Friday, February 22, 2013

Snow Country for Old Men

Suburban living for the 21st century male has several key milestones.

There's the point where you decide to pay a guy to take care of your yard because who needs that aggravation?

There's the point where you switch from a propane grill to a wood chunk charcoal smoker (dude, don't even bring that charcoal brick stuff around my house. What do you think this is, Gladstone?).

And then there's the day when you get your power snow thrower.

Of these three, I think the final one represents the furthest stage of "maturity." I mean, it seems like a bit of an extravagance. You're spending a couple hundred bucks or so on an appliance that you'll use maybe once or twice a year? But when you have a snow event the likes of which we had this week, you damn well are grateful that you have a snow shovel that you can plug in or power up and just walk behind to clear your driveway. That goes double if, like a majority of the guys on my block, you have "advanced experience in the role of life."

Me? I kind of take it as a point of pride that I haven't yet crossed that threshold. I'm still young. I'm able bodied. I ain't 'fraid of a little cold white stuff, and shoveling it off my driveway is my manly duty, a rite of passage each winter that, like the out-taking of the trash and the smashing of the spiders, proves how important I am to this family.

So I wasn't at all daunted when I opened the garage door Thursday afternoon to attack the thick layer of white stuff in my driveway. Hell, I was kind of looking forward to it!
Before: A tabula rasa
10 inches exactly
Then, I moved the first shovel full. This was a heavy snow.

And when I say it was a heavy snow, I don't just mean there was a lot of it. Don't get me wrong, there WAS a lot of it, but it was also quite wet and heavy. This was going to be a tougher job than I was expecting.

Frost thing's first. I shovel a path from the garage door to the end of the driveway. Whew, this is tough. Next, shovel out the rest of one side of the driveway.
Halfway done with half the driveway
By the time I'm halfway done with half the driveway, I've worked up quite a sweat -- a manly sweat, mind you. I can see that I'd better do little advanced planning for the post-shoveling recuperation.
I'm going to need this later...
I shed my coat and get on with the job. Soon, I've got half the driveway cleared. That's enough to get one of our cars out of the two-car garage, just in case we have some kind of emergency (like running out of Scotch). I've also got a helluva backache, which makes that Scotch emergency all the more likely.
It all got me wondering just how much snow I moved. We had our driveway and sidewalk replaced last summer, so I know that the area I shoveled is about 907 square feet (130,608 square inches). Multiply that by the 10 inches of snow over the whole thing and you end up with 1,386,080 cubic inches of snow, or 802.13 cubic feet1. That all converts into a pretty seriously stiff back the next day.

But numbers aside, I was prepared to reward myself for a job... well... done.
Time for a cold one
Also, I'm totally going to get a snow thrower before next winter.

1) All math calculations done by the Internet and may be subject to my complete ineptitude at mathematics.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Graze anatomy

It's not something I talk about, but I'm not afraid to say that I'm not nearly the man I used to be.

You see, a couple of years ago I went through a weight-loss regimen. I never really got the hang of political correctness, but I believe the proper term for my body-type was "fatus-boombalatus," and I'd come to that point in my life where you've gotta either get busy livin' or get busy dyin'... Aw hell, it wasn't all that dramatic. I just wanted to see a lot less of myself.

So I did. I dropped about 40 lbs and never looked back.

I didn't really want to make a big deal about it, and I still don't. So I'm not going to go into the whole process right here/right now (maybe some other time). I only bring it up by way of introduction of what I do want to discuss.

You see, part of getting rid of 20-percent of myself was eating smaller portions but higher-quality food. Of course if you're consuming fewer calories, you want to get more from each individual one. So you look for good ways to eat nutritious food.

Well, a few weeks ago I stumbled across a Tumblr post about a new service/web startup called Graze. This service married my passion for being lazy by shopping from home over the internet with my passion for eating delicious low-calorie snacks.

Well, here's how they explain it:

So I like what I see, and I sign up to pay five bucks a week for a box of healthy snacks that get sent to me in the mail. Sounded like a good deal to me. I mean, I spend more than that on coffee each week.

About a week ago we get the first shipment. (which was free, btw. Yeah, your first and fifth boxes are free when you sign up. Sweet!).

When you enroll for the service, you pick the four snacks you want included. For me, the toasted pistachios were a no brainer (FTW!). I also opted for a dried raisin/apple/almond mix ("Eleanor's Apple Crumble"), and a Fruity Mango Chutney (with black pepper dippers).

I also got the "Yin & Yang" a mix of almonds, raisins dried cherries and chocolates. I'm not crazy about chocolate, but I thought the women in my life might like it. (I was correct, of course).

All of the food is really tasty, especially the apple stuff which  was gone within a matter of hours. And all of the portions are low-calorie (the one with the chocolate was 217 calories for the entire serving).

I can hear you asking... "But, hey. You ordered food through the internet? Was it any good?"

Well, when the box arrived, I opened it and put on the dining room table. Between me, my Supermodel Wife and two daughters, it was empty within two and a half days. So, yeah it was good.

Looking forward to the next box coming in this week. There's a kind of granola bar-type snack that I'm eager to try out.

Anyway, if you're looking for a nutritious, low-cost and (most importantly) lazy way to get good snacks, check out Graze. Since they're sill in a beta soft-launch, you'll need an invitation code. You can use mine if you want: TNPZWDP

If you sign up, let me know what snacks you tried and what you think.

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