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Monthly Archives: June 2005

good weekend

It’s been a good weekend so far, and I still have the rest of the afternoon to go. Here’s a little recap since I haven’t posted in a few days:

– Friday: Went to Thai Orchid in Lyndhurst for some tasty Thai food. I have the Pad Mee, which is pretty similar to Pad Thai but with skinnier noodles. It was excellent. Followed that up with a trip to Trader Joes to pick up some good eats on the cheap. Found some excellent salsa to go with their Lime & Chili chips.

– Saturday: Spent most of the day lounging around the house in the A/C before heading out to Ohio City for a BBQ with some friends I hadn’t seen in forever. Lots of good eats & conversation, though I stayed way later than I had planned.

– Sunday: Woke up at 6:45 since I had a 10k to run at 9am in Cleveland Heights. Got out there and registered and managed to run the whole race despite the heat and total lack of any wind. It was my first organized running event and was a blast. Though running is an individual sport, it’s nice to participate alongside hundreds of other people. So now I have a little more experience heading into the Akron Marathon I plan to run in 14 weeks.

Plan to relax for a few hours in the AC before hitting up some free Chipotle, watching some Family Guy, and checking out some fireworks.

100 days to go

In 100 days, I am going to attempt something I’ve wanted to do for years…run a marathon. Most of the people I have told about this are quick to ask “why do you want to do that?”. Well, I’ve always admired people who are able to do marathons, and seeing as how men and women of all ages do them every year, I saw no reason why I myself could not do it. And in reality, it’s much more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge. Sure, you’re pushing your body to your physical limits in running 26.2 miles, but it’s really about pushing your mental limits and seeing how far you can push yourself.

I found this great book, The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer which I am using as my guide. It’s a 16 week program which requires 4 runs per week. The book is actually geared more towards the mental side of things as opposed to the physical. I’m only in the 2nd week of my training program, but I’m seeing some really great results so far, and doing much better than I expected. This Sunday I am going to Cleveland Heights to run in my first organized race, A Most Excellent Race, a 10k.

I’m actually enjoying my training, and it’s helping me to get back in shape. Having a schedule you have to keep to can be an excellent motivator. So is telling the world you’re going to do something, and having people constantly asking you how your training is going.

FREE CHIPOTLE…again

I think this is the 3rd time I’ve posted about a free offer from Chipotle, but hey….it’s FREE! Free is always good, especially when it’s food, and particularly when it’s Chipotle. I know, McDonald’s is still evil, but Chipotle still tastes good.

This time around, the occasion is the first day of summer (also the day with the most daylight), June 21st. So stop in tomorrow, buy a burrito, save your receipt, and turn it in anytime before June 26th to get a free burrito! I couldn’t find an official link, but a number of blogs had it posted and I also found it here. Apparently they sent it out to subscribers of their email list, which I just now signed up for.

UPDATE: For those who don’t trust me, here’s an OFFICIAL LINK. See, I wouldn’t lie.

fair or not?

Earlier tonight I saw a very interesting segment on ’60 Minutes’. The story (read more here) was about a law that has existed in Texas for the past 8 years which states that any high school student who finishes in the top 10 percent of their class can automatically go to any public university in the state. The law, intended to encourage ethnic diversity, has both it’s supporters and opponents. After watching the segment, I’m still not sure of what I think.

The story examined the situations of two different students, one a hispanic girl from a poorer community, and a caucasian girl from a very elite high school in a top community. The hispanic girl was easily in the top 10% of her class with a 3.4 GPA taking standard courses, whereas the caucasian girl just missed the cut in her class with a 3.9 GPA taking mostly Advanced Placement courses in addition to numerous extra curricular activities. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now what happened, the hispanic girl got to go to University of Texas whereas the other girl did not since the school has scant room remaining beyond the “top 10” students.

Obviously on paper the one candidate is much more qualified than the other. But should some people be given privilege because of their otherwise unpriveleged background? I think ultimately that their is no right answer or perfect system. Having a “rule” like this sets a very clear cut standard which leaves very little gray area (as the gray area is what usually gets the universities in hot water when they are left to make a decision on their own since someone is going to be disappointed). Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

more TV you say?

If you’ve been reading my posts as of late, you might get the impression that I watch a lot of TV. But in reality, I usually only catch a couple hours a week (baseball games on in the background don’t count!). But last night, I tuned into my first basic cable original show. It was a new show called ‘30 Days‘ on the FX Channel. The show is the brain child of Morgan Spurlock, the man behind the great documentary ‘Super Size Me’

Last night’s episode featured Spurlock and his fiancee, as they descended upon Columbus, OH for 30 days of a minimum wage lifestyle. First they moved into a $350/month apartment in the “bad part of town”. Apparently the cops had just busted a crackhouse downstairs the week before. They then both embarked upon minimum wage jobs, Morgan doing various labor jobs for a temp agency (sometimes pulling double shifts), and his fiancee washing dishes at a coffee shop. Over the course of the month, they pinched their pennies and lived very frugally, and both had to take a trip to the hospital for health issues. At the end of the month, they made it by but calculated it would take 3 more months to pay off the hospital bills (it was funny/ridiculous when Morgan had on his bill a $40 line item for “medical supplies”, which consisted of a lone ace bandage). It was a rather eye opening show, especially since it was fairly close to home. During the show, they pulled no punches in emphasizing how insane it is that the minimum wage has not gone up in 7 years (despite Ted Kennedy proposing an increase every single year)! During that time, Congress has increased their own wages $26,000. I’ve stated my opinion of this before, and this show only further increased my outrage.

Next week’s episode features a 30-something guy taking anti-aging medication to try to get back some zing. And after that is the episode I’m really looking forward to, where a Christian moves into a Muslim community and lives for 30 days. This show has some great potential, so I advise you to tune in Wednesday nights at 10pm.

A night out on the town (Akron) – part two

Back in April, I had my first night out on the town in Akron. Since I had a great time that evening, I decided it was time to do it again. So Kristy & I ventured down to the rubber city again, but kept our trip limited to the Highland Square area this time. First, we visited Square Records, an excellent independent record store, where I picked up a cheap old 7″ record that caught my eye.

We then stopped in a few doors down for dinner at Two Amigos Mexican Grill. I’d been wanting to try this place after hearing great things, and we were not disappointed. I have heard it is always packed, but fortunately we were able to leave a cell phone number and only had to wander around for 20 minutes or so before they called us. I could have made a meal out of the free chips and salsa (their salsa is the bomb!). The menu has a number of choices and everything is customizable, and the service was great. The only bad part was the noise, which made us almost have to shout to hear one another despite sitting only about a foot apart. But is was some of the best mexican food I’d have, and I’m definitely down with going back sometime.

We then went to Revival, where I picked up a t-shirt I liked from the Rubber City Clothing Co. Afterwards, we went back to Square Records where a band was playing and we hung out for a while. There was a big crowd in both stores and out front, as it was seemingly some sort of small block party or something. Both stores had free food and beverages. And everyone I came across was super nice. There really is a different vibe to this area that I don’t get from anyplace I’ve been in the Cleveland area (and I’ve been to a lot of different areas). So big ups to Akron, particularly Highland Square, for helping make our evening out an enjoyable one.

a netflix night

Tonight I watched the new DVD release, The Machinist, starring Christian Bale. This movie came in pretty much under the radar of the mainstream media, with the only attention it received being in regards to the weight loss Bale underwent for the role (he dropped 63 pounds down to a sickly 121 pounds).
While Bale’s skeletal body often steals the show, the movie is actually pretty good. I’ve seen it compared to films such as ‘Memento’ and ‘Fight Club’ in regards to the cinematography and plot twists, and I believe these to be pretty fair comparisons. Bale’s character is an insomniac who has not slept in over a year, and inevitably his mind is starting to play tricks on him. The movie can be hard to stomach at times between the frequent shots of Bale’s unbelievably emaciated body and other distubring imagery. If you’re looking for a movie with primary colors, you’ve come to the wrong place. I think the brightest color you’ll find is a dark green. If you enjoyed the aforementioned movies and are in the market for a movie with nothing uplifting about it, checking out ‘The Machinist’.

UPDATE: I stumbled across Roger Ebert’s review of the movie, and found this to be a very interesting view from Mr.Ebert, who is the greatest movie reviewers of all-time, and a very intelligent and insightful person:
“We get up in the morning in possession of certain assumptions through which all of our experiences must filter. We cannot be rid of those assumptions, although an evolved person can at least try to take them into account. Most people never question their assumptions, and so reality exists for them as they think it does, whether it does or not. Some assumptions are necessary to make life bearable, such as the assumption that we will not die in the next 10 minutes. Others may lead us, as they lead Trevor, into a bleak solitude. Near the end of the movie, we understand him when he simply says, “I just want to sleep.””

A Target every 5 miles!

It seems that the buzz word in retail development for the past five years is “Big Box”, referring to large-sized retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Borders, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. It seems every community these days are trying to land their own big boxes. The Cleveland area and it’s surrounding communities have had their big boxes popping up like crazy, and I recently read where the W.117th & I-90 area is about to secure their own piece of the big box action. This is an area where I used to work back in the day, and while it could use some cleanup, I don’t think landing a few big corporate retailers is the answer.

Fortunately the residents of my community have repeatedly voted down developer attempts to land big boxes in our city. It seems that Target really wants to get their hands on our population’s shopping dollars. Nevermind the fact that I can drive 15 minutes west, 15 minutes east, 20 minutes south, and soon to be 10 minutes north, and get to a Target (and there’s even more within 20 minutes if I go NW, SW, etc). I’m really wondering at what point these retailers are going to stop and say “OK, I think we’ve got this region covered”. If I really wanted to shop at Target, I have no problem driving 15 minutes to get there. There is no need to have one in my backyard. They’re just going to be taking my money from the other store and moving it to this new store. They’re spreading the region’s shoppers’ dollars thinner across their stores, and cutting into their own profits. Those who talk about job growth, I argue that this is minimal because adding a new store takes business from the other store, so fewer workers are still needed at the other stores when a new one opens. I hope these retailers realize (VERY SOON) that the NE Ohio region is getting very oversaturated, and they should be content with the locations they have.

guilty pleasure

It’s rare that I tune into something non-sports or financial related on TV. But I have found myself strangely drawn to ‘Blow Out‘ on Bravo. Since I’m sure only about 1% of my reading audience has ever even heard of this show, here is a run-down: It’s basically a reality show set in this fancy hair salon in Beverly Hills run by this crazy guy named Jonathan (who is apparently like a D-list celebrity for being the “stylist to the stars”). For fans of HBO’s Ali G Show, you might remember him from an interview with the fashion guy where he said some insane things like about Hitler having a wonderful mustache. Anyways, it’s one of those things where it’s so incredibly annoying that I’m just drawn to it (I know, that doesn’t really sound like it makes much sense, but I’m sure most of you have felt that way about something). The best was where he was giving a motivational talk to some of his employees and comparing them to doctors. They cut friggin hair! Maybe one day I’ll pass on my $8 bargain haircut and go somewhere fancy so I can get a taste of this alternate universe where stylists are at the pinnacle of the professional world. Anybody care to donate to my first non-bargain haircut?

Paying for Placement

I knew that companies pay to have their products advertised on TV, radio and movies, but I had no idea that they actually pay stores to prominently display their products. According to this story, “chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders determine their display space based on how much publishers are willing to pay them”, which includes the magazine racks. I spent a number of months working in a bookstore, but was never aware of this. We always received very specific orders from the home office regarding how to arrange magazines and what things to put in displays, but I figured it had more to do with sales strategy. The most interesting thing the author of this post mentions is how an old Tower Records employee told him they actually make more selling shelve space than the actual CDs!