February 2009 Archives

Big Boy: ??? - 2/20/09

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Sad news. Big Boy had to be put to sleep early this morning.

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As most of you know, he was on a steady decline for quite a while. He'd grown extremely weak and had little strength in his back legs. He'd fall down a lot, and had a tough time walking outside. I often got frustrated with him for being so slow and so pokey - I regret all of that now.

He had another large fatty tumor on his side that had grown to the size of a softball. His spine was bothering him to the point of causing numbness and discomfort. He threw-up a lot in the last few weeks, and had a tough time making it outside to go to the bathroom. It's such a shame to see animals decline like they do. They don't know any better, and we want to keep them forever... it's one of life's unfair events, I guess.

I'm at work, with tears running down my face as I write this. I'm so sad. I had wanted to put him to sleep for several months because I knew that he wasn't in a good state of being, but Amy felt he could stick around a bit longer. She was right - he lived for at least 6 months more than I thought he probably would've/should've. I just can't believe he's gone.

I'm even more upset that Amy had to take him to the vet by herself. I turned off the antenna on my phone last night because I hadn't been sleeping well the past few nights, and my phone makes noise every time I get an e-mail (usually spammers sending me junk at 3:30am in the morning). I woke up, turned on my phone, and got the news. Major, major bummer.

The picture above (in the park) is from sometime in 2004. You can see a little grey starting to peek out around his eyes, but look at how strong he looks. He was such a handsome dog - majestic and powerful on the outside, but sensitive and caring on the inside. I never met a dog that was so gentle with everyone and everything - Big Boy truly knew no enemies and liked everyone.

Unfortunately time snuck up on him, and this is how he looked just a few weeks ago:

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So grey, and so frail. He'd shiver and his teeth would chatter. He was down to 98-lbs this morning - that's really light for a dog of his size.

I'll never forget the first day that I saw him. I was driving home from a meeting in Dallas, TX - we had to meet with some people from Hewlett Packard - when Amy called to say that she had a visitor at the house. She told me about this big dog that had come into the Shelter, and how nice he was, and how scared he was, and how the Shelter didn't have room for him, so she was going to keep him at the house for a few days.

Within a few hours, I was back in northwest Arkansas, and as I pulled on to my street, I saw Amy with this massive black dog. His ears perked up and he looked at me with a great amount of interest. I got out of the car and approached him - he was huge. I knew we had to keep him. And he was so friendly.... for about a minute, and then he went about minding his own business.

That was Big Boy in a nutshell - a little aloof, always trying to act like he didn't really care to bother you, but always right by your side. Amy referred to him as a Velcro-dog - he was always attached to you. Even during the last few weeks of his life, he'd always follow you from room to room no matter how hard it was for him to get up and move.

I don't have any idea as to how old Big Boy actually was; we got him on October 3, 2001, and we figured he was around 3 or 4 years old at that time. So, he was most likely about 11 or 12 when he died today, and that's almost unheard of for a Great Dane.

Big - I'm going to miss you. I acted like I didn't care a whole lot at times, but you certainly were a special dog. Sorry to have been so hard on you toward the end - you did a great job of hanging in there for as long as possible. Take it easy, buddy and thanks for always being such a great friend and companion. You were (and are) one of the best.

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Tea: You're doin' it right

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I have a confession - I have a drinking problem. I'm addicted to diet soda, and I can't stop drinking it. I can burn through a 24-pack in 3 days, without any problems. While at a restaurant, I can guzzle 3 or 4 large diet sodas with my meal. It's not pretty.

So I've been trying to find alternatives - water is awesome, and I really do like it, but it seems like the majority of the tap water around here tastes awful (it has a pine needle/dirt taste). I don't want to drink bottled water, because I feel terrible about wasting all of that plastic... I've tried the filtered pitchers, but it takes a good 15 minutes to filter half a pitcher.

I was perplexed. I vowed to try and drink less diet soda, but I couldn't escape its grip. And then I remembered my tea... A while back, I had discovered Adagio Tea. Their teas were amazing - most are loose leaf teas, so they're flavorful and not the least bit bitter. They have black tea, green tea, herb tea, oolong, and white tea. I ordered some samples and found several that I really enjoyed.

The problem, however, was boiling the water for the tea. I'd have to go to the microwave, boil the water in a separate cup/container, then pour it into my tea pot, steep it, and then serve it. A big hassle, when you're capable of downing 80-90 ounces of tea in a day. So I gave up on it.

And then I got an incredible gift - a Breville electric tea kettle. This bad boy can heat nearly 2 liters of water to a rolling boil in less than 4 minutes. And, it keeps the water warm for hours... Talk about a monster - this thing is unreal. It's got a built-in filtration system that keeps the water tasting "normal." It's got a back-lit display that shows you how full it is. It's insulated so the outside doesn't get too warm. It has a soft-eject type lid. It rocks the block, plain and simple.

So - I present to you the perfect tea configuration: Breville kettle, IngenuiTea steeper, and Adagio White Peach tea. Yum. That's tea done right, folks.

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And the best part is, I only drink 2-3 diet sodas per day now. :-)

Farewell to Lester

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Our good friend Leslie (aka, "Lester") is moving away, so we decided to get the group together and wish her farewell. It's definitely going to be sad not having her join us for our usual Thursday night dinner gatherings.

We decided to try out JJ's Grill-n-Chill, which is a new restaurant in the Rogers area that's been receiving great reviews. The appearance from the outside isn't anything spectacular - it's in a strip mall, with signage that's nearly impossible to read/decipher. It's unfortunate, because I've driven past it for at least 3 months and never had any idea what it was! But, as we quickly discovered last night, the food, service, and atmosphere are fantastic, and I'd recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.

So, without any further ado, here are some photos.

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That's the logo and signage. Doesn't really convey the message of "restaurant and pub with live music every night, great food, good prices, and excellent service," but then again, I'm not a marketing guru, so what do I know?


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Leslie apparently owns a laundromat...


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Part of the crew that wished Leslie bon voyage. (From left to right: Stephanie, Leslie, Michelle, Me, April)


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Karl and Mandy arrived after a bit, and Karl appeared surprised by his beverage selection.


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I had a salad with grilled chicken, and it was delicious. The tomatoes were extremely tasty, and the chicken was cooked perfectly, with just the right amount of cracked pepper for seasoning.

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Karl and I toward the end of the evening. We were smiling on the outside, but crying on the inside. :-(

Good luck, Lester, and keep in touch with us. Best wishes with your new venture!

It's never too early

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To start thinking about birthday gifts... and since mine is coming up in the not-too-distant-future, I figured I'd throw out a few hints/ideas/suggestions for folks to consider. Don't worry if you duplicate each others' purchases - I'll appreciate your gift(s) no matter what.

I'd like, in no particular order, any one of these gifts:

1. Cycleops Power Tap SL+ Hub (Shimano hub)

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This hub is pretty awesome - it measures the amount of power expended during a ride, which is an invaluable training tool. It measures ad saves data about each ride so you can go back and review progress, weak spots, improvements, and so on. During races, it helps you determine when to take it easy and when to get after it. It's the most accurate calorie burning tool available for a bike. Unfortunately it's outrageously expensive...


2. Zipp 808 Cyldesdale Carbon Clincher Wheelset

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I've rode next to people who have these wheels and can say this: they sound awesome (they make that "woosh/woosh/wooosh" noise like you'd hear when a Samurai sword is swung through the air), they look cool, and they're definitely fast. Combine these with that Power Tap hub, and look out.


3. Samsung 52" LCD 1080p 120Hz Television

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I'm thinking this TV would make a nice edition to the bedroom.


4. Nike Pro Dri-Fit Long Sleeve Top and Shorts (compression)

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I snagged some of these while in Joplin this weekend, and I really like them. I think they're even better than the UnderArmour versions - they fit better, and are more comfortable (so far). I like the tops and bottoms - but they have to be the compression version (really tight). Size Large (for top and bottom), in black.


5. DeSoto 400-mile Bib Shorts

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I've got 2 pair of bib shorts and they're the best riding shorts I've ever worn. The DeSotos are supposed to be the very best out there - comfortable, long lasting, invaluable. Shorts do make all of the difference when it comes to longer rides. I'll take these in Large, black/black.


6. Osprey Atmos 50 Backpack

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I'm a bit "on the fence" about this one... I've been researching backpacks for a while, and I'm torn between the Osprey, The Smart Alec from Tom Bihn, the Rocket Science Rocket bag, or a Zoot Z-Pack bag. I'm sure all are extremely nice and extremely similar - it's just hard to decide which one would be best... I'd like to start riding my bike to and from work, and a good backpack could make all the difference. It'll also double as a triathlon bag, so I'm asking a lot from one bag. Decisions, decisions... surprise me, and I'll be happy! :-)


7. Apple Aperture 2.1

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Apple's first attempt with this program was awful, but they turned things around with version 2. It's absolutely amazing; it quickly indexes, organizes, and displays digital images, allows for adjustments (without "damaging" the original file), and generates all sorts of cool things like online galleries, print-ready books, and so on. It's not a true Photoshop replacement, but it's pretty darned close. I've used the trial version for quite a while, but it has since expired. :-(

So there you have it. Five Six Seven great gift ideas for Steveo. I'll probably think of some other ideas; when I do, I'll update this entry. :-)

Edit: Here are some great LOL Cats:

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On the road again

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Man, what a relief! The weather has finally taken a turn for the better; after many, many weeks of cold temperatures, snow, ice, and all sorts of other nasty stuff, we seem to have hit a patch of good weather.

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So that meant I got to roll the bike off from the trainer and on to some real pavement! I checked my tire pressures, filled up some water bottles, lubed the chain, checked skewer tensions, threw on some biking clothes and hit the trail. The ride was absolutely wonderful. It was so nice to be out and about rather than cranking out miles on the 'ole trainer.

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Even though it was gusting heavily (25-30mph gusts) the Pea Ridge trail does a great job of blocking most wind. The trail is nestled in valleys and forges, and you're surrounded by trees for the majority of the loop, so it makes for a great ride and run. I cranked out 36 effortless miles - maybe that trainer isn't so evil! I suppose it also helps that I'm hauling around 30-40 less pounds than I was last year.

I passed several families that were riding their bikes, enjoying the wonderful weather. I came up on a family of 5-6 people: mom, dad, and a bunch of kids. They were all on their bikes, weaving around on the trail, not paying attention to anything behind them, and just more or less meandering... So, I slowed down (it was on a flat section, and I had been cranking at about 24-25 mph) and said, "Hi - sorry - coming up on your left."

The mom, who was in the back of the pack, ordered her kids to move to the right, and they all did. The dad, who was leading the pack, looked over his shoulder and waved me past, so I pedaled on by. As I was passing one of the kids, he goes, "WOW - that is a cool bike! Dad, I want that one!" And the dad goes, "I want it, too!"

I laughed. I like my bike, and it is pretty sexy, but I didn't think anyone "normal" would think anything of it. I gave a quick shout of "Thanks!" back to them, and went on my way. I passed them three more times during my ride - I was averaging just over 18 minutes per lap - and each time, the kid would say something like, "Cool" or "Awesome." I'd always say, "Thank you - your bike isn't too bad either." Or something like that.

I guess my bike is pretty cool, even when it's dirty:

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People often ask what the Vroomen.White.Design means - it stands for Gerard Vroomen and Phil White Design - they're the two gentlemen who started Cervelo. They're geniuses, if you ask me - their bikes are so phenomenal.

Anyway... I finished my ride, then hit the trail for a run - I did 4 miles, and even that was enjoyable. The net result of today's workout efforts? Looks like I can pig out tonight!

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No, not really. I downloaded an application for my iPhone from Livestrong, and it's an awesome program. It's also totally free - and if you don't have an iPhone, you can simply visit their website, register, and track everything (food, exercise, weight) online.

The awesome thing about the Livestrong application is that it syncs with TheDailyPlate.com, which has more than 500,000 foods and restaurants worth of nutritional information in it, so you can easily track your calories. I've been using it for about a month now, and absolutely love it. It's incredibly easy to use, and it appears to be fairly accurate; I compared my workout calories between the Livestrong application and my Garmin watch, and both were within 5% of each other, so that's decent validation in my book.

To use the Livestrong application/site, you simply enter your age, weight, and "normal" activity level. It then recommends a base calorie rate (mine is 1,482) to achieve a weight loss goal of 1-lb per week. From there, I simply enter in my foods each day (as you can see, I had an egg with egg whites for breakfast (it's actually cut-off - I also had Canadian bacon, an English muffin, and some fruit)), and from there, the application tells me how many calories I have left for each day.

Exercising allows you to eat more - and in my case, I burned quite a few calories on my ride and run, so I have plenty of spare calories that I could eat today. I won't go crazy, though - I did that last night... pizza, donuts, nachos...

Anyway - check out the Livestrong site. It's a great fitness tool.

Best SuperBowl Ads

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SuperBowl 43 was an excellent all around experience - the game was fantastic, and the ads were truly great this year. Some of my favorites:


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This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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