Friday, January 28, 2011


I've had kids for a while now, and one thing that has always cracked me up is their total self-centeredness. No matter the situation, the only thing that matters is them. They don't even worry about the future. If it isn't happening for them right that second, it doesn't even exist. That's why kids throw so many fits: they don't fear future repercussions.

No cupcake right now? Haven't turned Backyardigans on within 5 seconds of when I first realized I wanted to watch it? I'm invoking the nuclear option. And why? Because I refuse to recognize that acting like a moron and embarassing you in front of the whole Awana Club is going to have any consequences that are more important than your total inability to make chicken nuggets and a toy magically appear during church.

One fun off-shoot of this total disinterest in everything that isn't the child in question is their interest in watching themselves do things. Tell a kid to hold still for a picture, and before you can even initialize the camera on your phone they'll  be in your lap asking to look at it.  This also leads to them trying to see themselves in anything reflective. Mirrors, TVs, ovens, glossy fridges, anything.

Even dishwashers. Even naked. Even while singing "Jingle Bells."

That's my 3 year old entertaining himself (and to be honest, entertaining me) a lot. A lot of people will probably frown on me posting pictures of one of my kids in a state of relative undress because of the threat of online predators. While that is probably smart and responsible, I'm going to do it anyway for the following reasons.

  • It's f'ing hilarious.

  • It doesn't really show anything dicey.

  • I refuse to concede to that particular lowest common denominator.

  • He has the least-attractive butt in the family (full disclosure: I didn't consider myself when coming to that conclusion.

  • It's f'ing hilarious. Seriously. Go watch it again.

So, there you go. Have a good weekend staring at my kid's butt in a totally non-creepy way.

And keep your selfish kids safe.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where am I going?

I am going to continue the trend of reviewing health related products. Recently I officially claimed the self imposed title of "avid runner". It has been about 4.5 years in the making but I have finally crossed over into almost cult-like behavior when it comes down to my running. Recently my normal runs have been lasting 4-5 miles and I am stretching my long runs out to 9 or more. I wasn't always this into running, in fact not too long ago I despised it with every fiber of my overweight being. However I, much like Jamie, decided that being a fat dad was an overall bad thing. So about 5 years ago I took to running. I won't bore you with my lifestyle change &  running history now, I will save that for a different post. However I want to make sure you know that I am into running more than a sane person should be.

So this Christmas, my wife bought me a new iPod Nano because up until very recently I needed music to run, and my old iPod Nano is a disaster. So after fooling around with the new Nano, I decided that I didn't like it very much, my old iPod was still better, and I really don't need music for running anymore. So with that realization I decided to purchase a Garmin Forerunner 305 with heart rate monitor. This was great for me since I was satisfying my inner techy-nerd and my clinical addiction to running at the same time. I now possessed the ability to track my runs, watch my heart rate, and look really cool all at the same time. I became a triple treat. Kind of like the end of the 7th Harry Potter book.

I also went with a Garmin because its Garmin Connect site syncs with a site I belong to called Earndit. Quickly, I will let you know that Earndit is a fantastic site and a great way to be rewarded for your hard work. While they are relatively new, and they are picking up reward sponsors quickly. So jump on the bandwagon. Oh its free to join also.

Unfortunately not every product can be perfect, except bacon. There are 3 issues I have identified with the Garmin Forerunner 305 that I think you should be aware of if you are considering purchasing one.

1) It takes forever to find & lock on to a damn satellite. I would say that on the average it takes 5 minutes to lock on. I find this to be a big problem especially in the cold because you have to wait and wait on the Satellites. I am pleading with you Garmin to release a firmware upgrade or something, so you can fix this. Brutal.

2) The buttons on the watch aren't the easiest to use and it is very hard to tell if you have pushed one or not. I am glad I am not a biker because it would be dangerous to have to fiddle extra time with the watch while riding. Eyes on path.

3) The software that comes with the watch I believe was updated last in 2004. My 5 year old could produce better graphics and functionality with a marker and a blindfold. Again, Garmin please release some new software that doesn't look so terrible.

These may seem very trite complaints because honestly I am wearing a GPS receiver on my wrist that can communicate with outer space. Its pretty incredible.

Now that that's out of the way, I really do like this watch. I am racking up reward points like crazy, it has helped me run longer, and not be confined to any specific route that I had already mapped out. I am getting instant feedback on everything you can imagine, my pace, distance, heart rate, etc. I can actually race myself with the watch which is really cool if you are looking to set PRs without forking over serious scratch for organized races. I think overall this device has made me a better, happier, more attractive runner.

Here are some key Pros that I want to let you know about.

  1. Once a Satellite locks on, it stays on. I have not experienced any drops and that is with running through some thick woods. Also it is very accurate in terms of measuring distance.

  2. Garmin's online workout tracking site is really good.

  3. Garmin syncs up with a lot of other sites. Earndit as mentioned above and RunKeeper are the two I use. You can also convert your run data and plot it on Google Maps.

  4. The heart monitor is awesome and you can also purchase a Foot Pod for indoor running & Pedal sensor for your bike.

  5. The Garmin support staff was extremely quick  and helpful when my watch wouldn't power up. We solved the issue right over the phone at no cost.

  6. What else... Oh it cost less than that new iPod if you look online for it.

On our Sandwich Scale I would rate the Garmin Forerunner 305 a Muffaleta. Which if you look at their product lineup in this category is fairly accurate. And as any good review goes, if Garmin is willing to have me try out other devices or products I am more than happy to do this for them.

The iPod Nano however didn't fair so well on the scale. I am giving it an MLT (Mutton Lettuce & Tomato). If I were to use this in a workout or running setting it would last no more than 6 months. There is no real way to protect it or sheath it from my over-active sweat glands. Also it would be nearly impossible to easily skip songs while working out. Smaller isn't always better Apple.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

WorXing out with KettleWorX

To those of you who know me personally, or those who have simple seen my photos online or some of my clothes crumpled up on your floor (HEY-OH!) will no doubt realize that I am not a thin man. And I've been that way long enough that I'm OK with it.

I am not OK, however, with not living to see my own kids grow up. This statement isn't so much about wanting to see them at key moments in their life as it is about sweet, sweet revenge. I'll be damned if I'm going to give up the prime years of my life settled down to raise them just so I can amass an enormous 401k, pay off my house, and suddenly drop dead walking up the steps after I put the last tuition check in the mail. F. That. I wanna live long enough to laugh at them trying to raise their own stupid kids. And I will work out just hard enough and eat just well enough to make sure that happens.

I've tried a few diets over the years, and I've signed up for an exercise class in my day, but nothing that really sticks. And that's when I realize that nothing will even truly stick -- I'm not going to do water aerobics or jogging or Tai Chi or anything else every day for the rest of my life. Neither am I going to spend the next 50 years (fingers crossed) eating a shake for breakfast, no carbs for lunch, and a grapefruit for dinner. As such, my plan is to going to be bouncing from one type of exercise and one reasonable diet to the next.

Until of course someone finally develops some sort of weight management plan based entirely on carrying a 12 pack of non-Moosehead beer into your house and then drinking it every day.  Nutritional Science, what have you done for me lately?

The Plan

As with any sort of life-changing epiphany, I turned to infomercials to get me started, and I chose KettleWorX. Tough to go wrong with an in-home workout/nutrition plan that would work for both me and the missus. I ordered up the DVD's, grabbed a couple of kettlebells, and promptly didn't open the box for like a month. What can I say. It was right before the holidays, and if history has taught us anything it is that any personal-improvement efforts that start in months not ending in "anuary" are doomed to fail.

The basic premise of the plan is pretty simple. Do three 20 minute workouts a week (1 for cardio, 1 for core, and 1 for resistance) for 6 weeks, and follow the nutrition plan that accompanied the DVDs.

WorXing Out

We started the diet on a Sunday, and liked it right away, but we didn't notice a change in our bodies until the next day after we worked out. The change? I hurt. Badly. I spent a week popping ibuprofen like they were caps and my quads were Crips' aces. The whole idea of this particular breed of kettlebell training is to keep all of your muscles engaged throughout the entire workout, and it does. If you are working out your arms, you are also squatting. If you are squatting, you are also engaging your core. If you are engaging your core, you are also working on your shoulders. You can imagine how far that whole thing goes. I will say that for me, the resistance seems so far to the the easiest workout, and the cardio is probably the hardest. 

With the whole set, I got something like 15 hours of different workouts, which is good. I need that variety. The reason I hate running and working out in a weight room is that its the same crap over and over, which is really, really boring. There are things I'm willing to do over and over again, but pushups aren't any of them. The formula of these workouts is a warm up, a small set of exercises that you repeat 2 or 3 times, and then a cool down. There are a few painfully hilarious things about the tapes*, though.

  • It is pretty clear that the expensive part of the production process was time in the studio. That is pretty clear because they obviously went in and did each exercise one time, then spliced different exercises together in different ways for each set (and then the set is repeated within each workout 2 or 3 times). This drives my sister nuts, because she wants to think that if she is working out for 20 solid minutes, that they are working out for twenty solid minutes with you. I still find it funny because you can tell which exercises were taped later in the day, because in the first exercise everyone will look fresh as a daisy, the next exercise will have everyone worn out with jacked up hair, and then the next exercise has them all fresh again. It's also great when a joke isn't funny, but you get to hear it 12 times a week. I amuse easily.

  • Another great thing is that since he clearly had only one take with each exercise, sometimes he doesn't do them evenly. During one particular exercise he does like 3 reps on the right side and like 7 on the other. After a while you know what these exercises are and can adjust.

  • The people working out behind Ryan Shanahan (the lead trainer) are typically really, really out of step, partly due to Ryan's inability to keep a consistent cadence**. But it's sort of satisfying to try to catch up while the extras are trying to catch up as well.


As for the diet, there actually isn't too much to it. There is basically a formula for every meal, and it is the same formula for every meal. I won't give it away, but basically things exist in 4 different acceptable food groups (and not the normal four) and you just have to eat one thing from each of those groups at every meal, and you also need to eat healthy snacks. Not really rocket science.

I actually like the taste of a lot of healthy food, but this diet does, however, have the same problems as any diet (and, in my opinion, the reason the rest of America looks largely like me).

  • Cost. Food that is good for you isn't cheap. Fish costs more than hamburger. A pound of broccoli is twice as much as a a box of macaroni and cheese. Just the way it is. It's much cheaper to process food into a box of salt than to deliver it to market fresh and healthy.

  • Convenience. Fattening food is easier. Say all you want about bananas being at the gas station, but there's still 100 times more terrible stuff for you. The first week we were on this diet, I spent literally an hour a night packing lunches after spending 30 minutes making dinners. Which is considerably longer than the investment I would make in cooking a freezer pizza. I'm just saying.

I will say that this diet is much easier and more flexible than others I've tried, and with its simple formula its much easier to find solutions when dining out.

Midpoint Rating

I've obviously only been through a few weeks of this so far, but so far I'm pretty happy with my investment. I'm motivated enough to keep working out being reasonably good at the diet. Currently, on the official Padre Knows Best Sandwich Scale, I'll give it a Cuban with smoked provolone, placing it well above average but with more research needed. Per my new diet, I'll try to find that Cuban on whole grain bread, sans the condiments.

* If you are under 25, a tape is what old people sometimes call DVDs. You know how we in the over-30 crowd are.

** Ryan is, I believe Canadian, or at least Canadian-ish, for whatever that's worth.

Friday, January 14, 2011

SFA Summit - A Location Review for Thai Nivas

This week, John and I held our first official SFA Summit at a location called Thai Nivas here in St. Louis (on Olive in Creve Coeur). We didn't actually discuss anything important, but we did have a little bit of an email exchange afterwards regarding the restaurant.

Me: Good lunch at Thai Nivas (and sushi!), no? My favorite part was going to the website beforehand to see where it was and whether I wanted to go there. . Reminded me why the Tumblr blog "Never Said About Restaurant Websites" has to exist. I would assume that the "Launch Special" is actually the "Lunch Special", but I don't have enough context to know for sure.

John: It’s a good thing their Pad Thai has lots of flavor because I am really unsure if I took a bite out of Tofu or Egg. Whatever it was, the intense flavor covered up the indiscernible food. I am still telling myself Tofu so I don’t decide to vomit due to my undiagnosed clinical aversion of Eggs. Perhaps the team “Launch” was used to describe what would happen to the food I had eaten was actually egg. I also liked that the Sushi chef said hello to me like I always go there. Very inviting.

Me: Mine actually tasted really good (I got the Spicy Stir Fry -- Pad Nam Prig Paow -- with shrimp), but I was underwhelmed with the portions. Normally here in America we like our food (even our ethnic food) BIG. I've been on a diet for over a week, so my stomach capacity is diminished, and I still ran out of food before I even realized what was going on. Good thing the service was suspect.

John: As for the SFA Winter Summit I felt the location was perfect from our respective businesses. It was quiet in there too which made the 5-10 minutes we talked about our yearly goals and aspirations fly by with no interruptions. I will go back again and perhaps tackle some curry or other dish that doesn’t have egg or tofu in the ingredients.

Me: I'll admit, I did feel aspired upon leaving, partially due to the cold. Overall, on the sandwich scale, I'd probably give it a Reuben. Not as good as other Thai places in the vicinity, and a little on the pricey side (although that may be partially due to my buying your lunch).

John: Next stop... Land of Smiles.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Sandwich Scale

I think we are all a little tired of 1-10 scales, mostly because some doucher always says "I give it a 12" or something else that is 110% stupid. To avoid that unhappy state, anything reviewed on this site going forward will be ranked on the following scale. If you have trouble following along, well, just enjoy whatever sandwich you've been blessed with.

A Little Bit of Italy (Amighettti's) - The finest pure sandwich of all time.
Amighetti's Special - Second best sandwich in the world next to its teammate (from above). This top two would be like Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, except this sandwich actually is the second best one ever.
Cuban with Smoked Provolone - You can never have too much swine on one sandwich
Muffaleta - It's the olive spread, yo.
Pulled Pork – This is the middle of the road for Sandwiches. Dump enough BBQ sauce on this and it’s hard to screw up.
Roast Beef – Tends to make me just want pork
Reuben - A fine sandwich to be sure, but this sandwich has a propensity to over-promise and under-deliver
Cuban with Swiss - We just can't get down on holey cheese.
MLT – Mutton, Lettuce, & Tomato where the Mutton is cut nice & thin
Egg Salad - Some things just can't be untasted.

Please enjoy this list as a reference, as a window into our psyche, and as an appetite whetter.

Monday, January 10, 2011

PSA on PSA (The Boyfriend I Never Wanted)

Well here it is the final episode of my Prostate trilogy. Its been an epic writing journey for me as I don't think I have written so much about 1 topic since College. I will recap just a bit but you can read the full stories here & here.

I first started with a story about how I became ill and it was discovered that I had an inflamed prostate and a UTI. The next step was to go to see a Urologist (which this post will cover). The second post was a complete breakdown of everything the normal person would need to know about their prostate, what it does, and how doctors diagnose issues with it. I think this second post was a huge success as we had a true professional give his expert opinion instead of just getting a bunch of stuff from the internets.

The Boyfriend I Never Wanted

So on with the show. We pick up the story 2 weeks after my UTI. The antibiotics had run their course and I was feeling normal again. I just had to get past this one visit and go on with my life. I met with my doctor who is highly respected in the St. Louis area. In fact there is a college with his Family's name on it. I went over my symptoms with him and he had gotten a full write up on me from my primary care. We started with the "exam" and right away he noticed that my Prostate was still enlarged.  He also prescribed some blood work as my Prostate should have gone down in size over the past couple weeks with the infection.

Within a few days the blood results were back and my PSA level was at 4.5. Which at the time to me seemed low. My calmness was squashed in the matter of a second when I heard that for my age a PSA lower than 1 was more normal. I was then asked to come back into the office for some more testing and examining. The next test was still looking at my PSA but they wanted to know the Free:Bound ratio. Now for some reason I will never forget where I was when I received the info back from this test. It was St. Partick's Day and I was celebrating my Irish Heritage at 10am and I think it was a Tuesday or something. I was well on my way to having a great day. Then my phone rang... The results came back with my Free PSA was at 3%. Which if you recall from Dr. Greenfield, the higher the Free PSA the better. My doctor advised that he likes to see around 20-25% Free PSA. What really makes this call really stick out in my head however, is it was the first time the "Cancer" word was mentioned. The timing was terrible.

With 2 strikes against me (Elevated PSA & Low Free PSA) my doctor was concerned. He gave another exam and the size had not gone down. He advised that the next step was to perform an ultrasound of my Prostate. He wanted to get a visual of the area, to see if there was some asymmetry and just try identify if something crazy was going on. The ultrasound was not the same as the one that was performed on my wife's belly when she was pregnant either. In fact, to get a REALLY good look at it they had to dive in. This was the second most uncomfortable experience in my life. He looked around for what seemed like 3 hours took some pictures and went about his ANALysis. He identified some scar tissue that had been there from a previous infection (not the one I just had) and noticed my walnut was large and asymmetrical. Stirke 3.

With all the information gathered, there was but one choice (so I thought). My Doctor seemed almost certain that I had cancer. He even wrote a "Thank you" letter to my primary care. I don't know if he was excited about the thought of a 30 year old with cancer or what... Anyway the biopsy was put on the calendar and my one visit to the Urologist had blown up into 4 visits, 2 rounds of blood work, 1 ultrasound, and now 1 biopsy.

As I said before the Ultrasound was the second most uncomfortable event in my life. The Biopsy remains number 1 and I really hope it doesn't get trumped any time soon. If you are unfamiliar with a biopsy, they have to take small pieces of whatever is at risk, send them off to a lab, and check to see if there's cancer. The Biopsy itself took I think about 30-45 min. They took 16 samples (4 from each region). It was painful and almost humiliating at the same time. When finished I thought the pain would be over, just a little pain here and there, nothing crazy. I was wrong. The rest of the day and the next I had to sit on one of those horseshoe-like pillows. Not to mention when I did business in the bathroom there was a lot of blood associated with it (from both ends). I will chalk that up to not asking about the side effects before i went in. Now with all the physical pain, there's another interesting feeling going on, not knowing if you have cancer or not. That seemed to weigh on me as much as the pain.

To save the suspense, the bioposy results came back negative for cancer. Which was one of the greatest phone calls I've every received. So for the record, I didn't want this to turn into a pity blog for me, I wanted to share this story with you to educate and hopefully make you a better patient. If I would have been armed with future goggles and Dr. Greenfield's information, I don't think I would have gone down this long painful path.

After talking with Dr. Greenfield and going over my history (with no exam +1), he has suggested that I possibly have Prostatitis, chronic swelling of the Prostate. Unfortunately, there is no real silver bullet for this and he did not suggest I take Avodart or Proscar as there are potential side effects that will hinder my baby making abilities. He suggested that I just live a healthy lifestyle, eat well, and exercise. I can live with that.

Thank you to everyone for taking some time to read this and a big thanks to Dr. Greenfield who took these posts to a new level. I hope my mission of providing you with some information & advice was successful. I think this will be the last post about wang for awhile. Til next time...


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Caveat Bloggers: The Wordpress iPhone App Sucks

Yesterday I wrote a blog about some pants I got for Christmas (which are awesome). I reread it last night on my couch, caught some typos, and decided to test out the Wordpress App I downloaded (for free) to my iPhone. I changed the spelling on 3 words, everything looked great, and I saved it. No problem.

When I looked at the blog again this morning, it had done that awful thing where it inserted a bunch of line breaks where they don't normally go, and then it CHANGED THE FREAKING TITLE OF THE BLOG TO AN OLDER BLOG TITLE FOR NO REASON.

Suffice it to say, I've deleted the app and I won't be using it again anytime soon. Beware bloggers -- sometimes the internet really is out to get you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Greatest Gift Ever Given

Christmas was last week, and as always, I gave a lot of gifts, and received a handful in return, as is the case for daddy's worldwide for any major gift-giving holiday. This Christmas I got two stand out gifts, both from my wife (or I guess maybe technically one from my kids, but those selfish little takers didn't earn the money, didn't wrap the present, and probably didn't even go to the store, so the missus still gets full credit).

The first was a two-person, four-night trip to Mexico some time this spring, which I am really, really looking forward to. She didn't come out and say it, but I'm guessing she expects to be the other person heading south with me (dicey word choice, no?). I'll clarify, and if that isn't the case, I'll hold a twitter comment contest to see who gets to ride along. I can't in good conscience recommend holding your breath.

The second was a pair of sweat pants. That's right. Sweat pants.

Normally I wouldn't get all excited about this sort of thing, but I'm the type of guy who is very tall (almost a 30" inseam) but even wider (a more than 30" waist), so buying any pants is tough, and buying pants with sizes likes size S-M-L-XL usually results in buying shorts or something with enough elastic at the ankle to cut off blood flow.

Well, at the local Tar-ghey, they sell some Champion athletic pants that come in S-M-L-XL sizes for the waist but they also have an inseam measurement. So I could cover my ample butt and still not walk on the heels of my pants. Awesome.

Other key features include:

  • Pockets. Name me one father who doesn't need at least one pocket in every article of clothing he owns and I'll show you a father who carries a man-purse*.

  • They are made out of that good-short material, not that usual track pant material what makes that gawd-awful whipping noise
    when you walk. My kids wear those pants, and I can't stand it.

  • Solid colors, no big logo. I hate that trend where everything has to have some ginormous off-colored logo. Thank you Champion, for staying classy.

  • Comfort. These things are awesome. Just thick enough you can wear them outside as comfortably as jeans in December, and still thin enough to wear around the house without getting your duckbutter running**.

  • Seriously, these things are so comfortable I spent 6 hours Googling diseases I could talk my doctor into diagnosing me with that would allow him to prescribe my wearing them everywhere: work, church, etc. I suppose not being able to find one is the only failing of these pants.

  • They are only like $16.99, which is cheaper than most shorts.

In conclusion, if you are a man who loves pants, or are simply a woman loves a man who needs pants, I can't recommend them enough. I got a pair on Christmas and bought two more pairs the next time I had to do laundry because I seriously couldn't handle the thought of wearing something else during a full wash and dry cycle.

*In all fairness, they are very European.

**We here at the SFA do not condone Googling "duckbutter" from your work computer.