Friday, December 28, 2007

The Road Less Traveled

Temperature at departure = 24° F (-4° C)

Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference
-Robert Frost - Road Less Traveled

I got up early and took my daughter out to breakfast for her 18th birthday. We got around 3" of additional snow overnight and none of it had been cleared off. As we were getting back in the car to head home she said "You're not riding in this, are you?" I told her I had three options:

  1. Have someone else take me to work driving in rush hour traffic with bad road conditions.
  2. Work from home and listen to the boys argue about video games all day long.
  3. Ride into work with people thinking I'm an idiot -- but having several opportunities to go "Wheeeeeeeee!"
As you can see, I went for option 3.

When I got home, my wife said "You're not riding in this, are you?" I explained the three options and told her that this is my adult version of going out and playing in the snow. So, I geared up and headed out. Sure enough, I hadn't riden 4 blocks before a couple guys standing outside shoveling snow were pointing at me and laughing. When I was out in traffic, people were giving me a LOT of space. The wildlife track of yesterday were missing as well as the little critters seem to have had more sense than I. When I got to the office, a guy I met at the door said "I think you may have had the safest form of travel today." Yep. The most fun form of travel too.

[Edited to add this LINK to Noah's post ... he's been having fun in this all along this winter.]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oh What Fun it is to Ride

Temperature at departure = 25° F (-4° C)

We got more snow last night but since I had psyched myself up to ride the XYZ in the snow yesterday, I hopped on the beach cruiser this morning and headed off to work. This morning's ride rates as one of my top five rides of 2007! I can't believe how much fun I've missed by not riding in the snow more. Granted, it helps to have an inexpensive bike to plod along in and this one fit the bill -- big time.

There wasn't much traffic to begin with, but the traffic that was out gave me plenty of room. Once I hit the trail I was surprised how well this bike handled the snow and ice. I didn't slip once, and at times I was riding on sheets of clear ice of re-frozen run-off from the day before. The snow was a little over 3" high for the majority of the bike path and even though I only rode about 3.5 miles, I felt like I'd ridden 12 miles or more.

Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas was playing in the head phones and Linus and Lucy and Christmas Time Is Here [Instrumental] couldn't have come on at a better time. A peacful, slow ride through new snow with a great soundtrack for the morning. Perfect!

The tracks on my favorite little bridge include bobcat, rabbit, squirrel and myself. Grrrrrr baby. Very Grrrrrr!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just had to get out and Ride

Right before our latest round of snow, Peter and I headed out to try my latest new bike: the XYZ Men's Beach Cruiser. Man, it was nice getting back out on the road.

This thing was fun to ride in the snow and ice on the trail, so I'm planning on riding it to work tomorrow. You can read the reviews at CommuteByBike.


I have been thinking about a couple resolutions that I really want to stick with in 2008 and have come up with a way to make it happen. Lifehacker had a great article recently about how Jerry Seinfeld used a wall calendar to prompt himself to write daily. I'll give you a link at the bottom of this post -- but stay with me for a moment. The main idea of the calendar is to put an X or a checkmark or color the box in and keep a chain of marked days for as long as you can. A more recent post revisited Jerry and featured a spreadsheet for 2008 that you can check off as you go
(again, the link will follow).

If you have the self dicsipline to carry it off alone, great; but my experience has been that if the habit I'm trying to establish becomes boring, inconveinient or too hard I can rationalize my way out of it. On the other hand, we've all probalbly read numerous times that the best way to change a habit is to get someone else involved so there will be some accountability. Here is your chance.

Even when I wasn't employed by Google I was a huge fan of their products. Now, with the disclaimer out of the way: Google Docs is the perfect place to put the Seinfeldian calendar to use because I can share the documents with whoever I want, be it a friend, my two brothers-in-law or the world.

Here's how I'm going to use it: I've created an example spreadsheet that you can see HERE. As I make it through a day where I've accomplished the goal for my resolution, I'll fill in the box for that day with a Fill Color. Feel free to copy the data and paste it into your own spreadsheet, download the one that Lifehacker recomends or you can make your own and share it in Google Docs.

So, want to make sure you read the Bible, exercise, spend 10 minutes on your finances, do something nice for someone else or accomplish some other positive activity every day? Create and share the spreadsheet. Want to mark off the days that you don't practice the habit that you're trying to quit (like watching TV more than an hour a day, etc.)? Create and share the spreadsheet. The nice thing about sharing the data is that you never know if the person you're including will be checking up on you or not. If you decide to quit and delete the sheet, they'll be able to bug you about it.

Give it a try. Do your best to keep the chain of marked days going and make sure you include someone to encourage you on the path.

Lifehacker article: Jerry Seinfeld's Productivity Secret

Lifehacker link to spreadsheet: The 2008 Compact Calendar Now Available

My Google Docs example: Resolutions

Monday, December 24, 2007

Calm Before the Storm

Ahhhh. I've made my mocha latte and am sitting at the kitchen table looking at the snow covered neighborhood. I'm going to take the next five minutes or so and just relax. Once that is done I've got plenty to do -- none of the kids has done their shopping...

So, I've got to hit the bank this morning, deliver one present, take the kids shopping (4 of them, one at a time), clean house and start wrapping. I swear this year I am not going to stay up to 2 or 3 in the morning. Of course, I swore that last year and the year before and the year before that.

Tomorrow morning I'll get up early and make my annual Kringler (here is a recipe found on line that comes close to the one I use), go pick up my dad and bring him over, wait for my mother-in-law to arrive and then breakfast and open presents.

It all sounds like a hassle -- but I wouldn't miss it. To all of you, Merry Christmas, I hope you can find a spare 5 minutes for yourself and we'll chat on Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

While I'm Away

I'm in Dallas for the week. Yee Haw! So, even though this is totally fake, I thought I'd share it with you...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Much Ado About...

...well, I don't want to say "Nothing" because there is still ice in the trees. That said, the roads have been very drivable any time I've been out. Darned TV forecasters with their fancy toys that create brightly colored pictures of mist that looks like the storm of the century. I swear that every little rain shower that comes into town is just an excuse for them to justify all the money the spent on the technology. [/rant]

So, why was I freaking out so badly? After 3 months in the hospital and rehab hospitals my dad was released to go home. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, I had moved the release date back to Wednesday figuring we'd miss the big event. Turns out Tuesday would have been better than yesterday. But I was pretty stressed about getting someone out in any kind of bad conditions when they'd been laid up for 3 months because of a fall.

I got him home yesterday and spent the night at Dad's. Today and tonight my brothers taking a turn. I'm pretty sure Dad is just ready to have some time to himself.

Now, where is my coffee?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Iced T

[couldn't resist]

Update: Temperatures have been stuck at 32 and it has been raining all day. Good news in that it is just wet out. Temps are going to start falling, well, now and as you can see there is plenty more rain headed our way -- and it is starting to turn into a mix. At least there has been no wind to speak of and we're in a gap with no precipitation for a half hour or so.

Here is hoping we make it through unscathed.

Ice Storm, Round One: Draw

When I woke up and checked the local stations I found that 1) we still had electricity and 2) it wasn't nearly as bad as we'd expected.

Temperatures are hovering at 32° so the rain we're getting right now is dripping off the ice that is already on the power lines and tree branches. Roads have been treated so they are slushy, but passable. Still, if I'm given the chance to work from home I'm taking it. So today I am not commuting by bike, I am commuting by slippers.

Two more waves of rain and freezing rain on the way. The temperatures should remain just at the freezing mark until they start to drop at 4 p.m. Then the fun begins again. In the picture above you can see the little Pin Oak that still has leaves -- branches drooping to the ground. There are huge Pin Oaks out back with all their leaves and branches drooping over the power lines, that could be the issue later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Again with the Ice

Looks like this December is continuing to mimic last December. This is going to be espeically bad this week. More later.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dad's Dinner in a Dash

I hate this ice. There, I've said it. Oh, I'm still having to get out in it, just not on the bike. It was the same way the first part of last December.

Today I decided I would grill some quick burgers before we have to head out on errands and to Curtis' basketball game. Problem: the only ground beef I had available was in the freezer. What to do, what to do?

A few years ago, when I became the person who does most of the cooking at our house, I used to joke that I was going to write a cook book and call it What in the Heck am I Making With Hamburger Tonight? Well, for the short term I wasn't making anything. Then I decided to try to modify one of the recipes for an easy meal that we enjoy (and is great for camping). The original calls for ground beef, vegetables and two packages of Asian Ramen Noodles. I still had left over turkey, so:

Warren's in a Hurry Turkey Stuff

  1. Dice 3 cups of turkey and mix with the seasoning packet of one package of Chicken Ramen.
  2. In a skillet, mix 2 cups water, 2 cups of sliced and diced carrots and broccoli, the remaining seasoning packet and the two packages of Ramen noodles.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for 3 minutes. Add turkey and cook another 3 minutes.
  4. Serve.

Pretty easy. It was only Katie, Curtis and I for lunch; I asked the kids if they liked it and was told it was "Okay." I feel the need to add that it all disappeared. So, if you still have some left over turkey that you've not figured out how you're going to use it up ... this might be worth a try if you're in a hurry.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Some Days You End Up Driving

"God bless the man who knows he has said enough and can not be persuaded to say more."
-Ernest K. Gann

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Who's walkin' down the streets of the city...

Temperature at departure = 32° F (0° C)

Winds from the North at 22 mph, gusting to 35 mph.

The problem with sudden, unexpected lane changes on the bike path: the other lane is ... well, there is no other lane.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Um, No

Temperature at departure = 32° F (0° C)

I don't think this is right.

From NancyKay Shapiro. Happy Chanukah to my Jewish friends.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sudden Adult On-Set ADD -- Part 2

Back in October I wrote part one of my Adult ADD thoughts. Here is the delayed part two. I'm not sure if the fact that I got a bit distracted in finishing this up is further proof or just good sense at leaving well enough alone. My buddy John tells me he doesn't think I have ADD as much as I just make decisions not to keep up with books, movies and TV due to a busy schedule with more important things on it. Good point.

What originally got me thinking I was beginning to become ADD was the stack of unfinished books and DVD's on my desk and night stand. Why can't I finish a movie? Perhaps John is right, there are just too many other things that need attention that way outweigh the need to see the end of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, etc. But what about my TV viewing habits? I don't watch much TV -- but when I do I seem to pick a show, become a rabid fan and then get bored with it after one season and move on. Proof:

  • Trading Spaces -- I watched season two (the first season with Paige Davis as host) in 2001. I got my wife hooked the next season, but after that I lost interest.
  • Biggest Loser -- Season 1 began in October of 2004. I again watched the first seasons as a big fan, made it through the second season hit and miss, skipped season 3, watched the first episode of season 4 and won't be back.
  • Dog Whisperer -- Like Trading Spaces I missed season 1 which started September 2004. Watched season 2 faithfully and saw one or two shows the next season havinng moved on to...
  • Food Network -- We never really settled on one particular show. Pretty much any thing that was on was fascinating.
  • Heros -- It took a while, but I finally made it through the first season. Tried watching the first show or two of this season on-line but haven't made it through an entire episode and don't know that I'll make the effort.

This year I've become a fan of Gordon Ramsay. Be it Hell's Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares, I make sure I see every episode one way or another. I have to admit I prefer the BBC America Kitchen Nightmares to the Fox version. Still, I watch. A recent episode on Fox even added another book to the stack. "Finn McCool's" (which aired November 14th) featured a local paper's food critic showing up and making her presence known. I didn't think critics made it a habit of announcing that they were there to review a restaurant, movie or whatever and maybe it wouldn't have happened without the producers of the show opting for the drama her presence brought. It got me to wondering how the big restaurant critics operate and I found a book to add to my list:

In Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl, the author says "One of the primary requisites of a good restaurant critic is the ability to be anonymous." This was quite the opposite of the critic on Kitchen Nightmares. Garlic and Sapphires is a truly wonderful read. I'm making time to read it and loving every spare moment with it that I get.

From the flap: "Garlic and Sapphires is Ruth Reichl's delicious and compulsively readable account of her experience undercover in her position as food critic for The New York Times." "Reichl knows that to be a good restaurant critic you have to be anonymous, but when she signs up to be the most important restaurant critic in the country, her picture is posted in every four-star, low-star, and no-star kitchen in town." The book reveals some of the disguises she used and how she became those characters. Great book! I'm loving it and will be finishing it up tonight.

Update on the unfinished book list from October: I finished The Art of Urban Cycling, The Virtues of War and The High and the Mighty. I gave up on Count Zero and Asphalt Nation so I'm down to 4 books which I'm currently reading -- 3 by tomorrow morning...

Baby It's Cold Outside

Temperature at departure = 19° F (-7° C)

Why would we rather ride a bike than drive a car when it is 19 degrees outside?