June 23, 2008
Yikes. Looks like the house I bought in 2005 and sold last spring is now in foreclosure and going for auction in early July. I guess the people who bought it weren’t a good risk. Glad we weren’t owner-financing it for them!
So that leaves an opening. I’m not sure how many of my readers are in the Atlanta area, or would be looking for a house in Marietta. But if you’re interested, the house is a really nice place and may go CHEAP at auction, especially considering the current credit crunch. And for homebrewers, my former backyard-sharing neighbor is a homebrewer who studied under my tutelage for a year
If anyone is interested, it’s going up for auction sometime in July. Drop me a note and I’ll fill you in on it.
May 15, 2008
I’m a bit late on the post, but given that it was my wife’s first “real” Mother’s Day, I knew I needed to put a winner together.
She had asked me to download the Sheryl Crow “Lullaby for Wyatt” song a few weeks ago, and when I downloaded it to my work PC, she was understandably wondering how she’d even be able to listen to it. At that point, I decided that I’d create a special Mother’s Day gift from Wyatt, containing that song and all the lullabies that she sings to him at night.
There was just one problem: putting the song and 10 lullabies on a CD really only takes up about 25 minutes! So I went on a week-long search for appropriate motherhood/baby songs that would just absolutely tug at heart strings to break up the lullaby monotony.
I ended up with the below song list. I’m not an emotional guy, but even I was tearing up a bit listening to a few of these. For other new fathers out there, I hope you can get some legs out of this idea.
1. Sheryl Crow – Detours
Lullaby for Wyatt
2. Mae Robertson – Dream
I See the Moon
3. Amy Grant – Greatest Hits
4. Carly Simon – Into White
You Are My Sunshine
5. Céline Dion – Miracle
6. Shannon Moore – Night Night Songs
Itsy Bitsy Spider
7. Vienna Teng – Waking Hour
Lullabye for a Stormy Night
8. Susie Tallman & Merrie Amsterburg – Lullaby Themes for Sleepy Dreams
Hush Little Baby
9. Carla Lynne Hall – My First Child CD Single
My First Child
10. Lisa Loeb – Catch the Moon
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
11. Joni Mitchell – Ladies of the Canyon
The Circle Game
12. Cathie Ryan, Robin Spielberg & Susan McKeown – Mother
13. Sarah McLachlan – Wintersong
14. Ingrid DuMosch – Fun Bedtime for Alyssa
God Bless the Moon
15. LeAnn Rimes – You Light Up My Life
16. Melissa Errico – Lullabies & Wildflowers
17. Alison Krauss – Heartland: An Appalachian Anthology
Slumber My Darling
18. Barenaked Ladies – Stunt
When You Dream
I particularly like #7, a song sung by a mother to her child, who is scared of a late-night thunderstorm. #9 is also very moving. And #18, though slightly out of place (the only song not sung by a female lead), is really a fun song, wondering what’s going through the mind of a day-old baby when they dream, since they have no real life experience to dream about. Very cool.
And, of course, no CD would be complete without a label! (I created a classy front and back label for the CD case, but this is the “fun” one that goes on the CD itself.)
March 3, 2008
Last weekend, my wife and her parents were out looking at new rentals, since we’re bursting at the seams of our apartment. My mother-in-law is a realtor, so she had access to all the listings available in the MLS system. We ended up finding an absolutely beautiful condo for rent, close to my work. Even better, the lady who owns it isn’t looking to move out until late April or early May, which works perfectly for us, as we’re locked into our apartment lease until the end of April. Even better, our apartment company is looking to raise our rent, and we currently rent our appliances, so while our total rent will go up in the new place, it’s going to be a much better deal for us, and a much nicer place.
We finished up our rental search, and my wife wanted to take her parents to a new church we were looking at. It’s one of those mega-churches, similar to the church we attended in Georgia, where they offer things like child care, etc. Given that we’d never been there, we weren’t about to hand Wyatt over to a caretaker, so my wife and her mother went into the main auditorium, while Wyatt, my father-in-law, and I stayed out in the foyer (where they had speakers/monitors showing what occurred).
That’s when it started to get interesting.
I’m a hands-on father, so I don’t run away from taking care of the messier portions (although I’ll gladly pawn it off on others when I can!) of child-rearing. Thus, when I saw Wyatt get “the look” on his face, and heard him start making grunting noises, I realized #2 was coming. I knew it was either my father-in-law or I that would have to take care of it, and diaper duty isn’t Grandpa’s job*. So it was me.
I took Wyatt into the bathroom, got the changing table all set up, and got ready to get to work. The changing table was obviously uncomfortable, and they had speakers in the bathroom area (they were still playing music) and Wyatt was not at all happy. He’s screaming, and I’m rifling through the diaper bag looking for a diaper. I can’t find any. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I nearly tried prayer!
Knowing that I had to get the job done, I ended up getting him cleaned up (thankfully we had plenty of wipes), wrapped a burp cloth around him, got him clothed, and went back to find my father-in-law. I let him know “We’ve got a problem”. We were about to leave and check the car for more diapers (or even to head to the store), when we thought of the nursery area. We found our way down there, they gave us a couple diapers to get through the crisis, and we ended up with little more than something to complain to the wives about when they emerged at the end of the service.
But that’s one crisis I could have done without!
* I guess there are some advantages to being a Grandpa… You get lots of this:
And I’m the one who gets to clean this up!
February 27, 2008
Well, I submitted about 6 beers to a local San Diego homebrew competition. Of the 6, there were really only two that I thought had a good shot, the Rye Pale Ale and the Milk Stout. Outside of that, I thought our Amber Ale was halfway decent but not great, and while I really, really like the Light Belgian ale, it’s a beer that’s been sitting around a while and doesn’t age well, and a 4.5% session beer usually will be overshadowed by most other things in the Belgian Specialty Ale category. I think the IPA wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, and the Belgian Witbier was partially submitted just so I could get rid of it!
Of all those, and based on the critical acclaim from my brother-in-law’s drunk poker buddies for the milk stout (who drank ALL of it — those rat bastards!), I thought we’d place in the competition with that beer. Alas, no luck. Stout is usually a pretty tough category, and while I won’t know much more until the score sheets come back, it didn’t make the top three.
The Rye Pale Ale, on the other hand, took second place in the American Ale category! For my first crack at the recipe, I’m pretty happy about that. And I’m even happier that I just re-brewed 15 gallons of it!
There are a few other big competitions coming up, such as the AHA National Championship and the Sam Adams Longshot. I think the second brewing of the Rye will be submitted for both of those, as well as the milk stout (assuming it turns out properly when we re-brew it in March). I may also do a simple extract hefeweizen, as it’s a category that usually does not receive large numbers of entries. But that just might be for personal consumption
February 26, 2008
In the beginning, like most babies, Wyatt was immobile. Over time, he went through the milestones of rolling over for the first time. Then doing it regularly, then squirming along like an inchworm.
But it’s on now!
Yep, he’s crawling. Time to baby-proof the house!
It’s been a busy month. I’ve been in the Midwest and in Denver during the course of the month, but I did manage to have a nice picnic with the family on the weekend following Valentine’s Day.
The weather was slightly better here than the Midwest, where it was 7. And that was Fahrenheit!
February 24, 2008
First things first… We brewed a mere 15 gallons of Rye Pale Ale today. I say “mere”, because my brother-in-law just bought a 20-gallon stainless-steel brew pot, which means that the 15 gallons we brewed was a single batch. I had considered brewing a second 10-gallon batch of a simple extract hefeweizen, but ended up not being able to source the ingredients in time, so I chose not to.
It’s a very nice thing to brew 15 gallons of beer in 6 hours, while still having time to drink a few, smoke a cigar, and hang out. For this day, a former coworker joined us, so it was very nice to catch up on old times as well.
The rye is a beer that I brewed a 5 gallon batch a few months ago, and have been loving ever since. It’s loosely based on the Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, but while they have a fairly complex grain and hop bill, I’ve gone simpler. It’s about 70% pale malt, 20% rye, 10% crystal 60L, with Nugget (a replacement for the original Chinook) as the bittering hop, and a blend of Nugget/Ahtanum for flavor/aroma, and nugget/ahtanum used in a dry-hop.
The original 5-gallon batch had a bit of a flaw. Do to some process issues, I think I oxidized it before bottling. I don’t think it destroyed what I was going for, but I think it might have kept the beer from being quite as good as it could be. That shouldn’t be an issue this time around, so I’m looking forward to it. In about 2.5-3.5 weeks, I should be drinking it. In addition, I’ve convinced my brother-in-law to take a more active role in controlling fermentation temperatures, which should clean things up a bit.
As I earlier pointed out, though, we had time today to sit down and drink some beer. Unfortunately my bro-in-law and his friends drank all but one bottle of the incredibly-tasty milk stout at a poker game yesterday. I was a bit upset when I found that out this morning. But luckily, he had kept that one bottle available, and also luckily, I was able to go to Denver last week for business, so I picked up some Left Hand Milk Stout to drink side-by-side in a blind tasting.
Of the two people who weren’t familiar with the beers themselves (i.e. I immediately knew which was mine and which was the commercial version), one preferred my beer and one preferred the beer from Left Hand. When that happens, it’s already an indication that it’s a good beer. Especially when the commercial version won a gold medal in the sweet stout category of the World Beer Cup. What surprised me, though, was how similar the beers were, not how different they were.
I stated here that I thought that my version was perhaps a bit more roasty and aggressive than the commercial version. After tasting the commercial version again, I’m thinking that’s not the case. If anything, I think Left Hand’s version is a tad bit more roasty than ours, which makes me think it might be necessary to increase the roasted barley slightly, not decrease it.
Either way, it’s definitely one of the best beers we’ve ever brewed. I can’t wait to do another 15 gallons of it!
I’m a few days late on this one, but so be it. We both weighed in on Wednesday, and there was a bit of mild disappointment. My wife lost 0.2 lbs, and I lost 0.4 lbs. I was definitely expecting more, but some weeks are like this, I’m told. I can say that my wife is well on the way to a good week, though, as she lost about 3 pounds since Wednesday, so I think her total will be pretty good this week.
February 14, 2008
As I mentioned, week 3 was a bit of a “stall”, where I only lost 0.8 pounds after having lost 10.6 over the previous two weeks. Thus, I was very interested in seeing whether I could improve momentum for week 4. It’s been a tough week, though, as I was traveling and my diet always gets thrown off when I travel. A few trips to brewpubs in the evenings will do that!
Either way, though, it worked, as I dropped another 4.2 pounds. That puts me at a total weight loss of 15.6 pounds over 4 weeks, which is not too bad. I’m now back under 250 pounds total!
My wife is doing well also. She had lost nearly 10 in the first two weeks but stayed dead even during week three, and dropped over 3 pounds in the past week, so we’re both past the little mini-plateau that we had hit.
So, I’m now within 20 pounds of my “soft” goal, and about 30 pounds from my “hard” goal. If I can keep up a strong pace, I think I could make the soft goal within two months, and the hard goal within 3-4 (I assume those extra 10 pounds will come off a bit slower than the first 10)…
February 10, 2008
I should have posted about this last Wednesday, but I’ve been sucked into other things. The previous week wasn’t that great, with me only dropping 0.8 lbs. However, that does put me at a total of about 11.4 lbs total over the last three weeks.
I’m not sure why it stalled, as I didn’t go off eating more than I had in previous weeks, but hopefully things will pick up this week. I’ll know on Wednesday!
Wow, it seems crazy to know that Wyatt’s now 6 months old. It’s even crazier to look at pictures of him as a newborn and pictures of him now, and still to believe it’s the same person!
C’mon… How does someone go from this:
January 31, 2008
My brother Jeff is about 11 years older than I am. Growing up, between the age difference and the fact that he’s my father’s son from a previous marriage, we never really spent time together back in those days. He went off to college when I was still extremely young, and then really didn’t know each other until I got into college and beyond.
It’s somewhat of a shame, as we both have very similar outlooks on life (in beliefs/values, in politics, and in what we think is wrong with California), and we’ve grown to get along like, well, brothers. Then, we’ve both gotten married, and our wives are thick as thieves! He’s got a son nearly two years old, and we’ve got Wyatt, and yet because we live in SoCal and they live in Texas, we nearly never see each other.
But all that’s about to change. Jeff is in the Marines, and he knew his potential next station would put him in either Hawaii or San Diego (with Okinawa as a third choice). We found out last night that they’re moving to San Diego!
So we’re pretty excited. Since we live in the very south end of Orange County, it’s likely that we’ll only be about an hour or so from each other, regardless of where in the San Diego area they settle. I can see our wives really getting together quite a bit, and for Wyatt to have little Jack around to play with will be a lot of fun. We even got Jeff a homebrewing kit for Christmas, and maybe he’ll join in some of our brewing operation here locally.
All in all, for someone who absolutely hated the idea of moving back to California from Georgia, it’s turning out well. I’m in a great job, have a wonderful baby, have a great wife (and having her family close by is extremely helpful), and now some of my own family is making their way out here. All I need now is to wait for the housing market to tank sufficiently enough to buy a condo, and I think it’ll come together.
Parenting, I’ve found, is not easy. Especially when it comes to getting an infant to sleep. The wife and I had Wyatt sleeping in our bed with us, but he was constantly keeping my wife awake at night, every hour on the hour, for feeding. It wasn’t impacting me all that much, but my wife was starting to go nuts.
Well, we’ve changed two things. First, we started feeding Wyatt real food (applesauce, pears, bananas) at night, and giving him a full belly goes a long way to helping him sleep. Second, we decided to go for the “tough love” approach, and decided he’s old enough to put him in his crib at night regardless of the crying. Well, it’s worked. We started this just a few days ago, and he now sleeps almost the entire night (with maybe one feeding about 4-5 AM if he gets hungry). The wife is still paranoid about him, so she hasn’t quite started sleeping well, but she’s getting there.
So we’ve got a happy, healthy baby, and now he even sleeps well! I get to feed him, which is a way to bond that I didn’t have when he was exclusively on the milk. And now that we’re getting a little bit more time each evening for my wife and I to reconnect, we can finally be a married couple again.
The wife and I had our 2-week weigh-ins with Weight Watchers. She’s lost nearly 10 pounds, and I’ve lost 10.6 pounds. I’d say that’s a pretty successful two week!
So I’m well on my way to meeting my goal: to lose weight so quickly that people think I’ve got a disease!
For me, it hasn’t been as hard as I thought. To get as many points a day as I do, I usually finish the day with points left over. If I avoid cheese and mayo, I can power down a footlong Subway roast beef sub and it’s less than 30% of my points for the day. That’s pretty filling.
I think I might have even done a little better over those first two weeks, but I did some business traveling in the middle there, which always finds me eating crappy airport food and drinking beer in airport bars, which is not the easiest way to get through this. But to lose more than 10 pounds in two weeks, I’m pretty proud of that.
January 27, 2008
Years ago, as I was well into the obsession of motorcycling, I read this long story about one man’s motorcycle trip from northern California through Alaska and some of the northern reaches of Canada. I fell in love with the adventure that Alaska represents. While the motorcycle obsession has grown somewhat dormant, the call of Alaska has only grown.
I find myself watching whatever I can get recorded on the DVR about Alaska. I watched a special this morning about a guy who was taking a driving tour up the Dalton highway to a tiny oil town on the Arctic Ocean called Deadhorse, AK. The town has barely a hotel, a place that makes a tent look appetizing. Yet I found myself thinking about just how much fun it would be to go there.
Part of me wants to make a trip– as the author of my linked story does– on a motorcycle. I’ve often suggested to my wife that when Wyatt is in college, I’m going to buy a couple of bikes to ride up there with him for a month or two. But part of me doesn’t want to wait. I was looking at airfare this evening for this summer: my 30th birthday. I’m again watching TV, “1,000 Places To See Before You Die”, and thinking that there are 1,000 places in Alaska I want to see before I pass on.
But something about me doesn’t understand the obsession. Why do I love Alaska, a place that I’ve never even been, and why do I find it calling me? It’s more than simply a desire to go see a new place; I’ve got several places I’d love to see. But Alaska is the only place I can think of that I feel drawn to. There’s something about a true “frontier” that just tugs at my heartstrings.
So, dear readers, I’m asking for your psychoanalysis for a moment. Do any of you harbor this desire? Do any of you understand what it means? We all have dreams for ourselves in life. I want to write a book, I want to open a brewery, and I want to raise a wonderful son who is capable of being happy and fulfilling all his own dreams. Those dreams seem rational and useful, the sort of things that make a person feel like they’ve accomplished something. Why, then, is a tremendous natural sight like Alaska calling me to do nothing more than experience its wonder?
January 17, 2008
So, the wife and I decided to join Weight Watchers, as we’re both far beyond our ideals. I’d like to lose 35-45 pounds (I’m at 265 now), and I’m not sure how much she wants to lose (I’ve never asked her what she weighs– I’m not an idiot, after all!) But we both need to make some improvements in eating habits and lifestyle, and weight watchers seems like a good way to keep ahead of the curve here.
But I saw the “target” that they’ve defined for me, and I think it’s a bunch of bullshit. I’m 6′5″ and I come from a long line of Eastern European descent… A land where the men are men and the women are too. Yet they want to see me shrink down to the 190-210 lb range.
I’ve posted before about how BMI is a crock for people of my body type, and I think this is no exception. I’d love to be under 220 lbs at my current level of muscle mass, and if I were to actually exercise regularly, my body could easily carry more weight than that and still be quite healthy and within optimal weight. But under 210? I don’t think I could even get there at this point.
I think back to where I was at the age of 18, getting out of high school. At the time, I had been studying martial arts for 6 years, training several days a week. I was in the best shape of my life, and even then, an 18-year-old does not have the muscle development of a real “adult”, that usually comes over the next 3-6 years. I was at my leanest and strongest I’ve probably ever been, and at 18 years old I weighed 225 lbs.
I actually bucked the trend of the “freshman 15″ in college. I lost weight throughout college, despite eating quite a bit and drinking a lot of beer, because I was losing muscle mass. When I left college, I was also very skinny, and yet hovered in the 210-215 lb range. I can’t imagine living under 210 lbs at this point. I’m overweight, but I’m not a fat man, and I’m not sure I could drop to under 210 lbs at my current muscle mass level without being at an absurdly low body fat percentage.
So I’m going to see how I can do with this whole Weight Watchers thing. My soft goal is to get under 230, and when I make it there, I’ll try to push for the 220 mark. But I don’t intend to attempt to get under 210. Once I hit 220, I’d like to start rebuilding that muscle mass and get to a proper weight on my frame.
I did begin a new post category though, and I’ll be periodically tracking my progress.
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