Letters from the Lunar Outpost

Envy, among other ingredients, has a mixture of the love of justice in it. We are more angry at undeserved than at deserved good fortune.
- Hazlitt, English Essayist (1778-1830)

Life

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Egg in Avocado

Healthy?

Last year, in the last six months of the year, I embarked on a full-force weight loss campaign. I lost 59 pounds the first three months and finished up the year down 70.

And then I heard a statistic – 95% of crash dieters will ultimately gain the weight back, and once I heard that, not becoming the 95% became my new obsession. I visualize a room full of twenty people, and I have to be the *one guy* in that room who keeps it off.

So even though I’d reached my target weight, I continued obsessing on removing all possible fat calories from my diet. While I was avoiding every fat calorie I could however, I would hear from healthy people and the uber-fit that you really do need a healthy dose of healthy fat in your diet, but being so obsessed with not gaining the weight back, it was so difficult for me to wrap my head around it. I had a pretty good idea eating nuts, for example, was good for your diet, but I’d grab a handful of peanuts and all I could think of is FAT, FAT, FAT!

I finally found two articles that really laid it out and helped me make peace with adding a healthy amount of healthy fat to my diet.

In the spirit of “fair use”, I will give you the bullet points and hope they inspire you to read the articles.

 

8 Cues that You’re Not Eating Enough Fat


• You’re Get-Up-and-Go Has Got-Up-and-Left
• You Have Difficulty Focusing
• You’re Constantly Hungry
• You’re Anxious in Crowds (sounds silly, but there’s an interesting study behind it)
• Your Period is MIA
• Your Memory is Zapped
• You’re Down in the Dumps
• Your Skin is Lack Luster

As a ninth cue, I can also add that on a strict non-fat diet, I noticed my joints cracking more when I was doing push-ups and exercising. It makes perfect sense if you think about it.

Now that we’ve covered the “why” of eating healthy fats, here’s a good top-ten list of the foods that have them:

 

10 Fatty Foods with Mega Health Benefits


• Avocados (love seeing my favorite at the top of the list)
• Olive Oil
• Salmon
• Eggs
• Nuts
• Coconuts
• Flaxseed
• Peanut Butter
• Almond Butter
• Dark Chocolate

Both articles are well worth the read.

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Bam Bam CornelisonBam Bam was just a tiny kitten living on the streets of Santa Ana when I first met him. A friend had noticed this litter of street cats on a couple previous visits to a taco shop there and while there are probably worse places in the world to be a homeless cat than posted up by a taco shop, I figured at least one of those kittens was deserving of being rescued and given a loving home.

He was filthy and infested with fleas when we grabbed him, but I took him home, my wife and I cleaned him up, and then when he was old enough, we got him his shots and had him neutered. Now he’s been with us about six months and he’s as healthy and happy as can be. All told, Bam Bam has been nothing but a joy, but boy did he throw us for a loop last Friday afternoon.

We were settling in for a full afternoon and evening of binge watching Hulu and there’s our little Bam Bam, munching on the popcorn right beside us. Before either one of us had even noticed he’d left the bed, our doorbell rang and it was one of our neighbors asking us if we have a cat. I told her yes we did have a cat and it turns out she found him in the carport that lies under our balcony and she says she tried, but she couldn’t catch him.

Built on top of a carport, our balcony is nearly two stories above the back parking lot. No way did I ever imagine Bam Bam would even try to make that leap, but that’s just what he did. Having been an indoor cat ever since we took him in and knowing more than a few coyotes roam the neighborhood at night, my wife and I went out in a near panic as we began our search.

We split up and searched through the remaining hours of daylight. No Bam Bam. We left the front door open all night. No Bam Bam. When Saturday came, we searched again. No Bam Bam. We left the door open again that night, still no Bam Bam. We searched again Sunday and by the time we were headed to bed with the front door open, we both had a sinking feeling we’d never see Bam Bam again.

Then finally, late that Sunday night, like a drunk returning home after a weekend bender, little Bam Bam quietly crept through the front door.

I was the last person you’d ever imagine becoming a cat lover, but there I was, completely overjoyed and relieved when his first meow woke me up. I realize that Bam Bam escaping is one-hundred percent on us, his owners, and I know two people in particular who are going to give me a lot of shit about it, but all I can say is we are so filled with gratitude he found his way home and yes, the balcony is temporarily closed and the chicken wire is on its way.

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amazon-now

I’ve been an Amazon Prime member for years. I was worth it to me when it was $75 / year, and it’s been worth it the last two years as a $100 / year service.

When I’m shopping for the best possible price on just about anything, no way do I want to waste gas driving all over town when I can compare ten or twenty online retailers in a matter of a couple clicks. More often than not, I find the best price is at Amazon, and as an Amazon Prime member, it arrives in two days (Sundays deliveries included) for zero dollars.

Well, I heard about Amazon testing a two-hour delivery service about a year ago in New York, they added Seattle, and now, for those of my friends in the So. Cal. area, it’s here and it is legit.

I’m making progress on my waistline, so I ordered a new pair of Dickies chino work pants, my wallet was disintegrating, so I got a Raiders tri-fold wallet, I needed another guitar cable, got that and I was up to $47. Well, they had a coupon for $20 of a $50 order, so I padded that order with two 6-packs of ramen noodles and hit the $50 mark. They automatically add a $5.00 tip which you can change if you’re feeling extra generous or somewhat stingy, but I left it at $5.00 and with tax it was $38.

I placed the order at just a bit after 11:00 and they had a one-hour option as well, which I’m sure would have cost a bit extra, so I went with the standard two-hour delivery, which gave me a time frame of 12:00 to 2:00, which technically would have made it scheduled to arrive within 1 to 3 hours. Sure enough, at one o’clock on the dot, there was the knock at the door, just under two hours from my placing the order.

Granted, it’s a subset of the gazillion things offered by Amazon, but as you can see from my order – pair of pants, wallet, guitar cable, ramen noodes, the categories are all there. If you’re busy working, on a Netflix binge, too drunk to drive or whatever, the fact that Amazon can bring you a good selection of what they carry in just a couple hours is just one more reason to believe we’re living in wondrous times. Order now, my So. Cal. friends and hopefully the service will be a success that keeps spreading to other regions.

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ewok-walk
               

Outside of flagging down three hombres to help me carry my daughter like an Egyptian princess in her wheelchair 40 yards down the beach to reach the glass bottom boat ride, my favorite part of our Cabo vacation was definitely the fishing trip.

01-fishing-departure 02-departure

It was still dark when we arrived and the sun was just beginning to rise as we headed out of the harbor. It seemed like the boat had just barely got wet when Jesse got a tug and began a good ten minute battle reeling in a beautiful dorado.

03-jesses-catch

I had read how the dorado changes color from a neon green or gold in the water to random processions of silver, blue, gold again or dark green when you bring them aboard, but it’s one thing to read about it, quite another to see it in person.

So right off the bat, Jesse was just beaming, “AH, the open water, I love it!” Yeah sure, the guy who just made his catch is laughing and cracking jokes and loving life, but I’m looking at Richie and I can tell he’s seething just the same as I am, we’re trying to keep it in check, but we’re both staring intently at the ocean and all we can think of is my fish is the next one out there and I’m going to get it so help me God.

It was a good hour before Richie got his bite, his dorado was just slightly smaller than Jesse’s fifteen pounder, but out of the three of us, Richie was by far the more experienced fisherman and he made quick work of it, reeling it in like a pro in maybe half the time it took Jesse.

04-richies-catch

After a good couple hours, we had made our way far down the coast and we began the return back from our half-day tour. Mentally, I began preparing myself for the possibility of being the only one to come back empty-handed and I began trying to remind myself that grown men are not allowed to feel sorry for themselves or sniffle and pout.

I finally got a bite, but the little thief had managed to help himself to a free sample of my bait. The next time I got a bite, the sucker managed to get the entire fish off my hook.

Now I was getting despondent, just trying to keep my facial expression in check, but then came the next bite. It was my first time fishing, but Richie was coaching me quite well, pull that fishing pole back and in the very next motion, start reeling in the slack you created with the pull. I did this and then did it again, but then I noticed there was very little resistance, in fact, I didn’t even need to pull back and fight it, I could just reel and reel and reel it in I did.

It was a tiny little fish, they call it a bonita and it was quite beautiful, but I felt ridiculous with my little fish comparing it to the 15- and 12-pound catches my friends had made – so I made a joke of it, posing for the photo with an aggro “HELL YEAH, MAN!” look on my face.

05-mikes-little-catch

At least I’d caught something though, I told myself, but my friends were cool and they said don’t worry, next bite we get, that one’s yours as well.

It ended up being a beautiful dorado, somewhere between the size of Richie’s and Jesse’s. He put up a good fight, leaping up out of the water at least three times. It was a glorious thing bringing him aboard and in that moment, right there, my very first time out fishing and I was hooked. I’m already wondering where we can find fishing excursions here in So. Cal. that can compare to the fishing trip we had in Cabo.

06-mikes-big-catch

Coming back to our Villa, we realized we had done things completely backwards – we waited to go out fishing until our last full day and now we had three dorados and a bonita sitting in ice in our kitchen sink and just a matter of hours before we left in the morning.

Well, even that part of it ended up beautifully. I’d been frequenting the gift shop at the resort regularly for a daily supply of beer and I told the lady there that we had some extra food we couldn’t bring home and I asked her if she was interested. She seemed not interested at all, but she asked, what do you have? I told her we had a dorado. You should have seen the way her face lighted up when I mentioned the word dorado! So I was very happy to give her my catch. (It also hit me pretty hard to imagine that all the people working at the resort were living right there at the Bay of Cortez and yet a fishing expedition or even fresh dorado at the market was like a luxury they couldn’t afford.)

Richie’s dorado went to the resort’s pool guy Paul who we had a lot of fun hanging out with and the final dorado worked out for everyone, because the sushi guy at the restaurant island in the middle of the pool was more than happy to take the bottom half of the fish in exchange for filleting the rest of the fish and making some sushi out of it.

Dorado sushi just an hour from having been swimming in the ocean – it was the best fish I’ve ever tasted.

Oh yeah, it was just my first time, but I can claim it with full sincerity: ¡Soy un pescador!

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Fireworks at Lake ElsinoreI’ve had more than my share of encounters with the police, most of them under pretty mundane circumstances and definitely none of them ever came close to the seriousness of what I was accused of last night.

The day before, we headed out to go camping for the Fourth of July weekend at Lake Elsinore with my buddy Jesse and his daughter, his friend Edgar and Edgar’s girlfriend. At 104 degrees, it was hot enough to make your brain feel mushy as you walked around the camp site and it was all I could do to drink enough beer to stay ahead of the heat. In heat like that, you don’t even get buzzed, you drink your beers down and then just sweat them all right back out.

As the night drew upon us, we settled in for the fireworks show. After a life spent of watching city-approved fireworks shows, this time we happened to set up camp on the opposite side of the lake from the official show and instead we were treated to a show that California fireworks law could only classify as neither safe or sane. A lot of people must have sunk a lot of money into fireworks and it was fun because you never knew where the next volley of fireworks was going to come from.

So yesterday, it was Sunday, the fifth of July, my friends left for home along with the vast majority of the couple hundred other campers and by 5pm when the guy on the golf cart began making the rounds to check to see who had paid through Sunday night and who needed to get on their way, we had gone from half a football field of tents and vehicles to only our family and maybe half-a-dozen scattered other groups of campers.

The night before, the air mattress had lost its air and we were flat on the ground by the morning, so this night we left the tent to sleep in the SUV. We were fast asleep when a knock came on the window around midnight. It was the Sheriff. That will jolt you awake in an instant. I put the window down. “Yes, officer?”

“We had a report of a dead body being dumped in your car.”

“A dead body?”

“Yes.” The sheriff has his flashlight on me, his partner had his flashlight scanning up and down through the vehicle.

“A dead body?”

“Yes.”

I was flabbergasted, but after the initial shock wore off, I was able to piece it together. “Someone must have seen me placing my paraplegic daughter in the car. As you can see, she’s alive and doing just fine.” And right on queue, little Megan chimes in with a big happy, “Ahhhh!”

The cop began apologizing, I said no worries and I told him he was just doing his job, but even after I said that, he still apologized two more times. It’s a rare thing indeed to see a police officer that apologetic, but Megan has a way of making even the toughest guys tender like that.

After the sheriff left, my wife and I just looked at each other bewildered and shaking our heads and then we began laughing. We wondered how on Earth anyone misinterpret the scene like that, but then I thought about how it was dusk when I put Megan in the car and how the half-light might give a sinister look to things, and then we both laughed as we imagined the absolute horror those other campers must have been experiencing if they really believed what they thought they were witnessing to the point of calling in the cops! “OH MY GOD, THEY’RE PUTTING A DEAD BODY IN THE CAR!”

Wow, my life has had some pretty crazy twists and turns, but never in my life would I have imagined getting fingered for a murder.

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ewok-walk
               
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Currently Listening To:

Team of Rivals
by
Doris Kearns Goodwin