I’ve been making chili in some form or fashion for whats seems like forever.

A number of years ago, Jeremy shared a secret with me, molasses and ground dried chipotles. With that, I think I finally got it right, even won the office chili contest once.

Ingredients

2 lbs of ground beef (or turkey)

1 medium to large white onion (diced)

2 bell peppers (big dice) [red, orange, green, whatever is available]

5 lb can of tomatoes (peeled, or diced; drained)

1/4 – 1/3 cup Blackstrap Molasses

1 can black beans

1 can pinto beans

1 can red kidney beans

1 TBS Garlic Powder

1 TBS Paprika

1 TBS Chili Powder

1 TBS Ground Cumin

5-6 cloves of garlic (peeled and finely chopped)

1 TBS kosher salt

1 TBS ground black pepper (fresh coarse ground usually)

1/4 Cup of Beer (optional)

1/2 Cup of Beef Broth (optional)

1/2 TBS of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

—- Spicy —-

Choose one of the two…

1 TBS of freshly ground dried chipotle

or

2 medium jalapeños (whole, diced)

2 medium jalapeños (deseeded, diced)

 

Order of Operations

— You may use a giant sauce pot or a crockpot —

1) Sweat them out

Heat up the olive oil and add the garlic and onion, sweating them as one does.

2) Tomato Time

Open the can of tomatoes, empty into your cooking vessel, add the salt and stir everything together. The salt helps break down the tomatoes into more of a sauce.

If you are using peeled tomatoes, you will need to cut the cut each tomato into 8 pieces, I generally cut up half the tomatoes into 8 pieces, and then cut the remaining half into quarters, allowing for more of a chunky chili.

3) Brown the meat.

If you are using beef, then I generally don’t add much seasoning to the beef while it cooks, this time I did a light dusting of cumin, if doing turkey, I heavily dust the turkey, I find that ground turkey browned with cumin tastes remarkably like beef.

Make sure to stir the tomatoes.

4) Getting the right color

If you’re using the beer option, add it now. If not, simply move on to stirring the tomatoes around some more and add in the molasses, I generally don’t bother measuring out the molasses, I pour in about 1/4 cup worth and stir, if I don’t get the desired color, which is a bit of a brownish red, I add some more, pouring directly from the bottle.

 

The after….

 

5) Spice it up!

I usually at this point add in all of the spices, afterwards I stir it and do a taste test.

In terms of grinding up the dried chipotle, I use a Mr. Coffee grinder I bought for like $20, I only grind spicy pepper spices with it.

 

6) Where’s the Beef (or Turkey)

(I neglected to get an individual beef pic)

Assuming that the taste of the chili base is good, then add in the meat. and stir. At this point it will look like the pot is full, but you should still have room for the bell peppers. I generally drain the meat without much regard for the amount of fat that makes it into the pot, but I do not just dump the meat in from the skillet, I use a slotted spoon, I just don’t freak out if there is some fat that gets into the chili, namely because the chili tastes better with some fat.

7) Beans, Beans good for the heart…

I generally rinse the beans out whilst still in the can, filling the can with water and dumping it out until it looks like the beans are no longer in any sort of canned fluid. Add in the beans, I prefer to do two kinds of beans, but due to space and availability I will do just one kind, if there is room do all three kinds of beans.

Add the beans and stir the pot.

8) Veggie Time

Add in the bell peppers and stir. If you want, as pictured by me, I added some extra onion.

9) Simmer down now

By now if you are cooking on the oven, the chili is simmering and even at a light boil, good, this brings the flavors together. However, if you find that your sauce pot is big enough, add in the beef broth, this will help make your chili a bit more soup like, definitely if you didn’t do any beer, add some broth. Whatever you do, keep stirring the chili every 10-15 minutes or so.

If you are using a crockpot, you are likely out of space and just need to stir like every 20-30 minutes, I cooked this batch on the HIGH-4hr setting, putting it to the WARM setting after about 3 hours.

10) Enjoy! For a while

This is enough chili for two people for like 8 days, assuming you eat it for dinner every night, it freezes well, I recommend freezing it.

Also, it is always better the next day, so while it will be good on the day you make it, prepare to be really happy with it later.

 

 

I have to admit that I might have a little bit of a problem, I have been eating at a Hemingway’s, local restaurant (less than 1m from my house) regularly, not just like once a month regularly, nor regularly like Chicken Day (which is every Tuesday at the same Plucker’s restaurant). This is several times a week, this week it has been Thursday, Friday and Saturday and to be honest, I would have eaten breakfast here on Wednesday as well (they have BOGO breakfast tacos on Weds now), but on Weds Jeremy and I left very early to go Kayaking.

The food here at Hemingway’s is what I would call decent, on occasion some of their stuff is really good, the first time I had the crab cake it was amazing, this last time it was good, but sort of like what I hear about chasing the dragon. Their kalamata olive tapenade that comes with the red pepper hummus appetizer is amazing, I can’t get enough, but one time the made it with WAY TOO much garlic, I thought it was great, but apparently I reeked of garlic for like two days.

I do have a slightly addictive personality, when I find something I like I latch onto it and try to learn as much as possible, eventually this focus wanes and I become less interested, if it is something that I really enjoy then I will still revisit it once in a while (take the game Master’s of Orion II, I played this game to death back during my Freshman year of college, and even after I moved to Texas I could be found playing it quite a bit, but eventually I stopped playing, but I had a hankering for some MOOII a few months ago, so I installed it on my Macbook (found a nice dos emulator that makes it play like a native game).

In terms of Hemingway’s, I have been trying to try everything on their menu, but I already have some favorites. When it comes to breakfast, I like the simple eggs and toast (with side of bacon), I have ordered their breakfast plate what feels like a dozen times. But on occasion I try one of their other breakfast dishes as to try and finish their breakfast menu off, there is just one that remains, the Salmon Omelette.

(Review on Yelp)

I am not a big fan of Salmon, I like it smoked and in cream cheese, even grilled some onetime and put it in cream cheese myself (we had leftovers after I made I grilled a particularly large piece for Gina one time). But since I don’t care for it, I have been leaving it for last, rather than getting it over with. I will probably try it on Monday, as to complete the breakfast menu before I head to Michigan for the summer.

Hemingway’s opened up here in early February and has had many favorable reviews and some not so favorable. The favorable ones are more recent, as with most new establishments there is an initial period where, well they suck. I can’t think of a single restaurant that I have been to that was < 2 mos old that didn’t suck in some capacity, either the food or the wait staff or worse yet, both.

So I avoided eating at Hemingway’s for what I thought was two months, apparently it was more like 5 weeks. I ate here the first time on my own and I had some good food. Gina and I ate dinner here a few nights later I think and her meal was not great and mine had to be sent back (they smothered my chop steak in gravy, when I asked for the alternate prep of just sautéed mushrooms).

But since I knew they were still getting the hang of it, I sent it back, they brought me a fresh one relatively quickly and I have continued to eat here. Partially, it is now habit to wake up, throw on some clothes and head to Hemingway’s to get my caffeine fix and some food, I don’t think I have mentioned it in this post yet, but their coffee is BADASS!!!

It is very similar to the blends that I make for brewing in my french press, a little bit more bitter/dark roasted, but I am cool with that. Back to the aspects of human nature, I have lived in my house since 2000 and as I posted last year, I am just now beginning to learn about my neighborhood, and to some degree about my neighbors.

I am truly beginning to enjoy walking around the neighborhood, part of this is due to my fitbit, it pushes me to want to get 10k steps in every day. I take walks to the Texaco gas station that is down and back at Cypress and Cluck Creek, that is about 2,000 steps if memory serves. Hemingway’s is about 5,200 if I take the short way back, if I take the long way it is closer to 6,400. I have found myself walking (at night, 9-10pm) to Randall’s a grocery store that is about 1.5 miles away, down and back is right around 9000 steps, if I walk around the store I can end up getting a full 10k steps, usually I walk down to Randall’s buy some fruit (bananas, apples, tangelo whatever looks good) and head back.

I think what I am trying to say is that I am trying to embrace my slightly addictive personality in a way in which is healthier for me than just sitting around playing video games (I know I haven’t mentioned that I got Diablo 3 and have to keep my playing to a minimum), I am trying to get out into the neighborhood, trying to walk to more places, trying to build some healthy habits.

On Saturday mornings I generally walk down to Hemingway’s have breakfast, and sometimes I bring my iPad or like today I brought my laptop, futz around for a bit, then head back. I get changed and go to the gym for my 11am workout (Chris my trainer just rescheduled on me), then I have my massage at 2pm. Advanced Therapy Massage is within walking distance of the house as well, they moved from being slightly farther than the Texaco (about two blocks farther) to being about a block closer than the Texaco in the opposite direction. Therefore, I try to give myself enough time to be able to walk over to my massage, which takes about 10 minutes, it takes me about 15 minutes to get to Hemingway’s it takes at least 30 minutes for me to be able to get down to Randall’s. After my massage, I generally and hungry (I likely have only had a protein shake after my workout) and find myself taking the long way down to Hemingway’s, Buttercup to 183, to Cypress to Hemingway.

After grabbing some half-priced appetizers (happy hour special from 3-6:30pm EVERYDAY) and maybe an Imperial Pint, I head down to Jeremy’s to record the ‘Bacon Tastes Good‘ podcast. This means MORE walking, from Hemingway’s to Jeremy’s is like 6k steps if I am remembering correctly, I could be wrong, I’ll update it later if I am wrong. We record, then I head home, generally stopping at Randall’s for some fruit and I mosey on back to the house. (Once or twice Gina has picked me up as we had plans that didn’t afford for me to walk back.)

I would say that routine is relaxing for me, even though it is probably one of my busiest (physically) days of the week. I think that I have forgot the purpose of this post, which as I sit there typing while the tables here at the restaurant fill up, is that I believe it is human nature to seek a routine.

Hemingway’s and walking to things near me has become a major part of my routine. A routine that I am also attempting to embrace to the fullest before I head to Michigan, as for a few months I will be establishing a new routine in a somewhat familiar, but what I have no illusions will be a foreign environment to me, northern michigan lake culture (not upper peninsula lake culture, which I imagine is more like a deer camp or something).

There is part of me that fears that Hemingway’s won’t last the summer, that I will come back and my routine will no longer be possible. Therefore, I want to get in as much as I can before it goes away. This possibility is even more reality as another Cedar Park (technically Leander I think) eatery the O’Leander Cafe closed, they had been in a previous location for 5 years and moved closer to Cedar Park (presumably farther away from Leander, I really don’t know where they were before) and just closed the restaurant due to lack of business. Their food was OK, their southern cooking was AMAZING, their PIES were award worthy, their Italian dishes (they were dubbed an American-Italian place, were only ok, I didn’t care for them).

We ate at O’Leander probably a half dozen or more times, but it was a place we had to drive to, not 30 minutes, more like 7-10 minutes, but a drive nonetheless.

Anyway, my coffee is finished and I need to head back to the house and I now get to decide what to do with my day, since my 11am workout has been cancelled, do I head to the gym or do I head to El Salido, it looks like it will be a nice day, I am thinking a swim is in order.

Laterz

I have been meaning to write this post and several others for the last few months, you know, because it is like the middle of May. For Texas the heat is starting to feel like the end of Spring and the start of Summer, whereas in Michigan it would be the middle of summer at this point, but I digress.

This is how I spent my X-mas vacation and most of my free-time since early December…

Gina had lost a significant amount of weight through her diet by the time Thanksgiving rolled around and I figured that I needed to step up my workouts or be left behind, so with winter coming (thrones reference) I needed to make sure I could still swim regardless of the weather, my normal pool El Salido is an outdoor pool and closes when it freezes or is raining very hard.

This meant I had to find an indoor lap pool that was open regularly for a decent monthly price. My search led me 24h fitness right near the house, they reeled me in with their 7-day free trial and through good marketing convinced me to try some personal training, which I did try out and found to enjoy, a lot. I signed up for their free session (30 minute workout, 15 minutes of soft pitch), I bought their discounted 3-pack training session and then later a 5-pack, and another and a 10-pack somewhere in there as well.

I have been seeing Chris @ 24h fitness pretty much every Saturday since early December. At first I pretty much only used the 24h Fitness for the swimming pool, swimming even at 1am, by the way they clean the restrooms at about 2am (at least on Sundays anyway). During the week of x-mas, I was at the gym I think like 6 out of 7 days.

As I got more used to the weight lifting exercises Chris taught me I found myself doing “circuit training” (lift a bunch of weights, run for 5 minutes on the tread mill, lift weights, run, repeat) for about 30-50 minutes then swimming for 30 minutes. Eventually, I found myself doing circuit training for 60-90 minutes and no swimming afterwards.

I am trying to get back into a routine of 50-60 minutes of circuit and 30 minutes of swimming as a follow-up, but sometimes it is late and I just want to go home after a good workout.

Since Thanksgiving, I have beent tracking my calories using MyFitnessPal.com (iphone, web and iPad app versions) and generally speaking I keep within my allowed calories, I had a few bad weeks recently, but this week is going pretty well (course I am eating dessert while I write this).

I am very proud of Gina and what she has been able to accomplish via her Medifast diet and her now regular food dieting and keeping to a strict number of calories. I cannot do that, therefore I am following the idea that I can eat my calories back. Which means that as of the time I finish this awesome chantilly and berries cake, I will be some 400 calories in the hole. That means I have to swim for at least an hour if I plan to eat dinner as well, which I do. I am not sure I will do any circuit training tonight as I did and hour and forty-two minutes last night.

Since tracking my calories and increasing my physical activity, I have lost 31 lbs. I am the lightest I have been since moving to Texas and possibly since High School, I definitely am wearing pant sizes and shirt sizes I would not have been able to wear since maybe like Freshman year at Sexton.

I have muscles now, not freakish gorilla man muscles (yet), but muscles. I did a full-body scan (which I will post later) at UT as to get an idea of exactly how much muscle and fat I had on my person back in February. I am going to be getting another one in about two weeks as to see how much progress I have made since February and I will do another one in late September.

My goal weight, per the idea I formed back in December is somewhere between 200 and 210. The nutritionist at UT originally had me down for 185 as a goal weight (to achieve proper BMI), I chuckled a little and thought to myself “Never going to happen”, I haven’t been under 200 since I like middle school. The nutritionist at UT said that if I put on 6 lbs of muscle, then I could easily do a goal weight in the 208 area, which fell in line with what I was going for.

My skeleton weighs some 9 and a half lbs. And my bones are very dense for my age and ethnicity, per all the data her study (this is at a university after all) access to. I carry most of my weight in my gut, which was pretty visibly obvious, but it was interesting to know that I had like a 50% body fat in that area, some 26% in my arms, about 40% or so in my torso and 35% or so in my legs.

I am looking forward to seeing how the two scans compare and even more so to the one in Sept, as I am estimating I will have reached my goal weight by then. For some the idea of taking almost a year to reach their goal weight is too pain staking a task to bear. But for me, I figure it took me the culmination of my 33.5 years on this earth to put all this together, taking off 25% of it in a year, that isn’t too shabby.

My philosophy on weight-loss (not that I think I have enough conviction and thought behind anything right now to really call it a philosophy) is that weight-loss is a long road and at the end you have to continue to do healthy things (eating right, working out, staying active) to keep it off, so might as well figure out some way to get there by doing all of that along the way.

There have been weeks where I only get in 3 or 4 workouts (including my Saturday one with my trainer Chris) and then there are the weeks where I do one every single night, so it is a give and take. But I have not hated my time since December, I wish I didn’t have to do as much of it, you know because there is contract work to be done and video games to be played and sleep falls in there somewhere.

Point being, I feel like I am in it for the long haul and sometimes I am going to feel like eating cake or a fried twinkie or a bag of licorice, I just know that if you are going to do the crime, you gotta do the time, in the gym.

This summer should be interesting, but that is a whole post in and of itself, I just wanted to get this blog going again. I think I can say that I have.

Now back to the grind.

It is my birthday week and due to a variety of circumstances, I have decided that a trip to the Pacific Northwest was in order. I am currently sitting at the Austin airport using my Verizon MiFi (recently upgraded to the 4G edition and low and behold, the AUS is getting a 4G signal) and checking emails and decided to put up this blog post.

My trip is not a vacation really, just working from a different locale, a change of scenery as it were. I will be in Portland also doing some recon for one of my clients that plans to increase their retail presence out in that area. So checking out the competition, determining whom they should speak with, etc. Should be a nice change of pace from coding and looking at call detail records.

I won’t be able to really take Chicken Day on the road with me (which is Tuesdays) as I fly back next Tuesday and leave Portland at like 9am, whilst my layover is of a good length in LAX, I don’t want to think about where I might find edible chicken wings there.

But Taco day is a different story altogether, that is tomorrow. Several times when mentioning Portland, people (white people mind you, not that there is anything wrong with them being white, just a data point), have said how I won’t likely find any Mexican food or people of Hispanic descent. When I first heard this, I thought, you know what, I don’t know. Then a friend of mine said that “There are many of our peoples there you know.” (he is half-Mexican too), therefore not knowing what to believe (not that I don’t believe people out of hand, but I was raised to find the truth yourself, and not to always blindly follow people, even people you trust).

I looked it up….

* Per the 2000 Census, the population of Portland was 6.8% Hispanic. That means something like 30-36k Hispanics in Portland, per numbers from 11 years ago.

* Per the same 2000 Census, the population of Austin was 30.5%, meaning 215k Hispanics, which makes sense given the fact Texas used to be part of Mexico and general proximity to Mexico.

* Per the same 2000 Census, the population of Lansing, MI (my hometown) was 9.98%, which translates to almost 12k hispanics in Lansing, MI.

* Portland’s Wikipedia page states that in data collected from 2006 – 2008, the population of Hispanics in Portland is now at 8.8% or 48k, and it is Wikipedia, so has to be right, right?

So per the quick search for data, there appears to be more Hispanics living in Portland than my hometown, but on a percentage basis it is lower and both towns are lower than Austin. Note, in some areas of Austin, the billboards are in Spanish (not ingles and espanol, solo en espanol).

With all of that hard statistical data there, I am certain that Rachel can find us a place to eat Tacos in Portland that is fairly authentic (not necessarily Tex-Mex, but far, far from a Taco Bell, Taco Bueno or even a Taco Cabana [which for fast food tacos is actually pretty good]).

I am looking forward to seeing my sister’s town (yup she owns it now) as I have never been to Portland, ever, was in Seattle and drove east to visit the Douglas County PUD once, but that is as close as I have come to Portland. I have at least one CoWorking place (the Collective Agency) that I want to check out. I would like to visit at least two, maybe three.

I fly back to Austin on the 27th. I hope to have a great visit with my sister, I am currently cleaning out all the pics off my phone so that I have plenty of space available to take lots of pictures.

Oh yeah, if you are a runner or in search of a dog, go visit Gina’s Shelter on the 24th, they are having a 5k and of course always have cute puppies, kittens and great adult dogs and cats too.

Laterz!

 

OK, the pic has nothing to do with this post, except that I took it during our campfire the other night. Just looked cool.

If you have been reading this blog, then you might know that I have been swimming. Therefore it would seems a bit odd that with a WHOLE lake not but a brisk 2 minute walk across the lawn and small sandy beach I have been walking/jogging the last few mornings.

The swimming pool has spoiled me on giving me lanes, lines on the floor of the pool and sides to turn around on, the lake doesn’t offer these, making it hard to swim laps. Fun to play in, hard to swim laps. So I figured I would try some jogging, same as I did last year.

This year I found that I was not nearly as winded/taxed/exhausted as last year. However, my legs still hurt from the running, all the exercise I have been getting has been very low impact and I really have not done any jogging for quite a while. I made sure the stretch before and after, but still my legs are hurting, so I think I will skip the jog tomorrow, seeing as I have done about 3 miles a day (1.5 out / 1.5 back).

Last summer my niece, Abigail, got me to use a snorkel mask and sort of kick around near the end of the dock, I really liked it. I think that was part of what really got me started on the idea of learning to swim. This year, I figured I would get myself a full snorkel kit. Back home I have been using a freestyle snorkel, which mounts to the front of my head and keeps the snorkel out of the way of my arms.

This one is a traditional side mounting one, I used it a little bit yesterday and it was fun. Today I used it for about 20 minutes and swam back and forth between the docks, hugging the ‘drop-off’. I saw all sort of fish and crawfish and other small lake water creatures swimming around. I got a good swim workout going back and forth like that, this was after doing 3 miles of walking, had to take a few work phone calls on the way back.

I hope to do about an hour of swimming tomorrow, just going back and forth and possibly going pass the drop-off just a little, I will need Gina to play lifeguard and make sure I don’t drown.

Almost forgot to mention, that my waterproof iPhone armband has been great, for both the lake and for my walks. And for my time in the lake, I bought a pair of Vibram KSO (keep stuff out) shoes, they are like gloves for your feet. They have been great in the water keeping the zebra mussels and rocks from hurting my baby soft feet, also they were a great conversation starter at the 4th of July party.

Well, I best get back to it, I want to get a bit more done before my afternoon dip in the lake.

Laterz

I have never really been what one would call an active person.

But over the last couple of years, I have become more active, not talking about running several miles a day or bench pressing my bodyweight (which I cannot currently due), but in comparison to my previous lifestyle (consisting of sleeping, eating, driving to work, sitting at a desk for at least 8 hours, then playing video games whenever not doing those other things), then I am an Ironman.

Due to scheduling conflicts I have not been to Gladiator in quite a while, but have taken what I have learned there and been applying it to my own workouts, which consists of a decent amount of swimming. I have managed to go swimming at least a few times a week and for a bit there, I was going to the pool every evening. Then I did the Spartan Race, about four miles of rough, hilly terrain with various obstacles (representing the feats of strength of a Spartan). I completed the race about 15 minutes after when I wanted to and did that with a sprained ankle. (I sprained it fairly bad about 1/2 way through the race.)

This hampered my swimming, causing me to only be able to swim once or twice a week and rarely back-to-back. But the ankle is mostly healed now and I have started swimming on a back-to-back basis. But of course, we are now into the summer months, this means that everyone and their brother (and their brother’s kids) are at the pool. Swimming at the El Salido pool over the fall and winter months has spoiled me something awful, I mean I am used to there being a handful of people swimming in the pool and rarely having to share a lane.

With the triple digit temperatures forcing those seeking relief from the heat with the benefit of some fresh air out to the pool, the place is an utter madhouse, children running everywhere, kids playing basketball, dive board has a line constantly five or six deep, the pool is proverbially popping. I feel like an old man, wanting kids to get off my lawn, I remember feeling spoiled like this when I bowled in a league with Jeremy many years ago, we would close the place, bowling for a few hours after league ended.

But I need to get my lap swimming in right? So I try to get to the pool as early as possible after work, but still it is packed, with them cutting the number of lap lanes down, to make room for the increased number of kids, it means that the lanes are doubled up and often times there are a few folks waiting for a lap lane (myself included). This has put a cramp in my style. So thankfully with summer comes morning swimming hours at many of the pools in the area. (Note, El Salido is the ONLY PUBLIC pool open year round.)

Being a member of the El Salido pool, I also have access to the Anderson Mill pool, which has morning swimming from 7 to 10 am in the morning. But that didn’t feel quite early enough given the distance to the pool from the house, so I looked around some more and found that Cedar Park has a pool that has open lap swimming (from June to the end of August) from 6 am to 9 am, and is only a short distance from the house. I managed to get there three times in a row last week for morning swim before work (scheduling didn’t permit it the rest of the week).

This weekend I didn’t have a chance to get out to El Salido either Saturday or today (Sunday), but there is the Buttercup pool that is only two blocks from our house here in Cedar Park. I have driven by that pool for the last 11 years and never really thought about going to that pool. Mind you, up until October of last year I didn’t swim, at all. But I decided I needed to finally learn, I swim better now than I ever did before, but am still not what one would call a strong swimmer (unless I have my kickboard with me, then I am Michael Phelps).

So today, after having breakfast and working for a bit, I decided I should get a swim in and thought walking over to the Buttercup pool would be a good idea, the public open swim began at 1pm, I was there by 1:10 pm. I got setup and began swimming laps, the pool itself is nice a clean, the ‘deck’ area around the pool could use some cover, again El Salido has spoiled me. I finished up my laps, dried off a bit and walked home. It felt really good.

Just feels weird, like I am finally learning my neighborhood for the first time in 11 years.

Laterz

 

I imagine that whatever loyal readers I had/have likely have moved on, given that I haven’t updated this blog in forever.

I checked my posts real quick and I see a few drafts that are pretty meaty and just need finishing, I will maybe see about doing those tonight.

Quick update….

1) Work has been busy, good busy, lots to do, lots of freelancing to be had.

2) I formed a company, “Red F Tech Consulting, Inc”. I had been doing consulting/freelancing for the better part of 2010, but in April of 2011, I formalized it and have moved all my freelancing work under my company. Learned a lot about ADP, accounting, payroll taxes, regular taxes and what not.

3) Started swimming in the mornings (recent as of this week), the evenings are CRAZY busy at El Salido, so in the mornings I now swim at the Milbourn pool, closer to the house, open for lap swimming from 6am to 9am, cost $50 for the summer. I miss El Salido, but it will be there for me in the winter, after Milbourn has closed. Still swimming at El Salido on the weekends.

4) Still driving the Corolla, but thinking about test driving some cars soon, namely the Yaris (hatchback).

5) My 15″ MacBook Pro is in for repairs, again. I am still an overall satisfied Apple customer/user, but starting to feel like a Jaguar owner, it is great when it isn’t in the shop. This time the Video Card and possibly the general cooling system for the machine is fscked. I expect it back on probably Monday, hopefully Monday. My spare MacBook (plastic white one) is a good stand-in, but I am still a little hampered in what I can do without my 15″, nothing critical is being held up, but I miss it.

6) I still bake, but the frequency has dropped significantly with the amount of extra freelance work I have been doing.

Well, all for now.

Laterz

I got a call today, just as I was about to leave out to lunch, it was work related. This meant I didn’t get  a chance to eat with my coworkers (for those of you that would ask “Was it Taco Day?”, fear not Mondays are just a random whatever day, so no set food day was missed), my stomach was rumbling and I was still working on the issue so I decided to fallback to my old standby when it comes to food delivery, Jimmy John’s.

I called into the one at the corner of Braker and Research Blvd (183), told them I wanted to place a delivery order and proceeded to tell the man where I was and what I wanted. I ordered a JJBLT and a quartered jumbo dill pickle. I figured the sandwich would take about 15 minutes, given that it was the middle of the lunch rush. It might have taken that long, I wasn’t timing it, but it felt like it was about 5 minutes early, so for the purpose of the store, 10 minutes. Based upon the Google Maps route, it would take 5 minutes to go the 2.2 miles from their office to ours.

I had closed the door to my office earlier to make some phone calls (one of which was to Jimmy John’s) so when the sandwich guy arrived my door was closed, but I overheard a coworker tell them that ‘his door is closed’, which alerted me to the fact that my food was here. I opened up my door, met him in the hallway and paid him, the bill was $6.50, I gave him a $10 and told him to just give me back $2.

I proceeded to finish up my typey-typey and then began to unwrap my pickle and I hear Eric ask me where I ordered from. I told him it was the Jimmy John’s on Braker. He tells me he just called there and that they said they don’t deliver. I walk down to his office and tell him that they clearly do, as I am pull another quarter of the pickle from the Jimmy John’s branded butcher paper. He calls them back and asks me for my receipt, he is speaking with the Manager and tells him the receipt number, which is verified as having delivered to our office here on Jollyville. The manager confirms that they do not deliver to this area, informing Eric that corporate (headquarters) determines the delivery areas or something and that whomever took my order would be flogged accordingly (or yelled at, but flogging seems funnier in that “glad it isn’t me” kind of way).

Regardless, the sandwich that Eric had delivered (the manager was kind enough to let Eric place his order, given that I had one delivered less than an hour ago) is the last one that will be delivered to our office and presumably almost anywhere else in our immediate area. Now, with that said I am flabbergasted, as they used to deliver to my old office on 360, I mean I was having Jimmy John’s there at least once a week or twice some weeks for a while (was stuck at the office for lunch quite often). The idea of the 360 office from the Braker Jimmy Johns in my head seems much farther than from there office here on Jollyville, as per Google Maps it is literally the same distance (depending on which way you go, the route I would take is more like the 2.3 miles, vs the 2.2 mile route they show).

My next thought was that maybe we fall in the jurisdiction (set by corporate) of the Jimmy John’s further up on 183, Eric called them to see, nope we are not in their delivery area. (note the other Jimmy John’s on 183 is about 2.6 miles away) Apparently, the next time I want Jimmy John’s I will need to drive the 2.2 miles down to get one, or maybe I could just drive down to my old office on 360, sit in the parking lot and wait for the Jimmy John’s driver to show up, then drive back. Or better yet, I can order one and ask them to deliver it to their parking lot.

This incident will not keep me from eating Jimmy John’s, but it does make me want to have a serious discussion with the Manager, I mean maybe ALL of those meals (including catered box lunches) I ordered at the 360 office were technically in error as well. Or maybe there is some sort of rampant crime regarding the stealing of sandwiches here on Jollyville.

If anyone from Jimmy John’s reads this (local or corporate), please drop me a line, I want to know how I can get my JJ fix without having to drive to the nearest one.

Thanks, now back to the grind.

The saying works better, when you are talking about non-descriptive positions likes kings or queens. As some may have read in facebook postings my beloved server Jules has for all intensive purposes died. I had Sprocket Networks ship him down to me for the low price of $39.95, in the hopes that I would be able to retrieve database data off of him.

Luckily I was able to retrieve the majority of my data off of him. However, not sure much more is retrievable, I took the hard disk out and will slap it into a USB enclosure, I have one laying around here somewhere.

All technological buffs (nerds, geeks, technosnobs) at some point have to name a computer. The naming of a server, tends to run in a theme, often times related items, like brand names of beer or alcohol, Jeremy and I settled upon the Pulp Fiction characters, the first of which was Jules. He was a box that I had laying around, I bought a new hard drive for him and increased the ram and installed Fedora Core on him.

I looked around for places to co-locate a mid-tower box, in Austin this was too cost prohibitive. However, in Dallas there was a a price I could not beat $65 + tax per month. So I dropped him off and he worked great up until the last few months. The power supply died a few months back, luckily Sprocket Networks was cool enough to replace it free of charge, in exchange for a replacement power supply.

But this last issue, is indicative of a hard drive failure, or at least from what I went through to get the data off the drive that I plucked from Jules’ case, much like one would pluck a still beating heart, being failure is imminent.

I have been working on Amazon EC2 server configuration as part of my 2nd contract. So that meant, I had to name a server, this one would be known as Marvin, you know the one that Vincent shot in the face. You know ‘Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face!’

Vincent is a server that was setup for a side project that a few of us had going about a year ago.

And Coolidge (the boxer from Pulp Fiction) is a Windows EC2 instance that I have running for another contract project.

I spent some time today working on getting my Technosnobs and Ben.Dominguez-Benner blogs back up. In both cases the blog engines had to be upgraded to a version that is PHP 5.3+ compatible.

Well, I best check on dinner and I have some server config work to do that actually pays the bills.

Laterz.

Not something that on would normally call blog worthy, unless you say found money in the microwave or some how received super human powers or a portal to another dimension.

Alas, none of those things happened before, during or (at least to me) after cleaning the microwave.

The microwave here at the office is probably the same as just about any microwave you would find in break-room, kind of run-down, a little beat-up on the outside and most likely dirty on the inside.

I have worked in about nine different offices, some were what one would consider upscale, others would be consider ghetto, and a few just run-of-the-mill, but all of them had the microwave.

And at some point, someone would microwave something that exploded or at the very least splashed something onto the top or the sides of the microwave. In some cases there were breakroom watchdogs who would mass mail the office to inform them the offense that had been committed by exploding the food in the microwave, other times it would simply just sit there. And at one office, the nightly cleaning staff was nice enough to wipe it out, not sure if this was part of their regular duties or not, but they did it.

But back to the title of this post

“I cleaned the microwave today.”

I didn’t clean the microwave because of some mass emailing, nor did I clean it because my food exploded (notably this was the 2nd time I ever used the microwave since working at this office in May). I cleaned the microwave because it was dirty, not “I think there is something that is going to infect me dirty,” but dirty nonetheless.

The microwave was slightly worse than the previous time I had used it (about three weeks prior) and I have to admit I had the urge to clean it the first time that I used it, but there were lots of people in the break room and the sink was full of dishes and I just wanted to eat my oatmeal.

This time was different, I was in the office early, there was no one around, the sink was empty and I had a few extra minutes, so rather than bitching about it or making a fuss or going to the extreme of getting and putting my own microwave in my office (to which I have the space available), I cleaned the microwave.

I did it because it bugged me and I knew it must be bugging someone else, so I did something about it. I have worked along side the watchdogs and have to say that their attitude while correct in the idea that everyone should clean up after themselves is harshly negative and toxic in that it feels like someone scolding someone, vs helping someone.

I am not suggesting that someone should constantly cleanup after others, unless that is their job, and to be honest that job would kind of blow, but the feeling of doing something nice for others is sometimes reward enough.

I guess over the last year, I have felt the need to belong to a group and part of belonging to a group is contributing and hopefully in contributing even in the smallest way (like cleaning a dish in the sink or the microwave) it will make someone else feel compelled to do it next time. This might be a naive idea, in that people are selfish (myself included), but sometimes that cliche idea of “Pay it forward” sometimes works.

Anyway, I had the idea for this blog post while cleaning out the microwave, that sometimes you shouldn’t turn a blind eye or worse yet remove yourself from a group setting, sometimes you should just take a minute to solve the problem and quietly clean the microwave (and possibly write a slightly pompous blog post).

Back to the grind.

Laterz