Monthly Archives: May 2006

South Korea is a long way away

I figure that my brother is probably just about starting to regret his idea to go to Korea about now. He left NW Arkansas at 7:30 this morning (after getting to the airport at 5:30 and being up all night because he was so excited). He had a 5 hour layover in Minneapolis and then went from there to Tokyo (who knew they flew direct from Minneapolis to Tokyo???) and then from Tokyo to Pusan. So he was going to leave Minneapolis at about 1:30 or so, I would estimate, it’s 12 hours to Tokyo from there so that makes it 1:30 AM now, and then 4 more hours to Pusan. So he should get to Pusan at about 5:30 AM our time. My brother seems to think that he’ll be able to sleep on the plane, even though he’s got about 4 inches and a few pounds on me and I feel like a sardine in those tin cans. I didn’t sleep a wink when my wife and I flew to Tokyo so I wouldn’t imagine he will. But maybe. I hope he does. I’m excited to hear what he has to say about the trip and the city.

For some reason his departure is having more of an effect on me than I expected it to. It’s kind of like I’m in a glass case of emotion. We aren’t like some of those super close brothers, but we get along fine. We just have way different interests in our lives so it’s hard to have things to hang out and do. My buddy at work is always hanging out with his brother, and I’m not sure if that’s because they are interested in the same things or just because they are brothers (they do have the same interests mostly) About the only things we have in common are our interest in all things food and our relative girth because of this love of food. He likes sports, I can take them or leave them. He’s more like my dad, I’m more like my mom. It doesn’t help things that we basically haven’t lived within 7 hours of each other for going on 10 years now. That’s a lot of time to develop other interests and find less and less to have in common. For some reason the idea of not seeing him for 2 years is really weighing on me. I guess because I just figured he was always going to be around. You kind of take it for granted.

Oh well, enough whining. The Stuart Smalley hour is over. I hope he makes it safely and isn’t too shocked by the size of Pusan (6M or so) compared to the largest city he has ever lived in before (20K or so).



What a week

Man, this week has been super crazy. I’ve been so busy getting ready for Memorial Weekend that I was just trying to get everything done in time. No time to ride the bike or update the blog.

This week I spent a lot of time putting together the rest of my raised beds for our vegetable garden. I did decide to do the tire trick for potatoes so I’ll be building those in the near future. Building the beds didn’t take much time but doing that and mixing the soil mix and dealing with my crushed ribs was pretty tough. They were hurting so much that I was having a hard time hauling stuff around the yard and working the shovel. (The ribs are hurting from softball two weeks ago when I took that nasty spill) I was able to get zuchinni, summer squash, herbs, okra, beans and carrots planted so far. I’m hoping to get to the nursery this week to pick up the peppers, strawberries and tomatoes. And also plant the muskmelon, watermelon and cucumbers soon. My lettuce, spinach and arugala all came in well and have been feeding us this past week. The peas are growing but they are still at least a month off from harvesting, I believe.

At the same time I was doing this I was getting ready for a houseful of visitors this weekend. I had a cousin getting married on Saturday and my parents and brother came up from below the Mason-Dixie line for the weekend. The wedding was good. Always fun to go to a wedding, eat some food, drink a little and talk to all the family.

Ol Smokey got a workout this weekend. My brother is heading to South Korea on Wednesday to teach Korean kids English for the next two years, so he wanted some good BBQ before he left. Friday afternoon we had Iowa Chops that I had bought from a farmer at a farmer’s market who was selling his pork that was antibiotic free, hormone free and pasture raised. I brined the pork chops for about 3 days (which was way too long, they were really salty) and smoke/roasted them for about 3 hours. They turned out very tasty. They were too salty so I’ll need to reduce the brine mix next time for chops, but they were still extremely moist and full of flavor. They really tasted like an oversized piece of bacon, which is great because bacon is one of my favorite foods. Then on Sunday I fired it up again and smoked 3 big ol’ slabs of ribs for about 11 hours that we enjoyed Sunday night. (I enjoyed some again last night with a beer butt chicken that was delicous too. Definately the way to make chicken.) The ribs turned out good but the rub was a little too spicy. I’m going to increase the sugar and decrease the cayenne in the future. The rub works great on chicken and pork shoulder but it’s too much on something small like ribs.

We also got a swing set up for the kids. Some neighbors of ours were giving it away and we happened past at the right time so now we have a swing set that was free. Most importantly, since it was already constructed all we had to do was move it around the yard and find the best spot. That opened a big hole in our schedules so we could do a ton of other things. Getting things like that for free is awesome! My Dad and I built a sandbox for the boys on Friday night/Saturday morning from some leftover wood that a neighbor of theirs was going to throw away. That sandbox is a tank. We could barely pick it up to slid some plastic under the edges to keep the grass down in the sand. So now we have a sandbox, vegetable gardens, a swing set and a pool in our backyard. It has turned into a giant playland.

You would think that with so many days off I would be able to get some bike time in but the temps were in the 90s this weekend so I spent the time in the pool.

I’m happy to be back at work and get some rest.


A new way to commute

Check out this interesting article about people using Segways for errands and daily commutes. I’m not sure where I fall on this. If you have the money and you want to buy a Segway for these kinds of purposes I guess it’s OK. It seems to accomplish the same thing as using a bike for your primary commuting tool. But, it seems more cost effective to buy a $500 city bike. Not to mention the huge increase in resources necessary to make a Segway vs. a bike. But, a Segway isn’t a car so that is also a positive.

I’m sure these are people who could never imagine riding a bike to do these kinds of things because as a civilized person they must use a machine to do their work for them (except the handicapped guy, he’s excluded) even though using your body (also a machine) is incredibly efficient. I don’t know. I’m just speculating on their thought process. If they don’t think this way I don’t understand why they wouldn’t think about using a bike for the same thing.

I love the guy who tows his kid to school with the Segway. I think that is a great thing to do, and I can promise you your son would think it was just as cool if you were on a bike instead of a Segway.


Rules of Vendo-land

After reading this story I began to wonder about my own vending machine habits and rules.

For example, if you go by the machine and you see something stuck in the machine is it fair game? I say yes, especially since I am big boned I can easily rock the machine to dislodge said item, thus procuring an item for free. Even though I think this is OK are societies rules the same? Is it only OK to take these items if you pay for the same item and the item you paid for dislodged the stuck item while it was being dispensed? (I also think this is OK but why do it? see example #1 above) Thus you have paid for one and gotten one for free. Or perhaps you purchased a different item that fell and released the item in question. (seems OK to me, but see #1 again, or the linked story) Post your thoughts on the rules of vendo-land.

What if I’m rocking the machine (when the machine is rocking don’t come…oh never mind…) to release Item A (let’s say chips) and while I’m doing that Item B (Hershey’s or Twizzlers, these items are very easy to dislodge, trust me) comes loose (after not being stuck at all) is Item B fair game? I draw the line there. I’m happy to take Item A, but if a B falls down then I usually try to give it away so as not to have any unnecessary guilt on my conscience. It seems like Item B was an unfortunate occurrence and by taking B I have effectively made that entire row of snacks off limits. Who wants to pay for the first spot that is empty to get all the ones behind it moved up? Not me. (Although I’ve never checked to see if that is what happens on these things) To me that seems like stealing or something. I can’t take advantage of a B when that happens.

Another part of this is the incorrectly dispensed item. If you hit Diet Pepsi and a Pepsi comes out what do you do? I still drink the Pepsi and then complain to the vending guy and get my money back. (The vending guy and I are like peas and carrots) Is this fair since I did consume the Pepsi? I say yes, because, as the customer I am always right. I figure their penance for giving me the wrong product is that I get one for free. Besides, it costs them like $.10 to make a bottle of pop anyway so they aren’t really in too bad of shape when I do that. But, how can I be certain that I actually hit the correct button? Well, I’m the customer and I’m always right. That’s how.


P.S. We rode our bikes up to the grocey store (about 4 miles round trip) to pick up a few things. Using bikes for small, short errands rules. We get to ride our bikes (nice), get our shopping done (also nice), get some exercise (awesome) and practice good stewardship of the environment (double awesome). I think we’ll be doing more local shopping and riding our bikes more.

Bike to Work week

This week is bike to work week, for those of you who aren’t necessarily bike riders, and there has been some mainstream publicity about people riding their bikes to work. Here is one example.

I can’t believe how this guy is amazed about losing weight and feeling better. Haven’t people been saying for years that some physical activity makes people more happy and feel better? Why is this a surprise?

I can’t wait for the time oil/gas is too expensive for people to live 50-60 miles from work and our cities start to shrink down to an easily navigable core. When transportation gets too expensive we will have to locally source more of our food and goods we purchase. This will be great for local economies. We will be more independent and our local economies will have a more diverse employment base. We can spend more time enjoying our life instead of having to drive to Wal-Mart over here and Target over there to get things. We’ll have to make do with the local neighborhood shops and what they sell because we won’t be able to travel very far. That will be good and bad, but our stress level as a group should really decrease when we don’t have to spend all our time running about.

Got out tonight for a short ride over to my apartment so I could mow the yard. Pulled the boy on his trail a bike. He played over there while I mowed the yard. My wife and younger son came over after they finished shopping at Walgreens so we rode home together. We only did 4-5 miles tonight but after softball last night, tennis today, mowing most of two yards and that little riding I’m cooked. I find that as time goes by our whole family uses means other than a car for more and more short trips. That’s great. We’re getting better about being less car dependent. So, I guess even though I can’t ride to work anymore I can still do my part by riding my bike for short trips around the area.


Softball follies

Tonight was softball night again. And I’m telling you, there are tons of crazy things going on. It must have been my night because I had a ton of action tonight.

First up, have you ever noticed how hard it is to throw a softball? That thing is like a dead weight in your hand. Not to mention, you can’t grip it with your fingers. You have to grip it with your whole hand. That makes it super hard to get any snap on the ball.

Second, this field we played on was worst than the sandlot ballfield I played on growing up. The field we made out of grass behind the concession stand at the Little League fields was better than this thing. MOST of the infield was sand. And since Noah and God have been talking lately it’s been raining for about 40 days or so and the field is really wet and messy. The city is too lazy to drag the field so there are ruts and holes everywhere. The only fence on the field is behind home plate and it’s right next to a corn processing plant so the air is nice and fresh. And don’t forget about the people who let their dogs drop bombs all over the outfield grass. (Amazingly I was playing center again) It looked like a freaking dog park out there or something.

Crazy thing #1–We had not one, but two opposing players decked out in full baseball uniform attire. Not just cleats (about all I can stand for church league) but also full rise baseball pants, form fitting under armour shirts, stirrups and flip down sunglasses (for a game that basically happened at dusk). One of these guys was crazy serious guy who played college baseball and now wanted to take it out on other people. He’s crazy guy #1. The other guy was basically a poser. He didn’t do much.

So, crazy guy #1 turns out to be a monster hitter. I mean, way outside the scope of the league these games are played in. His first time up he hits a ball into left center that is in the gap (he’s lefthanded and we only have 9 players, right fielder is a girl (no offense) so the gap is rather large). (Yes I did just use a parenthesis inside a parenthesis) I know this guy is off to the races figuring that he can beat any throw from us limp wristed players back in from the outfield. He unfortunately didn’t know that although I’m quite portly I can run fairly well and I have a cannon for an arm. By the time I grabbed the ball and fired it back in he had to stay at third. He was none to happy about that. I was very happy about that. Even though he scored on the next play.

My first time up I rocked a line drive to the SS that was dropped. (This is the poser from above) I’m off to the races trying to beat the throw. I notice out of my peripherals that the throw is bad so as I’m running I start to move my feet to get into position to round the base and take second (remember the bad field??) as I do that the 1st baseman comes over into my path (not a good idea, once I get moving I DO NOT stop very quickly). I decide to try to hit the corner of the bag and go to second all while avoiding a certain collision with this poor 1st baseman who has no idea what he is about to experience. Unfortunately, the bases on this field are sunk into the dirt. Yes, sunk in. I mean, the top of the bag is level with the infield. As I try to step on the corner there is no corner. Next thing you know I’m on the ground rolling and bouncing. And I can’t breathe. I basically landed straight on my chest and then rolled over a few times (remember I can’t stop). So I’m on my hands and knees and I’m sucking air for all I’m worth. I look like my dog (Boston Terrier) when she gets this reverse breathing thing going and she is snorting and trying to catch her breath. That’s what I’m doing. I’m definitely not feeling very good at this point. The “coach” wants to take me out for a pinchrunner but there is no way that is happening. If I get on I’m going to run around the dang bases. I’ve had my wind knocked out before but that was the worst I’ve had. My chest is still hurting. I did get to advance to the next base though because the ball went past the 1st baseman and out of the field of play (remember how there are no fences??).

So, we are only in the 2nd (maybe 3rd, I don’t know) inning and I’m hurting. I’ve already had the base running incident and I’ve run all over the outfield catching balls and getting the ground balls. But now someone hits a ball that is kind of a bloop hit over the middle of the field that is dropping in front of me. Even with my blinding speed (my story) I can’t get to this thing so I pull up, field the hop and fire that sucker home. And it is a fantastic throw if I say so myself. Nice and low, right to the pitcher’s (he’s covering the plate rather than the girl catcher) knee. Runner is out by a mile. He drops it. Ehh. That’s how it goes sometimes. But it was a beauty of a throw. (By the way, I notice a lot less balls coming out to center after this goes down). I also threw someone out at 1st from center. I feel kind of bad doing that but I guess that’s part of the game.

The rest of the game was basically a normal game. Since I know the rules I was able to take advantage of a few people who didn’t and help the team get some runs. Plus, knowing how to run bases is a big help, even if I don’t do it that quickly. We ended up winning by a run. Crazy dude #1 ended up hitting a dinger (it was Barry Bonds esque, and with no fences you have to run around the bases to get a home run) and the last time he was up we walked him (not intentionally but sort of after he fouled off the first pitch. Rules of the league are that if a guy walks, with a girl following him, and you didn’t pitch him any strikes he and the girl behind him get on. So the fact that he fouled off the pitch was huge.)

Softball rules.


Say what?

How do you know that you’ve listened to a CD too many times?

When your 4 yr old is running around the house singing about falling into a burning ring of fire