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Showing posts from February, 2013

The Lent Project: Day 16

It's the Mystery of the Missing Furniture!

Someone stole our patio furniture. It's a weird, long story that I'll condense this way:

A day or two ago I thought it was odd that all 4 of our heavy, wrought iron patio chairs were gone. Ok, let me clarify, they're not "ours" but are in the common sideyard of the building for everyone to use. But they belong to our neighbors who moved out when they got married.

So we assumed they'd come to take them back. Very odd that they'd want to take back their patio chairs in the middle of winter, but whatever. Well, yesterday, the matching table is gone, too. I mean, this stuff is heavy enough that I don't think I could carry more than one chair at a time and I certainly don't think your average person could lift the table without help.

Apparently there has been a wave of patio furniture crime in our neighborhood...some people even take to chaining it down/together a la sidewalk cafe. The married couple does …

The Lent Project: Day 15

Today is more of an odds and ends day...

I was having an inner debate this morning about iTunes. Classic rap albums were on sale for $7.99 and two critical ones missing from my collection were both there. Run-DMC's Greatest Hits vs. Snoop Dogg's iconic Doggystyle. In the end, it came down to number of songs I like on the album coupled with influence and style. Run-DMC won the battle. Plus, I already own and am a huge fan of Snoop's Ego Trippin while my Run-DMC pickings are slim (though I did see them in concert in one of my previous incarnations).

Interesting how people change, isn't it? I used to go to concerts. I used to run a radio station. Then again, I also remember the days when you could walk into a Virgin Megastore and listen to new albums on the perimeter. Times change, too. lol

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Got into a friendly debate--though I refused to refill her wine glass for disagreeing at one point--with Kelly last night about this Yahoo work from home thing. We covered a lot …

The Lent Project: Day 14

Because that's why we all got into the sport, right? Triathlon is about wearing skintight, high tech, aerodynamic clothing? Dad in a wetsuit...not a pretty picture. Sadly, there will probably be photos. Hopefully you won't recognize me with the goggles, bike helmet, or swim cap. 
But here I am, trying to figure out what I want to do about that essential piece of gear--the wetsuit. 
The water temperature of the lake for my race is generally in the low-70's making it "wetsuit legal" (there are rules for these things) yet not necessary. Scanning the past photos of race day and asking veterans, it's a mix of wetsuit, no wetsuit, and even a mix about types of wetsuit. There are full sleeves. No sleeves. 
Wetsuits are expensive gear, too. And given that I only have 2 triathlons on the horizon it seems silly to buy one for a few hundred dollars to only wear it twice. So renting seems like a better option. I could go to a store around here and try a few on. But that …

The Lent Project: Day 13

We're a little ashamed to say it. But NASCAR has been sneaking into our lives. We blame the boy.

It starts innocently enough with a movie he enjoys. Then it progresses to watching the M&Ms car on YouTube. Then you know the driver's name of said car. Pretty soon, you find yourself having a weekend discussion--even though neither of you cares at all--about rules and design updates over the last decade. Then you know phrases like Car of Tomorrow.

We still don't get it. How is it fun? A sport? Interesting? Aren't the cars really all the same with minor variance? How is there skill involved beyond just random chance of winning?

So we watched the first half of the Daytona 500 yesterday to get some of the curiosity out of our systems. It was cool to watch Danica Patrick become the first woman to lead a lap under green flag. But then Cole woke up from his nap, watched 15 minutes, then wanted "Cars!" The movie, sorry. Lightning McQueen is bigger than life.

That sa…

The Lent Project: Day 11

Video: Meet Percy, the cheerful but accident-prone engine. And everybody's favorite hero, Thomas!
Me: That sounds like you, Cole! You're accident-prone. Are you Percy? 
Cole: No.
Me: Are you James?
Cole: No. 
Me: Are you Thomas? 
Cole: No. 
Me: You don't want to be any of the engines? 
Cole: I am none of them! 

That gave me the biggest laugh yesterday afternoon. 
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After a week off, I finally got back in the pool last night...and it felt great! Which was not what I expected after being sick. I had perhaps the best swim workout so far. Worked on a little speed. Found a good distance rhythm at one point. Got some sore muscles, but wasn't having any endurance issues--was reaching a nice threshold that I could maintain with minor breaks. 
I'd limited myself to 20 min given my health and energy levels, but I found I wanted to go even more. I had to force myself to stop while things were going well. I definitely am finding a point in my stroke where I am putting in le…

The Lent Project: Day 10

First of all today, RIP to a Chicago blues legend...Magic Slim. So poor picking cotton in the South that he had to make his own guitar when he was younger, he went on to become THE symbol of the 1950's classic Chicago blues style. He was 75. Take a listen.

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Well, we've reached the quarter mark in this experiment and it hasn't been all bad. 10 days without social media like Facebook and Twitter. My free time is way up. I've kept to my resolution other than a few unfortunate "gimmies" where meeting details or news only lives online these days. So to find out some info you're forced to visit--the Chicago marathon updates are a good example. It feels like 10,000 readers just arrived not that long ago, but another 1,000 people have flown by and I'm up to 11,000 already. Congrats to me!

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I couldn't not comment on the Chicago Marathon fiasco. I'm not involved this year...but at the same time I don't want to see it turn into a scandal. A…

Swim start rumors!

Shock! Buzz! Speculation!

Want a rumor to generate a huge response in the triathlon community? Ironman may be changing the way they start the races.

That's it. That's all. But triathletes will happily spend days and countless discussions unpacking that. You'd think I'd have something to say given my complaints about the Chicago Marathon switching to a corral and wave start system. I'm intrigued--that's about it. As someone attempting my first one, I'm much more concerned about preserving the 17 hour time limit. You tell me how to get in the water and that's how I'll do it though.

It always amuses me to write a general audience blog that covers very specific topics because most of you come to it to read about something particular...and couldn't care less about other subjects. So I never know whether to aim for those in-the-know or take the time to explain to the uninformed. In this case, the basics may help some of you diehards keep it in perspec…

The Lent Project: Day 9

It's been a rough 24 hours. I rarely highlight the downs of parenting, but yesterday may have been the worst in 2.5 years of being a dad. 
In addition to me still dealing with the headache from a fading cold...there was blood. Twice. My lip from a Cole headbutt--he didn't mean to, we were being silly, but still he has no in-between function between hard little boy play and quiet. It's zero or 60...he has no 30. And he was scared because he visibly hurt me and I was upset so he was upset. I tried to turn it into a "everything is ok, but this is why we ask you to calm down and be gentle" teaching moment. He's just not there yet. 
The second cut was his foot. No clue where it came from and it was just a scratch. But (start your awww motors) he wanted me to "fix" it thinking I could simply make the cut go away. How do you explain to a 2.5 year old that his body will need a few days to heal? I asked if he wanted a band-aid me to clean it. I did manage t…

The Lent Project: Day 8

So...how about that marathon registration? Oops.

Another big city marathon with a screwup? Not really. The blame here, apparently, goes to Active.com--who every endurance athlete knows and loves. And, if you're not an endurance athlete, you may not see the dripping sarcasm in that statement.

Active.com I don't even know how to describe to those of you not familiar...it's a...portal? Most of us know it primarily from this registration process as marathons and especially Ironman dumps the task to a 3rd party. Which, having worked at the museum, I get. For the majority of the time I worked there, we used a vendor for our online ticketing--that's been changing to doing many things in house now. But basically you click the link for Ironman or the marathon and it sends you to the website to fill in your info, pay, and you get a confirmation. Which is all well and good until it's a race that is going to sell out in a few hours or days and people spend an entire afternoon …

The Lent Project: Day 7

Two things I don't care about but everybody else does...the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Sequester. Here's why...

It's all everybody is talking about. Both sides yelling at each other for months. The voters stuck in the middle trying to understand the arguments for and against. Listening to the debate on the news last night with an open mind, the best I can tell is that if we don't build the pipeline we'll get even dirtier oil from China, Canada will sell their oil abroad not to us, and the recession is the reason oil consumption is flat, and it will create jobs. None of which are particularly interesting reasons, to me intellectually, when we could be pouring that money into clean, renewable energy like solar, wind, and investing in the electric car infrastructure.

But even more than the environmentally fluffy argument that we don't want a dirty, unsafe oil pipeline flowing through the heartland, my real sympathy is with the people who will have their land tak…

The Lent Project: Day 6

How'd you like that Downton Abbey ending last night? Yeah, that was the spoiler I knew weeks ago and even then they certainly waited long enough to do it. Poor Kelly was watching the scene in the hospital with the new baby going, "so where is this spoiler you claimed you knew about?" Then they cut to the car.

Still sick. So gonna keep this short today. Two news stories for you...

Cubs may part ways with WGN-TV after 2014 season, ending half-century relationship covers the about-to-begin negotiations over tv rights and the possibility that the Cubs may end a historic run that has gone on since 1948. Part of the Cubs mystique is being on national tv during summer afternoons and building a loyal audience of fans across the country. But the Cubs want to start their own tv network.

Ask the Blackhawks how making games less available worked for them. Essentially, Chicago couldn't have cared less about hockey and the United Center sat empty while the previous leadership restr…

The Lent Project: Day 5

Happy Downton Abbey Season Finale to all the fans!

We're under the weather in my house...it's been a slow progression starting with Patient Zero Kelly feeling tired for a week, finally getting a cold, then it spreading. First to Leda. Then to Cole. Finally, yesterday, I made sure to get some laundry done and had Kelly buy a pound of coffee for me even though I was going to roast...I had a feeling I'd be in no mood to do much. Yesterday was just that tired, run-down feeling that I was hoping was maybe from my swim on Friday. So I skipped the gym yesterday even though I wanted to practice. But my instincts were right and I ended up with a stuffy nose overnight and feeling like I've been hit by a truck today. Took a nap that helped a little. And we did manage to make it out to the grocery store as a family. Where I tried to let Cole pick his cereal...and he selected Cookie Crisp. Yep, I have a kid. No longer a baby, he went for the sugary cartoon character crap on the eas…

The Lent Project: Day 4

Have a great weekend, everybody!

I did want to offer two interesting articles on the President's plan for universal preschool though...

There's this one from USA Today (McNews, as I call it) on Oklahoma's free, full day universal preschool program which is one of the best in the nation. I know a few other states are well-known...Georgia, I believe, was mentioned in the Obama SOTU speech.

There's also this one from the New York Times on expanding high-quality preschool in general.

I have much, much, much, much more to say about this topic later on. But I'll start by saying that A) I don't think free universal preschool is the magic bullet for fixing our educational system but B) it's the best start we could possibly begin with. Which is sort of a strange duality there.

One of the complaints about K-12 funding is that we're already throwing good money at the problem and test scores aren't going up. This, of course, assumes we're throwing enough mo…

Shoe saga

Time to hop in the way back machine and visit right around my birthday on September 1. Remember this post about my new shoes for the Chicago Marathon? Well, as some of you may know, the running store ran my credit card, I had a receipt but the transaction never showed up on my account.

And I debated. Who knows where the error was...store, bank, credit card company. I figured it would sort itself out and in the meantime I had done my finances so I knew the money "wasn't really there." The thought of free shoes was interesting, but I assumed somebody would eventually notice when nearly $200 was missing from their books.

Which brings us up to today...I got an e-mail from the store at lunch saying that the transactions were never closed that day in Sept, they apologize, and they would be finally debiting my card for the amount.

So. Much. Wrong.

I'm a pretty fair guy. I bought the shoes. I'll pay for the shoes. I wrote the owner back saying I had no problem with them …

The Lent Project: Day 3

Well, that was a crazy 24 hours. Both in our household and in the news. It seems like it was a busy Valentine's Day across the world.

Murdering Olympians, Republicans in the Senate blocking someone from their own party for Dept of Defense, cruise ship with thousands of passengers crippling into port with tales of biohazard bags in the hallways, hundreds injured in Russia (hello to all my mysterious readers there!) by a meteor.

In our family, it was both a hectic and relaxing Valentines Day. Aside from the major task of the day--that I will maybe write about one day when I get the energy to wrap my head around it--we mostly enjoyed playing with the kids. I managed to check out the new bike/triathlon store in the neighborhood and pick up dessert on the way home. So it was wine, Indian takeout, and chocolate lava cake with creme anglaise for us. So good.

Cole managed to go all day without a nap yesterday. After he tried and failed to go down late-morning. I kept waiting for the wheel…

The Lent Project: Day 2

Happy Valentine's Day!

Around our house, Cole and I sneakily made a card for The Mama yesterday afternoon...and adventure in itself. The day before, I'd introduced Cole to the watercolor paints that come with the little coloring book style drawing outline with paper paint tray attached. So he'd gotten in his highchair and we filled a bowl with water and he really enjoyed himself. Not so much in the painting of the picture. More like he'd dip the brush in the water and then paint and was more interested in process than actually getting color anywhere. 
So I figured we'd try our hand at craft time again. Apparently painting is his thing, not drawing. Because I got him sitting in the highchair with a blank sheet of paper and a special toddler marker...that he rejected. But there were enough marks that I felt I could cut out some hearts, put a sticker on it, and call it a Valentine. 
Then, the Sharpie came out. I'd intended to just grab a red one from one of Kelly&…

The Lent Project: Day 1

Well, here we go. I got a range of reactions from my friends and followers on social media when I officially signed off for the next month or so. Somewhere between the two extremes of "don't go!" and "good for you!" It feels a little odd, so far. Without my daily dose of, yes, cat pictures. But also what all my friends are up to--good, bad, and stupid. It's a little disconnected to not see who is complaining about the weather, happy their kid got good grades, or who is spending their day stuck in an airport.

As I told one friend, perhaps what I'm doing is proving the opposite of "social media is a modern frivolity" that I can easily do without. Kelly will protest. There can be no redeeming vision for this waste of time. But I disagree. Perhaps there is something monk-like about taking yourself out of the modern cycle of information feeds. Good for the soul, perhaps, but not good for interpersonal relationships? I maintain that social media is …

The Lent Project: Intro

The Lent Project is my attempt to give up something important in our modern world--social media--during a traditional period of fasting and devotion.

The number 40 is significant in the Christian Bible...Noah, Moses, Jesus, etc., and Lent is usually the period of preparation by the observant for Holy Week, Jesus beginning his public ministry, and eventually Easter. 
By not relying on Facebook and Twitter and keeping my daily thoughts to this blog, my hope is to not only be able to focus more of my attention on the things that matter most to me currently--my family, my triathlon training, etc.--but possibly ending up spending more time with my kids and more time in personal communication with those closest to me. 
How it works: Each day, I'll post one link on my Facebook and Twitter feeds with the daily update to Newfangled Dad. Throughout the day, all of the links, thoughts, training updates, cute things my kids do, photos, and random stuff I find will go here. 
I won't be see…

Reasons to stay home

I've been doing a lot of quiet thinking lately about this blog...and more and more proud of it. I won't go into the details, but the news lately has gotten me thinking about what I'd be leaving behind for my kids to get to know me if I was gone. Depressing? Not at all. The more I write, the more I feel like it's one day--me living or dead--going to help my kids get to know me. How I felt about them. How I felt about the world. What I'd want them to keep in mind if I wasn't there to guide them.

So forgive me going forward if a few posts get a little sentimental. But kids, this is the reason I stayed home to be with you...

This morning I've been sitting on the floor playing with them. We had Cole's train set in a circle and my legs made a "tunnel" over the track with him guiding them around. He'd do laps saying "toot, toot." Then we had a discussion about how one of the engines was pulling a caboose. "Pulling a 'boose,&quo…