Mark Richards


Saturday, February 28, 2004

Happy Birthday To My Blog

I would like to take a moment to wish my blog a happy birthday. On this day one year ago, I made my first post. It was not...ummmm....let me see how to phrase this....very exciting, but at least it was informative...sort of. I think this site has been an excellent way for me to communicate to others what has been going on in my life and my opinions on various topics. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to visit and read what I have had to say. I appreciate your interest and hope to make the second year even better than the first.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Bad Weather And Worse

I always seem to get sick around this time year. Luckily I have avoided contracting any illnesses thus far (I probably just jinxed myself). This past weekend the temperature warmed up to 65 degrees and I saw the forecast for this coming Sunday: a very comfortable 65 degrees again. Taking those temperatures into account, the last thing I expected was a snow storm in the middle of the week...but that is what we got. Sarah did not have school today, businesses had late openings, people stocked up on bread and milk...and all for two inches of slush! Very sad.

In a truly sad story, there was a horrible fire at an apartment complex in Clemson. The complex is located directly across the street from the University and houses many Clemson students. The photos from the tragedy are terrible, but luckily nobody was hurt. I have been through some hard times in my life, but nothing of this nature. College is difficult enough without losing everything you own. It is tough for me to fathom what it would be like to have no place to live, no clothes to wear, and no money to help recover. What makes this even worse is that most of the residents probably do not have renter's insurance. My guess would be that at most 25% have insurance due to the fact that many Clemson students come from lower income families, are paying for college themselves, and are college students with little disposable income to begin with.

I wish all the best to those affected by this disaster.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

"We Love the Subs!"

Have you seen the new television ad for Quiznos subs? It is unique to say the least. If you asked me about it a week ago, I would have told you that it was "the worst advertising angle ever". After learning a little more about these little creatures, they have begun to grow on me (figuratively, not literally). I now find these odd little balls of misshapened fur to be quite humorous. The commercial plays at least once or twice a day in our office and portions of the song are sang aloud even more frequently than that. Maybe the strange advertising and marketing strategy was not as horrible as I first thought.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

XML Button as CSS

As I was making a couple of minor changes to my blog template, I decided that I wanted to set up my RSS feed. The majority of the sites that I have visited with RSS feeds have an orange GIF file with the word "XML". Since I am hosting at Blogger, I am unable to post images to a location to be used in my template. I began looking for a solution and stumbled upon this site that has mimicked the image using CSS. Pretty cool. Thanks for the solution Dylan!

Goal Attained

Approximately six weeks ago, I began my full steam ahead workout schedule. I declared that I would like to get my weight down to 170 pounds prior to going to Las Vegas. That would come out to a loss of 14 pounds and get me on my way to looking better for the upcoming pool season. Well, I am pleased to announce that I have already reached 170 pounds...38 days ahead of schedule!!!

And now it is time to raise the bar. Can I lose another five to ten pounds and get down to between 160 and 165 pounds before my Las Vegas trip? I do not know, but I sure as heck am going to try.

Monday, February 23, 2004

The End of an Era

Sex and the City has finally ended. I was never really into the series, but felt obligated to watch the end of the era. I usually feel that way unless it is a crap show like Seinfeld. Before watching the last show I made a prediction about the outcome of the final episode. I predicted that Carrie would get back together with Big, but that they would stay in Paris. The show did not end exactly like that though. Now at first, you may think that my prediction was incorrect. But if you look back at my exact words, you will notice that I never said that they would "live" in Paris, but that they would just "stay" there. And since Carrie and Big got back together late in the evening, I would assume that they "stayed" in Paris over night and took an early flight out the next day. So there...technically I was not wrong!

Okay, okay! Are you ready? I was wrong. Happy now?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Funniest Thing I've Read in a While

This article about a man's encounter with Viagra is the funniest thing I have read in a while (make sure to read all five parts).

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Gym Etiquette

Why are some people so uneducated when it comes to gym etiquette? I do not wish to offend anyone by making generalizations, but in my experiences women have no clue about what is right and what is wrong when working out. To summarize my feelings, women are just plain rude.

Last night, I was the first person to enter the gym and nobody was on any of the aerobic machines. I began removing my jacket and warm-up pants when a girl walks in right past me and drops her stuff off on the only elliptical...the machine I was going to use. Not only was I annoyed because I was there before her, but after she laid her belongings down on the machine, she proceeded to change the channel on the TV, take off her jacket and pants, leave the room to use the bathroom and get a drink of water, and finally stretch. Only after this five to seven minute ritual did she begin her workout. Nice start for me. So in an attempt to not get overly angry, I hopped on the stationary bike a couple of machines away in the hope to get the elliptical once the girl was done. I stayed on for about fifteen minutes. During that time, three more girls came in and all got on different machines. The second, and I mean the second, the girl on the elliptical was done, all three girls left their machines and tried to take it. I barely even had a chance to turn my head to look over. So, the three girls start discussing who is going to take the elliptical, while the entire time it should have been mine because I was there before all of them. Feeling annoyed for the second time, I decided I try and get on a treadmill, but that did not work either because the one girl who was originally on one of the treadmills ran back to it after not commandeering the elliptical and the girl on the elliptical just switched machines with the other girl on the treadmill! At that point I was furious. How can these women possibly not realize how rude they are being? I wanted to scream at them, but I held back and just got back on the bike. What a waste of my cardio day: half an hour on a stationary bike.

I wish this was the only time I had had problems with females at the gym, but of course not. There is one girl who likes to stay on the only elliptical in the gym for 45 minutes while the gym is packed. Not only does she stay on it forever, but she does not even need to be on the elliptical. She does her exercises without using the handle bars, sets the resistance to a very high level, and then just works her legs. Get on a damn stair climber for the love of God! Get a clue lady!

Then there was the time I watched a girl give her boyfriend a kiss on the lips or chick every single time she got up and moved to another machine. In what world is that appropriate at the gym? What are some people thinking?!

All this has lead me to assemble a few resources on gym etiquette. Please read them because there is a good chance you are pissing people, such as myself, off. Here they are:

  • How To: Master Gym Etiquette

  • A Guide To Gym Etiquette

  • Manners, Mindfulness and Muscles

  • So if you like going to the gym, please be aware of some of the "rules" that you should be adhering to...especially you women. This is quickly becoming a pet peeve of mine.

    Thursday, February 12, 2004

    PGA Scoring

    This is the first tournament where I will be in charge of the scoring for I am both excited and nervous, although there is not much of a reason to be either. It will be a pain in the butt to have to keep an eye on the leaderboard all weekend, but all that will be made up for when I get a four day weekend (Monday for President's Day and Tuesday for doing scoring on the weekend). I can live with that.

    Monday, February 09, 2004

    Good Weekend

    The weekend came and went fast as usual, but at least it was eventful and filled with a variety of activities, thus mading the past few days an overall success.

    On Saturday, I was supposed to have a softball scrimmage, but the game was moved to Sunday due to inclement weather. Instead of sitting inside all day and doing nothing, I decided to go shopping with Sarah at Lenox Square. I wanted to purchase some work clothes and since we were right next to Rich's, we went looking there first. At the entrance was a small crowd. I was a little confused at first but once I got my bearings, I realized that Dominique Wilkins, former NBA All-Star for the Atlanta Hawks, was signing autographs. I am not sure why he was there...maybe a new line of clothing, a book, or something like that. I am still not exactly sure. The line for an autograph was short so I hopped on and within seconds got an autographed poster from one of the all time greats. My Saturday was now a little brighter...and I thought I was going to need the extra enthusiasm knowing what was in store for me later than evening.

    Earlier in the week, Sarah discovered that Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was going to be in town on the weekend. Being the dance enthusiast she is, she went online and purchased us tickets for Saturday night. I have been to ballets with her before, but it was not my ideal type of performance...but I did not hate it. Going into the whole thing, I was slightly skeptical, but she assured me that this was nothing like ballet. I took her word for it and went without a fight. I would say that I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience by the end. This was nothing like ballet. The music was more up tempo, the movements were more exciting, and the messages were not boring and drawn out. I did not have any trouble staying awake for the entire performance. It reminded me more of a musical than a ballet. I would recommend Alvin Ailey to anyone interested in the arts.

    The new softball season begins next month, so we decided to get cracking early and scheduled a scrimmage for this past Sunday. We looked a little rusty, but I think with a few more practices and scrimmages, we will be right where we want to be for our first game. I fielded the ball well, which I would like to chalk up to being a little lighter on my feet these days, but my throws and batting were mediocre at best. This season is the only season of the year where there is a playoff system after all the regular season games are complete, which is why people are taking everything a little more seriously right now. I will be ready a month from now.

    Thursday, February 05, 2004

    My Diet

    When I started working out the second week of January I weighed approximately 184 pounds. After a month of watching what I eat and working out five days a week, I have lost six pounds and am down to 178 pounds...only eight pounds away from my goal! I finally broke through my plateau weight of 180 pounds on Tuesday, and I did it by moving away from Slim-Fast and maoving to a low carb diet along the lines of the Atkins and South Beach diets.

    A couple of weeks ago Sarah was watching Dr. Phil when the topic of breaking through your weight plateau arose. This has been an issue for me and I was willing to listen to any advice because I had not been able to crack 180 pounds no matter what I tried. She said that the advice was to throw a wrench into what you are doing by changing your diet, changing your workout, or making a lifestyle change. That is what has driven me to reduce my intake of carbs. So, for the past three days I have eliminated the majority of the carbohydrates from my diet, and low and behold, I have lost three pounds! While I am pleased with the results thus far, I am not a convinced that removing anything completely from your diet is healthy. I am going to stick with it for a few more days and make a decision from there. It cannot hurt to try.

    Monday, February 02, 2004

    Super Bowl Sunday

    Last night was Super Bowl XXXLMCXLVMCVIII...this Roman numeral crap has gotta stop because it is getting out of control. Sarah and I hosted a bunch of our friends for the event at our place. We enjoy hosting and thought that our guests would enjoy watching the game on our wide screen TV in high definition while eating some fine unhealthy meats on our new indoor grill. As far as the game goes, I was rooting for the Carolina Panthers, even though I thought the Pats would win. It is not that I dislike the Patriots, but since I went to school in South Carolina I have a bunch of friends who are Carolina fans, thus I was showing my allegiance to them by pulling for the Carolina Panthers.

    I have to say that the game was excellent: two teams with tough defenses, underrated offenses, and coaches who have succeeded despite not having any "big name" players. Some people will tell you that the majority of the first half was boring, but I say that you must appreciate the fact that both are very good defensively and make most opposing offenses rather "boring". This game was exciting from start to finish with neither team ever really getting a decisive advantage over the other...just the way football should be played.

    You know what was boring? The Super Bowl commercials. I cannot remember seeing such a poor set of advertising and marketing during such a high profile event. I do not know if the commercials were too expensive for some companies, if companies thought that nobody would watch the game because it did not involve two big market teams, or some other reason that I cannot fathom, but they just utterly sucked. You know what else sucked? Seeing Janet Jackson's breast. Why would anyone want to see the breast of a has-been (and barely was) artist like Janet Jackson? Her music has always been overrated and watching her 80's dance act at halftime did nothing for me and I am sure it did nothing for the beer guzzling fans in the stands. You what would not have been boring or sucked? Pulling the same strip stunt with Beyonce she has got talent!

    At least all of this crap by CBS, big American companies, and cheap PR stunts have taken the focus away from the most important thing: the New England Patriots are the Super Bowl champs and they beat a damn fine Carolina Panther team to do it.