Baby Room & Hand-Painted Alphabet Wall

Transient

Angela and I are slowly putting the finishing touches on the baby room. Our focus was bright, clean, fun and gender neutral (we're waiting until birth to learn the sex). Thus, what once was a refuge for miscellaneous items and a sad attempt at a home office is less than a month away from becoming the room of a new baby boy or girl. Names are still TBD but at least we've managed to agree on the style for the room. We're very happy with the results and can't wait to joyfully/anxiously put it to use.

In case you made it this far, here's a rundown of the room. The rug and most of the furniture is IKEA, like the rest of our house! Fortunately, Angela's family donated a dresser that's now the changing & singlet (onesie) station. The metal wire crates,  "HI" letters and flash card animals are from Hunt & Gather. One  Friday night I attached them to a magnet backer so they stay up on the metal dry-erase boards. We put up a new fan/light and picked up a canvas picture from Urban Outfitters. The drapes are from Target and are lined to control the temp off the windows.

Angela gave me the go-ahead and in a fit of fatherly nesting, I decided to paint the room white and hand-paint an alphabet on the wall. The easy part started with firing up Illustrator, getting some transparency paper, buying an overhead projector and mixing a few sample cans of paint. Then the hard part came, the "doing." Such as scaling the artwork on the wall, redrawing the lines from multiple transparencies and masking off parts of the letters. At that point I was half done. Then came painting almost straight, semi-circular Helvetica letterforms in-between hand cramps and air-drying. After the third coat and some white paint edge clean-up the wall was finished. It's exactly what I envisioned and looks great a few feet away. In fact I can't wait to paint more letters. Alas, I think a break may be in order, whether I want to or not. I have a feeling this new family member will be taking up just a bit of my time.

In short, up-close the letters aren't perfect. In fact you can see pencil lines if you gawk long enough, but that's the point. I wanted to make something for our new one that was a piece of me. Pride, flaws & all.

10.03.10 // 5:29:01 // 26.2 miles

I may not have finished all my New Year's Resolutions for 2010 but at least I finished a big one, a Marathon. I can't say it's for everyone but with enough determination and time almost anyone can do it, just ask the grandma that passed me or the man with a sign on his back that alerted me "80 year-old Marathoner."

I'm not sure when I'll be doing another, although I do see a few half-marathons/10-milers in my future. The alone time was introspective on the the long weekend runs—over 3 hours of running at times—but I'd definitely need a partner to motivate and join me in the future.

The pyschological reward of completing a challenge that, at the begining, seemed impossible made the journey all the worthwile. I guess that's why I'm on the verge of tears when I watch The Biggest Loser, nothing can compare to seeing the results of a commitment to fitness. What really pulls on the heart is that the individuals are changing emotionally. You can almost see the pity in their eyes change to zeal/passion after every hurdle, physical or mental. And just like running a marathon after a while it's all mental and the conflict becomes internal.

Let's just hope your lucky enough to have friends and family surrounding you with energy when you have none. That's how I did it.

Marathon-tastic!

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to run a marathon. I've run 10 milers in the past and am currently training for a Half-Marathon. I not sure if I'm ready but since I spent $100 and registered for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, I'm on my way. So expect to see me in exactly 4 months and one day to be running around the beautiful lakes near Uptown, along the Mississippi river and to the capitol of St. Paul. I'm not looking to set a record pace or be at the top of my age group. In fact, I'm hoping to finish within a fairly reasonable amount of time (sub-9.5 min/mile).

Since training for the halfie and in the past for the 10 miler I've spent some time with my own thoughts. Because I know the amount of running in the next few months I presume it will be a ridiculous amount of time, a number that would drive me crazy. Luckily, there are a few tools that have helped my sanity, training and pleasure while on the run. If you ever starting training for a long distance race or find running a bore then I have a few recommendations. A few of them are listed below:

  1. Nike+ - Keep track of pace, time and calories. I upload info to a website and track any improvement. Setup challenges, get training plans or track progress. I'm using the plan they had for the Half & Full Marathons. The best part. It's simplicity: the sensor ($20) fits is in my shoe and connects to my 3GS iPhone and tracks my run. Not too happy that I have to by Nike shoes but it could be worse.
  2. iPhone 4 - Not only can I track my runs and record my training but I can also listen to music or gets phone calls. Yes, it's a little more bulky than an iPod nano or a Garmin Forerunner but I own it already and I don't have to spend any more money. Done and done.
  3. Motorola S9 - Nothing makes a 70 minute run shorter than having your attention directed toward something else (not fully mind you). My favorite distraction is audio, because I can keep the volume level low enough to hear cars or bikers but in a second revert my attention back to what I'm listening to. With these I can control volume or pause without taking out my iPhone and not have to worry about a wire geting tangled up or slapping me constantly like a mini form or torture. Did I mention it is wireless?
  4. Music/Podcasts - While running I listen to one of two things: music or podcasts. If it's not music it's This American Life or The Uncanny X-Cast while running. Not only only are the podcasts free but they are 1-2 hours and completely engaging. If your not a geek I apologize, for me though they seem to make the miles melt away.
  5. Minneapolis' Trails - Minnesota may be the best biking city in the US according to Bicycling Magazine but I think the trails also make it one of the best for running. Though running on pavement may not be ideal but running along side it eases the stress on the shins. If not for two trails to the north and south of my abode I'd have had a lot harder time keeping up with the training. The fact I can walk a half mile in either direction and find a trail that goes miles and miles in either direction is perfect. I'd proudly pay more in taxes!

A Retired Racer

This Wednesday, May 19th, Angela and I will be going to pick up a Greyhound from NLGA. We're not sure who it is but just like Earl Grey, we'll take whomever God blesses upon us.

It hard realizing the same outcome that happened only 3 months ago will happen again—out-living a pet. Saying goodbye to Earl was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But I know there was a reason we adopted him. And just like him we want to give another past racer a home to retire in.

Every week I volunteering at Animal Humane Society. You'd think visiting with all the adoptable dogs would have pushed me to take one home after one of my shifts, which it almost did. But all along, I knew that from the time we adopted our first greyhound that the breed was unique and perfectly suited to Angela and I. That isn't to say, I didn't develop a soft spot on a few occasions for an Italian Greyhound, a Chihuahua, a Collie, a few Terriers and on old Husky. Just like the potential adoptees that visit AHS, we needed to find a dog we fit not a dog that fit us (very important).

We only hope to find a companion that we can give a good life to. Because I know if I was born, bred and trained to run since the day I was two I'd be ready to retire!

Update: Here a pic of our new addition.

One Dark 'n' Stormy Night

Disclaimer: Any and all drinking should be done responsibly, respectfully and moderately.

A good friend of mine is part of a Scotch tasting club that meets often enough to make me wish I was a fan of the Scottish Whiskey. Since Rett's revelation, aficionadoes and libations involving the spirit have sprung up out of the woodwork. Which makes me wonder when my drink of choice is going to become stylish, rum. Not the Captain 'n' Coke, college-drink du jour. Specifically, Black Rum, a liqour that any respectable bartendar knows is a solid ingredient for a 'Dark 'n' Stormy.

Since embarking on a tasting club of mine own I've come across a few that I feel are worth mentioning. In addition, if you've never had a Dark 'n' Stormy and enjoy rum you've got to try this cocktail. Why? Because it's smooth enough to be enjoyed by all but can have such a wide range of distinct flavors depending on if you want a smokey feel or a hint of cherry.

Among my favorites, for various reasons, are:

1. The Kraken

2. Gosling's Black Seal

3. Kilo Kai

Our Beloved Earl Grey

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This past Tuesday, February 16th, Angela and I had to go through one of the most tragic and heartbreaking experiences of our lives. In an all too fast set of events we lost Earl Grey, our much-loved greyhound – a true member of the family. Within the span of a week we found out he had a Mast Cell Tumor in his cranial abdomen that was releasing histamines into his body and causing ulcers in his stomach. Most likely the cancer was affecting the spleen, pancreas and liver, or all. He went from being just a little sick to not very well at all very fast.

I didn't realize at the beginning that he wouldn't survive. The whole time I kept telling myself, "We'll just pay for it, whatever it is, we'll do it and he'll be fine and he'll have the rest of his life, we've only had him for 18 months, he's not even 6 years old, we'll have him for 8 more. Nothing to worry about, we can do this."

Things didn't get better. Tests didn't go well and after seeing him in the shape he was in and talking with the doctor, we lost it and bawled. In a small room a few blocks from home we said goodbye. We cried, hugged and told him we'd see him in heaven.

We adopted PB's Simple Earl (his racing name) from NLGA. He was the last Greyhound in the group that came that spring to be adopted. He was meant for us and us for him. In the span of a couple months he became a huge piece of our lives. Without even trying Earl became part of the family. He introduced us to neighbors, greeted us when we got home and slept in with us on the weekends. We even represented NLGA at the MN Pet Expo and attended the NLGA Annual Picnic with him.

Coming home is hard, I expect him to be at the door or take him to the dog park on the weekends. It's getting easier. Easier because I start to think of the past 18 months instead of the last week. I know we can't replace him but when the time comes Angela and I will adopt another greyhound. And just like Earl we'll give another dog a happy and loving life for as long as we can.

We love you Earl.

Apple iPad?

I'm an Apple Fanboy. I'm not getting one of these. (I got one 6 months later, can you say, "sucker.") At least not anytime soon. Though, all in all, today was an epic event nonetheless. But as I look closer at the new Apple iPad I notice a few shortcomings that could have easy been added to this first version instead of future releases.

The basic things missing:

  • USB ports (will this ever happen)
  • front camera (iPad 2 has it)
  • video-out (possible with adapter, or over AirPlay with AppleTV)
  • multi-tasking (added a few months later)
  • stand-alone capability, i.e. iTunes/computer needed (added with iPad 2)

But it does fill a gap, even if that gap is very thin. If you have a laptop and love carrying it from room to room, cracking it open on the bus, having it heating up your crotch, attempt to read books in bed and otherwise haul around a full-laptop that's fine. That's what I do. If so, this won't interest you.

If you have a netbook, this really won't interest you. I can't think of much an iPad does that can't be done on a netbook. But full-disclosure, I'd rather carry this around or pop it open over lunch, during class or on a plane than a netbook.

Is it necessary for you to play touch games, read e-books, watch movies, carry textbooks, adopt tech early, while traveling constantly and find it difficult to email, read and get your media on a smartphone screen? Then this is perfect for you. It does all that. Is it necessary though? Not sold.

Was the iPod underrated, sure. Did people think the iPhone was going to be God's gift to the world, yes. Is this somewhere in the middle? Probably. Is the name unfortunate? of course.

Certain businesses will flock like sheep to this. Traditional media companies have been losing money hand over fist for years... years. Newspapers, networks, magazines, comic books, etc. This has the opportunity to save them. Companies want a way to deliver their content the way they want – DRM-ed up the wazoo! What better way than to produce an App and sell it at the store and have absolute control of that app. Hackers can jailbreak the iPhone but not the apps.

In the end, this is not a game changer. It's a start.