Friday, December 31, 2010

Jerked chicken

Tonight's dinner was jerked chicken.  I got the recipe from the chicken cookbook my mom sent me a couple of months ago.  It was tender, juicy and tasty.  I definitely recommend this recipe and I'll make it again, probably for my Super Bowl party.

The recipe:
10 thin scallions (white and tender green parts), coarsely chopped
1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
2T distilled white wine vinegar
1T fresh thyme leaves
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1.25t ground allspice
1t salt
0.5t ground pepper
10 chicken drumsticks (3.5lbs)

In a food processor or blender, pulse everything, but the chicken until it forms a thick paste.  Transfer the paste to a large bowl, add the chicken and toss to coat.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the broiler on high.  Line the bottom of a broiler pan with foil and replace the perforated top part of the pan.  Oil the pan or coat with cooking spray.  Arrange the chicken on the broiler pan.  Season generously on all sides with salt [optional in my opinion].

Broil the chicken in the center of the oven, turning once after about 10 minutes, until fully cooked and nicely browned in spots, about 20 minutes total.  Transfer to a platter and serve.

This recipe makes 85 so just 15 to go towards my challenge.

Day of Atonement

Tomorrow is the first day of a new year which means an opportunity to turn over a new leaf.  I guess, then, today is a day of reflection for most, but it's more a day of atonement for me since I can be a dirtbag sometimes.

I repent all my sins of 2010 and beg the forgiveness of anyone I might have wronged.  It was not intentional since I think I'm an all-around good guy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gonna travel

While I was shoveling snow this afternoon, I got to thinking about 2011.  I just made a pact to myself to be out of the Albany area for every holiday next year.  I had already planned to go to Portland for Thanksgiving and Christmas so I just need to figure out what to do for Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day.

My brother's "ceremony" is going down on June 4 which is the Saturday after Memorial Day so I'll be out on the West Coast then.  He wants to do something before the ceremony so maybe we'll go down to Black Butte.  I might also drive down to Crater Lake since I haven't been there yet.  I'd also like to go to Las Vegas and the Bay Area.  Hmmm...maybe I'll go to Vegas for a few days in June and then hit the Bay Area in July or around Labor Day.  I don't think I want to be in Vegas in July.  Or I could go to DC in July.  I guess it depends on my cousin's deployment schedule since I'd like to visit him and his family and finally see DC proper.

I think planning now will help me properly budget out my vacation days and will let me know about how much money to save up.  I know lodging will be covered for about one-third of my vacation days so I just need to posse up some scratch for the other two-thirds.

I also had plans to hit the Caribbean, but the summer is hurricane season and I'm not sure I can afford to go during the peak season in the winter/spring.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010

I went back to Portland for Christmas again and had a great time. I saw the Falcons destroy the Seahawks in Seattle, I played a shit ton of cribbage, I ate a lot of good food, I saw True Grit and spent some quality time with the family.

I took a bunch of pictures with my Droid. It doesn't have a great camera and I'm not much of a photographer, but it's all good. Yeah, I took a picture of the outcomes of all my cribbage games. I'm weird that way.

I ate too much sugar and too much dairy so I'm sure I chunked out, but who doesn't over the holidays? My parents are good cooks and we always eat well when I'm there.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fettucine with leeks, peas and cream

I finally made a pasta recipe from my pasta book.  I was going to type out the recipe, but I'm feeling a little lazy and it was just ok.  It was definitely creamy, but didn't have enough taste.  The main ingredients are cheese, cream, leeks and peas so I'm not surprised since those ingredients are all subtle.

It does count as my 84th new recipe.

If I were to make it again, I'd add some grilled chicken or seafood.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

50 questions that will free your mind

Continuing to answer 50 Questions:

#6: If happiness [were] the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

I'm the happiest when I'm making something tangible. I think I went into engineering because I like to make stuff. Lego bricks were my favorite toys growing up and I also liked putting stuff together. I was pretty good at math and solving equations, but I also preferred applying those equations. A lot of people ask about the difference between applied physics (my PhD is in applied physics) as opposed to regular physics and I tell them that applied physics is generally in the engineering school and is just what it advertises. The goal is not just to learn how stuff works, but to learn how to make stuff work. Anyhow, I think I could become "rich" being a carpenter or contractor or whatever if I get to produce something real and something people could enjoy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Slow cooked pork chops

It's Sunday which means a slow cooker meal for dinner.  Tonight was pork chops using a recipe found online.  They were definitely tasty and tender, but a little too salty even though I used low sodium soy sauce.  I would suggest cutting the soy sauce in half and using barbecue sauce, more ketchup or perhaps some honey instead. I'd also double the recipe for more sauce.

I've now polished off 83 recipes towards my challenge.  Sweet.

Macaroni and cheese

Last night I made macaroni and cheese using a recipe from "The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles" which is an awesome cook book.

Here's the recipe:

6T unsalted butter
1C fresh bread crumbs
8oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
1C grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
12oz evaporated milk
0.25t hot red pepper sauce
1t dry mustard, dissolved in 1t water
12oz elbow macaroni
4oz sliced ham, finely chopped
1C frozen peas, thawed
Ground black pepper

1. Heat 2T butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the foam subsides.  Add the bread crumbs and cook, tossing to coat with the butter, until the crumbs just begin to color.  Season to taste with salt.  Cool completely, toss with 2T Gruyere and 2T Parmesan and set aside.
[The bread crumbs will soak up the butter pretty quickly so make sure to shake the skillet frequently.]

2. Adjust the oven rack 6" from the heating element and heat the broiler.
[Broilers don't take long to warm up so there is no rush.  I'd also use a low broiler setting if you have one.]

3. Mix the eggs, 1C evaporated milk, hot pepper sauce and mustard mixture in a small bowl, set aside.

4. Meanwhile, bring 3qt of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add 2t salt and the macaroni and cook until almost tender, but still a little firm to the bite.  Drain and return the pasta to the pot over low heat.  Add the remaining 4T butter and toss to melt.
[Subtract 1-2 minutes off the recommending cooking time found on the box.]

5. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta along with three-quarters of the remaining cheese; stir until thoroughly combined and the cheese starts to melt.  Gradually add the remaining milk and cheese, stirring constantly, until the mixture is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the ham and peas.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Pour the cooked macaroni and cheese into a 9-inch square baking dish pan.  Spread the crumbs evenly over the top.  Broil until the crumbs turn deep brown, 1 to 2 minutes.  Let stand to set a bit, about 5 minutes and serve.

As you can see, I broiled just a bit too long.  I also used a 9x13 pan because I used 16oz of macaroni since I didn't feel like leaving just 4oz in the box.

It turned out well and I would definitely make it again.  I think the mustard is a nice addition because just cheese and noodles can be a little bland.

I've now banged out 82 recipes towards my challenge.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ramblings on a cold Saturday morning

It's been pretty cold lately so going to work has been a whole barrel full of monkeys kind of fun.  For some reason, the third of my house where my bedroom is is much colder than the rest of the house.  It is the farthest from the furnace, but I think something more than just proximity is going on.  My house is definitely drafty so I need to get an energy audit next spring to identify the culprit and get it fixed.  I had a tankless water heater installed to save a bit on energy, but I think the gas used to heat water is dwarfed by that used to heat my mostly empty house.  I'm not a fan of carpet, but it does help keep the floor reasonably warm.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not regretting my tankless since the water is always hot for the shower or any other thing I want to do.  It does take a bit to heat up at the faucets, but I'll fix that problem in one bathroom with an Ariston 4g POU electric heater.  I ordered one earlier this week and it fits under the sink.  It should because I measured everything out, but you never know.  Hopefully my plumber can get back to me on a quote for the fat guy toilet so I can get both of those taken care of.  The toilet in my main bathroom sucks so I'm going to replace it with a water conserving Toto bad boy.  I think he can get a pretty good discount, but we'll see.  I poked around online and the prices aren't too bad anyhow.  I've definitely budgeted enough money so there'll be some leftover to use for Xmas presents.  Some people really like this time of the year with all the decorations and caroling and whatnot.  I'm kind of luke-warm on it.  It's a good chance to see family and to get some stuff, but I can get stuff anytime I want thanks to my job, my credit card and the internet.  I find the excessive consumerism pretty depressing though I'm as guilty of it as the average American.  One of my biggest fears is that I'll turn into an average American who's 50lbs overweight with diabetes and a huge pile of consumer debt.  Heh.  I'm already halfway there.  I just need to eat some more crap and spend a bit more money.  All this tax bill talk is starting to piss me off though.  We should be more concerned for the future since our current economic strategy is broken.  The future is going to be crippling since we'll owe trillions and trillions of dollars to foreign governments.  Why?  So we can buy too much crap.  Stuff rarely makes you happy and the acquiring of stuff is even more empty.  Only people can make us truly happy and we can hang out with them for free.  I'm ok with having a much higher tax rate on the richest Americans because I think a good fraction of them trampled on the rest of us to get to where they are now.  Not all of them, but certainly some.  It's a zero-sum game and the true cost of our actions is not always monetary.  The Republicans seem hell-bent on enriching as many of their donors as possible while the Democrats seem hell-bent on handing out whatever they can.  Both are trying to buy goodwill, but from different people.  Obama has become next to useless with his endless and unnecessary compromising.  I'm finding him to be nearly on the side of dishonesty.  He's pretty much done, but it's possible he could win in 2012 if the Republicans run a dumbass like Palin against him.  I know a fair amount of people would vote for her, but I'm sure even more would vote against her.  Better the devil you know eh?  It would be nice if more parties could be involved in government.  They could help dilute the influence of the two major parties and could better represent the middle of America.  Maybe I'll start a new political party.  I think I'll call it the Rational Party because I want to restore reasoning and rationality to governing.  Truth #1: you can't cut taxes without increasing the incoming money some other way (invading a rich country and robbin' their asses) or by cutting services.  Politicians are always going on about how they're going to cut taxes and then cut some spending.  But what?  I'll vote for the first person who actually details what current spending their going to cut.  The big problem is the US spends a buttload of money on the military, Social Security and Medicare.  The military seems untouchable for some strange reason and the other two would be tough to go after as well.  Hmmm...there are some crows in my front yard cleaning themselves up in my pond.  Anyhow, we've got to approach the situation logically or we'll further bankrupt future generations.  How long can America be on top with its current policies?  We waste billions of dollars protecting people in Iraq and Afghanistan nearly against their wishes.  Why?  Are we any more secure now?  Iraq never had WMD because Clinton blew that mess up with some surgical strikes.  Solid intelligence and surgical strikes are all we really need.  We don't need ground troops to secure anything because we just want to reduce others' ability to wage war on us.  It's a lot trickier in Afghanistan because we're trying to find specific people, but I still think we've failed miserably there.  I don't feel any safer and now I've got the choice of getting cancer or getting groped when I fly.  Flying used to be a cool experience because you could go crazy distances in just a short time.  Now it's a pain in the butt and a lot of the novelty has worn off.  I much prefer driving, but my family is too far away for me to drive back for a visit.  Bum deal.  Flying is always too much like riding the bus.  You're squashed in with the unwashed masses.  I flew first class a couple of times last year and it was nearly tolerable, but it's expensive.  Last year, first class tickets were cheap because the airlines were trying to attract customers.  Now it seems like every flight is full.  Demand has picked back up, but the airlines aren't adding new flights.  I don't blame them because they can't afford to fly people around the country at a loss, but it does complicate the situation for me.  I guess Americans got greedy and came to expect being able to fly anywhere they wanted for peanuts.  I actually wouldn't mind if flying became more expensive to help filter some of the white trash out.  Long term readers of my blog know white trash is my nemesis.  They are the antithesis of everything for which I stand.  I'm not sure how this country would function without them, but I wouldn't mind finding out.  I'm sure we could find teenagers and old people to man the shifts at fast food restaurants.

Blogger's editor kind of sucks

I'm too lazy to switch to a new host, but there has to be a more efficient way to create blog entries.  Sure you can drag pictures around, but it doesn't always float them the way I'd like.  Oh well.  This blog is mainly a place for me to capture my thoughts though I haven't done much rambling lately.  Perhaps I need to change that.

Fitness update

Well, the chunkening continues. I kept up with my morning exercises and I seem to be getting stronger, but I think I'm just building muscle under fat as the numbers don't look good this week. I ate decently, but I could've eaten better.

I've been making protein shakes for dessert using whey protein isolate. It doesn't taste too bad and I mix up about 50g of protein with a glass of almond milk. My colleague at work says I need to watch for uric acid buildup because too much protein can be hard on the kidneys. Hmmm... I also read that too much protein can leech calcium from my bones. Hmmm... Neither sounds good, but I eat a fair amount of cheese and yogurt so I think I'm ok. It's definitely something to keep an eye on.

The exercises from my Lauren book are definitely working because I feel stronger, as I mentioned above. I'm still thinking I might give P90X a shot with the beginning of the new year since I already bought it. Maybe it's what I need to jumpstart my fitness since I seem to be regressing significantly. I'm going to believe the numbers because I don't think my scale would get the trends wrong. I'm definitely more out of shape now than I have been in a while though people keep telling me I look like I'm in shape. Most of those people are family and they rarely give you the bitter truth. Gah.

The struggle continues.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chicken salad

I can't remember where I found this recipe, but it's definitely not my creation [maybe it's from this Food Source recipe].  I made it for lunch today and it's pretty effin' tasty and seems healthful.  I used grilled chicken and left out the pecans and celery.

Here's the recipe:
Curried Cranberry Chicken Salad

1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
4 1/2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
2 chopped apples
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped scallions

1. Combine yogurt, lime juice and curry powder in large mixing bowl.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients.

It counts as my 81st new recipe towards my challenge.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thousand Island dressing

My friend makes her own Thousand Island dressing and forwarded me the Epicurious recipe. I gave it a shot tonight and here's the result:
It smells like it should, but I haven't tried it yet. I didn't have any parsley, but I don't think that's a critical ingredient.

I've now finished 80 recipes towards my challenge. Just 20 more.

Fitness update

Well, well, well.  I kept up with my morning exercises and I feel stronger.  I also thought I was eating pretty well, but the numbers seem to indicate otherwise because I'm chunking out.  If I don't eat properly, I'll just build muscle under the fat which is what seems to be happening.  Weak sauce.

Of course, I've been sick for more than a week, but I don't want to use that situation as an excuse.  I need to buckle down, eat right and get active.

As promised by my poll, this entry brings back the shirtless photos of me to track if my exercising and diet is working properly.  As you can see from the picture, there is a significant amount of chunk around the middle, but that chunk will be the last to go.  When my navel circumference gets down around 32-33 inches, I'll know I'm in shape.

My shoulders have pretty good definition and I think my neck is getting thicker.  Most of the chunk is concentrated between my armpits and waist.  You can see the hint of some definition in my upper abs, but perhaps that's just wishful thinking.

For those who are worried, I'm not body dysmorphic and I have a good sense of humor.  I see getting in shape as a life long challenge.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

El bandito and fun with facial hair

We were having a beard competition at work, but only as an intermediate step towards a handlebar/fu manchu contest.  One of our colleagues has had a handlebar/fun manchu for something like forty years and we thought we'd see if we could match him.

Here I am with the beard.  Notice the white hairs:
It doesn't look too bad though I definitely need to clean my bathroom mirror.

After some nifty work with my clippers and shaver...blao!
I don't think it looks too bad though it seems a little asymmetrical because the hair near the edges of my mouth is really blond.

Anyhow, I think I'll keep this look for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Interest rates are crazy low so I'm thinking about refinancing.  Unfortunately, my loan-to-value is pretty high so I don't have much equity.  I don't think closing costs would be more than the equity I do have and I have an FHA loan which has a streamlined refinancing option.  I think I might be able to save roughly $200 a month which isn't anything to sneeze at given I live paycheck to paycheck.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

You might be wondering where I've been. Well, I flew out to Portland and then we drove up to Bellevue, WA for Thanksgiving. I took a bunch of crappy photos with my Droid, but Blogger wouldn't let me upload them en masse so I put them in a Picasa album:

I'm not sure how well it'll work, but it was easier than bringing in each picture separately. The locations aren't quite right, but they're close enough.

Anyhow, I had a great trip - my brother got married since his now-wife's visa status is/was iffy and I got stuck in Chicago last night. Good times.

I did go bowling so I am a small step closer to polishing off another challenge.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fitness update

For various reasons, I choose not to take my measurements tomorrow so I did them this morning.  I know it may sound like wishful thinking, but I do not believe the body fat readings from this morning.  I can't see how I gained two pounds of fat this week by eating better and exercising more.  This reading also doesn't jive with the jiggle and flab grab tests.  Maybe it's because it's cold and dry.  I don't know.  It's just one reading and isn't that important because it's pretty easy to tell if you're in shape - just look in the mirror.  Of course, being a big ol' dork, I like to have a way to quantify my fitness.  I could also use navel circumference since it picks up the love handles.  When it hits 32", I'll know I'm ripped.

I did a full week of exercises from Lauren's book and I know it's working because I have more energy, I've been in a better mood and I'm horny as all get up (local ladies, help me out!).  Heh.  It sounds strange, but I can almost feel my metabolism shifting.  The good news is I haven't been stuffing my face with bad food.  I went out to eat with my dad and his coworker yesterday for lunch, but we had Indian food which is pretty healthy for sure.  My dad and his coworker were out here for a work trip so I got to see him twice - once when he came over to check out my place and then at lunch.

Anyhow, I think this new exercise scheme is working well and I'll definitely be able to stick with it because nearly all the exercises require just your body.  Thanksgiving is coming up, though, so I'll need to be careful about my eating.  My parents also tend to have a lot of snacks around as well, but I think my discipline has improved greatly.

My previous goal was to drop ten pounds of fat, but if I can't trust my scale, then I'll revise the goal to drop four inches off my navel circumference.  Then, my navel circumference would match my waist which is what should happen when you're in shape.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sweet and sour meatballs

The main course for dinner tonight was sweet and sour meatballs though I have plenty of green on my plate as well thanks to salad and broccoli.  I got the recipe from a blog, Kitchen to Kitchen, when I was searching for something else.  Some of the other recipes on there look pretty tasty as well.

The meatballs were easy to make and turned out well.  The recipe said to use a really lean meat so I used turkey.  The blog author used elk, but I'm not sure where I'd get elk around here except maybe off the road.  Heh.  I would definitely make this recipe again though I'd probably make more sauce as the author suggests.

I've now banged out 79 new recipes towards my challenge.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Protein bars

I would like to eat more protein, but commercial protein bars are little better than candy bars so I thought I would make my own.  Hmmm...this recipe for no bake oat bars did not work out well for me because it's too dry.  I think I need to use oilier peanut butter or more liquid.

My friend says she has a good recipe, but getting it from her has been like pulling teeth.

The bone dry protein bar mix:
It's a new recipe so now I've polished off 78 towards my challenge.

Fitness update

I didn't make much progress this week, but I think I am newly motivated to get into shape.  Yeah, I think I say that every week and every week I slip a bit further into chunkitude, but I'm serious this time.  Heh.  I think I now have a good tool since I bought a book by this guy when I was poking around on Amazon.  I highly recommend it and I don't want to exaggerate, but I think it'll turn my life around because I always feel better when I'm in better shape and I think this book will help me get there.  I read through it already and he has some interesting ideas on fitness which match my experience.

Firstly, he emphasizes high intensity strength training over low intensity aerobics or cardio.  He claims there are studies showing no heart benefit to cardio over strength training.  He also points out that low intensity exercises only help us become more efficient at those exercises.  Let's say you jog three or four times a week.  You're going to improve, but what's happening is you're becoming more efficient at jogging rather than becoming stronger.  Your body will shrink muscles not in use which is not really the point unless you're training for a road race.

He also gives some good information on nutrition which is mostly in line with the South Beach Diet.  He advocates eating a lot of protein every two to three hours.  You should eat just fruit, vegetables, protein, eggs, nuts, seeds, fish and maybe dairy.  It's kind of like a paleo diet and you adjust the caloric intake based on whether you want to get lean or build muscle.

My goal is to get to ripped and to reverse some of the trends of aging so I'll focus on his program of strength training for a couple of hours a week.  It doesn't sound like it'll be enough, but the impact of a high intensity exercise lasts long after you finish it in contrast to a low intensity exercise which is easy to recover from.  I have probably mangled the theory so read the book for yourself.  It's only $10 and all of the exercises can be done at home with just your body and sometimes some household supplies.

He breaks the exercises into four groups: push, pull, legs and glutes and core.  You can mix and match or focus on one group a day.  I think I'll focus on one group a day since my plan is to pick and choose different exercises each day.  I don't want to do the same pull exercises on every pull day, for example.  He has enough variations for me to use muscle confusion which is essential to preventing plateaus.

Anyhow, I think I have the tools needed to reverse the pathetic body fat trends of the past few months.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Posture fixed

Today I had an appointment with my chiropractor and he moved me onto maintenance so I think I'll consider this task complete.  I've had a good number of appointments to get readjusted and I've been mostly keeping up with my posture exercises at work and at home.  I need to do a better job of doing the prone Bruggers and the wall squats at night, but I do the seated Bruggers at work.

I'm not sure if my spine is actually straighter, but I think I feel less crooked and feeling less cooked was definitely my number one priority.

I've now polished off 7 tasks.

Closed water system

In the past, I've done some rambling on an off-grid house and today I was wondering if you could build a closed water system.  Most people pull city water and output waste to the sewer so you get charged twice for water used.  I think it would be pretty easy to build a filter for the dooker and the stuff in piss, but you would want to sterilize the water or you'd have cholera constantly.  Rather than use chemicals maybe you could use UV.  However, UV requires a lot of juice so you'd need to be able to generate a hefty amount of electricity from solar, wind and hydrogen cells.

The good news is you could hookup your gutters to the system to collect rain water.  Unless you live in the desert the rain water would compensate for watering the garden and other losses.

An interesting project would be to design a completely self-sufficient house without a septic system.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Gah.  It only took one day of work to wipe out more than two-thirds of my good mood.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Properly motivated

For some reason, I woke up this morning properly motivated to get my fat ass in shape. Maybe I know I feel better when I'm in better shape or maybe I'm disappointed that I've failed so far to prevent the winter fattening. My pushup challenge isn't going well because my wrists are weaker than the rest of my body - probably due to too much time spent on the computer.

I can't wait for the beginning of the year and assume P90X is going to save my bacon. If I'm not in the proper shape, I won't be able to do enough of the exercises to get anything out of it. For the rest of the year, I'm going to get up early three days a week to do some strength training. I'll try to add some cardio on the off days. I also ordered up an incline bench to do crunches and back extensions and a dip station to do...well, dips.

I'll wrangle my eating habits back into shape by avoiding sugar again. I've been stress snacking and it's doing quite a bit of harm. The more sugar I eat, the worse I feel which encourages me to eat even more sugar to feel better.

If I don't make significant progress by the end of the year, then I will buy any local reader of this blog a nice dinner.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Peppercorn steak

Tonight's dinner was peppercorn steak with a pomegranate glaze and a salad.  I think the picture shows the right proportion of steak to salad and I didn't even eat all the steak shown.

The steak turned out well though I might have used a little too much rosemary.  I don't think I've done much cooking with pomegranate before so it was cool to try something new.  I would recommend cooking the steak on the grill though instead of in a frying pan as the recipe suggests.

I've now banged out 77 recipes towards my challenge.

Baked sweet potato sticks

The sweet potatoes looked much fresher at the store today so I got some to bake up according to this recipe I found online.  The recipe is simple and turned out alright, but I didn't taste anything other than sweet potato.  I'm not complaining, but I don't need a recipe to tell me to cut up a tuber and bake it in the oven.  In any case, sweet potatoes are chock full of vitamins and minerals and taste sweet, but have a low glycemic index.

Simple as it is, it counts as my 76th recipe.  Just 24 more to go towards my challenge.

Hot water update

I exchanged an e-mail or two with plumber and he said that it's not worth insulating the hot water pipes because my basement is fairly warm.  He also counseled against a recirculation system since it's costly and will erode my energy gains.

To solve the shower pressure problem, he suggested switching to just one shower head.  Now, I'm smart enough to know that only one shower head will have more pressure, but I didn't realize it would achieve fire hose level.  I took a shower for the first time this morning with just one shower head and it felt a little like sandblasting.  I feel really clean, but the pressure was bordering on painful.  I may need to get a shower head to restrict the pressure a bit or perhaps I can get a restrictor to put in series.  Anyhow, there are many ways to reduce water pressure so it's a good problem to have.

The impression I'm getting from people, including the plumber, is to man up on the hot water wait time at the faucets.  It seems I was spoiled before because the water heaters were set at a high temperature.  I guess I'm greedy because I want instant as well as continuous hot water.  I had asked about the efficacy of a point of use (POU) electric heater at each faucet and the plumber said it would help speed up the heating process, but he didn't comment on whether I would still come out ahead from an energy perspective.

An Ariston electric POU electric heater would provide either 2.9 or 3.9g of hot water using a 1.5kW heater.  It's hard to estimate the energy hit because 1.5kW is the peak power and the heater wouldn't need to kick on often or for very long as it takes about 30s for the tankless to provide hot water to each faucet.  The heaters are about $200 so I might get one and have the plumber install it in the main bathroom when he installs the new toilet.  I'll try it out and see how much it improves the situation because I like to wash my hands in warm water, but I don't want to wait 30s for the water to heat up.  A lot of cold water would flow in 30s which would cause my water bill to spike.

It is possible for me to install both the toilet and the electric heater, but I'm worried the conditions will be less than ideal in my bathroom.  I'm not sure in what condition the plumbing is in and the install quote I got is reasonable.

The situation may be closer to worst case since it's just me here.  A larger family would use water more often so there would be more hot water in the pipes.  However, I don't think the financial cost nor the extra energy will be extravagant since it'll cut down on water waste.  The heater will take up space under the sink, but I don't consider that a real downside since I store nothing there.

Fitness update

Sweet.  The fattening continues.  Gah.  I haven't given up quite yet, but I'm having trouble summoning the willpower and discipline to get in shape.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tankless water heater...activate

Today the plumber, Chris Collins, finished installing my new Rinnai 94Lsi tankless water heater.  It took him about a week, but he didn't work every day due to some flooding emergencies elsewhere.  I decided to go tankless because I was able to centrally locate it in my basement and it replaced an aging 40 gallon tank and a soon-to-be-old 50 gallon tank.  The US government is offering a 30% tax credit on tankless heaters so I'll get some money back next year.

I tried it out when I got home from work and was disappointed to discover it takes longer for the water to get hot, but once hot,  it'll stay hot for longer.  I'll also be able to have hot water on demand since I don't need to wait for a tank to refill.  Before, I would run the dishwasher and then wait a couple of hours before running the laundry or taking a shower or whatever.  I think I'll have enough pressure to shower while the dishwasher is on, but I'm not sure.

It'll be interesting to see if I save money since natural gas is cheap around here.  I may even break even because I'll use more water waiting for it to get hot.'s much to early to have buyer's remorse, but it'll be something for me to keep an eye on.

In any case, if you're in the Albany, NY area, I highly recommend Chris Collins as a plumber.  He's knowledgeable, efficient, conscientious and charges a fair price.  Since he does quality work, he's usually busy, but not to the point where I would consider taking my business elsewhere.

Here's a picture of the unit installed in my basement:
The yellow line is the natural gas.  You can see a red and blue valve in the lower left hand corner.  Those are maintenance valves and are highly recommended.  The water around here is hard so you need to flush the system every now and then.  If you do not have maintenance valves, you'll need to cut the pipes off to get access.  Pretty stupid eh?  I'm not sure why maintenance valves aren't standard, but it didn't take much convincing to get me to buy some.

The unit needs to be vented so Chris had to drill out a hole in my foundation near my deck.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vegetarian chili in the slow cooker

I kept up the slow cooker theme for tonight's dinner, but this meal turned out much better than last night's.  I felt like eating vegetarian so I tried out this recipe for vegetarian chili.  I have to say it turned out really well and tasted great over wild rice with a little cheddar cheese mixed in.  The tofu adds bulk and there is enough chili powder to provide some kick.  I sweated a little bit while eating it and I have a pretty high spice tolerance.

This recipe makes 75 new ones so I'm three-quarters of the way through my challenge.  Sweet.

I'm too young for white

Today just keeps gettin' better and better.  I noticed quite a number of white hairs in my beard and in the hair above my ears.  Sweet.  Not only am I getting older, but my body has decided to skip the gray phase and go straight to white.

I'm fucked in the head

I'm not sure what's going on with me.  Maybe it's too much sugar or maybe too little exercise, but I'm not feeling it at all.  At the risk of throwing a pity party here are some song lyrics that represent what's going through my head.  It ain't pretty.

"Whomsoever I've cured//I've sickened now.  And whomsoever I've cradled//I've put you down."
"I'm only faking when I get it right."
"How would I know//that this could be my fate?"
"Cause I'm a piece of shit, it ain't hard to fuckin' tell."
"All my life I been considered as the worst."
"I want to leave, I swear to God I feel like death is fuckin' callin' me."
"I set off running//to wake from the dream."
"I begged their forgiveness//I wish I was dead."
"I prayed for God's mercy."
"Slowly drowning through my own abuse//Nothing changes anymore."
"Thought I'd taste the freedom long ago//Not the man I was before."
"Dragged down by the undertow."
"The bitterness and disgust that is me//If you choose to reach out to lend to me//I'll chew off your hand."
"I'm not beggin' for your fuckin' change//I'm just beggin' for a fuckin' change."
"I am once was//that is me."
"I believe I can see the future//Cause I repeat the same routine."
"I think I used to have a purpose//But then again//That might have been a dream."
"I can't remember how this got started//But I can tell you exactly how it will end."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Citrus salmon in the slow cooker

I thought I would cook some salmon tonight because it's good to eat fish at least once a week. I searched online for an interesting recipe and found one for citrus-flavored salmon in the slow cooker. Gah. I do not recommend this recipes. The salmon was cooked fine, but the sauce added no flavor which is surprising because I used OJ and lemon and lime slices. I pretty much wasted some good citrus fruit that I could've juiced instead.

A picture of the offending meal:
At least I banged out another recipe towards my challenge.

The origin of my family name

For the past few years, I've known that Wahl was not my dad's family's original family name and that the name was switched at Ellis Island from Rabben to Wahl. The reasons given were because my great-grandparents didn't speak English and wrote out the name of the fjord near their family farm or perhaps the dude at Ellis Island gave them a new name.

My dad and his brother went to Norway earlier this year to check out from where we come and got the real scoop. My great-grandparents left Norway because my great-grandfather was not the first son so he wasn't going to inherit any land. Norway is not exactly teeming with arable land so he set out to America to seek his fortune. He spoke fluent English and new that robin was a wimpy little bird so he took his neighbor's family name, Wahl, which connotes strong Viking resolve and toughness.

I have to admit this origin story is much cooler than the ones that had my ancestors as dumbasses who moved to the US without knowing any English. I tried to find out if Wahl really is a Scandinavian word, but failed. My dad has a picture of the sign for the Wahl family farm which was right next door to my ancestors'. I'm definitely going to have to visit Norway to check it out.

I've got a cousin, Chris, who could've been Christopher Rabben. Heh.

Fitness update

Another week has gone by with some chunkenin'.  Gah.  I undid any benefit from tennis last weekend by eating poorly this week.  The weather is getting colder so I find myself getting hungrier and hungrier.  Halloween is tomorrow so I helped myself to some candy this week.  Yeah, I know that sentence doesn't exactly make sense, but I rationalized feeding my sugar addiction.

As you can see from the plots, I've pretty much undone most of the hard work over the past year.  Crikey.  The only good news is I'm getting stronger, but getting stronger doesn't mean I'm getting healthier.  I probably should go back to Phase I of the South Beach Diet, but I can't be arsed.

I've found I haven't had much motivation for much of anything lately.  I'm not sure if it's the weather, the fattening or just general malaise.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Medical hypocrisy

One of my (many) pet peeves is fat doctors and nurses.  I don't want to hear some doctor pushing four bills telling me to lose some weight.  I don't want a fatty nurse scoffing at my weight and/or heart rate when she can barely get out of her chair.  I take my GP's advice seriously because he's in shape.  He told me to drop 10lbs when I saw him earlier this year and that's what I'm trying to do.

I know white trash may not know better, but surely people in medicine should.  Doctors need to be able to give tough love, but they can't be hypocritical.

The best laid plans...

The NBA started up this week and some of you know I'm a huge Portland Trail Blazers fan.  I even signed up for NBA League Pass to watch all their games.  I had vowed to watch every game, but my resolve crumbled last night before the second game because I was exhausted.  Portland plays roughly 3/4 of its games in the Pacific time zone so most games don't start until 10-10:30 here.  Sure, 10 isn't that late, but I need to get up around 6 to be at work in time to get work done before my meetings start.  I'll try to watch as many games as I can, but I'm beating myself up a bit because of my weak will.

Portland is 2-0 though they haven't played a good team yet, just a couple of ok ones.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How much is needed for retirement?

My friend told me about which can track all of your financial accounts and help provide some guidance on how to get out of debt *cough, cough* or on how to save for retirement.  You punch in your age, your income, when you'd like to retire and how much you want to have each year.  The program assumed I'd live to 90 and told me I would need about $3.6M if I wanted to rock the equivalent of $80k per year.  Hmmm...$3.6M sounds like quite a bit so I re-ran the numbers.  I said I would get ~7% return and suddenly I only needed to save something like $2.5M.  Crikey.

I try to max out my 401k, but I'm not doing much beyond a little stock trading.  What do people do to save for retirement?  If I'm crazy, I might think I could count on a little from Social Security and possibly a small inheritance from my folks, but the latter would require me forcing my brother to sell our parents' house to split the profits.  I don't think he reads my blog anymore, but my plan is to just give him the house since he's more likely to put it to good use.  I think it would be nice to keep in the family, but who knows?  My parents are still young yet.

I guess I should start socking more away, but I need to put it somewhere I can't reach because otherwise I'll spend it.  I have an IRA so I should start contributing more, but I make too much to get a tax benefit.  I'm also worried about what to do with the money once it's in the account.  I can buy stock, but those could just as easily lose money.  I guess I should find a fairly conservative fund which will give me a solid 5% return.

In order to free up money to be saved, I need to stop spending money.  I'm hoping Mint's dire predictions will keep me in line because self-discipline hasn't worked at all to this point.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fitness update

 My body measurement tape showed up in the mail yesterday so I can add back a measurement of my "waist."  I'm actually measuring my love handles right at my navel.  The measurement is fairly imprecise because the love handles have quite a bit of give to them.  I adjust the tape until it's tight, but not squeezing.

I was using my ex's tape in CA, but didn't get my own after she moved out.  P90X has you measure your waist, biceps, thighs, etc. so I figured it was time for me to get my own.

I can fit into 32" waist pants because they sit below the flub.  Heh.  I guess guys can have muffin tops as well though, for me, it's just the chunk on the sides that flabs over.  I've done a pretty good job on the gut.

The scale tells me I've lost nearly two pounds of fat over the past week, but there is probably considerable error in the measurement.  I still haven't reversed the upward trend, but my knees are feeling better daily so I hope to be back to "baseline" by the end of the year.  We'll see.  I'm going to play some tennis this weekend and will gauge how much stress my knees can take.  Hopefully they're strong and stable so I can start hiking again.  The weather is turning, but I don't think there is snow in the mountains yet.  Once it snows, I'll try out snowshoeing because I haven't done that before.  A friend has a pair I can borrow and I'll practice by tromping around in a field or something just to get used to them.

I probably would've lost even more fat this week if I had eaten better.  It's tough when you live by yourself because you have to do all the cooking and I don't have the time and energy to be chefin' up something every night.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wellness update

I've been feeling better physically the past couple of days because I've been consistent with my exercises.  It also doesn't hurt that I went to the chiropractor yesterday since I always feel better after the adjustments.  Each morning I jump rope, doing jumping jacks on my mini-trampoline and then do pullups.  I got a wide grip bar to complement my Door Gym so I can do a variety of grips now to try to work all the back muscles.  At night I do my prone Bruggers with 10lb kettlebells and then do five wall squats with one kettlebell.  Three times a week I do my 100 pushups pushup routine.  I finished week 1 without any trouble and start week 2 today.

I'm definitely getting stronger in my core and in my upper body, but my right knee still feels a little off.  I guess it's just going to take some time to fully recover.  I'll play some tennis this weekend to get some much needed aerobic exercise.  Hopefully it'll hold up since I don't want to go back to hobbling around.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The world is headed towards nowhere good.

I just read this article on Cracked and, while it was funny, it scared me quite a bit because it's true.  It explains why people buy bottled water, why people pay a premium for Apple and why we're all fucked in the end.  Sure, you can make the case that Apple products offer some unique value, but face it.  A lot of people buy them just because they say Apple on them.  I don't know if there is an alternative for the iPad, but I like my Droid X better than the iPhones I've seen and I know you can get better MP3 players than the iPod.

Anyhow, it's amazing how well marketing works to convince people their are scarcities when we have more now than ever.  People are obsessed with what they don't have when they don't realize how much they really have.  There are people in the US most would consider poor who have cable and a car and enough to eat.  There are people around the world literally eating dirt to stave off hunger.  Crikey.

I need to follow my own advice and focus on what I have.  I need to be more skeptical of the products I buy and I need to learn to entertain myself with things that are mostly free especially when the weather is nice.  Sure, it's nice to laze around and watch football, but it's more fun to throw a real football around or go shoot some hoops or whatever.

Old shit can still be funny.

I know this video has been out for a while, but I just watched it and I laughed so hard I started crying. Not only is it funny, but it's true.

I needed a good laugh.

Holy shit. There's more. This one makes fun of the Evo.

Nearly at my breaking point.

Crikey.  I need to do something to get out of this rut.  I haven't been doing much other than working and work is sucking donkey balls right now.  I thought my knees would be better by now, but I think it's time to stop babying them and time to start being more active.  I need to get out and about more, but I'm having trouble staying motivated.

Today was one of those days where I wasn't sure, if I had a gun, if I would shoot myself or shoot everyone I saw.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Slow cooker chili

Today's slow cooker adventure was chili. I have a good chili recipe from my friend, but I thought I would give this one a try. Meh. It was ok, but nothing special. The recipe calls for tomato puree which I interpreted as tomato paste, but I think I should've used tomato sauce instead. I put plenty of spice in and ended up drinking a whole mess of water.

I served it over corn bread so the meal wasn't a total loss. It also counts as new recipe 73 towards my challenge.

Earlier in the day I made some applesauce since New York grows pretty decent ones. My dad has an awesome recipe which calls for gravensteins, but those are hard to get out here so I used mcintosh and honeycrisp. I don't like peeling so I borrowed my colleague's old-timey apple peeler and corer.

You impale the apple and then a razor blade on a spring-loaded clip peels the apple as you rotate it. At least that's the theory.

It worked ok on the smaller apples and cores them well, but failed on the large honeycrisps. It's fast, but creates quite a bit of mess and doesn't seem to get the peel near the core at the top and bottom.

I haven't tried the applesauce yet, but I'm sure it's at least adequate.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple muffins

After dinner tonight, I made some upside down caramelized apple muffins or whatever using a recipe from the New York Times.  I used two large honeycrisp apples and I will definitely not make this recipe again.  The batter didn't mix with the apple stuff and was dry and bland.  Weak sauce for sure.

At least I polished off another recipe towards my challenge.

Cryin' out one eye

My eyes have been watering a lot lately, but for some reason, it's mainly out the left eye.  Pretty crazy actually.  Maybe I have eye cancer.

Fitness update

I'm not sure why, but it seems like the last three weeks were an aberration rather than their own trend.  Crikey.  I really need to get my fat ass in shape and to reverse my fattening.  I've just about undone the hard work over the past couple of years ago and that's not cool.

I've mostly kept up with my morning exercises this week and polished off my crunches challenge.  I'm still not doing enough cardio though.  Crap, I could just write this post using auto-text since I say the same thing every week: Boo hoo hoo.  I'm getting chunky.  I better exercise more.  Heh.

My knees are feeling better, but the weather is turning so my outdoor activities are dwindling.  Once it snows, I can try out snowshoeing since I haven't done that before.  I'll start up P90X at the beginning of next year, but I was hoping to have a better base by then.

I think I am getting stronger, but I'm just building muscle under the fat.  I could always eat better, but work has been stressful and I usually lack the discipline to stay away from crap under those circumstances.  I've been hungrier as the weather has changed since I think my body is telling me to store up some fat from winter.  Heh.  Way ahead of you, buddy.

I was going to make a grocery list now, but it's not good to make those when you're hungry.  I'll make sure to hit up the grocery store after a meal rather than before to cut down on the crap I get.

I wonder what I should slow cook tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From where does the money come?

As most of you know, it's election season here in the States and money is flowing like crazy into candidates' coffers.  One question that struck me is from where does this money come.  Does it come from individuals?  If so, a lot of people are out of work yet they can scrape together money to donate?  Maybe it comes from businesses.  If so, why don't they use that money to create some new jobs?  You figure that every $1M could pay for 20 decent paying jobs.  It may not sound like much, but every little bit helps.

What annoys me is there is no shortage of anything yet the economy sucks.  Maybe I don't know enough about economics, but it's obvious trickle-down does not work.  Rich people tend to stay rich by holding on to their money so giving them more isn't going to help.  If you want to stimulate the economy, you need to give more money to dumbasses like me.  We'll go out and buy iPads and big screen TVs.

I'm actually pretty worried about the future of this country because we seem to have lost our way.  We used to buckle down and tackle big public works projects, but now you have the governor of NJ pussying out and killing the tunnel project.  It would've created a lot of jobs, eased congestion and allowed more people to commute into NYC from NJ which could encourage more people to live in NJ which would increase tax revenue get the point.  Are we really the same country that fought on two fronts during WWII?  We seem to be spending more time and effort improving Afghanistan and Iraq than Detroit.  Let's take care of our own before trying to solve the world's problems.  And for fuck's sake, let's stop supporting Israel.  I don't care if they balance out the Middle East; their settlements are illegal at best.  What kind of moral high ground are we taking?  Let's use however much money in aid we give Israel to create some jobs here.  The government can build some solar plants or maybe invest in battery research.  It doesn't matter.  I don't want another cent going to militaristic knuckleheads.  We don't owe them anything and the money can be better spent here.

All this partisanship is killing me as well.  The president should be trying to bridge the parties rather than going out of his way to antagonize the Republicans.  Sure, most of them are corrupt idiots, but you could say the same about the Democrats.  You have two sides of the same shitty coin.  You get people completely out of touch with reality.  Are people in Delaware really going to elect someone who had to go out of her way to say she's not a witch?  Are people in Nevada going to elect someone who thinks Sharia law will rule in Flint, MI? Crikey.  What kind of idiots do they think we are?  Who the hell believes this shit?  The Democrats aren't much better and seem hellbent on giving handouts to lazy folk.  I'm all for giving people a helping hand, but help them get back on their feet, don't just help them loll around.

Let's get some more political parties so we can better represent people.  I'd like to see a couple of centrist parties, a strong environmental party, whatever.  Rational debate is good for this country, but what we have now is two idiots jawing at each other.  You've got Republicans using "stimulus" as a dirty word when it seems like TARP will do no worse than break even and may even make money.  If enough of us buy shitty GM cars, it'll definitely make money.  You've got Democrats passing a half-assed healthcare bill when we need insurance company overhaul.

The good news is some American know-how with hard rock drilling helped free the trapped Chilean miners.  That story just goes to show what can happen when people pull together for the greater good.  I'm convinced we could have a great healthcare system, great education while minimizing our impact on the environment if we tried.  It seems we've turned into lazy fuckers more interested in the Jersey Shore than actually making a difference.  We throw up our hands and lament it's too expensive to do good work.  Bullshit.  It just takes some sacrifice and some long-term strategy.

The government could put a shitload of people to work fixing roads and updating our ancient energy infrastructure.  We waste a ton of electricity due to our antiquated power grid and most roads are 90% potholes despite the ubiquitous construction.  Maybe they should try actually building quality multi-layered roads like the Germans instead of just slapping down another layer of asphalt.  Why do we no longer build for the future?  Don't buy a recently built house because it was probably slapped together in a short time and will not likely survive another decade.

Heh.  I think I've used up a fair share of cliches, but I worry that Americans are no longer motivated to do right.  We've become content and complacent so I'm hoping this latest recession will spur people to reevaluate their priorities.  The housing bubble was fueled by speculators who thought they could get rich simply by buying a house and letting it appreciate.  Since when did get-rich-quick schemes ever work?  You had to know there would come a point when everything would implode.  Crazy.  Are we destined to fade into obscurity?  Are we going to become China's bitch?  If we don't wake up, I think we will and sooner than we think.  China already owns a big portion of our debt and is making noises in Southeast Asian.

My company has a fab in Germany so perhaps I should request a transfer for a year or so to take a break from the shittiness here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Two hundred crunches

Tonight I banged out 203 crunches in my last set which means I completed my two hundred crunches task.  I followed the scheme of the Two Hundred Sit-Ups site and even finished a week early.  Sweet.  I was feeling pretty good during the "max" set of column three of day 1 of week 6 so I decided to see if I could make it.

Can I guarantee that every crunch was textbook perfect?  No, but I feel that they were all close enough and that I didn't cheat.

Sweet.  It feels good to accomplish another task, but my abs are really sore now.

I am a financial dumbass.

I am a symbol of all that's wrong with Americans from a financial perspective.  I have managed to parlay a six figure salary and generous friends and family into a mountain of debt through an inability to rein in my spending.  I don't know why I feel obligated to spend every penny I have, but I do.  I have lots of cool stuff which is hardly ever used.

I don't need to declare bankruptcy any time soon, but I realized this week, I'm on very thin ice and that I better keep my job for sure.  Buying house hasn't helped, but my bigger problem is my spending habits.  I already cut Netflix back to just one movie out at a time.  Will saving $5 a month make a difference?  Probably not, but watching less discs will use less electricity and it also reaffirms I need to make sacrifices.  I was getting the NY Times delivered daily.  I was going to cancel it completely, but you need to call them to do that so I cut back to getting it only on Sundays.  I'll try that out for a bit and then see if I want to cancel completely.  I'm also forgoing League Pass so I'll just watch the Blazers illegally online.  I'll probably cancel cable after the Super Bowl.

None of the above is really all that major except for maybe cable so I'll need to have discipline not to buy anything unless it's necessary or adds value to my house.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Asparagus piss

It's well known that eating asparagus leads to piss which smells funny.  What about my spunk?  If I want to be considerate should I down a gallon of pineapple juice if I eat asparagus?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Green chile pork

Sunday means football and slow cooking.  Tonight's dinner was slow cooked green chile pork.  I left out spicy from the description because it wasn't that spicy despite me using three peppers.  No matter because it was definitely tasty and worth making again.

I served it in biblical tortillas with cheese, Spanish rice, black beans and guacamole.

I've now polished off 71 recipes towards my challenge.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Grilled scallops

I felt like having some seafood for dinner tonight so I followed the recipe for grilled scallops posted by a former coworker of mine who likes to cook.  I used lemon juice instead of grated lemon peel, but it ain't no thang.

I think the scallops turned out well and were flaky without being chewy which means I didn't overcook them on my Foreman Grill.  The rice took longer to cook than expected and the kale was a little chewy.  I read in the NY Times that kale is one of the healthiest vegetables out there so I got some from the grocery store this afternoon and boiled it up.

I probably ate too much and the pineapple is not allowed during Phase II of the South Beach Diet, but I'm not too chuffed.  I've been doing well with my exercises so I'll work off any excess from the small amount of pineapple I ate.  It provides a nice contrast with the peppers and scallops.

I would definitely make this recipe again.  It's also the 70th towards my challenge so just 30 more to go.