Thursday, February 28, 2013

Teaching about Food

I don’t know much about Jamie Oliver. I’ve seen commercials for his show, but never watched, and wasn’t sure what to think. However over lunch, pizza no less, albeit homemade, I watched this:

I do completely agree that we are all too often ignorant of food. I was somewhat disappointed, and rather upset over the meals I saw Scouts cooking for their merit badges, which were all too often ill prepared and poorly chosen.

I admire Mr. Oliver's passion. It inspired me, ashamed me at times, and at times made me want to lash out. The only thing better would be a nice "Fuck!" when he dumped the wheelbarrow out. I thought he might cry right about there, and I almost did.

I’m not the best eater, though I try to do better, and my wife inspires me with how she does. We are trying to teach the kids things, and it’s a balance of requirements and acceptance that they are their own people. Cooking more at home is something I aim to do, and talks like this inspire me to do more.
It is disgusting what we serve kids, what we don’t teach them, and how poorly the lessons of food-as-fuel are passed on. Given the rising health care issues, which now have obesity related diseases costing and causing more issues than tobacco. It’s going to get worse.
I’m a libertarian. I believe we have to make our own choices, but all too often this simplistic view forgets that we need information and knowledge to do so. I disagree with New York banning large sodas, but I also don’t think we should sell sodas in schools. If parents allow kids to bring them, fine, but don’t advocate this choice. I think labeling, nutrition, and disclosure are poor. I’m willing to allow companies to sell anything they want that doesn’t produce acute, disastrous effects. However I’m not willing to allow them to call yogurt fat-free without disclosing the sugar in it, and comparing it to some baseline.
Freedom doesn’t include the right to deceive, and that’s what I see happening all too often in the food industry. Profits are encouraged, but they should be responsible profits, not maximum ones.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Two Cool Solar Ideas

Not sure if these will catch on, but I like them.

First, a school using solar to power some minor items on the playground. I know we could use this in Denver, especially the ability to power fans, misters, etc. On more than playgrounds. Would be good for ball fields as well, if the price is low.

Second, peel and stick solar. I could see this as a nice way to add solar in small situations where you don’t want to alter construction. Perhaps at the tops of existing windows. Not sure about the wiring, but this is cool.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More Snow

It was actually kind of nice today, not too cold when I went to the dentist. A little snow had fallen, but it stopped when I drove over.

When I came out, an hour later, it was snowing and blowing hard. The Suburban actually slipped a bit coming back down the driveway.

Scouts got cancelled, which is good. I didn’t want to go back out, but Delaney needs to get his leadership stuff squared away. Now it’s delayed, and he can talk to a kid tomorrow about being Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.


My semi-annual cleaning.

I hate these, mostly because I hate sharp instruments in my mouth, and the lack of control. However this one wasn’t too bad. Either my hygienist didn’t do a great job cleaning or she’s efficient, because this one went fast.

I even had x-rays done, a full set of 17. However they have a digital sensor instead of film in my mouth and it went much quicker. Plus no re-takes Winking smile

Book #9–Oath of Office

51BjGLvuJ3L._AA160_I grabbed this at the airport and enjoyed it. Oath of Office is a mix of politics and medical thrill knowledge. When a few people start behaving erratically, Dr. Lou Welcome must investigate. One of the people was a doctor who went crazy and show 7 people in his practice. When Dr. Welcome finds the ER staff at that hospital acting strangely, he starts to wonder about a VA town near DC. His investigation leads him to suspect something is affecting people in the town. The other story running alongside this one is the First Lady, her chief of staff, and the recently disgraced Secretary of Agriculture.

It’s a thriller, but without much medicine. The author goes light on technical details, and gets more into a slightly unbelievable set of thugs, which make the book seem too much like fiction and not enough like a plausible story.

The writing is OK, not great and even though I read this one through on the plane, I’m not sure I love it. I may give the author another try, but this one wasn’t great.

Early Rising

Hot Yoga was great last night. A nice break from the world for an hour, which I needed. Lots of work to get done this week after being gone last week and that brings with it stress. Yoga let me forget that, but when I came home, I felt stressed again, working for a bit before crashing.

Up 10 minutes early today, getting the kids going was good. I managed to cook breakfast to order, and get us out the door on time. Have to keep doing that since it makes the day start smoother if we aren’t stressed trying to get going.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Advice from Jeff Bezos

I found this really interesting advice from Jeff Bezos. He gave the advice during a visit to the 37 Signals office. Essentially he said that “…people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds.

That advice makes me feel better about not having these set-in-stone, very strong opinions about most topics. I find that I need to consider other opinions, accept the fact that I might be wrong when looking at an issue or problem and weigh other ideas. It’s not that I don’t believe strongly in things, but I find lots of exceptions in the world and I’m not sure a simple, short way of explaining the world makes sense.

In other words, lots of gray, not much black and white.

Book #8 – The First Counsel

51nRppSfZfL._AA160_I have enjoyed a few of Meltzer’s books over the years. They’re a mystery/thriller, that often catch my eye with a story that will twist somehow. The First Counsel is no different, starting with a young lawyer working in the White House legal office, out on the town with the First Daughter. After they lose the Secret Service agents, they observe the White House lawyer, and the young man’s boss, leave an envelope in a forest. When they find it’s got $40,000 in it, their world changes.

The book is almost like a No Way Out scenario, where the senior lawyer knows they say him, and subtly threatens his employee. When another lawyer is found dead in the Old Executive Building, and our young lawyer is suspected, it seems like the walls are closing in.

It’s a wild ride, with the First Daughter alternately avoiding and helping him, his colleagues making him second guess their loyalties, and even times when I second guessed if the hero hadn’t done something the author didn’t let us see. A good page turner I enjoyed on a trip, though it’s definitely not a great ending. I think Meltzer struggles with endings, but that didn’t detract from a good read.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Back in Bellevue

It's funny that I've been here 3 or 4 times, run around the park near the hotel, but I've never really explored the city and have no idea how it's laid out. I've typically been bussed places and only know a small part of downtown.

Arriving yesterday for the MVP Summit, I saw friends, learned a few things, and chatted about life. In the evening, a friend and I were talking about running and we looked at the map. There's a lake just East of here and I had no idea it was there.


This trip won't be any better. In sessions most of the day and then bussed to Seattle tomorrow night, I won't have much of a chance to explore anything around the city.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Book #7–The Forgotten

A Balducci I grabbed at the library. I had no idea what it was about, but The Forgotten continues on from Zero Hour. Puller takes vacation, down to see to his aunt’s affairs in Florida after she passes away. It’s right after the other book, with references to that time and it includes the General who helped him in that story. Being an investigator he wants to be sure it’s a real drowning and soon becomes convinced it’s not.

I like this mini-series of books. Puller reminds me of the Jack Reacher series, where things aren’t as they appear, but we get to see inside his head as he works through inconsistencies and figures things out. As with those stories, there are a few things going on all at once. In this case we have human trafficking happening in the US.

The ending and climax aren’t great, with a few things that just seem too fantastic, but overall I really was drawn into the mystery and action.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


The start of the Hiking merit badge for Delaney  and I, we went to Hidden Mesa today for a hike with the Boy Scouts. We were trying to be prepared, with water, sunscreen, etc. in back packs, though I'd forgotten to hit the store yesterday, so we grabbed some quick gas station turkey sandwiches for lunch.

Tia has ridden at Hidden Mesa a number of times, and I've run up to the Mesa, but never looped it. To get our 10 mile hike in, we hiked up and looped the top 3 times before heading back down. All in all a good hike, though by the trip down I had a blister working on the pad of my foot, Delaney, and most others were tired.

It was a good hike, not too hard, but a nice start to our journey of 5 10 mile hikes and one 20 miler across the next six months. I'm hoping to finish this off in September, with at least one long hike every month.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bok #6–Zero Day

51Jb4yLYPRL._AA160_Zero Day is a Balducci book that introduces a new character, John Puller. He’s an army investigator with a few unique qualities. First his father is a famous general, now in a nursing home with Alzheimers, but a figure that Puller struggles to live up to somehow. The other is he is a ruthless, all business, no-nonsense investigator. He’s pulled in to investigate a murder in West Virginia, but sent without a partner or support. He knows something is wrong, but he’s a professional.

He works with the local detective, a female that struggles in a small town. He quickly realizes something is wrong, but as he pokes and prods, he slowly realizes something is very wrong. something big is happening, and I won’t disclose it, but apart from the various strange charactesr, all of whom seem to be hiding something, he knows there is more than a simple murder here.

As he goes through, there’s quite a climax near the end.

A good one, and I’m hoping there are more like this one from Balducci.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Last night was volleyball night. We were supposed to have a late game, but the other team forfeited and we didn’t bother to go. At least after 4 of our 7 people cancelled. Our plan was to take Kendall and practice, but we bailed.

Instead we headed to the church, a little unsure of how Kendall would do, but we wanted to try. She warmed up with us, a little nervous and shy, but she plays so well. We picked teams and started to play, with her in the back row with me to start the game. It was good to see one other parent bringing his daughter, so we weren’t out of the norm.

The first serve came to me, which was good. Kendall got to see me bump to the setter and us work for a point. The next two came to her, and she bumped them up nicely to the middle. Proud of that girl’s skills.

We moved around, and she told me about halfway through the game that her ankle hurt, so I told her to take it easy and not jump. She promptly jumped on the next two balls, which were set to her and spiked them. She had a few more sets and bumps and then the game ended. She elected to sit out, saying her ankle hurt, and the rest of us kept playing.

It was a good night. I had some good bumps, a few spikes for points, a couple blocks, and even a couple saves. Games were split, as they mostly were, and we had some good laughs along the way. Kendall seemed to enjoy herself, and even though she was shy and nervous, she fit in. We played until 11:45 and I was ready to go, but Tia wanted to stay. Tia had a good night, with good serves, some spikes, and she’s moving well on the court, getting to the ball for sets. I played one more, which was a mistake.

I went up for a block at one point, one handed, and the best player slammed the ball through my thumb. It hyperextended and bent back and immediately I knew this was a bad sprain. After a couple minutes I could bend it, so I knew it wasn’t broken. I stayed in, of course, and even served (underhand), but was glad we lost quickly.

It’s a little swollen today, but better. I can’t really type of grip with it, so it’s been an interesting computer day. I even tried the magnet thing on it, and we’ll see, but I may be out of action for a week.

A great night, though we kept Kendall up too late. She went back to bed for a nap this afternoon.

Book 35 - The Last Man

I had started this as an audio book over the holidays, but that became a hard way to listen, so I moved to reading.

The Last Man is a continuation of Mitch Rapp, this time in the present. After a few books looking into the past. Mitch is once again back in the terrorist world, this time in Pakistan. He's on a mission, but with one of the CIA's agents missing, he is immediately sent to solve this problem.

This book seems more of the wider look at the world, and less at Rapp. At one point he's a little injured, and the author almost seems to use that as an excuse not to focus on Rapp, but rather dig into what others are thinking.

It's a book that tries for a twist, but I don't think that Flynn quite pulls it off. It almost seems to be too shallow, too much information given. Perhaps because I heard parts twice (audio and reading), it didn't sound great. I enjoyed it, but it isn't one of the best.

Does the Prius Make Sense?

I saw a post that started like this one the CNN Money site. This was an article about their test drive of the Tesla S, using the Supercharger network on the East Coast:

“i bought a 1992 corolla with a manual transmission for 500$. i bought a used motor for another 100$ and a new clutch for 80$... it is creeping up on 300,000 miles and so far as yet to cost me more than a 100$/yr on any type of fluid. the engine install was not a partial rebuild. it was an entire install of new seals and components. i could repeat this process each year for the rest of my life and not accrue the amount of funds it takes to buy into this supposed 'future'. “

My response:

You don't really understand what you're talking about or make a good argument. Almost no one will buy as car for what you did. It can happen, but it doesn't make practical sense. Most people that buy a car for < $10k will be lucky to get 50k miles out of it without major maintenance. That's just the poor way most people take care of cars.
In terms of the Prius, plenty of them have had battery packs last well over 200k miles. I have over 120k on mine in 6 years with no issues. When I replace it at 200-250k miles, it will be $4-5k, but then I'll have more mileage on those batteries. The engine, not sure. It runs less than a regular engine, but I might end up with a $1k engine at that time too.
Is it worth it? For me, driving 20k miles a year, I save a lot on gas compared to many cars. Compared to a Jetta or Accord or Camry, all 4cyls, from my year (2007), I get 20-25mpg more than those. I didn't test those, but I've calculated and seen the Prius do over 50mpg most of the year in Denver. I'll get
53-54mpg in the warmer months, about 47mpg when it's cold. Across the 5 years and 120k miles, I have saved $7800 when gas is $3/gal. If it's $4 (and it was the first year I had it), I'd save $10400. That's more than paid for the battery, which cost me about $5k more than a similar sized car.

To be fair. the Prius doesn't have a great interior. It's OK, but it's not as nice as those other cars and its' slightly smaller. I have 3 kids, and it was fine when they were young. It doesn't do 5 adults as well as the others, though none of them are great.

The Prius isn't for everyone, but for a lot of situations, and if you drive more than 16k miles, it can make economic sense. Less driving than that, it's a loss ROI but you may or may not make up some of that in goodwill from driving a car that uses less gas. Not sure I care about that, but the $$ make sense for me.

The Tesla, it's a luxury. It's worth trying. Is it the answer? No idea. The superchargers are nice, but if there are lots of owners, there aren't enough chargers. At some point this might make sense for everyone, but not now. I do hope it grows, mostly so we can better evaluate if this technology makes sense, economically and environmentally.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hot Yoga

I planned on trying a C2 level class yesterday. It was a little intimidating in that I wasn’t sure if I’d be completely lost on poses and moving too slow. However I could take a little embarrassment if I looked bad.

Then Uma left.

Delaney took her up to the gate to cut off the wreaths, and she ran away. Not really his fault, but it meant I was driving around looking for her. The clock kept ticking by as I went up and down roads. Finally someone called and I grabbed her. Getting home at 25 minutes before class, I grabbed clothes and towels and left, racing down there. It felt very pressured since the doors to the studio get locked when class starts, so there’s no lateness.

Pushing and sometimes breaking the speed limits got me there with 3 minutes to spare and I changed and set up. The class started slow, moving us through warming up, and I started to relax. I’m somewhat amazed that I can relax and get lost in the movement, slow movement, holding poses. This class was hard, and there were a few things I couldn’t do, but I was close. And for the most part, with slow breathing, I kept up well.

As with the other 4 classes I’ve done, I was almost amazed when the instructor started passing out cold clothes. I was sweaty, I was tired, I was also relaxed, which was amazing. I really like Yoga, which surprises me. I miss karate, I miss quick fast movements and I love volleyball, but this was really good.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Three Hours of Volleyball

That's what Kendall and I had last night. Tia and Delaney declined to go, and after I helped feed horses, Kendall and I packed up and headed down a little after 5:30. The rec center was a little busy, and I was worried about things, but we walked right in, expecting we'd practice some volleyball.

The first court had a 5 on 5 game going, with lots of kids, and since we wanted to be on the same team, we walked to the second court. There were 3 on 3 there, with a couple families playing and their high school girls spread out. They invited us, but we wanted to warm up first, so we spent about 10 minutes in the corner hitting the ball to each other. Kendall was excited and feeling good and was ready for some scrimmaging.

We ended up splitting up to have a 4 on 4 game. I got the older parents, and Kendall was with two younger girls (middle and high school) and a man. The game went well, with us getting lots of time to hit balls, chase them, serve, and set. Kendall had some great serves, with most of them going over. She set the ball well, including some really good bump sets. One girl kept calling for a spike, and Kendall got a little left out, but the Dad helped even things out and Kendall had a few really good spikes over the net. She was very active, diving for balls and making some good saves.

Around 7:45 or so, everyone left and the two of us practiced for about 10 minutes and then she wanted to play more. We walked back to the other court, and there were 2 adults and their kids playing. We knew them, with the adults being in our league. We joined in, and had a decent game. Kendall was with the kids, who were slow and don't move much, but she was very active.

Eventually two left, but Kendall wanted to stay and play 2 on 2 more. We did, though we slowed down and around 8:50 I told her we needed to leave. A great night, both of us tired, and her digging into food as we headed home. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Skiing in New Mexico

Today was a nice day at Taos Ski Valley, my first time skiing in New Mexico. I came down early before a SQL Saturday in Albuquerque with a few friends to ski. We drove down last night, arriving after 8 in Taos and crashing early in a hotel. Up this morning, we drove to the ski resort just outside of the town for a day on the slopes.

Five of us, with various abilities, but close enough to have a good time went up and down, across all sides of the Taos ski resort. We did avoid the double diamond chutes up high, mostly because they were above the lifts and required hikes, but otherwise hit a variety of blue and black slopes, including a few challenging mogul fields.

It was fun, and a good day with sun, little wind, and good, cool temps. We posed for a final picture before heading down to Albuquerque.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Yesterday was the end of our free week of Yoga, but Tia and I have enjoyed it, so we signed up for a full month. It’s interesting to me that something which is relatively slow in movement, and not even that smooth can burn lots of calories, stretch me out, and relax me, all while getting in a workout.

I don’t want to give up on many of the other things I do, but I do like Yoga and would like to do it twice a week.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The GOP Energy Policy

Despite the comments, and some things I don’t like, I can see room for compromise in this look at the GOP Energy policy. It’s not a great plan overall, and it looks more like a plan to keep the energy use in the US mostly the way it is now, protecting businesses. That makes some sense, but we should be phasing out limited or really dirty energy use where we can. Not that I hate coal or oil as sources, but I do know that coal mining isn’t necessarily good for the land or miners, and we don’t protect enough against oil issues (and we’ve had a few).

I’ll address the items as listed.

1. Mostly I agree here, and we should look to remove our dependence on oil, especially from the Middle East. If for no other reason than it should help us get out of politics over there and bring our troops back. Permanently.

2. Asinine and stupid. Let’s make sure we can speak about this intelligently and clearly. I’m fine with banning “clean energy” as a term, since some of the alternatives, like solar, require mining and chemicals that aren’t that clean.

3. I agree, and I am OK with allowing more drilling, but if we do, it needs to be limited, controlled, and with some recourse when things break and spill. We want contained failures that companies are responsible for.

4. I think we could do a better job, and we should use Hoover and any others that are there for “emergencies”. Even if we compete, the Federal government needs to use its assets.

5. I actually do like the idea of more basic research and patents owned by the government and licensed to companies. I prefer this over companies having to foot the bill for R&D and our patent mess. Let’s help them figure out how to do things and then let them figure out how to finance it. I hate the Solyndra guarantees. However I do like tax credits for deployment by citizens.

6. Yes and no. I do think coal can play a part in energy policy. Yes we can not be so hard on the burning of coal. No I don’t think we should loosen regulations on mining. Those benefit relatively few people that control the companies and miners, who are good citizens, get abused.

7. I remember the debate over nuclear energy, and I understand it. I’d like to see more larger scale wind/solar deployed to see if we can power the US. That being said, I think we should investigate newer, cleaner, less wasteful, nuclear energy, especially at smaller scales.

8. Not sure, but this is worth a debate here. I don’t know if this will work, but I’d like to see a small scale pilot.

9. I agree, though I’d like more research funded and without the emotional response that either the world is ending, or nothing is happening. The truth is somewhere in between.

Great Practice

Last night the kids and I went to practice volleyball. Tia was tired after all day working with horses, and I’d spend most of the day in the house, so it was just three of us. With the Super Bowl going on we didn’t expect many people there, and we were right.

We walked in and one of the nets was open, no one playing. There were 5 or 6 other people on the other net, but a few of them were wearing a uniform, so I suspect an “unofficial” practice. Since Kendall didn’t want to scrimmage, we decided to just practice.

I had seen a few drills last week, and told Kendall about them, so we worked on those. It started with her up at the net, and then running backwards on my command to the middle line and coming up for a spike. It’s a simulation of being ready to block and then moving to spike. As she reached the middle line, I’d set the ball up and she’d come spike.

We got Delaney involved, though from the center spot with a short set close to the net. He struggled with 10 or 12, hitting the hit with his hand, but then he got better, and had some good, hard spikes in the other court. Kendall struggled with timing, but she got some good hits and started to cut loose a bit. She definitely liked the tall, wider sets, and had a few really strong hits at the end.

We served a little and I threw her some dig practice balls and we called it a night. A little over 60 minutes of practice, and a good time for all of us.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


I dragged the kids to the Woodworking show North of Denver yesterday. We were only there a little over an hour, but we watched some neat demos and saw some cool things. I think the kids were a little inspired.

Kendall actually saw some people turning pens and wanted to try one. She found some neat blanks, and I grabbed a few kits. She wanted to start last night, but it was getting late and we were tired. Today I had some things to do, but this afternoon I took her out to the garage to show her how to turn a piece of wood. I had a few spare pen blanks already glued up and we first learned how to square the ends, and then mount them on the lathe.

Then it was turning time. I showed her how to get started, and she made a square piece of wood round. She ended up only turning one, and gave it her own design. Kind of cool.

I said I'd turn the other one round and then let her make a design and we'd assemble the pen. I also need to cut her blanks down and drill them out to get them ready.