Monday, December 31, 2007

stuff to sell in 2008

normally folks consider all the things they want to buy for a new year (a house, a car, a BIG screen TV, a laptop, a pet, etc.). well this year we, well maybe just me, are starting the new year off with some stuff we need to sell/get rid of.

you all know that feeling of getting rid of stuff right? i feel like a "weight" has been lifted. i love it! i'm proud to say that each year kristin & i get rid of even more stuff that we don't really need. granted, kristin & i do have 5 bikes between us & i'm looking to buy another... i suppose that is my BIG purchase of '08, a full carbon tri bike! anyway, that's probably the only area that we have excess & in all honesty i need a road, mountain, & tri bike - they all serve *very* different purposes. i will most likely sell my existing tri bike when i get a new one, or just permanently leave it attached to the trainer & kristin is definitely selling her crosstrail bike this year (hasn't ridden it once in the 6 years that we've been together).

so what's all on the chopping block for '08?

- the '03 audi A4 is the biggest of the things we need to sell
- the new sofa we bought in sept. & already hate
- my pull-up/dip/leg-lift machine (no room for it)
- the crosstrail bike
craigslist here we come!

another 4runner

kristin & i have enjoyed our new 4runner so much that i went out & got me a used one this weekend while in dallas. when we bought the new 4runner the deal was that kristin would learn to drive the a4 (standard) & when i wanted to go biking i would take the 4runner. this was back when i wasn’t even doing triathlons & mountain biking only.

well, it’s been almost two years since kristin & i made that agreement & she has yet to learn to drive the a4. i’ve since put a bike rack on the a4 which has worked well but there have been a few times when i would have liked to have put 4 bikes on a rack & gotten in with some buddies & gone somewhere out of town for some riding – you can’t do that with an a4.

knowing that ’08 is going to be a year full of tri racing & that our new pup (payton) who when fully grown will weigh between 85 & 95 pounds & wouldn’t fit well in an a4 i knew it was time to make the purchase & get a SUV of my own. it worked out well because i’ve actually always liked the 2nd generation body style of the 4runner more than the new one & i trust these vehicles so much that i’m not scared to be driving a vehicle that is out of warranty – that’s something i can’t say about my a4 which two months after going out of warranty had the check engine light come on. $45 in parts & $155 in “labor” to replace an oxygen sensor & a gas cap later & i knew right away that driving a german car without a warranty was going to be a bad move.
i’ve been looking online for almost a month now & because 4runners are such popular vehicles in austin it’s been hard to get to one before someone else did. the resale value & along with the number of miles on these trucks is wild. anyway, i think we got a good deal & if i can sell the a4 quickly we’ll be in a good position & best of all NO MORE CAR PAYMENT!

Friday, December 28, 2007

a different approach to grocery shopping

since kristin & i moved back into town we've done 99% of our grocery shopping at whole foods & central market. from time to time when we are looking at our checkbook we wonder if this is a smart move to be shopping at these stores all the time. well sometimes it isn't about money... did i just say that? maybe i've had one two many poppers (cute little healthy treats that kristin makes) today.

i recall our grocery shopping experiences in the past being mostly chaotic & they usually resulted in both of us being frustrated (even if only one of us went to the store the other would come home in such a bad mood that we'd cause the other to get frustrated). who would enjoy long lines, frustrating people, & buzzers & beepers from endless rows of checkout lines ringing in your ear from the moment you walk in until the moment you walk out? while i don’t consider grocery shopping fun, i do feel that both whole foods & central market try their best to make our experience as enjoyable as possible.

to begin with, the lines are usually never as long at these stores as they are at a traditional grocery store. the consumers, as well as the staff are much more personable too. we often find ourselves conversing with other folks in line & the staff is always eager to talk & help you out. parking… well parking is bad everyone in austin right?

we normally frequent the downtown location of whole foods & the central location of central market. whole foods is by far the best of the two stores in my opinion. both of us appreciate that whole foods tries to off the highest quality of real or “whole” foods. you’ll be hard pressed to find anything at whole foods containing high fructose corn syrup for example. central market is a bit lax on their ingredients & appears to me to be setup for more of the foodie & not as much towards the foodie who is also concerned about the ingredients of the food.

visiting whole foods usually turns into a full trip for us. we’ll often run at the lake & then head to whole foods. we’ll fill up on some goodies from the many choices they offer & then do our shopping. since kristin has been doing the veggie thing we’ve found some really cool & tasty items to satisfy both of our taste buds. stop by the vegan bar next time you are there & try their pumpkin mousse – it’s amazing & 100% vegan.

whole foods just did this very cool & environmentally conscience thing… they got rid of all plastic bags. if you visit the store, you’ll need to bring your own or purchase a re-usable bag of which is made of recycled plastics & paper. what a smart & responsible move on their part for setting a good example for other companies to follow. i’m sure central market will follow in their food steps soon & eventually all grocery stores should do the same. so much waste comes from the plastic grocery bag.

the only down side we have with whole foods is the cost of their produce & meat. we usually buy the majority of our produce & meat at central market just because of the cost savings.

oh, & big props to central market on something that just happened a few days ago. i was at central market on christmas eve their credit card machine (you could still use a check-card, cash, or check) was on the fritz & the lines were getting thicker than normal. in an effort to mitigate the situation while the machines were being looked at there were regular announcements on the overhead speakers informing everyone of what was going on & they even started serving champagne to those waiting in line. that’s top notch service in my book.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

renaming bevo to stan

poor bevo... no way, poor bevo's parents that have to clean up after him. since bevo was introduced to payton this morning he has puked 10 times. cubby, our other kitten, hasn't puked once in his life. while cubby isn't a fan of payton either right now; he hasn't turned into a puke machine.

bevo has a tendency to puke now & again. maybe once a month or once a quarter. the point is that he pukes, but NOT 10 times in a single day. this same thing happened a few years ago with our first dog. bevo would just get near payton I & would puke. today, he's puked 10 times. normally one puking episode results in 3 separate puke spots. by end of day he was basically puking stomach acids only; there wasn't any food left in his BIG belly.

we are both hoping for a better day tomorrow.

i got addicted to south park for about a month earlier this year which is how i came up with the south park reference. kearney, one of my employees, turned me onto i knew of south park, but had never seen an actual episode. in the span of that month i watched every season that was posted.

out like a light

who says a pup has more energy than a 30 year old? after a morning walk, a 3 mile run around the lake, some fun with some other pups at the park, & a slow walk around the neighborhood this pup is out like a light. no worries about him not sleeping through the night tonight. i wonder if dogs count sheep when they sleep...

my man payton

kristin & i got a new pup late last night. we named him payton, after walter payton ( kristin is such a sport being a packer fan & all. she really understands how much payton meant to me growing up as a kid & how much i enjoy naming our dog payton.

anyway, it's been a busy 24 hours with payton. he's almost 5 months old & he is already pushing 40+ pounds. he's a rhodesian ridgeback & when fully grown will weigh between 85 & 95 pounds. the breed is amazing to read about. they were breed in south africa in the late 1800s to kill lions - the were referred to as the african lion dog or simba inja. kristin has been eyeing the breed for sometime. greg & katie, some friends of ours, have a vizsla that we are very fond of & we wanted something like the vizsla, just a little more stout/squared. we saw a rhodesian one day down at the trail & from that moment that is the breed we wanted. i grew up always wanting a great dane - i'm sure most boys did. anyway, the ridge marking on their backs is like no other is & he is sure to stand out amongst a crowd of other dogs.

(AKC blurb about the ridgeback: the ridgeback represents a strong, muscular and active dog, symmetrical and balanced in outline. a mature ridgeback is a handsome, upstanding and athletic dog, capable of great endurance with a fair (good) amount of speed. of even, dignified temperament, the ridgeback is devoted and affectionate to his master, reserved with strangers. the peculiarity of this breed is the ridge on the back. the ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed. )

we lucked out with him big time! he's a pure breed & he is so well tempered. the original owner had him fully house & crate trained. the original owner, andy, (a cool dude from england) then ran into problems with his landlord & now needed to find him a new home. we met andy & his family last night at a starbucks in bastrop (everything takes place at a starbucks these days it seems like) & after about an hour of talking with the family - us questioning them & them questioning us - we decided we wanted him. they provided us his crate, his bed, a few toys, a food dish, etc. for almost nothing. i even asked them if they wanted more cash because i couldn't believe what we were getting for the price. (i suppose what goes around does come around because kristin & i did try the dog thing almost three years ago when we lived in round rock & 3 months into owning this pup we ended up finding it a new home & with it came all of it's toys, food, crate, bones, etc. for free.) they are a really cool family & the mother (gilly) works at the starbucks we met at & i'm definitely going to pay her a visit next time i bike at the lost pines.

the ride home was interesting to say the least. try having a 40+ pound pup on your lap for 30 miles :). when payton walked into the house last night he was amazing. we took him off his leash & besides him smelling everything in sight he didn't bother with anything. no trying to jump on the furniture, no picking anything up off the coffee table, etc. he slept like a baby too & needed it because he's been on the go since we all got up at 5:30 this morning.

kristin popped up out of bed first (i'm on vacation right now & relaxing on my ironman training until the new year) & had her coffee. she took him for a 30 minute walk in the neighborhood & then brought him home for breakfast. both prior to & after breakfast he took care of himself outside. i then took him down to the lake at about 8:30 & he got in a good 3-mile jog at a 9-minute mile pace. not bad for a first timer in my opinion. i've heard that they can run up to 35 miles; if he can maintain 20 miles i'll be more than happy. of course i'll have to keep his mileage low as he is just a pup & still growing.

when we got home from the lake he went right to his bed & passed out. it was awesome. around noon i put him in his crate & i went to the gym for a spin class. when i got home, kristin had just come home for lunch. again, payton went to the bathroom outside with no problems.

around 2:30 i walked him a block to bark n' purr & we cruised the store. man, chics really do dig guys with babies or pups. even with the mountain man beard i'm sporting i got hit on by three chics. i picked payton up a raw hide & some healthy treats & then headed back home. i promised kristin i wouldn't open the treats until she got home & so far i've been good on my promise.

around 4:30 i walked him down the street to a local dog park. we ran together in the open field; i felt like a kid for a few minutes. then a friend (adrianne) that i hadn't seen in probably 2 years came walking in with her two pit bull mixes. payton was fond of the female & he & the male (simon) played pretty rough for a good 30 minutes. we then walked back to the house & after his evening meal of organic puppy food that we got him at central market he walked straight to his bed & is currently passed out again.

i think we are going to have a very good time with him & we'll have many great stories to share. tomorrow morning we take him to the vet for his first check up - this is when we'll really find out if he's worth what we think he's worth :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

twenty-one & i'm not talking about the drinking age

just last weekend i ran 17 miles - the longest run of my life. this morning i ran 21. only 5.2 miles more & i can claim i've run a marathon. i love 3-day weekends. plenty of time to workout & spend some good time with the person you love. when we aren't working out & spending hundreds of dollars at whole foods & central market we are at home discussing the new year, sprucing up the place, keeping each other warm at night, & recovering from our long bike rides & runs.

it turned out to be another gorgeous day here in austin. we are just a day away from christmas & the sun was shining & the temperature was again in the 60s this afternoon. don't get me wrong, it was cold this morning - freezing in fact. when i hit the trail this morning it was 35 degrees out. i was sporting my new tights & they worked well. i ran the first 7 miles with ed, noah, & ed's sister who was in town for the holidays from NY. i said my goodbyes & ran two more 7 miles with nothing but my thoughts & tired legs to keep me company. miles 7 - 14 were so easy for me. 16 - 18 were utterly painful & the last three were only a bit better because i knew i would be done soon. i wasn't winded by any means & i had plenty of energy, it was the pain in my legs that was making it tough. i'm just now acclimating myself to these long runs (14 a few weeks ago, then 17 last weekend, & now 21). i probably should be increasing the distance over more time - i just prefer to get out there & DO IT sometimes. at one point i actually thought i may be injuring myself, however, i've been on my feet most of the afternoon & i'm not feeling all that sore or any type of real pain.

tomorrow morning kristin & i are going to bundle up & walk town lake together. kristin has lived in austin for 26+ years & i've been here for 6+ years now & neither of us have actually slowed down & walked the 3-mile loop. i've run it countless times for sure, but walking - never. tomorrow we are going to slow down & walk it. i'm planning on making sweet potato waffles in the morning for the two of us. i've been eating all day today & i just can't get full. according to kristin, you burn 125 calories per mile. if that's true, i burned (125 * 21) 2625 calories this morning.
& yes, i did watch 21 jumpstreet growing up.

biking & jo's coffee

saturday, december 22nd - 60+ degrees in austin, TX!

i met ed, jeff, & ken at J&As at 7:30 am. we were considering a 60 mile ride, however, the wind was picking up (gusts up to 30 mph) so we decided to do a quick 50 instead. minus the wind picking up a bit near the end of the ride the weather could not have been any better. i started the ride with arm warmers only & 1/2 way into the ride i had to pull them off because it was heating up so quickly.

we headed south & then crossed under I-35 just around buda. we headed east & were moving really fast. upon looping back we came flying down congress. i love returning from a ride & seeing our capital stairing you in the face. congress avenue is such a beautful road & watching south congress (SOCO) rise again with new shops, restaurants, etc. is so awesome.

i've probably passed jo's coffee ( 100 or so times & never thought to stop. in fact, just months ago kristin & i ate brunch with paul at el sol y la luna ( anyway, we were rolling in & just a mile or so from being done with our ride & one of the guys suggested we stop.

it was an awesome treat & a nice way to end the ride. here we were sitting out in the sun with temperatures just above 60 degrees & it's just days before christmas. austin is such a cool town & i'm so happy kristin & i now live so close to the things that make austin what it is. the conversation at the table was mostly about leadville ( these guys all did it last year & were talking about gearing up for it again next year. i think kristin would kill me if i sign up for another long distance race after CDA next year. i think we'll both need a break from long distance racing, but we'll see where we are after CDA & decide together.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

who can beat 1 hour & 39 minutes?

i just spent 1 hour & 39 minutes on the phone with AT&T. we humans can handle just about anything can't we? the worst thing is, they still haven't completed my transaction. all i wanted to do was add kristin's number to my existing plan. in the course of that 1 hour & 39 minute conversation i got transferred to over 6 representatives. i'm currently awaiting a phone call back from gloria ratliff; we'll see if she calls. i would have never spent that amount of time on the phone, but i've got to get this transaction complete or kristin's previous employer is going to cancel her number & then she's got to get a new number. the last thing AT&T told me was that this "isn't working because you have an iPhone." so beware if you have an iPhone & want to add a number to your existing plan. i should have been at the pool swimming, not on the phone with AT&T tonight.

surprising facts about wind farms

wind power plants, or wind farms as they are sometimes called, are clusters of wind machines used to produce electricity. a wind farm usually has dozens of wind machines scattered over a large area. the world's largest wind farm, the horse hollow wind energy center in west texas, has 421 wind turbines that generate enough electricity to power 230,000 homes per year. that’s right, texas has the largest wind farm in the world folks!

in 2005, wind machines in the united states generated a total of 17.8 billion KWH per year of electricity, enough to serve more than 1.6 million households. this is enough electricity to power a city the size of chicago, but it is only a small fraction of the nation's total electricity production, about 0.4 percent. the amount of electricity generated from wind has been growing fast in recent years, tripling since 1998.

the states with the most wind production are california, texas, iowa, minnesota, & oklahoma.

the united states ranks third in the world in wind power capacity, behind germany & spain & before india. denmark ranks number five in the world in wind power capacity, but generates 20 percent of its electricity from wind.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


my new favorite number is 17. just for this week, until i run even further next week. it's amazing how at the beginning of this year i was running no more than 4 miles. the longest run up until last week was 13.1 (the 3M half marathon back in '05) miles. now with a little effort i've jumped to 17. for many, this isn't that BIG a deal & for others this amount of miles seem utterly ridiculous.

my game plan right now is still simple. keep pushing it until it doesn't feel good anymore. i've yet to sign up for AT&T & i won't do it until the last minute.

when i met ed at the lake this morning i didn't know what i would be doing. it rained really hard last night & the trail was a mess. however, there was a surge in the number of runners on the trail this morning. both the gazelles & rogue how their groups out there & they were all running long. it was quite motivating. ed said he was in for 7 & it wasn't until we were about done with the 7 mile loop that i told ed i'm going for 17. just 10 more miles & i'd be done.
when we finished the 7th mile i wasn't wiped at all & my breathing/heart-rate were totally under control. my calves were aching pretty bad though. i went riding this thursday with david & i took my road bike. we did 30+ miles (a short version of the dam loop) pretty quick & like two crazies we took on jester for a quick hill run at the end. then yesterday i hit the spin bike at the gym for 40 minutes & ran the treadmill with a steep incline for 20 more minutes. if it weren't for my tired legs i could have easily run another 10.

the first 5 of the last 10 miles were good. when i hit the half way point & started heading back i was hit by that gust of wind that i heard about on NPR yesterday. the temperature must have dropped 10 degrees from the time we first started until this point - was probably 55 degrees out & with the wind it felt like 35.

despite the nasty head wind i felt like i finished strong. i need to go & purchase some long tights as the weather is to inconsistent & often january & february are worse than november & december here in texas. total run time this morning was 2 hours & 25 minutes. i hope to hit 20+ miles next weekend & i'll be sure to give my legs a breather before i do it. now off to runtex with kristin to get some new running gear for the both of us. (using that christmas bonus wisely :))

Sunday, December 9, 2007

the sweet potato

the sweet potato has quickly become a staple in our diet. it was some years ago when i asked kristin to start cooking me sweet potatoes instead of the red potatoes she normally made. kristin thought she didn't like sweet potatoes & kept up the act of making two separate batches of potatoes for each of us - we normally had potatoes with our buffalo burgers. one night she tried the sweet potato & since she's never looked back.

given that we usually only ate sweet potatoes with our buffalo burgers, we didn't eat them all that often. things changed when kristin started this vegan thing though. she mashed up some sweet potatoes in preparation for the upcoming holidays. she mixed them with soy milk & they were amazing. after thanksgiving we probably had mashed sweet potatoes 3 or 4 times a week. the task of mashing up sweet potatoes took its toll though & it become just to much work.

before long we had a new sweet potato recipe (we have danielle to thank for this) that would make things easier for both of us --- sweet potato sticks (some call them sweet potato fries, but given that they aren't fried why would we call them that?). very simple & oh so good! cut up a sweet potato, drizzle olive oil & fresh ground pepper over them, & then bake them in the oven.

crazy as it may sound i stumbled upon an even simpler recipe that i would have never thought to do - baked sweet potatoes. one of the guys in my office, kearney, brought in a sweet potato this past week & baked it in the microwave. since this event i've made 6 baked sweet potatoes for the both of us. kristin likes a little sea salt & fresh ground pepper on hers, i just like my plain.

just when i thought it couldn't get any better we enjoyed the best dinner either of us have ever had at casa tonight. lentils, rice & quinoa mixed with beets, the best greens ever, & the best of all - sweet potatoes with toasted walnuts! we asked for their sweet potato recipe & like ever other recipe we now have it is amazingly simple. slice up the sweet potato (they leave the skin on), dribble on sesame oil, sea salt, & bake until ready. the entire meal was so good that i ate 3 & 1/2 plates - good thing today was my long run. i can't wait until i see sweet potatoes on casa's menu again.

passed the half way mark

i've been on the fence for the past few weeks about whether or not i was going to do the AT&T marathon (www.attaustinmarathon). while i know that running 26.2 miles on its own is not anything like running 26.2 miles after swimming 2.4 miles & biking 112 miles; it's still important for me to get over the mental hurdle of running a marathon for the first time. since signing up for 3M 1/2 marathon, oceanside 1/2 ironman, & CDA ironman next year i haven't been sticking to any specific training schedule. i know (& kristin continually reminds me) that choosing a training schedule is going to be crucial for me come january. i suppose that is why i've yet to commit to anything right now & why i've been taking each day as it comes because i don't want to burn myself out to early trying to stick to a strict schedule. i mean everything about an ironman requires strict discipline (eat right, in bed early at night, out of bed early in the morning, train, train, & train some more) & i'm just wanting to "relax" for a bit.

so this morning, i met ed for a run at 7:30am at the lake. kristin & i were out with a few friends last night at j black's (celebrating heather's bday) & after a couple of beers & not getting into bed until midnight it was nice to get a "late" start to a morning run. ed has already decided that he isn't doing the AT&T marathon so he was only looking to get in 7 miles. i knew this was my morning to either throw in my chips or keep the option for doing AT&T alive.

up until this morning my longest run in the past couple of months has been 12 miles (about 5 weeks ago). i've run 10 & 9 miles a couple of times, but have yet to get past the 12 mile mark. if i was still going to consider AT&T i needed to run more than 12 miles this morning (most serious marathon training schedules have athletes running 14 - 20 miles by now - i'm 10 weeks out from AT&T).

i started out with ed knowing that he wasn't going any further than 7 miles. about 1/2 way into the run he wasn't able to get his heart rate under control (he was out riding hard on his new guru road bike yesterday) so he told me to go on without him. at this point it was up to me on what i wanted out of this run. as i was approaching the 7 mile loop i could either stop, run another 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 mile loop. i told myself that 17 was miles would be too much especially since i've yet to start running with water (fuel) & that 14 miles (another 7 mile loop) would be what i would gun for. i passed the 3, 4, & 5 mile loop points feeling good. i ended up running that last 7 miles just 5 minutes slower than the first. i was happy with that time because i told myself just to keep running regardless of how slow i was moving - just keep the feet moving forward brian. total run time for this morning 14 miles was 1 hour & 50 minutes.

i checked the AT&T website earlier this afternoon & registration spots are still open for the race. they suggest that the race will fill up the first/second week of january. until i officially sign up, i'm still up in the air on doing the race, but today i kept the option alive. my next long run needs to be 16 - 18 miles.... we'll see :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

simple observation

as i was walking out the lobby doors at my bank this morning i noticed a tape measure lining the door starting at 4' & going as high as 6' 6''. i've been in & out of these lobby doors many times before & i have never noticed this "measuring device." i thought it was a clever idea for the bank to install such a setup. the idea of course is that if someone robs the place; bank employees can tell how tall the robber is as he/she exits the lobby doors. i'm sure the police have found this device effective when trying to obtain a physical description of the robber. my mom worked at a bank throughout her professional career & i recall her telling me about classes that the bank employees would have to attend to learn how to remember things such as someones eye color, any significant body markings (tattoo, scars, nose rings, etc.), what he/she was wearing, & height. when an event such as a robbery occurs, people usually respond with comments like "it all happened so fast, i don't remember a thing." while the tape measure on the door can't tell the police the color of a person's eyes or what they were wearing (that's what all the cameras are for) they tape measure should help prevent mistaking a 5' 6'' guy for a 6' 1'' guy.

beyond finding the tape measure approach pretty slick, i was disappointed that i had never noticed it before. true, they may have just put it up (i didn't bother to ask anyone). however, i doubt it. it's amazing to me all the things that we "see" everyday, yet we don't actually realize that they are there. maybe we just move so fast through our day-to-day activities that we don't slow down long enough to notice things. or maybe we are just so focused, that we don't let every little thing distract us. my general theory is that there is so much "noise" in this world (text messages coming in, vmails being left, phone ringing, blinking & rotating billboards, cars flying by, etc. that we are just to distracted to pick up on these little things.

as you progress through your day today, attempt to identify just one thing that you've probably seen a hundred times, but never noticed before.