Long Weekend Happenings

Actually, the long weekend had no happenings for me.

I didn’t do squat. I didn’t write anything. I didn’t really outline anything either. I didn’t do a single productive thing creatively.

I did, however, spend some serious cash on stuff we needed around the house. And we got some new clothes for the kids. My boy got his much needed specs, at last. I carry a lot of parental guilt about that. I’ve known for a long time he needed glasses but I couldn’t afford them, and we didn’t even have money or insurance for an eye exam (yes, even the super discounted ones advertised; it was either eat or don’t after rent and utilities, while we were on unemployment…for two years). So I feel much better having that off my chest. He loves them and that makes me feel good too.

Wife did the cooking. Our pathetic grill won’t handle doing things the right way and we really don’t want to cough up for a good one while we have jack-ass neighbors upstairs. Hopefully they’ll move out or something. (*Sigh* Yeah, right.) But we did have some delicious food while we were sitting around doing nothing. My beloved is becoming quite the gourmet and I the gourmand…within the confines of my diet, of course. And that is going well, too. I’ve lost about thirty (yes, 30) pounds since starting our new lifestyle in February, and while that might seem slow to many of you, here’s the deal: the real loss didn’t begin until probably late May. (Before that, creeping losses only, if at all, and then it would normally spike right back up.) Once we figured out what the problem was, and I could look over some data to help me along the path, I discovered my magic numbers for weight loss and I’ve dumped many pounds since. That process started in mid-June, after my love’s birthday. I perfected the target macro-nutrient combinations for my losses in July, and I’ve been consistently dumping weight ever since.

My back pain, however, has not improved for some reason. I can’t tell why but I’m sure another trip to the orthopedic specialist would be eye-opening. Despite being thirty pounds lighter (almost), I never did go see the physical therapist he prescribed. I guess that’s next, but every visit costs money and there’s only so much of that. Especially in light of my work situation. 😦

So I sat around losing weight, and considered renewing my Darcknyt domain name, but I have to get it off of the piss-poor freebie host where it sits now. When I do, I might just park it here for the small price they charge. I’m a bit nervous – for a lot of reasons – about getting my own hosting company.

Anyway, I hope by the time you read this (because I wrote ahead of time) I’ve broken down and done something in the writing arena. I’ve done a bit of watching videos for work, learning my Visual Basic stuff. I hope I’ll be able to have some “me” time with the keyboard later to make it worthwhile.

Hope y’all had a good one too.


Prime Location

imageMy wife and I debated renewing our Sam’s Club membership now that we’ve got a real, full-time permanent position and money. We don’t really have space for bulk purchases, but it might be nice to buy things like meat once a month instead of once a week.

We also thought things like headache medicines, which I go through pretty quick (especially when the weather’s changing) and stuff might be better purchased in bulk. Or the kids’ cereal. Stuff like that. Heck, we even keep straws and paper plates on hand, so maybe those types of things too.

Problem is, the selection of things – like meat, for instance – isn’t great there either. Still, we’ve been considering it for a while.

imageThen, while reading about USDA Prime meat and such on Sunday while we wrote our recent posts about steakhouses, we found something both interesting and amazing. Costco, said some of the people we read about, carries USDA Prime in some of their locations.


My wife, research mistress and sorceress of information, flew to the ‘Net to verify. Sure enough, on Costco’s website, she found USDA PRIME BEEF! Holy CRAP!

But we did this search before, and Costco’s closest location to us wasn’t a reasonable trip, even monthly. But my determined spouse did the search again and found Costco recently opened a new warehouse near(er) us!


We can get Prime beef – USDA Prime, not prime-because-we-think-it’s-pretty-good-stuff prime – at Costco! And you know what else we can get?


OH, yeah. I’m SOOOO getting a membership at Costco. Screw Sam’s Club. I hate what Walmart has become anyway, and they’ve taken Sam’s Club with them.

Ah, Prime Beef. I can’t WAIT for this. Now, I gotta get a grill…pronto….


A Matter of Choice

Ah, the steakhouse. What better dining experience for those of us who love beef is there?

Steak. Cooked to order. Brought to you, and placed right under your danged chin. The only thing they don’t do for you is chew it. It comes with two sides and you get a drink. Sit there and savor and sip, and I tell you, life doesn’t get any better than that.

Now, it’s been a while since my wife and I could spare the dang-near hundred bucks to go to a low-end steakhouse, never mind the top flight ones like Pete Miller’s, Morton’s or, if God is willing someday, Ruth’s Chris. Someday soon, babe, I promise, but for now we have to settle for our low-end options. One of them is Lonestar.

I’d never eaten at a Lonestar restaurant until I went there with my beloved. I think our parents, either hers or mine and I honestly don’t recall which, took us there when they came to visit. The food was amazing – how can steak not be amazing? It melted on my tongue and left me endorphin-loaded and full. I, myself, opt for the marbled Texas Ribeye when I’m there. Large cut, please, thank you.

So on Saturday, early evening, I took my loving spouse, who hasn’t had a good meal out in a very, very long time (yes, it’s been years since she’s had a steak or something not wrapped in paper) to the closest Lonestar for a nice meal.

I thought.

The place was sort of empty, but it was early yet. Not quite four-thirty, I believe. Those taking a meal at that time were older or had children, so we were in good company. We don’t go out much, even when we have the money. We’re not fond of crowds and noise, so by nature we stay away from places where both are likely to occur. The less-than-stellar member of the hostessing team sat us and a few minutes later, our server appeared to take our drink orders. No crowd issues at that moment; we had a corner booth and a friendly, quiet girl named Ashley for our waitress, with a great smile, soft-spoken manner and an angry red zit the size of a penny on her right cheek, just below her pretty green eyes.

After Ashley whisked away into the bowels of the restaurant, I opened my menu to look at the luxurious array of mouth-watering delicacies. Instead my jaw unhinged and I stared bug-eyed at the first thing I saw.

Fal saw my face. “What?” she said. “What’s the matter?”

“Look at the menu,” I managed. “Just look.”

She opened it. Her eyes grazed over both sides. “What?”

“Pick a steak. Any steak, doesn’t matter. Read the very first line of the description.”

Her eyes opened wider too. “Oh…oh my God. You’re kidding, right? This…this is a joke, right?”

clip_image002There, in bold typeface, proud as you please, looking for all the world like it’s some kind of selling point, are the words USDA Choice.

Uh…I beg your pardon? Are you kidding me? You’re going to have the audacity, the gall, to serve me a steak, and charge me $20 for the privilege, and it’s going to be the same grade of beef I can get from any grocery store?! What’re you, high? drunk? stupid?

Now, to be fair, demand for the best beef is up and supply down for a long time. Loving spouse and research maven found an article from 2005 which indicates The Wall Street Journal was onto the trail of beef-swapping even then. But having eaten both prime and choice meat, I know the difference – I know the difference blindfolded. And I can tell you in years past Lonestar wasn’t serving lower-grade beef. Matter of fact, I ate there in early 2006 or late 2005 and, at that location at least, I got one of the most tender and flavorful steaks I’d eaten anywhere. I walked away feeling my money was well-spent and couldn’t wait to do it again.

The last time, however, I was much less impressed. It had to be 2008, early. After March but not too much so. I think we went there to celebrate a new contract job after four months out of work. I remember not being pleased, but I thought it might be because I was tired (4:30 a.m. comes early). But now I know Lonestar started this practice of serving lower-grade meat quietly, without much fanfare. But a lot of places still say they have “prime” beef. This, however, is very different than saying you have USDA Prime. THAT’S a grading scale. Just saying it’s “prime”, meaning “really nice stuff”, is used as a description. This is dirty pool, in my book, because having USDA Prime beef is what draws steak-lovers in and gets them shelling out cash. Offering them Choice grade instead is, if you’ll pardon the pun, bullsh!t.

I’m not a food critic, but I am something of a foodie, and I know what the difference is in flavor and cost between Prime and Choice. And God help you if I ever find a chain of anything, grocery or otherwise, offering Select grade meat. It all sounds like the upper echelon of butcher options, doesn’t it? Prime, Choice, Select. Heck, it even seems a little backward at first glance. But the fact is, Prime represents about 3% of all beef served, and places that serve it are going to charge premium prices for it. You’ll get Prime at five-star hotels, resorts, cruises, and top-notch steakhouses. But alarming though it is, you might not be getting Prime grade even at places like Ruth’s Chris anymore. And they’re not telling you that.

So I sat there, staring at this revelation, my temper seething. I wanted to get up and get out, walk away. Instead I stayed to give my wife something good. It didn’t pan out. She got a steak I could’ve gotten at Walmart and cooked better for her myself. Or I could have shelled out the money to go to the Prime butcher down near where we lived back when Lonestar still served Prime beef and gotten a Prime-grade ribeye steak for her and cooked it myself. I know how she likes them done, and she’s never failed to fall out of her chair for my grilling even when the meat wasn’t stellar.

I walked away from that table in Lonestar having left Ashley a generous tip, having left my boxed leftovers behind, and knowing I’d never be back. Not unless and until they start serving USDA Prime, not just prime-‘cause-we’re-trying-to-trick-you, beef again.

In the meantime, I’ll save up for when I can take my beloved to Pete Miller’s, or get to that Prime butcher down the road and get some real, USDA Prime steaks to cook for her.


Tastes like Chicken

imageSo, there I was at work, staring at my monitor with my stomach growling. Outside the wind spat rain against the window and drummed it onto the roof, the leaden sky squatting low overhead.

My considerable belly sat empty and complained loudly. For the fifth time, I opened my desk file drawer, which I use to hold my lunch instead of files. Nope, still empty…like my gut.

Another sigh of frustration and it’s off to the vending machine. I have to cross the building, passing down its length and into the inventory floor. Past the cubicles separated from the noisy open area with glass and steel walls from the late 60s. Down the low-ceiling hallway and into the warehouse floor lunchroom.

Beyond the soda machine is a refrigerated carousel machine. Sandwiches, bowls of Ramen Noodle soup, bananas best suited to scientific experiments, yogurt containers and a few containers of milk stare out, lifeless in the cold lighting.

The same machine has a second containment unit, and in it are ice cream sandwiches, frozen low-calorie entrees of indeterminate age and origin, a few bags of Hot Pocket snacks. Nothing, as usual, suitable to my low-carb diet.

Then I spot it. Near the bottom of the machine, almost obscured in the device holding it up.

A package of frozen Buffalo Chicken Wings. Score!

Three bucks?! Are you kidding me? That’s robbery!

The kick from my innards lets me know I have no choice in the matter. Blob has spoken. Blob is my gut, if you don’t know. And he’s not about to let me off the hook. Another sigh and I go exchange a fin for Sakagawea dollars at the squat, iron mafia boss known as the change machine, then plunk them into the bottomless money pit. The steel and plastic demon swallowed my money and belched a hollow laugh I could swear I heard audibly. I punch the number pad and there’s a scream of tormented mechanical servos and machinery.

A moment later, the package flutters to bang and lie dead-bird still in the bowels of the vending machine, cold and lifeless again after the brief exchange.

I reach in and pull out my prize. It’s cold as Alaskan glacier ice, and just a little harder.

It’s not a brand I recognize either, but beggars can’t be choosey. I mosey back over to my more familiar, less industrial lunchroom and pop the plastic wrapper off the package. Out comes the black plastic tub, about an inch deep, and tumbling around in it is the….

Well. I’m not sure “food” is the right word to use for this, but what I’m supposed to ingest lies there hard and cold. A smattering of orange lichen crusts the surface of each between patches of towering ice crystals. The pocked Mars surface is brittle and rough.

I sigh again, toss the little tub into the microwave and set the timer, then sit down to wait.

imageThe smell reached me first. When it did, I had two thoughts.

That’s not chicken.

Then… what the hell IS it?!

Possibilities ricocheted off my brain.

Game hen. Smaller than a chicken, but still poultry. This is small… too small for a chicken. Not any chicken I’ve ever seen, anyway.

No, not game hen. It’s too expensive. ‘Course, this DID just set me back three bucks.

Squab. Not unheard of, but… still. Isn’t squab a delicacy, and raised for food? This isn’t some filthy dirt-bird from Central Park.

Is it?

N-no… no. There are health laws, food inspectors, FDA regulations. Lawyers if someone gets sick. No. Can’t be.

Too small for seagull, thank God.

What is it?

Quail? Can it be something tiny like a quail?

Blackbirds are tiny too. Starlings. Four and twenty, baked in a–

No, it has to be chicken. It has to be.


Another sniff and the timer goes off. I pop the black microwave’s door open and a sick thought wafts out on the steam ghost which springs toward my face, causing me to shrink and recoil.


The sounds of typing and phone conversations muffled my muttering as I went back to my desk, staring intently at the vibrant, unnatural orange and tan puddling in the plastic tub. My last thought sent a shiver down my spine and rattled the voodoo-bones in their coffin.



Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All rights reserved

Monday Meh

I don’t have much to say. I was going to continue the eBook publishing series but I’ve been Slurping all weekend and didn’t write it up. I’ll have to get back to that some other time. Plus, I wanted to touch base with you regulars again and see how you’re doing.

Back to basics…

I’ve been watching some back pain videos. I learned a couple of things. First, did you know 80% of the population has back pain at some point? And did you know your doctor expects you to:

  1. Ignore it and work out to “help” it
  2. Not bother him with it because he cant’ diagnose it or pinpoint it
  3. Not self-diagnose because you don’t understand the “art and science” of medicine
  4. Not expect to be pain-free

Isn’t that great? Get used to living with pain. We can get you to ignore it. You can learn to tolerate your pain.

I also learned Yoga seems to offer many postures and routines which are good for back pain, especially lower back pain (my kind). I wonder if anyone’s made that “Yoga for Manatees” video yet.

Yogi: Smarter than the average…

Speaking of yoga, why do so many yogis bald into their ponytails? Get a haircut, guys, it’s really not helping you. All their harmony and balance with out of control egos, and yes, that IS scalp showing at the back of your head. Still, I’m intrigued. The moves are close enough to the martial arts that I caught myself turning some of the postures into strikes and defenses in my head. But if it helps with back pain, I’m for it. It’s definitely low-impact too. That’s a plus when you’re plus-sized like me. The sound of my bones shattering under my bulk doesn’t excite me all that much.

I guess there’s a conditioning program too. I know one person on deviantART who’s lost 24 pounds doing yoga, AND got her fibromyalgia pain under medication-free control. Pain management and weight loss? I’m there!

No more pic-a-nic baskets…

I’m giving up fast food. I’ve been to every fast food restaurant I can find, eaten everything I can get my lips around, and you know what? I hate it. I can’t choke it down anymore. It’s just … over for me. I guess my grown-up taste buds have kicked in. You know what’s floating my boat lately? Salads. A good steak is always going to have a home here too, but salad’s been awesome for the last couple of days. I’m about to shovel some fruit down my gullet too and see how that sits.

Are you ready for some…?

Football time again! Woo! My team won. How’d yours do? If you were the visitors, you probably lost. Only three visiting teams won (up to tonight’s games, anyway). But the season’s young and there’s a lot of football to be played. Are you in a fantasy league? I’m not but got invited by one of the #fridayflash writers I follow. But … y’know. No TV still.

And Slurping all the way…

Well, I sent the first chapter to the publisher and editor yesterday to see if they approve of how I’m doing it. If I get green-lit (or is that green-lighted? I never know), I can race ahead. And I shall, indeed, have to RACE ahead. I’m way behind on this one and what I thought was plenty of time, isn’t. *GULP*

If you pray, pray for me on this one. It’s harder to get motivated for some reason.

So … how’s it goin’ by you? What were you up to this weekend? What’s new with you? Sound off, y’all. I want to hear from you.


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