Monday, August 30, 2010

Identifying weaknesses

I'm in the midst of my continuous improvement program and want to work on some weaknesses.  Please help me identify them by commenting.  Don't go easy on me, but constructive is always better.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Black-eyed pea fritters and miso soup

Dinner tonight was an eclectic mix of salad, a black-eyed pea fritter and miso soup.  I got the miso soup ingredients, hon-dashi and miso paste, at an Asian grocery store recommended by my Japanese colleague.  He's also the dude who found the recipe for me.

It turned out great, but I can't say the same for the fritters.  You're supposed to fry them up in balls in a big ol' pot of oil.  I wasted half the batter trying to use my deep fryer and a pot on the stove, but they wouldn't stay together.  If you check the ingredients, there isn't enough dry stuff to hold everything together so I formed what was left into patties and baked them.  The taste is good, but the recipe gets the bozack.  Maybe I'm just inept.

I think I got plenty of protein from this vegetarian meal which is always a good thing.  I'm not the biggest tofu fan, but I think I just need to try some more recipes.

I banged out two new recipes and am now up to 55 on my challenge.  Just 45 to go.

Visiting the NY Giants' training camp at SUNY-Albany

I work on the edge of the SUNY-Albany campus so, last Thursday, I wandered over to the athletic fields to check out the Giants' last practice here in town.  There was a good crowd and the weather held up.

I think the Giants will contend for a playoff spot this year, but it's always tough to tell before the season starts.

Picture vomit (taken with my Droid X):

A video of practice I shot with my Droid X:

Hiking the Tongue Mountain loop

Two Saturdays ago I hiked the Tongue Mountain loop which provides spectacular views of Lake George.  It's an easy hike, but took longer than expected because I hurt my knees about halfway through.  There are a lot of ups and downs so make sure to take hiking poles.  It's a fairly long hike as well so make sure to take plenty of water.

Hiking stats:
Mileage: 12.9mi
Moving avg: 2.5mph
Moving time: 5:08
Overall avg: 1.9mph
Total ascent: 3833ft
Max elevation: 1770ft

The hike offers plenty of chances to see the lake:
Lots of up and down:
Picture vomit:

I've now completed seven hikes toward my challenge.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New job?

I'm wondering if I should find a job where I get to punish the wicked.

Fitness update

Not good.  My weight went down, but my chunk stayed fairly consistent which means I lost some muscle.  Fan-frickin'-tastic.  I haven't been able to do much since last Saturday since my knees are still really sore.  They hurt just walking around and really hurt if I stand for too long.  Great.  I'm 34, but have the knees of a geriatric.

I've got an appointment to get checked out on the 7th, but that means I'll need to wait 16 days before doing anything of consequence which means I'm going to ruin any progress I've made this summer.  The bright side is I'm going to get them fixed for good so this problem doesn't occur again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Grilled chicken and plantains

Monday night I grilled up some chicken and plantains using a recipe from  The recipe was easy to follow and turned out alright, but it only asks you to marinate the chicken for 15 minutes.  If I were to make this recipe again, I'd marinate the chicken overnight.

I've now chefed up 53 recipes towards my challenge.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"I have everything. I have nothing."

I need to find more stuff to do.  Any suggestions?  I'd like to play pool more often, but I haven't found a lot of people around here who want to go.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fitness update

Son of a gun.  I knew this week would be bad, but I didn't think it would be this bad.  I had no food discipline and didn't exercise as much as I should've.  I paid the price with some flabification.  My visceral fat even went up one unit which is bad.

Fortunately, I'm going for a long ass hike today so I should work off some of the chunkage.  I better.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I feel like a chump.

Those who know me well know I can be a bit gullible because I like to believe people tell the truth.  I try to live my life with honesty and expect others to as well.  Unfortunately, some people out there just want to make a buck.  My mortgage broker falls into that category and gets the bozack for the lies he told me.

Lie #1: You can sign up for bimonthly payments which help you pay down your debt faster.
The truth: Nope, you can't.  You can sign up for bimonthly payments, but no money is applied towards your monthly payment until it equals or exceeds what you owe each month.  I should've been more skeptical because why would a bank help you make them less money?  Gah.

Lie #2: When interest rates go down, FHA loans automatically get locked into the lower rate.
The truth: The woman at the bank laughed at me over the phone when I asked this question.  Crikey.  The interest rate is locked in unless I refinance and that costs money.

Lie #3: You can have your house reappraised if the market goes up to stop paying primary mortgage insurance.
The truth: I asked my bank this question because PMI costs me about $150/month.  They sent me a letter which says I have to pay PMI until my loan value to purchase price is less than 78%.  According to the amortization schedule, I'll have 22% equity in about 10 years.  So...I need to give my bank about $18k as a penalty for not having a lot of money for a down payment.  I can hit 22% equity faster by paying down the principle faster, but I have less cash because of the PMI.  Crikey.  A vicious circle for sure.

All three lies sound to be good to be true, but I still can't believe he would lie to me.  I should be more careful next time for sure.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Golf is frustrating

I hit up the driving range after work today and hit two buckets' worth of balls.  I hit some decent shots, but I'm still spraying up the scene.  I've had three lessons so far, but I feel like I hit my peak during the second lesson.  It's ok though.  I'm working on being more patient so I shouldn't expect to be an expert after three lessons and seven or eight visits to the driving range.

One dude violated the dude code though.  There are plenty of empty spots at the driving range, but something compelled him to set up shop between the only two of us there.  I think he was looking to hork some tees on the sly because he kept creeping out into the grass looking for some.  Dude, they're less than 5 cents each.

I think I'm also having trouble because I'm left-handed, but I'm a big muscle righty.  My golf swing is a little goofy and I have a hard time not gripping the club too tightly.  I think I'm slowly getting more consistent, but all this practice is slowly, but surely draining my bank account.  Crikey.

At least it gets me out and about and I think the practice is good for my spine.

Monday, August 9, 2010

50 Questions that will free your mind

Continuing to answer 50 Questions:

#5: What is the one thing you'd most like to change about the world?

Ah, finally a more interesting question.  I'd like to be able to convince everyone to be happy with what they have.  I think greed is going to kill this world and it's definitely killing the American spirit.  I can understand wanting to have nice stuff, but when it does it end?  Are we going to be happy because of a bunch of stuff?  Doubtful.  Accumulating stuff will eventually lead to an empty feeling in your soul because you'll never be fulfilled because you can never have everything.  We should be happy enjoying others' companies and should be fulfilled by working hard and making a difference.  

Think back on a time when you were truly happy.  Was it because you bought something?  Or was it a great weekend hiking, a trip to Europe or getting married?  Of course, it takes money to do those three, but people should think positively if they don't have much money and should scale their expectations.  I'm not making a "little people" comment, but if you're not rich, don't worry about not being able to jet off to Europe.  Instead, plan out a car trip to the beach.  People should continuously work hard, but should temper their expectations.  

My parents did alright when I was growing up, but our vacations were always in-state rather than around the world like where a good friend went.  I once found myself jealous of all the countries he visited, but then realized I used to look forward to our in-state vacation every summer.  We'd play cards, eat good food, go hiking, go biking, go swimming, ogle the women at the pool... I made a lot of great memories there and wish I could go back this summer.  Heck, I'm starting to get nostalgic just thinking about it.  Would I have that reaction if I were unhappy there?

The point is life is what you make of it.  You should firstly focus on your health and then evaluate your finances.  If you don't have a lot of money, it's ok because there are plenty of free activities.  You can always go hiking or go to the park if you have kids.  You can bring a soccer ball or a baseball or a book.  You'll get some fresh air and some exercise.  If the weather stinks, stay inside and put together a puzzle or play some card or board games.  Also, keep the TV off as much as possible since advertising is designed to create a need out of a want.  No one is immune since advertisers apply fundamental psychological techniques.

I wonder how much crime originates from greed or covetousness.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Salmon with honey mustard glaze

Last night's dinner was salmon with a honey mustard glaze.  I think it turned out pretty well and I would definitely make it again.  I think the pan was a little close to the broiler which is why it looks burned on top.  Maybe it's the honey or garlic which burned.

I used wild Alaskan sockeye salmon because I'm not a fan of farm-raised fish.  I'll put up with a little mercury to know my fish was wild caught.

I've now tried out 52 new recipes.  Just 48 more to go before I finish the task.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fitness update

I ate too much and exercised too little this week so my weight shot up quite a bit and my body fat inched up as well.  Not good.  I need to be more disciplined.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Micro homes

I found this website which has pictures and plans for micro homes some of which are smaller than 100 sq ft.  One of the problems with owning a large house is you feel obligated to fill it with crap because most of us don't like to live in empty spaces.  If you had a micro house, you would have only the bare essentials.

It probably is too small for most people's daily home, but would definitely make a great vacation home.  I'd like to buy some property in the mountains and put one of these homes there.  I would install some solar panels and wind turbines to generate electricity and would use either a cistern or a well for water.  I think you can get systems to recycle waste water for re-using so you might be able to get by with rainwater or snowmelt.

A cabin like the above would be a great place to get away from people, write a book or a good hunting cabin.  I think most of us take up too much space and consume too many resources.  Living in smaller houses would certainly help reduce our impact on the environment.

I looked at smaller houses out here, but they were all in bad neighborhoods or in terrible shape.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A trip to the chiropractor's office

I spend most of my day in front of the computer and my work station is not ergonomic by any means.  At Spansion, they contracted an ergonomic expert to come in and fit chairs for us and to set desk and keyboard heights.  At IBM, we get... whatever chair is available with a fixed desk height.  Everyone's different so this policy sucks, but there isn't anything I can do about it.

I searched through my health insurance's page since I think they actually cover chiropractor visits and found an office in Delmar.  I scheduled an appointment and they were able to fit me in yesterday afternoon.  I poked around on their site before my visit and I like their philosophy though they spend a lot of time defending their profession.

The doctor was nice, adjusted my neck and upper back slightly and gave me some exercises to do at work to help with my posture.  He tried to get me to buy a lumbar support, but I said I'd think on it.  I think they're good to have, but I want to do my own research before getting on.  They also have a lot of supplements for sale, but he didn't try to push any of them on me.  Maybe he's saving that for visit number 2.

Even though I was adjusted just the one time, I already feel less crooked.  I think getting straightened out should help my sports since I usually feel really tight.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Crockpot meatballs

My 51st recipe of crockpot meatballs turned out alright and was fairly easy to make.  The barbecue flavor was not that strong, but they were still a little tangy.

I made the meatballs a bit larger than the recipe intended since I was going to eat them for a main course rather than serve them to people on sticks.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Strange dream

I had a pretty strange and violent dream this morning before I woke up.  It started out with my mom investigating a noise in their backyard.  I went out there as well and saw a dude in a mask near her.  I called out a warning and for some reason the guy took off his mask and then took off.  He was worried because we saw his face so he came back on his dirt bike with some friends and some guns.  They rode right up to me, but I wasn't that worried because I have fast reflexes (which is true in reality).  I grabbed his gun and shot him in the face.  I then grabbed his friends' guns and shot them as well at point blank.  I think a couple escaped to this strange park with a lot of terraces and tunnels.  I ended up running through a bathroom chasing after one of the dudes and there were a bunch of prisoners in there.  I get out and find the last dude and shoot him in the face as well.  I think I was laughing, but I can't remember for sure.  I do remember that the whole dream was in black and white.

I don't even want to know what psychoanalysis would say about it, but at least I was in charge.  I read somewhere it's not good if you're not in charge during your dreams.  For some reason, I shoot a lot of people in my dreams as well.