20 Minute Treadmill Challenge

I was sitting here, thinking what I could blog about, and then I Tweeted about the 20 minute treadmill challenge. I figured, what the heck, I’ll throw the gauntlet down and see who picks it up.

Jousting Competition - Let the games begin

I’ve been participating in the 20 Minute Treadmill Challenge with the Ford Runner’s Club for the last few years. I’m trying to remember if I did it in 2007. I know I did in 2008. I am again this year. I ran my baseline today, and managed 2.09 miles in 20 minutes.

I’m inviting all of you, dear readers, to participate in the challenge with me this year. (Yeah, I know, short notice. Deal with it. You’re tough, right?)

Here’s how it works:
1- You decide to participate, because you are (wo)manly, tough, brave, competitive, or whatever, or because you are bored of treadmilling without purpose, just to get through the winter (that’s me.).

2- Sometime before February 7th, you run 20 minutes on the treadmill, and you write down how many miles you went. During your run, you keep the pace above 5.0 mph to the best of your ability. (The Ford Runner’s Club is more strict than I’ll be. They have a walker’s division which you have to keep the pace below 4.9 mph.) NO SANDBAGGING. This is your baseline distance.

3- You report back here, in the comments, with your distance.

4- For the next 8 weeks, you run faster and longer workouts.

5- During the week of March 29th to April 4th, you run the challenge again, and report back here what your new distance is.

6- We calculate who is the most improved and cheer for them.

If more than 5 people complete both parts of the challenge with me, I’ll throw in a $25 prize (for local Michiganders, a gift certificate to Running Fit or the Tortoise and the Hare, for non-locals, a gift certificate to eastbay or something similar.) for the most improved non-me runner. If there’s any interest in a walker’s league, we can do that too.

How’s that sound? Who’s in?

Magic Box

I’ve been coveting a Roku Netflix Viewer for a while now. For the uninitiated, the Roku Netflix Viewer is a set-top box that connects to the TV, and the internet, and streams movies from your Netflix queue. The library of streamable content isn’t as extensive as the whole Netflix library, but still with 12,000 titles, it’s not like you’d run out very quickly.

My Netflix subscription has been kind of idle, but ever present of late. I don’t watch a lot of movies, because there are plenty of other things to do, read, run, waste hours on the internet, write, slog, whatever. During the winter, I do tend to have a bit more free time, so I was anticipating using my subscription a little more. The whole mailing things off part of the subscription has made me more hesitant to use it lately, after someone tried to steal one of the discs I was mailing back. (Weren’t they surprised to see A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in that envelope!) Plus you have to have a great sense of rhythm to get movies when you want them.

I broke down on Monday and got myself a Roku. I’d almost pulled the trigger several times over the last few weeks, but finally decided to do it. Part of me wants to be cutting edge, and part of me wants to be able to say, hey, we could watch movies at my place on this cold winter evening. And we’re not limited to my embarrassingly juvenile collection.

It came in the mail today, and since I really didn’t want to go out tonight, I installed it. Let me tell you, this thing is magic. I had already picked out a number of movies and television shows that I wanted to watch. I tested an episode of Heroes, and the picture was virtually indistinguishable from cable. My laptop hates streaming (and it hates me, and I hate it, so we’re even), so I was expecting problems figuring that it was probably at least partly the connection. Not so. The only jumping occurred when I accidentally whacked the remote with my foot. The sound was a little weird during one episode of The Office that I tested, but that was all. Everything else was great.

In the end, Jason and I watched the first five episodes of Jericho, this short-lived post-apocalyptic drama from CBS. It was an amazingly great picture, and I can’t wait to use this magic box more. I feel a Hitchcock marathon coming on. 🙂 Or maybe I should settle for Magnum PI…

Things you shouldn’t mention around a Lostie

Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Because that’s what I’m doing right here, warning you.

LOST starts next week. And no, they haven’t figured out what that thing in the trees is yet. (That’s the question almost every non-Lostie asks me when they find out that I watch the show. It’s seems like everyone in the world has seen the pilot episode, but the only thing they are curious about is the smoke monster.) Also, yes, they are still lost. Although some of them are lost in a different way than the others.

So now you know. You may want to avoid the water cooler, or any gathering of more than two people, on Thursday mornings for the next 16 weeks or so. We Losties do try to spare you unwashed masses the agony of our discussions, but sometimes, you do bring it on yourselves, you know.

How? By saying a Lost trigger word in our presence. It’s ok if there is only one of us, but in crowds as small as two people, a trigger word will force us to discuss Lost. We are sorry, but we can’t help it.

So I have benevolently compiled a list of trigger words. For your own safety, never ever utter one of these triggers around us. (Many thanks to Katherine who contributed some trigger words to this list, and to Elizabeth, who beat me to the punch for this post. By like two weeks.)

– The Numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42). Especially in combination. Also avoid 108.
– Wild Boars
– Black Rocks
– Black Smoke
– Pacific Islands
– Lists (especially of names, especially if tell someone that they are or are not on the list)
– Good Person
– Walt
– Desmond
– Hatch
– Airplanes
– Airplane crashes
– Backgammon
– Korea
– Fiji
– Ranch Composite
– Others
– Polar Bears
– “Don’t tell me what I can’t do”
– Stations
– Electromagnetism
– Jacob

Ok, so there are many more triggers. These are the ones that I could come up with, while being significantly distracted by Lostpedia. Any of you Losties out there have any significant triggers that I missed?

Citrus Season

Originally uploaded by niznoz

I realized the other day that I have an unhealthy relationship with Citrus.

It’s like one of those on-again, off-again marriages. I never really know when winter starts if I am going to have one of those years where I love citrus or one where I hate citrus.

It’s truly unnerving how inconsistent I am. Last winter was definitely an on-again season. I was eating all of the oranges that came my way. This winter, however, I’ve been even more back and forth about it than usual. To start the season off, sometime back in November, I was at Meijer, and they had a 2-for-1 special on oranges. Usually, I wouldn’t even consider purchasing two bags of oranges. I would never get through them in a normal season. Something clicked in my head, and I ended up with a lot of oranges at home. Fortunately, it just so happened that these were some of the best oranges that I’d ever had (or at least since last winter), and while I did share them out, I did manage to get them all eaten.

However, at some point just before Christmas, I purchased three lemons. I have no idea why. There was a good reason in there somewhere. Maybe I was going to zest them and some oranges and maybe some limes, and dehydrate the zest so I’d have delicious zest any time I wanted. I don’t think I was planning to make lemonade. That would have stuck with me. They’re sitting in my refrigerator, waiting for me to remember what I was going to do with them.

But then for New Year’s, I picked up a box of Clemantines, and after they weren’t finished at the party I took them to, I feasted on them, multiple times a day until I ran out. (Which wasn’t that long, incidentally, because of the multiple feastings.) I couldn’t get enough of them.

And so I thought I was having a good year for citrus. I bought another bag of oranges… and this time they’re just sitting there on my microwave. I even managed to finish a bunch of bananas before they all went black (which never happens) but my oranges just sit there. Every once in a while I’ll eat one out of obligation. I took one to work for an afternoon snack at some point last week, and I didn’t eat it until Friday, and then only because I needed a break, and peeling it would give me an excuse to get away from my desk.

In the world of citrus, there are only three things that are certain for me:
1- I will always hate grapefruit.
2- I will always love lime.
3- I will always ask about lemonade at a restaurant, but very rarely order it. (I can’t take a cloyingly sweet lemonade. The drink is supposed to be about the lemons, not the sugar.)

That’s all I really know. I wish my relationship with citrus could be as predictable as my relationship with say, apples, or cookies. (love both, by the way.) I have theories as to why it’s not. Most of them have to do with scurvy. But at the very least, figuring out if I’m going to like citrus in a given year makes for an interesting guessing game.

Top 5 Books of 2008

Ok, It’s the 6th and I’m still doing Best of 2008 lists. This one should be my last. This is the one that was the hardest for me, because I couldn’t make up my mind, so every time I decided to do one of my blogs this one got pushed back. Originally, it was a top 10 list, but I decided that I probably could never make up my mind on 10 books, and so 5 books was easier. My biggest problem was trying to figure out which books I’d read this year. I kept an ok record over at GoodReads.com, but I know that I missed quite a few in the last several months of 2008.

So here’s my list:

5- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I found the concept of this one both intriguing and compelling. The main character is afflicted with “Chrono Displacement Disorder.” He often and involuntarily will be displaced in time, although his time walks mostly seem to center on people and places that are important to him. The story focuses on him and his wife, who obviously are living in different time lines. She first meets him when she is a young girl, he first meets her when he is 28 or so. The story jumps around a lot, giving hints and whispering secrets, all the way through. It’s a very interesting read.

4- A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

I became obsessed with the Appalachian Trail at some point in 2007. I was, in part, feeding my obsession by reading this book. Bryson tells of his experience hiking the AT with his friend Katz as Bryson became reacquainted with America. His story is both funny and poignant. The two parts that stick out most in my mind is the story about Katz flinging his food from his pack because it weighs too much, and the tragic story of the American Chestnut, once prevalent in American forests, but decimated by blight. Of course, I wanted to hike the AT even more after reading this. Maybe 2009 is the year for it.

3- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

It’s really hard to explain why I liked The Name of the Wind. Perhaps the best way is to drop a quote from the main character, and let him speak for himself :

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

The story dragged me in, without me even realizing that I was being dragged in.

2- The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve blogged about this one before. I picked up Sanderson’s first book, Elantris, to see if he would make a good substitute for Robert Jordan. I’m glad I did. It lead me to this one. Of the three in the series, this was by far the best. It really comes off as a caper story (Think Ocean’s 11) dressed as a Fantasy novel.

1- The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore’s Dilemma is one of the books that most influenced me this year. I plucked it from Amy’s bookshelf and read it. I’ve been having an internal conversation about food all year. (You’d never guess that, coming from the guy who obsessively blogged his vegetables… 😉 ) Pollan investigated the origins of his food chains. He followed four meals from four distinct food chains from beginning to end. In doing so, he described America’s unhealthy relationship with food. I think I’ve changed the way I eat (fresher, more diverse food) and the way I think about food (closer to home) because of it.

So there you have it. My top 5 books from 2008. What are yours?


Schlock Mercenary by Howard Taylor

It’s not really a book, it’s more of a webcomic, but I spent a lot of time reading it in 2008. The story is great, the characters even better, and I’m still only part way through 2006. Go figure. I’ll get all caught up one of these days.

Top 10 Moments in 2008

I’m going to try to do this in as few words as possible

10- Voting for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney for President

The fact that I had a choice to vote for a Mormon for President. Awesome!

9- Convincing my nephew in less than half an hour that we could be friends

That was quicker than my dad won him over.

8- Geocache #600

A walk in the woods, in the snow, with friends. Priceless.

7- Ceder Point

Proof that when I am dead, I will be buried in an amusement park. (I actually had fun at the amusement park that day!)

6- Hiking in the Big Horns

The view from the top. The real top.

5- The Regency Ball

Who knew that English Country Dancing was so much fun?

4- Tweleve Reunion

You probably wouldn’t understand… But it was awesome.

3- Kayaking the Huron

Ever heard “Peace like a River”? Well, that, except, with a river.

2- Thanksgiving Turkey

It tasted just as good as it looked.

1- Turkey Trot

A goal completed!