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Fat Furry and Funny

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May 12, 2006 


I have been having problems with me email from this site since I names.

This post is for my good friend Jane.



Can you send me an email to my work email address:


I have been meaning to send you a thank you for your husband’s donation to my 60 mile walk, but I don’t have your email address any longer.

Talk to you soon.


May 10, 2006 

Obese man ends cross-country health trek

That’s the headline on’s article about Steve today.  It is an amazing feat to make your way on foot from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic.  For most of us, that trip takes a few hours on a plane, or at worst, a week or so by car.  Steve spent more than a year of his life on his journey.  His persistence and dedication to that journey are worthy of all the praise he receives.

During the time that Steve and I shared a domain name, I went out of my way to encourage and support him.  Now that he is finished.  I have to apply just a bit of criticism.  I am hugely disappointed with his weight loss.  Steve managed to get the press to gloss over his weight and concentrate on his depression.  But remember, just for a minute, that his website and his public persona is FatManWalking, not SadManWalking or DepressedManWalking.  He set out to lose weight, and to that end, he came up a bit short in my opinion.

I also believe that if you can’t lose more than 100 pound while walking 3000, there is no way that you are keeping that weight off.  Steve was under the public spotlight, with the pressures of his home life and a book deal weighing him down, and he still could not manage to get himself below 300 pounds.   How will he fare after his book is publish, and he is just a regular guy again?

Perhaps we will see FatManWalking Part 2 – European Vacation.

April 12, 2006 

The weather seems to be conspiring against us.  As of now, there is a 50 percent chance that we will stay dry on Friday.  The hourly forecast looks a little better.  It basically says that we will be dry until after 7:00 PM, so we should be all set up and ready by the time it comes.  Saturday looks to be beautiful.  As of now, we are still on and ready to go.

Tonight I have to get all the equipment together and figure out if we need to make a trip to REI.  I really don’t think we will.  I did however tell the boy that he can bring an umbrella.  We don’t own one, so that’s one thing we need to put on the shopping list.




Poss. Of Precip.

Apr 14




Apr 15

Mostly Sunny



April 11, 2006 

And Now for a Complaint

Allergy season.  It’s weird, but I have actually seen my allergy problems decrease over time.  I have no idea why, but I’m not complaining.  Not about that.  Here at the office there is a guy that sits across from me that is not so lucky.  He’s not dying from the change of season, but I might have to take him out.  Every 10 to 15 seconds I am treated to a little sniffle.  Perhaps, a serious SNORT.  Maybe a lung clearing cough.  And/or, if I’m lucky, an earth shattering sneeze.  It is disgusting.

It has been steadily increasing since he moved to that desk 3 weeks ago.  I CAN’T TAKE IT.

I’ll try to record a little of it for your enjoyment.  Just don’t listen over lunch.

April 10, 2006 

Good Friday in the Woods

Well first, the weather forecast is looking a little bleak for the weekend.  As of right now, is calling for:





High/Low °F


Fri Apr 14

Isolated T-Storms



Sat Apr 15

Scattered T-Storms




I don’t think that is a real big deal that they are calling for rain.  As of right now I have a 70% chance each day of staying dry.  Scattered and Isolated thunderstorms are OK.  An all day, soaking rain would be a problem.


Nicholas is getting so excited he can hardly stand it.  If we were to cancel the trip because of a little lightning he would never get over it.  Hopefully the electricity will not arch to him when I get hit (I’m assuming since I’m taller and wearing a metal framed backpack).  


Karen and I are a little at odds about one of our big backpacking rules.  Let me explain.  We agreed long ago – If you get hurt or die, we’re leaving you on the trail.  We did this for practical reasons.  We aren’t in any kind of shape to be carrying a body out of the woods.  Sure, we’ll call the authorities once we get back, but carry ‘em out, no way.  Now I say a rule is a rule, but she says it’s different for a two year old.  Man, if Cleve gets wind of this, he’ll want us to carry him out too.  Slippery slope says I.

April 7, 2006 

Two Posts in the Same Day

Not bad, eh.

Karen and I are taking the kids backpacking next weekend.  Nick is all geared up with his own sleeping bag and the coolest little backpack you’ve ever seen.  We got Morgan a sleeping bag, but they really don’t make packs for the less than 3 feet tall crowd.  She has a cheesy little backpack that came with some toys that I’ll throw on her so she doesn’t feel left out.

We are taking it easy for this trip.  There is a section of the AT just outside of Reading, PA that Karen and I have hiked a few times.  It is just about 3 miles each way, and we are planning on taking all day to do it.  Karen and I have to carry everything that four people will use.  Food.  Clothes.  Tent.  Water.  Dog Food.  Sleeping pads, sleeping bags, you name it.  And it is quite likely that I will also carry Moo (Morgan) for a bit of it.  I figure that I will be carrying between 50 and 60 pounds without the girl, and 85 when she’s in my arms.  Karen is in about the same position for pack weight,  40 to 50 pounds.  8 hours or so to walk 3 miles.  Seems just about right.  It’s gonna hurt.  (Did you know that they don’t take reservations at the ER?  I figured I could get call ahead IV’s at the worst, but they only do that if you take a ride in an ambulance.  Bummer.)

I am really excited about this trip.  The weather looks like it just might cooperate as well.  Cross your fingers.  

Did you know that Blogger lets you post

Your blog entries using email?  I just found out.  That is a big deal for me.  I have been slacking on the posts since the beginning of March.  The reasons are two fold.


First, although I have not changed anything on the site but the header (pretty rough by the way), it doesn’t feel the same to me.  Fat Man Walking was not only my site, but it was also the nickname that I used when signing up for things on the web and when I signed trail registers on hikes.  That’s gone now, and I just haven’t been interested in the blog since. 

I need to take the time to really redesign the site, and give it a new identity.  Someone posted a comment about my name change and he suggested that the FatFurryandFunny name was a poor choice because it does not have anything to do with the AT, backpacking, or the outdoors.  To that person I say you are correct.  I’m not sure what to do about it.  I initially set up the site to talk about hiking, but it quickly morphed into something else.  When I decided to go with I think I was doing so based on what the site is today, and not what I originally idea.  I’m cool with that, I am still quite concerned that I haven’t posted anything funny in a long, long time but I’m still rotund and I haven’t shaved (or waxed) my back yet.  As the Meatloaf song says – “Two out of three ain’t bad.”


Now let’s get down to the real reason that I haven’t been working with the site.  My brother Chris orchestrated one of the worlds best deals for me and in a brilliant three way deal, I got a year old Apple Macintosh Powerbook G4 for $1000.  Here is why the deal is so brilliant.  Chris purchased the machine that I own brand new in May 2005 for around $2300.  Brian (my brother’s best friend.  He’s also a very talented attorney, if you run into trouble in South Florida, let me know and I’ll hook you up.) got his G4 Powerbook in November or December (Just after the machine was upgraded by Apple) for just over $2000.  Cheaper, yes, but also much improved from the May version.  Brian’s lovely bride went out and got him one of those new fangled MacBook Pros in March and that set everything in motion.  Since neither Christopher nor I have the scratch to buy a $2500 computer today, Chris set up the deal.  I got his year old machine for $1000 (~$1500 on eBay), Chris takes possession of Brian’s G4 for $1300 ($1700 on eBay), and Brian takes one for the team.  Go Brian.


I have been trying to get into the Macintosh world for sometime now.  Karen and I have decided to not borrow money (re: not use credit cards) and get ourselves out of the whole.  We have a dream of moving to the Caribbean some day, and you can’t do that if you owe the Man!  Karen agreed to let me get a Mac when I saved enough money to buy it, but the catch was that the money could not come from our regular monthly budget.  That agreement started a long hard slog to get the money.  The thing is that when you are saving money, not using credit cards, and getting out of debt, priorities change.  One time I was close, real close to having the money I needed to get a brand spanking new machine.  Life creeps up and the money gets a new priority, namely a huge deposit to hold Nicholas’s place at his private kindergarten.  Poof.  Boy did I get angry and disappointed.  I took the opportunity to revert back to my childhood, and I threw a tantrum that Morgan (my 2 yr old) imitates frequently.  Parents really are the best teachers.  Anyway, since even the used computers were outside of what I had, I thought I was never going to move to the Mac.  Without that deal, it ever would have happened.


Well, since there are only 24 hours in the day, and I have to spend 12 of them between getting up in the AM and getting home from work, I had to give something up while I got to know my new computer.  This site was the first to go.  I was presented with choices. OR GarageBand.  FFF or iMovie.  FFF or pick any application.  I had a new toy, and all my old toys were neglected.  Well, I still LOVE my new machine, but now I can get back into the swing of things with the site.  I am hoping to get back to regular posting, and being able to email from work helps a lot.  I also need to redesign the site.  It looks pretty bad now, there are still links to  The email links all still point to (I don’t get those emails anymore, they go to Steve), and it’s very out of date.


As a concession to the new direction of this blog, I am going to use to revive the Backpacking and Hiking related discussions.  Much lower on the priority list, but on the list nonetheless.





March 1, 2006 

Times They Are A Changin'

Sometime real soon, I am going to move on from being FatManWalking. I have agreed to transfer my domain name to Steve Vaught over at

When Steve first concieved of taking on the challenge of walking from California to New York, he contacted me and asked if I would be kind enough to give up my name (my web identity) to him. I declined. I have been at this spot for a while, and I had actually come to enjoy not only the blog that you are reading, but I also liked being FatManWalking. I used it when registering new software. I used it when I signed trail registers on the AT. I have used it when I signed up to forums, etc on the web. In April 2005, I was FatManWalking.

Things change. Steve Vaught has been working very hard on his sojourn. Along his route, he has picked up followers and supporters numbering in the thousands. He has been on the Today Show. He has been in countless newspaper articles. He came within a hair's breadth of being on the Oprah Winfrey Show. It is clear to see that in March of 2006, Steve is TheFatManWalking, and it is time for me to pass it on to him officially.

Last month I transfered the domain name to Steve, and he and his team are working on unhooking my site from the name and moving over to Steve. We agreed that I would continue to use this space for a while, and it is nearing the end of that time. I'm not sure when the move will happen, but Steve's team is creating a redirect page that will point you to my new URL.

It has been loads of fun working with Steve. I have enjoyed following his progress. I have been rooting for him all the way. When the transfer is complete, I have no official ties to him but I will continue to follow him to the end.

Good luck Steve!

I have registered two names to replace The one that is operational right now is That URL will take you right back to here. I also have I like them both, but Karen likes the latter much better, so it is likely the one I will use. What do you think?

February 9, 2006 

I took the boy skiing

I have been wanting to take Nicholas skiing since he was a fetus.

Skiing was my passion when I was younger. As a teenager, my friend Kyle Colello and I would hit the slopes any time we could. And that included school days, school nights, weekends, and holidays. I am sure that I went skiing around 100 times between the ages of 15 and 20. Of course as I have gotten older, I have been skiing less and less. In fact, I have only been skiing twice since I turned 30! Even so, I have never lost my love for the sport - its just a bit harder since I have settled into parenthood and as I have come to grips with my own mortality. I now notice that you can go pretty fast with 6 foot pieces of fiberglass strapped to your feet, and if it can kill Sonny Bono, it could kill me too.

I am not kidding when I tell you that I really have been waiting for this day since I found out that Karen was pregnant.

I was staying up in the Poconos last weekend, and I was like a kid at Christmas waiting for Saturday morning to arrive. My anticipation was so high that Nick and I got to the mountain almost two hours before his lesson started! We got our lift tickets, picked up our skis, and waited. And waited. And waited.

The ski school took the boy at 10:00 for his lesson, and I stood outside waiting to see him start his lesson. He was supposed to be on the school hill at 10:30, so I waited outside for him. And I waited, and I waited. It was 10:25 when the urge to hit the head came over me. I had five minutes to get to the bathroom, do my business, and get back in time to see him start his lesson. Five minutes. I made it back in less than four! But I still missed it.

It snapped a couple of pictures and went off to ski for a while. I had a great one and a quarter hours of skiiing in before I came back to grab Nick and go get a bite to eat. In typical five year old fashion, we had a great lunch, and he had no interest in going back to ski school. What a great decision!

After eating, Nick and I clicked into our skis and hit the bunny hill! It was awesome taking him on his first chair lift. Getting off was a bitch, but we made it through. We went up and down that little hill 20 to 25 times. I'm sure I would still be there now if it didn't rain.

It was one the greatest moments of my life, and something I remember for as long as I live (or until the dementia hits).

January 30, 2006 

And now for these messages

Every once in a while some folks in the media mix up the URL's for me and Steve Vaught. I received a handful of very nice comments from some folks who found my site after reading about Steve in In Touch magazine. If that's how you got here, welcome. Now let me give you a little background

Steve Vaught, TheFatManWaking, is in the home stretch of his epic journey across country. He has already logged more than 2000 miles, and according to his last update, has less than 800 miles to go. Steve woke up on the eve of his 40th birthday, and decided that he needed to do something big to regain control of his life and his weight. Many a man would have looked for a new job and started a diet, but then Steve is not your average man. The man is a Marine for God's sake. He had to do something bold.

In April 2005, Steve set out on the highway with everything he would need on his back. Now I'm a backpacker, so I would guess that he may have actually stuffed the kitchen sink in his pack since it weighed in at around 80 pounds! The man has been sidelined by injuries, exhaustion, and his own personal demons. But he perserveres. He puts his head down and he walks. The journey has already taken several months longer than he planned, but he does not give up. He has focus and determination, and come hell or high water, he will make it to NYC.

That's just my summary. Steve and his wife April have done an amazing job chronicaling his tremendous journey on his website Please go there, catch up with Steve, and be sure to check back with him frequently. His story will captivate you.

Oh yeah, if you have stayed around long enough to read this line, then please stick around my site for a while.

January 29, 2006 

Happy Birthday to me!

Today is my 35th birthday. Holy Shit!

I thought that I might have something more to say than Holy Shit, but I'm coming up short. What is there to say really? 35. . . Half way to 70. Holy Shit.

My lovely bride tells me that I still look the same as I did in college. They say that all good relationships are built on honesty, but I will gladly take that lie. Isn't she great!

How will I celebrate? I have been pondering this question all week. 35 is a milestone birthday. Not long ago 35 was litterally the middle of one's life. Today, not so much, considering that my 58 year old mother seems to have more energy than I do! How will I celebrate. I don't particularly like Corvettes, so I was thinking about a new Mustang.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the girls on a college campus are of legal age, right? I thought I might take one of the out and see if I still have it.

I also considered packing up my desk, quitting my job, and hitting the AT for 6 months. That would be lots of fun, and it might make my body like that of a 35 year old (it's currently in the 55 - 58 range).

I weighed all these things and determined that I didn't have the money for a Mustang, I couldn't really handle dating again, and I need my job. So to celebrate my 35th, I'm going do to the local Burger King for a 5 year old's birthday party. Do you think they'll give me a hat?

January 8, 2006 

Today I Registered for the Breast Cancer 3 Day

If you have been visiting my site for a while, you know that last year my good friend Cleve raised more than $2,200 for Breast Cancer Research. He did this by committing to raise the money and then walking 60 miles over three days. His committment and his effort were really a huge influence on me.

We lost Karen's Aunt Mel to breast cancer last year, just a short 6 weeks before the walk. These two things came together, and pushed both Karen and I to participate as well.

Karen and I are both on the hook for $2,200, but I really don't think that we will miss our fundraising targets.

As a side benefit, all the training (they recommend 3 miles/day, 5 times per week) should help with the weight loss thing too.

I will be putting stuff here on this site over the next week. In the mean time, if you are interested in contributing to the cause, click here to help me meet my fundraising goal, or here if you would like to help Karen. Either way, it helps a great cause.

January 7, 2006 

The 3rd Annual PHH Mortgage Fat Boy Challenge

We are at it again. For some reason the me and the people I work with like to put money on the line to help with our bottom lines!

For the 3rd year in a row, I have weighed in as the fattest guy in the challenge. I tipped the scale at the same 286 from the day before. That puts me about 12 pounds heavier than the next guy. This, however will be the year I win. Why? Simple. I am already doing this. I am already committed. I already have my goal to lose 25 pounds before Memorial Day. Last year the winner walked away with $180 pound by only dropping 12 pounds. I had no plan, and I lost interest after a week. I'm in this one for the long haul.

I could really use the money too!

January 5, 2006 

Happy New Year!!!

Ok, so I'm a little late, but you know how it is.

I had a couple of posts written, but they just didn't seem right. I stepped on the scale at WW on Wednesday, and I was more than a little shocked at the damage that I had done in December. I packed on a whopping 6.8 pounds in the three weeks between my meeting attendances.

The topic of the meeting was New Years Resolutions. I decided a long time ago that weight loss was not going to be a resolution for me anymore. It seems that everyone fails at thier resolutions and that is a huge psychological hit. I'm just sticking with the plan. The WW leader got us to really look at why resolutions don't work. In a nut shell, most resolutions are structured more like wishes than goals. Most resolutions come out as "I'm going on a diet in the new year" No specifics. No measurements. No plan to follow. She's right. That is exactly what my resolutions have always been. We were asked to write down our resolutions at the meeting. I've lost my paper version, but I think I can pretty much remember what I wrote. By the way, the resolution was kind of like a Mad Lib, where there were statements with blank to be filled in. I think you will be able to tell where the blanks were, and where the prewritten copy was:

"Happy New Year! This year I will lose 25 pounds before Memorial Day. I have resolved this to feel better about myself. I will get there by following the WW program and exercising. I want chick to dig me."

I am starting 2006 at 285.8 pounds. Rounding down, that means I am looking for 260 by May 29. No sweat!?!

December 30, 2005 

CD Review - Jim Pipkin "Time is Talking"

A couple of months back Jim Pipkin sent me an email asking if I was interested in listening to his CD. I am a big fan of music, so I gladly accepted is offer. Jim promptly sent the disk to me, and today I finally got around to putting it on my iPod.

Before I get to the review, let me give you a little background on my musical taste. I grew up in the 1970's and 1980's. My father is a parttime audiophile. He always dreamed of getting the highest of high end systems. Our house was always littered with ancient copies of Audiophile and Stereo Review magazines, but I don't think that my dad ever got one piece of new equipement until I was well out of college. Dad was a fan of the popular music of the 50's and 60's. He gravitated to Motown, Herman's Hermits, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and the early Beatles. In 1972 he enrolled in a music appreciation class at the local community college, and he left the world of popular music and entered the realm of Classical. Since I was born in 1971, I didn't know that my dad liked songs with words until my late teens. My dad really knows the nuts and bolts of music. He taught me to be a music snob.

My mom is the polar opposite of my dad. She was always content to listen to the top 40 stuff in the 70's from the AM radio that came stock on her Datsun B210. My mom loves to sing, even if (in her own words) she can't carry a tune in a bucket. My mom taught me to love James Taylor, Carol King, Toto, Jim Croce, etc. My love of these musicians did not come from their technical prowless, but rather because they were fun to sing with. My mom used to turn off the radio and belt out some of the folk songs from the 60's too. I never knew that "If I Had A Hammer" was a record until I was an adult. It was always something that we sang on the way to the shore. She loved all that stuff. 100 Bottles of Beer. Take Me Out to the Ballpark. Feelin' Groovy.

I have a really weird memory. I can remember the strangest stuff from my childhood, but I can forget what I need at the grocery store. Until somewhere around 1982 or 1983 I was a top 40 guy. I used to listen to a station in Philadelphia called "Hot Hits, 98 WCAU" I used to listen all the time, but I started to get tired of the repitition. There are two songs that I remember pushing me from Top 40 into Classic Rock (Although it did not have that name in 1983). The first was David Bowie's Let's Dance, and the second was Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing. I remember listening to 98 Hot Hits one night, and I kept waking up over and over from bedtime until the morning. Everytime that I drifted closer to consiousness, one of those songs was playing. It drove me nuts. By the time I rolled out of bed in the morning, I decided I needed a change. My oldest brother Charles listened to 93.3 WMMR, the rock and roll station. I was swept away by the likes of Steve Miller, Pink Floyd, Rush, and Led Zeppelin. That was my first musical awakening. I became obsessed. I started putting the flying VH on all my book covers after hearing Running with the Devil and Ice Cream Man. Aerosmith's Greatest Hits. What else is there to say.

Like I said, that was my first awakening. My second happened on July 7, 1989 when I saw my first Grateful Dead show. My friends were into the Dead, but I hated them. They would play me tapes of live shows, and I just did not get it. My buddy Mike Pickup had an extra ticket to the show on July 7. The ticket only cost $19, and Bruce Hornsby was the opening act. From the first time that I saw the Beach Boys in Atlantic City in 1984 I have loved big crowds and live music, so I decided that $19 was a good price to see Hornsby and get into a crowd. I cannot explain it, but something happened to me at that concert in July 1989. I walked in hating that band, and came out a convert. I started buying every tape (remember tapes?) I could afford. Suddenly there were Steal Your Face stickers in my car windows, and tye-dye became my trademark. I grew bushy hair, and would occasionally dab on a little pachule to attract the hairier members of the opposite sex. I dropped Classic Rock like a hot potato. It became stale and boring compared to the Dead, the Allman Brothers, Blues Traveler, etc. My new bands broke away from the normal radio mold. They get inside of the songs. They expand them and stretch them almost to breaking. Somehow they always seem to keep it together.
The Dead made me hungry for more. I found that an aweful lot of their songs are covers of traditional songs, country songs, folk songs, blues songs, and R&B songs. Like a spider web, I saw all these covers and influences as new territory to explore. I started hunting down the original Monkey and the Engineer. The Dead introduced me to Merle Haggard and Marty Robbins. I never would have met the Rev. Gary Davis without them. A whole new tapestry was laid infront of me, and I am still exploring today, 16 years later.

My last awakening came in August 1999 at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Growing up around here, I had heard of the Fest, but it was never really interesting to me. I always thought of Folk Music as Peter Paul, and Mary. Not bad, but not terribly interesting to me. Karen had a friend at work that went to the Fest every year, and was always trying to get people to go. He asked Karen to go, and she said yes. That's all she wrote. I just fell in love. The fest covers all kinds of music, and sometimes smushes them together into a pool of beautiful music. In 1999 I first heard Louden Wainwright III, Steve Forbert, and Dar Williams. In 2000, I added John Gorka and John Hartford. In 2001 it was Michael Smith and Anne Hills. I discovered that I LOVE traditional music. I learned that I LOVE banjo, guitars, and mandolins.

Lately I have come to meld all three awakenings together, and I have become a whole lot more rounded. My opinions have mellowed, and I have become more accepting of everyone's tastes. I suppose that happens with age (I'm 35 next month!)

OK, so that was pretty long winded eh. If you have made it through all that, here is my review of Jim's disk.

I like it a lot. It ties in quite nicely with everything I have told you about my musical journey. I am not sure if there is anything in this blog that would have let Jim know that, but it is almost like he already knew. Wow.

The first track "TommyKnockers" has a great guitar track, and I immediately noticed that Jim's voice has the same pleasant resonance you get from James Taylor. I love this kind of song. It tells the miner's story, and plays upon their fears. Nicely done.
"Second Sons" tells the story of a man breaking away from his family's name and history to make it on his own. Once again, you can hear echos of JT, but the guitar and voice are distinctly Jim's.
These two tracks stand out to me as the best on the disk, but the whole thing is a great listen. However, I could do without the last track "Google me Gently" It seems to be a bit out of place on a disk filled with traditional themes and sounds. It is quite fun though, it just seems out of place from the other songs.

I it is very much worth your entertainment dollar.

December 10, 2005 

What a Great Day

My Uncle Gerry sent me an email yesterday to ask if I wanted some tickets to see the Flyers game. He gave me four tickets on the first level next to the goal.

Now I'm not a big hockey fan, in fact I rarely watch (or play) sports. I never have. But there is really something cool about being there. Of course it was the first hockey game that Nicholas and Morgan have ever seen, and they had a great time. Both kids really seemed to get it. Not finer points, but they got the game. They cheered when something good happened, and groaned when things did not go our way.

Every time that the Flyers scored, they set of a really loud horn. It just scared the shit out of Morgan every time. And me, being parent of the year, laughed out loud all three times it happened. Is that wrong?

Not being a big fan, and never watching the game on TV, I had no idea that they had a team of people that cleaned up the ice while the commercials playing. Anyway, they do have these people, and they come in the form of young (really young, like 16 year old young) girls. Nicholas, my boy, my pride and joy, could not stop staring everytime they hit the ice. It was the funniest thing. There was nothing that you could do to get his attention when they were out there. Nothing. He is only 5. What will he be like when he's 16? If he stays this good looking, we are going to have problems!

Thanks again Uncle Gerry. What a great Christmas present.

December 8, 2005 


(Men can do it too)

The other day Karen went down to the basement and fired up her Winsor Pilates DVD. She was gone for a 1/2 hour or so, and then came back up stairs. I asked her how it went. Her response? "It's a bunch of ab exercises. I couldn't take it."
Of course I showed her some understanding, BUT in my head were thoughts like: Puss, wimp, weak, etc. Now you would think that after close to 35 years I would have learned to stop that kind of shit, but then age and maturity don't always go hand in hand. Often it takes experience.
So tonight I decided to roll out the mat and show her how it's done. How bout that. It was a bitch. I turns out that it is an awful lot of ab exercises and I couldn't take it! I "kept up" with the video for the first 30 to 45 seconds, but fell behind once the exercises started.
I do wonder how many men actually exercise to dvd's. The disk I was watching had one token guy, out of seven people. I am guessing that percentage is much higher than the general population. As I am laying on the blue mat in the middle of the basement floor, I have two thoughts going through my head: "You can stop the video after this exercise", and "God, please don't let my friends (or Karen for that matter) catch me!"
My belly hurts. My hamstings hurt. My back hurts. I suppose that means I will do it again tomorrow.

I seem to have gotten over the hump

Over the last month or so, basically since Halloween, I have not been into my diet. I just couldn't get my head in the game. Last Wednesday I made the decision to go to my WW meeting, and that seems to have broken the log jam. I stepped on the scale yesterday and found myself down 3.2 pounds, weighing in at 279.6! To put it in perspective, I was down to 280.8 in the first week of November, and drifted up to 282.8 through the rest of the month. So I am really down 1.2 pounds from my previous best, and I have wiped out the damage done last month.

A guy at the WW meeting yesterday said something that I feel rings pretty true. There was a bit of a debate raging about the balance between losing weight and healthier lifestyles.
On the just losing weight side, we had a woman that was just ecstatic that her Lucky Charms were only 2 points (side note - I need to check that, it doesn't seem right). She was feeling like she could, pardon the reference, have her cake and eat it too.
On the healthier lifestyles side, we had the leader advocating making better choices. Her argument was that WW is not a diet, but a weight loss program. The difference? A diet has a short term goal of dropping a specific number of pounds, and it doesn't really address what happens next. The weight loss program starts with the same short term goal, but adds the long term target of a sustained healthier body. She suggested, rather firmly, that by choosing whole grain over the opposite of whole grain (what is that called?), by making exercise a habit, by choosing to add fruits and vegetable to your diet, and by shunning fried foods and the like, you can transform into a thinner, healthier body that will stay with you.

You can only look at the Lucky Charms girl as right if you look at the argument through the lens of denial.

Back to what the guy at the meeting said. As this debate raged, he chimed in with a simple and true opinion. Most of us at the meeting will not add exercise to our program. WW will continue to advocate exercise, they will continue to provide little pamphlets with tips and suggestions, and we will continue to ignore them. For me, exercise is the first thing to go because it takes time. I have been so behind at work that I can hardly breath, so how do I venture upstairs to the gym? Short answer - I don't. I cannot afford to join the gym (fitness center?!?) at home. There is something else I can do, but I don't know what yet. I'll figure it out.

On a completely different note, I have just gotten around to my email for the first time in close to a month. I had more than 500 messages. According to the email I get, I am an over stressed, impotent guy that needs to refinance my mortgage. Gotta love the spam. Anyway, I am working through the mess, and I will respond to the emails that come from real live human beings.

December 3, 2005 


Yes, you can take a look around the site and see that I have sold out.

Back when traffic to my site peeked in August, I made a deliberate decision to keep advertising off of my page. The primary reason for that decision was because the vast majority of folks who made there way to my site were looking for someone else! Somehow it did not feel right to try to make money off of that.

Fast forward four months. Now the traffic that is coming here is mostly my own. The comments and emails I get mostly deal with my posts. In short, you are probably here to see what Dave Drass has to say, rather than see what Steve Vaught is up to.

I have also gotten my most recent web hosting bill, and I decided to see if I could make enough money off of Google Adsense to cover that expense. Yes folks, I am hoping to make over $120 over the next year, and you can help by clicking on the ads that you find interesting or useful.

Supposedly Google Adsense targets their ads to the content of the site. We'll see. If they get annoying, I'll pull them.

I hope that you are not offended by my submersion into the cold hard world of corporate capitalism, but I hell, I can use the cash.

December 1, 2005 

It is time to start planning for my annual trip

The Date
I really, really enjoy being on the trail and sharing campsites/shelters with through hikers. I find their stories fascinating, I find their drive and determination inspirational, and for a few days, I get to pretend that I'm one of them. Our WV to PA trip in 2004 has been my favorite so far because I was able to share the trail with a group of hikers that actually did it. Of the 6 people (
Einstein, Moonpie, Hoplite , Squish, Rockhound, and Swiss Miss), I spent time with, 5 made it to Mt. Katahdin
(An ankle or knee injury took Swiss Miss out.) A few thousand people find themselves at the top of Springer Mountain every spring, but only a few hundred ever see the top of Mt. Katahdin. I feel very privileged to have shared 40 miles of trail with such a successful group. I am once again planning to hit the trail in mid May, most likely May 18 - 21. I did not meet one thru hiker in 2005, but hopefully 2006 will be a bit better.

The Place
In 2005 I was the weak one. I hit the trail with Rich and Cleve. Both of these men had very little problems. Me, I had a big L on the middle of my forehead. First, I did absolutely no real preparation for the trip. I did not lose any weight before the trip, and I did not prepare myself by exercising. The result was predictable. My upright stance and confident gait from 2004 was replaced by a hunched over shuffle. I felt sick and the trip held non of it's normal appeal. When I had the (mis?)fortune of kicking a stick through my shoe and up into my toe, I had my excuse. Layer on top of that 4 or 5 miles without any water, and I decided to get off the trail as soon as the opportunity presented itself. That opportunity came at Caledonia State Park. As soon as I got there, I announced to Cleve and Rich that I was done. Rich and Cleve knew it was coming, and they bailed with me. That trip was a personal low for me, and I refused to have that happen again. Anyway, we are going to pick up from where we left off and travel north. I haven't mapped it out yet, but I will probably plan for between 35 and 50 miles, with the assumption that I will have to stick my thumb out and hitchhike again.

The People -
Rich is in. He's always in. He has a lot planned for 2006, so that is why we are taking just two weekdays off. He needs to conserve the vacation days.

I haven't talked to Cleve yet, but I assume that he is in. Cleve is in great shape these days. He spent a great deal of time and effort to get ready for the Breast Cancer walk in September. I think that he will complain and worry about the trip between now in May, and then breeze through it once he hits the trail. The Cleve that had to sit down on the trail 100 yards from the campsite because he couldn't take another step is gone. The new Cleve, well he can handle this with his eyes closed.

I don't think that anyone else will make it. Robbie's motorcycle crash in August has probably put his backpacking days to rest. From what I know, it just doesn't seem possible for him to ever put an extra 50 pounds on his back and walk through streams, over rocks, and on top of boulders. I may be wrong. Mikey just doesn't want to backpack any more. Our Fiasco in the Woods 2003 soured him on backpacking, and really that's all there is to that. It is unfortunate, but once Mikey makes up his mind, it rarely changes.

You? It's a long shot, but I think it would be very cool to have you, a person that visits my website, join us on the trail. Think about it.

November 30, 2005 

I realized to day that I know absolutely nothing about how weightloss works

So I decided to do a bit of research.

After just about two weeks of eating what I wanted, when I wanted, I only gained 1 pound. Just one. That really makes no sense to me what so ever. I really, I scarfed down more than a few extra calories, but the change in my weight was so small. Here is what I found:

According to, you need to take in 3500 more calories than your body uses to gain one pound. I suppose that is a cumulative thing. I mean your body doesn't reset it's calorie counter at midnight does it? So for me to pack on one pound over one week I ate 500 calories per day more than I burned. That's not a whole lot is it? A 20oz regular Coke is around 250. Those Rolos I ate last night cost me 210. You get the picture. It really isn't that much.

That's the weird part. I would have guessed that I stuffed a whole lot more than an extra 3500 calories down my pie hole last week.

Is it possible that my metabolism runs pretty high, so I burn more calories that I think? Maybe. But that would mean that I had to put in more than a little overtime to get up to 296 pounds, and I didn't think I was working that hard.

I want to close up today with a little bit about Weight Watchers.

Earlier today I posted my internal debate about whether or not I should even show my face at the meeting today. I think I made the right call - I sucked it up and paid the piper. Today's topic? How to keep from quiting WW! How timely. How perfect. It was as if they saw right through me and decided to share my thoughts with everyone. (Wait, that's my job!)

The leader talked about why people miss meeting (and by miss meetings she meant what makes people stop following the plan.) Here is the list (as I remember it)
1) Scheduling conflicts. We have a lunch time meeting, and in a conflict, work wins.
2) We know we gained. Hey, that's me, and I'm not alone. It seems that everyone has the same conflicts. The difference between success and failure is whether or not you run from you mistake. (this is where I reach around and give myself a pat. Followed, of course, with a little shot to the arm)
3) We have lost weight, and we now feel pretty good (and cocky). The last time. The only time that I had great weight loss success, this is what happened to me. Once the pounds come off, you start thinking that you are doing it by yourself. You think you can do it with out help. And for me, not so much. No plan = big waist.

I found that today's meeting really righted the ship. It felt cleansing. Almost, I would guess, like going to confession and paying your pennance. The last two weeks are behind me, and there is nothing that can be done about them. I was lucky, and it only cost me a pound. Now I can look to the next week. The next month, etc. And feel like I can stay on plan and see some results.

I have noticed a pretty strong correlation

between my eating habits and my posting habits and both have been poor for a few weeks.

Like just about every other fat guy I know, I have been a devoted couch potato for the Biggest Loser. Last night was the season finally, and I was very happy with the winner - Matt Hoover. But it wasn't the winner that I identified with. You see, he went on national television, made a goal, and hit it. He is/was successful (although I wonder what he looks like after he realizes how much food $250k can buy! Just kidding.) He comes from the sports mentality, and he just needed to get his competitive juices flowing. Even though I got tired of seeing him cry (thanks to TiVo, I could skip most of his tears) he was guy I wanted to see take the prize.

No, I didn't see myself in the faces of any of the men, or most of the women. I swear it felt like I was looking in a mirror when I saw Kathryn step on stage. Her before and after picture did not look much different. She spent 2 weeks on the show. She spent all that time with the trainer, she got all the intensive diet information. She KNEW she would be on national television for a final weigh in, and SHE DIDN'T LOSE ANY MORE WEIGHT.

Think about that for a minute. How powerful is her addition to food, and I assume her aversion to exercise, that in 4 or 5 months between when she got booted and the show she did not change at all? I would think that the embarrassment factor alone would make the Mickey D's taste awful. Nope. It didn't matter. So I'm not on television, but I have 10's of people that come to this site to read about me, my life, and my struggles with the spare tire. I have people who identify with my troubles. I have people who send me their encouragement. They offer me advise. They provide me with motivation. And I let them (and myself) down.

I more or less checked out the week before Thanksgiving, and as of last night, I was back to my old habits. The Rolos at 11:30 tasted good going down, but now, 12 hours later, they are just making me sick. And oh, the excuses. The slide started with Halloween, Then it was a big, fancy birthday party I went to for one of Karen's friends. Then it went to Nick's birthday, followed up with Thanksgiving. In each case, I made the wrong (and more difficult) decisions. And with each wrong decision I had guilt and regret. I followed that up with a heaping helping of denial. With a bit if "I already blew it" mentality thrown in for good measure. That takes me back to the not posting thing. You can't bury your head in the sand if you are baring you soul on a website. Typing your thoughts and sharing your progress (or lack there of in my case) with the world forces you to face things.

I skipped my Weight Watcher's meeting (although I weighed in) two Wednesdays ago. Last week, I just didn't go. After eating without impunity for the last seven days straight, I have been debating whether or not to go today. If I decide that I can't make it today, then that really means that I am done for this round. If I go, I am starting all over (more or less).

After writing that paragraph, it is clear that I can't bail. I owe it to myself, to my family, and to you.
(I will post a follow up, with a reporting of the damage done, later today)

November 9, 2005 

I'm Back. . .

The last two weeks have been crazy around here. Between work, the kids, Halloween, etc. I haven't had much time to think, let alone posting to my site. Sorry about that.

Let's start with the Weight Watchers update. Last Wednesday I weighed in at 280.8 pounds which represents a 2.6 pound drop from the previous week. I am pretty sure that I was really reaping the benefit of the time that I spent in the gym. The previous week I was bitching about all the work without much of a benefit (0.4 pounds if you recall). I think that my pretty large drop was really representative of both weeks, not just the one. Anyway, I was ecstatic!

I can really see the difference in myself. My face looks thinner. My clothes fit better. But I can clearly see that there is still quite a ways to go.

Today I weighed in up 1 pound. That sucks, but it was not unexpected. I was off plan for most of the week, and you can't fool the scale. But you can try. Maybe you stay away from water and other fluids leading up to the weigh in. Or you might eat lunch after the meeting rather than before. Or you might pick just the right moment to :
Drop the kids off at the pool.
Pinch a loaf
Take a massive
Visit the office.
Just doing what the bears do in the woods.
You get the idea.

In any case, it really is just a waste of time and energy to do such things. When you raid the kid's Halloween booty. When you eat everything offered at the party. When you have a slice of the strawberry rhubarb pie. The scale will show it.

That being said, there is a cleansing that happens at the scale. In a way it is like confessing you sins, and being granted absolution. There is nothing that you can do about the past. Fess up to your errors and transgressions, put them behind you, and put your energy into moving forward.

I have acknowledged, and now I will move on. Back to eating the right things (and not eating the wrong things) and spending 30 to 60 minutes in the gym each work day.

Eat less and do more. The formula has not changed.

October 26, 2005 


I have spent more time in the gym at work this week than any other since I started WW. I put in around 45 minutes a day, and, at this point, I only do cardio. I get on the stinking Stair Mater for 15 minutes, and I get my heart rate up to 175 bpm for 10 minutes or so. The machine logs me in at around 400 calories burned. I typically move from there to either the eliptical machine or the stationary bike for another 10 to 20 minutes (20 on the bike, 10 on the other thingy). That racks up another 100 to 200 calories burned. I finish up with 5 to 10 minutes on the treadmill to keep going a while, but ultimately to help get my heart rate down. The lowest number of calories I burned in the last 5 days was 450, the highest was yesterday with just over 1000. (Karen dropped off the Boy, so I was able to hit the gym in the morning AND mid-day.) I have been watching my food intake, and I was very good everyday but Saturday. Damn those weekends! Overall, I ate less and did more. Isn't that the recipe for weight loss? Tell that to the stinking scale at WW. I clocked in at 283.4 this week. Down 0.4 pounds. All that f'ing work and I'm down 0.4 pounds?

Last Wednesday I set a goal for myself to drop 3.2 pounds this week, and that is why I put in such an effort. Finishing the week 2.8 pounds from your goal is just crap.

So what do I do? I am a bit of a glutton for punishment, so I am actually going to do more of the same. I have it on good authority that sometimes it takes more than one weigh in to capture the true progress. On top of that, I can't see how excercising, building strength, stamina, and endurance can be a bad thing, regardless of what the scale says.

I also want to put out a little preview of my next couple of posts. A couple of readers of this space have taken their time and treasure to send me some pretty nifty things. In return for thier kindness, I am going to share with you my thoughts, impressions, and opinions about the product I have received. My next post will discuss a couple of headlamps that came my way 6 weeks or so back, and that will be followed by a CD review.

October 19, 2005 

I'm doing pretty well

with the Weight Watchers thing. I was pleasantly surprised last during Wednesday when I stepped up to the scale and found that I misplaced almost 2 pounds since my previous visit. I was pretty sure that I found a few pounds up in Bean Town, but, hehe I win. Seriously though, I went completely overboard while I was away, but I am pretty religious with the plan most other times. I have been exercising regularly on top of that as well. I honestly expected to stay flat week over week.

This week I did not jump off the wagon over the weekend, but I only got to the gym once. The result? Down one more pound. Since I started WW I am down 11.8 pounds, and it feels great. I don't feel thin by any stretch of the imagination, but my clothes are a bit more comfortable.

I have been at this for four weeks, and I have gone down every week. I have set a goal for myself to drop another 3.2 pounds by Nov 2. That will put me at the 15 pound mark. I can do that.

Just curious though - any idea how much more size 40X30 jeans weigh than size 42 shorts? I figure the change cost me 1/2 pound or so this week. I was down anyway, so it's cool with me.

October 12, 2005 

A little more about Boston

I have long been into the mellower side of music, and I am a big fan of contemporary singer/song writers. On Saturday night I had the opportunity to catch Mike Tarara ( at the Asgard in Cambridge. I was impressed that night, and I continue to be impressed the more I listen to the CD I purchased that night.

So what do I like about Mike? First, he has a great voice, with a deep, rich sound. His voice has a maturity to it that seems to surpass his 28 years. Next, he has his own style. You can clearly hear traces of his influences (I would guess Dave Matthews is a big one), but he is still his own man. And lastly, he makes every song his own. This is important to me personally. Every great band in history of popular music has done covers. The Beatles. the Stones. Of course, my favorite, The Grateful Dead. One thing that all these bands have in common is that they paid homage to those who came before them by copying the words and the tune, but you would never mistake the Stones for Willie Dixon. Mike Tarara's version of Drift Away by Dobie Gray is so fresh and different that you forget that there ever was an "original" version.

Listening to the originals on the Higher Ground CD, I can't help wonder why we have never heard of this guy before. I am not sure that his style will ever fit on the sanitized and boring Clear Channel commercial stations out there, but he clearly has a home on a station like Philadelphia's own WXPN.

I am going to check with Mike, and if he gives permission, I will put a couple of tracks up for you to sample. If you have an extra $12 you can buy the CD from Mike's site.

(p.s. I opened an Associates account to try to make a few bucks. You will see some links to the artists and products that I endorse here and there, but I will not be a shill for anyone!)

October 11, 2005 

Well, its been a while

I'll start off with the good news. Last Wednesday I weighed in at 286.6 pounds, down 1.2 for the week and 9 pounds since I started. I think I can do much better, but at least it was down. Following up on my last post, I am struggling with the weekends. I definately overate the weekend before my last weigh in, and I think it shows. I know what you're thinking - Dave, you're only supposed to lose 1-2 pounds per week, so you did great! I don't buy it. When you are knocking at the door of 300 pounds, you should be able to drop more than 1 pound per week. Sure, it will drop off to the 1-2 pounds later, but out of the gate I should see bigger numbers. I have no one to blame be me. The WW plan works, if you follow it. That is the key. You have to follow it. I half-assed it the leading up to my weigh in, and I got half-assed results. No mystery.

Last weekend Karen and I went up to Boston to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. Can you believe that, six years. Lots of ups, a handful of downs, but I can honestly say that it feels like we were just married yesterday!

Anyway, I bring it up because I used the occasion to trash my WW plan. I did not meander or stray from the plan, I killed it dead. Dunkin Donuts. Yup did that. McDonalds. Been there. And been there, and been there. Throw in a trip to the Burger King, and you only get part of the story. That's just the fast food.

Friday night we went to a mexican place (it was Boston afterall), and I had Buffalo wings (makes sense right!) and two margaritas. Then we went to the bar for 2 very tasty pints of Black and Tan (Guiness and Bass).

We got up late on Saturday, and skipped breakfast. However we were at it again by 11:30.
As we strolled through Quincy Market, we decided to sample a little meal of rice and scallops WRAPPED IN BACON. We followed that up with a nice thick New England Clam Chowder, washed down with at beer. For dinner I had a HUGE helping of Seafood Cubana, which had rice (again), lobster, cod, scallops, shrimp, and mussels. THREE margaritas, and a white chololate peanut butter candy ($4.50 worth).

After dinner, we made our way back to a lovely Irish pub near the hotel, and proceeded to drink more black and tan's (Karen switched to Vodka and Cranberry - Mistake!) We stayed there from 9ish until 12ish, when we decided to make our way back into Boston (we stayed in Cambridge) to go to one more bar (which I can't remember much about, can you Karen?) We continued to drink until the place closed and dumped us into the streets at 2 AM.

I want to take you back in time a bit here. After our lunchtime feast, we did a little sight seeing, very little actually, and then went back to the room to nap. We did not get motivated to move again until after 6:30. Between lunch and 6:30 the temperatures in the greater Boston area dropped by about 20 degrees. After a very expensive cab ride on Friday night, Karen and I decided to save a few bucks and us the T to get around town. In both cases, we decided not to use the car. Anyway, we walk out the front door of the hotel, and we nearly freeze. I suggest to Karen that perhaps we should grab our coats from the car before heading downtown. Her response - We don't really need them. For me, at the time, she was right. So I didn't raise a stink. As we rode the escelator in Government Center, we could feel the wind rushing into our faces. The rain ripped through out t-shirts as we opened the doors and decended into the square. If not for the umbrella, we would have been truly miserable. But we had it, so we were ok. After dinner, Karen could not take it any longer, and we got her a heavy hooded sweatshirt to keep her warm. I still wasn't bothered by the cold, so I passed. We went from Quincy Market back to Cambridge, where we bellied up to the bar. That place was only a 1/2 block from the hotel, so I really wasn't concerned about the temperature outside.

This is all leading up to leaving the bar in Boston. I left the umbrella in the cab that we took from Cambridge to Boston. I didn't think about it, and I didn't realize it until the bartender gave us the boot. It was about 50 degrees, raining cats & dogs, AND the wind was blowing. I'm outside. Polo Shirt. No Jacket. Shorts. Did I mention the shorts? No shelter. No umbrella.

I don't get out much these days, with the kids and all, so I had no idea about what was going to happen next. Usually I'm the designated driver. Usually I go get the car, and we go home. But in Boston at 2 AM, there are THOUSANDS of people trying to get hundreds of cabs. 45 minutes. Waiving at every taxi, empty, full, I didn't care. I was cold and wet, and certain that I was going to die. It is truly amazing how you can forget about all the fun you had leading up to a moment like this. All I could think about was how shitty my night was. I might have yelled at the mrs a time or two, but hell, she was in a nice, new, and warm sweatshirt. With the hood up I might add. I decided to take a walk up off the beaten path, and found a cab in no time. It didn't take long to warm up in the car, so I was happy again. Alls well that ends well I suppose.

I have to tell you about the entertainment at the Irish bar, but I will save that for another post.

Wish me luck tomorrow. I am hoping to only gain 2 pounds. Considering the damage that I have done, that would be a victory.

October 2, 2005 

Weekends are hell.

It is pretty easy to stick with the weight loss plan during the week. My job keeps me busy, and distracted. Once Friday hits, all I can think about is food. Not only that, I can only think about junk food. On Tuesday, fresh pineapple hits the spot. On Saturday it is an appetizer leading into cookies. An oh how the Golden Nectar of the Gods calls me at five o'clock on a Friday. I have no problem staying dry durning the week, but I do love a beer on Friday!

Am I alone on this one? I doubt it. I really need to find something to do that can distract me on the weekends as well as my job does during the week. Here are some of ideas that I have come up with:

  • Start playing my guitar again. It requires both hands, is hard enough to keep me interested, and it is fun.
  • Learn a second language. I'm thinking of getting a book on tape type of deal and see what happens. Si? Oui? Da?
  • Learn how to make better websites. This one does the job, but it needs some help. Visually, I mean. Heck, the content is uproarously funny.
  • Start a Podcast. I have been thinking about this for some time, but I have been reluctant to do it. I am afraid that my musings will be dull and boring when spoken. I may give it a shot, and if it sucks, I'll stop. This one has promise.
  • Create a formula that will somehow end worldwide poverty and bring peace to all of mankind. (I'll have to check with Kofi Annan to see what has been tried so far. No sense in recreating the wheel.)
  • Start a project around the house. There are so many to choose from, it may be hard to decide. I could redo the bathroom or kitchen. I could build some shelves to hold all of Karen's work stuff. I could fix the leak on the heater. I could repair and paint the dining room ceiling. I could . . . I'll stop there. Those are just the one's that Karen knows about now. I don't want to give her any new ideas!
  • I could finish about half of the projects mentioned above. The bathroom is half finished. The ceiling - about the same. I am sure that if I started something (anything) else we could add it here. Once the fun goes away, well, you know.
  • I could organize the storage around the house. We have shit everywhere, and to say it is disorganized. Understatement.
You get the idea. I need to do something until I break the habits I have formed over 35 years. I quit smoking in 1997 by getting bronchitis. I have never gone back. I need something like that (but hopefully less painful) to break the overeating habit.

I got an email from my new friend Genevieve, with a link to a fantastic site with lots of recipies for WW friendly meals. Check it out. Thanks Gen! I get into a pattern where I eat the same thing over and over again because I know what it's point value is. Simple, easy, and boring. This site has a lot of new ideas that I can put into the same old pattern!

I have another new friend that I met through this site, and I am not going to user her name at this time because I haven't checked with her. Anyway, her husband has cancer on his kidneys, and will be having surgery in 3 or 4 weeks to have it removed. It is a very big scary deal, and I am asking you to keep them in your hearts and prayers. (I'm not at all religious, but figure that a little prayer here and there can't hurt, and it may help. Who knows.)


September 28, 2005 

I must say that I'm surprised,

but I lost 7.8 pounds my first week on Weight Watchers.

Outside of my aweful Saturday night, I did stay on plan last week. I'm still surprised that it was such a big number. I'm very happy.

On a related note, I started going to the mini-gym that they have at work. I am just doing cardio exercises right now. I have one of those in perfect shape health nut friends at work, and that was what he suggested. He spent a couple of years as a personal trainer at a fitness club, and I suppose that gives him some authority on the subject. Ok, to be honest, I do cardio because I LOVE the statistics on the machine. Especially the heart rate monitor. (In case you were wondering, I can get up to 168 bpm without dying. At least not yet)

Anyway, this is the first time that I have ever done this, and I'm not sure that I like it. It's not the workout (although being a fat man . . .), it's everything else. For example: I sweat a lot. I know what you're thinking - "All fat men sweat a lot!" Right? I'm a little extreme here. I look like I just got out of the pool rather than off the treadmill. My t-shirt is wet down to my belly button, and brother that's a long way down on me! I spend most of my workout paranoid that a co-worker will walk in and see the specticle that is me and bust a gut. It takes a while to clean off the machines when I'm done too. I don't envy the who ever uses the machine next.

When I'm done my workout, naturally I shower. Of course, being fat, hairy, and sweaty I have no choice. (By all rights I should shower just from walking from the first to the second floor!) I'm not sure it really makes a difference though. I cool down for a good 10 minutes, then I shower for another 10 minutes. I take a cool shower, much cooler than the normal morning shower, but for some reason I am still sweating for another half hour or more when I get back to my desk. I started taking a big wad of paper towels from the dispencer in the bathroom back to my desk so that I can wipe. Why is that. Bill, the guy next to me, works out during the day, but I never see him with that problem. Thin people. I will never understand them. Lucky bastards!

I hope your week went as well as mine.

Current Weight: 287.8 (DOWN 7.8 lbs)
Current Waist (Under the Dunlap): 43 3/4 (DOWN 3/4")
Current Belly: 49 3/4 (DOWN 2")
Current Chest: 50 1/2 (DOWN 2")
Current Thigh: 24 1/2 (DOWN 5/8")
Current Neck: 18 1/2 (DOWN 1/2")

September 25, 2005 

He did the whole thing!

Cleve finished his three day, 60 mile walk for breast cancer today. He was a little tired, and presumably a little sore, but he seemed to have an air of pride and satisfaction around him. He did an awesome thing for an awesome cause, and I appalude him. Great job Cleve.
Saturday was not a good day

for the diet. My good friend Tony's bachelor party was last night, and Weight Watchers was the first casualty of the evening.

I got to Tony's house around 7pm, and everyone was hanging around, drinking beers, and munching pizza. Pizza Hut pizza. I was good. I elected not to drink any beers because I didn't want to use the points up so early. I spent the next 45 minutes catching up with some college friends that I haven't seen in a while - obviously Tony is getting married, K-Mann will be a father within the next two weeks, Brogan's girlfriend is expecting in February, and Jay Moskowitz's second child is due in the spring. It seems that the whole crew became grownups overnite. Anyway, the whole time that we were catching up, the pizza boxes seemed to come alive. That's right, the openings became like mouths, and all they said was "eat me" over and over and over and over again. Typically, especially in the Biggest Loser, this is where they cut to the fat guy smiling and gloating about how his will power was stronger than the pull of the food. No such luck this time. One slice. Um. Two slices. Fellin' Satisfied. THREE SLICES. The guilt, anger, and disappointment sets in.

That is where it gets a little strange. It would seem rational, and somewhat normal, if at that point I recognized my mistake and ended it there. Instead I got into the "Oh well, I already blew it" mentality. Switching myself into that state freed me from any other responsibity for the night. I think that is really the fundimental issue. I need to move myself out of that thinking if I am ever going to break the cycle. I ended up eating just about a whole medium Pan Pizza last night (with peperoni I might add!) and washing it down with a six pack.

The first week of the diet sets the tone. Its as if the diet gods, knowing human weakness, set the bar. If you are successful your first week, your weight will drop by the biggest number of your endevour. You become excited and focused. YOU ARE GOING TO DO IT! But the opposite holds true as well.

I got up this morning and had some fruit for breakfast. I had grilled peppers and chicken for lunch, and some crab cakes made using a Weight Watchers recipe for dinner. In the middle I had snacks of fruit and a little plain jumbo lump crab meat. All in all it was a very good day. I like to think that I am back on the horse. At least I hope so.

September 22, 2005 

They never really talk about how shitty you'll feel

when you start a diet. er, uh, I mean weightloss system. Losing weight is about changing your habits, getting your body in motion (exercise), etc. But it really hurts when you get started.

I was HUNGRY all day. That is not a surprise. Today I went without my bagel & cream cheese, and I had Cheerios instead. Around 10:00 I chose to have some blackberries instead of a bag of chips or pretzels. At 10:02 I opted for a plum instead of aformentioned chips or pretzels. At 10:02 and 15 seconds I decided that I was just going to have to deal with being hungry.

I spent the rest of the day in a backpacking mentality. By that I mean that I set more or less arbitrary goals for myself so that I would not eat everything in my WW sanctioned food bag too early. Here is what that means - When I am on the trail and feeling tired, both physically and mentally, I look down the trail and pick a landmark. Like, say, a boulder or tree. And I tell myself that I can take a rest when I get there, and no sooner. When I get there, I give myself a pat on the back, but I usually decide that I don't really want to stop there. The next boulder is a much better place. I do this for hours. It is kind of like setting the alarm clock ahead by 15 minutes. You know what you are doing to yourself, but it takes the sting away nonetheless.

Today I did the same thing with the sandwich I brought for lunch. I was ready to eat it just after the plum (10:02:15 AM), but I told myself that I needed to wait until at least 10:15. At 10:15 I decided to push it off until 10:45, and so on. And so on. And so on. I pushed it until 12:15 and then dug in.

They say that you are supposed to eat a lot of the good foods when you are on a diet. Keeping the metobolism up is the key. It seems to make a lot of sense, but healthy food will break the bank. Chips are cheaper.

Back to the pain. One day without any refined sugar (no soda, no candy, no junk of any kind) and my body is on strike! I'm tired. I have a headache. And I am in a bad mood. A pack of Ring Dings and a beer would cure those things for sure. But I think I'll take the pass today. Maybe tomorrow.

September 21, 2005 


Well, today I had my date with destiny, and the number came in a little lower than I expected. I was sure that I broke the 300 pound barrier this time, but again I fell just short. Oh well. Maybe next time. For now we can add 295.6 pounds to my list of statistics.

The Weight Watchers meeting went well. I went a noon today, and I was the only man in the place. It felt a little weird, but you know me, I rolled with it. We were talking about the emotions that trigger over eating - stress, anger, boredom, depression, etc, and the leader (sorry, but I can't remember her name) asked what we may do to relieve stress that doesn't involve food.

"Exercise " said one person.
"Take a walk" suggested another.
"Kick the dog!" shouted I.

Believe it or not, there was actually someone there that could not tell if I was joking. Never underestimate people I suppose. A woman named Norma suggested that a pillow might be a better choice for a punching bag. No fun in that since pillows don't have the same yelp that Max does.

It is almost midnight on the first day of my new program. I made it through my prime munching time, and I am going to sleep. Another 4 or 5 hundred days like this and I might have to change the name of the site.

September 20, 2005 

The Tale of the Tape

While I still have not yet gone to my first Weight Watchers meeting yet, I did stop by Walmart and pick up a $1.50 tape measure. And let me tell you folks, it ain't pretty.

I was talking to Karen and I told here that I was going to write something about how my body seems to defy science by fitting a 52 INCH waist into size 42 pants. She looked at me and said deadpan - "As your gut gets larger your pants sink lower." I looked down, and the hell if she weren't right. My shorts were riding around my calfs and I didn't know.

I found a WW meeting near work at noon tomorrow, and I'm going. As I said before, I am going to post everything here, and hopefully it will keep me on track, make you laugh, and maybe motivate some to join me.

Have you seen the Biggest Loser on NBC yet? At its core, the show is another sappy reality program that is designed to suck you in and keep you watching. Since a very large (no pun intended) portion of the population is overweight, they found a niche where we can all relate. Most of us are never confronted with having to eat nasty bugs on a tropical island, but we are all petrified of the scale.

Anyway, I watched the first episode last night (gotta love TiVo! oh yea, if you are thinking of getting TiVo, drop me an email so that you can hook me up with a referal bonus), and I almost passed out when I realized that 2 of the 7 contestants weighed LESS THAN ME when they started the show.

I was literally sitting at my computer watching the people whine and cry about how hard it is to lose weight, about how humiliating it is too be fat, etc, etc, etc while I was eating two packages of Ring Dings. I came to the realization that the only real difference between them and me (other than the possiblity of winning a quater million bucks!) was that it doesn't make me cry. I channel all the same feelings into this space, but that doesn't really make me any different.

I was particularly struck by the guy who wanted to get in shape so that he could be there to play with is one year old. It is no joke when I say that I have seen myself not do things with the kids lately because I was tired and lethargic.

Tomorrow is the day. No more excuses and no more delays.

Tonight, however, I am going to grab a couple of Ring Dings, a cupcake or two, and an ice cold beer (we're out of milk) and catch tonight's episode.

By the way, here are some of my stats while I'm thinking about it -
Neck - 19"
Chest - 52 1/2"
Belly (at the button) - 51 3/4"
Waist (under the Dunlap) - 44 1/2"
Bicep - 16"
Thigh - 25 1/2
Snore - 117 decibles

September 18, 2005 

A lot of people tell me I'm nuts

for not advertising on this site. I have thought about it, and I have decided against it. This space was originally set up as a place where I could post my goofy thoughts and observations for myself and my friends. It has grown into a bit more since Steve started his journey. I get a lot of visitors stopping by more or less by accident, and it seems weird to me to try to exploit that.

That being said, I decided that I would use the space to plug things that I feel are important. My very good friend Mike Cleveland is participating in a 60 mile walk next weekend for Breast Cancer. He has pledged to raise $2,100 for the walk, and he is not quite there yet. (I still have not entered my pledge yet, but it will be there by Saturday!)

Breast Cancer claimed another victim last month, and she was a very important part of our family. Karen's Aunt Mel died in August after a five year battle with this horrible disease. It was painful and ugly, and something needs to be done. The folks at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation really need your help. Karen and I have been involved, directly and indirectly, with them since Karen was and active Phi Sig, and we really beleive in them.

Please click on this link and pledge your suport to Cleve's walk. It will help breast cancer research and treatment as well as give a much needed hand to Cleve's goal.

With most of the world's attention on New Orleans and the Gulf Region, I understand it is hard to think about giving to anything else, but please consider doing so.



September 17, 2005 

So just what does it take to get motivated

I stopped by the NASA Space and Rocket center while I was visiting my sister Labor Day weekend. There is a scale tucked into a corner by the cafeteria that will tell you your weight on Earth, Mars, and the Moon. The good news is that I only weigh around 45 pounds. The bad news is that I need to move to the moon for it to be real. Later that day I stepped on Kristy's bathroom scale and PINNED it! (I may have to buy her a new one, but I am waiting for her to ask!) What a wake up call. I decided right there and then that without a doubt I would consider a diet. But to be honest, I am really only on the edge of thinking about it.

Then there is the breathlessness. It annoys me that I cannot go from my basement to the kitchen without labored breath. On more than one occasion people have tried to give me their credit card number because they thought I was a phone sex operator. It was more than a little embarassed when I had to tell my Mom that I don't take MasterCard. It clearly points to me having to do something. I know that my body is telling me something, but I can't hear it through the super loud drum beat of my heart in my head.

And finally, I really miss my wife. You see, when your weight gets close to 300 pounds, your snoring is unbearable to your loved ones. For years Karen has used industrial grade earplugs to sleep, but recently they have failed her. I want you to think about that for a minute. These earplugs are good enough to protect the ears of airline and power plant workers, but not good enough for Karen to catch a few Z's. Karen is a voice that I hear.

In all seriousness, I "started" a diet last week, but it did not go anywhere. Karen and the kids drift off into slumberland, and I raid the fridge. I am shoveling leftover pizza, cookies (often at the same time), and washing them down with a beer at 10:30 at night. I know what I am doing is not right (not necessarily wrong though), but I do it anyway. By 10:45 the guilt set in, but Oh Well, it's too late now. Perhaps I will get motivated tomorrow. I have been repeating that pattern for month (if not years) now. I got into the habit when I used to smoke dope. I gave up the drug almost 2 years ago, but I have not given up the eating.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, I need accountablity. I need to stare someone in the face and account for my eating habits. Recognizing that, I am going back to Weight Watchers this week. I expect that I will go on Monday.

I will post my starting weight and thoughts after the first meeting. I am also a big fan of numbers, so I am going to measure my waist, chest, neck, arms, and thighs and track loss of inches. Wish me luck. I will be back soon.

July 26, 2005 

First a little business. Since I am getting more hits on this site than I ever imagined (thanks again Steve!), I figure that I am going to try to do something with the traffic. First and foremost, you probably came here to find Steve Vaught at, so I am trying to provide you with as many links back to his site as possible. BUT while you are here, I hope that you take a couple of minutes to read my stuff. Some of it is pretty good, if I do say so myself. Oh yea, most of it is aweful, but hopefully you will ignore those parts. What I really wanted to tell you is that all the traffic has inspired me to actually start posting more entries. This is pretty tough for me because I usually write about things that I am working on and the progress (or lack there of) that I am making. I am going in a new direction here, and time will tell how it works out.

Don't forget to go see Steve at

Now on with the show -

Dear Dave,

I live in San Diego and as you might have guessed, I came across your site looking for thefatmanwalking (actually, I linked through the CNET story). I was struck by your decency in honoring a local San Diegan on your web page and decided to pay you the courtesy of browsing your site, which I liked very much. I noticed that you are a Theta Chi. I am as well. I was proud and happy to see that it was a brother, true to the Theta Chi spirit, offering the helping hand to Steve Vaught. If I could give you fraternity honors through email, I would.

In Brotherhood,
Mark Lawson
Gamma Theta
San Diego State University '86

The above is the email that I referenced in the previous post.

Christian Chace recently extended to me an invitation to be part of the Alumni Committee at Theta Chi. That committee is charged with developing and cultivating Almuni programing for the Fraternity. A week or so ago a we got together at the Chapter Leadership Conference in Dayton, OH for our first official meeting. It was a blast. We had a four hour brain storming session that yielded a mountain of ideas that we need to develop. We ran out of time before we ran out of ideas!

It is incredibly exciting and humbling to be part of such an important committee for the Fraternity. The whole time that I was in Dayton, I was walking around wondering "why me?" Why in the world would a team of very dedicated and intellegent men want to bring me into the fold. Why would anyone want me to help shape the future of the Fraternity. Honestly it did not make much sense to me.

Then I read this email. This email from a complete stranger tied it together for me. It helped me understand my role, and it helped clarify what I need to do.

Thanks again Mark.

I got a couple really fun emails over last week.

The first on was from Michelle Meyers at CNet about an article she was writing about Steve Vaught over at TheFatManWalking. She wanted to get my reaction to the extra traffic coming to this site. The email was sent on Friday, but I didn’t read it until Sunday night. I really thought that I missed my opportunity to have my name in (virtual) print, since the original article was published on Cnet on Saturday. I responded back letting her know that I was sorry that I missed the email, and made myself available in the event she did a follow up article. Low and behold, she calls me back yesterday. We had a nice conversation about the history of my site and about Steve’s overflow. In the end she changed one paragraph from the original story and added two. Reading about myself and reading the quotes that she put in the article was kind of like listening to your own voice on a tape recorder. You know it’s you, but it sounds funny. The riding his coattails quote really sounded funny ha-ha to me when I said it. It sound goofy idiot funny when I read it. That’s ok, as long as it’s funny!

I also got an email from the Oprah Winfrey show on Friday. They were trying to get a hold of Steve and thought that I might be able to help them. I just sent them back Steve and April’s email address. I didn’t really have anything else to offer. This one got me thinking about how big Steve’s walk really is. I mean. . . Oprah! Granted, I can’t stand to watch 10 minutes of her show, but I am a guy after all. That being said, EVERYONE KNOWS OPRAH.

As it said in the CNet article, I get 20 to 50 emails a week addressed to Steve. These emails come in three flavors – What can I do to help?, I struggle with my weight too, and you inspire me, and media requests. Notice that I did not say anything negative there? It seems that everyone that hears Steve’s story relates in some way. It is pretty cool.

I have one more email that I liked an awful lot. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the info here right now, so I will have to paraphrase. I will update with all the relevant details when I get home from work tonight. Anyway, I got an email from a man that said he came to my site because of the CNet article, and he stuck around to check my site out. He said that it all came together for him when he saw the links to Theta Chi Fraternity. The Greek letters Theta and Chi in my fraternity’s name represent the words Helping Hand, and the spirit of giving of yourself to help others is a central tenant. He said that he sees my small contribution to Steve’s journey as an extension of that tenant. I certainly didn’t think of it that way, but upon reflection it really does tie in. That recognition really made me proud.

Traffic to my site has been through the roof since Steve’s sojourn began. As of today, I have over 125 THOUSAND hits in July alone. About 6 of those hits came to see me. BTW, If you are among the masses that came to see Steve, click the banner at the top of the page and go to his site.

April 12, 2005 

I got an email from a guy planning to walk from California to New York the other day.

Steve Vaught is a 375 pound man that has since donned his backpack, and started his trek across these United States. If you take a look at his site (the same, but different!), you can follow Steve's adventures, check out his pictures, and track his progress.

Since Steve's domain and mine are so similar, I have dedicated the top inch or so of my page to Steve's cause. Check back with him frequently, and send him the occasional supporting email. A few encouraging words go along way (in this case, they are going at least 3000 miles!)

Good luck Steve.

March 3, 2005 

As late as last week I thought that this year’s northbound meander

was going to include only Rich and myself. Much to my surprise, Rich thought it wasn’t going to happen at all. After a few beers at Isaac Newton’s on Friday night, the date was set.

The trip will be much less ambitious that I had originally hoped – 4 nights/5 days (rather than 7 nights/8 days) starting on Friday, May 13 (oooooh!) and ending on Tuesday, May 17. The distance goal is not set, however I would like to cover 10 miles a day if possible. The distance we cover will really be dictated by overweight bodies, bad knees, blisters, and good camping spots.

Let me explain. I’m pretty fat – 284 pounds last time I checked. I am joining the NAC this week, and I hope to get some muscle built up under the blubber, but I will still be considerably overweight by the time that May 13th rolls (no pun intended) around. I am hoping that Keri joins us this year. The trip is close by and it covers terrain that she has seen before so I think it is a real possibility. Keri’s knees are pretty banged up from year of abuse (she blames skiing and volleyball, I speculate it is something else!) If she summons the courage to venture out, we will have to dial back the mileage – a small price for good company.

March 1, 2005 

Oh, but my fantasy world is wonderful.

In my mind I am still the same guy that I was in college.

In my mind I’ve not gained a pound.

In my mind my hair is on my head and not on my back.

In my mind chicks dig me.

Every once in a while reality steps up to the plate and knocks my fantasy world out of the park. Friday was one of those days.

On Thursday the snow came and closed the schools on Friday. I wasn’t bothered because I was able to spend a wonderful day at home with my kids. We made a mess. We ate junk food. We were LOUD. We had a blast! And best of all, I my mom took them for the rest of the weekend. Life was good.

After I dropped off the kids, I went to the Apple Store in Marlton, NJ to get my iPod fixed. I had all the time in the world, and life was good. Then the bubble burst.

I am in the jug handle to cross Rt 73, playing with my broken iPod hoping that perhaps I could conjure up some magic that would make the trip unnecessary. I look up to see if traffic is moving. It’s not. I go back to my iPod. I look up again. Nothing is moving. Again. I go back to my iPod. I do it one more time, and this time I make eye contact with one of six teenaged girls in the car just ahead of me. I go back to my iPod. I look up again, the light has changed, I put the iPod on the seat, and start driving.

The girls turn around again. I make eye contact. Again. And that was the end of it. The four girls in the back seat start smiling, winking and suggestively pointing at me. Uggh. They are teasing me. I have no where to go. They keep it up. They are relentless. I’m squirming in my seat. Looking for an exit. I’m trapped. I give them a half a smile. That was a mistake. They start laughing uncontrollably. I am pretty sure that one of them had tears of laughter running down her cheek. Still no where to go. Stuck. My turn is just ahead. I am almost free. My humiliation is almost over. Their turn signal goes on. Ack. They are going into the shopping center too. My torture continues. The girl on the left turns to the front of the car, and then twists back around with a camera. That was it for the girls. They lost control of their laughter, and they were all crying. I gave a sad clown sort of smile. The flash went off. They turned. I was free, a bit humbled, but free.

As I think about it, they wanted me. I am sure of it. Chicks dig me.

January 3, 2005 

I expect that just over 99%

of the population is starting their diet today. It is like a ritual. Stuff your face from late November through the last day of December, then tell the world that your New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight. It is not hard to see the folly in this, because like any addiction, it is hard to deal with the withdrawal. Most of us are not strong enough to make it through. I am not trying to be negative, but is that is how I see it.

I just read on the website for the movie Super Size Me that 60% of Americans are either overweight (must be nice) or obese (hey that’s me!) If we were able to deal with the pain of withdrawal, this statistic would not be so dramatic. Every magazine that deals with health, beauty, being a woman, or being a man has major real estate devoted to the diet this month. All of us hit the end of the Christmas (Chanukah or Kwanzaa) season and optimistically look to the calendar as the answer to our expanding waistline and impending diabetes. We all also know in the back of our heads that by the time that February rolls around, the diet will be behind us. We all know that by the time we flip the calendar to March we will likely stop feeling guilty about the Big Mac, Whopper, Grilled Stuft Burrito, etc. This year we will all be average and gain another five pounds or so. Everyone else is doing it, so why not me?

How do we break this cycle? The hell if I know for sure. I am just another fat guy. I have some ideas. Common sense ideas. We can look back to this space in a year and see if my ideas have any validly. This whole thing is really just a mis-mashing of things I have done and seen in the past. I am not sure if you could call it plagiarism, but this is not a term paper so I don’t care.

1) This is going to hurt. I have started enough diets to know that the first week is just painful, to you, your friends, and loved ones. As you give up the things you love, you feel like shit. Like a drug, your body needs a certain level of sugar and carbs (which are sugar by another name.) The pain you feel, the headaches, the fatigue, and the grumpiness are withdrawal. If you threw in the shakes and cold sweats we would be talking about heroine. Like any addict, you need to recognize that the pain is coming, and deal with it. It will pass.

2) The diet plan is the least important part. I am pretty sure that it is all about personal preference, low carb, no carb, Weight Watchers, etc, it doesn’t matter. You should pick something that you can stick with. For me, I do the Weight Watchers type thing. I like to see a full plate, complete with a meat, a starch, and a veggie. The idea of looking at a plate with a steak and nothing else is horrifying. You may be the opposite. Perfect. That is why there are so many car makers, brewers, ice cream flavors (bad example. Sorry!). Don’t pick what everyone is doing, pick something that you can work with and not what is popular.

3) It is going to take a long time. Period. End of sentence. Pick a cliché. There is no free lunch. You get what you pay for. Whatever. If you are trying to lose weight for a lifetime, you need to be patient. From what I can tell this is the second hardest part. Once you get through the withdrawal, staying focused for the long haul tough. This is the one that gets me every time. I have never hit a plateau while actually following a diet plan (I have when I start cheating!), but I get sick watching what I eat. Not giving up is a bitch.

4) Change your mindset. Anyone who successfully loses the weight and keeps it off has changed their habits and their view of food. As of today, that is not me. Food makes me feel good. I like to be full. When I am bored, I like to munch. When I am happy, I like to celebrate with a meal. I have no idea how to do this, but it seems to be key.

5) Let everyone know. Tell the world (that is what I am using this space for!) Everyone, without exception, knows that you are fat. They can see it with their own eyes, especially in the summer! Why should you be shy about your decision to change that? Be proud. Let everyone know how much you have lost. Let them know why you choose one food over another. You are adding time to your life. You should be bragging.

6) Track your progress. I think this ties into number 3. Take some pictures of yourself as you go. You will be amazed by the change. I am going to set up a page with new pictures each week – head, side, and front. I am going to add some stats like weight, waist size, chest size, etc. I really believe that seeing your body change will help move things forward. I assume that looking at the 290 lb Dave on the site will make me thing twice about that Snickers bar. This is untested, so we will see. If you don’t chronicle your weight loss on a website, perhaps you should invest in a refrigerator magnet or two.

7) Fast food was a major part in what got you to this point. It has to go. There is nothing on the menu that will help you. Not the salads, not the chicken sandwiches, nothing. That Super Size Me movie says (I have not verified it else where) that you walk for 7 straight hours to offset the calories in a super sized Big Mac, French fry, and Coke. Holy crap.

8) Get moving. I have heard that the average American walks around 420 feet (140 yards or 0.08 miles) per day. For most of us that is the only exercise we get. It is really pretty sad. Anyway, you can lose lots of weight by diet alone, and you would never have to move any further than the 420 feet per day to do it. If you want to speed things up, a ½ hour a day of cardio will help. I am at a point where I get winded when I play with my kids. It sucks, and I am not going to do it anymore. I m going to wait until all of the quitters clear out, so my plan is to hit the gym here at work every day starting until February.

Well that’s my plan. I started today, and the withdrawal has not set in yet. I expect to feel like crap by tomorrow. Let me know what you think. I am going to take my first pictures tonight, and I will post a link.

December 27, 2004 

Ken Murphy
A friend and co-worker of mine died yesterday. Ken Murphy and I were not close friends, in fact by now we have devolved into acquaintances. Our interactions were reduced down to pleasantries – “How are the Kids?” from him, and “Did you have a good weekend?” from me. Based on that, I would not have expected to be affected by his death, but I have been. I have not cried, but I have shed a couple of tears. I reacted much the same way when my Grandfather passed. It bothers me quite a bit, and I sometimes think that I am not quite human. I will miss Ken. The end of his life was very painful, and I believe, down to my very soul, that he is much better off today than yesterday. I hope that his mother and girlfriend’s grief is short lived and that they can see their way to happier days. God bless you Ken.

November 22, 2004 

It has been quite a while,

but I have recently been inspired to pick up my pen (in a figurative sense) again. Out of the blue yesterday Tara Harding told me that she visited and that she really enjoyed reading my musings. She also told me that I was a good writer. I think she may be taking a few liberties with the truth and she is likely complimenting my ego, but it was inspiring nonetheless. Thanks Tara! (For the record, Karen has told me the same thing, but she’s my wife and it is required. Most of her compliments usually come after I badger her - “So did you like it, Huh? Huh?” type stuff. She has to say yes. Know what I mean?)

I have been using this space to chronicle my activities leading up to my annual backpacking trip. As you read about the run up to the 2004 trip in Maryland, you notice that a lot of time and energy is spent on my weight problem. It is a fun topic for me to write about, and it is very therapeutic for me. I will once again be filling a lot of space with this topic.

I also like to write about gear – what I have, what I need, and Cleve. In many ways this is really not fair to Cleve, but it is quite fun. In a nutshell, Cleve does everything exactly how you are supposed to. If you stick your nose into a Backpacker Magazine or a backpacking how-to book, you will discover that Cleve employs most of their suggestions when he visits REI. I don’t know about you, but the first thought that crosses my mind when I read about the proper way to buy a sleeping bag is “Who would actually do that!?!” And the I can’t get Cleve out of my mind for a couple of days (after much experience I have found that watching open heart surgery on Discovery removes the thought from my head.) See that, I made fun of Cleve already, and I didn’t even try. Sorry buddy. I will work on that.

I like talking about the trip itself. The trek we took across Maryland in May was a real eye opener. I discovered that I can actually walk 16 miles in one day without dying. I also discovered that I can also wake up in the morning and cover another 10 miles without any real misery. It made me want to do more and more. This year we (and by we I mean Rich, Keri (hopefully), and I) are going to try to walk the first 84 miles in Pennsylvania. We have allotted 7 days of walking to accomplish this, which means we will need to average 12 miles per day (6th grade math?). That is the most time that I have ever spent in the woods, and there is much to consider. When will we go? Will we carry all the food or will we re-supply en route? Keri has a bit of a bum leg, so how do we ensure that she will be ok? What happens if she has a problem. Do I need any new equipment to handle the extra time in the woods? What happens if we come up short? All this and much more will be discussed at length.

I may sprinkle in some talk of family, friends, the weather, politics, etc. The bottom line is that I am not going to limit this space to just my backpacking pursuits. Anything goes. Check back frequently for updates. I am going to try to post something two or three times per week.

May 7, 2004 

Talk about pressure.

I took a few minutes earlier this week to let you know what was happening and why the interval between posts had grow so long, and Karen tells me she is disappointed because it wasn't funny. I try to add a little wit, sarcasm, and humor into every post, but I never realized that it was required! She's says my performance has never been a problem in the past, maybe there is more to her complaints than meets the eye.

Anyway, back to serious matters . . .

I have been thinking alot about pack weight recently. I am starting to think of the things that go into my pack in budget terms. Just about every budget has some items that are required spending, such as the mortgage and electricity. The same could be said for the sleeping bag and the tent. The next things in line are the items that you THINK you need, but you could live with out. These would be cable and internet access in the home budget analogy. For backpacking, these things would be the candle lantern, GPS, and a book. I am likely to shoulder the burden for these items without complaint. That takes us to the things that I could truly do without, or that could be sharply reduced.

Underwear,socks, and shirts. It's kinda gross, but I am going to wear one pair and keep another in the pack. That's it. Clothing seems to have an additive effect on pack weight. The sweaty socks, the funkified drawers, and the nasty tee shirt seem to weigh a few more pounds than they did when they had that Spring Time fresh smell earlier in the day. After 5 days, that could be a lot of extra weight. I ain't gonna do it. One pair for walking, and one pair for the camp. Nothing more.

Pants. Nothing new here. One pair of convertable pants. Given that our trip ends just five days prior to the "Unofficial Start of Summer", I may not need the pant legs at all. I will bring them just in case.

Repair kits. I brought a backpack and a tent repair kit on our last trip. Why? I am going to bring the duct tape and nothing else.

Heavy foods. I am only bringing stuff that does not have water in it. No begals. No Chicken in a bag (well maybe chicken in a bag). No cheese. I am going to bring lots of noodles, beef jerky, and peanut butter.

More later . .

May 3, 2004 

And Then There Were Three

Sorry about the rather long gap in postings. I have been extremely busy over the last few weeks with my camper, the Fraternity, and Morgan.

Last year my mother gave me the camper that she has owned for the last 15 years or so. Robbie, Mikey, my brother Charles, and I have been working to fix some rather substantial water damage. We had to take out just about every piece of wood in the bedroom. It was not easy, but it is just about finished. I expect that the job will be done by May 16. After that I will be spending most of my weekends hanging out with the wife and kids down by the Great Egg Harbor River. I cannot wait.

My Fraternity's Alumni Corporation held a meeting on March 27 to discuss the future of that organization and the terms of the probation for the Undergraduate Chapter. We have a mountain to climb ahead of us, but I am really psyched to be involved again. I have spent much of the time that I would normally use to post updates here in long email discussions about the structure and direction of the Alumni Corp. There are only a handful of guys active in this organization, but we all seem pretty motivated. You will probably see more references to Theta Chi in this space after we return from our trip.

It looks like I have passed the Asthma gene on to Morgan. The allergy/lung doctor confirmed this with Karen today, but it does not really come as a surprise. Karen and I both have asthma. The girl is going to be on a twice daily medication indefinitely to keep it under control. It is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it does kind of suck.

Now that I have filled you in on the last couple of weeks, lets talk about the trip. Mikey informed me two weeks ago that he was bagging the trip. I planned our excursion so that it landed in the last two weeks or so of his program a Chubb. Mikey is very serious about his education this time around (18 and in college is a world away), and he does not want to mess anything up while he is in the home stretch. I am very disappointed that he won't be joining us, but I think he has made a wise decision.

One thing that did make me chuckle - He has already backed out of next year's trip because he will have to work. He is probably right on the mark, but I found it funny since he has not yet found permanent employment. I hope he finds out that he was right about this sooner than later. Best of luck on the job search Mikey.

Robbie had a bit of bad luck over the weekend which has forced him to back out as well. (I am not inclined to go into details here, and you will have to check with Waycool if you want more info).

We are now down to Cleve, Richie, and me. Losing Mike and Rob is mostly bad, but it does have some good. The three of us still going are basically lazy, and are less inclined to find and cut wood for a fire. That's ok with me. I love the fire, don't get me wrong. BUT I only gather wood so that I don't get voted off the island. On second thought, that is the only good thing about them not going.

April 8, 2004 

Robbie Sent Me Some Tips on How to Keep Your Pack Weight Down . .

and it should help. It looks like this chart is from a book that advocates the Ultralight backpacking method. Given our appetites and needs for creature comforts, it is unlikely that we could follow all the suggestions in the Ultralight or even the Light columns, but I think that we could be a whole lot more comfortable if we use some of them. That being said, it is very clear that the person that put these lists together is looking for the most extreme comparisons. I picked out a couple of the most egregious examples of where this guy was trying to make a regular guy look stupid (I also added my comments):

  • Water/Windproof Lighter - A bic would do, and we all know that.  I heard of a smoker that went out and spent a few dollars on waterproof matches, but ended up using the lighter he keeps in the same pocket as his cigarettes.

  • Fleece Jacket & Fleece vest - come on. How many people actually own both of those?

  • Fancy Compass?  Yeah right.  We use GPS baby.

  • 4-16oz cans and 7-12oz of chicken - Duh. It is hard to imagine a person actually operating at such low brain function.

  • A Candle Lantern & five extra 8-hour candles - I would just bring a pack of matches from where I bought:

  • One 16oz bottle of booze - Any intelligent human being would bring 24 King Cans of Budweiser.

  • A paperback copy of War & Peace - I have actually heard of people not bringing reading material. (Why bother to bring toilet paper?)

  • Full sized Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - You would have to be an idiot.

April 7, 2004 

Something new. . .

The last time that I ran without someone or something chasing me was in 1986 when I played baseball at Kingsway Regional High School. It was a medical miracle call the Proventil Inhaler that made it possible. I am sure that you can easily picture me trailing behind my relatively fit teammates and coach, huffing, puffing, and sucking on my inhaler. The only thing that was more pathetic than that was my perfect zero batting average.

Anyway, I was out with my dog last night, and he started to run, and I decided to follow him. We ran around the rather large field by my house, and after about 1/4 mile, I realized that I was not going to die. It actually felt kind of good. Around 10:30 last night, I thought that I would give it a try on purpose. Honestly, I was a little surprised by how well I did. I actually jogged for around a 1/2 mile and then slowed to a brisk walk for a total of just over 1.1 miles. I gave myself a little pat on the back, and a well deserved shot to the arm.

I really was not expecting what happened next. I cannot be certain, but I am pretty sure that I coughed up the last remnants of that pack of cigarettes that I never really finished back in November 1997. What came up was big and black, and it may have crawled away (I called the police just in case). I also did not expect the nauseous feeling that came afterward. It lasted until I went to bed. I was under the mistake assumption that exercise made you feel better.

My experience last night was so good that I decided to do it again this morning, and I jogged for just over six tenths of a mile (of course I know this because of my GPS!). I did not find any more toxic waste in my lungs, but the nausea is still with me more than 3 hours later.

I am going to give it a few more days, but if I don't start feeling better . . .

March 28, 2004 

The First Four Trail Sections are Available.

It takes a little time to put these things together. I will try to get the rest out by next Sunday. The maps are terrible. I am going to scan in new ones and see how they turn out.

March 25, 2004 

Some Progress. . . Finally!

Things certainly are going better with Weight Watchers. After two full weeks on the program, I have lost 9.4 pounds.

While I am not surprised by my initial success (I have done this at least 6 times before), I am very pleased. Karen thinks I am crazy, but I am pretty sure that I can tell a difference in how my clothes fit already. Ten pounds does not seem like a lot, especially when you weigh in a stone's throw from 3 bills, but it really is pretty substantial. One of my former WW leaders illustrated this point at a meeting I attended a few year back by showing off a 10 pound bag of hamburger. Now that is quite a hunk of meat.

I am not sure if any of you have noticed, but there is still absolutely no new information about our upcoming trip. Nada. None.

I wanted to have the first couple of sections posted by this past Monday, but it just didn't happen. We have the big Theta Chi meeting on Saturday, and then I am sending the kids away. I really do expect to have the time and motivation this weekend.

I am going to try to guess how far we will get each day and build the pages around that. I will include the description of the trail, maps, and the elevation profile.

It does not look like this section should give us any trouble, just one big up and then relatively flat. That is EXACTLY how our trip to VA/TN looked as well, so assume it will KICK YOUR ASS.

March 19, 2004 

Fat Man Status Update

Back in November and December my rather obtuse belly was the primary topic of conversation hear at The main driver behind those posts was the weight loss competition at my job. The end of that competition is only 12 days away, and I wanted to give you a bit of an update.

From the beginning of December through beginning of March I dropped 1.5 pounds! I know what you are saying - "How did you do it? South Beach? Atkins? Ephedrine?" I am pleased to say that this accomplishment is my own. I am now trying to decide how I will market my diet so that I can also cash in on America's obesity problem.

Seriously though I was looking at the calendar the other day and I realized that I only had a little more that three weeks until D-day, and I got scared! That night I went to a Weight Watchers meeting as a last ditch effort. I really could not deal with the idea of having my buldging fur hanging out of my shirt all day. I weighed in at 288 pounds, and still Half-Fat.

My first week I dropped 7.4 pounds (without any seasonal adjustments!) It is the formality of the Weight Watchers program that works for me. They give you a points budget and slide rule to tell you what each food is worth. Don't bust your budget and PRESTO you lose weight. Now that sounds a lot easier than it really is. I AM CONSTANTLY HUNGRY. The biggest factor in my success with Weight Watchers is having to stand on a scale and have someone else write that big ol' number down for you. Ouch. Now they are always supportive, saying things like "It's ok. We all have tough weeks sometimes.", but their faces say "Did I just see your ass expand?" That is a big motivator.

I am really trying to exercise, in the form of walking, while I diet. The weather has severely turned against my efforts this week, but the forecast looks like I will be up and running again next week.

Allmans at the Beacon

Last night I had the great fortune to head up to New York City to see the Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theatre courtesy of Bear Stearns! It was an amazing show.

I last saw the ABB at the Tower Theater in '96 or '97, and I am amazed at how much better they were last night. The guitar team of Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes just blew me away. Gregg Allman's singing is still right on, and the whole band just lit the stage on fire. They are scheduled to be in NYC for the next two weeks. I would highly recommend that you make the trip.

March 17, 2004 


Our excursion is only 65 days away, and I have not posted anything about what we can expect. All I can tell you is that the details are coming. I think that there are 5 Appalachian Trail sections between Harper's Ferry, WV and the Maryland/Pennsylvania border. I will work to have at least one of these sections posted every day or so until I have it all out there. Since we are expecting Mikey to join us Friday, May 21 through Sunday, May 23, I will have these days covered sooner rather than later.

March 5, 2004 

I started exercising today, and man an I in pain.

I checked with a few people to see what they thought, and everyone had the same words of encouragement. They all said it was natural to get sore after working out. It is just the body's way of dealing with change. It will hurt less as I exercise more. These words were like Advil to my ego, and the my self esteem rose to new heights. Until I realized that all of this pain came from taking a walk around the office park!

Sure walking is not much, but I figured it was a start. I have a million excuses for not making it to the gym at the office - I can't come in early. I can't stay late. It is too much hassle to shower during lunch, etc. Walking does not have any of these problems. I am sure that it will help me get ready for any backpacking trip I take (that does have any hills or require a backpack!)

According to Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, 73% of adults can maintain their current weight without dieting by walking briskly for 30 minutes a day. According to this article, the participants were told not to change their eating habits during the study. The control group continued to eat like pigs without exercise, and they gained an average of 2.5 pounds.

My walk today was just about 1.75 miles in just under a 1/2 hour. Not a bad start, but it is not good enough to really make a difference. It seems that 11 miles a week is the magic number. Since it is unlikely that I will be able to take a brisk 30 minute walk with the munchkins in tow, I will have to walk at work. I am going to try for an hour a day, three days a week. I will let you know how that works out. (no pun intended!)

February 24, 2004 

Odds and Ends

I haven't posted in a while, so I have a handful of topics to address.

My 33rd birthday has come and gone with little fanfare. Every year on my birthday Karen asks me how it feels to be X years old. Every year my answer is the same as I felt last year. This year was no exception. I felt the same, and that means that I felt pretty good. And my looks have held on for another year as well! Not bad. That was my birthday, and my how things changed quickly.
Two weeks after my birthday Nicholas and I took a short walk around the lake at Core Creek Park, and I felt my age bitch slap me.
Before I get into the specifics of the bitch slap, let me describe the walk for you - The ground was basically flat. No peak. No valleys. No ups. No downs. Flat. Nick and I traveled about a half mile around the rim of the lake before he was tired of the woods. We crossed the frozen lake and spent another hour or so on the playground before slowly following the lakeshore back to the car. The total distance could not have been more than 2 miles. I did not get winded, and I felt like I could have walked for days - Not bad for a Fat Man!
The Slap hit me in the car when I realized that both my knee and my hip were sore. How could that be? I am only 33 right? Who knows how it happened, but I can tell you that I felt it for at least three days later. What in the world does 34 have in store for me. Maybe a little prostate problem to go with my new joints?

This past weekend we had the chance to get together with the whole crew and make our way out to Victory Brewing Company for a few beers to celebrate Cleve's 30th birthday. The beer was great, the food still sucks, but what an amazing time! Mikey and I are the elders in the our tribe, so it is really nice to see the first of the youngsters creep into his thirties! Robbie's new guitar arrived in a shiny new hardshell case last week, and we literally played until our fingers were so sore we could not form chords. And most importantly, the dream has finally become a wonderful off key reality!
Rob, Mikey, and I have been trying for years to get everyone to sing the songs as we play. Success! Now we need to find more songs that the average person wants to sing. Did you know that most people don't know the words to every Grateful Dead song? I just found out. Karen is working to update the song book. Nice. We are getting back together in a few weeks, I will let you know how we make out.

It looks like Karen and Keri are going out in the woods together in early May. How awesome is that. I think that they will have a great time. I believe that it is the first time that they are going out without Rich and me. Normally Karen and I work as a team, splitting the weight of the tent and food, sharing the cooking duties, etc. I assume that Karen and Keri will do the same, which means that it will not be much different for them. Perhaps just a little less stress without the guys! I am just afraid that she will like it too much. I just wonder if they will be as into the toys, GPS and such, as the guys are.

Speaking of Keri, she got an iPod this weekend! Congratulations! TiVo can't be too far off.

February 9, 2004 

People actually read this?

I got some feedback on my site over the last week or so, and I thought I would share. I am not sure if it is by coincidence or if it was deliberate, but I got nothing in writing, so I will have to paraphrase a bit.

The most flattering was from one of Karen's co-workers at GSK -

"Dave may just be one of the funniest and most clever people on the internet. He is brilliant, insightful, and sexy. If it wasn't for Karen (and that awful picture) I would date him. He should go professional." *

Thank you for the compliment. I work very hard at keeping things fun, entertaining, and informative. You must rembember that I am married, but I don't mind if you dream about what could have been.

As for becoming a professional writer, I just don't see that happening. I would have to be nuts to give up a job that almost provides a living wage, monpolizes more than three quarters of my waking hours, and demoralizes my existance in exchange for a life of fame, wealth, and leisure. No way. I just won't do it. I will keep FatManWalking as a hobby, not a job.

The feedback that I got from Robbie was a little different. He said that it makes him laugh, and he will be sure to sync it up with his iPaq so that he can read it on the crapper.

Now that is what I like to hear. Hats (and pants) off to you, Rob!

* Carrie actually said that it was kind of funny.

January 28, 2004 

Snow Snow Snow

Mikey planted the idea of backpacking in the snow in my head in December, and I cannot get it out now.

My rational side knows that it will suck. There are no leaves on the trees, so the wind will beat down on me the whole time. Snow will get make it's way into my boots, up my back, in my gloves, and make me miserable. My sleeping bag will not handle the frigid temperature, and I will not sleep.

My stupid side thinks that the morning will be beautiful. The snow covered trees will be breath taking. It thinks that the chill in my bones will be cured with a raging campfire. Most of all, my stupid side sees a snowy backpacking trip as an adventure, and there is just not enough adventure in life these days.

It is actually rare that my rational side wins. I tend to favor being stupid.

Fortunately for me I have Karen. She gently reminded me of all of the crap we had to take care of during December, and nudged me into staying home. Once again she saved me from myself.

I won't be making my way into the woods for this snow storm either. Still too much to do. It is unlikely that I will be spending anytime in the woods until May.

It is still fun to let my stupid side flirt with the idea.

January 22, 2004 


I have taken inventory, and it looks like there is no equipment that I need for this trip! I would like to get one of those nifty LED head lamps and a set of trekking poles, but I don't really need either. Most likely I will take a pass for this trip. However I NEED new boots.

I got my current pair of boots six years ago while Karen still worked at REI. She had me get together with the resident boot specialist, and we spent a good two hours trying different brands and models. These boots were perfect, until I actually used them.

I got blisters the very first time I hit the trail with them on my feet. I just assumed it was because they were not broken in yet. I am pretty sure that I used the same excuse the next 4 or 5 trips as well. There is no way I should still be having problems with them now. They have to go.

I think that I may follow Mikey's lead and get a pair of light, sneaker like boots rather than the full sized leather type. That means that I will likely be sacrifycing ankle support, but I think they will be more comfortable. I have hiked at least twice in sandals (once in PA) and have not had any problems. I am willing to risk it.

January 19, 2004 

Whoda Thunk it.

First the Eagles.

Then Simon & Garfunkel

Now coming to a trail near you (kinda) - Dave and Mikey.

I will wait a minute while you get up from the floor and collect yourself.

I woke up yesterday and decided to move my starting point around 1,100 miles north. Since then Robbie, Keri, and Rich are seriously considering joining Cleve and I on our journey. Although I did not expect a positive response, I sent an email to Mikey to let him know. To my surprise, he is also holding open the prospect that he may come as well. Mikey is in school these days, and he is not willing to miss school, so he is probably in for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Not bad.

Mikey walks fast. Much faster than the rest of us. In TN I fought with him about this. It really does not make much sense to fight about how he chooses to hike. His hike is his, and my hike is mine. Hike solo. Camp together. It makes sense to let him choose the campsites for all of us. He will get there first. He can see if it is a good spot with his eyes better than I can with a map. Who knows. We can work together rather than against each other. It works.

More thoughts about the WV->PA Route

  • My first thought deals with when to start. Friday, May 21 is the date that I have in
    mind for the start. I am thinking that we could drive down in the morning and get an early
    afternoon start. It should take around 4-5 hours from my house. I will be taking the PA
    Turnpike, and I would be happy to pick anyone up on the way (Rich & Keri). It does not
    make a lot of sense to meet at someone's house before heading south since we are all so
    spread out. That being said, I don't want to drive alone, so if I have to go a little out
    of my way to be sure that I have company, I will.

  • Lets keep the itinerary flexible. None of us has ever actually spent 5 nights on the
    trail. I am actually more interested in accomplishing that goal than the 40 miles. After
    our adventures in Tennessee, I have learned that you cannot tell anything about the hike
    from maps. What looks easy can be a ball buster, and what looks like a ball buster can be
    a piece of cake. I also cannot predict the weather, our moods, and a million other
    variables. Lets take it step by step, and set up camp while we are still happy and
    energetic, rather than cranky and exhausted. Using that logic, our trip may be
    substantially shorter than the 40 miles between WV and PA, or it could be longer. We
    should be prepared for both possibilities. In either case, we will be off of the trail on
    either Tuesday (05/25) night or Wednesday (05/26) morning.

  • I am bringing my new Martin Backpacker Guitar with me. Anyone who brings a full sized
    guitar is an idiot, and will be beaten.

  • Our last trip was limited to men only. There is no reason to make that a tradition. Keri
    is already considering making the trip. Hey Cleve, be sure that her husband does not know
    where we are going. Your safety is our concern.

January 18, 2004 

Major Change of Plan

I took a look at the family finances and the cost of a backpacking trip to Springer Mountain, and I realized that it was not going to happen in 2004.

I have wanted to hike all 2000+ miles of the AT since I first got into backpacking, but I have also known that it is unlikely that I will ever be able to do it in a single season. In other words, since I knew I could not do it all at one time, section hiking would have to be the way to go. Lacking creativity, I figured the best place to start my section hike would be at the beginning of the trail. That is why I focused my attention on Georgia.

Well if I can't start at the beginning of the trail, why not start in the middle? Harper's Ferry, WV. It is not really the dead center of the trail, but its close enough. The Appalachian Trail Conference Headquarters is there, and it seems like a great place to start.

The major benefit of changing the itinerary is that I will have more company on the trail. As soon as Waycool heard of the change of venue, he said that he may come. Rich and Keri are also considering joining us. Pretty Nice.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but here is a message from our sponsor -

Hike Solo. Camp Together

The larger the group, the more important this concept is.

I measured out the distance from Harper's Ferry to the PA state line - 39.8 miles. Assuming 5 days of hiking it comes out to 8 miles per day. Even the fattest and most out of shape of us should be able to handle that.

Oh yeah, another benefit of this destination is that Jenn Meyers lives near by, and I think that she will help us with transportation. I will update you after I speak with her.

Finally, I wanted to thank all of you that made it to Morgan's Christening today. I had a great time, and I hope that you did as well.

January 13, 2004 

Happy New Year!

Sure, I am a little late with that message, but better late than never.

I got some great news a week or so ago. Cleve has decided to join me on my sojourn. I am ecstatic to have the company. I used to be very good at meeting people and engaging them in conversation when I was younger (and drunker), but it is work now. Now I can talk to Cleve and ignore everyone else on the trail. Just kidding.

Having a buddy on the trail also makes Karen feel a bit better. She was not going to stop me from going, and she was not making a big deal out of it, but she was worried. I think that comes from knowing that I will hurt myself, and it is just a matter of when. At least that's what she says. I believe that her fears come from reading Jess Carr's Murder on the Appalachian Trail.

Cleve and I talked, and we are most likely going to share a tent (saves me around 2 pounds or so) and stove, but nothing else. Cleve, Mikey, and I went in on food together for the ill fated Damascus, VA trip, and it was not easy. Cleve is more interested in the healthy food than I am. We argued over everything from trail mix to dinner meals. I think I wore him down last year, because he more or less ate whatever I bought (except for the trail mix). I have not yet given much thought to the menu, but I am sure that I want to make the decisions on my own.

The hiking aspect will not change, because of my Hike Alone/Camp Together philosophy, but distance and campsites are an issue again. When this was a solo trip, I planned on using the words of Forrest Gump as my manta - "When I was hungry I ate. When I was tired I slept. But mostly I ran"
Substitute hiked for ran and you can see what I mean. I cannot do that with company. This is a vacation, and it is supposed to be fun, so I don't want to push anyone past their limits. That would suck.

When we were in VA, I saw Cleve and Robbie check out a good 2 miles before we got to our second campsite. I checked out about 100 yards before the campsite, and never really recovered. Mikey never checked out. Put us all in a pot, stir it, and you know what happened. I want to cover a good deal of miles while I am in GA, but not at anyone else's expense. My goal with this trip as always been to actually spend 5 nights in the woods. If we can do that, we can call ourselves successful.

Back to the distance and campsites. Information is the key to everything.
Cleve is planning on picking up a GPS (BTW, I would recommend the Garmin eTrex Legend). So when we embark on our journey, Cleve and I will have the same MAPS, GPS, and FRS radios. Barring some breakdown, that should give us enough information to avoid the problems we experienced on our last trip. I am going to load the routes in the GPS units, so we will have reference points when talking on the radios. I am also going to load up every campsite and shelter, so that we can make the campsite decision on the fly.
Ahh. I love technology.

December 24, 2003 

Merry Christmas!

The month of December is almost behind us. Thank God. I am not positive, but I am pretty sure that my Seasonally Adjusted Weight Loss is more of a gain. I have been so unsuccessful at the Dave Reduction Plan that I have been eyeing up some really obnoxious (and tiny) golf shirts for when I loose the office competition. If you are going to have to wear it, you should try to be funny about it.

Early in the competition I decided to target Ralph, and do what I could to sabotage his efforts. He is blowing me away. At last count he was already down 10 lbs. Bastard. I am pretty sure that I will be limited to carrots and lettuce in January.

Karen is cooking a massive turkey for Christmas dinner, and I plan on eating most of it. I am hoping give gorge a new meaning tomorrow!

December 13, 2003 

Applying Economics to Weight Loss

On my way into work the other day I heard part of an NPR broadcast that stated that the average American gains between 7 and 15 pounds during the five weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was elated. In my warped mind I came up with the most wonderful concept to hit the Lazy Fat population in ages. Here is my incredible concept - Seasonally Adjusted Weight Loss.

Whenever you hear about the health of the economy, especially in January & Feburary, all the statistics are prefaced with "Seasonally Adjusted". This means that the numbers are normalized for the huge spike from Christmas shopping so that November can be compared with December. It works very well.

I figured the same principal could be applied to the health of the Fat Man. Here is how it works. If I were not trying to drop my weight I would go from 290 to 297 pounds. Since I am trying to shed a few pounds, if I don't gain any weight in December, it is actully like I have lost seven pounds! My seasonally adjusted weight loss would be SEVEN POUNDS!

I tried to find a link or two that would support my theory. I mean it is great to concieve of a brilliant concept like Seasonally Adjusted Weight Loss, but you need to have a little data to back you up. Unfortunately it seems that the piece of the NPR broadcast I heard was talking about the old holiday weight gain myth. It turns out that recent research shows that the actual holiday weight gain is actually around one pound.

Kind of ruins it doesn't it.

December 12, 2003 

Airfare and a small clarification

First the clarification. Karen read the post about my new Martin Backpacker guitar and she took the time to bust my stones about the grammar. One of the challenges of the written word is that you others cannot hear what goes on in your head. When I wrote the "it don't cost much" line, I had Animal House in my head. You know the scene. Flounder walks in the door, Bluto says "Grab a brew. . . don't cost nothin'!" as a beer bottle goes whizzing through the air. Of course, you could not necessarily get that from my post, but that is what I was thinking.

On to the airfare. It looks like Karen found the winner fare - $208 round trip from Philadelphia to Atlanta. The only problem is that it is on Air Trans, which I think may be one of those airlines that changed it's name after some horrible crash. I will have to look into that. Actually who cares. It is only me and my family. Nothing to worry about. Just so long as the tickets are cheap. Just kidding.

December 10, 2003 

And They're Off . . .

We finally had our big weigh in, and the numbers are pretty grim. As a group we are just under ONE TON! It was also not much of a surprise, but I am the largest man in the department at 289.5 pounds. I called Karen with the results, and what was my wonderful wife's first reaction?

"Dave. . . You are half fat!

I don't want to be too technical about it, but I am actually only 48% fat. I have to say that I was honestly tempted to try to put on another 10.5 pounds over the holidays so that I could actually be half fat. I figured that was a pretty bad idea and decided to try to go the other direction instead.

We have also nailed down the wager. We had to ante up $25 for the competition. There is a $25 payout for the leading loser on the last business day of January and February. The biggest loser at the end of March walks away with $150. It really is not a bad deal. Better health. Easier hiking, and a few bucks in my pocket, assuming that I am the ultimate loser! (That's enough out of you Mikey!)

Moving away from my attempt to shed my status as the trail's official Fat Bastard.

I was sitting at work the other day and I got an email from PayPal informing me that my payment for the Martin Backpacker Guitar had been processed. I thought to my self. . "Gee. I don't remember paying for a Backpacker Guitar. Wait. I don't remember buying a Backpacker Guitar. Hmm. What is this about?" After searching my memory, I was able to convince myself that I indeed did not buy this guitar.

I called Karen. She saw my number come across the caller ID, and she knew she was busted. She was hoping to surprise me with a brand new guitar to take with me on the Trail in Georgia. She is pretty cool don't you think!

After how badly things went with my full sized guitar, I did not even consider bringing a guitar on this trip. Now that has changed. I am pretty psyched, especially since I will be on my own. I figure it will be a great way to fill some of the time I have at the campsite, and since it weighs around 2 pounds, it don't cost much. (in terms of effort)

After having this thought, I started wondering what to do with the other hours I will have to myself. I am pretty sure that I will bring a book and my iPod. All of this is assuming that I will truly be on my own. It is actually unlikely that I will have that much peace and quiet. The trail is full of people, and it is very likely that I will have others to talk to. I will bring my personal entertainment just in case.

November 24, 2003 

I am gettin nowhere . .

I have been doing the diet thing for almost two weeks, and what do I have to show for it?

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

I stepped on the scale here at work and it registered me at 279 lbs. Big whoop. I have also managed to exercise zero minutes over the last two weeks. I am on a roll. (actually I prefer love handle!)

This topic came up at work today, and there is nothing to get things moving like a little friendly competition. About 6 or 7 guys are going to compete for an unspecified sum of money to see who can decrease their body fat by the greatest percentage. Rich is buying some funky scale that will send a jolt of electricity through our bodies as we are weighed (quite an incentive don't you think?) and it will spit out the percentage of our bodies are fat. We have not worked out the details yet, but this method will supposedly level the playing field between the really fat guys (like me), and the more or less fit guys that are trying to make a more modest improvement.

I am advocating a generous cash prize ($100 per person to get in) and a nice helping of humiliation. Humiliation is a staple of life in Cendant Mortgage's Secondary Marketing Department. My suggestion was to have the loser wear a 1/2 shirt two sizes too small for a day. That there is enough incentive for me to step away from the cake! I am also pretty sure that the rest of the company will be rooting for me because no one (with the possible exception of Karen) want to see my rather large hairy belly. I think I just got sick thinking about it.

Anyway, the competition will not get started until the Monday after Thanksgiving, so I am going to see if I can't find that pound I misplaced over the last two weeks. (Umm Turkey. Pumpkin Pie.) The contest will end on the last business day of March. I will post more details as soon as we nail them down. Until then, close your eyes and picture me in a half shirt two sizes too small. Now try to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 13, 2003 

My Diet Has Begun

I have been puting this off until after Morgan was born. Now that she is here and I have gone back to work, I had no reason to wait any longer. My starting weight as of yesterday was 280 lbs. My goal is to get down to 240 before May 1. I have lost that kind of weight in the past with the help of Weight Watchers. I am trying to do this one on my own using the formula I know works - Eat Less, Do More.

I expect to drop between 4 and 6 lbs my first week. If I come up short of that, I will go back to Weight Watchers. Of course I do have one road block between today and next Wednesday - Dysfuntional Family Turkey Day is on Saturday. I think that I can get by relatively unscathed, but we will see.

I have been trying to enhance some of the stuff I have here on my site. The main page will be dedicated to info specific to my trip and how to prepare. Since I will likely make my way into the woods on my own, I am currently looking for articles on solo backpacking trips. I will also add anything that I find that is specific to the section of trail I expect to travel. I have added a links section to on the left of this blog that are interesting to me. So far most are general AT trail info, although some are specific to Georgia. There will likely be overlap between the two pages, but the main page will also include a summary or sample from the article.

After reading Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods I expected to have to hike 7 or 8 miles just to get to the start of the trail, but it looks like there are two much shorter options. The shorter option requires a tough vehicle and a 0.9 mile back track. The longer option is easier to get to by car, and is only a 1.5 mile hike. I probably will not make that decision until I get down to Georgia.

I have been reading the descriptions of the first few sections of the AT leaving Spring Mountain. It looks like I will be shooting for Unicoi Gap if I go for 6 days, or Hogpen Gap if I hike for 5 days.

October 22, 2003 

My Backpacking Site has moved to a new location

In a not so subtle nod to myself, I bought a domain name - to hold all of my backpacking related information. I plan on maintaining this space as a way to share any information that I have about my trip to Georgia (and any other backpacking I may do) and use the main page for some specifics - any links I like, etc.

So I have come to the realization that I am going on this trip on my own. I am pretty sure that no one that came on the VA/TN trip in May is at all interested. That changes my focus quite a bit. On one hand it greatly simplifies things, such as what to eat and where to rest and sleep. On the other hand, I will not have any friends out there with me.

I am going to concentrate on the benefits rather than the pitfalls.

  • I can start and stop when I want. This can be good because there are lots of times when I need to breath, and other times when I can't wait to get moving again.

  • I can eat what I want when I want. This goes both ways, because I am accustomed to carrying only 1/2 of the food. I don't think I will like the extra weight, but the food will be lighter than a guitar.

I need to start looking for some information on hiking solo.

October 18, 2003 

Moving to

I have decided to use Blogger to send my posts. I have been updating the HTML at work, and it gets to be a pain. Anyway, this is my first test. The regular web page will now just have maps, menu ideas, travel plans, etc.

October 9, 2003 

And You thought Damascus was Rough . . .

I am having problems with the links to the AT sections, so if you are curious you can go to and look for:
Section 1 - Springer Mountain to Hightower Gap (9 Miles, Moderate)
Section 2 - Hightower Gap to Woody Gap (11.9 Miles, Strenuous)
Section 3 - Woody Gap to Neels Gap (10.7 Miles, Moderate to Strenuous)
Section 4 - Neels Gap to Hogpen Gap (6.4 Miles, Moderate)
Section 5 - Hogpen Gap to Unicoi Gap (13.6 Miles, Strenuous)
Section 6 - Unicoi Gap to Tray Gap (6.2 Miles, Stenuous)
Section 7 - Tray Gap to Dicks Creek Gap (11.7 Miles, Very Strenuous)
Section 8 - Dicks Creek Gap to Deep Gap (NC) (15.6 Miles, Strenuous)

That is only 85 miles in Georgia. We can do that in 5 or 6 days with no problem! But seriously folks, remember that distance is not our goal with this trip, time is. We are going to be on the trail for 5 or 6 days, and we will see how far we can get in that time. That being said, I would think that we could make it through the first 4 sections since it is only 38 miles, or 6.4 mile per day if we go for 6 days.
Holy crap! I took a look at the first two sections of the AT leaving Springer Mountain in GA. The first section is rough, and the second is just plain scary. I mean there is one section that rises 1000 feet over less than 1 mile. To put it in perspective, the climb out of Damascus was 500 feet over the same distance! On top of that, it is going to hit us 2 or 3 days into the journey. Please, for the love of God, get your body prepared.

As of today I am weighing in at 283 lbs, and I am certain that I will not make it unless I drop at least 43 of those pounds! When I started writing this was going to estimate my weight at 285, but I wanted to be sure I had the number right. So I went down to the gym on the first floor of my building to step on the scale. Boy was I happy to be wrong! I bring this up because I used the stairs to come back up to the third floor, and I am still breathing heavy. I have some serious work to do.

Mikey tells me that since he quit smoking (back in VA if you will recall) he has gotten himself in pretty good shape. He runs a few miles a day, and does some other excercises (sit ups, etc) in his home. If he moves from his original position, he will be able to make it up that hill with little or no effort. I am going to work on my physical condition so that I can have the same confidence about my ablities.

As a fat man and master procrastinator, I am waiting until after my wife gives birth in the next two weeks before I start. The guys I work with think I should make an effort to hit 300 pounds before going down, but I won't wait that long.

I rembember talking to the thru hikers at the campground in Tennessee, and they all described themselves as T-Rex's. Huge muscular legs with tiny useless arms. I am shooting for the same result. Starting with walking 1 or 2 miles around the neighborhood or at work, moving to walking through the hills and valleys at the parks in my area, and ending with some long day hikes on the trail with full pack.

I just broke a sweat thinking about all that work.

Next time - A full description of the first section.

October 2, 2003 

Backpack Solo
Camp Together

I have been thinking a lot about the my last attempt at a long distance (for a for a fat man) backpacking trip. Mikey and I got into a few arguments that snowballed into a full blown fight. I have come to the conclusion that I am probably more than 90% to blame. (I am also convinced that the other 10% comes from quitting smoking as we entered the woods!) I am to blame because I had expectations that we were going backpacking as a group. I am fat and out of shape, and Mikey is pretty much the opposite. Here is my great revelation -

Backpack solo. Camp Together.

Now this is probably a no brainer to Mike, but while we were out there I could not let go of the walking as a group idea.

I got pissed off when Mikey went off on his own.

I got pissed off when Mikey stayed behind at the campsite while the rest of us trudged along.

I got pissed off when a well rested Mikey tried to ask me some pretty basic questions, like "what is going on?", "What are you doing", etc. when I got to the picnic table by the side of the road.

Walk on your own. Move a long at your pace. Get there when you get there. My pace is not your problem.

It really seems kind of simple in retrospect. We stayed at two campsites while we were in Tennessee, and both of them were obvious sites. Mikey did not need me, my map, or my GPS to find them.

I have only gotten one response to my initial email:

"Not a chance in hell."
- Mike Pickup, September 29, 2003

I am going to maintain this space as a running monolog, which will include travel, trail, menu, and any other planning that needs to be done. Feel free to send me anything you want to include.

My next topic will be a rough idea of the hike.