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Monthly Archives: July 2006

…and i feel fine

As I am writing this, I am enjoying the final night of my “bachelor pad”. As of tomorrow morning, my eightish months of living by myself will come to an end as my girlfriend Kristy will become my roommate. After dating more than three years and having to drive 45 minutes each way to see each other, it only makes sense that we do this now.

Actually, when I said I was “enjoying” my evening, that is a bit of an exaggeration. I’m sore & sweaty after spending the past few hours rearranging and cleaning things up for the move. When one (particularly a guy) moves into a too big apartment by themselves, they tend to sort of “spread out”. That is what I did, and I am now in the process of unspreading out (umm…you get the point).

I am sure it is going to be a big headache for a few weeks, but after that hopefully it will be smooth sailing. We have our fingers crossed that the bringing together of our cats, Walter & Oscar, will go smoothly. They have only met once, very briefly, and there was quite a bit of tension between the two of them. Sometime this weekend they will meet again…under very close supervision.


fun in the sun (and rain)

Cedar Point in the evening
Originally uploaded by thespacerace.

Friday’s day off to go to Cedar Point turned out to be a day well spent, for the most part. We arrived at the park around 11am and got started right away with the rides by going on one of my favorites, the Raptor. From there, we hit up various rides as we came across them. The park was surprisingly not very crowded, and the 40 minutes we waited for the first ride was the longest wait of the day.

The highlight of the day was riding the Top Thrill Dragster. I had not been to Cedar Point in over 5 years, so I had quite a few new rides to check out for the first time, this being among them. This ride, while only about 20 seconds long, is the best ride I’ve ever been on. You start at a standstill, and then these lights countdown (like at a drag race), and you go from 0 to 120mph in 4 seconds. From there, you race stright up 400 feet in the air, twisting 90 degrees. Once you reach the top, you zoom straight back down, twisting 270 degrees, before racing to the “finish line”. It’s short, but it is pretty amazing.

I also was finally able to check out the Millenium Force, with it’s 300 ft drop at 93 mph. I will admit that it was a bit of a letdown having followed the Dragster, but it was still a fun ride. I rode the Magnum later in the day, and while it is now dwarfed by the Millenium Force, I actually still like it a little better. Ignoring the high & speed of the initial descent, the Magnum is a better ride overall in my opinion.

One ride I really did not care for was the Mantis, which I rode for the first time. It is a stand-up roller coaster, and is very uncomfortable to ride from the start. And during the actual ride, I don’t know if I wasn’t standing correctly or what, but there was a tremendous amount of force being applied to my lower legs that made it extremely uncomfortable and actually hurt quite a bit. So I will definitely be avoiding that one in the future.

Three other rides that were new to me, all of which I really enjoyed, were maXair, Wicked Twister, and the Power Tower. I was able to ride everything I wanted, but unfortunately the day was shortened by rain. It started the downpour for about an hour around 5pm. We headed inside for dinner and timed the end of the rain almost perfectly and were able to walk right onto the Magnum after that. But as we headed for our next ride, the skies got mighty dark and we decided to call it a day. But before we could make our escape, the skies opened up and it poured for about a half hour (as seen in the picture above). When it let up a bit, we made our way to the car and followed the storm all the way back home.

freedom isn’t free

I am very much enjoying my Thursday evening as I will be taking tomorrow off. My girlfriend’s teenage sister is in town from Texas, so we are playing the part of the somewhat older (yet still young enough to be “cooler” than the rest of the adults) relatives. Tonight we stopped off at the Winking Lizard, mostly in part to pickup our race packets for Saturday night’s 4 mile ‘Shot in the Dark‘ run in downtown Cleveland. Since we were there, we grabbed a bite to eat. I’m always a fan of the Lizard because of their enormous beer selection. Tonight I chose the Glass of the Month special, which was a French beer by the name of Kronenbourg 1664. It came in a very nice 16 oz. glass (as seen above), and ended up being a very tasty beer. Unfortunately, I think that is the last time that glass will ever be filled with that particular beverage because that is not a very easy-to-find beer. I hope I won’t do it too much disgrace by drinking Diet Coke out of it.

Tomorrow, we are taking a trip out to Cedar Point. Going there each summer was one of the highlights of my childhood, but I can’t even remember the last time I was there. It has been at least 5 years. I’m really hoping one of them will ride the 120 mph Top Thrill Dragster with me, but it’s not sounding good at this point. Looks like I’ll be enjoying that one with a stranger by my side.

People actually watch this stuff?!

I returned home from work and assorted errands late this evening, so after fixing myself some dinner, I did a rare thing and sat down in front of the television for something other than a movie or video game. I figured there had to be something remotely interesting on TV.

Little did I realize that it is the middle of summer and there was nothing but absolute rubbish on (I don’t have cable, so my options are limited, though I doubt cable had much more to offer). On 4 of the stations there were reality competition shows. I thought a few years ago everyone said “reality tv” had hit it’s peak? Well, it seems to have morphed into “talent shows”, which almost seems worse to me. Here is a rundown of what I saw while flipping between shows, trying to decide which was worst.

NBC – What is seemingly the last network to latch onto these shows has what seems to me the worst of them all in “America’s Got Talent“. This unabashed “American Idol” ripoff has broadened the talent pool beyond singers to include dancers, comedians, jugglers (yes, jugglers) and even ventriloquists (I kid you not). Add in a couple of washed up celebrities (welcome back to TV David Hasselhoff and Brandy), and the critical British judge for us Americans to love-to-hate, and you apparently have the hit of the summer. Oh, and did I mention Regis Philbin plays the annoying host (anyone remember Ed McMahon hosting ‘Star Search’? Why didn’t they just bring that back?). Let’s hope this show fades out as fast as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”.

FOX – The geniuses over at FOX have reserved singing exclusively for their other hit show, so this summer they turn our focus to the next obvious show-worthy talent, dancing (what, that wasn’t obvious?), with “So You Think You Can Dance?“. I must admit that I have an extremely low interest in the art(?) of dancing, and even less tolerance for the types that appear on this show, so I really did not watch this more than 30 seconds total tonight. I just happened to catch a backstage interview with a couple of the performers who thought they should win based on their “hotness” (their words, not mine) alone. I think you get the point.

UPN/WB/??? – For some reason I thought these two fringe networks had merged, and I can’t remember which one was airing reruns of “America’s Next Top Model” tonight. I guess when you’re a dying network, you don’t bother to make new shows like everyone else for the summer, and you just rerun old ones. I just find it hard to believe they’d rerun a competition show like this. Gee…I wonder who is going to win? Oh, the suspense of it all. This show was not worthy of airing the first time, let alone a second.

CBS – Finally, we have your grandparents’ favorite station, CBS, trying to appear hip for the younger generation with “Rockstar: Supernova“. I was apparently sadly mistaken in thinking that this show was a one-time deal last year when they set off to find the new singer for INXS. They are back in full force this year, trying to find a singer for a specially made-for-TV “supergroup” (lamely dubbed “Supernova”), which features Mr. Carmen Electra (Dave Navarro), the bassist who quit Metallica and is now seemingly trying to find his way back to fame & fortune (Jason Newsted), our favorite drummer turned porn star (Tommy Lee), and Cleveland’s own brief Guns N’ Roses rhythm guitarist (Gilby Clarke).
I would have to admit that this show was the most watchable of any, though by no means good. Tommy Lee looked awful and strung out. I guess he spent his time in the dressing room snorting some coke instead of putting on makeup. Jason Newsted took up way too much camera time, I guess so people could think harder about “where do I know that guy from?”. But I guess that’s better than Gilby Clarke who was the definite “who is that guy?” guy. They all sat around a table acting all chummy and praising the contestants while occasionally laying into them just to show them who is boss. I managed to see parts of 3 performances by the contestants, including covers of timeless rock favorites by Tonic, Evanescene and The Killers. Want to hear some of your least favorite rock songs of the past few years made even worse? Tune in each week!

not my cup

With each passing week, I’m realizing more and more that Sundays suck. Yes, it is a day when I don’t have to work (which is a good thing), but every Sunday for me seems to start off with so much promise and potential, and by the time Sunday night rolls around, I realize that I accomplished very little (if anything) that I had wanted to do.

Today I gave the World Cup another chance seeing as how it was the championship game. So I was sort of like that non-sports fan that checks out the Super Bowl each year to see what the hype is all about. And of course, I was disappointed yet again. The game ended in a shootout, which is such a cheap way to end a hard fought game. A guy stands like 20 feet from the goal, and gets to shoot on this huge net that the goaltender has no defense other than to pick a side to dive towards and hope that his body may somehow make contact with the ball. At least 9 times out of 10, he fails and the other team scores. The only reason a team won today was because someone on the French team hit the post with his kick. It seems like such a waste to end a game like this. I could probably make a goal given that chance. It takes a game of skill and turns it more into a game of chance. So, being the open-minded indivdual I am, I gave soccer another chance today. But it failed once again to make a fan of me.

I am somewhat looking forward to starting my marathon training tomorrow. I did not run much this week, mostly because of a lack of motivation. Despite the very encouraging progress I am seeing with my runs and races, I’m just not feeling the running right now. Hopefully that will change now that I’m actually in a training program again.

Also checked out the Brew Kettle this weekend, a brewery/bar in Strongsville, OH. I really liked it, though it’s too bad it has taken me so long to find it now that I live nowhere close to it now. They have a constantly rotating cast of about 24 beers on tap, none of which are anything most people have heard of. I enjoyed one of their own brewed Ringneck Hefe Weizen (a Belgian-esque beer), and a Strongbow Cider, which tastes like a really good apple cider. I really liked it, and one of the guys we went with had their Pulled Pork Sandwich (a favorite sandwich of mine which I unfortunately skipped because I had eaten earlier) which Scene magazine called the best in Cleveland, and my friend completely agreed. I look forward to trying it out my next time through.

detroit rock city

Headed off on a brief trip to Detroit, Michigan tomorrow for a wedding. I’m not a big wedding guy, so for me it’s more of a people watching thing than anything else. It’s usually amusing to watch a bunch of people and what they will do when alcohol is free. And while watching them, I wonder who will be “that guy” at my wedding if I ever get married. You know, the one who takes the drinking to another level and becomes the center of attention (for all of the wrong reasons).

This weekend, I also made plans for another trip to Detroit this coming October. That trip will be of a different sort, as I will be going to run in the Detroit Marathon. Yes, I registered for it this weekend so that I could secure the “early bird” registration discount. So for now, the plan is to make Detroit marathon #3. There is still a (small) chance that I might run the Akron Marathon again this year, as they are a month apart and I feel I could adequately recover in that time period.

The reasons for choosing Detroit? Well, the top reasons are the location, time of year, and the flatness of the course. It’s only about a 3 hour drive, it’s in the fall when I think I’ll be ready for one, and the course is very flat. I am really interested in running a flat course since my first two marathons were hilly, so I’m very curious to see what sort of impact that will have on my time. I’ve read good things about Detroit. Going across the border into Canada and ending at the 50 yard line of the Ford Field football stadium make it sound rather interesting.

The race is on October 29th, so I’m right at that four month mark right now. So it’s time to get training!

Restaurant Review: FATBURGER

While I’m only down with having a hamburger once in a blue moon, I was excited when a new Fatburger restaurant opened just down the street from where I work in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. It is the first Ohio location for this California-based franchise, and on Friday I rounded up some equally excited co-workers and headed out there.

The inside is setup sort of like a diner, though the big exception is that you go up to the cashier and place your order, and then you’re given a number on a stand which you take to your seat and wait the 10-15 minutes for your order to arrive. So I guess you can say it’s not-so-fast fast food.

The first thing that struck everyone I was with was the prices. I was not in the mood for red meat, so I opted for the “Turkey Deal”, which consisted of a 1/3 lb turkey burger, “skinny” fries and a “skinny” drink. This meal ran just under $9. I upgraded my fries to onion rings for $1 more, which pushed my meal over $10 (with tax). The “Chicken Deal” and “King Deal” (1/2 lb “king” burger) were priced the same, while the “Fat Deal” (1/3 lb “fat” burger) was a dollar less. Seems like they brought their California prices with them.

The food arrived in about 10 minutes, on a plastic tray and wrapped just like any fast food meal. The turkey burger was fairly good, and the onion rings were really good. But for $10, I can’t really say I felt like I got my money’s worth. Everyone else I was with felt the same. Good food, but too expensive. My friend ordered a chili dog that was $4! That was pretty outrageous.

So while the food is pretty good fast food fare, the environment is nothing to boast about and the prices are far from justifiable. Those prices might be OK in California, but Ohio is certainly no California. I can only hope that they drop the prices or my next review will likely be the restaurant that opens next in the space that will be vacated by Fatburger.