Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Perfect Antidote to Stress...

Lots and lots of beer. Planned to go out with Ellen & Ken tonight, but somehow we had a great time and never really managed to actually go out (still not even sure how it ended up being 3 AM or whatever). And can anyone explain why my jeans are falling off of my ass? It's not like I've been exercising or dieting or watching what I'm eating or whatever. I guess we can chalk that up to stress too...

btw, I really love my ipod. And Lola must be the most patient dog in existence. Sheesh! oooofffff!

Friday, December 30, 2005


I wish I could stop freaking out!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Heh! Something Else from Today

Sometime during the morning J stopped by my cube to assign yet another project to me that he doesn't feel like working on (he really must think he's my boss). I looked at him without saying anything for a beat or two and then said, "I honestly don't know when I'll be able to work on that." He just looked back at me. I resigned a couple of hours later. Heh!

So... I Quit My Job Today


I've had a fantastic job offer, from a fabulous company to work for their Southern New Hampshire office. This is really something that just fell into my lap, it's been this thing that has been quietly progressing in the background of my life. There were spurts of time when there would be little or no updated information and I just figured it wasn't going to pan out, but it always seemed to come back up to the fore-front. Still, it's an opportunity that I never seriously thought would come to fruition, that is until about a month or two ago. All of a sudden everything heated up, I had a conference call with the project manager for the client side of project I would be working on and all of a sudden they really wanted me. Information flew back and forth, HR got involved and this morning I had the actual offer letter. It's almost surreal. The job represents about a 50% salary increase for me, I will be living in a lower cost-of-living state (in a place where there will be a higher quality of life for me) with lower taxes (no income taxes) AND the company will pay relocation costs and put me up while I'm selling my apartment down here. And one of the best things is, the company is a customer of my current company -- I will be stepping into a role that is similar to what I do here, only it is higher-end, more growth potential, etc. Very, very exciting. Very, very scary.

My friend and sometime manager Lou is back in the office this week after months on disability for a devastating illness and I had drop this bomb. I apologized over and over for the timing (when is the timing ever good for this sort of thing) but he was just incredibly gracious and really, sincerely, thrilled for me. When I described the opportunity to him, he basically said, "oh you HAVE to take it!" He later beeped my former-currently-temporary-maybe-permanent manager (who was my former manager until this past Spring and who had been my interim manager again while Lou was on disability) and told him that he should call me (I had originally really wanted to tell them both together, but former-currently-temporary-maybe-permanent manager was unexpectedly out of the office for a few days). And so he then called and I told him and he was also unbelievably thrilled and supportive. He basically said that he was really sad to see me go because I've done a fantastic job for him for
years and that he would really miss me and there was no way he was going to be able to replace me. Awwwwwwwwww. We had a really good, long talk about the opportunity and the logistics and various other related stuff. I felt really good about everything after speaking to both these guys. Lou thinks that my current company will try to counter-offer, but I doubt they can come up with the money that the new company is offering. Besides, a big part of this is the opportunity to relocate out of NYC and also about the job itself. This is not an opportunity I would be likely to have at my company. Time to move on. Of course you never know what last minute thing could throw a monkey wrench into the works, but so far it's full steam ahead (and it's wonderful to know that my company would try to jump through some hoops to keep me).

Now I have to worry about all the logistics (getting up there, getting my driver's license, packing my stuff, dealing with mail and bills, figuring out what to do with Lola, selling my apartment, finding a place to live etc. etc. etc.) And I'll have to buy some stuff, like proper footwear and a car. At least life will be pretty interesting for awhile.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

To Christmas, Or Not To Christmas...

Every year I go through this big dilemma with Christmas, just ignore the holiday, or make some desperate attempt to celebrate and enjoy it. Even though, at this point, I have pretty low expectations, I still somehow end up disappointed each year.
Last year was a pretty depressing affair and I vowed to myself that this year I wouldn't be going out to my father's place, yet here I sit with plans for my father to pick me up in Manhattan tomorrow afternoon. I've already received my Christmas gift from him -- a check signed by him inserted in a Christmas card written & signed by his wife, along with a picture of their new house. It just all seems so, I don't know, anti-climatic. Certainly, realistically speaking, a check really is the best thing he could have given me (and I'll probably put it towards a purchase of this, just as soon as I can come up with the balance), but it just seems so... I can't quite put my finger on it... depressing, I guess. Like I was an obligation that could be easily resolved by taking two seconds to write out a check. And (I realize that this is really petty but) couldn't he have seen fit to write out and sign the card himself? I don't know, I just hate Christmas, every year a little bit more. I have friends who get impatient with my bah humbug attitude, but they also usually have wonderful holiday seasons to look forward to. I just have this sense of unease until it's all over.

Anyway, before I had decided what I was going to be going for Christmas Day, I had bought a chicken to roast, so that Lola and I would have something special for that day. Since I'll be out in Jersey tomorrow, I'm cooking it now. I even stuffed it, which is all very ambitious of me considering that I pretty much never cook. I'll post about how it comes out, should be okay (I'll have lots of leftovers, but I don't mind).

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Cost of Things

Every morning I buy a large coffee at Dunkin' Donuts. Last month the cost for this was $1.75. And then earlier this month the cost went up to $1.80. This morning it cost me $1.90. What gives? The price goes up twice in one month? It's almost like they just make up what the price is going to be for today or something. Sheesh.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transit Strike: Day 3

Well, it looks as if the strike may come to an end shortly, although, at this stage, I think much damage will have been done to the NYC economy. I'm sure it's no mistake that this was timed for the most important week in the month that most retailers (not to mention restaurants, etc.) basically need to make their year. Watching the local news here and hearing some of the individual stories really brings the enormous scope of people and services and businesses affected by this strike to light. Along with it, the mind boggling selfishness of the TWU really hit home for me. My own minor inconveniences are nothing in comparison. A few highlights:

* Saw an interview with a representative for the Red Cross who said that because of this strike, they have had to cancel every blood drive they had had scheduled for this week. Basically, the NYC blood supply is currently nil. I wonder how many people in hospitals, or with life-threatening illnesses have suffered or died as a direct result of this.

* Saw an interview with this low-income man suffering from cancer and some other illnesses who relies on the City transportation system to get to various medical appointments. He of course has not been able to see the much-needed medical professionals during this time. Additionally, he relies on a volunteer organization to bring him his meals. This organization has been shut down by the strike, and as a result the man (as of last night when his interview aired) had not eaten in two days. I'm sure there are dozens, if not hundreds of similar stories out there.

* Saw a news report that highlighted this man who works as a waiter for a diner in Brooklyn. He (unfortunately) lives all the way up in Westchester and relies heavily on Mass Transit to get to work. He had to walk to a Metro North station up in Yonkers and then take a train to Grand Central Station, from there he had to walk from midtown Manhattan to downtown Brooklyn. He said that his shifted ended at Midnight when he would do the reverse commute back home, he expected to get there sometime after 3 AM. I'm sure there are many, many other similar stories out there.

I can't imagine how any business that was perhaps on the fence about moving it's operations out of or into NYC wouldn't just throw in the towel and say forget it, it's not worth it. Certainly we lost businesses in a similar vein after 9/11. When I think of how much you have to pay for the "privilege" of running a business or living here, between the exorbitant taxes, through-the-roof insurance rates, transportation costs & complications, and a continuously rising cost of living and then the worry about this sort of thing that can really just completely wipe you out, you've got to say, "is it really worth it all?"

My personal experience with the strike actually hasn't been too bad. Penn Station can apparently get pretty dicey closing on the evening rush hour (apparently, especially if you were attempting to travel home from there around 4 - 7 PM on Tuesday), but yesterday I left in the mid-afternoon and just logged back into work from home and so had absolutely no trouble. As long as my company is willing to let me do that, I'm pretty happy about it. Otherwise, they've closed off a street next to Penn Station and have set up police barricades to corral people through a serpentine line into varying entrances, depending on the commuter's destination. Think of some massive line worthy of Universal Studios or Disney World on a NYC street. If I can avoid that (not matter how fast the line supposedly moves) I will be all the happier and more relaxed and stressfree. The morning commute hasn't been much of a big deal either, although yesterday was a bit stressful when the train I was on stopped at the Woodside, Queens station and about twice as many people as should have trying to shove their way on. The screaming and cursing and yelling was rather unsettling (and I used to take the Westside subway line during rush hour to work every morning, so I'm generally used to this sort of thing). I ended up being one of those people with their faces smooshed against the door window of the train. Lovely. But I got here, so it turned out okay in the end. Still, all things considered, I will finally be happy to sad goodbye to this gd-forsaken evil strike.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Transit Strike: News Reports

I've been watching dribs & drabs of the News to catch up on what they're saying about the strike and the commute and I have to laugh when the talking heads say that the LIRR is running "on or close to a normal schedule, but expect ridership to be up. Leave yourself extra time to get to where you're going". Yeah, okay, duly noted. I mean, I left my apartment at five thirty AM. The train station is one long block from where I live. How much extra time should I have given? "Ridership is up" HA! the understatement of the year. Bastards.

Oh and then the other thing! They keep talking about the traffic in Jersey and what's going on in Hoboken, etc. Well there are no subways or MTA buses from Jersey, so who gives a F? Yes, the traffic is heavier because of people driving out of Staten Island and the Bronx and coming around to Jersey to hop on a train or bus or ferry from there, but so what? It certainly seems like the lesser side of the story. They were just interviewing this Jersey woman who was coming in from Hoboken, NJ via Path (which is not affected) to Manhattan and was lamenting about what she would do once she reached the Manhattan side if she couldn't catch a cab. She sighed and said, "I might just have to walk the whole 25 blocks" and the news caster exclaims, "25 blocks??? WOW!!!!" Uh, hello??? 25 blocks in Manhattan = 1 mile. I think you can handle it (and if you can't, I really feel sorry for you). Sheesh! At least she can get into Manhattan in the first place! Amatuers.

Transit Strike Update: My Experience So Far

Since I knew pretty much right away that the transit strike was on, and since I literally did not have even one minute of sleep all night long, I finally gave up, turned on all the lights, took my shower, got ready, took care of Lola and was at the train station by 5:30 AM. I had double-checked the MTA website again and confirmed there that they did not expect to have their shuttle service in place until 24 hours after the start of the strike, I was shooting for a train scheduled to arrive in Kew Gardens headed for Penn Station at 5:37. Already the platform was packed with an unbelievable number of people. A train finally arrived, but it was so packed (before they even opened the doors) that peoples' faces were all smooshed up against all the windows and doors. The conductor stuck his head out of his little window to tell us that nobody was going to be able to get on (frankly, if getting on had even been an option, under those circumstances, I don't think I would have done it). I asked him about the shuttle service (on the chance that maybe they were getting it up and running early), but he didn't seem to know anything. There were 100s of people left on that platform with more people arriving to take a chance on getting on a train every minute. The next scheduled train wasn't for another hour (and it is about 20* outside). I turned around and came back to my warm apartment, where I was easily able to get a connection and am now ready to tackle some work. If my company wants to force me to use a vacation day for today, fine, so be it, but having to put up with a commuting situation like this when you are all set up at home is ridiculous.

Transit Strike!

Since I'm awake anyway with my usual insomnia, I decided to turn on the TV and see what happened with the transit negotiations, since this will affect my commute for tomorrow. Well it looks like
the strike is ON! I can't even believe this! Sometimes I just really hate living here. It's probably going to take me hours tomorrow to go about 8 miles (and you know I'm not getting up early if I'm sitting here still wide awake at 2 AM), and my guess is, getting home will be even worse. NYC, I used to love you, but I think the honeymoon is now over.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Odds & Ends

Moroccan for Christmas

Last Thursday we had our annual Holiday Christmas lunch thingie at a kosher Moroccan restaurant (only in NYC, I tell you). It was actually kind of fun and it sure was nice to have the afternoon off. Some highlights:

Lou came to the lunch and he looked really, really good! I was completely prepared to be shocked by his appearance (he has, afterall, been through Hell and back and it's not even over yet), but he looked just like himself, skinnier, but himself. That was a relief. I sat next to him for the whole afternoon and, God, was it great to just be able to talk and laugh with him like nothing had ever happened. He's still got a lot of recovery to do and most likely is looking at another surgery or two down the road when he's stronger, but he slowly seems to be getting there. Since company policy dictates that he would have to be back at work by the end of this month, he is going to start easing back in, rather than be terminated. I think he's probably going to start with working from home. I just hope he doesn't push himself too hard.

Got to sit across from Patrick & Mark, which I really enjoyed. Even though my cubicle is across from Patrick & Marks cubes, I don't usually end up talking to them much because we generally work on completely different projects. The three of us are pretty quiet at work, we all sit in our little holes working away with headphones on. Ever since The Giggler went on Maternity leave (and the chick who sits across from her has also been on Maternity leave for something like six months) it's been so nice and quiet and peaceful there. Anyway, it was very nice to talk to them, they're both great guys.

Carol, the director of my department, had somehow convinced one of the guys from the Event Marketing department (Terry) to show up at our lunch dressed in this jingle bell elf costume, complete with red & white striped tights and jester hat (all of which I'm sure was really appreciated at the kosher restaurant). Anyway, he ran a little trivia contest about various members of our department, it was kind of funny. Of course I committed the biggest faux paus when the question was asked, "who in the group has an '80s hair style?" I shouted out, "J!" because, believe me, he is the biggest '80s throwback you've ever seen, complete with the over-sized glasses, high-waisted, pleated pants, cheesy moustache and poufy hair (he really could use a makeover). Well it all gets a bit quiet and J, who, of course, happens to be sitting on the other side of me, turns to me, "whaaaaat?" and then someone, thank GOD, shouts out "Sean!" (who, in my opinion, doesn't really have an '80s hairstyle, he just lets his hair get too long sometimes) and everyone gets to move on. That was a squirm-worthy moment. I'm hoping J won't remember it too much, ack!

Transit Strike = Work from Home? Not so much

We, in NYC, are threatened with a transit strike this week. It actually was meant to happen first last Friday, but the deadline for the negotiations were pushed back to tonight. I didn't think that the LIRR was going to be too affected until I received a pamphlet on the train that explained the contingency plans. It's going to be a complete nightmare. I then assumed, well, I can just work from home, surely if ever there was a good reason, this is it. Not so much. Talking to my Former-currently-temporary-maybe-permanent manager about it and he said that I was expected to come in. I then went into a rant about our (whether it is the Company's or our Department's, I've never been able to quite understand) policy about working from home (or non-policy, I should say). He went on to say that well, there would be people who would take advantage, etc. And I said that, that is just BULLSHIT! First of all, it's up to the individual manager to determine whether he is being taken advantage of. Secondly, at least in our department, the work is pretty much project-based, so if a project is getting done, what difference does it make if it's happening on the premises, at home or whatever, and certainly that is the barometer whether staff is taking advantage, is the work freaking getting done??? It really insulted me, I had just spent every weekend for the past month working from home to take care of stuff for other people in my department. That week alone I had additional work I had done from home in the evenings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I was even checking and responding to work email during my vacation week, yet you're going to infer that I can not be trusted to work from home? I told Patrick and Mark about this conversation later and said, "what it really shows is a lack of respect for your staff." I mean, it's like we're little children or something. Pisses me off.

So, it looks like there's going to be a strike tomorrow. I'll try to get to work, I just hope it's not the complete nightmare it sounds like it's going to be. This is one of the things that I hate about living and working in NYC. Everything is so complicated.

Busy Day? Have a Heineken

On Friday I had a really, really swamped crazy day. It was the day after our department holiday thingie, so first of all, a lot of people weren't even in. And I was feeling very special after all the red wine I had consumed. Plus, I'm just generally busy these days anyway. So, at the end of a bad insomnia week, an afternoon of partying the day before and a stomach bug/flu on the way (not that I knew it at the time) I was pretty strung out. Frantically trying to get some work done and the Dept Director calling me multiple times during the day to handle special points reporting issues for field Sales VPs. I was stressed. Strung out and Stressed. Marketing was having a holiday party in a training room around the corner from our space and Former-currently-temporary-maybe-permanent manager did some reconnaissance work, as he always does when he finds out there is food for a meeting or such around. Next thing I know, he is in my cube and handing me a Heineken. "Whaaaa...? Can I just drink this here?" "sure". So it's sitting on my desk and a bit later I hear the Director's voice, so I hide the bottle around behind the monitor. They are outside my cube and Former-currently-temporary-maybe-permanent manager says, "I gave Debbie a Heineken", I pipe up and say, "I heard Carol's voice, so I hid it". She says, "You hid it? From me??? You should know better than that, if anything, I would give you a gold star!" heh.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


I've got some kind of stomach flu, of the sort you are prone to when you're a kid. You know the type, complete with prolonged periods of throwing up and other bodily functions you'll thank me not to go into detail about (I think all those sleepless nights have managed to catch up with me).

Here are some thoughts:

* Even a mild fever (100.4) makes you totally feel like crap.
* It is amazing how even the most innocuous food commercial or scene on TV can make you feel like hurling.
* It's almost inconceivable how the task of eating just one piece of dry toast seems insurmountable.
* No matter how much you plead and cajole, no, your dog is not going to go out and buy gingerale and Gatorade for you.
* The dog will still have to go out.
* That same dog knows to otherwise leave you alone.
* Nausea and stomach cramps take away most worries about work (but is not recommended as a cure for work stress).
* Where the F is the F'ing heat to my F'ing apartment??? Sheesh!
* I miss my mother.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Why is it with men, they hear a woman mention "hormones", they automatically assume we're talking about pregnancy? The other day I was in the hall talking to a girl friend at work and we were both complaining about how much trouble we're having sleeping lately. I said, "I guess it's stress. Although, it could also be hormones." My friend laughs and says, "probably hormones." My former-currently-temporary-maybe-permanent manager a bit later said to me with a significant look and a smirk, "is there anything you're not telling us???" I said, "No, do
you have anything you're not saying???" I swear he was fishing around thinking I was pregnant (as IF!!!) He tends to do a lot of skulking around and probably overheard my conversation.

Monday, December 12, 2005

What a Day!!!

ARGH!!!! Came in this morning to major problems with our Commissions database. On the morning of a big, mucky-muck sales meeting too. What a complete nightmare, made even worse by the fact that I was the only one in the office that could even deal with it. I was able to restore Friday's file easily enough, but it was the re-running of all our reporting extracts that took all morning (and were very critical to all the various people who live or die daily on these numbers). Can you say stressed?

And then I had two completely separate client groups decide this morning that their projects needed to move into red-line emergency status and would be needed today. Somehow I managed to get it all done, although I have to do some further work with our Commissions d/b tonight (hopefully I won't come in to another major nightmare tomorrow morning). Oh yeah, and I didn't fall asleep last night until 4 AM. ACK! Four AM!!! Sheesh!

On a good note, I finally (FINALLY!) got my iPod today! It's charging up as we speak. No more Christmas music for me, yay!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Friday Night Movie Night

Was over to Carolina & Janos's last night for pomegranate martinis, which were delish, to watch the "Fantastic Four" which completely sucked. I don't much recommend the movie. It was perfect though, for talking throughout. Certainly there was a lot to mock in this flick.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

My and My Big Mouth

This afternoon I was over in J's cubicle to ask him a question.

While we were talking, he says, "oh, actually, I'm glad you're here, I wanted to talk to you about our commission databases. I had to add a column to the files, so the files will have to be rebuilt and the programs compiled... "

I then opened my big mouth and say, "oh, if it's okay, I'd like to do it over the weekend. I usually prefer to rebuild production d/bs over weekends when I have more time, in case something doesn't work out right... "

J then pauses for a beat just looking at me and then says that oh, he was just telling me in case I happened to currently be working on a program that uses one of these files. But since I volunteered to take on this task, he thanked me very much and was happy to turn it over to me.

I freaking volunteered to do his work for him!

I just stood there gaping at him for a moment and then sighed and said, "just send me the updated files and an email noting the applications that will need to be recompiled."

I must be the biggest ass in NYC! What an idiot. ARGH!


I'm having a really frustrating, non-productive day. I've got so much to do and my lack of progress today is making me anxious. The director of my department has pulled me repeatedly this week to do super-special-year-end-regional-VP-reporting projects and the constant interruptions to do all this last-minute (and urgent) work have gotten me off-track of the regular projects that I need to be working on. GAH! And then, as I was saying to Carolina earlier, sometimes this cubicle gets to me and sucks my will to live, thus interfering with my creativity. I just wish I could cut my losses on a day like today and go home, perhaps the change of venue (and some natural light) would give me fresh eyes for my work and liven up my motivation.

Note to Self

When you own a light-colored dog that sheds, wearing a black fleece top perhaps isn't the smartest idea.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

iPod Woes

So, I ordered an iPod for myself for my birthday and I am still waiting for the thing a month later. When I placed the order online I didn’t see the option to change the shipping address (I need to ship it to my office where there will be someone to sign for it), so after submitting, I right away called Apple. For some reason they couldn’t change the address at that point and told me that I would have to wait until I received the Fedex tracking number and have Fedex reroute the package to the new address (Apple would have to authorize). So the next day I get the tracking number and call Fedex only to be told that they don’t reroute Apple packages. I call back Apple and they confirm this (why someone the day before told me that they would authorize a reroute is beyond me). So, then the only option was to have the package sent all the way back to Apple (in China!) and then re-sent to the new address. Only, the package never again showed up on radar. So, after numerous calls to Apple and endless visits to the Order Status page, they finally decided to send me a replacement. That was last Thursday and I’m still waiting.

I was really sure it was going to come today (I spoke to Apple yet again yesterday and they said that it was leaving the warehouse then and was being sent overnight). I’ve been waiting for over four weeks now and am completely pissed off! What I don’t get is, when I originally ordered the iPod, it was out of that warehouse and at the Brooklyn fedex location within two days. I don’t understand why it’s taking so long this time.

I feel like the least they could have done was offer an upgrade or a credit for some accessories or something. Sheesh! Should have just gone to BestBuy. Rat Bastards.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


First snow of the season - Woo! Don't think it'll stick around too long though, it's awfully wet and sloppy out there.

Innocence has Many Meanings

I've been downloading many songs over this past year and have found myself somehow drawn to music from a time in my life when the possibilities seemed endless, when the vague future ahead of me was almost like an enticing new novel I was just about to read. I look back at that time as one both of boundless optimism and enthusiasm combined (contradictorily) with an absolute terror that nothing meaningful was ever going to happen, that I would never have a relationship with a man I could count on, that I would never manage to find a career that was fulfilling. Now, all these years later, I can hardly bear to look at pictures of myself (even though I was far more pleasing to the eye) from that time without bringing tears over the courageous, happy, yet vulnerable look in my eyes. My heart almost breaks for my former self with the knowledge of the things to come (both good and bad, but most unexpected). Some of the music that I have rediscovered from that time brings some of that innocent emotion rushing back to me, if even for just a moment.

Oh, and it's true. I never have been able to find that man that I can count on, but I guess two out of three isn't so bad.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

War of the Worlds

(WARNING: Spoiler)

So, I saw "War of the Worlds" on DVD this weekend. It was an okay enough movie, for what it was. Sufficiently scary and suspenseful with decent special effects. But there are a couple of things that I just have to point out.

First of all, I'm damn sick of that Dakota Fanning kid, talk about over-exposed, ugh. Anyway, as far as the movie is concerned, I know that for this type of Science Fiction flick we're pretty much supposed to suspend reality and allow a certain amount of artistic license, but do they really expect us to believe that a huge jet could crash to the ground in a neighborhood, decimating all the surrounding houses, littering metal and debris everywhere in sight, yet the mini-van parked in the driveway would remain completely unscathed? As well as a clear path through all the scraps of metal and engine parts for the van to drive through? Additionally, throughout this entire movie all the people are forever talking about how all other parts of the World are currently also under attack, yet for some reason there seems to be this exodus to Boston. Once the main characters get to Boston, they see, that yes, the city has been attacked like everywhere else, yet they show up at the completely unscathed brownstone (in a more or less unscathed neighborhood, Back Bay, I think) of these kids' grand-parents. The grandparents and the kids' mother all step out of the brownstone all dressed up like they've been sitting around having brunch all weekend or something. I mean, WTF?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

You Know You've Lost You Mind...

...When listening to a Lenny Kravitz song, you turn to your dog and say conversationally, "This song really has a '70s sound, don't you think?"

I think I've lived alone for far too long...

So Inspirational

Does anyone watch The Biggest Loser? As much as I hate to admit it, I was really hooked this season. I found that I could identify with most of the stories and just about all of the final results were completely inspirational. The results were basically almost crazy, in many cases 100+ lb weight loss. We're talking gastric-bypass style weightloss on diet and exercise alone. I realize that this is probably not realistic for the average person (I mean, how many people can sign out of their lives for 3+ months and go live on a ranch in a vacuum), but even half of these results would have been impressive. It just makes me both inspired and disgruntled with myself all at the same time.