Is it Okay to Smoke at a Restaurant?

If you answered yes to this question, please explain why in the comment section below. Clearly, if your answer was yes, I do not know about your culture or society and I’d love to learn more about it. It’s important for us to realize how ignorant we all are, but bringing us back on track, my answer is an emphatic, no!

Obviously, you can break this question down to make it a lot more specific. What do you mean by okay? What exactly are you smoking? Where in or around the restaurant are you smoking? No matter what loophole you want to try to pull, however, the answer is still no. 

A restaurant is a place where meals are served. People pay for their food, and no matter how they got their money or why they are eating at that restaurant, they deserve to enjoy that meal. Except you if you’re smoking or having a greater negative than positive impact. By smoking anything, you’re most likely having a negative impact on their and everyone else’s experience, but let’s get even more back on track.

In the picture above, these two individuals stood up and walked away from their table to smoke (what I believe were cigarettes) in the corner of the deck/patio where our table also was. This was at a high(er) end Italian restaurant called Ferro in Idyllwild, CA. The servers and staff did not say anything to stop them, so we politely asked to sit in the back of the restaurant instead.

I’m not knowledgeable of the laws in Idyllwild, but I’m fairly certain you can’t smoke within 50 feet of the building, by law. If you have any manners whatsoever, you wouldn’t smoke within a distance that could carry the smoke via wind to where people are eating.

But they clearly lacked manners, common sense, or are from a cave in a very isolated part of the world. I love smoked food, but I prefer applewood to cigarettes. Thanks for taking care of these guys, Ferro! Also, thanks for taking care of the party of eight screaming throughout our whole meal in the back patio. Great customer service.

Don’t be a jerk at a restaurant. If you’re going to be a jerk, invite your jerk friends over instead and don’t grace us with your miserable presence. Cigarettes, ugh.


The Problem with Yelp Elite

This really doesn’t have all this much to do with Yelp itself. This is more about the “Elite” and even though it is a system created by and facilitated through Yelp, they can’t take responsibility for these monsters.

I probably know or have dealt with the person in the one image in this post. I operated a large facility in West Los Angeles, not too far from this recycling center, and we probably crossed paths. Fortunately, I don’t remember her being overly entitled, if we ever did, which would have been nothing more than sheer luck.

Why? Well, for one, she is clearly entitled to a certain degree. Just look at the line that I highlighted. If you know anything about Yelp that really explains it all. Then you can look at her stats and see that her contribution really isn’t that significant. 124 reviews and 57 photos… that’s it? Sure, she admittedly hasn’t been Yelping for very long at all (although she was making the opposite point), but those numbers are hardly worthy of Yelp Elite status.

After writing over 900 reviews on Yelp, while there might have been one that looked something like her review here or there, my goal is actually serving the community. She should have put that review on her blog that I know she has; she is clearly a blogger because she loves to hear herself think, write, talk, etc. My reviews might be boring, but they get to the point and tell someone who is debating using a service what they need to know to make an objective decision. This is just wrong.

Now, I’m sure this woman is absolutely lovely in real life. She’s just trying to build a persona online like so many others do, but this really isn’t about her. It is about the low standards and issues with the Yelp Elite system. You can have pitiful stats on Yelp and still earn Elite status. Then you can “abuse” and flaunt that status to try to bring others down. Or you could just not be a jerk. Don’t automatically listen to the Yelp Elite because they applied for it themselves. Don’t feed the monster.

Disclaimer: There are tons of great Yelp Elite users out there and I will continue to use Yelp for my own good and to help the community.

How to Start Your Day STRONG!

Come up with a routine and if you don’t think you’re getting enough done in a day… wake up earlier!

This morning, we started with a 6 am hike of Runyon Canyon with our dog. It gets a crucial chore out of the way, but we really take advantage of the walk and turn it into a workout. Over 2.5 miles and 40 minutes later, your body and mind are both ready to go.

Skipping breakfast, I take a pre-workout blend of electrolytes and amino acids, throw some gum in my mouth, and walk the quarter-mile to my gym, carrying my relatively healthy gym bag. The walk keeps me warm and allows me to mentally prepare for the training session without stressing out over LA’s notoriously bad drivers.

Usually, on a day with a packed schedule, I spend an hour in the gym. That typically involves a short warm-up and cool-down, but today, I was in there for closer to 90 minutes. Here is what was accomplished during today’s pull workout.

First, a 0.6 mile jog at an incline of 0.5, increasing my speed every minute or so.
Next, a series of exercises to warm-up my shoulders, lower back and hips. These are all areas with past and present injuries that really need to be maintained carefully.

Internal/External Rotators & Kettlebell Swings: 5sx25/25 & 35×25, 7.5sx25/25 & 35×25
Lateral Raises & Back Extensions: 7.5sx25 & 35×25, 7.5sx30 & 35×25
Hip Mobility: Various exercises and stretches, on the mat

The run and warm-up work took about 20 minutes; now we’re moving forward into heavier weights and more complex exercises.

Cable Lat Pulldowns: (Facing out without your legs being held in place, using an extremely wide grip) 80×20, 100×16, 120×10, (last set facing in) 120×8
Zottman Curls: (Using dumbbells, maintaining strict wrist position and form) 10sx20, 15sx18, 20sx14, 30sx10
Barbell Reverse Curls: 45×12, 55×12, 65×12, 75×12
Cable Horserope Hammer Curls/Chin-ups: 60×15/5, 75×14/5, 85×12/5, 95×10/5
Cable Horserope Straight Arm Pulldown: 100×10, 65×12, 75×13, 85×12

Cable Horserope Face Pulls: 100×15, 120×15

Close Grip Pulldowns: 100×12, 120×10, 150×8
Barbell Shrugs: 45×20, 95×20, 185×14, 185×14
Barbell Rows: (Alternating grips of over/under) 95×10/12, 95×10/12
Inverted Rows: 7

At this point, some acute pain in my left elbow and right shoulders tell me that it is time to cool down, so I move to the Treadwall for a nice long climb to exhaust my forearms and grip strength. Then I stretch my hips and groin.

About 20 minutes after the workout is over, I’ve already made it home and started putting a meal together. I haven’t had any calories yet today, for no particular reason other than chance, so I’ll aim to fill myself up with a considerable amount of protein.

Why Delivery Shouldn’t Exist

With the only possible exception of pizza. If you think about, there’s something seriously wrong with the idea of ordering delivery. Chefs take pride in the food they make. In a restaurant, the kitchen staff plans exactly when food should be delivered to the table so that it’s not too hot or cold. It impacts the texture and flavor; it creates a complete eating experience.

Delivery destroys their ability to create that experience. Nowadays, the restaurant staff isn’t even delivering the food thanks to all of these new apps. Do you think the drivers for these services care about the reputation of the the eateries? Most of them probably don’t and they certainly don’t take timing into consideration because, even if they did, there isn’t much they can do about it.

Obviously some foods do better than others. Pizza is that one food that can really stand up to delivery well, but even that isn’t always the case. We received the worst pizza we’ve ever eaten from a place that has 4 stars on Yelp. Why? It was the equivalent of a sponge when it arrived. All of the heat created condensation that then dripped back on to the pizza. Disgusting.

Now, there are some restaurants that don’t do delivery. They aren’t willing to provide a bad meal. They aren’t willing to sacrifice quality for business. Money isn’t always everything, especially to a passionate chef. With all that being said, make us one promise. If you’re eating somewhere for the first time, eat there. Sit down and eat the food fresh, like it’s meant to be eaten… unless its pizza.

Oh, and yes, the pictures are from a delivery meal that was awful. It was mostly awful because the food didn’t travel well. Soggy fries, etc.


Froyo Thieves

The absolute worst of the worst. This kind of behavior is representative of an awful person. I’m talking about the people that are capable of affording to buy the yogurt, who put on an act like they’re going to make a purchase and then end up eating as much as I paid for without spending a dime.

Like the guy in this picture for example, who is making the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship look great right now. I guess they taught him that if you want to be successful, you have to take what you want. Well, he did. Technically, it’s not stealing since Yogurtland allowed it, but he’s also a complete waste of space.

This is the kind of person who would discover the cure for cancer and not release it to the public so that the can continue to buy stupid pants and shoes that nobody cares about, except for him.

What’s even worse? He used 5 sample cups (that I saw) and got massive heaps of Plain Tart yogurt every single time. It was painfully obvious from the beginning that this guy is a total freeloader. Now, I don’t know this guy personally but this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable for anyone, so I hope you get the message, because you lose all credibility (period) when you do something like this.

(I paid my $5 for the yogurt below…)


Are Probiotics Worth It?

Is anything really worth it? I think it’s pretty obvious that our capitalist and consumer based society makes it seem as though we need everything to improve our life. Isn’t that the reason I’m writing and managing this blog?

I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on vitamins, minerals and supplements over the years, but I can’t really credit anything to their use. My body is in pieces, both internally and externally, so they haven’t been able to help me reach a higher level of performance, or even maintain the highest level that I reached.

I can confidently say that I reached that level without any of those things, but here I am, still trying to find the fountain of youth. My newest doctor, that I went to once and then left for good, had an interesting idea. She was heavily influenced by Eastern medicine and thought that probiotics would solve all of my problems.

She thought that taking probiotics would slowly impact every system that isn’t working properly. They aren’t that expensive, so I had to give it a shot. I went with a brand that is more popular on Amazon and in Costco.

I didn’t see any results and when the bottle ran out, I thought… hmm, maybe I need to do it for longer before seeing results. But I was basically fed up with the thought of shelling out more money, taking more pills, and in a month, not seeing any results at all.

She was probably full of it and while probiotics are good for you, how much you need, the quality of the company making them, etc, are all factors that are harder to manage than just taking a pill.


Last Minute Holidays

Memorial Day Style.

I worked all day and when my wife picked me up from work in South Central, we drove through the hood and started salivating… as we smelled, and even felt, smoke in the air. It was magical.

We decided to forego our plan to eat leftovers at home, stop at the grocery, buy some burgers/dogs/buns and fire up the grill. It didn’t take much longer than a normal dinner and it was totally worth it.

What’s the point of this story? It’s a pretty straightforward one. You don’t need to stress and spend tons of time/money on holidays. You don’t need to call all of your friends and family to make into a huge event.

Just take it easy… it is a holiday after all.

(I’m not making any points or comments about this holiday in particular.)

Monster Assault Review

One time… and possibly only one time. I was never huge on energy drinks… until I started making brutal trips from NYC to State College, PA. After long days, I’d try to find some extra energy, but would often end up grabbing a Red Bull. Eventually, when I started going to Barbell Brigade, if I forgot a pre-workout, I’d grab a Green Monster. Then, as I started getting fat… I went for the Light Blue.

Well, I couldn’t help myself when I saw this in-your-face red labeled version called Assault. I mixed it with my homemade pre-workout powders and… I felt like I was going to die. Perfect!

Now, in terms of what to expect… imagine the regular Green Monster with some cheap fruit punch in it. That’s it… seriously. If you’re into that kind of thing… give this a shot.



Jamaican Me Hungry

This is a review of Natraliart in LA and Jamaican food in general. The need for this came when my co-worker said she’d never eaten Jamaican food. You mean you’ve never had jerk chicken? Crazy, right?

I made sure to order some classics and highlight what they do better than anyone else. Obviously, the jerk seasoning can’t be beat in Jamaica. Also… you need to try ackee with some kind of salt fish. Here we had cod. Plantains are a must, as well as some good greens. Throw in a Jamaican beef patty and it’s a complete meal. Oh, but don’t forget to wash it down with some ginger beer.

Enjoy the pictures and always remember to try different cuisines! Oh, and they do a good job here… especially with the plantains, oxtails and jerk chicken. IMG_4555IMG_4553IMG_4549IMG_4545