Overeating at Texas Roadhouse

I like to think I am a strong-willed person. I try not to fall into temptation and I try to practice discipline at all times, especially when it comes to my body. But I am all too human and sometimes I fall off the wagon. One of my more frequent lack of will-power offenses is the tendency to overeat.

There is absolutely no shred of victory when one overeats (unless you win a competitive eating contest). The sick, painful feeling you experience in your stomach when you chow down too much is awful; the feeling in your conscience that you betrayed your body and took a step back from the hard work you have completed in the gym is even worse. It is so easy to become victimized by this. You work up a large appetite or find yourself in a situation where eating large amounts of food is acceptable and encouraged and you are pretty much doomed. You can go into a meal with the best intentions but come out feeling like a big ol’ fat pig.

I usually eat myself to death in three situations. The first occurs at holiday dinners. The holidays are fun, joyous times where people cook giant meals that have a whole bunch of love and calories poured into them. I look forward to my mom’s Thanksgiving dinner all year long so naturally when that day in November comes along, I go all in. A year of build up turns into a half hour of absolute bliss and then it transforms into a night of stomach pains and self-guilt. I also feel like the most unhealthy person in the world after I visit a buffet. When you go to a buffet, there is just no way not to go overboard. The whole premise of these places is to challenge your “all-you-can-eat” threshold and do all you can to come out ahead of the restaurant by eating more than what you paid for. I plan to do a post someday on the buffets I have conquered/been conquered by and the culture that predominates at these places. Whether it was a traditional buffet, Chinese buffet, pizza buffet, brunch buffet, etc., I have gone in hungry and come out sick.

The final situation where I always find myself overeating in comes by way of the special occasion family night out dinner. This dining experience provides the “perfect storm” for overindulgence because it combines portions of the first two examples I provided above: You have the happy, feel-good component of a special event that makes you more susceptible to eating more than necessary and you have the eating out aspect that also tells your brain that it is acceptable to go a little harder than usual. This situation is where I fall victim to most.

Last night we celebrated my dad’s 55th birthday by traveling to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We arrived to the resort town on a scorching sun-drenched day and walked up and down their main downtown strip. We checked out the many shops that dotted the area and then cooled off at one of the popular nearby bars. The walking, the weather, and the couple drinks consumed at the bar had me ready for my dad’s birthday dinner.

At my dad’s choosing, we ate at Texas Roadhouse. If you have never eaten at this well-known chain, just notice the first word in the restaurant’s name (“Texas”) and you probably have a decent idea about their portion sizes. Specializing in burgers, chicken, and steak, you better be hungry when you arrive. With all the extras you get at Texas Roadhouse combined with the relative inexpensive menu prices, the chance of overeating is quite high.

My dad, mom, and myself got to the restaurant but my sister and her husband had yet to arrive so we went straight to the bar where my consumption crusade began. We ordered beers and immediately started eating peanuts from the giant tin tubs they have lining the bar. If you know anything about me, you know I can eat more peanuts than an elephant. At baseball games I buy a whole bag and finish every nut in usually less than two innings. Feeling rejuvenated in the awesomely air conditioned restaurant while watching the Yankees-Red Sox baseball game with a cold, tall beer right in front of me, I started cracking shell after shell after shell. About fifteen minutes later my sister arrived and we were seated at a table.

Waiting for us at our dinner table? Two more tin buckets of peanuts! Shortly thereafter, we were brought the famous Texas Roadhouse rolls. Doused in butter, sweetly seasoned, and served with a spread that has to be 100% fat, they tasted like a little piece of heaven. We all devoured several rolls. Because it was a special occasion we had to get an appetizer as well. We settled on their cactus blossom, a deep fried onion snack that is analogous to Outback’s blooming onion. By the time we got our appetizer, all of us were already starting to get a little full by way of the beer, peanuts, and rolls. When our cute little waitress brought out the cactus blossom she took our entrée order. I ordered the pulled pork dinner. It came with bread AND two sides. I got steak fries and seasoned rice.

By the time my pulled pork dinner arrived, I always almost too stuffed to even dig in.

When our entrees arrived, I had already had enough. But you can’t just give up on the main course. I forked through the giant mound of pulled pork, making a modest dent in it. I ate a few of the steak fries. I ate almost the entire cup of rice. By the time I could see the bottom of the cup of rice, I threw in the towel, but it was already too late…I felt like garbage. Everyone else at the table looked defeated too. We messed with Texas and Texas won.

Driving the fifty minutes back to Spokane sucked. I felt like the fattest person on the planet. I pretty much swore I would never eat again (that oath was broken at 5am this morning). I groaned. I scolded myself. Once again I lacked the necessary self-control that would have enabled me to look at myself in the mirror with my shirt off that night. I felt like a loser.

Just like drinking or gambling, when it comes to eating we all need to put limits on ourselves. For me with eating, I sometimes struggle. No matter how bad the feeling is after I overeat I seem to have way too short of a memory because I always let it happen again down the road. Well, today I pledge I will never overeat again…until at least my mom’s birthday on August 2. Don’t Blink.

The Overuse of Quotes on Social Media

*Originally published on July 5, 2012

Social media has brought so much good to society. But as is typically the trade off with any good thing, it has also brought some bad as well. Maybe I should take a step back and rephrase this. Social media has not created as many bad things as it has annoying things. Spam, countless parody accounts, stupid applications, shameless promoting/solicitation, and scams all test the patience of anyone just trying to update themselves on the latest news via their favorite social media account. While I could do without all the previously listed things, there is one common social media annoyance that seems to bother me even a little more.

In my opinion, the posting, retweeting, and highlighting of quotes over social media has gotten a little out of control. I remember back in time you shared a quote if it had a deep personal impact on you, if it truly meant something that you felt someone else could get a little something out of. Today, it seems as if people don’t even think twice about sharing with their audience any sappy or witty remark they come across.

Now I fully understand that a reason for this oversharing of “words of wisdom” is because quotes are just so much more readily available than ever before. The internet contains millions and millions of quotes that you can read for hours with just a click of the mouse. There are tons upon tons of Twitter accounts set up that solely spit out quotes on any topic you can think of. E-mail chains with “inspirational” quotes are forwarded and forwarded until pretty much everyone on the planet has received it. But just because something is so attainable on the internet does not mean we have to re-share it with our respective social media audiences. Look at it this way: The amount of porn sites has significantly skyrocketed over the past ten years. Because of this explosion, does it mean we need to share the links on our Facebook walls and Twitter feeds? Absolutely not! And we don’t need to share quotes either.

There are a few reasons why quotes bother me so much on social media. First off, they serve as nothing more than clutter. I cringe when I am on Facebook and I check out my newsfeed and I see a big colored box with text inside it. What an eye sore. I want to see original content, I want to see pictures from someone’s weekend or a thoughtful status update that fills me in on an important development in someone’s life. I don’t want to see a crude box with some ugly font smashed into it that someone decided to share with the world. Same goes for Twitter. I follow you because I enjoy your content and am interested in what you have to say. I don’t need you to be the 56,798th person to retweet Wiz Khalifia’s relationship quote. If I wanted that advice I would subscribe to his tweets myself.

Yet another reason why I detest quotes so much is that people simply abuse them. There are people I follow on Twitter and friends who I have on Facebook who will retweet and share quote after quote after quote. It is bad enough when you clutter up your content by dropping in some generic quote but when you tweet out a string of five quotes in a row or 80% of your Facebook content is surrounded by quotation marks, you really need to reevaluate your social media goals. You devalue your social media accounts by doing this and you also chase away people from your pages who would otherwise actually look at your accounts if you didn’t post so much crap.

Finally, quotes turn me off simply because many of them are so stupid. The overly emotional, cliché, and relationship driven passages make me want to vomit. All of us have issues and concerns. Find some way to intelligently articulate them to the people who are close to you and who can be of help (or just keep them to yourself) but don’t try to express them by using some cheesy quote for all to see. Some of the quotes out there are just so corny I have no idea why people would associate themselves with them. Drawing attention to one’s problems through social media is sad, doing it with a quote is pathetic.

I know what you are thinking: “But Brent, you start each day on Twitter with a quote. You hypocrite, you.” Yes, first thing each morning I do send out a quote but it is more of a personal trademark thing for me than anything. Ever since I have had Twitter, I tweet out a short passage from my “Life’s Little Instruction” calendar for that particular day. I do it because a few people have requested that I do it because they enjoy them so much (they will text me and ask if I am dead if I don’t do it) and because it serves as a little knock on the people who do tweet out quotes as if their life depends on it. The quotes from this calendar are light-hearted and for the most part silly…they don’t speak for me in anyway and are intended to keep people happy and hopefully make others laugh. There you have it!

I urge people to value their own social media space a little more and to save the annoyance of others by toning down on the quotes just a little bit. Challenge yourself to be more original, don’t fall into the trap of enabling sap to proliferate through social media. (Enter whatever quote you have that speaks to resisting temptation right here). Don’t Blink.

Hoopfest 2012: Basketbrawl

*Originally published on July 4, 2012.

This past weekend I completed my fifth consecutive year as a court monitor for the world’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Hoopfest. This particular year the tournament was the largest ever as over 7,000 teams took to the streets of Spokane to play some ball. Far and away, Hoopfest 2012 will go down as my most challenging year.

One thing I love about court monitoring is that you get a different experience each year. Different brackets, different ages, different street locations, different weather, and different situations factor in to making sure that one tournament will be completely different from another tournament. My first four years I definitely got a unique taste each time. However, while each year presented me with a new experience and new stories, one thing stayed constant: I had zero problems. I was able to maintain control, avoid any ugly incidents, and keep all teams eligible. Well, my unblemished record took a bit of a hit this year.

Hoopfest 2012: This was my fifth consecutive year as a court monitor for Hoopfest.

On Friday night I learned that I got assigned an adult male court….well, sort of.  My bracket consisted of 17-18 year old boys, some still in high school, others just graduated. I welcomed this assignment. For many people, this age is the pinnacle of athletic careers. I knew competition would be intense and the desire to win would be high. This appealed to me. I love monitoring games when teams go at each other tooth and nail, doing whatever they can to advance in the bracket. However, I think I got a little more than what I bargained for.

Hoopfest 2012: My brother and I at Hoopfest.

My home for the weekend was the KXLY4 HD #1 court on Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard. This particular court was an end court so instead of another court directly in back of my court, I had empty space, thus allowing for fans to crowd around that area. Anyway, the early morning games went well except for one weird oddity. Maybe as a sign to me that this would be no regular Hoopfest, during one of the first games a drunk transient wandered onto my court and stood inside the two-point arc. Incensed, I told the guy to get off the court. He said no. Again, I told him to get off the court. He said no again. After telling him that I was going to get the cops he stepped behind the two point line (still on the court) and slurred “I’m behind the line now.” Just as he said that I saw my court marshal out of the corner of my eye and noticed that he had just realized the situation. As I went to go meet him, the transient left the court. Several other court marshals and rapid response members followed him in hot pursuit.

The actual play that morning went exactly how I thought it would go. Games for the most part were hotly contested and the competitive level was high, but nothing got out of hand. By the time the 12:30pm game came around, things started to escalate a little. In the first winners bracket game of the tournament, two teams were going at it the whole twenty-five minutes. Trash talk, hard fouls, and some pushing and shoving entered the picture. Towards the end of the game, I was forced to call an intentional foul. After that, everyone seemed to calm down a little bit and the game finally came to an end. I ventured over to the scorer’s table to do the necessary paperwork for the completed game. As  my head was turned from the players I received an urgent alert from my cousin to turn around. As I threw my head back I saw a terrible sight. No less than six or seven people were engaged in a fight. Haymakers were being thrown, people were screaming, and randos were starting to rush over. The number of people started to snowball and the situation got ugly. Remember how I said there was open space behind my court? The brawl had spilled out into the open area. At least twenty people were involved. My court marshal arrived quickly on the scene and radioed for all the help possible. We had multiple court marshals, several rapid response members, and quite a few Spokane police officers doing what they could to break the mess up. By the time order was restored there were bloody faces, ripped shirts, and numerous upset people. What happened was after the game finished, a fan said something to a player on the losing team and that player went after the fan. The team that instigated the brawl was disqualified from the tournament on the spot.

Hoopfest 2012: This picture was taken literally seconds before the first brawl broke out behind me.

I had never presided over such a melee before at Hoopfest. After giving my statement to a high ranking Hoopfest official, I got the next game going. The following game went well and I decided that the earlier fight was just a fluke, something everyone goes through if you volunteer at Hoopfest long enough. Unfortunately, it was not a fluke. At the 1:30pm game, another winner’s bracket matchup, another fiery situation had developed. Two teams from local area high schools were facing off. The teams had history with each other in other sports and they both wanted to win the game. One of the teams brought a very large cheering section with them. The empty space behind my court was no longer empty…it was packed with seventeen and eighteen year old supporters of one of the teams. While they were supporters of the one team, they were more like haters of the other team. The fans kept heckling and baiting the other team, one player in particular. As a court monitor you can try to control a situation as intently as possible but when the crowd is so large and when they are in back of you, it is hard to regulate completely. Anyway, a member of the crowd finally said something that really got to the targeted player and it was game over from there. The player walked over to the fan, pushing me aside as I tried to step between the two (this was a huge athlete), and cold clocked the heckler. Chaos ensued.

Once again blows were exchanged by multiple people. The player who instigated the fight was completely out of control. Someone from the crowd took the player down to the ground and then, I kid you not, some kid who was well over 300 pounds fell on the player, securing the peace. Court marshals and rapid response members separated everyone and I was given the decision on whether to let the game continue or to just call it right then and there. I decided to let the game continue. The player who crossed the player/fan boundary and punched the fan was ejected for the rest of the tournament.

The rest of Saturday went by without a hitch. Many of the players on the other teams saw the previous brawls and did not want to repeat any of that behavior. The late afternoon games went without incident but I still drove home that night feeling a little down about what all had happened that day on my court. An awesome BBQ with my brother and his team, some cold beer, and great conversation that night helped to remove some of that earlier feeling and left me rejuvenated for Sunday.

A delicious Saturday night BBQ was just what I needed.

While Saturday was characterized by brawls, Sunday was defined by disqualifications. Here is the thing: When you fill out your Hoopfest registration packet, you must be honest. When you arrive at Hoopfest, your team must reflect all of the info from when you signed up back in March. If there is even the smallest inaccuracy, opposing players will pounce on it and push for consequences. This happened on Sunday. The DQs started early. One of the teams that still remained in the winner’s bracket had a couple players that looked like they were comfortably over six feet (the bracket was 5’10” and under). The success of the team drew a complaint from a player. So, after the team had won its opening game on Sunday to come just one win away from the championship game, we measured one of the kids and sure enough he did not meet the height limit. The team was immediately disqualified.

A couple games later, another team was disqualified because they had a player sign in who was not on the registered roster. Then, a couple more games later, the fourth team of my bracket was disqualified because they had a player who was signing in as a registered player on the team but the only problem was that he was not that registered player. With all of these disqualifications the aftermath sucked as all DQ’d teams were very upset and voiced their displeasure on the court for everyone to see/hear. I hate disqualifying any team. I hate seeing their weekend ruined, their entry money wasted, and their fans/family disappointed. But when an opposing player brings up a complaint, you have to investigate it and follow the Hoopfest rules. Please, register your team honestly and then uphold that same team for the whole tournament.

Hoopfest 2012: Court marshalls (red shirts) and rapid response members (blue shirts) gave me great support.

So besides all of the disqualifications that resulted in multiple forfeits, some basketball was still played on Sunday. In what couldn’t be any more fitting, the team that won my bracket, the Royal Knights, was one of the few teams that never found themselves in any controversy the whole weekend. They never fought, never had a question raised about their eligibility, never complained/petitioned against another team, never had any player pushing the height limit, and never gave me one reason to dislike them.  In a weekend that saw a quarter of my bracket get disqualified and multiple unsportsmanlike infractions occur, it served as a little bit of justice that a hard playing team like the Royal Knights took home the champion t-shirts.

Hoopfest 2012: Myself with my bracket champions, the Royal Knights.

Players and spectators asked me all weekend long if I enjoyed being in the middle of the action on such a crazy court. My simple answer was no. When I am responsible for running the show I find no joy in watching fights break out and ejecting teams from the tournament. So while I was disappointed in the antics that occurred on my court during Hoopfest 2012 I will just learn from the experience. Some things I could have controlled better and some things were completely out of my hands. I developed a whole new sense of respect for my court marshal, Kevin, and the rest of the Hoopfest court marshals and rapid response members. They had my back every single step of the way and supported me throughout the whole tournament.  Through this experience I feel like I became a better court monitor and my passion and love for Hoopfest never waivered. Let’s get the next 360+ days over with fast, I am ready for Hoopfest 2013! Don’t Blink.

Bring On Hoopfest 2012!

*Originally published on June 29, 2012.

Finally! My favorite weekend every summer, Hoopfest, has arrived. In less than twelve hours I will be on the streets of downtown Spokane as I serve as a court monitor for my fifth consecutive year. Ask yourself, have you ever played in or watched a community 3-on-3 basketball tournament? Secondly, ask yourself, have you ever played in Hoopfest? If you answered “yes” and then “no,” I sadly have to inform you that you have never truly played in or watched a community 3-on-3 basketball tournament before. Spokane Hoopfest is a basketball event on steroids. Nothing compares…nothing even comes close. This year more than 7,000 teams will participate in the event and I can’t wait.

Tomorrow I will monitor twenty games with the first one starting at 8am and the last one ending at around 7pm. It is a long, but very fun, day. I arrived in Spokane about two hours ago. My parents are hosting my brother, his girlfriend, and his three Hoopfest teammates who make up the “SlumpBusters.” Along with them, I also have several relatives who are also staying with us as they will participate in the tournament as well. Not only is my parents’ residence filled with lots of people right now, it is also filled with tons of excitement. And while we might be overindulging a little too much on the beer and pizza at the moment, you can rest assured that all of us will be ready to go by tomorrow morning.

Although Hoopfest is by leaps and bounds the best 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the planet, they still decided to step it up this year. The game ball is the coolest version yet, the court monitor shirts are dri-fit, and the complimentary shoes each court monitor receives for volunteering are sick. Adding to the prospect that this will be the best Hoopfest yet, the weather forecast is absolutely perfect. Tomorrow calls for a high temperature of 82 degrees while Sunday is predicted to reach 78 degrees. This is ideal weather for the players, comfortable weather for court monitors, and great weather for girls to dress in whatever “cute” outfit they feel like. Bring it on.

My 2012 Hoopfest court monitor dri-fit shirt

If you are in Spokane this weekend and will be downtown, PLEASE stop by my court and say hi. I am monitoring an adult male court on Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard. My court name is KXLY4 HD #1. Come bring me an energy drink (sugar free please) or stop by just to heckle me. If you are too busy watching other games to make it by my court, text me later and I will invite you over to my parents’ house for our big Saturday night Hoopfest BBQ. Remember to use the hashtag of #SpokaneHoopfest for all of your Tweets and Instagram photos.

Hoopfest 2012: The official game ball and my court monitor Nike shoes.

Let the fun begin! Good luck to everyone participating in some capacity in Hoopfest 2012! Hello again to all of my Spokane buds and welcome to all of my Montana friends who have traveled west for this weekend. Have a wonderful couple days in the Lilac City, it does not get much better than this. Don’t Blink.

Fireworks Ban?

 *Originally published on June 27, 2012

The Fourth of July is right around the corner and within the next couple of days I am sure to start hearing the bangs, crackles, and screams of fireworks exploding outside of my house. I welcome these echoing sounds because it signifies a great American holiday and the onset of summer. Although the loud booms seem to always linger around a little longer than I would like as people on my street tend to light off fireworks well into late July, it is still an overall positive sound for me that brings me back to my youth.

Growing up as a kid, I LOVED fireworks. For most of my life fireworks have been banned in my hometown of Spokane so I would always cherish the annual trip my family would take to Walla Walla, Washington, for the Fourth. As fireworks were legal in Walla Walla at the time, I would always salivate a little bit as we entered town and I started to see the various fireworks stands stationed in parking lots and on the sides of the streets.

Besides the pretty tame stand fireworks available in town, my uncles would always blow a whole bunch of money and stock up on the “good stuff” from the reservations. By the time July 3 and July 4 came around, we had a mini war zone taking over the yard of whatever aunt or uncle was hosting the family get together that year.
We lit fireworks off non-stop during the day and then transitioned into our own little fireworks show by night. While I loved the shows that we (and the neighbors around us) put on during the night, I really found love with the day arsenal more. You see, I was much more of a loud, blow-stuff-up kind of boy as opposed to the sparkling pretty colors “oooohhhh and ahhhhhhh” type. I preferred bottle rockets, firecrackers, and M80’s over fountains, strobes, and mortars. I liked blowing up beanie babies, detonating soda cans, and firing off bottle rockets at my cousins and brother. Through the age range of about 11-16, I remember these Fourth of July memories fondly. What I also remember is the horror and anger my mom had as she watched me light even the most harmless smoke bomb off.
I remember hating the stipulations, restrictions, and nagging my mom would force upon me each year. I hated getting scolded in front of my older cousins and worse yet, sometimes having to sit out entirely. “Mom, I am fine, I will be careful, trust me,” I would plead. My dad, the most low key guy in his family, would also take my mom’s side. My cousins would be detonating fireworks off with a cigarette lighter while I would be lighting extra long fuses with a candle lighter. I would get so frustrated and tell my mom she was embarrassing me. At that time, I didn’t understand it.
When you grow up, you start to see things differently. You experience more, read more, and observe more. Ten years removed from my “pyrotechnic”days, I no longer trust/glorify fireworks as much as I used to. Report after report of people who lose their limbs, lose their property, and even lose their lives from fireworks has changed my thinking a little bit. Back in the day, I would debate with you endlessly on how stupid it was for cities and towns to ban fireworks. I would throw out words like “unpatriotic,’ “controlling,” and “absurd”. I would reason that only uncareful and clueless people could be harmed while using fireworks. Speaking out of ignorance then, I now know that many professional pyrotechnicians get hurt and killed each year practicing their trade.
While I won’t go out and say that I fully support a fireworks ban, I do understand it.
A couple things people need to know about fireworks: While operator error is just one reason to feel nervous about fireworks, disaster can strike in other ways too. Fireworks can malfunction and not do what they were supposed to. Mother Nature can blow a firework off course or she could produce a very hot and dry day, making everything more susceptible to catching fire. A lone spark could ignite a house up in flames. Someone walking around could accidently stroll into the path of a firework or knock a firework down. There are just so many chances for something going wrong.
So while I probably don’t even completely trust a professional with fireworks, I certainly don’t trust a twelve year old with them. Mom, you were definitely right on this one. But between a professional and a twelve year old, there are many more groups that fall into the spectrum. One of these groups are good-old, trust worthy adults, just like me. Do I trust them? Do I trust myself? The answer is no. Not only do I not entirely trust people my age with fireworks, I definitely don’t trust people my age who have been drinking with fireworks. The Fourth of July is a drinking holiday, making it so many people who do light off fireworks are hammered. Does this put anyone else on edge? I would say it kind of makes those crazy people who are looking to ban fireworks a little more sane.
Fireworks are dangerous. But life is dangerous too, right? Just because life is dangerous doesn’t mean we should stop living it. The same can be said for fireworks too….just because they are dangerous does not mean people should stop celebrating with them. If they are legal in your area, by all means partake in the fun, just keep in mind the possible consequences. For the people who live in areas where they are already banned I know you will probably still celebrate with fireworks anyway so I offer the same advice…keep in mind the possible consequences. Don’t trust fireworks. Take every safeguard possible and have a plan for if and when things go wrong. And lastly, give your eleven year old sparklers and poppers, not M80’s. Don’t Blink.