The Suite Life


200x200_LAD_DDS_logoAs my readers know, I started my weight loss blog when I was about 250 lbs. to chronicle my progress on my way to my goal of 200 lbs. By then, I had already lost 50 lbs. but wasn’t blogging yet. I did this not only for my own motivation but also as a way to inspire others to do the same thing.

And I have to admit that making such a commitment put a bit of pressure on me. I set my goal and so as not to look the fool, had to ensure myself that I would make it. Of course you know the results of my hard work and hopefully my readers have achieved their own success.

Most of you also know I’m also a Dodger fan and up until the All-Star break, was so happy to see them doing so well. As of today, well, things are sort of not going their way but that’s fine. There’s lots of baseball left.

While watching a game a few weeks ago, I saw a promo for their Dodger Digital Series which is touted as a “one-of-a-kind social media experience built to create a Dodger experience tailored to fans’ hobbies, interests, and / or passions.” I decided to give it a better look by visiting the website and that’s when I saw there was a category for Fitness Influencers.

So I thought I’d take a shot in the dark and see what it got me. I filled out the form, submitted it, and pretty much forgot about it.

That is until I got an email today from the Dodgers.

In the email, it stated that I was chosen to be part of a select group of 20 other fitness influencers to attend the Dodgers’ July 31st game which is also Kirk Gibson Bobblehead Night. As if that wasn’t enough, we get to watch the game from the Dodger Digital Suite, get free VIP parking, and watch the Dodgers take batting practice – a rarity indeed since they do it well before game time.

So not only has my weight loss scored me some free samples and an iPod nano (which I have since sold), I now get to see my Dodgers from a suite at baseball’s most beautiful stadium and watch them take batting practice on the field.

The suite life indeed!

Naturally, I will take lots of photos and post them when I get home or, as is the case these days, post them as they happen. Should you wish to see the events unfold as they happen, follow me on Twitter @aeromat since that is the one connected to my Instagram account (my username there is also aeromat). I’d like to keep the images on one account rather than spread them all over the place.

It’s going to be a good time!

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FINALLY…


Ann and I with the Stanley Cup, 2002 All-Star Game Fan Fest

I used to play the NES game Blades of Steel as a teenager and without a doubt, my team was the Los Angeles Kings. I wouldn’t have it any other way because this was the only way the Kings, at least in 8-bit glory, would be able to hoist a championship trophy.

If only their carbon-based counterparts were just as good at the time.

As a Kings fan, there were nights when I was one of only 5,000 fans inside the Fabulous Forum, my voice bouncing off the other side of the arena with each goal the Kings managed to score.

Those were the days when the peanut vendor would roam the aisles saying “Get your peanuts for the practice game!” and “Three hours of misery coming up!”

But I was there cheering them on.

I was there on February 14, 1985 and November 8, 1990 when Rogie Vachon and Marcel Dionne respectively had their numbers retired, the first two Kings to receive such an honor.

I was there for the Triple Crown Line.

I was there when the “press box” was nothing more than an open area in the Colonnade section of about 6 rows of tables, lamps and a few landlines.

I was there to see the Kings lose to the now-defunct Atlanta Flames, Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota North Stars.

I was there when Jerry Buss wanted to give all fans in attendance a free hot dog as an apology for the incredibly bad hockey they were being subjected to.

I was there sitting next to the guy with the vuvuzela in the last row.

I was there when student tickets were half price.

I was at the Toyota Center the day Luc Robitaille announced his retirement.

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I was there when Bob Miller wished me a Happy Birthday on the air during the pre-game show, the result of leaving a note near his mic. (Upon reading it he looked up at my section – noted in the letter – and called my name then nodded in approval.)

I was also there, year after year, listening to a somber Bob Miller bid a fond farewell to his counterpart and color commentator Nick Nickson at the end of yet another season in which the Kings were so far out of contention it was pitiful.

And year after year, it became abundantly clear that the Kings would never win a Stanley Cup and fans, along with Bob Miller, would have to suffer once again – especially after the team coached by Emilio Estevez won it before us.

But my faith endured, even after Wayne Gretzky came to town and celebrities and bandwagoners priced me out of the arena.

And tonight, after lots of blood, sweat and proverbial tears, the “three hours of misery” and “practice games” ended.

Bob, tonight you can lift your head up and proudly proclaim, in the voice the Los Angelinos know and love, “Your Los Angeles Kings are the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions!”

And I can finally listen to the ending music to Blades of Steel and know that the real Los Angeles team has a real championship to celebrate.

Congratulations, Kings! The 45 year wait is finally over!

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Mark, Dan, and Wayne


WTEwayne If you live anywhere in the Los Angeles area, those three names instantly ring a bell. You’ve heard them all before, and in that exact sequence, but you can’t remember where.

They are almost like an L.A. version of Mount Rushmore, localized to the mudflaps (see left) of trucks sold at Western Truck Exchange (WTE), a business specializing in the sales and service of, well, commercial trucks.

And all my life those three heads have haunted and taunted me, leaving me wondering just who these three guys really are and, most importantly, how I could get that logo on a shirt for all the world to see.

And today, after years of wondering, I got to meet one of the Floating Heads Three. But let’s go back a bit.

Last week I sent an e-mail to WTE explaining myself: seen the logo all my life, cool to have on a shirt, blah blah blah. I enquired about merchandise they might have for sale such as shirts or hats.

I got my reply yesterday from Dan Holtzman, or as the rest of L.A. knows him, The Dude in the Middle of the Mudflap. In the e-mail, he explained that they didn’t have t-shirts but…

We do have some hats left though.  If you would like one just come on down and ask for me and I will make sure you get one.

I just about shit my pants. Not only do WTE articles of clothing exist, the missive came from Dan himself. My life was just about complete at this point.

I replied to Dan’s e-mail, telling him that I would be by sometime this week to pick up my hat(s). Turns out I couldn’t wait—I made the trek down there today right after I dropped Anthony off at school.

So I get on the 405, sit in traffic for a while, get on the 110, sit in more traffic, then finally get to the Manchester Avenue exit. This was so going to be worth the trip.

Western Truck Exchange—along with the Floating Heads Three—can be clearly seen off the west side of the 110 freeway. But upon further review, it seemed that this building was the parts and service department and I wasn’t sure if this is where I would finally receive my Los Angeles cultural equivalent of frankincense and myrrh.

0216100905 So instead of stopping there, I went east on Manchester to their sales lot. I parked the truck, entered the building and BAM! see that the logo is emblazoned on the wall behind the reception desk—and the logo is gigantic, probably larger than their actual heads. I should have taken a picture.

I was met by a kind gentleman at the door and told him I was there to see Dan. He then said that Dan spends his day between both buildings, the mornings at the parts and service building. Not an issue.

0216100920So I head back to the truck where I’m almost certain a drug  and/or prostitution deal was going down right on front of where I was parked. (This is L.A., people.) I get in, get the hell out of that area, and mosey on down to the parts department.

I walk up to the counter and ask for Dan. He’s busy but tells me to hang on and finally, after years of wondering, he greets me. I tell him who I am and we then shake hands.

Dan runs off to the storage area and promptly comes back with two hats, which I am all too happy to pay for. As he was ringing me out, we began to talk about the popularity of the company’s logo on t-shirts.

wte-lo You see, I’m not the only one obsessed with this logo. Check out this LosAngelous article and interview with Wayne in which they discuss this very topic. And if you Google “western truck exchange shirt” you get tons of results and as matter of fact, Dan pointed out that one of the first times he saw his face on a shirt was when his daughter saw a store on Melrose Avenue selling WTE shirts. He also stated that he saw a character wearing one in a movie (which one, I don’t know).

All of this from just having your head on a mudflap. Amazing when you consider they’ve been in business since 1922 and that the phenomenon gained momentum before this Intarweb thing even existed. Viral marketing be damned.

Just as I was ready to leave, I mentioned that Anthony is a truck freak: fire trucks, UPS trucks, etc. Dan then told me that I could bring him down one day and he’d be glad to show him around the insides of some of the trucks on the lot. Now how fucking cool would that be to a 6-year-old boy?

So there you have it; one of my childhood goals has been fulfilled. And oh, my hat? I’m wearing it as I type (and yes, it is a trucker’s hat):

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Thanks to Dan (and Mark and Wayne) and all at Western Truck Exchange for being so cool. If you need a truck or parts or service, you should definitely hit them up. If they treated me—some dumbshit, idiot blogger who just wanted a fucking hat—with this kind of respect, you’re pretty much assured to get the same treatment if you’re looking to buy a truck.

Keep on truckin’, guys!

More Major Awards!


Many posts ago, I mentioned how I had been rewarded for correcting a certain billboard flub.

Well, today the FedEx man showed up with another surprise for me. And being that I had no idea what it was, I decided to shoot a video of the unboxing for all the world to see. What could it be? A bowling alley, perhaps?

Wonder no more! Here’s the video:

Holy shit, he is a real, carbon-based life form and not just some key-clacking blogger! Who knew? But hey, how about that prize? Pretty nice, eh?

It turns out that this was a long-forgotten prize for winning a contest at a certain training Web site. Seriously, I had taken and passed those quizzes so long ago that I had completely forgotten about my reward. So yeah, cool stuff.

But in addition to this, last week I was also awarded the download code for an exclusive cool Xbox VIP hoodie for my Xbox LIVE avatar, seen here (along with Ann’s avatar):

Only 5,000 were awarded. Bow to its magnificence.

And if that’s not enough, the mailman showed up today with my fourth $25 GameStop gift card of the year! This would have came in handy yesterday when I bought Anthony his Christmas present…but now I can buy myself something.

Does the free shit end there? Hell no, I say! When I went to the Los Angeles Auto Show a few weeks back I signed up to test-drive a new Ford vehicle and get a $50 Visa gift card. So last week I went to my not-so-local Ford dealership where I have purchased 5 vehicles and spoke to the salesman that sold me all of them. He gladly signed the voucher and then I went home, registered online, printed out the receipt and now am just waiting for the gift card to arrive. (During my visit I also informed my favorite salesman of the vehicle I may be in the market for once my current lease is up in a year–either a used Explorer or an Escape Hybrid.)

But that wasn’t Ford’s only generous offering at the car show. If you went to all of their displays and had your booklet stamped, you got a $5 Best Buy gift card! No, it’s not much but it’s definitely better than that Mazda2 Energy Drink–which I also took home from the show but have yet to try. Because, as you know, I don’t drink that shit.

Oh, and I also got a $10 certificate from Sport Chalet as their way of telling me “thank you” for being a loyal customer throughout 2009.

So the free stuff keeps on coming. Bring it on!

Me on Fat2Fit Radio Podcast!


albumart_225Well, it’s not actually me speaking but I am mentioned in Episode 63!

I am a regular listener of the Fat2Fit podcasts and hosts Jeff and Russ often read e-mails from their listeners, whether questions or success stories. I sent an e-mail to them over a month ago explaining how I lost over 100 lbs. and lo and behold, today it finally made the podcast.

You can give it a listen at their site or download it from iTunes. They begin reading my e-mail at about 7:12 but hey, don’t just listen for me. The podcast is fantastic and one of the few I subscribe to (in addition to Leo Laporte’s Tech Guy podcast). If you’re trying to lose some weight, Fat2Fit really does the job by speaking of weight loss in plain English, not some mumbo-jumbo.

Thanks to Jeff and Russ for reading my note and for giving my weight loss blog some notes. I appreciate everything and keep up the great work!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention this. In the podcast, you hear me mention that I take the train to work and walk during my lunch hour. Well, the job that afforded me such privileges has since laid me off so I no longer take walks while at work. This isn’t entirely a bad thing–I can ride my bike to my new job which is about 5 miles away by bike trail (or 3 miles by street). I plan on doing it every other day at first then possibly every day later. Staying fit while saving gas. Now there’s a winning combination if I’ve ever heard one!

And when I say “a case of diet soda” I meant a 12-pack, not a flat of 24 cans. Juft FYI.

The original e-mail transcript is after the break. Enjoy!

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