Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stuffed peppers

Sunday means slow cooking and tonight's dinner was a recipe out of my white trash slow cooker cookbook.  The previous recipes had let me down, but this one was simple enough that there was no way it could fail.  It turned pretty well so I'll provide the simple recipe:
Combine 1 cup cooked rice, 2oz shredded cheese and 15oz chili beans in "gravy" in a bowl.  Mix it up.  I used uncooked rice because I wanted it to absorb some moisture.

Cut the tops off four bell peppers and clean out the innards.  Put 15oz of tomato sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker, put the peppers in and fill them up with the rice, cheese and bean mixture.  Cook for around 6 hours on low and serve with more shredded cheese and the sauce from the bottom of the pot.

I took a picture before putting on more cheese, but you get the idea.  As I said above, they turned out well and are nutritious.  The recipe is stupid easy as well.

This recipe is new to me so just four more to go before polishing off this challenge.  Woo hoo.

Puzzle progress

One of my challenges is to put together a 1000 piece puzzle.  I got one for Christmas and I started putting it together on 2/7.  I worked on it slowly, but once I got all the edge pieces in place, it became an obsession and I spend 30-45 minutes a day on it.

In the past 20 days, I've got a little more than half of it together as shown below.
Fortunately, there are enough distinct dogs that it hasn't been a real struggle.  It also gets much easier the more pieces I place.  Yeah, no duh, Sherlock.  Heh.

I'm not sure when I'll finish it, but certainly well within the time limit of September 2012.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My own webpage

I thought about registering my own webpage so I can link to this blog, host pictures and videos and other stuff.  Well, it turns out is taken by a different Jeremy Wahl who's...uh...into writing erotic stories.

Son of a gun.  I mean, this dude has the right to have a webpage with his/our name, but it means I can't use a similar variation in case people end up at the wrong one.

I guess it's sort of funny though.  Fortunately, there are a lot of Jeremy Wahls so I don't need to worry about prospective employers getting us mixed up.

No good deed goes unpunished

I woke up to a big surprise this morning.  Someone had plowed most of my driveway.  One of my neighbors was out and about plowing, but he didn't stop long enough for me to ask if it was him.  I'd like to reimburse him, but if he won't take money, I'll need to find a way to pay it forward.

Fitness update

It's the last Saturday in the month which means it's time for my fitness update.  I've been disciplined about following my exercise regime, but I haven't eaten as well as I should which probably explains my lack of progress.  I'm definitely getting stronger, but I think I'm just building muscle under the existing fat.  Once I get my diet back under control, I should be able to make some progress on the chunk around my waist.

The chart below shows I've nearly undone all the hard work over the past couple of years, but I'm not sure how much I trust the body fat measurement.  My weight has definitely crept back up close to 200lbs, but I could explain that away with the new muscle.
 The plot below is the one that really troubles me since my love handles aren't shrinking.  On the bright side, they haven't been growing lately either.
 I got a haircut and trimmed up the 'stache.  I'm getting good definition in my upper upper body and you can even see a vein popping on my right forearm.  I think my face looks thinner as well.  It's the chunk around the middle that needs to go.
Oh well.  No progress without struggle so I'll keep at it and I'll definitely start eating better.

Friday, February 25, 2011

More snow

I woke up this morning to more snow than I expected and mostly unplowed roads.  I made it in to work in about double the usual time and I just read that Albany could get 8 to 16 inches today.  Crikey.  I'm tempted to go home now before it gets really bad, but I'll have to see if I have any meetings today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fu manchu

I'm tempted to shave off the fu manchu in the next few days.  It's starting to itch and has become a pain to maintain.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Too much chili

I made a double batch of meat chili and a pot of veggie chill for the Super Bowl.  Only three people showed up and only three of the four of us had chili so I've been eating it ever since.  I'm going to freeze the rest because I don't think my digestive tract can take any more.

This weekend I'm going to make a huge mess of other kinds of food for some much-needed variety.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Today is off to a rousing start...

I slept poorly last night, I nearly got hit this morning in the roundabout, it's friggin' cold out and one of my experiments was misprocessed.

However, I still have all my limbs and my eyes so I guess I'm doing alright.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rosetta Stone...again

Every time I tell myself the stock headset is good enough, I end up yelling "cken" at Rosetta Stone for about five minutes to get it to recognize my pronunciation.  I know I don't need a really nice USB microphone, but maybe it would help keep my blood pressure under control.

Monday ramblings

We got more snow last night and I was tempted to work from home today, but we only got something like two inches which is nothing for out here.  I don't get today off so the drive in was fairly easy because only a few people were out and about.

I slept poorly last night and I blame the ice cream I had yesterday.  Dairy and sugar is not a great combination for me so I definitely need to cut back.

Myoplex strength bars taste a lot like candy bars.  I usually have a Clif Builder Bar for my morning snack, but I had some coupons for the Myoplex bars and they were on sale as well.  They're pretty tasty and have 25g of protein so maybe I'll get some more in the future since I have a coupon left.

I've become addicted to putting together my puzzle.  It's 1000 pieces and I've got the edge done and maybe 10% of the middle.  I think I'm making good progress, but it's hard for me to stop working on it.  Just one more piece...

I gave Netflix streaming a thorough trial last night and the quality was much better than expected.  I have to sign in to the PSN to use it on my PS3 so I lost some time resetting my password.  I watched four episodes of Rescue Me.  I figure the quality is good enough for a TV show and is comparable or slightly better to DVD quality.  I'll still get the Blu-Ray movies delivered until Netflix can promise 1080p resolution via streaming.  I read that a sizeable fraction of the total bandwidth is consumed by Netflix so we'll need an infrastructure boost (or those telecom jerks to stop throttling us).

This morning's exercise was tabatas for the pushing muscles.  I had a tough time with the pushups and rocking chairs, but did ok with the burpees.  I'm getting stronger, but I'm not ready to move on to the next program class.

I was tempted to buy some stuff this weekend, but held off.  I'm not saying I deserve a parade, but this new fiscal discipline will happen in baby steps.  We'll see what happens when I get my fat tax refund back.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nacho cheese Mexican chowder

My mom wanted a slow cooker since I kept talking mine up so my dad got her one last Christmas.  He also got her a well-rated slow cooker cookbook, but she didn't like it because the recipes all called for 15-20 ingredients which is usual.  She wants simpler recipes so she got this white trash slow cooker cookbook and got me a copy as well.  The recipes are stupid easy with just a few ingredients so tonight's dinner was Nacho Cheese Mexican Chowder.  I call it a white trash cookbook because it has you use store made ingredients instead of brewing them up yourself.  This one called for cut up chicken, frozen corn, condensed cheese soup (hence the white trash label) and stewed tomatoes.  I also added some diced green chile. was ok, but not great so I'm not going to recommend this recipe.  Here's a picture of it in the slow cooker:
It's pretty watery thanks to the tomatoes and ended up fairly bland.  At least it counts as a new recipe so I've got just five left before I can cross this task off.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stappers are tougher

This morning was my first experience with stappers.  You do a particular exercise continuously for a set length of time.  I could do the back lunges without resting for 10 minutes, but needed to rest frequently during the 8 minute let-me-ins and the 6 minute push-ups.  It was tough, but I definitely feel better and stronger for it.

My ten week basic program is nearly over and I thought I would try the next level up, but the past couple of days have suggested I should stick with the basic program for at least another cycle.  It's not a competition so there's no shame in doing the lowest level since it's a pretty challenging program.

I think I could make better progress if I ate better, but I love me some sugar.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tabatas are tough

This morning was my first experience with tabatas.  You do 8 rounds of 20 seconds of exercise + 10 seconds of rest for a total of three minutes.  I did three different exercises for a total of 12 minutes.  It may not sound like much, but it was pretty tough.  It's all for the good though since I need to be strong enough to back up my aggression.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

50 questions that will free your mind

Continuing to answer the 50 questions.

Question #9: To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

I wasn't control of anything up until college. I was expected to do well in school, encouraged to do a sport when it wasn't the rainy season, etc. In college, I chose my major, my friends and my social activities. I chose to go to grad school after college and I chose to stay in Ithaca for a couple of years while my girlfriend-at-the-time did more schooling.

She and I decided to move out to CA, but I decided to leave CA when I got laid off (she had broken things off a year before).

I guess I can say that I have controlled my destiny which means I should STFU on this blog about where I am and what I'm doing. I'm a big believer in fixing problems. If you don't like something then change it. There isn't any sense in bitchin' about it. God helps those who help themselves and so forth. If I control my destiny, then I shouldn't complain about what happens after I make a decision.

Exercise --> Hulk smash

I did my morning exercises after a two day break and I'm feeling pretty good.  I'm definitely getting much stronger and I think I'm starting to get leaner.  One consequence is I feel more aggressive.  This lady honked at me this morning for not letting her into the traffic circle ahead of me even though I was in it already and she has the yield sign.  I flipped her off which is something I try to avoid.  I don't think she saw me though.

I feel like Hulk smashing something or someone.  I probably should sign up for a boxing class to get out my aggression.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring is on its way

It's starting to get lighter earlier and darker later and the temperatures are creeping back above freezing.  Hopefully we can have a few warm days in a row so all the ice and snow in my driveway can melt.

I'm also looking forward to get outside more since I'm not into many winter sports.  Even though I grew up within a short drive of good skiing, I never got into it.  I think I went once and didn't really care for it, but I might like to try snowboarding since it seems like it's more my style.

A lot of people around here snowshoe, but I'm not all that interested in it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rosetta Stone

I love me some Rosetta Stone German, but I wish it had better pronunciation recognition software.  I guess I just need to work on my pronunciation, but sometimes it's hard to hear the exact intonation or whether something has a "z" sound or a "tz" sound.

I filed my taxes

Last night I finished filing my taxes using Intuit's Turbo Tax.  I usually like to do my own taxes, but I had to file two states again, claim an energy tax credit and mainly I wanted to e-file to get my money back sooner.  Last year, I waited nearly two months to get my refund.  I knew I'd get a hefty one again so I ponied up the $100.  Hopefully I'll get my money in the next couple of weeks.

I would be more excited if it weren't already spoken for, but I'm thinking of using around $50 of it to get me something.  I realized this morning in the car that I shouldn't reward myself and should get out of the habit of buying stuff I don't need.  I thought about getting a Kindle, but Kindle books are usually $10 and I've been using the local library pretty heavily which is free.  I guess Kindles are for people with financial discipline and not chumps like me.

I've also been thinking about getting a tablet or a new laptop.  The iPads are pretty cool, but there should be a few Android tablets out this year.  Motorola is releasing the Xoom, but at a price point which is not competitive since I don't care about the upper end of that market.  If it doesn't have a keyboard, then I'm not going to use it to do any real computing.  It would be something to use to read newspapers and magazines online and maybe to do some video chatting.  Also, I've been using Android on my Droid X and I don't like the skins the manufacturers use.  I could root the phone, but that sounds like more work than it's worth.  The iPad is an existing solid option.  I'm not an Apple fanboi, but I'm not going to ignore Apple products just because they're popular; I just need to make sure to evaluate them on their merits.

As for a new laptop, the Macbook Airs are pretty sweet and weigh about as little as the iPads.  I don't really need a laptop though so I need to keep with the financial discipline.  It's hard for me because I do not like to be denied or thwarted, but I have no one to blame for my current financial mess.

The good news is I'll be able to make a serious dent this year.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Time for a haircut

I combed and brushed my hair this morning for the first time in a few weeks.  I think it's about time for a haircut since my hair is long and scraggly looking and it's starting to warm up.  I've been told I look better with shorter hair as well.

Now I just need to find a decent barber around here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Board games

I used to be into board games when I was kid, but I went away from them until the past couple of years.  I played Qwirkle for the first time after getting it for Christmas and it's a lot of fun.  I guess it didn't hurt that I won both times.

I find board games pretty relaxing and they help feed my competitive nature in a healthful way.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

50 questions that will free your mind

Continuing to answer 50 Questions:

#8: If the average human life span was [sic] 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

Why should I if my goal is to be happy?  I think it's more about making sure the percentage of good days is more than the bad rather than trying than fixating on the total number of happy days.

These questions are actually pretty stupid.

What's done is done


Friday, February 11, 2011

Fiscal sanity

Today is payday, but, unfortunately, all the money is already spent.  I decided I'm going to buckle down and cut my spending to the bare minimum.  My brother is getting married (sort of) in June and I was going to write him a check.  I still will, but for half the amount I was thinking before.  I think it's time for me to replace the windows in my bedroom since they leak so I need to save up some money.

Hopefully E-Trade will post my tax documents soon so I can finish filing my taxes.  I expect to get a grip back from the government.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It takes money to make/save money

It's been cold here lately and I've been thinking I need to get a thermal analysis of my place to determine where the major leaks are.  My coworker's daughter was able to cut her Vermont heating bill in half by fixing a few things.  However, replacing windows isn't cheap.  A good double paned window is going to run me around $300-400 installed and a triple paned one would be $500-700.  I'm not sure how insulated some of my outside walls are so I need to factor that in.  Sure, I could eventually cut my bills significantly, but not without a serious initial outlay.

People who have a lot of disposable income can more easily make or save money since they can afford to eco-pimp their place and they can take advantage of tax loopholes and whatnot.

I need to figure out how to increase my disposable income.  My plan to get a MacBook Air with some of my theoretical bonus probably isn't helping.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Starting to get some morning sunshine

Spring is approaching since we're starting to get some morning sunshine here.  It's still witch-titty cold out, but I don't think it's likely to snow this week.

Hopefully the weather will warm up soon so I can get back outside.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's Tuesday which means snow

For some reason, most of our snowstorms have come on a Tuesday or Wednesday. This week is no exception with some minor snow falling. I was able to get out of my driveway without any trouble, but I may need to do some shoveling later this week. I should definitely save up for a snowblower.

Last night I played basketball. I can tell my fitness regime is working because I was able to hustle quite a bit. I did realize that I don't think I've ever been in shape. I've "wasted" my key athletic years being a bit of a fatass. Not cool, but what's done is done. Going forward I'll make sure to get ripped.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl party

Only three people came over, but I'm still going to count it as a party since I made a bunch of food.  I also finished off another 101 in 1001 task.  Sweet.

Here's a short of a small number of snacks:
Here's a shot of me celebrating after the Packers win:
Check out my guns.  Awww yeah.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

Ah, it's finally here.  I think it's going to be a great game between Pittsburgh and Green Bay, but who knows?  I'm rooting for Green Bay because I had a couple of the dudes on my fantasy team and Rodgers lived in the Portland area for three years when he was younger.  I've got a cheesehead as well.

I'm having a party for the game though I'm not sure it deserves such a lofty description when maybe four people will make it over.  I invited many more, but some people are out of town, some people had prior plans and some people got better offers.  No worries since I don't mind watching the game myself.  A Super Bowl party is on my challenge list and last year's definitely counted and I'll most likely count this one as well since I'm making food and I'm cleaning up.

Having people over means I need to make sure there's at least some parking available which means more snow shoveling.  I usually only shovel well enough to get my car in and out, but that criterion isn't going to work today so I'll need to shovel more of the upper driveway.  It's supposed to be warm today so I might wait until later to let some of the snow melt.  It did rain yesterday so it may be icy out now which would suck.

I can definitely use a trip to somewhere warm.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The downside of exercising

Exercising is good for you, but it does not necessarily lead to weight loss because it jump starts your metabolism which means you get hungry.  If you feed your hunger with, let's say, 12oz of bacon and five cookies like I did this morning, you'll probably undo a lot of your hard work.

The real key is to lock down your diet and to cut out artificial stuff and sugar which is easier said than done for those of us with a sweet tooth.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Not a great combination

I hit the grocery store yesterday to get some whole milk and heavy cream with which to make ice cream.  Since I was hungry and stupid, I also got some crap to eat for dinner including some sugar cookies which weren't that great.  Combining too much crap food with an 8:30 bedtime (!) is not a good idea since I had some really weird dreams.  I woke up at 2 and then fell back asleep.

Why did I go to bed at 8:30?  I was exhausted and it could be due to the crap food and to all the snow shoveling I've been doing lately.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

No snow today

It looks like we'll finally get a break from the snow today and tomorrow.  It may snow again on Saturday, but not much is supposed to accumulate.  It took me about 20-30 minutes this morning to finish shoveling my driveway.  The street plow piles up quite a bit at the end of the driveway and so it took more work.  My arms were still sore from the shoveling yesterday, but I was able to get my car out without any trouble and I anticipate being able to get it back in tonight.

I'm not sure how many people will come over for the Super Bowl, but I'll try to shovel more of the upper driveway to make room.  Some warm and sunny days would certainly help, but I'll plan on another 2-5 hours of shoveling.  At least it's giving me a good workout.

I made it to work early this morning because I couldn't sleep.  Unfortunately, not much is going on here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I feel accomplished.

I was going to hire someone to plow my driveway tomorrow, but I decided to man up and shovel it myself today. It took a little more than two hours, but I was able to shovel 90% of it to get my car down. I left about a car length at the bottom to shovel out tomorrow because the plow truck will be by a few times today and I only want to shovel the resulting ice mountain once.

I realized I don't want to be the typical American who is afraid of some hard work. Why should I pay someone $50 for something I can do myself? I was already going to work from home today and we all know I need the exercise. It was tough work and I could've done without the ice pellets, but I feel pretty good. I didn't cop out.

I still might get a snowblower this year because it'll be something I own which is worth money. I'm ok buying goods, but I want to cut down on buying services.

I don't really like the media hype about these kinds of storms. It's the Northeast and it's winter. It's going to snow and 12" isn't really all that unusual around here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ramblings during a snowstorm

We're supposed to get 3 to 6 inches of snow today and a whole buttload more tomorrow so I thought I would just work from home both days. I'm not sure I could make it down my driveway this morning and I certainly wouldn't be able to make it back up. I'll have to decide on Thursday if I want to pay someone to plow or if I feel like shoveling myself out. Hmmm...

I should've ordered a snowblower by now, but I figured I could make do with my shovel. That strategy worked out last year because we didn't get that much snow and the snow we did get was followed by warm weather. This season, it's snowed a lot and accumulated. I think my friends down in CT have accumulated about four feet or so. Crazy.

Thanks to the internet, I can easily work from home. In fact, I'm probably more productive here. If necessary, I can call into a meeting.

I'm looking out of my office window and people out on the road. I can barely see them through the snow. One of the town plow trucks just came by, but he's going to have a tough time keeping up. I know that some people need to get out and about, but today and tomorrow will be good days to stay home. Fortunately, I've got cable, food in the fridge, the internet and some good books.

I had some really weird dreams last night. I got home from basketball around 21:45, showered and then had a protein shake. I guess I was wired or something because I couldn't fall asleep for a couple of hours. When I finally did, I dreamt about living in a world where no one could ever fall asleep. Pretty weird eh? I woke up at 5:45, used the bathroom and decided not to go into work today. I went back to bed and then dreamt about moving back to this weird house (this house is usually in my dreams, but I've never lived there). My brother was there and then there were about 10 dentists asking to fix my teeth.

I started doing my taxes last Friday since I got my W-2's. Oh boy, I hope to get the rest of my 1099's because I'm going to get a gripload back this year. It's good because I can use the money, but it's bad because it means I was paying too much tax last year and loaned the government some scratch. I took four deductions, but, with my house, I think I should take six. I changed it to five just in case. I don't mind getting a little back.

Ah, I can see people out there in gray cars without their lights on. People around here are terrible drivers and frequently leave their lights off just because it's daytime.

I jammed my ring finger playing basketball last night. Again. I need to find a sleeve or start taping it up like Rosa recommended. I guess I played a lot of volleyball and knows a think or two about jammed fingers.