Monday, May 29, 2006

5/2/2006 - Croatian Toast

[Blogger's note - The name of this recipe is in no way intended to convey any disrespect for the people of Croatia. It was just clear, when the chips fell, that my recipe was anything but French Toast, hence the need for the alternate name. Since Scottish Toast and Krgystanian Toast just didn't seem right, I went with Croatian.]

French toast with no dairy, eggs or wheat:

1) Cut several slices of spelt bread
2) Soak in a mixture of soymilk, sugar and ground cinnamon
3) Fry (definitely not in peanut oil)

Apparently, egg plays an important role in the whole "French Toast" thing. The Croation version was kind of soggy and a little more oily (since the toast was able to absorb it better). On the other hand, it was sweet and cinamonny and even the eldest ate it!

11,300 culinary steps today. Cheers,

5/1/2006 - Pushing 30(k)

It will be a month before I get to report this in my tag, so I might as well say it today. I got 30,000+ steps today for the first time in quite a while. Between being sick and generally changing my weekend routine, it has been some time since I have been able to really flex the muscles. On Memorial day, the wife invited me to take a walk in the morning.

I rolled out of bed around 5:45, grabbed my gear and bolted out of the house. I hiked 3.5 miles to the local kosher Dunkin' Donuts and back (yes, I put on as many calories as I removed). That was good for 14,000 steps before 8 am!

I am proud to say that I (think that I) didn't drive the wife batty taking additional steps the rest of the day. In my experience, slightly more than 1,000 steps per hour is reasonable if you are puttering around the house. I found excuses for a couple extra short walks and we all made our way over to the farmer's market and before you knew it, there I was.

It's good to be back.

11,900 back-to-form steps today. Cheers,

Sunday, May 28, 2006

4/30/2006 - Bald Hill

A hike! A palpable hike!

Recently, we bought a kid back-pack for the baby. We have used it in a number of settings, but this was our first hike. We got a book on hikes in Eastern Massachusetts and found a kid friendly hike -- a 2-mile circuit around a small lake.

Unfortunately, our recent rains had flooded out the trail, but we found an alternative and still managed to walk more than 2 miles (7,000 steps or so). My eldest was a trooper and managed to walk the whole time. I carried the baby who napped a fair amount but mostly just enjoyed the ride. The wife carried the food and performed her normal role of navigation.

Overall, a ton of fun! I enjoy my city hikes as well (closer, creating a much better ratio of walking to "getting there") but we shall have to d more of these...

15,300 Elysian steppes today. Cheers,

4/29/2006 - Strep alert

On Mother's day (I know anachronistically) I felt kind of bad. I had a little fever and my throat was sore. I had some other unfamiliar symptoms, but overall, I was alright.

I still managed to get the wife off for her pedicure while I entertained the boys. I didn't succeed in doing much else and I slept terribly. I dragged myself in for work the next day and achieved less than I had hoped, but once I slept through Monday night (ignoring typical tyke related wake-ups) I was OK.

By the end of the week, my wife started showing all the same symptoms I had seen. I assured her that they would pass painlessly but they didn't and she was knocked off of her game for a few days. Finally, she went to her doctor and was diagnosed with strep (unsurprising as half the kids in our eldest's class had come down with it).

But once again, I was left to wonder why the same bacteria that annoy me make my wife really sick. Is it because her sleep is more fitfull? Does she start with fewer defenses?

The human body is weird.

10,900 streps today. Cheers,

4/28/2006 - Milestones

I hit a couple of milestones worth mentioning:

1,000 miles
2,000,000 steps.

I started walking about 6 months ago and the whole journey is mapped out at over 6,000 miles, so I guess it really will take me more than 3 years! Ah, well, the journey of 6,000 miles starts with 2,000,000 steps.

9,900 noteworthy steps today. Cheers,

Friday, May 26, 2006

4/25-4/27/2006: Parma, MI

Welcome to Parma, MI, traditionally an agricultural community surrounding old US 12 (now Michigan Avenue). One piece of fun here in Parma is checking out the old Interurban Trolley. Apparently it ran off the tracks, crashed a jail and was never rebuilt.

According to the census, there are approximatly 907 residents here (at least there were as of 2000) living in an area of less than 1 square mile. I seem to be about 1,000 feet above sea level, although on level ground which is good for walking.

In my search through Google, I came across this site which lists the G. I. Joe characters by place of birth. I thought that Agent Faces came from Parma, but, alas, that was Parma, Ohio.

Hmm. Cover Girl was born in Peoria.

44,500 reminiscing steps today. Cheers,

4/11/2006 - My happiness is now increased


There is a new Kiwi in the world!
Hooray for happiness!
Hooray for Kiwis!
Hooray for the continuation of family!

Ain't babies grand?

16,600 infantile steps today. Cheers,

Thursday, May 25, 2006

4/10/2006 - Comedians and podcasts

It's been a while since I have posted about podcasts. Two of the podcasts to which I listen (and one real radio program!) are hosted by someone who is also trying to make it as a stand-up comedian. I must say, that I like the effect that this creates. Rarely do any of the 3 make me laugh out loud, but their constant poking and proding around my sense of humor tends to leave me with a smile on my face.

8,000 steps (laughing all the way to the bank) today. Cheers,

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

4/9/2006 - Su. Do. Ku.

I won't say that I have become addicted to Sudoku, but I have grown to enjoy them. If you haven't seen it, it's a 9x9 grid. A few of the cells are populated with a number between 1 and 9 and the rest are blank. Based on a few rules, you can figure out how to fill in the rest of the cells. They are kind of like numeric crossword puzzles. Kind of.

The interesting about them is that they all end the same way. The difference between a hard sudoku and an easy one is how much information you start with. By following a finite number of rules, you create additional information and eventually you have enough so that the hard puzzle has the feel of an easy puzzle.

On one hand, that lessens the allure, but on the other it's sort of pretty in a Goedel-Escher-Bach sort of way.

16,900 steps today. Moshi moshi!

Monday, May 22, 2006

4/6, 4/7 and 4/8/2006 - Francisco

Well, I'm about a month behind in my postings and I have several cities that I have been putting off blogging. Solution? I'm allowing myself to post 3 days at a time when I blog a city. Call it: luxuriating in my stops along the way.

Today, I pass through Francisco, MI. I found Francisco remarably hard to track down on the internet. Mapquest confirmed its existance, but Google had little to show me -- not for lack of hits. It's just that Francisco is more common as a name than as a city. After all of the hits for people named Francisco who live in Michigan, came all of the hits for people named Michigan who lived in San Francisco. In fact, on Google news, most of the hits for +Francisco +Michigan were for Barry Bonds.

I did find a couple of fatal railway accidents, but I'll spare you the details.

All in, very confusing. Maybe I'm really in Indiana.

35,000 steps over these 3 days. Hip, hip, hurrah!

Friday, May 19, 2006

4/5/2006 - My day?

Now that Mummy's day has come and gone, dare I look forward to Daddy's day?  The Wife asked me what I wanted for Daddy's day.  I took too long answering so she helpfully suggested that I might enjoy doing some work around the house.  An excellent suggestion, but I will decline.

What is it that I like doing?  I like walking!

So right now, the plan is that I will hop out of bed at 6 AM on Daddy's day, grab my pack and go on a 10 mile walk.  The route is still in question.  Initially I had assumed that this was just something that I would do on my own, but the Wife likes the idea of my walking 10 miles away and the family meeting me somewhere.

So the two options I'm currently weighing are either a 10-mile circuit of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and maybe Arlington or a walk from my house to the beach in Revere.  I guess the weather will matter a lot.  I will like it either way.

And let's just say that I'm looking forward to the sign-off on that day.

9,000 Patralinear steps today.  Cheers,

Thursday, May 18, 2006

4/4/2006 - Ersatz dining

For those of us that wrestle with food allergies, there are two directions for our cullinary strategy: acceptance and defiance. Acceptance comes with an almost spiritual peace, eating food as some higher power intended. But defiance, when victorious, comes with its own benefits.

Tonight my eldest held up his fork and proclaimed "Macaroni and cheese!"

I went through the checklist:
  • Macaroni? Rice-based
  • Cheese? Soy-based
  • Fork? At least something is real.

I find rice-based pasta quite edible. My wife and I have many favorite dishes that involve pasta and it's nice to know that there are reasonable ways to keep making them, but I can't help feeling that there are also plenty of lovely rice-based dishes out there.

We baked cookies tonight, using a lovely recipe while replacing both the butter and the flour. The cookies came out quite cookie-like, if there are any Grandma's out there looking for ideas...

10,000 s5bst3t5t2 st2ps t4d1y. Ch22rs,

4/3/2006 - Blessed Respite

The clouds that have hidden the sun these past 7 days are gone, taking with them the shadows around my heart.

9,700 sunny steps today. Cheers,

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

4/2/2006 - Onwards and Upwards

Now that the basketball season is unofficially over (Nets lose to Heat 4-1) let's move on to some other sport. How about soccer (or Football for my non U.S. readers).

I rather like the World Cup, which is coming up in about a month. Eventually, the U.S. should dominate about any international sport in which they enter. We shouldn't win every year, because all sports involve some aspect of luck with regards to injuries or other such conditions, but we should do well. We have more people than most countries against whom we compete and we have a well funded training program that identifies (and glorifies) athletic ability from incredibly early ages, segregates it, and develops it.

Side note - I was playing baseball with my eldest in the park the other day and some people stopped to watch, feeling that it was just a cute scene to witness. Then my 4-year old hit the pitched ball about 100 feet and they gasped. Can he read like his cousin? No. Can he add or multiply? No. Will hitting things with bats serve him well in life? I hope not. And yet, a crowd of strangers marveled at this otherwise irrelevant skill (as did his dad).

Soccer is a little different because we came late to it. Sure, all American kids played some soccer growing up, but only to pass time between baseball, football, basketball, hockey, tennis, badminton, golf, kayakking, lawn darts, croquet and caber-tossing. We don't quite get the sport so it doesn't quite capture us.

But with the rise of the globalisation of the media, we have come to understand how much soccer has captured the other 5.5B citizens of this planet. And as a result, we are a late entrant into the upper echelons of the sport, which suits me to a T.

We are still new enough that we can take hard losses at the hands of Poland. But we are also good enough that we can pull off suprising victories over teams like Germany (although maybe not on their home turf). That's about the right level of skill. Swept up in the fervor of Nationalistic pride, I want to root for my team in the Cup. But not if they're going to win all the time.

On the way home from work, I heard an interesting story about John Cleese. Cleese, of Monty Python fame, has had plenty of success poking fun at the Germans. But now that the Cup is being played in Germany, and Germany will likely be invaded by plenty of rowdy English Soccer fans, he is feeling some remorse. As a result, he has released a new song called "Don't mention the war." So without further ado:

Don’t mention the war
That’s what football is for!
In 1966 we were the winning team
We’d rather not discuss what happened in-between
Don’t mention the war
Just get out there and score
At the glorious moment
When the lions roar
Don’t mention the war
Don’t mention the war
That’s what football is for!
They might have bombed our chipshop 60 years ago
But a billion pints of lager later, here we go (come on then!)
Don’t call them rude names
It’s such a beautiful game
At the glorious moment When the lions roar
Don’t mention the war
Don’t mention the war
Bend that ball round the wall
Instead of saving Poland we are scoring goals
After 40 years of extra time and bacon rolls (bacon rolls!)

12,700 offsides steps today. CHEERS!

Friday, May 12, 2006

4/1/2006 - Another beak to feed

Several years ago, my wife any I took our eldest (then: only) to PetCo.  It's cheaper than the zoo and more fun than just about anything I can imagine.  The boy shrieked with delight as he watched the ferrets play.  He squealed in the face of 100s of bird and stared in awe at the beauty of the tropical fish.  The last we could not resist and my wife convinced me that we needed a Beta fish.

Flash forward.  We have come to love and accept Jonah the Fish as one of our own.  My wife feeds him, cleans out his bowl, cuddles him, all the things that one does for fish.  Unfortunately, we had run out of brake fluid, or whatever fish need, so my wife took the kids to PetCo to pick up some more.

Now we have a budgie.

I'm still not quite certain how that happen.  I must say, it is a cute little bird (green plumage).  It is pretty quiet, possibly because the kids frighten it so.  We are starting to read books about budgie care; surf the internet; talk to our fellow budgie owners.  And through all of this, I have learned one important thing.

When we run out of birdseed, I will be the one to pick it up from PetCo.

9,000 avian steps today.  SQUAWK,

Thursday, May 11, 2006

3/31/2006 - Livonia, MI

It seems like it has been some time since I have blogged a city, but on this last day in March, I set foot in Livonia, Michigan. It may surprise you to learn that Livonia is the 8th largest city in Michigan. I must confess that I can't name the 8th largest city in Massachusetts, New York or New Jersey. Livonia became a township in 1835 and a city in 1950, shortly after GM built a transmission plant there.

But what everyone is talking about here in Livonia, is Brandie Reamy. Brandie, a spring chicken of 12 years, 4 months and 11 days, just bowled her first perfect game (12 strikes on 12 straight throws). I think that I may have once bowled as high as 130, almost half as well as Brandie. In case you are curious, Brandie used a 14 pound ball. I tend to settle for a 10 pound ball. In short, if any my dear readers ever threaten me, I shall be sure to give Brandie a call.

9,000 striking steps today. Cheers,

3/30/2006 - Mother's day

In a little less than two months (OK, 3 days from now, based on when I am writing this) it will be mother's day. Hopefully, I will have put together a nice smorgasbord of things for my underappreciated wife, so that she will be able to bask in the warmth and glow of motherhood. I'm taking suggestions. Really.

If you happen to be my wife, I highly recommend that you check out this site, which you will find to contain lots of important and interesting information for the general welfare of life, liberty and mankind.


OK. So the day will start off with breakfast in bed. Probably waffles, but I'm not 100% sure. Following breakfast, my wife will have the absolute pleasure of playing with her boys while I pound in edging. Whatever the heck that means. Then we will have lunch. After lunch, my wife will head on out to get a pedicure while me and the boys head over to the local store to procure bon-bons (and possibly play in a park). After the toes are appropriately colored we will meet back at our place so I can dump the children, unceremoniously, back on my wife and lie on the floor panting. Dinner will involve pasta and tomato sauce with fresh vegetables and (if I can swing it) homemade juice. Don't tell the wife.

9,000 Steps today. Happy Mother's day M.O.M., Gnome, Happy Kiwi, Zenith, Queen 'El-mom and of course, Mom!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

3/29/2006 - The Uninsured

It's been a while since I have written a political post, but currently I have fodder. There are more than 40,000,000 uninsured Americans and Senator Enzi (WY-R) has a plan to fix that. This plan has a quality which I have come to associate with a certain segment of the Republican party. It combines a very good idea -- one to which few would object -- with a more controversial idea which is highly doctrinary.

Firs the good idea. A significant number of the uninsred are either employees of small companies or their dependents. Enzi would like to allow otherwise unrelated small employers to band together to buy insurance as a block. This has the potential to be a serious win-win. The block now has market power which allows them to seek coverage they might not otherwise be able to afford. This is also a win for the insurers, because they suddenly have a market that did not exist yesterday.

[Note #1 - Just because you build it, you have no guarantee that they will come. Associating unrelated companies creates a situation in which confusing and impsoing financial questions will arise. For example, how will premiums be allocated and paid? How will experience rating occur? Who will be liable for bad debts? Etc. On the other side of the equation, this kind of associated business is famous for being among the riskiest sort of thing to insure because you have no guarantee that the risk characteristics which you underwrote will remain constant when new members join the association.]

Now for the controversial part. The second plan to make it easier for these employers to buy insurance is to "streamline the regulation process," otherwise known as replacing state regulation with federal regulation.

[Note #2 - Opponents of the bill generally refer to this as allowing insurers and employers to "get around state regulation." That's not a fair characterization. There will still be regulation, but more on that later.]

One might ask the following question: who should be regulating insurance? When you go to your local agent to buy car insurance, it makes sense that this transaction might be regulated by your state. When Starbucks buys insurance for all of its 2,000,000 kiosks, it seems like the transaction ought to be governed by the Feds, as is all interstate commerce. The funny thing is that some court case, around 60 years ago, determined that insurance wasn't interstate commerce, under any circumstance, so it continues to be state regulated.

Now imagine an association that crosses state lines. You can imagine that it would be cumbersome for the insurer to produce a policy that will be compliant in each state for each insured. So it's not the craziest idea to suggest that inserting Federal regulation will increase the number of small employers who can afford to buy insurance.

So what's the problem? We know what state regulation does. We don't know what Federal regulation does, because it does not yet exist. The bill, as far as I can tell, asserts that there will be Federal regulation and directs congress to oversee the creation of such a thing.

[Note 3 - By now I have read a fair number of bills related to the insurance industry. This was the toughest by far. It goes through great lengths to specify who is affected by the bill which made it very difficult to read, alas]

So the risk is that Federal regulation may allow insurers to do things like, refuse to cover well-baby care, or charge more for people with genetic conditions. It may not, but it would be foolish to assume that none of these sorts of changes will be made, since they are precisely the sort of regulations that it make it cumbersome to produce policies today. For those who currently don't have insurance, I have to guess that poorly regulated insurance is better than no insurance. But the problem is that it is likely that some employers who currently buy insurance would join an association if it could reduce costs, even if it leads to some decrease in coverage.

So what should we policitically active Americans do?

Well, here's old' J.G.'s advice:

Call your senator or representative and tell him or her that you approve of the first part. There's no guarantee that it will improve the situation, but it seems a good bet. Tell your senator or rep that you disapprove of the second. It is unconscionable for Congress to expect insruance regulations to fall out of the sky and work. What's more, the first part can be passed without the second. This is essentially the environement that Fortune 500 employers face today (buying a single policy that is regulated by each of the 50 states and DC).

10,600 soapbox standing steps today. Shame, shame.

Monday, May 08, 2006

3/28/2006 - Gazing into the crystal ball

On Sunday, May 7th, I will post my first 20,000 step day since March 19th.  Since I started walking, I have averaged about 14,000 steps per day, but over the last few weeks (ignoring my Passover vacation) I averaged more like 11,500.  Much of that was due to my rather nasty cold, but some of it is just an inertia that I settled into.  I used to walk about twice as many steps in the morning, before heading off to work.  I also used to walk around my building more.  I don't know how I lost the touch, but I did.  For a while, my wife was urging me to take quick power walks after the boys went to sleep, but lately they have been experiencing uncomfortable sleeping, so I couldn't really justify sneaking out of the house.

But yesterday I put all that behind me.  In the morning the boys and I went with some friends to the park.  My eldest practiced batting which gave me a lot of steps (somehow I get more exercise than he does on the ol' diamond).  Later, I had to walk into town to buy some hardware and I capped the day off by walking into town to meet a friend.  I just barely cleared 20,000, but it was enough to give me an emotional boost.  Will it be enough to counteract the new Chinese Restaurant opening near my office?  Probably not.

8,600 to-be-rejuvenated steps today.  Cheers,

Sunday, May 07, 2006

3/27/2006 - Sibling rivalry

"Why does daddy love the baby more than me?"

I've said it before and I'll say it again: my eldest would make an excellent lawyer. At a relatively early age, he had perfected the fine art of negating whatever I said:

JG: "Gathering dark clouds and a falling barometer are fairly good indications that it's going to rain."

Eldest: "Gathering dark clouds and a falling barometer are not fairly good indications that it's going to rain!"

Well, he has more recently began experimenting with the fine art of questions that presuppose guilt, a la "When did you stop beating your wife?"

So my (unbeaten) wife and I had to think several beats before responding to the question. Of course I don't love the baby more, buddy, but you and he need different things. When my wife was pregnant, my big fear was that I wouldn't be able to love the baby, because I would spend so much time focused on my eldest. It is amusing to hear my eldest come to the opposite conclusion.

7,900 ironic steps today. Cheers,

Friday, May 05, 2006

3/26/2006 - Final post on Detroit

I must admit that, for my final post on Detroit, I was planning on talking about the trouble that the Big Auto Makers have been experiencing with their finances.  I was going to talk about how the inundation of medical expenses that these companies were racking up was a microcosm of what all of us will be feeling over the next decade, as the cost of medical care rises and takes insurance premiums with it.  But then I remembered the following story:

A friend of mine had a business meeting in Detroit, so he flew in, rented a car and got to his meeting.  When the meeting was over, he came back to the empty space where his car had so recently been.  He was horrified.  He called the police with all the angst you can imagine in such a situation.  In an effort to restore decorum, the police officer turned to him and said

"Hey, this is Detroit.  Cars get stolen."

10,300 snitched steps today, Cheers.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

3/25/2006 - Mighty windy up there

If I had pair of eyes on the back of my head, they'd be able to see a little better. 
My wife informs me that I need to start wearing a little more sunblock when I go out. 
Perhaps I'll just wear a hat all of the time.
I'm getting older.

9,000 octageneric steps today.  Huzzah.

3/24/2006 - Go Pistons! And take the Heat with you!

As long as I'm in Detroit, I might as well stop in at the Pistons-Bulls NBA playoffs!  Some of my friends prefer the NCAA, but I can't understand why.  Sure, the excitement of the "big dance" exceeds that of the 2-month long NBA playoffs, but for me it's about the information.  In the NCAA, there are too many teams, too many players and too many games.  And what's more, there is not enough publily available information about any of them.  By contrast, in the NBA, the play-by-play of every single game is available on line.  I can watch any game (via the internet) read a team's blog, and often listen to its podcast.

So I get excited over the NBA, because there's so much more to get excited over.  Roar, Nets, Roar!

14,000 traveling steps today.  Cheers,