Monday, December 31, 2012

So long 2012!

Tomorrow will be the requisite 2013 Resolution blog (which will likely look very similar to the 2012 post, meh), but I thought I'd take a minute today to look back on 2012.

 2012 was a big year for me - a lot of good, but a lot of not-so-good sprinkled in too, often very related.

The Good:
I got myself out of a bad rut that was affecting me both mentally and physically.  Physically, I don't think I was ever unhealthier than in 2011: I had breathing problems, pretty bad allergies, my weight ballooned in a very unhealthy way, I got addicted to coffee and the caffeine in it - just all around a very unhealthy way to live.  Stress at work didn't help, neither did some personal issues that I look back on as one of the low-points in my life, and they all sort of jumbled together and fed each other.  2012 fixed a lot of that though: I turned my health around and lost 25 pounds during the first part of the year (even ran/walked a 5k with my sister) which in turn helped with a lot of the other health issues, I switched to another job that I enjoyed a lot more and (at the time) was less stressful, and eventually worked through the issues in my screwed up head.

I took the next step on my volunteer journey and joined the board of directors for the non-profit group that manages the Richmond Men's Chorus and Richmond Women's Chorus, and took an added leadership role as the leader of the 5th Section, the technical group for the RMC/RWC.

Looking back, I also see how I got a LOT done on the house: I rented the downstairs, the back deck was replaced and the front & side yards were tidied up, so that for the first time in my life, I was actually semi-proud of the property I owned and wasn't embarrassed to say that it was mine.

The Bad:
As fantastic as the weight loss was last year, it stalled around April and never really got back on track.  Since then I've had good months and bad months, and while I've at least kept myself near my adult-life-low I haven't lost any more either.

Not coincidentally, April was also the month that work-related stress picked back up.  The department I manage had a lot change thrown at it in a very short time, and a lot of it fell to me (forced is really the wrong word: while required, it's also something that we wanted to do).  That forced me into some roles and work relationships that, if I'm being honest with myself, I wasn't completely ready for and am still not completely comfortable in.  It also meant a lot of late nights, which as the year progressed, tended to be at Xtra's, the local bar.  Now, don't get me wrong: I LOVE Xtra's.  But night-after-night, usually with a beer (or three or four) and a big meal isn't the best thing; not for your wallet, not for your health, and not for social life (honestly, who wants to be with the guy at a bar who's nose-deep into his computer?)

To sum it all up: great strides in a lot of areas, but not so great that I can't point to a number of things in all the areas that I should've (and could've) done a lot better in.  So that sets the foundation for the 2013 resolutions.

Now - time to go prep for tonight & tomorrow!

Monday, December 10, 2012

What a Weekend!

Oooh boy, was this a long weekend. Super fun and super rewarding, but super busy and not-a-little stressful at the same time.


To start with, this weekend was Great Joy!, the annual holiday concert for the Richmond Men & Women's Choruses. I've been helping them out for years, but always in more of a support role. This year, though, I'm on their board of directors, and took over leadership of the 5th Section (our volunteer backstage group) and Production Committee. Among other things, that meant I had to recruit and schedule volunteers, coordinate all the ads & biographies & listings for the program, supply & organize the reception, and also (eek) give the introduction at the start to the audience. Ugh.

I'm pleased to say, however, that everything went fantastically. The choruses sounded (and looked) great, and all the behind-the-scenes stuff that I organized went completely unnoticed, which is the best praise you can get as a technical guy. My little speech the first night wasn't fantastic (I have a tendency to rush when I'm nervous) but it wasn't horrible either, and given that I had to do it right after frantically running through the bowels of the church trying to find the chorus because their director decided to bring them up through a different stairway (seriously, how the heck does one misplace a whole chorus of women?), I don't think I could've asked for more.

It did mean, though, that I had to spend most of Saturday morning running around Short Pump picking up reception ingredients "just in case", since we didn't even know if we were doing a reception until Saturday night, or if supplies had already been taken care of, and the person I needed to answer those questions wasn't returning my emails. And shopping at Richmond's only Costco in the few weeks before Christmas is NOT fun. Argh.

And somehow, while I was doing all of that running around, I managed to put up the outdoor lights, do laundry, pack for my business trip to Sioux Falls, buy 2 new light fixtures for the back deck, put down some patio stones as a temporary walkway to the deck, clean out the car, get my finances updated through this week, have a drink & wings with buddy Todd, and get through 80 emails at work.  Yowzas!

So anyway, it was a fantastic weekend and I had a blast, but am also somewhat relieved that it's in the books and done.  Now, to see if I can recreate it this week with work-y stuff!

-Nik

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Odd Benefits of Short Legs

I have short legs.  For real: my in-seam is 28 1/4 inches, which is 2 standard dev's below where it should be for my height of 69".  Generally this is quite annoying, since the shortest pants you can normally find have 29 inch legs, and even those aren't all that common.  So usually I have to make do with limited choices and then deal with slightly too-long pants.  (Yes, I could get them altered.  But that takes $$, and I don't want to make that investment until I get my waist down another couple of inches.  And altering jeans isn't really an option anyway.)

Every once and a while, though, it comes in handy at the oddest times.  For example: yesterday morning I went to the gym before work, and managed to forget my dress socks, leading to this fantastic fashion statement you see on your right.  Snazzy.

And yet, with my slightly-too-long jeans, nobody noticed!  You know that feeling you get when you know a secret nobody else does?  I walked around work all day with that feelin.

And yes, this is what passes for excitement in my life right now. :)

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Nice People

To the random lady at Kohl's who said "Here, I can't use this, you should" and then handed me a coupon that saved me $60:  THANK YOU.  You are awesome.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Home!

Well, I'm home, which means Thanksgiving is officially over, and the Christmas season is begun!  (In my book, Thanksgiving isn't officially over until I pull my car up to my house and get Lucy back inside, which is approximately 30 seconds prior to the Christmas decorations coming out of their boxes.)

The drive home is something I dread each year ... the Richmond-to-Lancaster drive isn't a great one to start with, and when you add in holiday traffic it's an absolute nightmare.  One time I tried leaving on late Sunday morning, and the usually-4-hour drive turned into a 17 hour one.  UGH.  Plus, these past few years Lucy's really started to not do well on the drive; and when I say "not well", I mean vomit and lose bowel control all over the inside of the car.  I really don't know what brings it on; I don't know if she gets motion sick, if she's picking up on bad vibes from me or what, but whatever it is, it really drives the poor girl mad.

This time, though, it wasn't terrible.  Traffic slowed a lot, but never really came to a halt, and I got back in 5 hours, which is pretty good for a holiday weekend.  Lucy did pretty well too.  You could tell she wasn't thrilled, but she did curl up and get to sleep for a little.  She also got a little adventurous towards the end ... what the people behind me were thinking, I can't really guess.




So anyway, that's one more Thanksgiving in the books!  Now, onto that most wonderful time of the year!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving!

Everyone knows the story of the 3 Wise Men on Christmas, but fewer know the story of the 3 Wise Cats.  The 3 Wise Cats are Goose, Fluffer-Nutter, and Kitty-Beast, who each represent the yin and yang and dumb of Catdom - all complementing yet opposing each other at the same time.  Each year, the 3 Wise Cats travel from afar to visit the Place-of-Beginning, watch the Great Turducken rise from the oven in steamy goodness, and then partake of the great feast.  Afterwards, we all engage in ritual meditation to clear our heads and minds.


(In actuality, Katie Brandon and I all schlep our cats up from Baltimore and Richmond to mom & dad's, where we make the turducken, the cats get too many treats, and then we all fall into a food-induced coma.  But that's a boring story.)

In a lot of ways it was a fairly normal Thanksgiving: Mom and I spent most of our time in the kitchen and put the turducken together, the cats were spoiled with too many treats, Will spent most of the holiday asleep, Katie subjected the family so some vegan concoctions, and we all ate way too much.  Ah, routine :)

There were some things that changed, though.
- Thanks to some prodding, Mom and I started earlier and actually got to bed at a decent hour on Wednesday night.  I've forgotten how nice it is to go to bed before 2AM on Thanksgiving.  Gonna have to try that again next year.

- I got a week-long gym membership at a local gym, and have actually used it 3 times so far this week.  I'm not harboring any misconceptions about losing weight this week, but at least I can keep myself relatively steady.

- While I don't think I'll ever be Kitty Beast's favorite person (not while I have Lucy, anyway), he's started to warm to me this year, and will even let me pet him a bit now (of course, two of those times were when he was half-asleep, and I don't think he knew it was me).  The little bugger absolutely adores my brother though, the bastard.

Anyway, that's the Thanksgiving roundup!  Turkducken photos will follow once I get them up!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Deck Update

Hey All, Quick update on the deck - while not as quickly as I'd like, it's coming along, and should soon be done.  You can visit my facebook page for more pictures, but here's where it was 2 weeks ago:



And here's where it is now:

 

The old deck is gone and the new one is just starting to go up (plus some not insignificant electrical changes), but unfortunately this is the last in-progress picture I'll have before the full thing's up.  Part of me wishes I could stay around and watch it piece by piece (my brain's weird like that) but on the other hand, missing Thanksgiving with my family in Pennsylvania would not likely be looked upon kindly.

So, that's all she wrote, folks!  Guess you'll just have to wait til I get home to see the final product ;)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Cat Blogging

Lucy had another of her odd cat moments today.  I was folding laundry on the bed, and my comforter was all bunched up on one of the corners.  Lucy jumped onto the bed, zipped over to the comforter, promptly shoved her nose under one of the folds, and then proceeded to burrow her way into the blanket one skooch at a time.  I don't know if there was a stinky sock in there or what, but whatever it was, she just HAD to get in there.  It was pretty funny and I tried to snap a picture, but being only human, I was too slow and only managed to catch part of her tail (it's the little dark spot in the middle-left part of the screen).


 Of course, once she was in, she discovered that whatever-it-was was not nearly as exciting, got turned around a bit, and then spent the next 5 minutes trying to find her way back OUT of the blanket.  (Note, at no point was she distressed or calling for help; if she was I would've gotten her out immediately.)  Anyway, she managed to work herself free, and either she was tired or embarrassed, as she decided to waltz her way right over to my folded laundry and plop herself down in the middle of it.  As if to say "Oh yeah?  Well, I may get stuck in your blanket, but now you can't put your laundry away.  So HAH!'


Of course, after a few minutes she'd forgotten the whole thing, and went back to being a snuggly little angel on the bed.  Why do cats do these things?  Only Sky-Cat knows, I suppose.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fittest ... I do not think it means what you think it means

Whooooo boy, Aaron Schock has got to be PISSED.

I'm on the Men's Health daily email list, which sends you things like exercise tips, foods to target (or avoid), and general fitness tips & stories.  And this morning I got an email titled "The 25 Fittest Politicians", a story about men in government who, even with all the inherent challenges, still manage to stay fit.

These kinds of stories aren't exactly my cup of tea, but you never know when you might pick up a tip or two, and hey, pretty guys!  So I clicked through and started reading.

Now, as I was clicking through, I was reasonably sure that Paul Ryan would be featured somewhere.  Ryan's pretty proud (and rightly so) of how fit he is, and the topic hasn't exactly been off limits from the news.  So mentally I was preparing myself to read through the fluff piece, give the man his due, and then go right back to wondering why no one's ever actually told him that his economic ideas are based on mathematical impossibilities.

So I click through numbers 25,24,23 ... 14,13,12 ... and then finally to numbers 2 and 1.  And my jaw dropped.  Because somewhere, somehow, someone saw these two men side-by-side:


And decided that ... Paul Ryan deserves the title of "Fittest Politician".  (For those keeping track, the one on the left is Republican Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois' 18th district, who's actually been a feature story in Men's Health magazine before.)

Now, this isn't to diminish Ryan's accomplishments, but I honestly have no idea how you look at those two guys objectively and come to the conclusion that Schock deserves runner-up status.  Seriously Men's Health, you gotta dial the puppy-love down just a few notches.  Your credibility is suffering.

But seriously, how big a blow to Schock's ego does this have to be?  He's buffed to magazine-cover perfection, easily in the top fraction of a top percent, and he loses to a guy with chicken legs.  I'm sure he'll grin and smile when he meets Ryan next, but inside he's got to be thinking "Seriously, I lost to this?"

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

No Live Blogging Tonight

I'll be watching the debate tonight, and multi-tasking at the same time, but alas it will be get some work done, and not to live-blog.  Maybe updates later.

Monday, October 01, 2012

This is an Argument?

In the past I've tried to avoid explicitly political posts, since I really don't want to alienate either of my 2 readers.  I have a feeling this election season may force a change there.  And then every once-in-a-while you come across a post like this.  From Maggie Gallagher at the Corner:
[British researcher Charles] Lau found that cohabiting same-sex couples in Great Britain are twice as likely to break up as cohabiting opposite sex couples — and married couples (all opposite-sex in Great Britain) are at least five times more stable than same-sex couples.

...

This of course cannot tell us how children fare on average when they are raised by stable same-sex couples, or whether gay marriage will significantly increase stability in same-sex couples. It can tell us why Professor Mark Regnerus’s study turned up so few: They are rare.
So, let's unpack this, shall we?

First of all, without a link in the original, it's difficult to actually check the specifics of the study.  "Twice as likely to break up" could mean many things ... 5% vs 10%, or 50% vs 100%.  I doubt it's anywhere near as that extreme, but even granting (for the moment) the validity of the arguments, the absolute numbers matter here.  "Twice as likely to die in a car crash than in an airplane crash" doesn't stop people from driving, and nor should it.

Second of all ... what exactly is Gallagher trying to argue or imply here?  She cites some statistics, and then runs down a litany of what it doesn't mean.  It doesn't tell us the impact on children raised by same-sex couples (because everyone knows it's all about the children, which is why men and women over 80 aren't allowed to marry ... oh wait).  It doesn't tell us what the impact same-sex marriage would have on stability of same-sex couples.  Also true, although one can reasonably assume it would have a positive affect.  But why exactly would either of those have a bearing on whether gay marriage should be legal?  Either the stabilizing effect on same-sex couples is lower than the effect for opposite-sex, which only justifies denying it if you adopt a "you don't get as much benefit from it as we do so you can't have it at all" mindset; or it's a judgment on the underlying stability of gay relationships, and it doesn't matter what the stabilizing effects are.  In other words, they're only arguments against gay marriage if you're already working off of a premise that same-sex relationships are fundamentally inferior to opposite-sex relationships.  Is that what Gallagher's arguing here?

And thirdly, that last little comment really just comes off as snide.  "It can tell us why Professor Mark Regnerus's study turned up so few: They are rare."  Well DUH.  Same-sex marriage is illegal in the UK, so I'd expect there to be very few same-sex marriages.  And if she's referring to stable same-sex couples in general, there's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem here.  When you keep telling a group of people, year after year, that they're undeserving of marriage and that their relationships just aren't worthy of recognition or legal protections like everyone else, OF COURSE there's going to be an aggregate effect.  How could there not be?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

On Friday I came across a photo that I've decided is amazing enough to be added to my All-Time-Most-Spectacular-Photos-Ever list. This comes by way of Reality-Based-Community:

This is an underwater photo of a scuba diver swimming in the arctic under a giant slab of ice, which in turn is illuminated by the aurora borealis, and by all accounts isn't photo-shopped.   Wow.
My other favorite photo (which also shows the awesome beauty, and power, this planet has) is of a volcanic ash cloud that was so charged with static electricity that lightening discharged across it.  Also not photo-shopped.
And lastly, not quite as epic as the above two ... a pic I snapped from my plane window during my latest flight out to South Dakota.  Maybe this one doesn't stay on the list forever, but still pretty cool :)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Laborious Day

So, while I enjoy a good day off as much as the next guy, this year, Labor Day seems to have decided to smack me upside the head.

First - far from enjoying the day in its entirety, this afternoon I have to fly down to Plano, TX so that I can be on site at the office on Tuesday & Wednesday, and hopefully work through some open questions on a major project.  The circumstances aren't the greatest, but at least I knew about this in advance.  What I didn't know in advance, though ...

Second - apparently Amtrak has decided to cancel the train that was to be my method-of-return from Lancaster to Richmond.  They gave me a voucher for the amount I paid (which I would expect) but apparently it can only be redeemed in person at an Amtrak office.  I mean, WTF?  In this day and age, I can't rebook online, I have to actually go in person and hope they have an open seat for me?  Harumph, sez I!

Third - I got a notice from the bank that the loan check I deposited, which was supposed to pay for my renovations, was returned as "Not Authorized".  I have no idea what that means.  The check is clearly signed by both Fidelity (the loan company) and myself on the back, so I have no idea what they're talking about.  So, basically I can't do renovations until I get this fixed, and to make matters worse, I can't go into a branch until I get back to Richmond next week.  Argh!

Fourth - I got a notice from the city that my address is incorrect and apparently I owe them back taxes as a result.  Of course, they sent this notice to ... my current address, so that's another WTF moment that I'm going to have to sort through.

Add this to the rest of the drama around the deck plans, the permit office, and just work in general, and this year's Labor Day had just a touch too much of labor for my liking.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baby Talk & Pets

Andrew Sullivan shares some interesting research on why grown-ups tend to talk "baby talk" to our young children ... basically because it works:
So why do we do this? For one, infants like baby talk. Pretty much from the get-go they’ll listen to it longer than they’ll listen to speech directed toward adults. Baby talk is also a particularly efficient conduit of speakers’ emotions and intentions....
...

Finally, and slightly more controversially, baby talk may actually help infants learn their native language. In 2009, for instance, researcher Leher Singh, now at the National University of Singapore, collaborated with colleagues at Boston University and the University of Vermont on a study that exposed seven-and-a-half-month-old infants to two simple but as-yet-unlearned words (bike and hat) ... [T]hey only showed learning when bike and hat had been cooed to them in baby talk.

The article goes on to talk about "pet talk", which sounds very similar to "baby talk", but is actually different in some subtle, yet significant, ways.  The commonly accepted reason for this difference is that we, as humans, recognize at some level that while little Joey will eventually grow up to be big Joe and will speak in full sentences, Fido is never going to discuss last night's sports game. To a certain extent we even do this when speaking to people who can't speak our own language.  It's very fascinating.

The first paragraph, though, this is basically the reason that I do now, and will continue to, talk baby-talk to Lucy and other animals.  Because she can and does understand it.  Or at least as well as she is capable of understanding what I try to communicate to her.  If she were a developing child who, in just a few short years, would be expected to communicate on a much higher level, I might think differently.  But she's not.  Beyond a few key words that she's memorized, the English vocabulary will elude her.  But she understands emotion very well and knows how to react to it, so that's how I mostly communicate with her.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Two Quick Links to Check Out

Just dropping a quick word to those who like blogs (especially blogs about homemade food and drinks), you should definitely check out these links:

Neo-Homesteading, where I found my red-beets-and-eggs recipe that I tried this weekend, and

Chemistry of the Cocktail, which is a great running documentary of the Great Lost Art of America ... plus he seems to like bitter cocktails, which are my favorite :)

Pics of the weekend canning escapade tomorrow!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

So, does YOUR detergent do this?

So apparently my detergent has a secret bonus feature: it adds accent color to my whites!  Seriously, these blue splotches are all over my laundry.  *sigh ... never a dull moment in the gheby household.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Bloggy Update - Sore Edition

What do you get when you combine a full weekend of yardwork, an impromptu 3-mile hike for a new car battery, and an hour of intense cardio followed immediately by another couple hours of yardwork?  You get hella one sore boy, that's what you get.

I finally sat down on the couch tonight around 9:30 to watch some olympics, and after about an hour I tried to get back up.  "Uh uh", said Nik's back, "now is for staying down!"  And so, in what must have been a hilarious spectacle, back down I went, butt first, after false-starting my way off the couch.

In the plus column, though, the retaining wall in the front yard has been built up another couple of blocks and the yard has been remulched.  Not only does it look much nicer, but it's also stopped the mudslide that's been running off onto the sidewalk lately and causing a lot of mess.  My back-yard neighbors (not the guy next door who's still not doing anything with his property) actually rolled down their car window and complimented me on it as they drove by yesterday afternoon.  Small thing, but it actually made my day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hitting the Reset Button

Hey World,

Back from another blogging hiatus.  While I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks, that certainly doesn't mean that stuff hasn't happened.  Indeed, it has:  I've been to Texas, been to South Dakota, been to South Dakota again, been appointed a board member of Monument City Music, had to do battle with the City of Richmond, played Lego Batman 2, and just been super all-around busy.

And with all that busy-ness has, unfortunately, come some consequences.  With all the travel comes restaurant and hotel food, and with all the work has come fewer workouts and more late nights at Xtras using their wifi to catch up on emails.  And, predictably, the weight has ticked back up.  Not by a lot, and I'm still below what I would've considered an accomplishment at the start of the year, but it's not where I could be and not where I want to be.

There's also the small matter of the house and all the work that needs to happen.  A few weeks ago my parents came down and helped me clean up the yard, and one of my neighbors came over and thanked us, saying that it was a shame the owner wasn't doing more with the place.  Honestly, it kinda hit me like a punch to the gut.  I knew there was more I could be doing, but I didn't really think it was bad enough that the neighbors would say something like that.  There are more than a few major projects that need to happen and a lot of it is stuff that I just need to bite the bullet and DO them.

So this week is going to be a reset week.  Workouts WILL happen, healthy food WILL be eaten, and some concrete steps to get the house to a good state WILL happen.

And the first step on all this involves ... food :P

This week I got a lot of cucumbers and varietal eggplant in my farm co-op box, and I spent a good bit of today turning them into some yummy snacks.  The eggplant I sliced thin, brushed with olive oil (not a lot, just enough to crisp, sprinkled with salt, and then roasted at 400 for 30 minutes.  Result: eggplant chips!  All the taste and texture of potato chips (well, almost all anyway), but with something like 5% of the calories.  The cucumbers I pickled, one spicy garlic batch and one sweet & sour batch, with some big jars for me and a few little jars for my friends.  Yum!





Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fantastic Weekend #1

Ok, finally getting around to blogging about the FANTASTIC weekend I had last week :)

This one had been in the plans for a while: my sister and her husband (still kinda weird to refer to him as that) came down for the weekend, and our good friends Heather and Doug came up from Norfolk to join on Saturday afternoon for a Lobster Fest.  The Lobster Fest wasn't just some random idea: our families have been going to Maine together each summer for literally as long as Katie and I have been alive, and we'd always have lobster while we were there.  It became something of a tradition, and as we all grew older and stopped going we really started to miss it, so now each summer we all gather together at somebody's house and have lobster.

But whether it was tradition or whether it was random, it was still a blast.  Heather is one of the funniest and most random people I know, and when she, my sister, and I get together it's always hilarious.  This time was no exception: besides the obligatory "bye bye lobster smoochie smoochie" picture, her approach to eating lobster is best described as "boisterous" :P

Anyway, we had a great time and a great afternoon, and after dinner we all made our way down to Bev's for icecream.  Just an all-around great time.

As fun as lobster was, though, the rest of the weekend was pretty freakin awesome too.  My sister (who has become a bit of a runner over the past year) found a small and short race that weekend in Richmond, and nagged and nagged and nagged until I finally signed us both up.

Now, you have to keep in mind that while I've definitely made some great fitness strides this year, I'm still nowhere near the place where I just go sign up for runs for the heck of it.  Plus Saturdays are when I sleep in, which I CAN do just for the heck of it.  So as I dragged myself out of bed at 6AM on Saturday morning, the biggest thing going through my head was whether my revenge would be swift and deep, or long and drawn-out.  But actually (and my sister is going to be insufferably smug about all this) it really wasn't all that bad.  I mean, I was sweaty, out of breath, and was lapped several times by people pushing strollers ... but I finished in 34 minutes, and ran for 25 of those 34 minutes.  That may sound small, but for me it's huge, and the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I got from it may just (and I stress may) convince me to do this more often.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, though, definitely keeping on the cardio schedule.

The other thing about the weekend was the experiment in veganism that it required.  Not for the lobster, obviously, but a good bit of time and mental energy was spent figuring out just what we were going to eat for the rest of the weekend.  I don't have anything against vegans, but I'm definitely not one and have no plans to become one, and I'm really not a fan of vegan food that pretends to be something else.  Vegan food that's designed to be vegan food can be quite good, but in my experience vegan food that tries to mimic something un-vegan usually fairs pretty badly.

So attending to that was an adventure, although all-in-all it wasn't too bad.  The vegan gyro that I tried at a Fan restaurant was actually pretty good, and the vegan lobster cakes (made with something called a lobster mushroom) I'll definitely be trying again.  So both those meals weren't too bad, and for the other meals, Brandon and I just drug her to places where she could get potatoes or something.

Anyway, like I said, it was just an all-around fantastic weekend with my sister and her posse :)  Best pics of the weekend are in the post, rest are on my facebook page.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Evening Cat Blogging

So, at the risk of my sister disowning me, I'm going to blog about something else before blogging about the weekend I spent with her.

Ever since I started to put a cushion on my desk chair, it's been one of Lucy's favorite places to perch.  And this would be fine, except that when I want to use computer I have to move her, and you all know the penalties for moving a comfortable cat.


A few weeks ago, though, I had an epiphany!  It wasn't the chair she was interested in, it was the cushion!  So, if I wanted to sit down, I could simply move the cushion, cat and all, off the chair!  Voila!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mondays, and what you make of Them

Oy.  Today was a case study in extremes ... lots of bad, but also lots of good that made up for the bad.

My Monday actually began on Sunday evening, when I had to choose between cleaning and laundry from the weekend and spending the evening at my favorite bar catching up on work.  Because my sister, her husband, our good friend Heather and her husband Doug were all visiting this weekend, I really had a LOT to do housework wise, and I knew it'd bother me if I let it go for a day.  (and I WILL blog about them being down this weekend, just not until after I vent)  On the other hand, I had a crap-ton of work to get done, and that would bother everyone if I didn't do it, so I opted for the bar route and did actually get a lot of work done.

Then my Monday began.

9:15PM - I simultaneously remember that a) I promised to be at the office at 6AM Monday morning to help work through some major process changes and b) that I promised to bring a pasta salad to the dept potluck that day, which I didn't make.

9:20PM - Leave Xtra's, go grocery shopping at Kroger for pasta salad ingredients.

9:45PM - Make greek-style orzo pasta salad, make kitchen even messier than what it was from the weekend.

10:30PM - Finally get to bed, with the house a wreck and very little in the manner of clean clothes for the next day.

2:00AM - Fitful sleep, not really all that restful.  Haunted by recurring dreams of sorting mail for Magneto's Mutant Brotherhood.

6:45AM - Wake up late the next morning about an hour later than I wanted to, completely missing my goal of getting to office at 6AM.  Fret about it.

7:00AM - Leave apartment determined to make the best of the morning, which entails stopping at Panera Bread to pick up breakfast for the team, plus forcing myself to the gym for 30 minutes of cardio before work.  To ensure I actually do go, I decide not to shower before leaving home.

7:20AM - Get to Panera and order bagels.  Seriously question whether not showering was a good idea.

7:35AM - Finally get to office about 2 hours later than I wanted.  Deliver breakfast and tell team they're doing a great job.  Actually add value by updating an Excel macro for them.  Take crock pot that was left over from prior week's agent potluck (I made pulled pork bbq for them)

7:50AM - Leave one office to go to gym at second office.  Realize that when I picked up the crockpot I got grease all over my white shirt.

8:00AM - Arrive at Target to buy new shirt.  Realize that I forgot my glasses at previous office.  Harumph rather loudly.  Continue to question my decision not to shower before leaving home.

8:20AM - Finally arrive at gym, determined to get in 30 minutes of cardio before the work day, then shower.  Realize that my team set up a 8:30 meeting to talk about new staffing needs.  Decide to wait in the car for 10 minutes and then take the meeting from there, and probably not get in my cardio like I hoped.

8:35AM - Meeting facilitator finally joins, saying that the meeting will be rescheduled for later in the day when everyone can make it.  Harumph again about just wasting 15 minutes.

8:40AM - Tell myself that, by God, I WILL have my 30 minutes of cardio before work.  And ... I DO!!  :)

9:45AM - After cardio and a much needed shower, finally get to my desk and start the day.

And actually, after that horrible start, the day did get much better.  I managed to steer a lot of the firedrills into more workable chunks of work, I had some good laughs with my coworkers, and managed to make a significant dent in my inbox.

After work was even better.  I got in another 50 minutes of cardio after work (I'm determined to get back on track for weight loss), I started my laundry, I cleaned the house, and I cooked some food out of the farm ingredients that were nearing the end of their shelf-life.  (More on those soon, too)

So really, not a bad Monday after all.  Right now I'm sipping a glass of moscati left over from the weekend and waiting for the whites to finish drying (my colors are already dried, folded, and put away), so I can plow through those and get to bed.  And I do want to go to bed ... about 15 minutes ago, in the middle of washing dishes, the day caught up with me and now the only word to describe how I'm feeling is exhausted.

So, with that, I'm going to go downstairs and get the whites from the dryer, and sign off for the night.  TTFN folks, weekend recap and food pictures will go up on Tuesday.

-Nik

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Randoms

Ok, time for some quick bloggy updates:

1) Weightt loss has plateaued lately, I think a combination of not quite as much exercising and not being quite as careful with food.  Trying to kick the exercising back up a notch, and have actually gotten myself to the gym BEFORE work twice in the past 2 weeks, which is more than the past 6 years combined.  Kinda pleased with myself on that.

2) I do love the weekly farm box that I get from Dominion, but it's definitely a chore to get through it all in any given week.  I mean, just what exactly does one do with 5 lbs of cabbage?  Tonight I had strawberries and steamed broccoli for dinner.  Yippee.

3) Major housework takes a long-ass time to get started.  My backyard deck needs to be completely rebuilt, and I started the process 6 weeks ago.  It's still several weeks away (and also a lot more expensive than I thought, blech).

Friday, May 04, 2012

Super Moon this Saturday

For all the science geeks out there (and you know who you are), remember that this Saturday is Supermoon - a full moon that occurs when the moon is at perigee, the point on its orbit when it's closest to Earth.  Should be about 30% brighter than your standard moon, and well worth the look.  Bonus: if you get a picture when it's close to the horizon, the optical illusion of having it near buildings will make it seem even bigger.


This science geek is going to try to steal some pictures of it over Richmond.  If you have any good ones, please share!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Pet Peeves and Roundabouts

One of my pet peeves are self-styled traffic engineers who insist that roundabouts are God's-Gift-to-Man, and that everything would be fine and traffic so much better if only people took a minute to learn the rules of roundabouts and actually drive them properly.

I have two immediate reactions to this, one fair, and one not-so-fair

First, well-designed roundabouts where everyone follows the rules may indeed be great for traffic flow, but they're absolutely horrible for pedestrians.  Not only do they add distance by turning intersections into huge circles that have to be walked around, but they're also really difficult to cross.  After all, pedestrians need breaks in the flow of traffic to cross a street, and the whole point of roundabouts is that there's no break in traffic flow.  So they're actually designed to impede pedestrian traffic.  Now, on a heavy highway that's one thing, but in the middle of a walkable urban neighborhood it's kinda dumb.

Second (and this is the one that's kind of unfair), there really aren't very many well-designed roundabouts around Richmond.  For example, most of the roundabouts in the Museum District and Fan are on Monument Ave ... not because a traffic engineer thought that it would be good for traffic flow, but because there are giant monuments plopped down in the middle of the intersections that make traditional stoplight intersections somewhat unsightly.

Roundabouts are particularly bad at handling intersections where the two roads have different number of lanes.  For example, there's the "roundabout" at Monument and Allen, which is actually the closest thing to a true roundabout in the Fan.  And it's horrible.  The street sign for it (from Monument Ave's perspective) is to the right.  Monument is 2 lanes each way, and Allen is one lane each way.  And, if traffic only ever flowed from Monument to Allen, this would be a perfect roundabout.

But what if you happen to be traveling on Allen and want to keep traveling on Allen?  What then?

Well, below is the same sign, but from Allen's perspective.  See the problem?  There's literally no way to get across unless you break the rules of roundabout driving and cross over several lanes in the circle.  It's just dumb.  When people bemoan that roundabouts would be fine "if only people followed the rules", well, they have to take into consideration that you can't actually follow the rules on most roundabouts around here.



Monday, April 02, 2012

Boxwoods and Azaleas and Yards, Oh My!

One of my biggest regrets for this last year is that out of the whole 12 months, the only thing I really did as far as yard work goes was buy a weed whacker and mow down the side lot a few times.  And that's a shame, for a couple of reasons.  First, it kind of says to all my neighbors and all the passing cars "Here's a guy who doesn't take pride in his property", and that's not the guy I want to be known as.  Second, as a landlord (and direct competitor of the guy next door with an identical building) I need a way to set my property apart from the rest, and at the same time subtly influence the kind of tenants I want.  A well landscaped yard will do all of that and be kind of nice to live in at the same time :-)

So, earlier this spring, I decided that this year would be the year I really made something of the yard.  And while I'm very quickly learning to appreciate just how intense, time consuming, and exhausting this this will be, I'm also making very solid and visible progress:
  • 2 weeks ago I cleared out part of the side strip, planted some boxwood shrubs and mulched around them.
  • Last week I cleared out more of the strip and planted some azaleas, although I didn't get to mulch them until this afternoon.  I also buried a drip hose underneath the mulch that loops around each plant and finishes behind the fence, which makes it easy to connect to the backyard hose.
I'm kicking myself for not taking more before pictures, but here are some afters.  One of them has a good view of some yet-to-be-cleared brush, though, which is a good example of "before".
Azaleas along the back fence
Side of house that has yet to be cleared ... good example of "before"
Closeup of the boxwoods along the side of the house, towards the front

Bloggy Update

So, last week my sister (whose excellent blog you should read) reminded me that I hadn't updated my blog in quite a bit.  Quite true.  But even if I haven't actually updated the blog, it doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about updating the blog!  Here's the list of everything over the past few weeks that I've been meaning to blog about:

I kinda got complacent for a bit about Weight Watchers, with predictable results.  Last week I made a major effort to get back on track: eating right and having 50-minute cardio sessions each day, followed by yard-work.  My goal of 180 may not happen by my sister's wedding, but 190 could still happen.

Strauss-Kahn has been charged in France with "aggravated pimping".  I really wish the article explained what that was.

The allure of 90 minutes of a shirtless Taylor Kitsch notwithstanding; is Disney really that hard up for material that they're going with John Carter?

How on earth did we not know where South Carolina was 230 years?  You'd think that would be something we would've figured out by now.

This is the dumbest QR code I have ever seen.

I am continuously amazed at the raw natural beauty that this planet is capable of.  Glowing blue waves?  Totally awesome.

I've been doing a lot of yardwork lately, and it's starting to look good.  Still a lot of work, but definitely progress.  Unfortunately, no link to share, but soon there will be pictures!

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Magazine Frustrations

Ok, unfortunately I don't have pics or links to either of these, but I read 2 magazine articles lately that just kinda ticked me off.

First, a DIY Handyman magazine article that shared helpful holiday tips.  There were some really good ones, like storing your ornaments in plastic cups that stack easily.  And then there was one about, if you run out of ornament hangers, you can use paperclips!!  ... I mean, seriously?  I figured that out when I was 5, I think.  Why exactly did this get a write up?

Second, in my latest issue of Men's Health, there's an article about "Faking It" in various aspects of your life, and how it can be beneficial.  There's a specific section for introverts, with the recommendation to ... pretend you're an extrovert.  Now, I realize this is an article about faking it, but honestly, I'm sick and tired of reading articles about how being an introvert and being shy is somehow inherently inferior to being extroverted, and it'd be better if we could all just learn to be extroverts.  Barf.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sioux Falls from the Air

Feel kinda bad that the blog has turned into one long narrative about my weight loss efforts, so here's some pretty scenery to brighten your day!

Sioux Falls Day 1

Ok - day 1 of the difficult week is done!

Fitness-wise, today started out easily enough: I got up early enough to get in an hour's walk before leaving for the airport, I had my usual ham sammy with grapefruit juice this morning for breakfast, nothing except black coffee at the Richmond airport, and a diet coke and water on the flights (neither flight offered a snack anyway).  However.  In the middle of it all was the Chicago layover, which, if it proved anything, proved that someone up there likes messing with my head.

I knew it was going to be tough, but when we chose a bar & steakhouse for lunch that advertises its 8 oz burgers, fries & beer combos, it took all my self control to limit my order to water and a spinach salad with shrimp.  'No problem', I told myself, 'a salad now means I can allow myself a nicer dinner with a glass of wine, and besides, spinach salads are tasty and filling and it's coming with shrimp and a few croutons to fill me up.'  Well, first of all, the salads turned out to be a wee bit smaller than what I'd consider right-sized for a meal.  And second of all, the waiter got my order wrong, and gave me some kind of signature house salad with some raisins, nuts and blue cheese sprinkled in with some raspberry dressing.  Not bad, really, but not what I wanted, and missing the croutons that I was counting on for some carbs.  Because I'm a sap, I ate it rather than send it back, and left the restaurant feeling not very fulfilled.

I bought some water so that I'd at least feel full, and made my way to the connecting gate ... which happened to be directly across from a Cinnabon.  A Cinnabon that (intentionally I'm sure) had a fan pointed straight at us blowing the aroma of fresh baking cinnamon rolls.  After silently cursing myself for scheduling a 3 hour layover ('oh, it'll be great, we can log in and do work and not have to rush' ... yeah), I told myself that hell would freeze over before I let myself be defeated by a cheap and transparently obvious (and yet woefully effective) marketing gimmick.  So I grabbed my iPod and my laptop and got busy being annoyed with our Compliance department and their ever-shifting requirements.  2 hours later I left O'Hare with the same number of cinnamon rolls as when I arrived:  zero!  :)

So that was good, but by the time we got to Sioux Falls and worked through all the check-in rigamarole, I was really starting to feel it.  I get cranky when I'm hungry, and after a smaller-than-normal lunch with no carbs for long-term energy that wasn't even what I wanted in the first place ... well, let's just say I didn't paricularly care whether we got the Camry, the Altima, or the Impala, just so long as both were capable of getting us to the hotel restaurant (we ended up with the Impala).

It was all worth it though: a healthy salad and cinnabon-free afternoon meant I could enjoy this:

A new york strip with mushrooms, wild rice, and cooked carrots: tasty & filling, FAR fom the worst thing that I could've ordered, and utterly relaxing when you add in the wine.  I think I really needed that kind of dinner tonight, if only for my own sanity: it let me feel like I was rewarding myself for my earlier restraint, even though I really wasn't having anything that would make me feel overly guilty anyway.


Finally, I capped all that off with an hour of cardio at the hotel gym, and I'm soon I'm going to bed tonight with a day that would've been good even if I wasn't traveling, and feeling pretty damn pleased with myself ;)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weight Update and a Challenging Week Ahead

Sunday is my weigh-in day for Weight Watchers, which also makes it a good day for sharing progress on my weight-loss journey.  I'm pleased to report, so far, so good!  My goal is to be down to 180 by my sister's wedding in late April, and if you do a trendline between where I was at the start at February and where I want to be, it's about 2 and a half pounds per week.  The blue dots are my actual weigh-ins, which (woo-hoo!) are following the line.  My scale also tracks % body fat, which I use to calculate lean weight and fat weight (the red and yellow dots).














 As I said, so far so good.  Keeping this up, though, is going to be difficult for a couple of reasons.  First, there's the simple fact that it gets harder and harder to keep losing the pounds at the same rate.  That's nature, though, and nothing much you can do about it except keep at it.

Second, there's a lot going on this week.  Monday through Wednesday I'm flying out to South Dakota to visit an operations center, and business trips aren't exactly conducive to watching your calorie intake.  You eat out for every meal, most options aren't really all that healthy, the portion sizes are huge, and you usually have a drink or two with dinner.  You can try to limit portion sizes, but then you have a lot of food left over, and I hate to waste food (and what's the alternative?  take it on the plane back to Richmond?).  After the trip, I have a couple of dinners planned with old friends which will mean going out and getting a few drinks in the second half too.  So it's going to be a hard week.  Hard, but not impossibly hard.

One of the benefits of a hotel is that it comes with a gym, which I can (and intend to) take advantage of.  In fact, I've already set up Netflix to have a bunch of sitcoms that I can watch during cardio to make the time go quicker.  And I'll be an hour behind, which will make getting up early in the morning to exercise easier, and I can always go at night after dinner.  So in theory I can get a lot of physical activity in, which I have a feeling I'm going to need.

Portion control will be harder.  First, you have no idea how large the items that you order are actually going to be.  Second, judging a 'portion' is difficult and you have very little idea what's actually in it.  Third, there's the aversion to wasting food that I mentioned already.  And yet even with all this, being smart about what I eat is still the most controllable part of this whole trip.

So, at least for the first part of the week, the mission will be to a) take advantage of the hotel gym and b) be as strong-willed as possible when it comes to food.  Definitely thinking that a food-photo-journal might be in order this week to keep me honest.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Which I Pep-Talk Myself

Ok world, fair warning, Nik is going to mope a bit and try to cheer himself up.  Today was not an easy day to stay motivated, nor was it a particularly satisfying day in my quest to get physically fit.  The odd part is, looking at the day objectively, it really should've been great.

This morning the scale smiled at me and told me that I'm on track for my weight loss goal.  My clothes are noticeably looser, and I'm doing a great job staying on my weight watchers plan.  So I was actually feeling pretty good about myself, until this evening when somebody snapped a picture of me and the same old pudgy face showed up on the screen.  And honestly, it kind of sucked.  I mean, logically I know that losing 7 pounds when you're starting from 50 pounds overweight isn't really going to be a noticeable change.  And by objective measures (the aforementioned scale and clothes) I'm doing great.  I guess I was just expecting ... something.  Some noticeable change towards a less pudgy Nik.  Couldn't see it, though :(

So, after that rather demoralizing revelation, I had a choice.  I could go home and mope, or I could go to the gym.  And I'll be honest, I did NOT want to go.  Cardio is getting easier, but lifting is still very much a chore.  I know eventually it'll get more enjoyable (at least it will if my sister is any indication), but right now it's not, I was tired, plus I now had the whole "why am I doing this if I can't see results" thought stuck in my head from the pudgy-pic earlier on.  Somehow, though, I forced myself to go, and I got in a solid 40 minutes of lifting before I had to stop (my body isn't used to that much exertion yet and I get queasy after a while).  After the gym, knowing that I had used up a lot of points with the 2 beers I had at a welcome-back party (kept my hands off the apps though, yay!), I stopped at Kroger and got a package of lettuce, then took it home and made a healthy salad for dinner that kept me under my daily point limit.

So I guess the verdict for today is victory, even though right now it doesn't really feel like one.  I know I made some good decisions today and kept on the path even though I didn't want to, and I know tomorrow I'll feel great (and sore, which I love).  It just doesn't really FEEL like I accomplished anything today or that I'm making progress.  Gotta stick with it though - I know I really am making progress, that it'll get easier, and that powering through days like this is ultimately what will get me to where I want to be.   Soon enough pudgy-pic-nik will be a thing of the past!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow Pix


Pretty.  The way snow reflects the light from everything around it always amazes me, no matter how many times I see it.




My New Toy, and 3 Epiphanies

I have a new toy! According to the credit card receipt, as of 7:45 Wednesday evening, I am the proud owner of a brand new Motorola Xyboard tablet pc. It's been something I've been thinking of for a while, and tonight when I went to the Verizon store to get my new phone (only partially successful, but that's another post) I finally broke down and got one.  And you know what?  This thing is awesome.

It's light, portable, user friendly, has a gigantic crystal clear display, and I can play Angry Birds on it (which overheated my first smartphone, and is too advanced for my current smartphone pos to handle).  Via apps it can connect directly to my Netflix account, which will come in VERY handy when I run out of things to watch on my iPod at the gym.  And MotoCast lets me share any file between laptop and the tablet (cool so far, but still figuring out whether I'm comfortable with whatever security it has embedded in it)

Not all is wine and roses, though.  During the week it's lead to 3 somewhat-related-but-largely-not epiphanies:

  1. I have a LOT of cords at my desk.  I realized this when I went to connect Xyboard to my laptop for the first time, and had to move everything around.  I have cords for Xyboard, 2 iPods, my external hard drive, my mouse, and 3 power cords.  And that's without a printer of any kind.  That's too many, especially since my laptop only has 2 easily accessible USB ports (there are 2 on the other side too, for a total of 4, but the way it's setup they're just not convenient to use).  Maybe I'll go out and get a USB hub; bonus points if I can find the USB hub man, since my soon-to-be-brother-in-law wanted one but didn't get one :P
  2. I only have one charger at my bedside table.  That was doable when I only had my cell phone and blackberry to worry about, but now with Xyboard one lonely little charger can't handle it, and I'm going to have to reshuffle plugs.  That probably means getting a surge protector, which now that I think about it, probably isn't a bad idea given all the electronics I plug in at night.
  3. I don't have a bedside lamp.  This never used to be a problem, since I'd always turn out the light and get straight into bed, but now I can play with Xyboard at night a bit before going to sleep.  There are two problems with no light: first, once I turn everything out, I can't find Xyboard easily in the dark.  Second, in the pitch darkness the screen is a little too brilliantly clear and actually a little harsh, I need some ambient light to cut down on the harshness.
Finally, not an epihpany per se, but just a observation about myself: I still treat Xyboard with kid gloves, and am terrified of dropping it.  Some of that is probably due to my experience with my old Incredible, the rest of it is probably just the usual way I act around anything brand new.  I haven't even taken off the factory plastic from the screen yet, even though I bought 4 screen protectors when I bought Xyboard.

Seriously, though, if the 4 items above are all that I can complain about, I have a pretty good life.  :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Snowy Richmond

Richmond is a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to snow. On the one hand, you have the 25% or so that grew up in a snowier climate and know how to deal with it, and when it snows, it's no big deal. On the other, you have the 75% who know that occasionally there's this cold white stuff called 'snow' that falls from the sky, and have no freakin clue what to do.  The best part (or worst, if you're not cynical like I am) is that they all react in completely different ways.
 
First you have the people who think it's Armageddon, who stock up on 2 weeks' worth of non-perishables from the store at the slightest hint of a flurry.  Even though they mob the grocery store and make it difficult for the rest of us who are trying to shop, I actually like this group the best, since they typically barricade themselves in their homes and don't go out on the roads.  At least they're being safe.

Then you have the idiots who think that snow isn't any different from rain and you can drive like a maniac.  I spent my formative years in Pennsylvania and upstate New York, and I know how to drive in snow: I'm not terrified of it, but I know it's something to be respected and approached with more caution than rain.  These other idiots, though, throw caution to the wind and try to take an iced-over curve at 60mph, with predictable results.

Third, you have the people who are cautious to a fault, and sometimes actually make things more dangerous for the rest of us by doing so.  These are the people who creep 10-15mph down a road when 35-40mph would be quite safe.  My initial reaction is to be annoyed at these people (especially when I'm stuck behind one), although when it's on a city road or something similar I try to remind myself that they're doing all they can to be safe and I should be glad they're doing it.  Where I DON'T try to tolerate these people, though, is the interstate.  There is a reason there's a minimum 40mph on the highway, and it's because going extra slow actually makes it dangerous for everyone else.  If it's hours after the snow has stopped and the highway is just wet and you're still so terrified that you can't go more than 20mph, then you should not be driving on the interstate.

Finally, you have the people who just don't know what to do.  These are usually kind of comical.  Like the car I saw last year who didn't clear the 2 inches of snow off his windshield before taking his car out for a drive: I watched him drive 3 blocks with his head stuck out the driver's side window before he turned to a cross street.  Or the people who put their wiper blades up because everyone else is doing it, and then leave them up as they're driving.  Or the people who don't know how much salt to use and default to literally covering every square inch of their sidewalk with a 2-inch deep layer of salt.

In any case, if you can avoid the grocery store mob and don't get caught in traffic with someone who can't drive in snow, it's not all that bad.  It's pretty to look at, and it'll usually get you a day off of work :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Liveblogging the CNN "Fight for the South" Debate

8:01 - And so, the 573,637th Republican primary debate begins

8:02 - The intros to these debates have become almost epic. CNN's calling this "The Fight for the South" Blah

8:04 - All of them have a single button on their jackets buttoned. Paul and Romney carry it off. Gingrich needs to get a larger jacket.

8:06 - That was a beautiful rendition of the national anthem. Been a while since I've heard an all-male chorus sing it.

8:07 - Romney introduces himself by rattling off his extended family. 17 grandchildren. The way it came off, it was fairly transparently pandering.

8:09 - Not sure why John King started off with the Callista Gingrich question. 1) It's red meat for Gingrich, who has demonstrated quite clearly in the past that he'll just insult the questioner. 2) What's the purpose of asking that question without a clear way of tying it to a national issue.

8:11 - And then Gingrich goes back on the attack.

8:12 - Dear god, John King, just move on already.

8:15 - Paul, somewhat round-aboutedly, says we need to reform bankruptcy and finance laws. I know it

8:16 - Gingrich says we need to repeal Dodd-Frank because it's killing small businesses. That's just plain bullshit. The Port of Charleston expansion is actually a good answer ... except that it's his own Republican colleagues who've blocked that, not because of environment concerns, but because they've blocked any public funds and no private industry will touch the investment without that guarantee.

8:18 - Oh please. Obama's been practicing crony capitalism? Good reasons for doing it aside, the Solyndra investment was started under Bush. Detroit is a success story.

8:20 - Romney documents the 100K job figure as 120K jobs added minus 10K jobs lost = >100K jobs added. That's definitely going to be fact-checked out the wazoo, and is almost certainly overly optimistic on jobs created. Romney responds to the Bain question by saying he's for capitalism. So is practically everyone. The problem with Bain is that heads, Romney gets $40 million and people keep their jobs. Tails, people lose their jobs ... and Romney still gets $40 million. That just rubs people the wrong way.

8:25 - Someone should tell Ron Paul that the reason government spending went down by 60% after World War II ended is because ... World War II ended.

8:30 - Kind of interesting that most of the candidates actually favor high government spending, it just has to be at the state level. Gingrich makes the case for higher government spending.

8:34 - Did Gingrich just say that Congress needs to repeal Obamacare, but he doesn't trust Congress, so he'll do ... something?

8:37 - Santorum goes ballistic on health care. After Romney for Massachusetts care. Gingrich for his support of individual mandates back when it was still a conservative idea (ie a few years ago). "Footsies with the left" sounds like a twitter meme!

8:42 - Santorum vs Gingrich! Round two! Fight!

8:51 - Santorum: "It's a worrying situation. Something's gonna pop." It sounds like he's talking about a pimple.

8:52 - I'll say one thing for John King: his early screw-up notwithstanding, he successfully turned this into Republicans vs each other. Everybody's attacking each other. Except for Ron Paul, who just keeps talking about what it was like before 1960's.

8:53 - Santorum says Gingrich played a part in the "biggest scandal in 50 years" in Congress. I think he's referring to the page scandal, but not sure.

8:56 - Did Romney just describe himself as growing up "on the streets"? The guy is tone deaf. And for Romney to describe himself as not a politician is just dumb.

9:01 - Romney says he's not going to release ANY his tax returns until April, which is after the primary is decided and they have no chance to influence the outcome. Oddly enough, his refusal to release them is making them an issue.

9:02 - "They're at home and nobody's home right now and so when I get home I'll get them cause I'm home." Huh?

9:03 - Wow ... Romney just got asked about his tax returns, made a very nervous laugh, and then got heckled. His rational for not releasing them until April is that Democrats will attack him over it. But that just doesn't make sense. The election is in November, which gives Democrats over half a year to make those attacks. The real reason, which pretty much everyone knows after tonight, is that they show he takes certain liberties with his taxes and income that are only available to the super rich, and they're pretty much a poster child for what's wrong.

9:11 - I honestly didn't expect a question about SOPA. Gingrich kind of stumbles his way through it. Romney strongly opposes. Paul strongly opposes, and actually says Republicans were on the wrong side of the issue at first. Kudos for honesty. Somehow Santorum manages to make this about personal responsibility and what he describes as America's "anything goes" culture. Oof.

9:37 - Ok, after a long break, we're back to exciting social issues.

9:51 -

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Resolution Update

So, how're my resolutions going so far? Let's see:

  • Always have apartment in un-embarrassing condition? If somebody came over right now, I wouldn't be embarrassed, so check!

  • Empty litter box every 2 days? Did it as soon as I got home, so check!

  • Blog post every day? As soon as I hit "post", check!

  • Have breakfast at home? I was running a little late this morning, but I made some english muffins and ate it on the way down to the car, so kinda sort check.

  • At least 500 calories per day? I didn't have a chance this morning to go out and walk/jog, but I did go to the gym this afternoon and I'm on the treadmill as I write this to round out the day, so I'm going to say pre-emptive check!

  • Be on treadmill if tv is on? I'm actually tri-tasking right now: watching the Iowa caucus results, writing the post, and on the treadmill, so check!

  • Eat more natural foods? For lunch I had some raw veggies from the salad bar and some lemon chicken stir fry with rice. For dinner I finished off the stir fry and had some leftover saurkraut, so I'll say mostly check.

Also, I'm embarrassed to say that I forgot a resolution last night, so here it is to complete the list: Don't "should" on myself and get my daily lists done. This means that if I think to myself: "I should do this", then I ... should ... just ... DO IT. No more procrastinating. Don't go to bed or watch tv or play computer until my daily list is done. And how'd I do on that today? Wellll... I did stay relatively late tonight and got a lot of my list done, although it's not completely done yet. That's next on the list of things to tri-task tonight. So kinda sorta check.

To sum up, that's 4 definite checks, 2 pretty much checks, and 2 kinda sorta checks. Resolutions off to a good start!

Monday, January 02, 2012

2012 Resolutions

My resolutions for this coming year:
  • Always have the apartment in a condition where I won't be embarrassed if company comes over. This doesn't mean it has to be spotless, or that I have to be proud of its condition, just not messy or embarrassing.
  • Empty Lucy's litter box at least every other day. I do this far less than I should, and my cat deserves more.
  • Blog post every day, even if it's just "nothing exciting happened today". Supplementary resolution: a least one Cat Blogging every week!
  • Have breakfast at home. I've gotten into a really bad habit of just rushing out the door and grabbing something at work, which more-often-than-not, isn't healthy. Coffee at work: yes. Breakfast at work: no.
  • At least 500 calories of cardio each day. This really isn't that hard to do: it can be done in less than an hour each day at the gym, and it will be.
  • To help with the above resolution: if the tv is on (either cable or video game) then I'm on the treadmill doing at least 3 mph. The only exception to this is if I have company over.
  • Eat more natural food. I got pretty good at this during the summer when I had my co-op box, but when the weather turned colder I got back into a lot of unhealthy processed food again. Come to think of it - I haven't had salmon in a while.