Review: This Ain’t No Holiday Inn

 

Chelsea Hotel

Hotel Chelsea, February 28, 2014

 

Yesterday, I was in Chelsea for lunch and I found myself thinking of the Chelsea and decided to find it. When I did, and posted the photo (and the one above), I remembered this unfinished review and blog post from earlier this year. Time to remove the “un”.

“In 2001, he died of everything he had ever done.” ~James Lough

While the author wrote this of one of the personalities he met while researching the Chelsea’s colorful history, the same could be said of the Chelsea Hotel itself.

“If any place will make you believe in ghosts, it’s the Chelsea.” ~Gabriella Bass

James Lough’s This Ain’t No Holiday Inn: Down and Out at the Chelsea Hotel 1980-1995 is an interesting look at the history of the hotel within that era of New York City history. Reading it now was an interesting parallel to the New-York Historical Society’s AIDS exhibit this summer as there was significant overlap in time, characters and storyline.

Continue reading

#GoTheDist: Feb 2014

I knew February was going to be down due to three+ days of lost tracking, but it actually wasn’t as bad as I feared.

February 2014:

  • 69.miles walked (165,667 steps),
  • 16.69 miles biked.

Great, no. Good? Yes. For the record:

February 2013

  • 20.52 miles walked
  • 54.15 miles biked

Definitely walking more than I did, still need to get better about going to the gym. Yeah, I’m a broken record on that front. I still wonder whether a gym closer to home would improve things. I don’t know that I’m going to hit my Q1 goals, but I’m going to give it a hard go. That starts with getting off the couch today. Ahh, me-kends. I am on track, however, to hit my “official” Q1 goal of 200 miles walked. Through Feb 28 I had 150.09 miles, or 75.05%. Yay!

Overall, I am loving the Fitbit. I love the real time data and not having to plug into my phone. I also find it to be more accurate. I don’t love that it doesn’t automatically import my Map My Fitness ride data, but it’s not hard to do it manually.

Officially Team @FitBit

my Jawbone apparently celebrated my two millionth step a little too hard last Friday, because now it’s dead. Utterly and totally toast.

So I went out and got what I wanted back in May: the Fitbit Flex.

I will have lost 3.5 days of data (midday Monday – Thurs PM), but no real idea on how it will affect my #GoTheDist data in terms of strides, etc. Will keep an eye on it and revise Q2 if needed.

Review: Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You by Harriet Baskas

Hidden museum treasures. I am such a nerd. Nerd. NERD. NERD.

and I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Anyway, book #3 of this year: Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You by Harriet Baskas:

#GoTheDist 2014: One Month in

January stats:

  • 185,545 steps
  • 80.3 miles walked
  • 69.3 miles ridden

Happy all around especially with the polar vortex. I’ll have to push it, but the Q1 goals (700,000 steps, 300 miles walked and 75 miles) are well in reach. Especially the bike. Proud of myself for regular-ish gym attendance. I lost the DietBet, but I lost weight, so I call that a win. I’m onto my second DietBet. Better luck this time.

as I alluded to, I’m hooked on Fabletics. I wore the first leggings (Mari) to walk around the park today and besides being comfortable, they’re super warm. I may or may not make a new outfit my Q1 goal.

Now to get back to my reading goal.  I’m way off course there.

Lessons Learned: Coffee Grinds

tea leaves? Who needs tea leaves? I can tell my fortune in coffee grinds thanks to the Polar Vortex making it too cold to walk to Dunkin’ daily. That, and I looked at my Mint figures and realized I spent $516.23 at coffee shops last year. That is INSANE and needs to stop, or at least be significantly curtailed because I won’t be giving up my iced coffee).

In the course of homemade mocha mint via my new toy, I also realized I was saving calories. I’d been trying to drink more Dunkin’ (Iced Peppermint Mocha, splash of skim 260 calories) vs. Starbucks (grande soy peppermint mocha, no whip, 330 calories). Homemade? The 40 calories in the Lactaid fat free milk. Win. Means more calories saved for lunch-and a bigger lunch which keeps me fuller longer and less snacky. Double win.

However, I am switching back to soy because I forgot just how vile Lactaid milk is.

and on the #GoTheDist front: 129, 827 steps, 55.8 miles walked (screw you polar vortex) and 69.3 miles biked. That means my Q1 goal (700,000 steps, 300 miles walked and 75 miles on the bike) is well within reach. It seems that I need a new bike goal-I’m very impressed with my gym habits and know the walking will increase when the weather improves and NYC withdraws from the Arctic circle.

Don’t think I’m going to win my DietBet, but I’ll have lost weight, which means it’s a win.

Review: Tinsel

Oh, and PS: I’d like to acknowledge the global economy, especially the credit and retail sectors, which fell apart between 2006 and 2008 and thereby made profligate Christmas shopping seem all the more interesting and a bit more inane. Here’s to you, capitalism
Those were actually the very last two sentences Hank Stuever wrote in Tinsel, but in a sense, they were this book. According to my Amazon wishlist when I spotted this on a price drop around Christmas, I had it on my wishlist since its publication in 2009. So of course I had to start it immediately after two false starts on books to finish out 2013: Rogues Gallery and Do You Speak Shoe Lover?

I have an odd relationship with Christmas. Christmas in our house looks a lot like Thanksgiving, just with more presents. But I hate shopping. HATE. Yet somehow, I was drawn to this book. To the author’s writing. To the people he met. After finishing the book. it was a pleasant surprise to find the photos of the people he spent Christmas with. I was way off in my mental images, but it was nice to put faces to the names.

Speaking of names, I find it amazing and generous how these folks welcomed him into their homes and their lives. While Stuever wrote at length about the growth of Frisco, it’s still very much Smalltown, USA in that respect. He came to know these people, their families, their friends. He nearly became one of them.
I read this over the course of three weeks, but if I had enough time, I’d probably have read it within a few days as it really grabbed me toward the end. It was an interesting mix of christmas, Christmas, people and shopping. I also think that pretty much describes American christmas in a nutshell these days.
Christmas is the single largest event in American communal life, intersecting with every aspect of religion, culture, commerce, and politics. From mid-November to New Year’s Eve 2006, shoppers spent almost half a trillion dollars on gifts, which is more than we spend on almost anything else as a people, including the annual bill at that time for ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  For those who opt in, Christmas is supposed to exist as a pure moment of bliss and togetherness. We spend more money than we have at Christmas in part to get closer to the simple joy it advertises.

I actually found this — which was his premise throughout the book to be fascinating. What is christmas these days. Is it spending money to be happy? Is it about the holiday (pagan or christian?) is it about family

I went looking for an America living not only on borrowed time, but also on borrowed grace. In the Nativity pageant I’ve staged here, I cast myself merely as an extra, a Wise Man in a purple velour bathrobe and a cardboard Burger King crown, following yonder star, bearing my mother’s crystal salad-dressing cruets (my frankincense, my myrrh) on a tasseled living room throw pillow.

In addition to looking for “Christmas”, I think the author had more than a little quest to look for “America”. Frisco, TX, land of the McMansions isn’t America any more than Jesus is the Reason for the Season describes the true American Christmas, but the author did well to try and tie both extremes together. Of those people he met: Carroll the shopaholic tither and her family, Tammie and her Hottie Elves and the Trykoskis and their lights, it was the Trykoskis I liked the most because they seemed to show me more about what Christmas is. I didn’t like Carroll and her family — although I felt them to be a good example of Shop ’til You Drop Spoiled America. Sure, Tammie decorated clients’ houses for Christmas – but that didn’t make her Santa any more than a normal interior designer. Jeff T was paid for his work in Frisco Square, but he did his own house – and the city – out of his own interest and passion.

The Christmas lifestyle as most Americans know and celebrate it is only about a century and a half old, a straight line from Charles Dickens to Martha Stewart.

I had to chuckle at this — because the Christmas that the author found in Frisco isn’t the Christmas I’ve seen in the Northeast. Multiple themed trees? Prelit trees? Worrying about whether a neighbor’s house and Christmas is “Christ-centered”? Never mind Frisco’s obsession with Snow Powder and the Israelis who sell it.
“On Dasher, on Dancer, on Master, on Visa.”

THANKSGIVING….It conveys a sense of national togetherness, pride, gluttonous helpings of iconic food items, and the moments we take to consider our blessings. Then all hell breaks loose.

Now that? That’s the American Christmas I know. I like how he used his journalistic background to mix in reporting with his story telling. The facts he reported on retail figures, economic growth and contraction, the history of Christmas (more Halloween then Jesus) and suburb development provided a nice back drop to the people without taking away from them. It made for substance to go with the fluff.The same could be said for the religious aspects that he discussed. While an American christmas can be religion fee, I’m not sure the same could be said for a Texas Christmas. All in all, a very good read even if it slowed down at parts. I look forward to reading his other book, Off Ramp, as I like his style and find him very readable. Also, his NPR interview about the book is a fun read. Not sure what my next book of 2014 will be. Yet.

2014: you’re looking pretty good

10 days in and January is looking pretty good, #GoTheDist wise:

  • Steps:: 42,324
  • Miles Walked: 17.8
    (both as of January 9)
  • Miles Biked: 41.44
    (as of January 10)

Pretty impressed with the foot totals in light of the polar vortex and I’ve been to the gym every other day. I am proud of that and hope I can make it stick.

Speaking of looking good. a friend turned me on to Fabletics and I may or may not be hooked. I did need some new clothes as a not small amount of my workout clothes are 60 lbs ago. I’m hoping to use this weekend’s rain to purge and bring the previous purges to the thrift store.

#GoTheDist and DietBet: miniupdate

so after (over)thinking about it, I decided to join a DietBet. While they didn’t work perfectly for me, they were a good jump start and that’s what I’d like about now. I also think I’m in a better frame of mind for it then I was when I took a break last year. As an added bonus, I had winnings in my DB kitty from one last year, so it was free. Double win if I win.

I also updated my #GoTheDist goals so they are as follows:

  • Q1, beat 2013’s Q4 totals since I seem to like beating myself (in a positive way). Totals for 4Q were:
    • 641,913 steps
    • 269.41 miles walked
    • 55.16 miles on the bike

    So my Q1 2014 goals are: 700,000 steps, 300 miles walked and 75 miles on the bike. Those are totally random numbers (not a %) so we’ll see how they go. I’m off to a good start on the bike with 10.68 miles yesterday and am bummed I’m snowed in and can’t get to the gym today.

  • Annual: 1100 miles walked (200 1Q, 4Q and 350 apiece for 2,3Q). Yes, that contradicts my math above. Oh well
  • 2.5m steps. I actually think I could hit 3m, but I’m underestimating since I don’t have a full year’s worth of step data to work with.

And as I mentioned above, snow day! Can I go play and count that for #GoTheDist?

 

2013: Pretty Well Done

Perfect? No

Well done? Absolutely

From the end of January through January 1, 2014

From the end of January through January 1, 2014

That graph is from when I restarted through today. Was the year perfect? Nope. But I ended 2013 17.3 lbs less than where I started it. That’s good.

I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday.

I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.

I was very good with mini goals and quarterly goals this year. Time to look back at 2013 and set some new ones for 2014:

January

  • Blog. Yeah, we’ll see how that goes. But when I was losing, I was blogging. So we’re going to try it again. I wasn’t very good with it this summer and fall but I was thinking about blogging even if I never got to writing.
  • On the writing theme, I’m tracking. I was a master at tracking way back when and it’s time to go back. I don’t see what my road block is here. I face the foods when I see the number on the scale, it’s time to face it in my tracker. I tracked today. Including the m&ms. That’s a start. I have been very good at tracking. I’d say 95% overall, when I don’t it’s not because I don’t want to face it, but rather because I leave it too long and don’t catch everything. But I still give myself an A- here. ETA: I almost didn’t track Christmas but then felt guilty. So I went back and tracked it. It wasn’t pretty but I dealt with it.
  • Money. I joined Run With Jess‘ DietBet challenge at the instigation of a Hive friend. It cost me $10 but I will lose my 4% and if I do that every month it won’t cost me another cent I don’t think. AND if I hit the 4% goals each month (a big if, I know), I’ll hit goal by July, which gives me plenty of breathing room if I have an off month. Well I didn’t hit it in July or September, and I got bored with DietBet partially because I wasn’t losing at that rate. I ended up buying the iPad I was thinking of anyway and I love it. ETA: thinking of starting a DietBet again to kick start me.
  • #GoTheDist. I gave up on tracking this a chunk of the way through last year although I continued to track my workouts in MapMyFitness. But the challenge is a great motivator and it gets me to the gym when I don’t want to go. A+ here. I beat my goals and tracked throughout the entire year.
  • Smoothies. Yep, back to smoothies for dinner. They help with the salt retention and they give me my chocolate fix when I otherwise eat things I have no business eating when I get home. This didn’t last, I lost my appetite for them. Do I miss them for my chocolate fix? Yes.
  • I’m not giving up soda. Not yet, at least. I was the queen of fake lemonade last time and while I’m contemplating getting a soda stream, I’m not ready to make the switch off soda. I’m afraid I won’t drink enough until it’s warmer. But it’s diet soda so that’s a partial win. I’m drinking too much soda, and probably too much coffee, but that’s not changing right now.
  • S is for Spark. as in the Spark to get to goal. As in SparkPeople. If I do what I did with Weight Watchers online, I can make it work with Spark. There is no difference in the foods I’m eating. I love LoseIt, and as  I mentioned above, I’m tracking.
  • I’m going to get my knees to the point where I can do more than one squat, or I’m going to quit putting off knee surgery and get it done. This one is still up in the air, but my knee isn’t holding me back too badly.

April

  • Exercise everyday. It doesn’t have to be the gym, and my 64 stairs a day probably count anyway, but with the weather getting nice there’s no reason not to spend some time outside walking, etc. Especially because I’d really like to finish the Great Manhattan Loop. One thing I realized when I was home for about ten days in July is how much I walk by default when I’m here. There are sloth days, but I think I’ve been good on this step. And I finished the Loop and have started on another goal with the bridges.
  • Eat better. Not just within the calories, but more fruits and vegetables. It’s the perfect season. Eh, sort of. I give myself a C here. ETA C-, but I’ve been a B+ of late so I’m getting back.
  • Diversify my breakfasts. I’m getting sick of Cheerios. I think there are better options to keep me fuller too. Straight up D here. It’s coffee, cheerios or both.
  • Set a goal. Maybe even a Goal. Time to figure out what I’m working toward. F. F – if possible.

October/Q4

  • Stay on track and finish strong. Fall is crazy at work, but that’s not an excuse to undo all the progress I’ve made this year. I wasn’t perfect, but I was pretty good. I didn’t gain over my birthday, Thanksgiving, the gala or vacation. I’m happy with this.
  • #GoTheDist Q4. Detailed yesterdayDetailed above. Nailed this.
  • Better food choices. Goldfish aren’t dinner and coffee isn’t breakfast. No comment.
  • Set a Goal, goal, oal-gay or what have you. Time to stop this ridiculosity and just do it. Um, I plead the 5th

So mixed results, but I’m overall happy because I kept thinking about the goals I’d set and why. So, with that in mind, here are some ones to start 2014.

2014

  • Meet or exceed my #GoTheDist goals.
  • Specifically, exceed my Q4 2013 GTD totals.
  • I’m not sure LoseIt’s 147 days is realistic, but 2014 is the last year I will start overweight
  • Learn to cook. I’m already laughing at myself for this one, but I really wish I could. I think it would make some food choices better.
  • Get back to a regular gym schedule. It sounds cliche, but I feel good when I go. So I need to GO
  • Relax. Keep doing what I did last year. It (mostly) worked and I’m on the right track.