Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Anniversary

On our 13th wedding anniversary, I’m happy to say that I’m still learning new things about my wife. This time through the blog she shares with friends. I had no idea she expected to hate Lion King. I’m glad to hear she didn’t pop for the $45 T-Shirt.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Swallowed by Leaves

The Dude "helping" me rake leaves earlier this afternoon.

Scout Camp

[The Dude and a friend on the hike down from "Friendship Point".]

The Dude and I spent the weekend at Camp Phillippo near Cannon Falls, MN. It's an annual event where the Boy Scouts of Troop 150 "host" the Cub Scouts of Pack 150. The highlight of the weekend is the turkey roast on Saturday. They dig a pit, line it with rocks and drop two 14 pound birds (heavily wrapped in foil) into the pit and cover it with coals. This cooks for 2 hours and 15 minutes - all the while tended by scouts who keep burning logs to make coals, and then pouring coals into the pit.

It was delicious - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn. "Cub Scout Thanksgiving" according to the Dude.

[Building the tripod.]

There was a lot of outdoor stuff - building a tripod - I'm not sure what we would ever use the tripod for - it was mostly an exercise in knot-tying. We took a hike to "Friendship Point" with it's commanding view of the Cannon River valley. The boys mostly messed around, making up games and running through the woods.

[The view from the top of Friendship Point - looking west toward Northfield and Carleton - of course.]

We also were asked to do a one-hour service project - removing Buckthorn. We pulled a lot of Buckthorn. The trouble is we didn't apply herbicide so it will be back next year stronger than ever. One of the dads is a professional forester and it drove him crazy that we weren't really solving the problem, but the kids had a blast identifying Buckthorn so the Dad's could saw and hack it down.

[Phoning home to report on the deluxe accommodations Saturday night.]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Once a Runner, Always a Runner

I obviously can’t break my addition to running. Even when I’m not running, which is 99% of the time; I still love a good running story.

Here’s a cool site that seems to exist simply to tell the stories of Minnesota runners. Last night I spent the better part of an hour reading through his stories. I loved the Steve Hoag story.

Steve Hoag was 2nd in Boston 1975, with a 2:11 – behind Bill Rodgers at 2:09:55 (where Bill stopped to tie his shoes several times). Steve went on to found Marathon Sports, a great old MN running store. Small world story, he now helps coach cross-country at Richfield High School – my alma mater.

For anyone interested in competitive running in Minnesota from a historical perspective, it’s a great interview. Can’t believe it’s “historical” since I lived it myself. Sigh!

Here's a sample:

I’m always curious what the “Old School” runners think about all the training terminology (lactate threshold, anaerobic threshold, tempo runs, heart rate monitors and the different zones, etc.) that gets thrown around now-a-days?

I admit I break out into a cold sweat when I hear terms like lactate and anaerobic threshold. We had days when we ran very hard for varying distances, we had intervals – long and short, we had long aerobic days of 15-30 miles and we had easy “filler” days to rest and help get our mileage totals up. We were just not real scientific about it.

Does he still run?

My “running” is based on the “gentleman’s 3”: slow, easy running for 3 miles, usually on trails or grass.

Sounds like me - The Hobbled Gentleman.

Friday, October 19, 2007

2 Mile Challenge

Found this cool tool at The Deets. It's a map-generator that lays out a 2 mile radius from your home (or any address you enter). The idea is that most of our commuting takes place close to home - and couldn't we bike or walk - or use some other fuel saving mode of transportation.

As I may have mentioned before, I've tried to do more bike errands. I'm limited by weather (yes - I know not everyone is), and by the fact that many of my short errands involve ferrying kids around - often at night. Bike purists would see those as very lame excuses - but I don't really care. On the other hand, the map does make me pause and wonder what I can do by bike. Maybe I need to accessorize (or pimp my ride) with new baskets or something.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rainy Days and Teacher Conferences

The Hobbled Runner was home with the kids today as this is day-one in the four day weekend known as "MEA" - for Minnesota Education Association" - though I'm not even sure if the MEA actually holds it's annual conference this Thursday and Friday. (Yes - they do, but they are called "Education Minnesota" - though their web site is down.)

What this means is a four-day weekend for everyone in the Hobbled Household. The Dude's private school (in St. Paul) follows the St. Paul public schools schedule so they were off even though their teachers aren't members of the MEA. For the record, the Dude's teachers were hard at work holding parent/teacher/student conferences. We attended two today - one with the Dude's "regular" teacher, and one with his music teacher. All is well - thank God - it's hard to remember how unsatisfied we were last year before we switched schools.

The kids and I "dined" at Perkins for brunch, then went to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the Minnesota Institute of Arts. I never heard of Georgia until I was in my 20's - my how times have changed. Both kids are very familiar with Ms. O'Keefe and her work so it was fun to see her stuff with the experts.

I wasn't familiar with her whole "Pelvis" series, but the MIA displayed several works on this theme - very interesting, though the kids were a little creeped out by the fact that it was based on a body part.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Speaking of Food

This is very interesting, a photo series of people and their breakfasts. OK - maybe not interesting to everyone. I just get a kick out of seeing how people really live their lives. The Internet is such an interesting place.

Lots of carbs there :)


Those Darn Cavemen

Those Darn Cavemen – they led the good life. Over the past few months, I become interested (you might say obsessed) with what some call the Paleo or Evolutionary ways of examining our diets and fitness routines.

Short version: The idea is that human beings evolved over millions of years and most of that time we spent as hunter-gatherers. Only very recently, with the advent of modern farming, have we begun to “enjoy” more refined foods. Therefore, say the Paleo/Evolutionary folks, our physical, mental, and genetic make-up is still geared to the food and lifestyle of hunter-gatherers. Despite our modern trappings, we our still best suited to chasing down game, and rooting around for vegetables and fruit. Our bodies, and minds, don’t know what to do with the stresses of modern life, our lack of exercise, and the tremendous abundance of food – most of which our evolutionary make-up cannot properly handle. Take us out of cubicles and cars, strip us of our latest fashions, and we still are best suited for fight or flight responses to stress, gorging on food when available, and going hungry during lean times. The problem is that we are presented with stress all the time, food (some of it not so good) is everywhere, and we don’t know what real hunger is.

From a dietary point of view, evolutionary folks are very anti-carbohydrate. They avoid carbs at all costs. The purists don’t even eat the “good” carbs, e.g. 100% whole wheat, organic, bread would be off limits because our Paleo ancestors never grew flour for milling and baking bread.

I stumbled on this community while researching cholesterol. One of the contributing factors to my high cholesterol was my elevated triglycerides. (Your cholesterol reading is comprised of HDL, LDL, and Triglycerides.) Triglycerides are greatly impacted by sugar. The more sugar you consume, triggering some sort of insulin reaction (I’m still fuzzy on the science), the higher your Triglycerides, and the higher your cholesterol reading.

Many of refined foods (breads, modern fruits) have lots and lots of carbohydrates. So in attempt to reduce my Triglycerides, I set out to cut carbohydrates. I’m not perfect. I still enjoy “good” bread/toast for breakfast, but I try to avoid bread, or anything made with flour after that. I'm not perfect. As a matter of fact, I’m drinking a beer as I type this. No one’s perfect. But I cut way back, and my Triglycerides and Cholesterol went down. I also lost a lot of weight.

The idea of the Paleo-enthusiasts is that if eat more like our ancestors (meat, nuts, plenty of vegetables and some fruits) that we would be more healthy. So I do - I eat more meat, ton's of servings of vegetables, my usual 3 or 4 fruits a day, all the while trying to avoid (but not eliminate) carbs.

Lately the Paleos’ anti-carb crusade got a big boost from the release of Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. In his book, Taubes examines the conventional wisdom that low fat, high carb diets are good for us – better than diets high in fat (the way we “used to eat” – bacon and eggs for breakfast every day, meat at every meal, real butter, etc.).

As pointed out by William Souder in the Star-Tribune last week:

Here's how Taubes explains it: When you consume carbohydrates, your body responds by flooding your bloodstream with the hormone insulin. Fat cells, highly responsive to insulin, readily convert calories to additional fat in its presence -- and resist giving those calories back as fuel. At the same time, persistently high levels of insulin reduce the responsiveness of nonfat cells, creating an insulin resistance that is a precursor for diabetes. Meanwhile, certain carbohydrates -- especially fructose -- are transformed by the liver into triglycerides, which strongly correlate with heart disease.

So, as for diet, I’ve gone Paleo – to a certain extent. I enjoy it; I find I experience fewer ups and downs that come with consuming carbs – no sugar highs and lows. I seldom crave bad carbs, but I do have a hankering for cereal now and then. I fully realize – as I am often reminded – that it is not so easy for others.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is now a Paleo look at depression.

According to Stephen Ilardi, Ph.D,

“There’s increasing evidence that we were never designed for our sedentary, socially isolated, indoor, sleep-deprived, poorly nourished lifestyles.”

As he states later in the article,

“We’ve been engineering the activity out of our lives,” . . . “the levels of bright-light exposure – time spent outdoors – have been declining.”

Source Dr. Helen

The article goes on to say that fresh air and exercise can help alleviate depression - something I've notice myself. Another good reason to get in touch with your inner hunter-gather.

I’ve intentionally avoided blogging about my efforts to implement some sort of Evolutionary fitness practices. My recent sprinting post highlights one effort in that direction. I can leave that discussion for later.

Web Helps Music Industry

- - only if that music is classical music.

Alex Ross writes in the New Yorker that classical music is actually getting a lift from the web. I for one never read anything about classical music - and still don't listen that often - but here I am at Terry Teachout's About Last Night, linking to Jeremy Dink, who links to the New Yorker.

Great quote - note related to classical music - by Denk:

“Like many people, I started blogging out of an urgent need to procrastinate.”

Oh, for the record, Jeremy Dink is not Yo Yo Ma.

Friday, October 12, 2007

You Say Gag-Knee, I Say Gon-Ya

Big doin's at the Minnesota Historical Society - where the Hobbled Wife goes every day to "make history". We (meaning every good Minnesotan) is celebrating the Sesquicentennial- the 150th birthday of the North Star State. It's one big party - let me tell ya - MN150 they call it.

A few days ago she was reading the list of folks who planned on being at last night's opening (members-only) event. It was an impressive list.

"Hey, who's Vern Gag-Knee?" she asks.

"You mean Vern Gon-Ya, the famous professional wrestler," I quickly responded.

That's Vern Gagne (picture at top). Not to be confused with Greg Gagne (pronounced Gag-Knee) famous Twins player (below). Anyway - Vern was one of the 150, Greg was not.

Here's what the MNHS folks had to say about Vern:

Verne Gagne's succesful wrestling career at the University of Minnesota was just the beginning. He turned pro in 1949, and through the new medium of television, became a national sports star by the 1950s, capturing several heavyweight titles and becoming one of the nation's highest-paid wrestlers. In 1960, Gagne formed the American Wrestling Association as a promotional vehicle for his sport-and, overnight, became its biggest star. By the time he retired in 1981 Gagne had won 10 World Heavyweight Championship titles.

And to make matters more confusing, the Wrestler Vern had a son who was also a famous wrestler - named (of course) Greg.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Richfield Gets a Target

Yes - another Target post. I knew that they were opening a new Super Target in Richfield - just 4 blocks from the Hobbled Homestead. Didn't know they were calling it Cedar Point Commons - very high and mighty name. {More info here.) I recall the old "point" as the intersection of 66th Street and Cedar Avenue, with the Municipal Liquor store on one corner, and a Standard Gas Station across the street (now buried by the Super Target). One half-block to the north was the old "Soft Touch Sauna" - Richfield's first health club (cough!).

Of course a lot has changed since the days of the old Tom-Tom Drive In - located just 2 blocks north of the present day Cedar Point Commons. This is an old photo from the Richfield Historical Society (highly recommended) - but I have a vague memory of visiting the Tom-Tom with my father. That must have been before my brother was born - so pre-1965.

They have some interesting statuary at Cedar Point Commons. Found some cool pictures on Flickr - but couldn't post them to the blog for some reason.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Big, expensive, salad

Today I paid $7.37 for salad at lunch. That might not be much for you – but we have a “corporate subsidized” cafeteria. It’s rare to pay more than $5.00 per meal. Milk and ice-tea are free, and we get free fruit (2 pieces) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Anyway – $7.37 – I was shocked. That’s a full $2 more than I’d ever paid before. Our salad bar is a build-your-own deal, and the cashier weighs the salad and charges customers accordingly.

When the cashier said the price, I blurted out “Wow, $7.37?” She replied, “Yes, the plates weigh more than the boxes.”

Fascinating – I’d never heard that using a glass plate versus the Styrofoam boxes take-away boxes would make a difference. It shouldn’t. Isn’t the scale calibrated to take into account the plate/box??? Maybe it was a bad scale.

In the end, it was very busy, and I couldn’t figure out a good way to challenge her – I probably should have asked her to re-weigh it on another scale – so I paid the price and moved along.

Later I did the math. At 30 cents an ounce, that works out to 24.5 ounces or 1 ½ pounds of salad – spinach, mixed greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot shavings, sliced ham, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, and olive oil. OK, maybe it was 1 ½ pounds – but still!

For the record it was a damn fine salad. Tomorrow I try another cashier.

Dale's Back!

Buzz reports on the grand-opening of the new Super Target in Edina, near Southdale. Good news for all - Dale is back. When we lived in South Mpls, this was "our" Target (talking about pre Super Target days). It was either the Edina Target or Lake Street Target. I preferred the Target that didn't have to have armed off-duty Mpls Police Officers at the door.

This is also the Target closest to my Mom's house - about 4 blocks to the north. I suspect she's happy as well.

Oh, this is one of 61 Targets opened today. Sixty-One!!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Do I Get a Whistle?

The Hobbled Runner's life keeps taking crazy turns. The latest chapter has yours truly in the role of assistant basketball coach. Yes, that's right. I'm finally being recognized for my basketball skills - Hah!

Back-story: The Dude has registered for basketball. This will be his first year, and we are a little concerned about whether he will actually follow through as the season approaches.

Enter - family friend Mark. Now Mark has coached both kids' soccer and volleyball teams. Last week Mark emailed asking if I was interested in being an assistant coach with the team he is head coaching.

For some reason I said, "Yes". There are several reasons. With me as assistant, they will assign the Dude to my team. That should alleviate any anxiety he might have about playing basketball. (Fingers crossed) I also enjoy working with kids - and I've been assured I don't need to know anything about the sport.

I did warn Mark that I had never played organized basketball as a kid, and I had never even participated in office Final Four betting pools. I'm like a clean slate, ready to start from scratch.

When do I get my whistle? - - or maybe that's only for the Refs??

Come to think of it, I don't have any court shoes. Do people still wear Chuck Taylors?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Gasp, Pant, Altitude!

Wow - I'm not in MN anymore. After the various sessions this afternoon, I went for a little walk/run deal. Covered about 3 miles tops - lots more walking than running. Lots of panting on my part. I forgot about the impact some real altitude can have on a part-time runner.

After my run I reported for duty - cocktail hour and poker match. Needless to say I didn't play poker, but did enjoy the free beverages. For the record I was the only guy in "business casual" attire. Apparently when the sessions are over you can wear jeans - and this sales group is a pretty funky bunch. Oh well, didn't take me long to adjust - and I never did take off my sportcoat!

No real exciting dinner news to report, though they had homemade vanilla bean ice cream for dessert - very nice.

The post-dinner activity is a "Casino Night". I pass.

A little more work tommorrow and fly out at 2:00.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reporting from Colorado

All is well from Colorado Springs. Just returned from a night of fine dining at Walters. Have a very nice room overlooking the golf course and the mountains.

Several colleagues and I slipped away from the regular sales meetings - just lots of awards, etc. -- for a nice dinner at Walters. May I recommend the Scallops (appetizer) and Colorado Lamb? We all have presentations at the crack of dawn tomorrow, so it was best to avoid all the revelery.

Once a birder, always a birder: During the cocktail hour on the terrace, someone remarked about the strange birds flying overhead. The Hobbled Runner was quick to ID them as Magpies. The ID was easy since I had seen a bunch in the Badlands of SD last month.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

School Days

Time to post about school. Surveys show that most fans of Hobbled Runner attended school – so there’s an instant connection. Also, I hope that by posting about school and education, and using terms like school and education over and over again, my Google Ads will change for the better, I will banish that beer-bearing hussy that often appears in my right pane Ads.

I haven’t posted much about kids and school lately, because things are going well – generally. M seems to be settling in to the new routine that is 5th grade. She has a new teacher this year. This is a tremendous improvement on the less than stellar arrangement she was in for grades 3 and 4 when she had the same teacher and classmates for two years running. I won’t belabor that – it’s water under the bridge – and besides, I don’t think the teacher is a public figure for defamation purposes (you lawyers out there know what I’m getting at.)

The Dude still has his moments. We haven’t noticed any outright “School Avoidance” as it’s known, but he did report an interesting classroom control tactic. At one point yesterday, the entire class had to miss “learning time” because 2 or 3 kids were acting up. Translation: They all sat in silence because 2 or 3 kids were being disruptive. I’m not sure how long the silence lasted, and I don’t know if the few troublemakers got the message, but the Dude was upset. This seems to be a very ineffective discipline tactic. Why punish the whole, for the sins of a few? Are the “good” kids expected to take these 2 or 3 aside at recess and administer some sort of rough justice so it doesn’t happen again? I highly doubt that – given the school’s general mission.

The Hobbled Family has spent a great deal of time trying to redirect the Dude’s attention and sensitivity to what’s going on around him in the classroom. To his credit, he’s a very emphatic kid. He worries a lot about what other kids are doing: Why are they acting up? Why don’t they want to learn? But that much concern for one’s fellows can create a lot of stress and anxiety, energy better spent learning. We’ve been pretty successful keeping him focused on what he can control (his own actions), and setting aside what he can’t control (other kids’ disruptive behavior).

So now we have to coach him through the classroom silence event. He and I discussed it while driving to school this morning. I told him it was a pretty ineffective way to handle a class, thus introducing the theme that adults don’t always make the best choices. I suggested that we could talk to the teachers involved. “No, don’t do that,” he said. “You can always tell when someone’s parents have contacted the teacher, because then the teacher has to take them aside and discuss the issue.”

I asked, “What would you have done differently?” and he relayed the story of how his P.E. teacher handles similar events.

His PE teacher handles miscreants by making only the trouble-makers sit-out for a short time. That seems the right message – you are responsible for your own actions. If you act up (cheat, don’t play by rules), you will be asked to sit out a few minutes. Your classmates will not suffer at your expense.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Popcorn, War, and Strep Throat – in no particular order of importance

It was a relaxing weekend of sorts around the Hobbled household. It was a rainy weekend which discouraged the sort of frenzied outdoor activities witnessed over the past two weekends. To make matters worse, I discovered that I have strep throat. That gave me an excuse to take it easy. I had been feeling crappy for several days, but since I didn’t have a fever or any great aches and pains – like the Dude – I thought I was in the clear. The Hobbled Wife talked me into visiting the MD and having a throat culture – and sure enough “Positive”.

Kids (and parents) are crazy about a “new” method of making popcorn. We discovered the recipe in Cooking Light magazine. Sorry – unable to link directly to recipe, but it’s easy enough to recreate: One half cup of popcorn into a paper lunch bag. Tape the bag shut, place the bag in microwave and cook for about 2 ½ minutes – or until the “pops” come about 5 seconds apart. I think what the kids liked best was when the bag exploded in the microwave (OK – ½ cup was too much, or the bad was too little – better use 1/3 next time). They also enjoyed melting the butter, and pouring it over the popcorn with salt. The kids refer to this as the “old fashioned way” of making popcorn. Yeah, right.

Spent some time at my Mom’s on Sunday, and started looking through some of my Dad’s old pictures from WWII. He has an interesting collection of Nazi propaganda photos – I think they were intended for use as postcards, though I’m not sure. These were “looted” (his words) from a large, abandoned German house. He and a buddy split a photo album, taking the propaganda shots, along with some personal photos. The personal photos are images of German soldiers – mostly officers – taken in the field – some battle scenes, and at a sort of camp or military school. I hope to get these scanned (my scanner does not work), and post them.

Also came across some photos of my Dad during this era – both state-side and in Germany. But the big discovery was the journal my Dad constructed after-the-fact. According to my Mom, he decided later in life to write down his war memories as best he could recall – before he forgot them. She tells me that he had almost completed the work, but tore it all up and started over again. She doesn’t know why he did that.

I plan to type these memories up. It’d be nice to be able to post some memories with the pictures – but don’t expect anything real soon.