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Senior Citizen models

The expanding image of the typical American has broadened as a trending topic on a large scale.

 

Yeah, I get it. We have gotten fat.

 

As we travel the world, our image—as our bellies—have grown yet another trait that identifies us in a not very complimentary manner.

 

Speaking of our manners, that is exactly what birthed the concept of the Ugly American. Going back to the 50’s, many a foreign resident viewed us as being,

“…loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, and ethnocentric…”

 

Thanks to fast foods, high fructose corn syrup, and 24/7 digital distractions, we have added our girth (literally) to that litany of negative credentials.

 

I feel it every time I get stuck in the middle seat on a nine-hour transatlantic flight, with some overweight guy bulging well into my personal airspace.

 

Of all the thoughts that go through my mind in those instances, that this guy is really the new image of a sexy body is not one of the top ten that I think about. Not even on the top one hundred.

 

Of course, truth be told, I need only look in a mirror to see that guy might be me, especially if the wife-person keeps baking plates of incredible sweet treats, like the amazing dark chocolate dipped, marzipan-tasting, almond cookies I found on a plate on the kitchen counter.

(Which, I later found out were for her club meeting the next day…oops.)

 

The result of all my high calorie grazing is, now that I have topped 60, my weight keeps inching up, along with my belt size.

 

I have been thinking about doing something about this, which is not to be confused with actually doing something about this.

 

Now it comes out that I don’t have to do anything about this; I could have gorged myself on the entire plate of treats.

(Hey, I was already in deep doo-doo.)

 

What momentous, life-altering event changed the world view of my physical condition?

 

Thanks to Breaking News from Jon Stewart, I learned that it was no longer necessary to suck in my ample gut whenever I was in sight of the fairer sex.

 

If this story was legitimate,  I could breathe out knowing that my ample belly was now considered not only desirable, but even—gasp—sexy. The news goes that I am packing what is a highly desirable manly bulge above my beltline.

 

According to a recent story in the New York Daily News,

Women are lusting after dudes with “dad bods” — a little extra gut around the middle.”

 

Even Hollywood heartthrob megastars have been seen sporting the look.

 

 

           dicaprio on boat dad bod

 

 

Kristen Schaal, on the Daily Show segment said,

“You don’t have to be a dad to have a Dad Bod, you just have to be really lazy.”

 

Schaal even claimed that,

…women are lining up at the Dad Bod buffet.” 

 

Well, I’m here to tell you that either the story is bogus, or I have been lining up at the wrong buffets.

 

I have tried three Old Country Buffets and two Sizzlers and I keep getting the same looks of disdain from all the women I parade by. This was especially unexpected, since I was sporting my outfit of yoga pants and a lycra top.

 

In the meantime, the wife-person has started to get suspicious why I want to go eat at yet another buffet, and more worrisome, why I keep strutting up and down the buffet line over and over.

 

I was starting to get skeptical, but even Jimmy Fallon acknowledged the Dad Bod phenomenon in his Pros & Cons segment. Here are a couple of them:

PRO: No longer worrying about what you see on the scale.

CON: Because your gut is blocking the view.

PRO: Being comfortable of having a soft, flabby body with zero muscle tone..

CON: Realizing you still need to lose 75 pounds to attain that [Dad Bod] physique. 

 

Well, since this news is on the internet, it must be true. So, maybe I will go try a big slice from that berry pie I saw in the refrigerator.

 

I’m sure she made it for me.

There are many lessons one obtains by surviving over six decades of an active life; such as, a tennis ball rolls off a roof better than a frisbee.

 

One tag for this post might be travel insurance, but before you tune out, let me assure you, I am not talking about the type of insurance that—excuse the non sequitur—some television lizard is hawking.

 

You are in the wrong place if you want a detailed description of the best monetary travel expense coverage; for that, I suggest you go read the renowned travel advice dude, Christopher Elliot for guidance in that arena.

 

No, I’m thinking more about how to ensure your return from your travel adventures, and specifically, who you travel with may be the most powerful protection.

Along with some good fortune, of course.

 

I have had a (relatively) long life, apparently by being blessed with more than my fair share of blind-ass luck.

 

As I am about to briefly recount some of my karmatic chapters of travails survived, I wonder what they add up to.

 

Let’s see, the first I-could-have-died instance was flying out of the backseat of a moving car and landing on  my head. This was while riding in the family Hudson along the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland.

 

Oh, should I mention I was on my mother’s lap at the time? Hmmm.

 

Some years later, there was my stuck-at-sea adventure on a too-short-for-me windsurfer in the middle of the Sea of Cortez, off the coast of Baja.

 

And then, almost drowning myself, along with a couple of family members, while non-whitewater rafting on the Green River in southern Utah.

 

O.K. I think I am going to fast-forward to my most recent event, so I do not get even more paranoid than I already am. Hey, even cats have their limited number of lives.

 

Earlier this year, I was on the far side of Panama for a few weeks of sailing, snorkeling, and scuba, when the heartache I began to experience was well beyond my natural missing of the wonderful wife-person.

 

Three and a half days later, I was back home, heart issue shockingly resolved, but informed of a totally unrelated superfluous protuberance perched on an internal organ, which I was told required removal.

Ironically, this was discovered by a “cat” scan, although no cats were found therein.

 

In a number of those tales, part of my luck was having travel companions willing and able to offer a timely hand.

 

Maybe that factor is the best form of travel insurance there is.

 

Just ask my travel writing mentor, and sometimes—O.K., just one time—travel companion, Tim Cahill about that.  Tim recently died (not a hyperbole), but thanks to the proximity, skill, and immediate action of his whitewater raft mates, to be forever known as the “Colorado River Miracle Team,” he lived again to tell the story.

 

You just never know where and when your time is up, or, apparently, for some of us, when our nine lives have been fully accounted.

 

In Cahill’s account of his Grand Canyon reawakening, he does not get all philosophical about life’s kismet. No, he realized how much he enjoys playing “roof ball” with his dog, Dexter.

 

After my latest (perceived?) near-death experience, once again I attempted to emulate my longtime, one-way, literary bromance with Tim Cahill by taking the dog outside and flinging the frisbee on to the roof.

 

As Foxley the dog eagerly anticipated retrieving his favorite toy as it rolled off the roof, alas, I was reminded of yet one more thing I don’t do as good as Tim.

 

As the dog looked upward, I hunted for a long pole to retrieve the frisbee, which lay flat on the roof.

 

 

             Foxley frisbee

Worst trip of my life

I have returned from my weeklong treacherous travail to the edge of the Coma Canyon abyss.

 

My torso has become a palate of deep purple, yellow and green, against a canvas of pale skin.

 

I am minus one organ, which I am convinced was pummeled into submission before being sliced out, leaving a trail of over a dozen industrial-grade, stainless steel staples.

 

Somewhere along the path, I was shocked with electrical paddles.

 

I am Frankenstein.

 

And, I have the T-shirt to prove it.

 

       I am Frank

O.K. Axl, I’ll take Rock & Roll Bands of the ‘80’s for $1,000.

 

I’m starting to wonder if the purpose of this multi-media, global adventure humor website, or “blooogggg…ack, ack, cough, cough, as the wife-person says it, like she’s trying to clear a hairball from her throat, is primarily to provide a historical perspective for my younger reader.

 

Some of us are looking at the far side of sextdecades; that’s (kind of) Latin for six decades, or 60 years; NOT six decades of sex.

(Old people having sex…that’s just gross, as my daughters keep telling me.)

 

Anyway, our generations have a completely different point of reference for historical events. We lived it, while you may have happened to stumble onto it while exploring the World of Google.

 

   Panama hotel view

 

That brilliant and perceptive concept came to mind as I was thinking of my recent—albeit, short-lived—trip to Panama. My early exit had nothing to do with the psychological warfare waged against a CIA-trained, Medellin Cartel member named Manuel Noriega, which took place some 25 years ago.

 

That operation was not the nifty package that the Navy Seal team was hoping to wrap up. After 10 days of blasting, heavy metal Guns and Roses, and other earsplitting rock music, the notorious drug dealer—and ex-BFF of the United States—finally raised the white earplugs and gave himself up.

"Reportedly the song "I Fought The Law" by The Clash was played repeatedly along with "Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses; another song in the line-up was "Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die" by Jethro Tull.

 

      jungle colors

 

Without providing exceedingly boring and excessively graphic details on the physical deterioration of my current travel adventures into the advanced latter years of middle age, I will just say that this is my Official Year of The Wheels Beginning to Fall off the Bus.

 

The gist of this inevitable human condition is that my planned two-week sailing and snorkeling sojourn along the Caribbean coast of Panama, turned into a one-day, welcome to the world of airline change fees and astronomical increased, last minute flight and hotel costs.

 

My immediate alternatives were either a visit to a local clinic, which even the locals recommended I avoid, or a 40 minute panga voyage over rough seas, to some unknown medical facility. Plus, the fact that the extent of my limited Spanish and poor pronunciation, was an ability to order more beer or inquire as to the location of the nearest toilet, I was worried they might think I was saying,

Creo que voy a tener un bebe.”

 

So, I opted to fly back to Panama City, and then home to the states, a two-day trek.

 

   Air Panama PAC to BOC

 

So, what in holy hell does this have to do with some two-and-a-half decades-old military event, dealing with a drug dealing dictator dude you likely have never heard of?

 

Well, my only Panamanian point of reference were either some gigantic ditch that crosses the country, or the story of the rock music-driven eviction of an infamous, poor acne-pitted, pineapple-faced, ex-dictator.

 

As the latter occurred at the exact moment in time I was experiencing the most significant emotional event of my life¹—albeit, mine was in the middle of the Sea of Cortez of Mexico—the two events are inexorably linked in whatever remaining gray matter of mine, which has not yet turned to mush.

(¹ See previously published reports of my famous Stuck At Sea story.

To reiterate, ignore the oft-repeated, misstated account that I was “lost at sea.” I knew EXACTLY where I was and where I wanted to go; I just couldn’t get there from there. Although, ironically, the epic north winds were blowing me towards Panama.)

 

Back to my recent ill-fated adventure: Happily, I made it back home, and with certain medical treatments administered, and particular excess body parts soon-to-be excised, I soon hope to be able to quote Noriega in the letter he wrote to his wife, just before giving into the ten days of aural abuse, and once again say,

"I go now on an adventure."

 

Personally, I can’t blame old Manuel for surrendering. My parents expressed the same sentiment during my high school and early college years with what was blaring from my bedroom stereo.

 

 

   Red Frog bar sign

They say to travel with your eyes wide open, in order to completely capture the wonderful world as it unfolds like a road map in front of you.

 

I would add to that: You should travel with your mouth wide open, so you get a taste of the area you are adventuring through.

 

scooter on street

Unless, of course, you happen to be motoring on a Motorino at the time, searching for the perfect pizza pie.

 

Those bugs stuck in your teeth tend to make a lousy pizza topping.

 

My journey of culinary contentment began on Main Street of the tiny town of Mt. Shasta, way up in northern California, some 15-years ago. It was there that I discovered a small bakery, with shelves brimming with beautifully baked loaves of bread. The proprietor explained that the secret of his creations was the wood-fired oven smack in the middle of his establishment.

 

I had never seen such a thing, but, as a wildland fire fighter with a possibly worrisome worship of the open flame, I knew at once that I must build such a structure.

 

But, probably not in the middle of the wife-person’s cherished 1906 farm house kitchen.

 

The owner of the Oven Bakery suggested I purchase a book entitled The Bread Builders, for a guide to constructing an oven and building the perfect loaf. All I would need were a “few bricks and a bit of mortar.”

 

That was some 15-years ago.

 

In the interim, wood-fired pizza purveyors have become as ubiquitous as craft beer brewpubs and farm-to-table restaurants. There are probably a dozen or so in the Sacramento area, alone. Apparently, I am not the only one fascinated by fire and the resultant amazing flavors it imparts on almost any kind of cooking.

 

And, in the last few years, it is not at all uncommon for individuals to place one of these ovens on their backyard patio, or inside as the centerpiece of their kitchen. So much so, that in certain crowded  San Francisco Bay Area neighborhoods, they are being smoked out by them (but, probably more so from backyard smokers than efficient ovens with a good chimney).

 

Except, at our place, the only evidence of my interest has been a frayed, 15-year old book and a big fat pile of the best of intentions.  When the wife-person would ask me to explain my lack of execution, I would say,

“Sorry, dear, I’ll get to it.”

 

But, as, Felix Unger once said, "Sorry doesn’t feed the Admiral’s cat." 

 

Nor, does it feed the hunger for a hand-kneaded, delicious delicacy with the perfect cornicione crust, topped with a chunky sauce from San Marzano Italian tomatoes,  a moderate amount of the quintessential Mozzarella di Bufala cheese, and a few leaves of fresh basil.

 

The cornicione crust refers to the sought-after puffy finish along the pizza margin, while the di Bufala cheese is the classic cheese made from the Italian water buffalo.

 

But, thanks to either the generosity of heart or the lack of patience for another 15-years of waiting, the wife-person gently suggested I go get the “guts” for a quality wood-fired oven, get off my foundation, and begin building.

 

It was about that period of time that Number Two Daughter introduced us to Mac Duff’s Public House, in South Lake Tahoe, where we thoroughly enjoyed what came out of their indoor, wood-fired oven; from the thoroughly tasty pizza crust, to an amazing truffle oil mac & cheese, to a fantastically flavored bread pudding for dessert, it was all good.

 

Their bar ain’t bad, either, assuming you like great beer and a good selection of whiskies.

Mugnaini logo

 

I noticed a distinctive, stylistic letter “M” at the oven opening, and was told that the oven was from a company called Mugnaini.

 

 

 

After virtual minutes of language lessons on Italian, garnered primarily by watching vintage Sofia Loren movies while she was in her prime (and oh, what a beautiful, scantily clad Italian pin-up she was in her prime),

“…no dear, I’m watching masonry lessons on YouTube.”

I learned that Mugnaini is pronounced “Moog-and-innie,” or possibly, “Mug-a-yinie,” no wait, it’s “Moon-ya-ini,”…I think.

 

I guess it’s back to watching old Sofia Loren movies.

 

Long story even longer, after I over-researched the world of wood-fired ovens, as I am wont to do, I eventually purchased the belly of the beast, so to speak, in kit form from Mugnaini, and got to building.

 

For some portions of the project I proved to be highly qualified.

 

the big dig begins

 

With impressive shovel manipulation—including the commensurate blisters—I was able to dig out a footing and deftly drive and dump the wheelbarrow around the corner (I don’t think my neighbor has noticed the newly formed, small mountain on his place yet. Or, maybe he has.

“No Mr. Reynolds, I don’t know where that ponderous pile of dirt might have come from.

Yes, I do, if fact, have a big hole in the ground over at our place.”

 

pile of dirt

 

Then, thanks to the kindness of another neighbor, and those YouTube videos, I learned how to pile a bunch of cinderblocks, and then fill them with concrete.

 

          masonary intern

 

Laying out the pieces of the pizza oven puzzle I began to wonder what in the hell I got myself into.

 

dome ready to set

 

Finally, after countless hours of impassioned phone calls to the inexplicably patient staff at Mugnaini (namely, Reese) from a hapless do-it-yourself-er, wannabe builder…namely, me…I finally—almost—finished the construction.

 

(It’s only minus a few pieces of trim and a plaster finish.)

 

forms off

 

But, at least it was time to kick the tires (or, in this case, the massive monolith of cinderblocks, rebar, and concrete) and LIGHT THE FIRE!

 

first fire

 

After a prescribed burn schedule, just like the old days when I got to light hundreds of acres of brush and grass on fire (to benefit wildlife habitat)—and get paid for it—with the wife-person’s skilled preparation techniques, I got the first pie slid into the breach.

 

All 700 degrees of it.

 

first home pizza pic

 

After a mere 90-seconds at that blazing temperature, I could finally enjoy the fruits of my labor with a slice of my favorite fresh mushrooms, black olives, and Italian (what else) sausage pizza.

 

O.K., I ate the whole damn thing by myself, accompanied with a wonderful bottle of locally sourced, farm-to-my mouth red wine.

 

fruits of the labor

 

I wonder if my neighbor would mind if I parked an Italian water buffalo on his property.

 

Italian water buffalo wikipedia

               "WildWaterBuffalo(Bubalus bubalis arnee)" by Djambalawa

 

 

I just have to find a YouTube video on how to milk one of these things.

Once again, it is that time of year to offer the obligatory oath to self-improvement by subscribing to behavior you somehow found objectionable or generally unattainable the day before.

 

So…as soon as you find your pants…let us begin.

 

  hostel floor person

 

Resolution #1: Exercise more and eat better.

 

This resolution is a default New Year’s resolution statement and is a legal requirement to list, which you agreed to in those 65-pages of boiler plate, mumbo-jumbo you clicked that you actually read when you signed up for whatever online free app you downloaded.

 

Resolution #2: Drink less bad stuff and drink more good stuff.

 

In Colorado, this resolution reads,

“Use less illegal drugs and use more legal ones, thus contributing to higher education and a higher you.”

 

Resolution #3: Join a gym.

 

Not that you will ever go after the first week, but the people who do go appreciate all the money you non-attenders provide to “subsidize” uncrowded conditions and upgraded cardio machines.

 

Resolution #4: Integrate vigorous exercise into your daily life.

 

Begin with, getting up to change the channel on the TV, at least occasionally.

 

Resolution #5: Figure out how to even change the channel on that 50” HDTV without the use of a remote control.

 

This actually comes in handy when the battery dies in the remote just as you hear your wife walking down the hallway, towards the room you are watching the porn channel.

 

Resolution #6: O.K. exercise and dieting are tough. How about starting out by watching Dr. Oz?

 

You may impress your wife that you are at least trying to learn more about your physical and mental wellness—not that it will erase her mental picture as to what you were doing as she walked in.

 

Resolution#7: Recognize that apples are nice.

 

What more can you say about fruit?

 

Resolution#8: Remember how important it is to drink water.

 

Try drinking 130-proof Booker’s Bourbon without some. 

 

Resolution#9: Next year, at least try to be a little more on time, like making these New Year’s Resolutions by New Year’s Day.

 

You are not going to follow them anyway, and by January 2nd you are already thinking about that St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl coming up.

 

Resolution #10: Figure out if it is New Years or New Years.

 

Consider checking multiple grammar and punctuation website’s and gather experts opinions.

 

Resolution #11: Contemplate exactly how you think you will successfully fulfill New Year’s resolutions that have been made and broken for 4,000-years, starting with the Babylonians.

 

Hey, that may be your out. You are just following the example of 4,000-years of history.

 

Resolution #12: Wait. What do you mean it’s the Twelve Days of Christmas?

SWA pre flight procedure

Typically, I take precautions before I begin a commercial airline trek.

 

Better to be prepared—or at least numb—should any untoward event occur.

 

As a universal rule, babies are cute (unless you happen to be visiting the Hamptons with the Seinfeld clan).

And, as everybody knows, twins are at least twice as cute.

 

Or, so goes the rule.

 

Imagine my astonishment as I waited to board a recent Southwest Airlines flight from Portland, OR, to Sacramento, CA, when I caught a glimpse of what, in all  honesty, could only be characterized as a couple of really ugly babies being pushed up to the boarding gate in a side-by-side, tandem stroller.

 

 

  SWA comfort dogs boarding

 

They had big ears, they were really, really hairy (even more so than me…albeit just barely), and they had huge noses (even bigger than mine…albeit just barely).

 

They almost looked like a couple of dogs, sitting upright, all cutesy in their stroller, and waaaaiit a minute…THEY WERE A COUPLE OF DOGS.

 

 

SWA comfort dogs in tandem stroller

 

So began my education as to the regulations regarding allowances to be accompanied by what are known as comfort animals.

 

As you can see in the pictures, these animals do NOT have to be contained in a cage, but can have their own seat, or sit on their master’s lap.

(Although, I might question, who has whom trained?)

 

 

SWA comfort dogs on board

 

Without much effort, I learned that for a mere $129 you can purchase,

The Standard Kit Includes Official Vest With official Patch, Universal ID Card, Certificate,Tag For Collar & Clip On ID Holder.

 

The vest, ID card, and certificate are all official. It must be because it says that in the online advertisement.

 

The website includes the federal law verbiage that—according to them—”makes it clear” that it is official.

 

  comfort animal federal law

 

My favorite part is,

emotional support dogs do not have to be professionally-trained to perform any task. Service dogs can be trained by their owners or in any other manner the owner desires.”

 

Great. I’ve been trying to get my dog to fetch me a gin and tonic. That would certainly provide me tremendous mental comfort on a long flight.

 

If any airline insisted on something a little more significant (with an emphasis on “little’) as to a medical justification, an article in the New York Times mentioned that for $99 a psychotherapist in Marina del Rey, CA,

“provides an hour of her time, over the phone or Skype, and a clinical assessment, along with a prescription letter.”

 

The Times story went on to say that the certification is not limited to just dogs. and could include,

“a cat, a monkey, a horse or even a potbellied pig.”

 

I am not sure how that psychotherapist conducts her clinical review over the phone or Skype.

 

I guess she must get it right from the horse’s mouth.

(Sorry, how could I resist that one?)

 

 

  SWA comfort horse at ticket counter

 

Pet Travel .com expands the list of allowable animals to include,

parrots, elephants, and lizards”

 

What the…??? An elephant?

 

And you thought that guy sitting next to you on that one flight was taking a tad more room than was comfortable for you.

 

Eventually, I made it to the official, “official” determinant of, at least, Southwest Airlines policies, and did find out that these free range critters in the aircraft are not allowed in the exit rows.

 

Must have something to do with their inability to open the exit hatch or understand simple instructions from the flight crew, although I question the capability of some of the travel masses to do so.

(Clearly, they cannot comprehend the carry-on baggage rules, nor understand the need to GET THE HELL OUT OF THE AISLE when we are attempting to board the airplane!!!)

 

The Southwest Airlines animal rules also prohibit having your pet travel without you onboard, should you entertain the thought of sending Fido on a fun trip to some faraway forest, or, if you have “joint custody” with an “ex” who now lives across the country somewhere.

In other words, no unaccompanied iguanas allowed.

 

Back to the horses mouth, I found a story about a horse that actually did fly on a Southwest Airlines fight.

 

 

  SWA comfort horse boarding plane

 

I assume if they allow horses, they must also accept related animals, because, when it comes to my mental contentment and comfort, I really appreciate my ass.

 

Just mind where you step.

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