Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gluten-free cooking

So far this weekend I've made two things gluten-free - amaranth carrot raisin cookies and buttermilk pancakes with buckwheat.  I found the cookie recipe on the back of my Bob's Red Mill amaranth flour.  They turned out ok, but the texture is a little strange.  There are no eggs or butter in the recipe so I'm not surprised.  I'm not sure I'd make this recipe again.  I would probably take an existing oatmeal chocolate chip recipe and just swap out the wheat.

My family has a really tasty buttermilk pancake recipe and there is a lot of nostalgia attached to them because we ate them about once a week when I was growing up.  I think we only used a pancake mix one time when we were at a cabin near Mt Hood.  Anyhow, I tried this recipe this morning swapping buckwheat flour for wheat flour one to one by mass.  The color changed to this brownish-purple, but they tasted pretty good.  The taste is a little different from what I'm used to so it was a little strange, but I would definitely do this swap again though I might exchange some of the buckwheat for arrowroot or tapioca starch or maybe almond flour to lighten the pancakes.

I usually get pretty tired after eating buttermilk pancakes because of the dairy and wheat, but I'm feeling good now so this switch to mostly gluten-free has been a good one for me.  It may not be an effective or necessary diet for everyone, but I'll just worry about myself.  I hadn't been eating much bread the past few months anyhow so it hasn't been a huge sacrifice and if I'm jonesin' for some rolls, I'll just eat them and pay the price.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fitness update

It's about that time.  I made some good progress this month thanks to P90X and going gluten free.  I miss bread like crazy, but I can always reevaluate my diet when I get ripped.

I like the new downward trend of these plots, but I get a little cheesed off since last year undid a lot of big gains made in 2009.  Oh well.  I just need to keep up with the diet and work hard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sports update

NO came through with a big win over IND so I scored major points and had enough to squeak by my dad for first place in fantasy football.  My brother came in last by quite a bit so I can trash talk him.

I bowled pretty well tonight.  I started off with a 167 which is my new season high.  I then bowled a 124 and a 127.  The third game was going poorly until I rallied with a few marks in a row.  My nightly average was a season's best of 139 and now my season average is up to 120.  My goal is to get my average up to 140 by the end of the season, but it's going to take some work so I might start bowling more often to get some practice in.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I was only able to do 1.75 pullups for my pre-P90X fitness test which is under their requirement for starting the program.  I've been doing it anyhow, but I haven't seen much improvement in my pullup strength over the past six weeks and it's frustrating.  I'm not sure if I'm not getting much benefit out of those exercises because I'm not able to bang them out, sort of a chicken-and-egg situation.  Hmmm...

After I finish P90X, there's another fitness test so I'll see how many I can do then.  There are some "50 pullups" or "25 pullups" programs out there so maybe I'll give those a try.  I still need to bang out the 100 pushups and 200 squats programs and I think I'll try the 150 dips.  The program I found online does them off a bench or chair, but I have an actual dip station so I'll use that.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trip to Washington, DC

Last weekend, I took the train down to Washington, DC to visit my cousin and his family.  His parents, my aunt and uncle, were also in town so I got to see a lot of relatives.

Saturday was my second cousin's 11th birthday party.  We went bowling at Fort Scott and had some bowling alley pizza which was actually pretty good.  My second cousin invited a mess of his friends to join us.  While they were a little rowdy, they were actually pretty well behaved.  I bowled a 133 and then a 141.  My cousin, who's a light colonel in the Marines, overbowled for some pretty crappy scores.  It's nice to remind people that bowling is more about finesse.  My aunt bowled pretty well, too.

On Sunday, I took the metro over to Fed Ex Field to watch Washington lose badly to the Eagles.  The Eagles hadn't been playing well up until this game, but Wrecks Grossman found a way to give them some confidence.  The seats were awesome and I went with a college friend who lives in DC.  The weather was great, but I got a little sunburned.  The field is definitely a paean to greed since everything is sponsored.

On Monday, I finally got to walk around the Mall and visit the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of American History.  I had been to DC about five times before, but never got a chance to do touristy stuff.  The Washington Monument was closed for repairs due to the earthquake from earlier this year.  The Reflecting Pool was all torn up as well.  The memorials were pretty cool and I think the Korean one was my favorite.  The museums were awesome and were free as well.  There are plenty more for me to check out during my next visit.

On Tuesday, I went to Arlington Cemetery in the morning with my uncle.  His uncle is buried there.  He was a submarine captain of the USS Redfin.  The Cemetery was pretty moving and there is a... gravity to the place since it is enormous.  It took a while to walk around, but the weather was nice so it wasn't a big deal.  We saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

That afternoon, I took the train back to Albany.

I had a great trip.  It's always nice to visit family and I think every American should visit DC to get a sense of our history.  "Freedom is not free" and we should remember that saying as we go about our lives.  We're lucky to live in the US and we have to remain vigilant that this country doesn't turn to crap.

DC is a cool town and you don't need a car since the Metro is efficient.

Picture vomit can be found here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I started off poorly with a 98.  My footwork was a mess and I was leaning over.  I righted myself and recovered with a 154 in the second game including two strikes in the last frame.  I finished well with a 129 for a 127 nightly average which brought my average up nearly two pins to 118.

I just need to be consistent with my approach and follow through and I'll get my average up around 130.


Son of a gun.  I got waxed this week and came in third/last by a large margin.  I was at the Phi-Was game so I didn't follow many of the other games, but my dudes came up short.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I think my sugar cravings have subsided.  They had cider and doughnuts at a work function yesterday and I wasn't even tempted.  Kick ass.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


My slide into crappiness continued tonight.  I started off poorly with a 97, then a 129 and then a 107 for a nightly average of 111 which brings down my seasonal average to 116.  I pretty much stink and have trouble staying consistent.


My dudes did just ok, but I managed to hold off my dad to stay in second place.  My brother won big.

Oh well.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

P90X Day 28 comparison

The P90X program suggests taking pictures on Day 28 to compare with Day -1.  While these pictures look kind of stupid since I'm trying to maintain good posture, I think they should some subtle improvement.  My body composition scale tells me I've lost 3 lbs in these four weeks, all of them fat.  I'd like to lose 1-1.5lbs of fat per week so I'm off target, but not by too much.

I think I have a little more definition in my torso, front and back, but you can judge for yourself.

I've still got a ways to go, but I'm fairly pleased with my progress to date.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

P90X recovery week 1

Today marks the end of the first phase of P90X for me.  I'll admit that I didn't do everything.  I have skipped some of the X Stretch workouts and I sometimes cut the Yoga X ones short.  For instance, I only did yoga for about 30 minutes this morning because I wasn't feeling it.  I could tell that if I continued, I'd get hella grumpy and I don't want to start my weekend off in a bad mood.  I think I get grumpy because I'm not that flexible and I fall over a lot.  90 minutes is also probably overkill for yoga so I might look for a shorter workout.  I'm sure I can find one that would be just as effective.

The recovery week also has two sessions of Core Synergistics.  This workout has a bunch of exercises for the abs though Tony mistakenly refers to the stomach.  Dude, the stomach is an organ not a muscle.  Anyhow, the individual exercises are pretty good and effective, but the workout doesn't flow.  He's also more annoying in this video than most of the others and it has Dreya.  While I like to admire her butterface body, she's a teacher's pet in most videos and it's grating.

I'm looking forward to getting back to the strength workouts since I find those ones more effective.  Overall, I'm glad I'm doing the program, but it's going to be tough to finish all 13 weeks since we're talking about more than six hours of exercise a week.  It'll be easy to get burned out which is one of my biggest complaints about the program.  A lot of people bitch about the nutrition program, but once I saw that they designed the diet around their overpriced and likely ineffective supplements, I ignored it.  Nothing says you have to do everything they say.

I found one site which tried to list all the ways P90X is overrated.  Sure, it's not perfect, but it is an effective program because Tony does a good job of coaching.  If he didn't keep talking, I think it would be tough to complete the entire workout.  Maybe some of the workouts are overkill, but the idea is to use this 90 day program to get into better shape and then it's up to you to find ways to maintain.  Our bodies are efficient at maintaining equilibrium so it's up to use to adjust the level of that equilibrium.  Do we want to be pudgy or ripped?  Sure, you can get ripped without being fit, but I have done enough research on my own to be able to judge that the P90X exercises will be effective.  They're nearly all bodyweight exercises like pushups and pullups and those have been proven to be safe and effective.

That same site claimed that the program has you do endless crunches.  Honestly, I don't think I've done one single traditional crunch.  There are crunchy frogs and in-and-outs and leg climbers, but those are different.  It makes me wonder if the dude really did the program or is just bitchin' to pitch his one routine.  Sometimes people get their panties in a bunch when they see someone else is successful.

Tomorrow is Day 28 and we're supposed to take some pictures to show improvement.  I'll post them with a comparison from Day 0 to show the difference.  I think I look leaner and stronger, but I'll let you be the judge.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My dual flush is slightly less awesome

I like my dual flush, but sometimes the button for the 0.9 gallon flush sticks so you get the maximum flush.  The made the buttons artsy whereas they should've separated them by something to prevent this occurrence.  I'll see how it goes in the next couple of days, but it seems to be sticking more frequently so maybe I can get a new lid.

If it comes down to it, I'll just lift up the lid and press the button.  I'm going to wash my hands anyhow and the underside of the tank lid isn't that funky.  I don't like having to do that, but I'm pretty serious about water conservation.  So serious I flushed the toilet five times this morning to test out the button.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I bowled piss poor tonight with a 118, a 101 and a 119 for a nightly average of 113 which dropped my seasonal average down to 117.  I got out-bowled by a couple of 'tards one lane over.  Awesome.


I got crushed this week and it wasn't pretty.  None of my dudes did all that well so it didn't really matter who I played.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why I bank with a credit union

Bank of America and Citibank have been in the news this weekend for new fees.  BofA has decided to charge people $5/month to use a debit card as a debit card unless they meet some high account balance minima.  Citibank is charging $15/month for basic checking unless account holders meet unlikely criteria.  I'm sure the kind of people rockin' previously free checking are the ones able to keep $15k in the bank.  I read online a few months ago that most Americans would struggle to come up with $2k cash with one month's notice.  I'm not sure I could do it, but it depends on the month.

I have no formal economics training so perhaps I'm misunderstanding the situation.  Banks used to loan out money at 10-15% and pay <6% interest which gave a revenue margin of 4-9%.  The actual profit margin would be smaller depending on defaults, operating costs, etc.  4-9% gross margin sounds decent to me and banks also had other revenue streams since they could invest money.  So...what happened?  Well, it seems banks went from making smart loans to loaning money to anyone who could sign his name.  What happened then?  Well, it turns out that poor people can't afford $1M mortgages so they defaulted and the banks took it on the chin.  With the help of lobbyists and some dumbass Congressfolks, they were able to get a big ol' taxpayer bailout.

Then some banking regulation went through which limited how much the banks could charge merchants for processing debit card transactions (Durbin was gettin' a handy from retailers like WalMart).  The banks decided to make up for that lost revenue by stickin' it to poor and working class folk (nearly one and the same now).  I'm not sure I want the federal government regulating how much banks can charge merchants for card transactions.  The merchants were passing those costs onto the consumers and the idea was the new savings will get passed down to us.  Really?  Is that in the bill?  What's to stop WalMart from pocketing the difference?

What the hell has happened to this country?  When did we become this greedy?  I don't know what it's like elsewhere, but I'm worried we're headed for an implosion of epic proportions.  You've got an ever-widening gap between the rich and everyone else, you've got Congress openly taking handouts from lobbyists and you've got rich people crying about class wars whenever someone mentions taxing the rich.  The marginal rate on rich people used to be obscene, but it was ok because they could "get by" on what was left over.  Now?  You've got rich people making money at the expense of everyone else.  I'm all for allowing people to make as much as they can, but that doesn't mean we can't tax the crap out of them to fund needed programs.  If you own more than one house or a car that cost more than $100k, don't come crying to me about class warfare.  You're just a greedy douchebag and little of that money will save you when crap hits the fan.

Gingrich was one of the key dudes to turn the Republican party from one of compromise to one of opposition.  They now oppose nearly everything the Democrats do out of habit and stall bills just to say they can.  Is that tactic really helping everyone out?  Now you've got the Democrats retaliating with similar tactics which is making it tough for anything to get done.  The Founders probably intended for slow deliberation, but not stalling just to score political points.

I wonder how many people actually see a bright future for this country.