20•21 Restuarant

Tammy and I went out for our anniversary this evening to 20•21, the new restuarant in the Walker Art Center.
The restuarant is an asian-fusion fare, which may seem a bit tired at
this point, but they do it well. The menu was put together by famed TV
chef Wolfgang Puck. The
initial impression that Tammy and I both had was surprise at the size
of the place. We both expected something much larger. The dining room
itself is very cozy and modern in design. The next thing that hits you
is the pure number of staff. There were nearly as many people working
as there were eating, and the service reflects this. Our waitperson was
very well versed on our options and gave good advice. The wine menu was
not huge, but very complete.

The items are all served family style, for two people they suggested to
order 3 items. All of the items we ordered were prepared to perfection.
The main course, a marinated iron steak on a bed of rice, was packed
with flavor.

I took the opportunity to have the signature desert inspired by the cherry sculpture in the sculpture gardens. It was stunning looking and if you like chocolate, this is the desert for you.

This is definitely a good restuarant to visit for a special evening.

Congratulations Discovery!

When I was in the 2nd grade I had my heart broken. It wasn’t over some cute girl as you may expect. No, I was (and am) a geek at heart, and my heart was broken because I had learned that you could not be an astronaut if you required glasses. And there I was, in all my glory, with my glasses (I’ll spare a reference to a picture here for my own sake). My dreams were shot. Space was off limits for me.

In the 2nd grade I didn’t realize the million other reasons why I would not be going into space. It seemed my vision was the only thing holding me back. I’ve always loved the stars and the exploration of our universe. If I had my pick, it would be a pretty amazing area to work in, but I’m afraid my math just isn’t where it would need to be to work with all those big brains.

Like many people my age I remember the exact moment that I found out about the Challenger disaster. I was walking into my science class in junior high, and my teacher told us the shuttle had exploded. We spent the entire hour watching TV coverage of the disaster. I’ll always remember that. One of those moments that is forever frozen, and locked into your brain.

We also had the experience of visiting Cape Canaveral, coincidentally shortly after the Columbia disaster. It was moving to see the freshly placed tribute to the astronauts that had died at NASA‘s monument. They have a very impressive monument to the astronauts that have died in the pursuit of the unknown.

So of course I was excited to see the Return to Flight today of Discovery and it’s crew. The shuttle roared off the launch pad and everything went extremely smooth, or as a bunch of NASA geeks say, “nominal”. After visiting Cape Canaveral and seeing these facilities in person I certainly have a bigger appreciation for the scale of everything that goes on there.

I’m happy to see that NASA is back in operation. It concerns me a bit that people think this can somehow be made risk free. After all, we are strapping people to a controlled explosion and launching them into orbit! This is dangerous, extremely risky business. We should take all precautions that are possible, but let’s not kid ourselves that this is exploration, and there are dangers.

Hat’s off to all of NASA, and to all those brave souls aboard STS-114. Oh, and the astronaut on the mission from Japan, he wears glasses!

Mazie at 6 Weeks

Mazie will be six weeks old in a couple of days. This seems to
be a pretty big milestone, at least in her parents eyes, since
supposedly after six weeks of breast milk she has now built up an
immune system that will keep basic nasty germs and viruses away. This
will give Mazie’s Dad and Mazie’s Mom confidence to take her out more,
into more varied environments, without constantly worrying about the
cleanliness of everything around us and giving sinister looks to
strangers who emit a short cough while passing. Really, don’t these
people know better than to cough around a baby!

Mazie’s getting much better with the whole controlling the head
thing. She likes to be held in a sitting position where she can then
survey the room and check things out on her own will. After her rapidly
developing neck muscles get tired of this, she assumes a rather odd
position resting her head forward onto her chest.

She doing fairly well with the sleep thing. Still wakes up a couple
of times and maintains her track record as a pretty loud sleeper, lots
of grunting and squeels. Sort of like a pig farm, but if you take that
analogy any further Mazie’s Dad will smack you, hard. Some nights she
decides she just doesn’t want to sleep and this spirals her parents
into despair, as they become achingly more and more tired until they
reach the point of misery.

It’s been hot as blazes here so Mazie’s stayed inside most of the
time. Her Mom is completely and totally obsessed with her being too hot
or too cold. How are babies born in the tropics? Mazie has lived so far
in a well controlled 72 degree house. We got a Maclaren Vogue stroller so
that she can get outside without being in her crazy, five-point harness
car seat. Mazie loves it, or at least I think so.

Tonight she’s taken to “spitting up”, but with a bit more volume
than a spit, and only on Mom so far. This seems to be a new thing.

I put up some new photos to share with everyone (including what her Mom has decided is the cutest photo of her and her Dad!). Also note the photo included here, where Mazie is modeling her great Road Sign Math onesie!

Lance Wins #7

I could have posted this a couple of days ago, Armstrong has had the 2005 Tour de France wrapped up for the last few days. Today’s stage was completely ceremonial, to the point of being a bit ridiculous. The early kilometers today looked like a bunch of club cyclists out on a ride. I could have hung with them without breaking a sweat. Anyway, I’m not going to comment on the miniscule details of the tour, you can visit other sites to get your tour fix. I just wanted to give my thoughts on a few topics — it is the biggest event in my favorite sport.

Lance

Armstrong was amazing this year. He made this tour look as if it was one of his easiest to win. He never seemed to be in trouble at any stage. He pounded on the time trials. He was more strategic this year than ever. Everything seemed to work amazingly well. At the ceremony Lance was given the opportunity to speak to the assembled crowd. Nobody has ever been given that opportunity before, ever. It was a small gesture, but shows how much Lance has stamped his legacy on this event.

I will miss Armstrong in next years tour. He’s won every tour that I’ve watched. However, I’m also happy to see him retire and move on. I’m looking forward to the next round of winners, and next years Tour is going to be very exciting!

I ask only one favor. Lance, please, I beg of you, do not run for governor of Texas!!!

I’ve also decided that it is officially time to retire the Livestrong bracelet.

Rasmussen

Michael Rasmussen had the worst time trial I’ve ever seen a cyclist have on the 20th stage. The poor guy went down in the first 10 km. His rear wheel just slid out from under him. He then had a bike change, and the new bike didn’t work right. Another bike change. Then he fell off again going over his handlebars. Then another new bike. It was horrific to watch, turning completely comic after all the mishaps. It was almost a given that he would lose his 3rd spot in the GC to Ullrich, but I felt so bad for the guy.

Ullrich

I really hope that big Jan comes back next year and wins the tour. I would be happy for a number of other riders to win, Ivan Basso for example. It would be great if an American could do it. But Jan deserves it more than anybody else. He’s been dogged by Armstrong year after year. If Armstrong would not have been a pro cyclist, we would be amazed over the Ullrich domination of the Tour. He should get another win before he retires.

American Cycling

…is huge! Around ten Americans played big, big roles in the Tour this year. The American presence was incredible. Additionally, Lance has changed the way America views cycling. I really hope that the excitement and attention that cycling gets with Lance continues to grow after his retirement. And the European Peloton simply is no longer just European. American’s are definitely here to stay in pro cycling.

Vino!

Alexandre Vinokourov was just amazing this year. Two stage wins, including the final stage in Paris, add up to a great tour. Vino is switching teams and clearly put in a great showing to increase his contract value for any new team. If he could be tamed and be supported by a full team, he could be powerful. After his explosive performances though, I’m wondering why he doesn’t go after the 1-day spring classics more.

Landis and Leipheimer

Both former US Postal riders failed to impress this year. I don’t think they had the legs or the killer instinct, but it’s also pretty clear that Lance has no love for these former teammates turned team captains. When he takes opportunity to put the hurt on these guys, even though they are minutes behind and no threat, it doesn’t look good to anyone.

We still have the La Vuelta a Espana in September to wrap up the cycling season, then a few months off and we’ll be back in Europe for the 1-day classics.

Bicycle Commuting

I’ve been riding into work, bicycle commuting, for about a month now
this summer. This is a big part of my plan to get rid of the “sympathy
weight” I put on while Tammy was pregnant with Mazie. It’s working,
I’ve been able to take off good weight every week without getting
completely obsessed about what I’m eating.

I’m really lucky when it comes to my commute. In some ways, I feel
like I should be obligated to ride my bike to work. I can get on a bike
path after going 3 blocks from my house on residential streets. The
path crosses some roads, but mostly it’s just a great trail. I then
have two options of trail that I can take going into downtown.
So I get to take one trail in the morning, and a second trail in the
evening on the way home. There are also a few people that ride into
work as well so on the way home I usually have some company as well.

One of the highlights of this commute is when the trail that I take
on the way into work crosses over highway 100. This is the same highway
that I get onto after a few miles and crawl the rest of the way into
work when I drive. Everyday as I ride in I always take a moment to let
up on the pedals, look to the left and chuckle a little bit to myself
as I look at the hundreds of cars piled up, going very slowly. When I
look ahead I see clear trail, trees and fellow riders or walkers out
having a good time.

The only part I miss about riding into work is the music. I really
like listening to tunes in the morning and there just isn’t any safe
way to do that on a bike. The weather has been great, making it even
more enjoyable. I find that when I ride into work I show up with a
better outlook on things, and in general a more pleasant disposition.
On top of all that I’m saving money on the record high gas prices and
not paying for the toll-lane on the way home. All this and I get to
help the environment, and my body, all at the same time.

Hiking With Baby

I was reading some “evergreen” content on BabyCenter.com tonight. They have some semi-decent content targeted at dad-types. Anyway, they highlighted hiking as an activity to do with your baby. I like hiking so took a gander.

They mentioned this group started in San Francisco called Grateful Dads.
It’s a group of dads that get together once a month on a weekend
morning and go for a hike. It’s all dad’s and the kids vary from very
young, 2-3 months to about 2 years old or even older. I checked out the
site and I like the idea.

I know there are a decent number of dad’s that read my site. Anyone
interested in doing some daddy/baby hiking? Mazie is a little young
right now, but in a couple of months would be plenty old enough.

Go George! Hincapie Wins Stage!

Everyone, really, anybody knows Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France.
Not everyone knows one of Lance‘s close friends and longtime teammate
George Hincapie who took his first Tour de France stage win today on the “Queen’s
Stage” (thus named for being the hardest day of the tour).

George got in an early breakaway with a number of riders and he hung on
the whole day. With only he and Oscar Pereiro left in the final 2km he
was able to take the win.

Lance winning the tour at this point is almost a guarantee. George
taking the stage was a complete surprise and a huge win for him. I
cheer for Hincapie all spring as he tries to win the big spring
classics, and I still hope that he will win Paris-Roubaix before he
decides to hang up his wheels. But hat’s off to him on an amazing win
today.

For more Tour de France info, check out TdF Blog.

A Walk in the Woods


It feels like a crime to re-read a book, at least for me. My reading
list is as long as my arm (actually, about five times longer than my
arm). I’ve got stacks of books that I want to read and haven’t cracked
the spine of yet. So, when I think of taking time from all those
neglected books to re-read a book I’ve already read, I feel bad. It’s
like I’m neglecting all those other great texts. However, it couldn’t
be helped in this case. I had to re-read A Walk in the Woods.

I read this book the first time a few years ago and just loved it. Bill Bryson
is a stunningly good author and very, very funny. I highly recommend
all of his books, they are extremely enjoyable. Walk in the Woods is
exceptional though even for Bryson.

The subject of the book is the Appalachian Trail.
First, for those that don’t kow about this trail, it is a 2,175 mile
hiking trail that extends from Georgia to Maine. Every year people
attempt to hike it’s length, called “thru hikers”, only a small
percentage of those that start make it all the way to Maine.

Walk in the Woods
is Bryson’s attempt to hike the trail. His is joined by a very
non-hiker friend of his, Katz, and you are treated with laugh-out-loud
humor as you trek through the woods with these two.

I would like to hike the AT at some point. It takes about five months
to hike completely, starting in early spring in Georgia and ending in
fall in Maine. Until then, I’ll just have to join Bryson and Katz on
the trail every few years.

RC Cars Live!

Some would say that I have too many hobbies. I can’t help it! I
find most things (particularly things with gear) to be amazingly
interesting. It’s just part of my personality. Ever since I was a kid I
wanted to figure out how things work, and hobbies are great for
excercising that desire.

About 5 years ago (really, 5 years) I got into remote control cars in a
big way. I think another guy at the office (can’t remember who to blame offhand!) got one and then a few of us
decided we all had to have one as well. We all got the HPI
Racing RS4 MT
with electric motor. The electric motor made these a lot
easier to build and operate than the gas cars. We all got them running
and had a few days of fun racing them around, jumping them and of
course breaking them.

A subset of us thought this was all fun but wanted to get into the real thing,
gas cars! I bought the HPI RTR Nitro RS4 and started to put it together. This all
happened in about 2 months. I’m a little obssessive and when I focus on
something, it’s all mine.

Then it stopped.

We didn’t get together to race them. One of the guys with a gas car got
his working but then we all just kind of forgot this obsession and
moved on to other things to assimilate. That was over four years ago. My gas car was only half put together.

One of the things about me and hobbies [obsessions] is that I may give
them a break, but I rarely just leave them forever. A few weeks ago we were
driving out of a grocery store by our house and there was a race track
setup where guys were racing their RC cars. I announced to Tammy “I should
get my cars going!”. A few shipments from RCHobbies.org later and I got
everything going — including finishing and getting my gas car going –
5 years after I bought it! (It is now a discontinued model!)

I finished the gas one this weekend and primed the motor up. I’ve ran a
few tanks of gas through it to break in the engine and tuned it up a
bit, it’s working great. The electric car needed a new chassis plate so
I replaced that and also took an opportunity to finish routing cables
on it and retensioning the cable.

They are both a lot of fun to drive. I need to tune the gas one
further, the steering isn’t quite in alignment and the clutch doesn’t
release soon enough. I’ll get to that later, maybe four years from now.
:-)