Monday, October 30, 2006

Yogurt and Granola

I enjoy granola with yogurt for breakfast. You may call it a little European, but there are quite a few other European things that I like too.

But granola does not go well with Pina Colada yogurt. Berry yogurt, yes. Peach, yes. Pina Colada, no. And I bet it doesn't go with lemon either. Or Strawberry Kiwi.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Special sandwiches

Yesterday, I met my wife and youngest at Pine Lake Park for a picnic lunch. She picked him up from pre-school and I made lunch. Not a great lunch, but I made special sandwiches.

Let's travel back a few more days, back to Saturday, the day of soccer games. Soccer games come with snacks. Snack on this day was a Smucker's Uncrustable, a strange, obviously crust-less, peanut butter and jelly sandwich sort of shaped like a ravioli. They were interesting in that neither the peanut butter nor the jelly squeezed out of them when you bit into them. My wife thought that they were strange, why not just make your own peanut butter sandwich. But after she had some of it, she said that they were special in that they had peanut butter on both sides of the bread-like substance.

Return to lunch yesterday with me.

Yes, there is peanut butter underneath the jelly. I did this on both sides of the bread, doesn't it look tasty? I don't think that the picture does it justice.

My apologies if this picture appear six times on my blog later this evening. I took the photo with my phone and tried to send it moblog style, but it didn't work. With just my luck all copies will eventually catch up, even the one I sent to my Remember The Milk to d0 list!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It's fall, no winter!!

This morning, as I headed to Mercer Island for my kid's swim practice and running (and this really won't be a running post, although I did run further this morning), I noticed that it was very fall like. Trees were turning colors and leaves were blowing in the morning breeze. It was quite beautiful. I was hoping to enjoy it more after the sun rose.
It was lightly sprinkling by the time I got back from running. By the time I pulled Alec out of practice, it was really raining. It rained for the rest of the morning (but it appears to have lightend up or stopped, as I look out the window right now).
So, I guess winter is here. In Alaska, fall would last about two weeks (which I never saw because I was always deployed someplace for those two weeks). Evidently in Seattle, it just barely lasts a day.
And thank goodness that I replaced my windshield wipers earlier this week!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dinner with Erik

Tonight, after the swim meet (both kids did very well again), we met Erik, one of my college room mates, for dinner. He was here at the beginning of his annual hockey road trip. We went to I Love Sushi in Bellevue and had an enjoyable dinner, but it was the company that made it enjoyable.
The food was surprisingly sub-par. The restaurant has excellent presentation (I really like the Caterpillar roll, it looks like a giant fuzzy caterpillar), but the food just didn't have that regular, good taste. The edamame just weren't fresh. The service was sub-par, our waitress would disappear for lengths of time. The kids were not on their best behavior. I still don't understand how they spilled the glass of ice... in Heather's shoe.
On the good side, it was great to catch up with Erik. It has been about a year since we've seen him and though I read his blog and he reads mine and we email and IM periodically, it is great to talk in person.

We talked for a long time, probably part of what pushed the kids over the edge. It even got so far that Chase ate the eyeballs off the tempura shrimp heads so that we would leave. She ate three eyeballs!
This is where it goes downhill. If you are sensitive of stomach, please stop reading here.
Through out dinner, my tummy was getting rumbly. By the time I got home, I needed to get to the bathroom. Badly. Evidently, I could be heard through the wall.
I finished up and came to my computer to start this entry and my daughter came and grabbed me by the hand and dragged me upstairs to my crying youngest son. He, too, had a similar upset stomach, except he didn't get seated in time.
I don't know if this was due to Quizno's at lunch or not so fresh sushi for dinner. I guess we'll find out, based upon whether our lunch mates or dinner mate has similar results. As I go to bed, my wife is telling me her stomach is beginning to feel burbly. Not good.
Good night!

How to tamp for espresso

I really enjoy espresso and if I had a little cash, just laying around, I would have more MINI mods and a new espresso maker. But I digress, as I am oft to do.

I periodically read CoffeeGeek, a website targetted at lovers of all things coffee. They target both the professional barista, home consumer and that in-between pro-sumer categories.

With some of the project work I've been doing, I've been going into the office a lot recently, where there is a lovely, little used manual espresso maker. When I first moved to Seattle, I downloaded the manual and learned how to use the machine. I was never successful at making good coffee. It was drinkable, sometimes. I mastered the mechanics of making espresso, but not the art. With my trips into the office and working with new people on my team, I was able to get an education on the art points.

We have a new demand planning diretor, Chris, who is a pretty good guy (good taste in music, enjoys coffee and has a tech geek leaning in him). It turns out that he too enjoys coffee and has a manual machine at home. I took advantage of his presence and got him to show me how to tamp - something I knew to be my weakness.

My shots had a dramtic improvement just from his lessons (it turns out that I was seriously over-tamping).

The ironic thing is that CoffeeGeek had recently published an article on tamping. And many of the points that Chris offered up are in this same article.

I like irony.

Boy did I feel dumb

On Saturday's in the fall, we have soccer games. As you might recall, I am the coach for both my oldest son's and daughter's soccer teams. But swimming season has also begun, which they both participate in as well. And as you can guess, there was a conflict this weekend. It wasn't really tough to overcome, but I screwed it up.

Warm ups for swim meets usually start at 8 am. Back that up for finding parking, getting to the pool, getting the stuff you need to entertain yourself and your non swimming kids, eating breakfast, and dragging kids out of bed that means that a swim meet day starts just about as early as a work day.

The boys soccer game was in the middle of the first day of the swim meet (I forgot to mention that, didn't I - some are two days), so we took two cars and I would go to the soccer game with out my son, since he was swimming. No problems here, I left the pool right on time and got to the field on time for soccer warm ups.

The soccer game was a great game. The boys really worked on playing their positions and it payed off. We were playing on a dirt field and I don't think they like it very much, but maybe this game will help them overcome that. I called my wife after the game and found out that the swim meet was done and she was going shopping to find a birthday present for a party our youngest was going to.

We were supposed to be at the girls' field at 1:30 for a 2 pm game. Heather didn't think that there was enough time to buy birthday stuff and eat lunch at home before we had to leave, so we decided to meet at Chipotle. I was supposed to go home and get my daughter her soccer gear and meet them there. This is where things started to go down hill.

I get home without incident and took off my soccer cleats before going inside. With this being fall soccer in the rainy North West, cleats get muddy or help pick up the cut grass, depending if you are playing on dirt or grass. My wife frowns (rightly so) on either of those substances in the house. My daughter's soccer stuff was right where she told me it would be and I zipped back out to Chipotle. It turns out, I left my cleats at home. Mess up #1.

I went to Chipotle and they weren't there yet. I found them shopping still and finished out the trip with them. I took the booster seat so that I could take my daughter to soccer and asked if she wanted to change in the bathroom in the restaurant. She wanted to change in the car. Mess up #2, but I didn't realize it at the time.

We had a nice lunch and I though I needed to leave at 1:20 to get to the field, which was pretty close. Everything went smoothly and we got the field just before 1:30. My daughter changed in the car and we walked out to the field. I walked up to the other coach and he said he wasn't the one we were playing and asked if we were at the right field. I thought I would wait for people to show up, but by now it was 1:35 but the kids and parents are timely.

I checked my Google Calendar reminder and learned that I was at the wrong field! Mess up #3. And there was only a slight chance that I would make it to the other field before 2pm. We run back to my MINI and as I'm driving, calling the team parents. Unfortunately, the roster I carry around with me only has home numbers (mess up #4). Luckily, one of the families also list their mobile number on their home answering machine. I called her, but she had dropped off her husband (without mobile phone) and daughter at the game. She was closer to the field than I and offered to return to let them know that I really was on my way.

We got to the game at about 1:56 and sprinted to the field. The parent's told me they were all warmed up and ready to go. I assigned positions and put the girls on the field and the ref came to me and asked if I had a pinnie for the goalie. I did, but they were in the car. Mess up #5. I sprinted back to the car and grabbed a jersey. On the good side, I don't really think that the game started late (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

The girls game was great and the ref was really good (It is nice to have a ref that cares at the younger kid's games). The ref was probably also a good role model because she was a teenage girl still playing soccer.

So, amidst my mess ups, which count 5, there were some good points. My son's swim meet went very well and both soccer games went well. In the end, all's well, that ends well, right?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Before and After

Before, originally uploaded by beau.raines.

Today, we changed out the chandelier in our dining room. The one that came with the house just wasn't our style. I'm no design expert, but I think it falls into the Rococo style and that just isn't our thing.
It was quick to take the chandelier down and assemble the new one, but the chain was a pain in the neck. Heather wanted to do the chain links and they were tough. I think that is what happens when we go from a brass chain to a nickel chain.

After, originally uploaded by beau.raines.

I wired it quickly (without shockng myself, either) and we were back in business. I think that the new one looks much nicer than the old one.

Running on Sunday!

It was sprinkling and overcast at 7 o'clock this morning, but I went anyways. There weren't as many people out as last Sunday. I ran 2.7 miles today.
It is almost ingrained into my schedule - run on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Running, day 3

Today, I ran 3.455 miles (thank you again, Gmaps Pedometer).
I found a better route on Mercer Island, where I can run most of the way on a trail with some lighting and no cars. I only have to run about a third of a mile on unlighted streets in the shoulder. What an improvement.

Buh bye, Writely

Google recently acquired Writely (if I were a true journalist, I would specify the date and the amount of the purchase) and under the cover of darkness two nights ago, released a new service Documents and Spreadsheets. This new service combines Google Spreadsheets and Writely documents all into one portal.

I really like Google's venture into the web based applications with Spreadsheets and Writely. I think that they provide some great opportunities for collaboration - I've used them to publish soccer team rosters and some required documents for games. It makes it easy for the other coaches to have the same set of documents that I do, with out having to email them back and forth. Think of disk space savings, when we all look at the same document online.

Some changes
  1. Consolidated user interface - all in the Google blue and white scheme
  2. One web portal for all documents
  3. The ability to tag documents has been added to Spreadsheets. I really like tagging and find it to be superior to folders. I bet I could write a whole blog posting on that. Maybe...

This is cutting edge, the web based Office 2.0 applications and I think that this evolution of the Internet will be pretty neat. There have been several articles on ZDNet about the ubiquity of Internet access, offline access to web based apps, and more. This is the future.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Feeling athletic

Let's see. My last post was October 3rd, a week ago. My to do list has the task "Going commando blog posting." I have some catching up to do.

We just moved the kids to a different swim team, King Aquatics, for a variety of reasons (none of which will be covered here). This has resulted in a significant number of schedule changes and revisions to how we live our lives.

I am coaching my kids' soccer teams (yep, soccer and swimming) and for a week, swim practice conflicted with soccer practice. Heather would take the kids to swimming and I went on to practice. On the day of the first afternoon practice, I got ready for soccer (cleats, socks, soccer shorts, spandex shorts under the soccer shorts for comfort, and a t-shirt). I was half way to practice when my wife calls that Alec had forgotten to pack his swim suit. Pack his swim suit, you ask? The kids were picked up from school, having supposedly already gotten their swimming stuff ready. Unfortunately, turning around and going home wasn't an option, because they would be late for Chase's practice. So, the troubleshooter I am, I offered up my spandex shorts to Alec to stand in for his jammers. Helen, how does that fit into re-wearing rules?

They decided to try out that plan and I did a last minute lane change and took my shorts off in the Fred Meyer's parking lot to hand them off to Alec. So, for those of you who don't play strip poker or aren't keeping track, now I was down cleats, socks, soccer shorts, and a t-shirt. Everything was covered and decent, but less comfortable. Plus I had that fear and I would kneel down to tie some little girl's shoe that I would be exposing myself to them. And then, I was worried about how late the boys practice runs and I just lost one layer for when the sun starts to set and a chill sets in.

Luckily for me, there were no indecent exposures and it didn't cool off too much. Luckily for Chase, she wasn't late for practice. Unfortunately for Alec, the shorts were too big for him. Unfortunately for Alec, the board shorts that were recovered from the lost and found, were still too big for him.

Another change that has come with swimming for King is morning practices. Now, at first glance, it doesn't seem to be a big deal because this year, school starts really late. Except that it is a 25 minute drive to the pool and then however much time (averaging 8 minutes) in the locker room and practice is at 6 am. So, now on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I am on Mercer Island just before 6 am. Heather comes shortly after with Chase and the rest of the crew, but do the math. 6am Mercer Island. 5:25 departure from house. 5 am wake up with time for my morning chores. Earlier if I continue on to work and have to be presentable.

So, I've decided to turn that morning time into running time. This is where more of the athletic feeling comes in. This week, I ran on Sunday (at home, not Mercer Island) for 2.2 miles. Today, I ran 2.7 miles. It is a great way to fill that time in the morning! I'm not opposed to running in the dark (it is strangely reminiscent of my time in the Army, running before the sun comes up). However, the roads on Mercer Island are twisty, narrow and have tiny shoulders, if at all. I need to acquire some more reflective materials and find some convenient routes there.

I plotted out a route (thank you Gmaps Pedometer - a google maps mash up for route measuring) and unfortunately, I neglected to look at the elevation gains. I found a nice route, except it was far too steep for day 2 of getting back into running.

I plan on continuing this and hopefully I can get back in shape! I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

It's a scary world

The news lately has been full of bad news about school shootings lately.

The Guardian Unlimited provided a list and here is the excerpt of the last six weeks. Six weeks, can you believe it?

- Oct. 2, 2006: A gunman took about a dozen girls hostage, killing at least three of them, at a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, police said. The shooter was among the dead, and a number of people were injured.

- Sept. 29, 2006: 15-year-old Eric Hainstock brought two guns to a school in rural Cazenovia, Wis., and fatally shot the principal, a day after the principal gave him a disciplinary warning for having tobacco on school grounds, police said.

- Sept. 27, 2006: Duane Morrison, 53, took six girls hostage at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colo. Morrison, sexually assaulting them and using them as human shields for hours before fatally shooting one girl and killing himself.

- Aug. 24, 2006: Christopher Williams, 27, went to an elementary school in Essex, Vermont, looking for his ex-girlfriend, a teacher. He couldn't find her and fatally shot one teacher and wounded another, police said. Williams also killed his ex-girlfriend's mother, according to authorities. He shot himself twice in the head after the rampage and was arrested.
This isn't a case for gun control - we've got restrictions placed and they aren't working. But whatever it is, it is a little scary.

But this is the world in which we live - Domestic terrorism, wars, child abuctions, and more unpleasantry - but regardless of that, we still need to do what we need to do to be happy, safe and productive. That's what helps us all drive on in this world.

Red flyer

How could I not buy this bottle?