Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rowing Again

Back on the rowing machine. I was looking to work and sweat a bit on Thanksgiving and decided to break out the rowing machine. I'd seen a few people over the last months at the gym and I felt an itch.

I did better than expected. I didn't think I'd get a 2:00/500m pace, but I wasn't sure I'd be below 2:20. I actually kept it around 2:14 with a 5 min warmup and then 2 10 minute sets, which felt good.

I also rowed outside, which was nice. I enjoyed it so much that today, after various errands and chores, I broke it out again in the basement, doing the same thing, but keeping just below a 2:10 pace. The leg seems to be holding up OK and I'm working hard for sure. Tired, but I think I could get to 2:05. Trying to get there slowly, and steadily.

It's starting to look like this winter's workouts will be walks, yoga, rowing, and swimming along with snowboarding.

Yesterday was a good day, with Delaney and I going up to Keystone to board for the day. Just the two of us, and we enjoyed it.

Book #71 - Old Man's War

A re-read for me, but one I've been wanting to get to. I ran out of books on vacation, and instead of searching, I pulled this one up and started it.

As enjoyable as the first time, with a few things I'd forgotten. One of the better science fiction books I've read. Old Man's War is the story of John Perry, 75, who joins the Colonial Union, the space army and gets transformed into a fighting machine. How it happens is amazing.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kendall Snowboarding

Book #70 - Deadman's Poker

A re-read for me. After reading a few other James Swain books, I re-downloaded Deadman's Poker on vacation and ripper through it. I think this is one of the funniest of the series, with lots of scams and bets taking place. It ends in a cliffhanger, making you get the next book, but it was fun.

A half a week

We headed up to Keystone on Saturday night. Kyle had to work and the kids wanted a real Thanksgiving meal, so our plan was always to come back Wednesday. We stuck with it, though we ended up leaving relatively early on Wednesday to get back and let Tia get some riding in.

Saturday night was arrival, a quick dinner in the condo and watching a movie. A relaxing night after a leisurely pack up during the day. Sunday we got up and moving a little let with Kendall and I going skiing while Tia took Delaney to replace some gear. He's grown so much that his boots and coat were too small. I'd already replaced Kendall's coat and boots earlier this season and gotten her a snowboard.

We took it slow. Our first few runs were on the bunny slope at the top of Keystone. Kendall did pretty well and then wanted to head down the mountain.

She did OK, but we had to go slow, with lots of rests. That was tough on my feet, as the stopping and starting is hard and waiting on my knees is tough. I was sore by the time we completed a 30 min+ run down the mountain.

We met Delaney down there, got some lunch, and then did another run down. Kendall was done at that point, so Delaney and I did a few more before calling it a day. Afterwards, lots of chilling in the condo at night.

Monday we were slow to start moving, which was annoying, but we got going. This time Delaney and I worked with Kendall a bit, going down one of the short greens and having her actually get some skill at snowboarding. She was much better on Monday than Sunday, and was looking good.

We had a few good runs, a nice lunch, and then made it to the bottom, with Kendall doing great.

She had a bad fall near the bottom and decided she'd had enough. I gave her money and she went to a coffee shop in the village for a warm cup latte while Delaney and I did a few more runs. He's gotten much stronger. I followed him down the green and was surprised that he went top to bottom, nearly 3mi, without stopping. A world of difference from the previous years.
We did a few more runs, including a run down the blue, and he was fine. No nervousness. Cautious on some of the steeper slopes and I had to slow for him, but on the easier ones, he was fairly fast. We ended up at 3:30, and went to join Kendall for a drink. A latte for Delaney (my kids like coffee) and an Irish coffee for me to relax with before Tia picked us up. She'd made a roast, and we enjoyed that before a bit of Spades and then Monopoly. The girls dominated that game, driving Delaney and I into debt and out of the game.
Tuesday Kendall felt sick, so it was just Delaney and I. We had a good 3 hours on the slopes, plus lunch before coming back and getting some time in the hot tub for me, and lots of silly air hockey. We laughed and enjoyed the night.
Wednesday I was thinking of skiing, but since we left early, I skipped it. I have lots of chances to go back, and I'll go next week as well. We had an easy drive home, listening to an audiobook on the way. I got back in time to hit yoga at night, which was the hardest class I've taken. With weights, and quick movements, including jumping jacks and pushups, I was beat by the end.
Now it's Thanksgiving. We had fun with relatives in town last night, playing dominos late into the night and then getting up slow. It's been a good break so far.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Things You Might Not Know About Me

It’s a meme on Facebook. Someone writes a few things that you might now know about them and then anyone that “likes” the post gets tagged with a number. My lovely wife tagged me with 32 (or 13), and I decided to go with it.

However, I’m wordy. I would probably say prolific, some might say verbiage vomitus. Either work, so here’s what I put on Facebook. Longer version below:

What you might not know about me. 32 things, thanks to Tia Jones.

TL;DR Since I’m a bit verbose in my literary activities, here’s the short version:

  1. My first job was as a paper boy. I mourn that my kids won’t experience that.
  2. I’m cheap. I went in the grocery store, saw fresh blueberries on sale for $4/lb and decided to get frozen. When I got to the frozen aisle, they were $4.10/lb. and didn’t buy them.
  3. I’m lazy. see #2. I was going to go back and get fresh blueberries, but decided not to walk across Safeway.
  4. I have kitchen OCD. If the sink is full of dishes, I can’t cook until I clear things out.
  5. I’ve been to é by Jose Andreas twice, and I’m not sure I could tell you anything I ate by name, but both might be the most memorable dinners I’ve ever had.
  6. I get really, really, really frustrated at things. I once threw a mug and broke a door. And the mug.
  7. I’d rather have cheese than chocolate. Actually pizza is probably my favorite food.
  8. I once wore a tie to school, college actually, while living in London. Almost every day for months.
  9. I need a routine. I tend to do the same things over and over, in the same order. Breaking that routine in too many ways causes me issues (see #6)
  10. I am a bit erratic. I don’t have a problem with dropping $200-300 on dinner (see #5), but I used to plan my gas station fill-ups to save $0.03/gal. I still do some of that.
  11. I love the idea of travel, but hate traveling. I look forward to trips, but by the time I’m driving to DIA (if not sooner), I dread the trip. I’ve gotten better, but it wears on me. Thankfully #6 hasn’t come into play.
  12. I got a C one semester in middle school. I flipped out and never got less than a B the rest of my high school, or first college career.
  13. The idea of riding horses is neat, but having been on a few, I don’t like the actual practice of riding. (similar to #11)
  14. I had big dreams as a high school/college age kid. I thought I’d find a way to be a millionaire by 30.
  15. I’m the gray man. I don’t let too many things get to me and usually don’t love or hate anything. Food, politics, music, whatever. Most things wash over me. However, #10, therefore #6
  16. I hated writing in high school. I never got better than a B and couldn’t have imagined that it would be my job someday.
  17. I grew up lower middle class. I always assumed that I’d be a worker bee for my life, buy a 3 bedroom house, single car garage in a blue collar neighborhood like Aragona Village (for the VB peeps) and dream of bigger things.
  18. I’m an introvert and fairly shy. I’ve given, volunteered for, a speech in front of 500+ people. See #10.
  19. Since I was 15 or 16, I’ve spoken to my father once. He’s still alive, but we had a falling out and I don’t really regret it.
  20. My kids have changed me in ways I can’t begin to count. I assumed I’d have kids someday, but I never had any idea how it would go. Having had no role model (#19), I hope that I’ve done OK.
  21. When my fingers get too dirty, they stop working. I walk around with them like this: Photo Nov 22, 5 34 16 PM My middle son has the same affliction.
  22. I can sing. However, as my brother noted, I just can’t hit the right notes at the right time.
  23. I never knew what marriage would be like growing up with a single parent. Having been married to Tia for 15 years, I couldn’t imagine not being married, nor could I imagine how it could be better.
  24. I can’t really hear out of my left ear. If I’m ignoring you, that might be the reason. It might not be, but it might be.
  25. The symbol for “making it” in my mind (see #17) was when we bought a side by side fridge, with water in the door. In 2002.
  26. I tried to join the Navy, submarine service. I went to the induction center, and did the physical, and didn’t get in. See #24. Not sure how life would have gone if I had.
  27. I love sports. I play baseball in the summer, in the 40+ league, and wish I could play football. I look forward to playing basketball again in the 50+ league. Where there isn’t much contact. Or running.
  28. I grew up on the water and always thought a dream would be to live on the water. I still think about it, but living in the mountains, I think I’ve made a better trade and am not sure I’d leave.
  29. I’m an Apple fanboi, ever since the Apple II. I just abandoned my (POS) Galaxy S4 to go back to my iPhone.
  30. I see racism in places and believe it exists. When I was growing up in (Southern) Virginia, in 1979, the fine specimens of crimson collared humanity kicked my ass for looking like an Iranian. I try desperately to be fair and judge on actions, not prejudice.
  31. Despite the incredible frailty of humans, the unbounded ability to be rude, disgusting, mean to others, take advantage of others, I am always amazed by the limitless ability and strength of other humans to overcome all of that and think of others before we think of ourselves.
  32. I don’t want to be famous, or even popular. When I teach, either speaking or writing, it’s a success for me if one person takes something away.

Bonus: 33. I'm not afraid of death. I think about my mortality all the time, especially as I get older and things hurt. I'd like to see my kids grow up, but I've had an amazing life and I can't complain about anything. If I go tomorrow, I'm at peace with it.

Longer versions of a few items

#2 – I am cheap. I make buying decisions with pennies of difference in the grocery store. I struggle to buy non-generics. I wait to buy things like shoes on sale. I let my clothes go with holes in them because, well a) I like them, and b) they work, so why spend money? It’s crazy sometimes and I catch myself. I didn’t buy the blueberries partially because I’m lazy, partially because I was mad at myself for worrying about a dollar or two.

#3 – I do struggle to get going sometimes. I’ll bail on chores in the fall and watch football some Sundays. My running streak was partially because I was sitting around too much and being lazy. I leave projects unfinished all the time.

#4 – I’m getting better, and I try not to get upset at the family, but dirty dishes bug me to know end. It’s slightly under control. Sometimes. Some days.

#7 – I struggle with my weight and health, at least I think I do, because of this. Too much carb stuff. Life is short, live long and prosper, ugh. This is one of those tough things for me.

#8 – I can’t explain this. It wasn’t even for a girl, though I was hoping to impress someone, American, English, anyone. For some reason I wanted to grow up and I bought 3-4 ties in London and wore them to class, around town, basically if I wasn’t running, I was in one. Now I hate ties, and avoid them like the plague.

#13 – I think of The Rifleman and Rin Tin Tin from my youth. I can’t figure out how they jumped on horses, bareback and raced across the fields. Were they eunuchs? WTF?

#15 – whatever

#16 – I can’t believe I actually choose to write. I just can’t. I hated this with a passion in high school. Somewhere, somehow, some teacher reached me.

#17 – I really never expected to have a house like I do. Still pinch myself sometimes and smile when I go through the gate.

#18 – Still some attacks of shyness when getting ready to speak. Weird.

#21 – My wife saw me do this a few weeks ago. Can’t explain it. Maybe that’s my superpower? Hypersensitivity in my fingers?

#22 – I like Rock Band. The family likes it when I drum or play guitar.

#23 – The single best thing in my life. By far. No comparison, nothing else close.

#24 – I’m probably not ignoring you, but I might be. No matter which, I’m often glad I can’t hear the jibber jabber coming out of peoples’ mouths in public.

#27 – 4 years to basketball. Wed and Fri at lunch. I wave to the guys when I go swimming on those days.

There’s more, and I could probably get 50 things easily if I wanted. Enough for today.

Morning Adventure

A long commute this morning. First, I got up late, kids were slow, and roads were icy. Then another knucklehead driving 32mph down the road made for 50. I get it's a little slick, but this genius was also driving on the snow, and not in the relatively clear tire tracks people had left for him/her.

We get to school and things slow down as there's an accident and a car in a ditch with another on a tow truck. I don't want people speeding, but leave more space and watch out.

On the way back, another slow driver, and another car off the road. A frustrating drive at 30mph again, when 40 was likely fine as this side of the road was even more clear of snow/ice. However, I also had an adventure.

As I got near the the stop sign to turn west, a few cars were stopping. I could see deer crossing the road, so I slowed and stopped as well. A few cleared the barbed wire fence to the East, but one got stuck. The little one was kicking, but its rear legs were trapped. I stopped, put on blinkers, and got out. 3 or 4 other ladies were out of their cars wondering what to do. The deer had stopped at this point, with its rear legs having gotten two strands of wire twisted and trapped. I grabbed my ice scraper, about all I had, and started down the hill. As I got close, the deer started kicking and panicking. I felt bad, but I couldn't stop. Used my ice scraper to pry the wire a bit, not too close to kicking hoofs, and he/she got free and ran off. There were definitely scrapes and cuts from the wire, and hope it wasn't too bad.

Lessons learned:
1. Life in the country is an adventure.
2. Merrill mocs do not work well in 4" of snow. I need to wear boots more.
3. Get some wire clippers in each car. Barbed wire is nasty stuff and it could easily be a horse, dog, cow, etc. trapped out here..

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Busy morning

Jamming at work after getting the kids to school. Getting things done before I fly away, on my second to the last trip.

Upgraded, so should be a good trip to Portland. Planning on working on the plane, with a few things to get done.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Back to Apple

I gave it a good go, but I'm counting down the days until I can go back to an iPhone 4s as my cell phone.

I got the Galaxy G4 last May, pre-ordering it and spending the summer working with Android and enjoying some things, disliking others. However more and more a bunch of little things were getting on my nerves. I've been debating going to a Windows phone since Kendall loves hers, but the more I think about it, and the more I use my 4S for little work stuff around the house, the more I miss iOS.

I traded in my iPad 1 at Target for $200, which was an amazing price. I was thinking I might get a Nexus or Samsung tablet, but as I thought about it, I decided I'd spent $200 and get an iPad Mini, one of the new Retina ones. They are supposed to be in stock next week, just as my 6 months with the Galaxy ends.

Looks like I'll be back to a couple Apple devices before Thanksgiving.


Day 2 tonight, another practice for Kendall. We went Monday and again today. It's a rough schedule these days, as we leave about 50 minutes after Kendall gets home if I pick her up. If I don't, we leave about 30 minutes after they get home. It's 2 hours of practice, and then we're home about 8:15.

It was exciting. Kendall is a little tentative, but she's learning and getting better and the team is amazing. I watched them do a passing/setting/hitting drill. Two girls received a lob, passed to the setter and then someone hit. Kendall took turns with the hitters, but I was amazed to see that of the 40 or 50 balls lobbed over, I bet the setter got 35-40 of them by taking zero or one step. Amazing.

Checking in for one, booking another

I got a note today to check in for my flight tomorrow to Portland. I did, and then checked on booking flights to DC next month for another event. My last two trips of the year. Glad to be almost done and nothing likely in the air until Feb.

Kendall is coming with me to DC. She really wants to see her cousins and she's doing so well in school we thought it was OK if she missed a couple days.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


We’re in the money now


I guess it’s better than the letter we got last year saying we owed more.

Hot Power Fusion

I’ve had two days off of nothing. Sunday was some chores, so I wasn’t sitting around too much. Yesterday I was busy at work and didn’t do much, especially with Kendall having volleyball. I had planned to walk afterwards, but then she and I ate at night and I was tired when I got home.

This morning, after dropping kids off, I ran some errands, dilly-dallying, came back and was struggling to get going. With the house quiet, I checked the schedule and there was a 10am Hot Power Fusion yoga class. With Scouts tonight and volleyball tomorrow, I decided to just go to it.

It was a hot, hard class, but a good workout. I feel much better now.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book #69–Full Share

51GKViDUn1L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_A re-read for me, but when I saw Captain’s Share was available, I wanted to go back and re-read Full Share. A quick one over the weekend that led me back through Ismael Wang’s first ship as a third mate out of the academy.

A good read, fun and quick, and frustrating with the idea that harassment still exists in the future.

Outdoor Projects

I thought that I might make yesterday a quiet day, watching some football and relaxing. It’s been an on-the-go weekend, and I was tired.

Friday night was Thor, with Kendall. Tia was sick, so I ended up going out with my daughter, the self-proclaimed “Marvel fan girl” to watch the opening night movie. We both enjoyed it, and it was good. Kendall loved it, somewhat squealing silently in places. Loki stole the scene a few times, and it was good to see this Avengers franchise evolve.

Saturday was a mixed day. Delaney volunteered for the American Legion Food Drive, spending some time out trying to get people to donate food. That was good to see, and I ended up puttering around the house a bit. Nothing major getting done, but not too busy. Afterwards, Kendall and I headed to the snowboard expo. She needs equipment for the season, and we were hoping for sales. Not a lot of equipment, though we did find good boots at a good price. No snowboards or bindings, so I’m still hunting for those.

After driving so much, I was thinking to relax Sunday. However with no good games on early (I watched a touch of Bengals/Ravens, which wasn’t good), I decided to get some work done. I had to help Tia get hay loaded in the am, so I was up. I cleared out the north side of the barn, and dug two holes for a bit of fence. We wanted some wind block to try and help use that stall in blizzards. I planned on a short, 8ft fence near the barn and a 16ft one further out. I just managed to get the first one almost done (need to trim the last bit for the last picket) and drill a hole for the other fence before it got dark. I felt like I accomplished something, but not a lot. I did have lunch with Tia, which was a nice break.

A late night grocery shopping trip, watching some of the Dallas game (they played horrible) completed the night. Tired today, but busy at work, so no time to rest.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Where have I been?

I found this neat tool that would allow you to build a map of the places in the US you've visited or been. Here's mine:

Quite a few, but some missing, which means I have places to go.

Book #68–Loaded Dice

41kCwoE8mTL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_I somehow missed this Tony Valentine book a few years ago, and when I was looking to re-read the series, I found it. I grabbed Loaded Dice and enjoyed it. This fills in a holes that I hadn’t realized I missed, like Gerry’d kid being born.

In this one, Gerry has gone to a card counting school in Las Vegas to learn how to catch cheaters. However as usual, he takes advantage of the knowledge, working with two other students, Middle Easterners, to count cards and win money. He doesn’t realize one of them is a killer.

Meanwhile Tony goes out and is helping three rival casinos deal with a new cheating computer. However he doesn’t realize that their plan is to actually destroy the Acropolis. The book jumps back and forth between Gerry, Tony, Nick’s issues with his casino, and Mabel and Yolanda back in Florida.

It’s a bit of a departure for the series, going into more thriller mode than funny mystery, but it was an enjoyable read overall.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


A really quiet day today. I dropped the little kids off at school and shortly thereafter, Kyle and Tia left. It’s been me working, all along, all day.

Very, very quiet.

Back to work

It feels strange. After traveling for a few weeks, then a day of work last Thursday, and then 3 off, it’s strange. The last two days have been quiet, not doing too much other than puttering around the house, relaxing, taking care of a few things. I expected to ski a day, but with a meeting Monday with our bankers and then not wanting to stress out by fitting things in yesterday, I skipped it.

I’m ready to go back to work. Was itching to do a few things yesterday, but I managed to relax and not bother.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Feeder Business

The slow feeders I built are working great. So great that a number of Tia's friends want some. I don't really want to build more, as I have other stuff to do, but I thought Delaney might like to make some money, so I asked him if he wanted to build and sell them. I figured he could make $100 or so on each. He did, and we started building some yesterday. I had one more to make for Tia and materials for 2, so Delaney joined me.

I showed him how we assemble things, sanding the wood and screwing things together. He told me that after a few times drilling things together that it was hard on his back. I agreed.

We worked through 1 and 1/2 yesterday, finishing today. We just need some welded rods to hold the grids and a few more grids and he'll have his first sale.

He seemed to enjoy it and it was nice to have him out there with me.


I had Friday off from work, and had planned to start building a new shelter for Tia, but she decided not to do one now. We have a couple more horses, but decided we might try to use the large arena in bad weather.

Instead I had planned to swim, and ended up forgetting my trunks. Not a good start to the day, but I did have a good weightlifting session. Tia met me afterwards to do a little car shopping. We decided to sell Kyle our Prius and surprise, surprise, Tia wanted another Prius. So we headed to the Toyota dealership after I worked out.

We looked at new and used ones, and ended up finding a nice 2010 Prius. It was a good price compared to what we'd seen online, and after also driving an X5 that was there, we decided to just get it. So much for a short trip. A few hours later, which is always the way things go, we had a new to us Prius.

It's a white 2010, looking like, but different from, the black one.

We weren't done there. After we got the car, we drove over to the furniture store and looked at mattresses. Our bed is a decade+ old and it was time. We tried a few, picked one out, and came home.

It was delivered today, and getting on it felt great. It's bigger, software, and more supportive. Looking forward to sleeping on it.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Book #67–Funny Money

41A9RZ7BETL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_It’s the third Valentine book, and another re-read for me. This time we’re back in Vegas. Tony returns after his former partner is killed, blown up by a bomb. Tony was on the phone and determined to get revenge.

It’s a cold Valentine in Funny Money. While he’s looking for the killer, he takes a job with a casino, knowing that the murder had something to do with the place. Inside, he finds things are strange and there’s definitely some sort of scam, but not what he expected.

He tracks a black jack cheat, gets kidnapped and a gun pointed in his face. However they don’t kill him. He soon realizes that people inside the casino are running some separate scam. That’s not enough as he must also deal with his son’s gambling that loses the bar in New York. If that doesn’t get you interested, he also meets Kat and must manage that at the same time.

It’s a good mystery, with lots of plots and twists running through it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Book #66–Gift Sense

41YFMA7BSWL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Another re-read for me, in Vegas. Grift Sense is the first Valentine novel, with him acting as a consultant for casinos in Vegas. His neighbor doesn’t work for him, but she’s interested in the business and helps watch the house. When his son says he’s coming to visit, Tony takes a job in Vegas.

This is a good start to the series. The Acropolis casino is Vegas is a throwback, and is being cheated by someone. No one knows who, but they suspect he’s a longtime crossroader that’s changed his face. Valentine figures out who it is quickly, but can’t determine what the scam is.

The book twists and turns, following Valentine, but also one of the dealers that is involved in the scam. As the police get involved, it’s a mystery that’s hard to figure out.

I will say that this is a medium detached, angry Valentine. Not as cold as the next book, not as loose as the third, but a good balance. The Bill Higgins doesn’t seem as close or savvy as later books, but otherwise, I enjoyed it.

Everyone Sick

Both little kids were feeling sick when I went to get them up today. My day off, and I’m up at 6, making biscuits for them and no one comes down to eat.

At least I had a little time to read, do some laundry, relax.