Tuesday, April 29, 2008

David Lebovitz Hits Another Home Run

I don't recall who turned me on to David Lebovitz's blog, but I must certainly thank them.

Last week I tried yet another recipe of his: My Killer App Candied Peanut Recipe and I must say, it rocks. I chose to candy almonds (not peanuts), and they turned out beautifully roasted, and coated with just the right amount of caramelized sugar. I added a hint of cinnamon and salt, and will probably bump the salt up next time (I love salty sweet, which is why I dig Kettle Corn). The recipe was, just like the others I've tried, just as easy as he explained, and had results that looked just like his. Wow.

I had to give away about half of it at work because I slowly snacked on the nuts at home.

Lebovitz's recipes for hot chocolate, butterscotch pudding, and the easiest chocolate ice cream ever all worked out beautifully. The one recipe I've tried that didn't turn out amazing, Clotilde's Very Chocolate Cookies, produced decent results, just not what I wanted.

I do look forward to trying the Chocolate Idiot Cake, Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake, Dulce De Leche recipes (and probably some others too...).

He's not making my diet easy, that's for sure.

Friday, April 25, 2008

GM Crops Yield Less

I've been chatting with a friend off and on about farming, organics, GMO, and other related topics. One question he had was about yields, and I didn't know if GM crops had better yields or not, but figured Mansanto (and other seed companies) would have marketed them as having higher yields. But I would obviously question what Mansanto said since they are trying to sell their own product.

Turns out, GM crops yield less: Exposed: the great GM crops myth - Green Living, Environment - The Independent

Monday, April 21, 2008

Simone In Action

Nearly 23 months old, she's changing every day. Here are a couple of videos we've made on little walks. Notice her use of the sign "please" when talking about looking for the horses.

Coop update

I spent a little bit of time working on the coop again this weekend. It doesn't look that different, but there are a lot of small changes. The roof beams are now cut to the proper length (they were about 3 inches too long), the 2nd floor now has horizontal beams, and there are a number of triangular supports providing stability.

Jupiter lookin gout the north end, pretending he's in the nestbox.

Jupiter is startled he didn't lay an egg. Or maybe he's afraid the chickens saw him scoping out their pad.

We don't need a stinking truck! Just throw it on top of the Subaru! That's 8 sheets of 3/8" plywood.

Simone isn't so sure Jupiter belongs in the coop.

Odd Weather

I don't normally care that much about the weather, things are hit and miss until May or June - that's pretty standard Oregon weather. But this past weekend was really odd.

Check out the snow we had Sunday morning:

When was the last time you saw snow on top of tulips? And on our walk it hailed, one of the 6 times it hailed on Sunday. It was crazy hail, the size of split peas, coming down hard:

Clip Art House

Mary and I walk a loop past the duck pond, around the country club, and up over the hill. We walk through some new developments, and one house stands out. Take a look at it:

Does anything look odd to you? I'm not sure if the picture conveys what you see in person. Take a look at the rock facade. Does it look funny? Perhaps like it was taken from clip art? Or perhaps is from some 3-D video game in the late 90's?

That's exactly what it looks like in person. It's unnerving, it looks artificial from every angle. Really bizarre.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Diet, Month 3

Fit bowl has finished its third month - I don't yet know the standings, but I imagine I'm at the bottom of the top pack (i.e. in the middle). I'm down 25 pounds or so, and things feel pretty good.

This week was a bit tough. I was in Wilsonville 4 days for a class. Good class, but I was stuck in a room for 8 hours a day with brownies, cookies, muffins, etc. Two of the days I completely blew my calorie limit. It also didn't help that I didn't fit any exercise in.

But all is well, I'm back on the band wagon. I ran 4 miles today with Simone, and we had our now standard pizza night. And I even had enough calories left for a couple chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.

The milk is from a local farm, raw cow milk. I've never had raw cow milk before - it's pretty yummy. I'm not sure if the milk is yummy because the cows are happy, because the milk is raw (not pasteurized), or if it's because it is whole milk. But I approve.

One of the benefits of my weight loss is that my snoring has (apparently) ceased. Mary says she doesn't hear me snoring any longer, and that's a good thing. Also, my heartburn is much less frequent - so perhaps my GI tract is happier. (Remember, I've got a stricture in my esophagus, and gall bladder inflammation (and stones).)

On a related note, some guy changed his life by hopping on a bike. Anyone can lose weight, you just have to change your life.

On another related note, this is Jared's 10th year of eating right (Subway fame). The quote I like the best from that link is:
"If you don't like the life you're living while you're losing, you're much more likely to gain it back"
Words to live by.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


We got some chickens.

"What?" you say.

"Yeah, chickens."

I mean, Who doesn't like eggs? No, we're not going to eat the chickens - I mean they're gonna have names and everything. I certainly am not looking forward to telling Simone that "Gladys" went to the big coop in the sky.

So we got some chickens, 3 in fact. I believe the breed is "Buf Orphington." Mary actually picked up 11, eight were for a friend who couldn't make it to the store the day the chicks arrived.

Mary has been wanting chickens for quite a while - I never fully understood the attraction, but now that we have them, I'm getting pretty stoked. We'll get eggs, probably over a dozen a week once they get going (next year, they'll reach laying age right when winter starts to set in and egg production drops). And they'll turn all our kitchen scraps into nice fertilizer. Plus we'll get some friendly pets to follow us around the yard.

Currently, they're living in a big Tupperware bin, eating, drinking, sleeping, cheeping. They're a hoot (guess that'd make them owls). Simone loves to say "hi" to the chicks.

Longer term, they'll obviously grow out of the Tupperware bin, heck at this rate they'll probably be too large for the bin in another two or three weeks. In the first two weeks they've at least tripled in size. They've transformed from cute little fuzzy balls into mangy-looking small chickens. Why are they mangy looking? Their feathers are coming in, and the initial feathers aren't completely full - they kind of look like what you would get when putting a pinata together.

So what do chickens live in? A coop of course! Where do you get a coop? You can buy them... Or you can make them.

Being the handyman I am, we chose the decision to make one.

There are all sorts of different variations, but none quite fit what we wanted, namely bigger than small, with storage underneath for the bags of food and bedding.

Perhaps at some point I'll put up the plans (it was disappointing to see the lack of detailed plans available on the web). But the basic plan is a 3'x5' base, the bottom vertical 3 feet is storage, and above that is a floor for the chickens. We bought a linoleum remnant and are putting that down to ease cleanup after the chickens.

Here are some pictures of progress so far, Simone helped quite a bit.

The base and the initial frames for the walls. The whole thing will sit on those cinder blocks you see on the right.

Simone sitting in the framing for the storage door. She's making sure everything is square.

Simone is verifying all the screws have the same number of threads, and the threads all go in the same direction (nice to be sure which direction to turn the screwdriver).
Finally you can see the overall framework, including the roof line. I'll be trimming the the vertical and roof beams appropriately this coming weekend.

And here are the chickens:
This is all 11, ours are the yellow ones. See how small they are compared to the feeder?

At age 3 days (well, one week? dunno, this is three days after we got them).

And here they are after two weeks at home, notice they're about the same size as the feeder now. They let you scratch their chest now if you're real gentle.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Beaver Freezer 2008

So... how'd I do?

I placed 86th out of 270 people, 63rd out of 128 men, and 8th out of 21 men ages 35-39.
I'm pretty stoked with the results, especially considering how little I trained. Looking at the overall results, the field seems a little weaker than in the past. I finished faster than in 2007, but slower than in 2005, yet placed much higher than both years.

But, when just compared to myself, I'm happy with the results. The run was my fastest yet, and my T2 time rocked. Here's the breakdown:

Trey's 2008 Beaver Freezer
Stage Time Pace Place in StageCumulative TimeCumulative Place
Swim 8:26 1:41.2 93 8:26 93
T1 2:39
96-T 11:05 89
Bike 38:5918.5 69 50.04 71
T2 1:31
98 51:35 68-T
Run 25:318:13.9 123 1:17:06 86

The race started off fairly smoothly, my swim felt smooth, and not at all rushed. I passed a guy, who then passed me back and but didn't swim very fast - so I just relaxed and swam a little slower. I felt great getting out of the pool - after having to wait a few seconds for the guy to get out.

The first transition felt very rushed - it was very difficult getting the socks on my wet feet (gotta remember to get loose socks and to dry feet off), and I had trouble putting my race belt on. But off I went.

The bike ride felt great - I could totally tell I'd lost some weight because I could comfortably use the drops. My legs felt a little tired, but I passed a number of people, and played leap frog with #80 about 5 times (she beat me in the end).

The 2nd transition was great, I knew exactly where to go, and changing into my shoes was easy.

The run was similar to last year's: the first lap felt horrible, the second lap was bearable, and I had to keep reminding myself to push it on the 3rd lap. The last 100 yards felt good and I crossed the finish line pretty spent.

Sam and Ingrid came down to cheer me on, which was nice. Sam has some pics here. Mary's mom (Gin) came over from Albany and gave support too. And, of course, Mary and Simone were there giving it their all - soon Simone will be running along with me.

Things to remember to do next time: get there early - Simone and I took the Burley around 2 hours before my start and got an excellent spot on the rack. Dry feet off well after the swim. And run like hell.

Looking back at my goal from 2007 which is to finish in 1:12, I'm thinking I might push for 1:10 because it's a nice round number. Of course, to do that I'll have to run 7 minute miles (gasp), and kick up the swim (sub 8 minutes) and riding (20.5 mph) a notch. The run is the key.

Results of Beaver Freezer 2008, April 5, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Just Say "No" To Irradiated Food

Sign the petition to let the FDA know you're against them allowing irradiated being labeled as simply "pasteurized."

OCA: Take Action

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Triathlon in Two Days

I've got two days (not even 48 hours) until my Beaver Freezer triathlon. I've not trained quite as much as I'd hoped, but I'm pretty happy with the shape I'm in all things considered. Heck, just tonight I finally fixed my road bike seat I broke 3 months ago.

But running is feeling good - my distances are still pretty short (finally got new shoes a couple of weeks ago), and the swimming picked up well (I've swum maybe a dozen times this year).

My last two results were 1:18 and 1:15, and I'm hoping for 1:20. We'll see.

Probably the best training so far has just been losing the 20+ pounds I've lost during the fit bowl.

As long as I don't lose to the oldest guy (66).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

True: No Impact Man: Why I'm fond of saying wisdom trumps science

I read this the other day and it rings so true.

No Impact Man: Why I'm fond of saying wisdom trumps science:
"And to my mind, the debate over the science is pointless. All over the world, countries are going to be increasingly buying renewable energy. The question is, does the United States want to be at the forefront of the renewable energy sector or not? Do we want to be exporters of the new green tech, and create green jobs in doing so, or not?"
Whether or not you think global warming is real (it is), or if preserving the environment is worthwhile (it is), or if it's better to spend money on schools or jails (schools), or if healthcare is a right (should be in a "civilized" society), or if supporting local/organic food sources is healthier/better (it is), there's often something to be learned by taking a step back.

No Impact Man sums up the issue about climate in a way that even the corporate-shills-we-call-our-elected-leaders should understand - should we (the U.S.) lead or follow?

I've often argued that even if you're a "conservative" you should support programs to help dis-advantaged families/children, provide basic health care to all, and support public education. If for no other reason than to ensure these people don't become a drain on society. Sure, that's a negative way of looking at the problem, but I think it's one that could be compelling to those who are fiscally conservative and against "government handouts." In other words, would you rather spend the money up-front to make these people productive/healthy? Or would you rather spend much more money housing/feeding/caring for them in jail, and paying increased health care costs to cover the un-insured who go to the ER for services?

Of course that argument totally ignores the fact that it's the Right Thing to do (WWJD?).