Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas--late

We just got back from NE this evening. It was a good trip, kids had lots of fun and of course Christmas. Getting to NE was an adventure. We got started late on Saturday--another story another day--and ended up in bad weather. Rain from Columbia, then ice in KC which changed to snow going up I-29. The roads were bad and my parents called to say they heard I-29 was closed north of St Joseph MO. We were still about 20 miles out at that point(give or take a few miles). The interstate was basically down to one lane and it was about 35 miles an hour on it. We realized after the call that we had to stop for the night, the call came through around 2:30 or 3. Well there really wasn't anywhere to stop until St Joes. The Fawcett exit said it had lodging, but as we came up to the ramp there was a semi and 4 cars stopped on the ramp already. The ramp was also up hill, so I figured that was a no go, I wasn't sure we could even get off the ramp much less find a hotel/motel around there & if we did it would probably already be full.

Instead I stopped underneath the overpass at the Fawcett exit to clean my wipers. While doing this my driver's side wiper snapped and fell of the wiper arm. I was just stunned, I didn't know what to do. I thought about backing up to the ramp, but just could't do that. I thought about waving down someone to stop, but how they would help I didn't know. I gave a little thought to changing the passenger side to the driver's side, but I couldn't figure out how to put them on when I bought them and had to have the parts store clerk do it--I guessed there was no way I could do it in icy, snowy, windy conditions. Finally the revelation hit me, I had duct tape in the van. This was leftover from our camping trip in August or July--I know I am lazy about putting things away. I was able to duct tape the broken wiper to the wiper arm and it worked, there was only a 2" area that wouldn't clean completely. This was the start of our good luck.

Once back on the road, we were headed to St Joes again. There was a lot of traffic on the interstate and I was worried that even if we did get off at an exit we wouldn't be able to find a room or worse a parts store for new wipers. Worst case was the wiper failing and the duct tape not solving it and next worse was not getting a room and having to stay at a 24 hour McDonalds or something. Well, we came upon I-229, the inner belt for St Joe, I knew it goes to the older part of the town. I had been down in that section once, just driving around, but that had to be over 15 years before. I reasoned though that there had to be something that way and that anything off I-29 was probably already full. We took I-229 with a couple of other cars behind me. It was several exits and miles before we saw St Joe and then it was hard to see much. Finally, Debbie saw a Holiday Inn and we took the next exit. I went probably a mile down the road off the exit and found an O'Reilly's Auto Parts store. Stopped in there and bought new wipers and a scrapper with a brush. Pleading incompetence I had the 20 something female store clerk install our new wiper blades. They also gave me the yellow pages and I called Holiday Inn and was told they had plenty of rooms still at that time--around 4pm I think. The clerk gave me directions and we found the hotel and got our room. We were also able to get food from the Holihans in the hotel as well. Those events are the kinds of things where you really realize that someone is watching over you and your family.

We made it to my parent's house on Sunday then and had a good time. I will probably fill in other details and stuff later. Well, I am going to try and read some more of my book, The Looking Glass War tonight. I have set a goal to finish this book before the end of the year, I want to be able to put it on my Books Read 2007 list. I haven't read Cell in over a week. I wasn't able to get as much reading in as I would normally have at home, stayed up late talking rather than reading.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TV Stuff

This is kind of a good night for me. Sunday was the final Survivor, at least for a while I hope and tonight was the last Biggest Loser. I am sure new series will be coming on eventually of these, I just hope I get a month or two off. I really hate these shows, but my wife is just addicted to them. This brings us to one of our normal fights--our needing a 2nd TV, along with this goes needed a dual tuner & Tivo. So far my wife doesn't see the need for this, but as I pointed out, she is usually the one that gets to watch her shows and I don't fight it. Of course with a 2nd TV she is worried there will be less family time and less playing with the kids time. That could be, but since these are not issues when her shows are on, I don't see why they should be issues when it comes to my shows. Oh well, I guess I am just going to have to make this happen once we get back from Christmas in NE.

I have been fighting a cold the last couple of days. It seems like it is breaking up some now finally. I didn't run on Monday instead did a little, actually very little, Christmas shopping. I was supposed to also go tonight but that didn't work--too many schedule problems--had to work late & then be home to take Rose to her Cello receital at 6:30. I don't know if I will get a run in this week or not and with being in NE next week for Christmas there might not be a run then either. My marathon training is now looking a little shaky. I need to get something in, I just don't see where yet unless I wake up early to do so & that is a big maybe at this point.

I don't know there are probably other things I should be typing about but just not too inspired to do so now. Just kind of enjoying listening to some Rolling Stones while checking stuff on the internets. I don't know why I haven't listened to more music while on the computer in the past. My son always likes hearing music when he is in the basement playing especially if I am down here--Simon & Garfunkel is usually the first one he asks for, Hey Hey(better known as Mrs. Robinson to everyone else) & Rock are his two favorites. Then America, Today by Neil Diamond usually comes next. I usually make him listen to the most of the CDs as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Snow & more snow

Before getting into the normal happenings with me, I first want to mention the comment from my last entry. Peter Golenbock, the author, left a short and witty comment. Thank you for the comment. This is one of those things that just amazes me about computers and communication in today's world. Since most of the books I end up reading are used and dated, it is things like this that remind me how connected and in touch with the world we can be.

Snow is the news of the day. It snowed early and again late. Not sure what the final total will be but I would guess 6-8 inches. We were able to get the kids out and play in the snow for an hour or so right before lunch. We goofed off in the backyard--made a snowman, pulled the kids in a sled, hit the swings, snowball fight, etc and then to the frontyard. In our front yard we have a small hill that is good for a little sled ride. Angie didn't really like it, it was her first time trying this. Thomas & Rose loved it. Rose eventually got tired or realized hot chocolate was inside and went in to join Angie & Mom. Thomas kept at it and at it. It was a lot of fun.

By the way, we received a copy of the Down Syndrome Calendar for this from the St Louis Down Syndrome Association and were surprised to see Thomas had a photo in there. We never did get around to submit one so this was really unexpected. I had taken Thomas to the Spring BBQ in May and they had an action photo of him dancing.

Well, my wife just called down the steps to say Thomas is awake, so I will be cutting this short and trying to get him back into bed. Good night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reading & '07 List

Just finished, How to Talk Back to Your Television Set by Nicholas Johnson. It was actually a decent read something I didn't expect. I thought it would be a lot more technical and textbookish. It was mostly an easy read. The reason I wanted to read this book, other than seeing it in used bookstores for many, many years, is that the way technology has exploded in these areas it seems in my lifetime. It was interesting to hear about cable TV at its beginnings and how it was then being argued if it should even be allowed in the big cities. Also the mentions of satelite TV, I wasn't aware the tech was around then either. This book was published in 1970, just to give you a year to base stuff off of. The book did have a lot of the '60s idealism, where you could for a group and overthrow the establishment type thought. It also touched on, but not really directly, the movement of blacks becoming more involved/forcing their involvement into the whole communications sector. Overall the book was better than expected, but that isn't exactly saying much in that I had pretty low expectations going in.

The Looking Glass War has kind of been pushed to the side the last few days, while I made my push to wrap up the TV book. I also have not started the S King book Cell yet either. It is late so won't be starting it tonight but might try to do a couple of pages in the Looking Glass.

By the way, one thing that I started doing since 1997 is keeping a list of books that I have read each year. I think it is kind of fun to look back at what I have read and also see how long it has been since I have read some of my favorites. The TV book is #15 for this year--a very good year for me. Here is the list for this year(one of these days I think I will probably put all of the lists since '97 in this blog).

2007 Books Read List
1. The Brothers Karamazov--Fyodor Dostoevsky, 936 pages
2. Finishing Strong--Steve Farrar, 218 (Gift from Pujols Foundation)
3. Adventures in the Mainstream--Greg Palmer, 315
4. The Story of the Confederacy--Robert Selph Henry, 470 (Hardback)
5. Summer of '49--David Halberstam, 322
6. Watership Down--Richard Adams, 475
7. One of Ours--Willa Cather, 459
8. My Brother, Ernest Hemingway--Leicester Hemingway, 256
9. The Light in the Forest--Conrad Richter, 117
10. Atlas Shrugged--Ayn Rand, 1084
11. The Bronx Zoo--Sparky Lyle & Peter Golenbock, 300
12. The Red Pony--John Steinbeck, 120
13. Hemingway and Jake--Vernon(Jake) Klimo & Will Oursler, 223
14. The Biography of Ancient Israel--Ilana Pardes, 160 (Hardback)
15. How to Talk Back to Your Television Set--Nicholas Johnson, 209

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Week 2 of Training

This is the 2nd week of marathon training--which I still haven't quite talked myself into doing the marathon yet. Monday was raining & cold, so I went to the Community Center and put in 2 miles while the kids were at PSR. My schedule was only calling for 2 miles so no problem, but I would rather run around the neighborhood--saves me about 15-20 minutes in drive time which means another 1.5-2 miles I can get in.

Took Tuesday off and did 3.3 today(Wed) at the high school track. It was cold, but at least no rain. I didn't push it too hard or anything, think my miles averaged around 11:40 or so. I am off Friday so I might look to do my long run that day instead of Saturday. Saturday is supposed to be in low 30s or 20s all day. The long run is supposed to be 9 miles.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Not much

Not much to talk about today. Youngest was running a fever most of today so that kind of screwed up the plans we did have for today. It was Breakfast with Santa after Mass today and then we were supposed to do lunch & birthday party for a niece. I did get to see some of the Rams game today, Berlin looked like a serviceable type QB for the couple of series I saw. The type of player to have as your 3rd QB or 2nd QB at this point in the season. Rams just aren't very good team right now. At least we should get a decent draft pick out of this and 2 if you count the high 2nd round pick.

No running today. Might try to do a few situps & pushups yet before going to sleep. I don't have any kind of crosstraining figured into my training plan, but I want to do a few of these at least once a week. I know I should be doing some lifting, it would help me lose about 10-15 pounds, which would probably make my running a little better as well.

Freezing rain is supposed to be here. I haven't looked out and won't until the morning. I have a short comute to work, only around 5 miles so I shouldn't have any problems really. Of course being an insurance adjuster means that this will be a busy week for me because of this weather.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Vaseline good

Update on running. I got 3 miles in at the Community Center on Thursday after work. It was freezing rain out so I figured running indoors was the safest bet. I had eaten too much that day so those 3 miles was a real struggle. I had hoped to get another short run in on Friday, but my wife was feeling kind of sick and ended up sleeping most of the day, so no run for me.

Today, well Saturday, I got my long run in of 8 miles. It was raining(more than a sprinkle but not a downpour) and in the mid 30's temp wise. At least it wasn't really windy. The run was good, the first 6 miles I kept under 12 min and the last 2 were in the 12:20 range. I think overall I was just under 12 min miles. The only bad thing was I forgot to put vaseline on my nipples and they are very sore and raw. I know better but I guess since I hadn't done a long run in so long I just wasn't thinking. Rest of my body feels good though. So far training is going okay.

I finally finished my book, The Biography of Ancient Israel. Some interesting stuff, but it was more like a textbook overall so to me it was kind of hard to pull out anything really useful. While I have studied and enjoy learning about Israel, this book really referenced The Bible, something I am just not very familar with. I have not read The Bible, something that I should do I know. Finishing this book now I have 14 books read in 2007. Hopefully I can still get one more finished in this under a month left.

I am now reading, How to Talk Back to Your Television Set by Nicholas Johnson and The Looking Glass War by John LeCarre. I also have grabbed and am carrying around Cell by Stephen King--I haven't started it yet but probably will in the next couple of days. I read LeCarre's Bourne book a couple of years ago and liked it, so when I saw this one as one of those 3 for a dollar books, it was pretty easy to buy. I have had a for a couple years now and have finally given it a chance. So far so good. I just looked and it was Ludlum who wrote the Bourne book, oops. Well I am still going ahead with The Looking Glass War even if I don't know/haven't read anything else by this author.

On the Television book, I have remembered seeing this book in used books stores ever since high school--the mid 1980s. I again bought it as a 3 for a dollar book, probably one of those times I found 2 and needed a 3rd for the deal--otherwise they are 50 cents each. It was written in the early 1970s and has a chapter about cable TV which I thought was interesting in that I didn't know it was around back then. Not all that exciting so far, but I didn't really expect it to be. It was kind of seen as my replacement of that Israel book--more textbookish.

Cell by Stephen King, kind of sounds like The Stand. I remember reading The Stand over the summer in high school and really enjoying it. It was at that time I really was into reading King, I read the Talisman, The Dead Zone, Firestarter, short story book Different Seasons and the Shining and probably a couple others I can't remember. I kind of quit reading King though because I thought his stories and characters seemed to similar from story to story. I don't know how I ended up with this copy of Cell, I think my mom may have given it to me but not really sure. I kind of figure it is time to read another King story and see if I can get sucked back in.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I like watching sports and movies, through in some history channel or discovery channel and that is most of my TV viewing. My wife is a big fan of most of the reality shows on TV. The Biggest Loser, Survivor, Amazing Race, the Apprentice(if it comes back), some of the nanny shows, the teardown & rebuild a house show that I can't remember the name of--you get the picture. There really haven't been many TV shows that we both enjoy lately. Life on NBC is the exception. It is one show that we both want to watch. There were two new episodes this week, and some of the on-going story lines are being filled in while more are being made. A good show that is generally kind of fun to watch.

By the way we are a 1 TV household, although I am fighting the good fight on changing this. We have a satellite dish with no TIVO. Also our 1 TV we have has been slowly getting worse with its colors since this summer. I think I have finally gotten it to the point where we will be getting another TV and upgrade to a 2 receiver set for our dish. Will probably keep our failing TV around for a little while yet as we transition into 2 TVs. With our kids still a little rough on all of our electronics, I am pushing for checking Craigslist for a used TV as our fill in soon. Of course I should probably be checking Craigslist instead of making these posts also, but that isn't the way I work most times either.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Reading with a little run stuff

I forgot to mention in yesterday's entry that I did finish one of my books. I finished off Hemingway & Jake. Not a bad read, but not really one I would recommend unless you are really interested in everything on Hemingway. I bought this book at a used book store as one of my 3 for a $1.00 books, so couldn't really go wrong with it. The book didn't have as much about Ernest as I thought it would and instead had more about Leicester(Jack) who Jake spent more time with. Books like this always leave me kind of wondering about how much money the author actually made on this book. I wouldn't think it was a lot especially since there was no other book on the horizon, i doubt a publisher gave the best of terms on this book. However much it was though, it probably didn't lessen the high I would imagine one gets for having a book published. I have to admit getting a book published sometime in the future is one of those goals of mine tucked away in my head. I probably have to give that goal a little credit for also starting this blog. I think I mentioned in one of my first entries the book Adventures in the Mainstream, but Palmer(can't remember first name). It was basically a journal about his son with Down Syndrome graduating from high school and what his life and future would be like outside of the school environment. This book also has to be credit for doing this blog and kind of reminding me about that whole write a book someday thought I get once in a while.

I am still reading The Biography of Ancient Israel, no change in it for me. Not exciting and just kind of pushing my way through at this point. I am not sure yet what my other book will be, I have picked up and read the into to How to Talk Back to Your Television Set by Nicholas Johnson, written in the early '70s. I will probably go a few pages into it and see what I think at that point. There are also a few Michener books I am looking at along with many others among my bookcases. Of course I want to stop in at my local used bookstore and see if anything jumps out at me also.

I did get a short run in tonight, it is PSR night. I forgot a bag I had ready to take along which had my Garmin, stocking cap & gloves and reflector. Without those items, I drove back to my Community Center and used their jogging track to get 2 miles in, I am guessing somewhere around 24 minutes. This is the first week of the 18 week marathon training for the St Louis Marathon, I need to do 2-3-2 and an 8 long run. Because of this I didn't feel too bad about my 2 tonight.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Weekend stuff

Let me just run through the weekend.

Friday night was the get together with some old fraternity friends at J&A's bar in the Central West End. It was good to see everyone, probably 25 or so people were there & probably half a dozen from out of town that came in. I wasn't able to do any of the other things they were doing this weekend though.

Saturday was a work day the our church. The Holy Name group I am part of is getting lighting put on our outside monument as well as having electricity there for BBQs in the future. We had to dig a ditch for the electrician to run the wires & pipe. Even with a ditch witch, a much tougher project than we imagined. There was a lot of rocks that made the digging very hard, also had to knock through asphalt & concrete in one spot--I had to leave after taking more than a few hits so I am not sure how they finished it up, but I was told the ditch was done. Not sure if the electrician did his part yet, but I think it has to be done Monday.

Saturday night we had a babysitter & went out to eat & do a little shopping. Mizz lost to Oklahoma, missing out on their chance for playing for the National Championship. I know NE has lost many times to OK over the years in similar circumstances, so I kind of know how they feel.

Sunday the St Louis Down Syndrome Association had its Christmas Party at Tropicana Bowling lanes. It was a lot of fun and a packed house. Lots of cute kids running around and dropping/throwing/bowling. Thomas got one game in with our group and just wore me out. He just don't like waiting his turn so it was a fight to hold him and make him wait. Then the family next to us was smart enough to have juice boxes, and he went crazy wanting them. The line for drinks was too long and once our first game was done it was enough. I took Thomas walking around and found a vending machine and bought a lemonade, much better. Then after a couple of cookies, I found a open lane. Thomas bowled 2 games all at once, but I don't think he even knew score was being kept, he just likes to bowl and then bowl and bowl some more. He was pretty tired though at the end of that and he and his little sister feel asleep on the way home and continued their naps at home. I don't expect either of them to go the sleep on time tonight.

Finally, after we got home I went for my run. I was a slacker and didn't run on Saturday, of course my work at church went longer than expected and kind of ruined that. If I was thinking I should have run Sunday morning, it was beautiful, probably in or close to 50s. Instead at 5pm it was probably 30s with a stiff wind from the West. I did 6 miles on the streets by our house, 3 miles out and back. The first 3 miles was against the wind and throw in a few hills, well it was slow. The miles coming back in were just a little faster--tired and cold are the reasons I am giving. I am just glad I got the miles in even if they were slow & still needed to get them in.

Well, Debbie & Rose are out shopping & I am taping Amazing Race for her. Since we only have 1 TV and have Dish, I am stuck watching what is being taped--we don't have DVR or TIVO or anything like that. Of course, that is what I want & hopefully will get in the next few months. Thomas & Angie are playing nicely in the basement allowing me a little computer time. Well that should do it for now.