Friday, January 29, 2010

Oh Baby It's Cold Outside

Today dawned bright and sunny and very, very cold. The temperature was only 17, which is Arctic conditions around here. Of course, The Son had called the day before to say his heat had gone off - again. We arranged to have a repairman come by this morning. That meant I had to hustle down there, my work laptop in tow since it was a work at home day, and wait for his arrival. We had lent The Son a space heater from the last time and it really does a good job at keeping the place tolerable. Anyway, I got my laptop plugged into his Internet gateway and worked away. The repairman showed up around 930 so I didn't have to wait all that long. Turned out his pilot light had gone out (The Son has gas heat). The repairman was there all of about 15 minutes and the heat was on and running and I was $130 poorer or The Son will be when he pays me back. He did show me how to relight the pilot in case it happens again. A good thing to know.

The forecast is calling for snow tomorrow. We're suppose to be on the northern edge of it so we won't get as much as southern Virginia, but we might still get upwards of 4 inches. That forecast should be enough to clean the stores of milk, bread and toilet paper. They keep changing the forecast and expected accumulation amounts. I guess I'll need to watch the weather reports later tonight to get the latest. Sounds like a good weekend to have a fire.

Went to the Dermatologist on Tuesday. No weird looking moles or anything so I guess I'm good for another year. Eyes are also feeling better. I do a follow up on them on Monday. Good part about that is that it's another work at home day. Yea!

Monday, January 25, 2010

What Weekend?

I just had a three day weekend curtesy of a compressed work schedule, but now looking back to do a recap, I'll be darn if I can remember half of what I did. Well lets see what can dreg back up.

For blog that titles itself: "Ready...Row", there hasn't been much on rowing lately. This is due mostly to the time of year. There isn't much rowing going on in these parts during the winter, at least out on the water. Heck up to this weekend, the Occoquan has been frozen in places. The Park Authority also takes a dim view of rowers out in this cold weather and water. Unfortunately there hasn't been much indoor rowing, or erging as it's called, by yours truly either. It goes this way almost every year. By the time my rowing season ends in November, frankly, I'm a bit burnt out and take a break. Plus going from rowing on the water to rowing on the erg really sucks. So by taking a break, my fitness level goes into the toilet. By the time I realize I need to get with it, my times on the erg suck and I get discouraged and I don't erg as much as I should. This year seems worse then usual. By the time I got back on the infernal machine, my 5,000 meter time was horribly bad. Like beginner bad. Like times I had when I first got the erg back in the mid 90s. I'm sure the fact that I had a bad cold and was hacking up lots about of goo from my lungs didn't help matters any. I've been trying to be a bit more diligent with getting on the erg more frequently. So far, I've take a minute and half off my 5,000 meter time. My time still isn't good though. Its gone from being horribly bad to just bad. Hopefully I can get it to something resembling reasonable over the next few weeks. Come 1 April. I want to be able to hop into a single and be able to do a decent 7 or 8 mile row without gasping for breath and taking a break every half mile or so.

Saturday morning was the initial get together for the Board of Directors/Officers for my rowing club as we try to get things ready for the 201o season. The best I can say for the meeting is that it was held to only 2 hours and we did nail down what coaches we want to approach to come work for us in 2010 and the dates for our "Learn to Row" days. We have a bunch of newcomers on the Board this year, which is a good thing really, but it was obvious it's going to take a meeting or two to get everyone up to speed. While we're at it since this is a pretty informal organization, if we could keep our Roberts Rules or Order at home that would be a big help also.

Other than that, not much went on over the weekend. The usual chores and a lot of football watching on Sunday. Poor Brett. Is it in his DNA that he has to throw an interception late in play-off games with the game on the line?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Belated Delurker Day

Yes I know it was last week, but I never find out about these things until it's just about over and then I procrastinate and even more time slips by. Bit better late then never, no? So if you are dropping in, leave a comment. Say hello! Tell me who you are. Where you are from. What brought you here. Whatever you like. If you need a subject - tell me what you enjoy doing for fun.
I should make a note to remember this date for next year.....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Green Grillin'

For Christmas Daughter#2 and Son-In-Law M#2 gave me some charcoal that the Son In Law had made himself (with a little help and a kiln to do it in). On Saturday it was time to give it a try. What it says on the bag under the words "Natural Hardwood Charcoal" is:

  • Made locally from Appalachian Hardwoods
  • Best flavor for your BBQ
  • Lights fast, Ready to grill in 10 minutes
  • Promotes sustainable forest management
  • Low ash- burns hot and long
  • Safe and easy to handle

We were going to grill a t-bone steak and since we were on a local kick with the charcoal, what better to go with a steak then some local Virginia wine? In this case a bottle of Hokie Bird Red. The wine is produced by Chateau Morrisette. The winery is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway by Floyd, VA or about 30 miles east of Blacksburg, VA. A portion of the proceeds go to VA Tech's General Scholarship Fund.

Since this was my first time using this charcoal and not using lighter fluid, but a charcoal starter instead, I first put the unlit charcoal in the grill to make sure I had enough. The charcoal felt weird - more like balsa wood then the charcoal briquet's we are all use to. As you can see, the charcoal is of varying shapes and sizes.

Then per the directions on the charcoal starter, I place some crumbled newspaper into the bottom of the starter.

I then moved the charcoal from the grill and into the starter and lit the newspaper from below.+

I was more or less successful. Notice the tongue sticking out. A way you can tell I'm concentrating hard. Or just looking stupid.

Before long, the coals were glowing bright. They actually caught quite easily.

After about 10 minutes I dumped the coals from the starter back into the grill and spread them out.

I threw the steak on and about 7 minute later - the finished product. A triumph!

I loved using the new charcoal and the starter and hope not to have to ever go back to using regular charcoal again. Here's to being green!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cold = Money

With the arrival of our electric bill, I can say without reservation that it really has been cold here. We've only reached 40 twice in the past 30 days. It all came home to roost when the bill arrived and the cost of said bill was double what I normally pay. Granted it wasn't all the cold, but its a large part of it. I have an all electric house and for the most part that's fine. For heat and air conditioning we have a heat pump. For our climate (northern Virginia) it's mostly all we need, but when it's cold and cold for a long time, the heat pump loses all its economic advantages. Below 30 degrees, heat pumps don't work that well in heating the house and it will run and run and run some more. If it is really cold, the auxiliary heat will keep kicking in, which equals a lot more money. Actually I can't blame the huge bill solely on the cold. We did have house guests for Christmas (aka: the kids). That means more lights on, the TV is on longer, the dishwasher is run more frequently and more hot showers are taken. It's my understanding that hot waters heaters are the main contributor to electric bills. And last but not least we have my Clark Griswold light display inside and out. It is suppose to warm up this weekend, the kids have gone home and the lights are down ( some of them, but at least no longer turned on) so hopefully, the electric bill will return to normal next month.

As The Son likes to remind us, we get into a rut when it comes to our meals. We tend to eat the same things again and again. Take Wednesdays, that is my night to cook during the week. I'm working from home and Ann is down in southern Maryland for the day so it makes sense. Most Wednesday we have been having pork chops. I've been just preparing them with Shake n Bake. It's easy and Ann and I like it. The Son hates it and has taken to skipping Wednesday dinners as a result. In order to expand on the repertoire a bit, while still having pork chops, I did prepare them a different way last night. I used this recipe to make cider glazed grilled pork chops. They turned out really well and the glaze was sweet and good. A big plus given my limited culinary skills, it was easy to make. Definitely a keeper. The Son still skipped dinner.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Real End of the Christmas Season

Today is traditionally one of the most depressing days of the year for me. The reason being is today is the day we finally took down our tree and the rest of the Christmas decorations. Our tree, which lighted up our living room and our lives is now a barren dead tree waiting on the curb for the garbage men to come by for it in the morning. The house looks plain and boring now after our literal festival of lights. I guess I should mention that the outside lights are still on the bushes, but not turned on. Ann insisted leaving them off after we were the only ones in the neighborhood with them on Saturday night. The outside lights would have come down as well, but it has just been to cold to work long outside. I am delicate after all.

What did drag my outside, if only for about 30 minutes was the delivery of a new 8+ shell to the boathouse. We co-own the boat with Forest Park High School. We originally bought the boat about 3 years ago and frankly the boat was a bit of a disappointment from a workmanship point of view and a durability stand point also. WinTech stepped up after much discussion with the high school booster club and agreed to replace the original boat. The replacement showed up today. I went down to he boathouse to help unload it and put it away. Looks like a great boat and I can't wait to get a chance to row in it. That is also a reminder that I need to get off my butt and onto the erg and weights to get ready for the upcoming season.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The End

Today marks the end of Holidailies. It's the third year I've participated and it's at times extremely fun and other times drudgery. Luckily the fun out weighs the the rush of trying to throw something up at the 11th hour. I didn't make all 31 days (28 in total), but close. I just out and out forgot one day, I was just too tired at the end of the day to post something one time and the other I was on travel on the west coast and catching the red eye back made it impossible to post an entry that day. Holidailes certainly gives my blog more exposure in 31 days then it gets the whole other 11 months of the year combined. I didn't get a "best of" this year like I did last year, but I also think I didn't put as much thought into my entries this year as a whole as I did last year. One of the things I look forward to is finding new blogs to follow and this year is no exception. Its really amazing how many of these things are floating out there amongst the Internet. Thanks to Chip and Jette for putting this all together once again. I certainly look forward to next year. For those who dropped by to take a peek, I hope you will drop by during the year and see what going on here in northern Virginia. Please leave a comment to let me know who you are. I'm always curious on who dropped by and why. With that I head off and who knows what the new year will bring?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wars? Unemployment? Terrorists?

You would think living in the Washington area that the lead stories on the news would be about things like the economy, unemployment, terrorist threats, politics, the wars and you would be so wrong. The lead story all week has been the Redskins. Considering the Redskins finished a dismal 4-12 this season being the big news story takes some doing. It all involves the firing of their current coach and the search/hiring of a new one. Nothing stirs this town like the Redskins. The town is kiddy when they win and an area wide depression fills the air when they lose. Needless to say there has been a lot of depressing Mondays this year. This year's coach has been dead man walking for weeks now and it was just a matter of time before the axe fell and everyone knew it. As usual, the team owner was all class about the situation, first stripping him of his play calling authority by bringing in a new offensive consultant to do so and then holding interviews for the head coaching position with members of the coach's own staff before he had been let go. You can buy your "Worst Owner Ever" tshirts here. Its been the worst kept secret that Mike Shanahan would be the next coach. In reality the deal has probably been sealed for weeks with only the formalities to complete. The signing of Bruce Allen was thought to be the start of the Shanahan tenure - bringing in his own General Manager as it were. Shanahan will also bring his son along to be the new Offensive Coordinator. The old adage that the Redskins are the best team in the NFL during the off season continues to hold true. Shanahan's past record will be dissected in great detail over the next several weeks on the two sports radio stations in town and there will be great anticipation heading into training camp this summer. Wars? Unemployment? Health Care? Just give us more Redskins news.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Cold Dark Side of Work and College Football

I can't tell you how much it sucked when the alarm went off this morning at 3:30. It was so hard to get up. The house was dark and cold. Even our dog had the sense not to get out of bed. Cursing my fate, I did roll out of bed and get in the shower to start getting ready. The only upside was the van we commute in was already warmed up by the time Ann and I got to the commuter lot where we pick it up. There is nothing more depressing then leaving for work in the dark and getting home in the dark. I live the life of a vampire. Work itself wasn't bad for a first day back. It was uncharacteristically quiet. No calls from the Program Office and none from my Contractors. Even my boss, who was in, didn't stop by my desk all day. All that quiet did let me be pretty productive though.

I'm watching the Fiesta Bowl between Boise State and TCU while I type this out. What an injustice that these two non-BCS schools are playing each other rather then one of the ranked BCS schools. It's as if the BCS Committee has relegated them to the equivalent of the kiddie table at Thanksgiving. I think the Committee intentionally sought to minimize the impact these two schools would have on the whole BCS ranking process. Not to mention sparing a school like Oklahoma from being embarrassed again at the hands of a non-BCS school. Sooner or later they have to institute a play-off system. It's the only sport that doesn't have one. All other divisions of college football have one, why not the majors? There would be still plenty of money to spread around, which is what it's all about. This rant brought to you by Jimmy Football. Tailgate tested, tailgate approved.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Final Day of Freedom

The house is once again quiet. The kids have scattered back to their homes leaving this house seeming vacant and cold. It was nice having everyone here if only for a day or two (Daughter#2) or for most of the week (Daughter#1). It's hard to say when everyone will be together again, which makes these moments all the more precious.

In seeing Daughter#1 and her husband off this morning, it was quite the shock helping them load up their car. The temperature was in the midteens and the wind chill down to 5. That is really cold for around here and quite unpleasant I might add. Definitely a day for staying indoors. the wind has been blowing hard since yesterday sounding like the proverbial train you are suppose to hear before a tornado hits. The gusts have hit 35 mph. It's not suppose to get any warmer anytime soon. I just hope they keep the heat up in the vanpool tomorrow. Sitting in the back can get mighty frigid if they chose to be dicks about it.

Today (hopefully) marked the end of painting down at The Son's condo. We did some touch up painting and put the curtains back up. It actually looks quite nice. I hope he enjoys it. He was funny today in that he couldn't get rid of us fast enough. Seems he had some big "event" scheduled for 4:00 in Final Fantasy. Can't mess with his gaming don't you know. Well whatever keeps him out of trouble.

Back to the grind tomorrow. Ugh! The thought of getting up at 3:30 sounds like sheer torture after two weeks of getting up pretty much when i wanted to. Retirement is looking better all the time.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another Day With The Kids

I think we are finally finished with the painting. We painted The Son's dining room area today and except for putting a few things back up, like the drapes, I think we are done. I am so tired of it. The actual doing of it isn't so bad, its the prep and clean-up and the large chunk of time it has taken of my vacation time that I hate. But I know The Son is happy with it. It's something he has wanted to do since he moved in two years ago. Thanks to Daughter#1 for the push to make it happen. Thanks also too everyone in the family that pitched in and helped out. And as you can see from the photo, The Son actually got off the coach and helped out today. Miracles do happen.

We managed to get the painting done by noon so we could go out to lunch. Daughter#1 and her husband drove back from Virginia Beach in the morning while we were doing the painting and we finished up about the time they arrived. We went to the Macaroni Grill to eat. I had their lobster ravioli which was pretty darn good. Afterward we crossed the street to get a couple of paintings to be hung on The Son's walls to go along with the new paint scheme. The rest of the afternoon was spent just chilling although the no rest for the weary Daughter (and her poor husband) cleaned up our finished basement to make it more livable.

In the evening, Ann whipped up some White Bean Chili with turkey and some sourdough bread to go along with it. Then we settled in to watch "He's Definitely Not Into You". It was pretty funny with some "awwwww" moments to it. All in all a pretty fruitful day. Now the specter of returning to work is beginning to raise its ugly head.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Another Day In The Paint Mine

It would seem that most of my free time this Christmas/New Year's break will be spent painting The Son's Condo. While there was a bunch of us painting it the other day, today it was just me. Sure it's The Son's Condo, but he was of no help whatsoever. Even though he knew we were going to paint today, he stayed up super late last night and spent most of today asleep on his couch. I'd like to say he was out partying at least ringing in the new year, but apparently he was just gaming all night. I suppose its better that way as he doesn't have a massive hangover and was just tired instead. I wanted to get an early start, like around 9:00, but The Son didn't get up until 11:30. By the time I finished putting a second coat on the accent wall, it was time for lunch. By the time lunch was over and I had put a second coat on the second living room wall, it was getting to be late afternoon. I finished up by taping his dining room in preparation for painting it tomorrow and then it was time for dinner. Getting home I relaxed for a few minutes with a beer or two, had dinner and then promptly fell asleep on the couch watching the end of the Rose Bowl. I'm awake just long enough to get this posted and then it's back to bed for me. I let The Son know tonight that I didn't want to take another whole day waiting for him to get his butt out of bed and then spending all afternoon painting. I plan to get down to his place as early as I can and finish up before lunchtime when Daughter#1 and her husband will be returning from Virginia Beach. I expect to relax the afternoon away with them. Time for bed. Goodnight.