spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the beach. Teri helped me with math problems from my GMAT book and we read - it was so sunny, warm, and beautiful. In the early evening we drove for a bit around the shoreline looking for seals but didn't see any. We went to the Old Town for dinner and had Mexican again. Back at the hotel we finished the Scientology documentary before bed.
Woke-up: 8:30am for free yoga at The Sofia Hotel
Transportation/Distance: 2 hours kayaking. Minimal driving.
Meals: The Power Bowl from Tender Greens. Frozen yogurt on the beach. Burrito at Los Locos in Old Town.
Highlight of the Day: Seeing the sea lions was so much fun!
Lesson Learnt: That the 'J' in La Jolla is pronounced as an 'H' and the double 'L' is a 'Y' sound. So instead of La Jolla it is pronounced La Hoy-a.
Quote of the Day: Me (driving) to Teri (navigating) "Oh, so Juan like J-U-A-N? Yeah, we have passed that street like 5 times. Sorry I had been looking for W-A-N-D. When I kept seeing J-U-A-N, I thought that was Jew-An Street. Grrrr, Spanish."
Night's Accommodation: The Sofia Hotel, San Diego

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Travel Diary - Thursday August 6, 2015

Date: Thursday August 6, 2015
Theme/Title: As We Rode on the 10 Down to Venice Again
Overview: I bought a few eggs from the front desk at the hostel, 50 cents each, to make for breakfast. Teri and I then drove to Northern L.A. for a tour of the Warner Brother's Studio. Since we were near Hollywood, we made sure to drive past "the sign" on our way south again. We had a nice walk in Venice Beach, checked out the canals, went along the Ocean Front Walk, saw some interesting shops, handball courts, Muscle Beach, and had lunch. We spent the afternoon doing our final drive along coast. This stretch of the drive continued with what I loved yesterday:
It was what I had always envisioned for California. We passed through Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. We got to San Diego in the early evening, parked the car at a garage a few blocks away from our hotel and checked in. We were very close to the Gaslamp Quarter, which has tons of amazing restaurants. We went to one for Mexican. After dinner we returned to our hotel to watch the first half of a Scientology Documentary.
Woke-up: 6:00am at the Long Beach Hostel, just outside our room door was a view down the hall straight out to the ocean.
Transportation/Distance: Drove: 250 km
Meals: Scrambled eggs made in the hostel kitchen. Lunch on the beach, take out from El Huarique (Peruvian). I tried ceviches for the first time, (I had no idea what I was ordering) and it was amazing. Huge Mexico City Salad with Arranchera Steak from La Puerta with some margaritas.
Highlight of the Day: Just driving down the coast from L.A. to San Diego. Listening to music in the car with my best friend.
Lesson Learnt: The Greater Los Angeles Area is sprawling with terrible traffic, I am so grateful that Teri drove for most of the day.
Song of the Day: Drinking in L.A. by Bran Van 3000
Quote of the Day: Teri: This totally looks like it did on Laguna Beach... Yeah, I used to watch all those shows back in university. Chris: Hey, I can't judge. I watch The Bachelor now.
Night's Accommodation: The Sofia Hotel, in the financial district of downtown San Diego

Seriously LA?!

Teri and I have been driving through L.A. all day. Every time I go on my phone to see the traffic and pick the best route for us to drive it looks like a variation on this:
This is an actual screen shot taken from my phone!
Seriously, the worst drivers, tons of accidents, so much traffic, and no public transit to be found.

A $12 Million Pun

3,849 Square Feet with Ocean Views
Venice Beach, Las Angeles, California, USA
August 6, 2015
Taken by ME with my phone

Even with the terrible sailing pun, I would still take it! I bet $12 million is a good deal too. I don't think I would really like living in The States though, that part would be the tough sell.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Travel Diary - Wednesday August 5, 2015

Date: Wednesday August 5, 2015
Theme/Title: The 'Real' Coast
Overview: Woke up and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. I finished watching Citizen Kane as we packed up our room. The night before we had seen an "elephant seal viewing point" sign a few miles before the hotel, so we went to see that before our Hearst Castle tour. Elephant Seals are not the cute ones! But they are really fun to watch - there were a few honking at each other and playing in the shallows and a big cuddle party on the shore. Babies too!
I know they look like they are dead, but they are just lazy and sleeping. There was a fair amount of noise and movement but it is hard to capture with my phone camera. Elephant Seals are so massive and it makes them pretty awkward moving across the sand, they stop to rest so much that it takes them forever to get anywhere. They honk at each other and sometimes bite their neighbour. Some were using their flippers to throw sand up on their backs. (They also small really bad.) After watching the seals for a bit we went on our tour of Hearst Castle, which was beautiful. Before heading off on our long drive south, we went to a local fishing pier beside a small beach to dip our feet in the ocean for the first time. Teri and I took a quick walk through Cambria to get some lunch. We drove down the coast and by the time we got to Sana Barbra it was time for dinner, I was using my phone to search for a place to eat - specifically Mexican food - when I discovered that we were arriving during their annual Spanish festival complete with food stands. We made our way into the center of the city (free parking, very impressive) and walked through the festival grounds. We grabbed dinner at one of the various food stalls and browsed the other vendors. There was live music and lots of people selling strange confetti eggs which looked really fun! A few more hours driving brought us passed Santa Monica, I could see the lit up pier - it looked quite intense at night. We stopped for the night at a hostel in Long Beach.
Woke-up: 7:00am with a view of the ocean at San Simeon Lodge
Transportation/Distance: Drove 405 km
Meals: Poached Eggs at San Simeon Beach Bar and Grill. Picked up some baby carrots, cheese strings, and dried peas at a grocery store for lunch. Fish tacos from a food stand at the Old Spanish Days Fiesta in Santa Barbra.
Highlight of the Day: The drive along the coast at the Sana Monica Mountains, passed Malibu, was beautiful. It was just how I pictured the California coast in my head - sand beaches, palm trees, lush hills, amazing mansions, exclusive looking clubs, bright sun, and a perfect blue ocean.
Lesson Learnt: Even if you buy your tickets online ahead of time for an attraction, you still need to show up with a lot of time to spare in case there is a long line to pick them up. Teri and I thought we went to Hearst Castle early enough for our tour but only just made it onto the bus in the nick of time. The line to pick-up pre-purchased  tickets was the same as the one to buy them, so it moved very slowly.
Song of the Day: "Sana Monica" by Theory of a Deadman
Night's Accommodation: Hostelling International San Pedro, South Bay (Long Beach)

I Want To Be A Media Mogul

Today we visited Hearst Castle. Here is a post of quotes and photos to give you a sense of the experience.

A few months ago, 
while planning for our trip:
Teri: I want to visit Hearst Castle. It is at the bottom of the Big Sur area.
Me: Umm, sure. What is it?
Teri: It's the real life mansion made by the man Citizen Kane is based on.
Me: I haven't see Citizen Kane, is that the "rosebud" one?
Teri: Yes

The night before our castle tour, 
while watching Citizen Kane
Me: This movie is SO GOOD! How have I never seen this before. Hey! Are you even watching it?
Teri: I have seen it before. I am looking up stuff about Orson Welles, the movie, and William Hearst. Hearst did not like the movie.
Me: What?! He was alive when it came out? Yeah, that's insulting.

At the start of our tour, 
looking at the front door:
Me: It looks like a cathedral... It is a bit much. But designed by a female architect, which is super cool. Wahoo, go feminism.

Seeing the part Teri was most excited about,
Teri: Aw, it is all drained. I have the worst luck with pools!
Me: Closed for maintenance last night.
Teri: Or you know, when we were in Washington and the Reflecting Pool was drained for repairs?
Me: Oh yea, that sucked.

Wandering on our own after the tour,
the grounds are beautiful.
Me: Let's get a selfie with the ocean behind.
Teri: Haha, I thought we weren't doing selfies?
Me: No no no, it is no selfie-sticks. I am too lazy to ask someone to take our picture. Oh, let's also get a shot of our feet again, I love all the tile work.

Looking at the gardens,
admiring one of the three guest houses.
Me: Oh, my god! This is a guest house?
Teri: Yeah. Which one is it?
Me: I don't know. There is Casa Del Sol, Del Mer, and Del Monte. Sea, sun, and mountain.
Teri: It is based on the views. So that one over there is Casa Del Mer, it faces the ocean. That back there would be the mountain one, and that means this is the sun?
Me: I guess it faces the sunset nicely. I would totally live in this, as like a house.

As we were leaving,
The Roman Pool.
Me: Huh? There is a modern ladder.
Teri: Yeah, the family can still use the facilities. Even though they donated it to be a museum, the kids come back and swim and stuff.
Me: Man it would be cool to swim in a museum.

All photos above taken by ME with my phone
Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California, USA

The Pacific Ocean

For most of the Californian Coast, the ocean itself has not been particularly accessible. The shoreline in the north has water that is too rough to swim in and cliffs that prevent you reaching the water anyway. Even the recent drive through Big Sur featured large cliffs with very infrequent access points to beaches or coves. When we visited Mendocino and walked in the cove, we could have dipped our feet in the water but chose to keep our shoes on since it was windy and a bit cold. However, this morning the weather is warmer and the Pacific is now on our level:

Our Morning View

All the rooms in our hotel look out to a beach and the local towns feature boardwalks to protect the small dunes. The waves can be heard at all times, but they are small and soft. The only problem with the swimming places is that seaweed seems to have a major presence on the sand and in the water. Big long pieces of kelp looking like plastic or rubber but somehow gross and natural. It didn't stop us though, Teri and I wanted to finally actually touch the ocean for the first time this trip:

Feet in the Pacific

It was worth the sand in our toes and wet pant cuffs. Teri is on the Right with blue toenail polish and I am at the top of the photo with purple. The waves did come up and touch me. I sprinted up and away from others that were too big.

Both photos above taken by ME with my phone
San Simeon, California, USA

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Travel Diary - Tuesday August 4, 2015

Date: Tuesday August 4, 2015
Theme/Title: Goodbye Boys - Hello Big Sur
Overview: The same diner next to the hotel that we had dinner at the night before, was the location of the free breakfast included with our room.We drove back into San Francisco to drop Greg and Jason off at the airport, on the way we stopped at Ike's Place so the guys could grab lunch. It is an interesting local sandwich place with a few locations in the San Francisco area, Teri's brother, Kevan, who lived in San Fran for a semester, recommended it. Teri and I proceeded south and made a stop at The Mystery Spot, which was hilariously kitschy and awesome. I had done some reading ahead of time so understood how the optical illusion worked - however I still can't fully figure out the height trick they did, For our lunch we stopped near Santa Cruz at a vegetarian restaurant, Dharma's, that we had purchased a groupon for. The portions were big so we tucked the leftovers into the cooler for dinner. Then we drove down the Big Sur coast.

The path we leave behind us:

The road ahead:

The coastal route basically starts in Monetary, which we toured around for a bit. It is a lovely seaside city and Cannery Row was pretty cool, in general though it felt a too busy, built-up, and high-end for our tastes. Teri and I preferred the vibe in Mendocino more. We stopped at a lot of vistas to check out the beautiful scenery. Both Teri and I took turns driving but didn't find the road as challenging as the ones further north. There were a lot of cool bridges (there is one in each photo above actually.) We stopped to watch the sunset and it was fun to see all the people doing the same thing at various points along the road. Photos got posted to social media with the hashtag 'nofilter' the meaning of which I clarified for Teri. We checked into San Simeon Lodge, having looked forward to swimming in the pool all day, but it is closed for maintenance; we are pretty disappointed, as it is hot, dry, and dusty on the Pacific Coast Highway and a swim would be refreshing. The hotel is really nice though, with a great view of the ocean. We ate our leftovers from lunch and have started to watch Citizen Kane in preparation for visiting Hearst Castle tomorrow morning.
Woke-up: 8:00am - Not sore from our hike! (I made us do stretches afterwards to avoid getting stiff.)
Transportation/Distance: Drove: 550 km
Meals: My basic diner breakfast (white rye toast, poached eggs and then I gave the bacon and hash browns to Jason). Pesto Portabello Sandwich from Dharma's for both lunch and dinner.
Highlight of the Day: The coastal road was incredible!
Lesson Learnt: That Yosemite is actually pronounced phonetically! I had really been struggling to get it right. If I heard a lot of people saying the correct pronunciation then I was fine, but if I had been mainly reading the word for a while I reverted back to saying, yose-mite, which Greg also did but he was being funny and I just legitimately couldn't remember how to correctly say it. A bus passed us today and I finally saw it - yo-sem-it-e, I don't know how I hadn't figured it out before! (Well, I do know, it is because I have a phonological learning disability.)
Song of the Day: Love Story by Taylor Swift
Quote of the Day: "I am so jealous. Those sandwiches still haunt me." Text from Kevan to Teri after she told them we were picking up lunch at Ike's Place.
Night's Accommodation: San Simeon Lodge

Both photos above taken by ME with my phone
Big Sur region, California Highway 1, USA

A Western Collective

Teri: "Wow, there are a lot of Best Western's out here. I wonder if this is where they started? I wonder if that is why the word 'western' is in the name?!?"

So she looked it up....
According to Wikipedia....

YES! Best Western began in the years following World War II. At the time, most hotels were either large urban properties or smaller family owned roadside hotels. In California, a network of independent hotel operators began making referrals of each other to travelers. This small and informal network eventually grew into the modern Best Western hotel chain founded by M.K. Guertin in 1946.

But what we were even more excited about was the fact that it isn't really a franchise thing, but instead is a Marketing Cooperative! It is always great to hear about businesses that work together.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Travel Diary - Monday August 3, 2015

Vernal Falls
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Taken by Jason with his phone

Date: Monday August 3, 2015
Theme/Title: Hike Up A California Hill (aka A Mountain)
Overview: An early wake up to drive to Yosemite. (Morning person, Greg, drove.) I think the rest of us may have slept in the car - I did for sure. Visited the welcome centre at the Valley Village to get some hiking suggestions and food. They have a great system of shuttle buses which brought us to the trail. Did the Vernal Fall hike. It was HARD. Stopped to see the Tunnel View as our last good-bye to the park before driving to our hotel. Enjoyed a nice dinner at the diner style restaurant at the hotel. Swim in the pool and soak in the hot tub to ease our muscles from the hike. We played Euchure before bed.
Woke-up: 5:30am
Transportation/Distance: Driving: 320km  Hiking: 2.7 miles (4.7km) with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet (460m) that included over 600 stairs!
Highlight of the Day: The hike was amazing, it was great to be able to complete a 'strenuous' difficulty one, and almost keep up with the others. (I had Teri, Greg, and Jason go on ahead of me and wait at the waterfall or if the trail split.)
Lesson Learnt: Teri is still on a losing streak with Euchure.
Song of the Day: Wonderwall by Oasis, "All the roads that lead us there are winding..."
Quote of the Day: "Wahoo, I did it! I am really proud of myself." Me, when I thought we were done climbing since we had reached the waterfall (ended up climbing another 500 feet in elevation before we started back down.)
Night's Accommodation: Best Western Plus Sonora Oaks

Little Friends

Look who we met in Yosemite today!
Keeping an eye on baby - California Ground Squirrels
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Taken by Jason (because he loves squirrels) with his phone

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Travel Diary - Sunday August 2, 2015

Date: Sunday August 2, 2015
Theme/Title: Sets
Overview: The day started with the six of us having brunch at Farmer Brown. Then we all split up. F and Greg went to Fisherman's Peir, Jason went on a bike ride, and 'the girls' spent some time together in the hotel room. I had brought my deck so did Cartouche World Readings with Teri and Monica. Afterwards there was more splitting up and I slept while waiting for Jason to return from biking. Then Jason and I met up with Teri and Greg for the porn studio tour. Afterward's Teri and I drove Mon and F to airport and were so sad to say goodbye. When we got back into downtown we got some Mexican food at Taqueria el Sol with boys. The four of us played Bananagrams before bed.
Woke-up: King bed in the 'fun room' at 9:30am - A very nice sleep in!
Transportation/Distance: A bit of time walking, a bit on buses, and a bit in the car.
Meals: Breakfast Skillet with eggs and pulled pork. Steak taco salad.
Highlight of the Day: Porn Studio Tour
Lesson Learnt: I got a bad reading in the Seventh House of my Cartouche World. This is the house of Partners (personal or professional) which includes spouses, marriage, business contacts, clients, etc. When I do a reading it has always meant 'significant other,' so in my case, Jason. I got Set (Opposition, Obstacles, Problems, and Delays) which is pretty much the only negative card in the whole deck. Then when I went to put a second card on top it was Nephthys (The Hidden One), the card that means the cards don't want to provide any more details. Even though you aren't supposed to dig further after getting that card, I did. So lastly I got The Twins, a partnership card, but it was inverted which means a separation. Scary!
Night's Accommodation: Final night at The Clift, in the double room with Teri and Greg

It's What's Inside That Counts

We took a tour in the Mission District of San Francisco today. (This is where Foreign Cinema is located as well, the place we went for brunch yesterday.) We had booked into an early evening tour of the historic San Francisco Armory.

San Francisco Armory
Photos taken by ME with my phone

According to Wikipedia (as well as what we heard on the tour): The building was constructed as an armory and arsenal for the United States National Guard between 1912 and 1914. It was built to replace the old San Francisco Armory that had been elsewhere, which had been destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. In addition to its role as an armory and arsenal, during the 1920s, it served as a venue for sporting events, mainly boxing prizefights.  The Armory was a stronghold and rallying point for the National Guard in their suppression of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, also known as "Bloody Thursday." The building closed as an armory in 1976, when the National Guard moved its facilities. After 1976, the building was largely unused for the next 30 years, though in 1978 the building was registered as a historical landmark.

Then, in 2006, it was bought by a production company. The SF Armory is now home to the elaborate and cinematic sets that have since been constructed for use as production studios. So, while we learnt about the building's history, we also toured the sets. Check out this dungeon one:

Dungeon Set - SF Armory
Taken by ME with my Phone

Between 1978 and 2006, when the SF Armory was empty, George Lucus had the buiding zoned for 'Arts Production' and filmed some of the interior space ship scenes for the first Star Wars movie inside. So, when the current company purchased the property in the mid-2000s it could start production quickly. Not just any production company, this one focused on elaborate and high-quality BDSM porn. The company's name is, (that is a link to the Wikipedia article about the company, you can actually look up the website on your own.) So, yeah, Teri, Greg, Jason, and I toured a porn studio. They shoot during a standard work day so there was no filming, but we got to see the sets, including a wet room, shock room, and catfighting ring.

Daddy Nap Time

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

My dad could not drive from 3:00pm to about 4:30pm. If he was in a car during this time he would get very tired and my mom would insist that he stop driving and she would take over. Sometimes he would protest but most of the time he would look at the clock and say, "Oh, it is three o'clock." Then he would get into the passenger seat and pass out for an hour or so.

He didn't drink coffee, so Dad had other 'techniques' to stay awake when driving late at night or during his afternoon lull. He would stop and wash his face with cold water, open the window, or turn the air conditioner on. These are good things to do to avoid falling asleep when driving, but in general, driving while tired is a dangerous practice. It is better to switch drivers, pull over and sleep, or have caffeine.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Travel Diary - Saturday August 1, 2015

Date: Saturday August 1, 2015
Theme/Title: Focus on Food
Overview: Brunch at Foreign Cinema, Were running late for a free city walk at Palace of Fine Arts (which was mainly ended up being focused on EXPO 1915) so we took a Lyft and got a very helpful driver. Wandered over to The Tonga Room in the basement of the San Francisco Fairmont. Then headed to Hawker Fare for dinner, an Asian inspired place that Greg had found. Jason and I went back to the hotel and the others went out for drinks.
Woke-up: 9:30am
Transportation/Distance: A few kilometers walking and a few on buses.
Meals: Amazing egg scramble at Foreign Cinema, a 'hipster' place suggested by Matt. Fun fruity drinks at Tonga Room with some shared snacks. Jason and I split a beef and broccoli dish at Hawker Fare.
Highlight of the Day: Brunch!
Lesson Learnt: The Fresh Rice Paper Spring Rolls at The Tonga Room are not good value for the price, but the Mahe'e is (a big pile of crispy calamari).
Quote of the Day: "Where are we going?" asked by F many many times as he tried to comprehend why we were planning our day around eating at various notable places.
Night's Accommodation: 'The fun room' (with the king bed) shared with Jason