Sunday, January 31, 2010

Project 365: Day 126

Here is what my new bed looks like with the mattress and sheets:
I need to get some sort of mattress cover to protect the mattress from my funk and bedbugs.  I'll get one tomorrow if I feel like it.

No meaningful football

For the first Sunday since September, there is no meaningful football on today. Sure, the Pro Bowl is on tonight, but who cares? Football is the ultimate team sport so you can't assemble a team on short notice and expect it to perform at a high level.

I think they should scrap the Pro Bowl, but it makes too much money. Having it the week before the Super Bowl is pretty stupid, but I'm not in charge of anything.

So...instead of plunkin' my ass in my chair in front of the TV, I'll hit the library this afternoon to get some books to make some more progress on my 101 items in 1001 days challenge.

Trying out my new oven

My new stove was delivered and installed Thursday afternoon, but last night was its maiden voyage. To properly test it out, I made pizza. Here we've got the pre-cooked pizza made with homemade dough, Classico red sauce, some fancy pepperoni and a pound of fresh mozzarella:

Twenty five minutes later, accompanied by a piercing smoke detector, the pizza was done:
The sauce dripped off the pizza onto the parchment paper and then onto the stove which is what caused the smoke which set up the detector. Even vigorous towel waving near the detector didn't work so we opened up a bunch of windows and got the ceiling fans going. The detector is hooked to the house circuits rather than battery-powered. I was looking for the hallway circuit breaker when it finally cut out. Holy moly.

Anyhow, the pizza turned out really well. I'm even having a couple of slices for breakfast.

Project 365: Day 125

My new bed came at 4:30 yesterday and I put it together with a lot of help after dinner.  It has too many screws and more of the pieces should've come put together.  It doesn't quite fit together perfectly, but oh well.  We got it together after a bit of struggling and a couple of screw driver blisters:

It's a king sized platform bed and I'm not sure how it can be moved again without some serious disassembling.  Heh.  Nothing to worry about now.

I got a king sized latex mattress to go along with it and slept on everything for the first time last night.  Fantastic.  My back feels much better.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fitness update

Sweet. Another week and another record low body fat percentage. I'm now down to 23.5% which means I lost just under a pound of fat this week. I've been working hard playing badminton, volleyball and basketball. I actually played pretty well during basketball this past Thursday. I rebounded quite well and even scored a half dozen times. I used to be ok and I'm finally getting back to that level. I play for fitness, but it's nice to score every now and then since the other team usually leaves me open. I've got an ugly shot for sure.

As you see, the slope for my body fat percentage is pretty steep. I'm sure I'll start to plateau soon enough, but I've got more chunk around the waist to lose. I would be pretty stoked if I could get under 20% by the end of the year.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Project 365: Day 124

I'm on the third book in Brent Weeks' Shadow trilogy:
The books are well written with a cool (and different) look at magic.  They have the violence of Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, but not quite the depth.  I definitely recommend reading this series.

101 items in 1001 days update

I successfully completed my first 101 items in 1001 days task, #100, last night when I stayed away from Facebook for 15 consecutive days. 

It was easier than expected.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Project 365: Day 123

My oven crapped out about a month ago and I hit Sears last weekend for a new one.  They delivered it today without any trouble except...the people who designed the house had the gas pipe for the stove stick out.  Somehow the old oven was able to fit over it, but not my new one.  It means my oven sticks out a few inches from the wall:

I can pay to have the gas pipe redone or I can just live with it.  Considering my financial situation, I'm thinking I'll just live with it.  I'm still able to get everything out of the cabinets so it's more an ascetic thing.  It's just supposed to be a temporary solution until I redo the kitchen so it'll be just fine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Project 365: Day 122

We had a quarterly tech review today so I thought I'd tuck my shirt in for once. As you can see, I'm pretty stoked for the meeting. I didn't have to present, but I did have to sit through a few hours of awkward presentations and management throwing people under the bus. Sweet.

At the last one, they served boxed sandwiches so I nearly made my own, but they had slightly better food this time: salad, meatballs and rolls.

The French dude with the mullet was there so it wasn't a total waste. He didn't let it grow out much so I think I shouldn't have tried to see how long I could grow one.

Monday, January 25, 2010

101 items in 1001 days update

I tried a recipe for roast beef in the crockpot last night which counts for another recipe in my 101 items in 1001 days challenge.  It turns out I didn't have rosemary on hand so I used oregano instead.  It turned out awesomely so it was a good substitution.  I could easily flake the beef with a fork.

Definitely a recipe worth keeping and using again.

Project 365: Day 121

The mullet is gone, but the chunk is still there.  It's shrunk though.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Project 365: Day 120

Yesterday I was in a food making mood. It started with homemade egg pasta:

The pasta was used to make smoked salmon pasta which is one of my favorite dishes of all time:

Dessert was homemade banana bread:

I bought a range yesterday at Sears because I can't cook everything in my toaster oven. They'll deliver it on Thursday so I think I'm good to go for making pizza this weekend.

Life is good when you have good food.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fitness update

Another week, another three fitness activities through the Town of Bethlehem. They're definitely paying off because I recorded another all-time low in body fat percentage - 24%. Still sounds chunky? Sure, but consider where I was last summer. I'm happy to see the big improvement and I can definitely feel it.

By my rough calculations, I lost about 1.5 pounds of fat this week. Pretty frickin' sweet. I've still got a ways to go and I'm thinking of asking for P90X for my upcoming birthday. I'd like to see how close I can get to a six pack. P90X has hardcore workouts, but there is no progress without struggle.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Project 365: Day 119

I had to drive down to Fishkill for an off-site meeting.  I took a picture while driving back:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Project 365: Day 118

My current bed is fairly old, small and a bit broken down.  I think it's the reason for my poor sleep the past couple of months so I had ordered a new natural latex mattress and platform bed in early January.  Unfortunately, the platform bed is on backorder, but they had already shipped the mattress.

The latex mattress has three layers and a cover to hold everything together.  It came last week in four boxes:

Right now the boxes are chillin' in my spare room until the bed shows up.  It could be another month so I'm tempted to assemble the mattress and just sleep on it on the floor.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Project 365: Day 117

I had incentive this weekend to clean up my house:

I definitely need to expand my photographic horizons, but I'm not allowed to have a camera at work so it cuts down on picture taking opportunities.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Project 365: Day 116 and 101 in 1001 days update

I like to cook a lot of food over the weekend since I don't have as much time during the week.  Indian food is usually pretty tasty, healthy and easy to make.  Tonight I made something called Mulligatawny Soup.

Unlike many of my previous attempts at cooking Indian, it tasted as good/spicy as it smells.  I left out the celery and added a bit more rice.  I think I used a little too much heavy cream, but I would definitely make this recipe again.

Since this recipe is new, it counts towards Item 37 on my 101 in 1001 days list.  Sweet.  It's good to make progress.

Project 365: Day 115

Part of my action packed Saturday involved shootin' some pool in Albany at Golden Cue Billiards.  The place was about half full, but was still a little noisy.  I shot poorly, but still had great fun.

Notice the party in the back of my head, but the business in front is what helped me make the shot.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fitness update

I went to badminton, volleyball and basketball this week.  I also jumped rope and bounced on my mini-trampoline a few mornings.  It paid off.  My body fat did tick up slightly to 25% from 24.7%, but my visceral fat (not shown) went from 9 units to 8 units.  Way back when, my visceral fat was closer to 11 or 12 units.  You need some fat to cushion your organs, but not too much.  I think visceral fat is a key indicator of health so it's good mine is going down.  I'll have to check the manual for my scale, but I think 7 is considered healthy so I'm nearly there.

I'm as light as I've been in 2.5 years, but feel strong.

Getting in shape is definitely its own reward.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Random Friday thoughts

  • One of my coworkers is a bit of a buster. He and I need to work some shit out, but he's avoiding the issue. Fine by me. I tried to be the bigger man and he refused to play nicely.
  • I'm looking forward to tomorrow night for several reasons. It'll be good to play some pool. Hopefully the pool hall will cooperate with good tables.
  • I got some good news on an experiment at work today. It worked out exactly as I hoped. It's nice getting good news late on a Friday afternoon.
  • Most of today was warmer than freezing, but it didn't feel any warmer at work nor in my house.
  • Grooveshark is much better than Pandora. I didn't mind listening to an ad every now and then on Pandora, but it got to be you had to listen to one every three songs. Not cool.
  • I've become disillusioned by our government. I voted for Obama, but I'm not happy with the beginning to his term. He's inexperienced and has gone against some of his important campaign promises. I think it's time for an engineer to be president.
  • I need to go to the grocery store tonight, but I don't feel like leaving my house. It's been a long week.
  • I feel great partly thanks to exercising three times through the Town of Bethlehem. My legs are actually a little sore this morning. We'll see what tomorrow's measurements bring.
  • I must have some sort of restless syndrome since I can no longer sit still. I was bangin' my head in the car on the way home thanks to some heavy metal on my iPod. I'm listening to some more heavy metal now and I'm rocking back and forth. I used to sit on the couch as a kid, put the radio on and rock back and forth. I'm sure it indicates some sort of mental trouble, but I already know I'm weird.
  • There should be some good football on this weekend and I'm looking forward to the Super Bowl since I'm going to try to host a party.
  • "You are all fucked and overrated. I think I'm going to be sick and it's your fault." --Slipknot
  • We'll see if I'm encouraged to bag my own groceries tonight or not.
  • I hope I get fat cash back from the IRS this year.
  • The Portland-Orlando game is on ESPN which means I can't watch it on League Pass. Weak sauce.

Project 365: Day 114 and 101 in 1001 days update

I'm double dipping tonight with a picture of the day along with a 101 list update. I made smokey fish chowder from a recipe from Real Simple though I skipped the parsley:

Smokey Fish Chowder
8 ounces Spanish chorizo thinly sliced
4 leeks (white and light green parts) cut into half moons
1.5 lbs Yukon gold potatoes cut 0.5 inch piece
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 pounds skinless firm white fish (halibut or cod) cut into 2 inch pieces
0.5 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot, brown the chorizo over medium-high heat, 1-2 minutes. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 3-4 minutes.

Add the potatoes, tomatoes (with their juices), 3 cups water, 0.75 teaspoon salt, 0.75 teaspoon pepper; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the fish and simmer gently until opaque throughout, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the parsley before serving.

Since this recipe is new, it also counts as part of item 37.

The recipe was easy to follow, but the result is fairly bland. This recipe is definitely not a keeper.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Project 365: Day 113

My place has gotten pretty messy:

Those aren't beer bottles on my island, but natural soda bottles.  I've been swiggin' the stuff after working out.  Perhaps the excess sugar is why I can't fall asleep at a reasonable hour.

My plan for Saturday morning and early afternoon is to clean my place as best I can.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


My great-uncle Marshall Harlan Austin commanded the submarine USS Redfin during WWII.

101 in 1001 days update

I tried a recipe from a friend's Real Simple magazine. I think the magazine is Real Dumb, but the recipe looked interesting:

Beef and sweet potato turnovers

Brown 0.5 lbs ground beef with 2 cloves of chopped garlic
Add 1 grated sweet potato and 2 cups baby spinach
Season with salt and pepper.
Cut 2 sheets frozen puff pastry (thawed) in half.
Divide the beef and 1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese among the 4 pieces of dough; seal the edges.
Bake at 375 F until golden, 25-30 minutes.

It doesn't say if the spinach and sweet potato should be browned along with the meat so I didn't.

The finished product:
It makes four turnovers, but I'm just rockin' my toaster oven so I only had room for two.

They taste alright, but aren't exactly anything special. I might make them again since it was pretty easy.

This new recipe counts as one of my one hundred in my 101 items in 1001 days quest.

Project 365: Day 112

This afternoon I drove up to Malta for GLOBALFOUNDRIES' announcement on GF and Chartered merging operations.  We watched a short video, saw some slides and ate a cupcake in honor of the acquisition (both are owned by ATIC).  I got a great feeling from the meeting and feel good about my job.

The last time we went up to Malta, the CEO was there.  The room was full of suits and us knuckleheads in our engineering gear - jeans and t-shirts.  Some of us felt stupid so we decided when we go up there, we'll dress a bit nicer.

Here's me dressed up a bit more nicely:

I've got my Oregon belt buckle and my too large pants on.  I got jeans that fit over Thanksgiving break, but probably need to get some new slacks too.  I also need to bust out my iron.

We were all given a GF stainless steel mug so I've got something to have at work rockin' my company's name.  Awwww yeah. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Project 365: Day 111

Today is Tuesday which means badminton with the Bethlehem peeps. I came with a good attitude today and played pretty well. I definitely got a workout because I keep hitting it to the opponent despite trying hard to hit it to the corners.

Some new folk were there tonight who are pretty darn good so I got a couple games in of high quality badminton. My back is actually pretty sore, but I'll take it as a badge of honor since I'm trying to get my fat ass into shape.

The post-game reward was definitely sweet though it left me wanting more.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Project 365: Day 109

I didn't feel like eating the rest of my Clementines so I juiced them. You can see I started with 13 oranges, but didn't really extract that much juice. I have a Hamilton Beach juicer which is supposed to be pretty good, but the resulting pulp was quite wet. I guess I should've fed it back in to extract more juice, but I was feeling lazy. Heh. I guess I can't complain then.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I was driving down the Northway this morning and, since I drive the speed limit, I was getting passed quite a bit.  I noticed very few drivers use their turn signals.  Why?  They don't take a lot of time or effort to use and they indicate to other drivers your intentions.  Wouldn't it be safer to use them?  Are people just lazy or stupid or both?

I saw a car with Quebec plates actually use its turn signals.  I nearly had a heart attack from surprise given how rare that situation is.

Fitness update

Today I set a new record low for body fat percentage with 24.7%.  As you can see from the graph above, today marks the first time I've broken 25%.  Super sweet.  My goal is to get below 20%.  We'll see.

If you believe these measurements, I lost nearly 4 pounds of fat this week.  I played badminton Monday night, basketball Thursday night and hit a squash ball around yesterday afternoon, but I'm not sure those new activities would be enough.  I also started jumping rope in the mornings again.  Hmmm...

I feel good which is the whole point of getting in shape.  We'll see if I can keep it up.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Project 365: Day 108

I ordered up some compostable trash bags because I plan on collecting compostable stuff from my house like used tissue and whatnot.  No, not toilet paper, but I use tissue every morning after I use my saline spray.  It doesn't get that funky so I might as well cut down on the garbage I generate.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Project 365: Day 107

Bethlehem Central High School is the nicest high school I've seen in a long ass time. It's good to see my school taxes are going to a good cause since I don't have any crotchfruit. Here's a shot of their fitness room. I was there to hoop it up. I didn't realize basketball starts at 8 instead of 8:30 until March 7 so I was 20 minutes late. It's all good. I played hard, but didn't shoot well. No big deal since I'm just there for the exercise and to get out and about.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Project 365: Day 106

I ordered up some stuff from Amazon and most of it came today:

As you can see, I'm a thoughtful guy.  Heh.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

101 in 1001 days update

I tried out a new recipe tonight so I made a small amount of progress towards task 37 - 100 new recipes.  I cooked a lamb leg with some vegetables in my crockpot with inspiration from this recipe.  I mixed up some herbed butter to spread on the lamb, but the flavor didn't sink in.  The lamb was tender, but not overly flavorful.  I don't blame the recipe.  Next time, I would add the herbs directly to the pot.


Project 365: Day 105

It snowed a couple of inches last night so I spent my morning shoveling my driveway.  It's still snowing a little bit and the wind is blowing, but I should be able to drive over whatever falls the rest of today and tonight.

I was able to stay warm with six layers, but it took me 1.75 hours to finish so my back and arms are tired.  It would go faster except for the ice and leaves.

The stuff in the foreground is mostly ice.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I'm an idiot with money.

I think I'm a pretty smart dude when it comes to most things, but I'm not very good with money and it's going to cause some trouble for me this year. It looks like I need to get a new roof which could cost at least $5k and more likely $10-20k. I don't have that kind of cash on me. I'm tempted to cash out my 401k, but I would have to pay income taxes on the withdrawal in addition to a 10% penalty. I'm in the 28% tax bracket so I would lose ~40% of the money upfront.


101 in 1001 days update

I made red lentil curry tonight for dinner which is a new recipe for me so I was able to complete 1/100th of task 37: try 100 new recipes.  Sweet.

It was tasty and filling with basmati rice and naan.  Lentils make a good meat substitute so I'll have to find similar dishes for my vegetarian weeks.

Project 365: Day 104

I got sick of watching TV from my kitchen table chairs so I hit the road this afternoon and got an Ekornes Vegas Stressless recliner.  In order to get a chair sooner, I took the floor model.  It has graphite-colored leather which needs to be special ordered so I saved myself about six months of waiting since it would've had to come from the Norwegian factory.

The dude from the store just dropped it off and I put it in my living room:

I'll put it to good use watching football tomorrow and during the playoffs.

Fitness update

I've been out of town for the past couple of Saturdays so I haven't updated my fitness since then.  As you can see, I gained a couple of fat pounds thanks to overeating and inactivity.  No big deal since I'll get back on the horse tomorrow.

One of my 101 goals is to get my body fat percentage below 20% within three years.  It's going to be tough because, but I did drop four percentage points since the middle of this year.  I need to be more disciplined than I have been lately.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Project 365: Day 103

I started a fire for my college football watching:

Unfortunately, the wood I got from the garden center is not quite dry. I was able to collect enough branches from my yard for timber though.

101 in 1001 days

No lame ass New Year's resolutions for me. I'm going to start the project where you try to do 101 things in 1001 days.

I'm officially starting January 1, 2010 and need to finish by September 28, 2012.
  1. Visit Norway
  2. Get tattoo of stave church
  3. Add seven names to list (3/7)
  4. Buy a gun
  5. Join a tennis club
  6. Get body fat percentage to below 20% on my scale - Currently at 28.4%
  7. Reink first tattoo
  8. Get Blazers pinwheel tattoo
  9. Finish level 3 of Rosetta Stone Spanish
  10. Finish level 3 of another Rosetta Stone language
  11. Visit Phoenix, AZ
  12. Visit Austin, TX
  13. Buy a Washlet
  14. Buy a badass truck
  15. Take five cooking classes (0/5)
  16. Learn to drive a manual transmission
  17. Visit the Caribbean
  18. Buy a dual flush toilet
  19. Learn a relevant programming language
  20. Plant an herb garden Completed 5/1/10
  21. Replace roof Completed 5/12/10
  22. Update kitchen
  23. Finish basement
  24. Buy a pool table
  25. Visit Bay Area
  26. Put together a powerful gaming computer
  27. Correct posture Completed 11/11/10
  28. Move drums out of parents' house
  29. Finish 200 crunches program Completed 10/12/10
  30. Finish 100 pushups program (26/100)
  31. Start and finish 200 squats program (5/200)
  32. Write a book
  33. Save $10k for emergencies (4/10000)
  34. Get out of non-house debt (1.00)
  35. Get promoted at work
  36. Go to the Super Bowl
  37. Try one hundred new recipes (98/100)
  38. Join a pool league
  39. Buy a DSLR camera
  40. Go hiking at least thirty times (7/30)
  41. Eat vegetarian for a week for fifteen weeks (non-consecutive) (0/15)
  42. Finish seeing all 50 states (airports do not count, but driving through does) (35/50)
  43. Try twenty new restaurants Completed 6/14/10
  44. Go camping five times (0/5)
  45. Read ten books on WWII (3/10)
  46. Drink only water for a week for fifteen weeks (non-consecutive) (0/15)
  47. Go a week without using the computer for personal reasons for three weeks (non-consecutive) (0/3)
  48. Go to ten different museums (1/10)
  49. Complete a 1000 piece puzzle
  50. Visit ten different beaches (0/10)
  51. Go paintballing
  52. Ride in a helicopter
  53. Fly first class internationally
  54. Host games night five times (0/5)
  55. Host two Super Bowl parties Completed 2/6/11
  56. Take ten boxing classes (0/10)
  57. Visit Crater Lake
  58. Visit the Grand Canyon
  59. Take ten yoga classes (0/10)
  60. Go without TV/movies for a week for five weeks (non-consecutive) (0/5)
  61. Complete 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind publicly (7/50)
  62. Cook dinner every night for a week for fifteen weeks (non-consecutive) (1/15)
  63. Take five art classes (0/5)
  64. Donate $1001 to charity (625/1001)
  65. Buy a random stranger gas
  66. Take ten martial arts classes (0/10)
  67. Buy a bike-powered generator system
  68. Learn to skateboard well enough not to fall down after 100 feet
  69. Make soap
  70. Use a swear jar for one year
  71. Do a handstand
  72. Bike to work fifty times (0/50)
  73. Do fifty consecutive pull/chinups (3/50)
  74. Leave a 100% tip
  75. Read fifty books from a Top 100 Books list (1/50)
  76. Go on a blind date
  77. Walk across England (Wainwright Trek)
  78. Build five pieces of furniture (0/5)
  79. Do not eat out for thirty consecutive days Completed 10/4/10
  80. Volunteer for fifty hours (0/50)
  81. Go to the symphony five times (0/5)
  82. Leave a $10 tip at a takeout place
  83. Read the Bible through
  84. Read the Koran through
  85. Read the Talmud through
  86. Go for a picnic three times (0/3)
  87. Go fishing ten times (0/10)
  88. Write ten letters to Congress (0/10)
  89. Go thirty days without buying nonessentials (0/30)
  90. Go to the movies alone five times (0/5)
  91. Walk/ride for charity three times (0/3)
  92. Go bowling twenty times (2/20)
  93. Make a 100 recipe cookbook with color photos of each dish
  94. Take the train interstate
  95. Take two woodworking classes (0/2)
  96. Take a motorcycle riding class
  97. Plant ten trees (6/10)
  98. Eat three pieces of fresh fruit every day for thirty consecutive days (0/30)
  99. Make five dishes featuring something I've grown or caught (0/5)
  100. Stay off Facebook for fifteen consecutive days Completed 1/29/10
  101. Fly a kite twenty times (0/20)