Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kara's Foible

Kara mentioned a social faux pas the other day. Here are some pics from that trip to the farm:







Raven Run Nature Photos

I mentioned a Saturday hike in a previous post. We hiked about 2 2/3 miles at just over 2 miles per hour on average. Here are some photos from that hike:



On the way back, as we walked through the grassland, the boys ended up with passengers on their shirts. They thought that was pretty neat. :)


I Want My Baby Back...

I used to be scared of ribs. No, not ribs in general, and no, not run away crying calling for mama scared either. I used to be scared of cooking ribs. I know it's silly, but it's true.

My sister has this recipe for dreamy, melt in your mouth, fall of the bones ribs with a sauce that explodes with flavor in your mouth. No pressure, right?

My wife picked up some pork ribs a few weeks ago at the store, which I grilled as slowly as I could. They were...meh. They had decent flavor, and they were moist, but they were tough. I was a bit discouraged.

So when I saw a Good Eats on pork ribs, I figured that with AB's help I could do it. Kara picked up some more ribs yesterday and I followed the recipe as best as I could. Those ribs were dreamy, melt in your mouth, fall off the bones ribs--but the sauce needs work. See, I grilled them instead of cooking them in the oven. Technically, I braised them, since I wrapped them in foil and cooked them with some liquid, but the temperature control on the grill was a bit problematic. I had the grill on the lowest setting, but it kept creeping up towards 300 instead of the 250 I wanted.

The result of the slightly higher temps meant slightly faster cook time, but I didn't take that entirely into account so the liquid at the bottom of my foil pack burned, meaning that I couldn't make sauce from it. *sigh* Still, the ribs had great taste without it! It was just a bit more...intense. I'm so close to great ribs! Next time will be better. :)

By the way, this rub is to die for!

Baby Back Ribs

Ingredients
2 whole slabs baby back ribs

Dry Rub:
8 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 Tbsp kosher salt (if you use regular salt, use less! But why wouldn't you use Kosher??)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp jalepeno seasoning
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp rubbed thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder

Braising Liquid:
1 cup white wine (I used broth in its place, but forgot that broth is much more salty than wine would be...gotta figure out a good substitute.)
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Instructions
Preheat oven to 250 degrees

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Place each slab of baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub. Pat the dry rub into the meat. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour. In a microwavable container, combine all ingredients for the braising liquid. Microwave on high for 1 minute.

Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Open one end of the foil on each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into each foil packet. Tilt the baking sheet in order to equally distribute the braising liquid. Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer the braising liquid into a medium saucepot. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce by half or until of a thick syrup consistency. Brush the glaze onto the ribs. Place under the broiler just until the glaze caramelizes lightly. Slice each slab into 2 rib bone portions. Place the remaining hot glaze into a bowl and toss the rib portions in the glaze.

*This recipe makes several batches of dry rub. If more rub is needed, it can be extended by any amount, as long as the ratio of 8:3:1:1 remains the same.

100 Pushups - Week 5 Day 3

I really need to stick to my schedule in these last weeks. I went out to eat on Friday with some friends at work and therefore didn't do push ups at lunch as I usually do. I thought it would be okay if I pushed them back (Heh. Pun intended.) to Friday night after the kids went to bed. For several reasons, including my faulty memory, that didn't happen.

Then, I thought I might do them Saturday morning but I took the older two boys on a hike instead. Saturday night at 9:45pm I remembered that I still hadn't done week 5 day 3's push ups and that week 5 was rapidly drawing to a close. *sigh* So I did them. It was sloppy, and painful, and ugly. I'd had a long day and was not feeling especially peppy to start with. The set sounded innocent enough, but was pretty brutal.

The set for day 3 is 18, 18, 16, 16, 14, 14, 12, max > 40 with only 30 seconds between sets. Sets 1-4 weren't too bad, but the 14s were really hard. The 12 I was able to bash my way through, but I had nothing left for the max set; I hit 20 and gave up partly because I knew I'd be doing this week again and partly due to sheer exhaustion. It was a rather disappointing week for pushing up for me. But I kept at it, and I will continue to keep at it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm a Reading Ninja!

I'm a reading ninja. It's true. I read an awful lot, much of which is aloud. I read a book to Mike before I put him to bed. I read the Scriptures to J and Spence, then read to each of them before I put them to bed. Most nights, I read a book to Kara before I put her to bed! (I don't usually read out loud to myself, though. That'd be kinda kooky.)

Books I've read to my family:

Mike
Where the Wild Things Are
Various fables and nursery rhymes, e.g. The Three Bears
He picks his own books, so I never know what's next

Spence
Books 1-13 (we're halfway through 13!) of A Series of Unfortunate Events
Stuart Little
James and the Giant Peach
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (Oh! Those Vermicious Knids!)
Next is the Harry Potter series

J
All of the Harry Potter series
All of the Chronicles of Narnia (Some were really deep to read with a 7-year-old!)
Banner in the Sky
Ender's Game
Next is the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series

Kara
All of the Harry Potter series
Books 1-11 of A Series of Unfortunate Events (halfway through book 11)

I've personally read these in the last few years:
Dune: House Atreides
Dune: House Harkonnen
Dune
Dune Messiah
Children of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse Dune

New Spring
The Eye of the World
The Great Hunt
The Dragon Reborn
The Shadow Rising
The Fires of Heaven
Lord of Chaos
A Crown of Swords
The Path of Daggers
Winter's Heart
Crossroads of Twilight
Knife of Dreams

Wizard's First Rule
Stone of Tears
Blood of the Fold
Temple of the Winds
Soul of the Fire
Faith of the Fallen
The Pillars of Creation
Naked Empire
Chainfire

Have Space Suit--Will Travel
Methuselah's Children
Starship Troopers
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

A Princess of Mars
The Gods of Mars
The Warlord of Mars
Thuvia, Maid of Mars
The Chessmen of Mars

Frankenstein
Dracula

And there are a few of Bradbury's short stories I read, too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 5 Day 2

I'm an idiot.

I did all 5 of today's sets just fine: 20, 18, 15, 14, max > 40. In fact, I maxed at 45! However, I misremembered one thing: today everything changes. The rest time drops to 45 seconds instead of increasing to 90, and sets 1-3 get repeated. So today's sets were supposed to be 20, 20, 18, 18, 15, 15, 14, max > 40. That's a whole different story.

Oh well. I guess since I'll be doing this week again I'll just do it right next time around. Friday will be pretty tough, though: 18, 18, 16, 16, 14, 14, 12, max > 40. I guess if it were easy, it wouldn't be very fun to do...everyone likes a challenge now and then, right? And I wouldn't really go back to weeks 1 or 2--they'd be too easy now. But don't think that'll stop me from moaning about how hard future workouts sound. :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 5 Day 1

Monday's set was tough, as predicted. I knew it would be tough, so I gave myself 2 minutes in between sets instead of the recommended 1 minute. Still, I think I did pretty well all considering. The sets were 40, 32, 30, 25, max > 40. I got 40, 32, 30, and 25, but maxed at 30 on the last set. I don't know how the rest of the week will go, but if it goes as rough as today's, then I will definitely redo the week. *sigh* Still, I suppose I should feel pretty good that I was able to do any push ups on that max set after doing the previous 127...

I suppose I should be amazed at my progress, but with this program billed as a "6 week" program, I'm feeling a bit inadequate having to repeat every week (except week 1). I guess you do what it takes to reach your goal...and I know I can't really compare myself to a bunch of people on the 'net I don't even know...but it's still hard.

I'm not giving up, though. I can do this.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Grilled Salmon

I've been grilling a lot lately, mostly due to the excellent new grill Kara got me for Father's Day. It's a Weber Q 320, and it makes grilling so easy a caveman could do it, or something like that. The cast-iron grill leaves the most beautiful grill marks, it's easy to regulate the temperature, there's an outer burner and a center burner that allow for excellent heat management... She did a splendid job on the selection.

So I asked Kara a few months ago to pick up some fish for dinner. Before we had the grill, I would have pan-seared it, ala Alton Brown. After hearing how fish is so tricky to grill (because it likes to stick to the grill, due to its low fat content, I'd imagine) I was a bit nervous to try it, but with as flawlessly as my grill had performed, I figured I'd give it a shot.

First, I hit the salmon with a shot of non-stick spray. (AB recommends adding a bit of oil when cooking meats in order to promote browning and to help prevent sticking.) I sprinkled the fish with some kosher salt and ground on some pepper, then flipped and sprayed, salted, and peppered it, too. I slapped it on the grill, waited about 5 minutes, flipped it, waited another 5-7 minutes, and pulled it onto a rack to rest for a minute or two. My family loved it. I did the same thing tonight.

My kids always ask for seconds when I grill salmon, and sometimes ask for thirds. I gave J an approximately 8 oz piece for starters tonight and he wolfed it down in record time, then asked for more. In fact, he asked for more fish before he asked for more Kool-aid! And Spence wasn't far behind him. Mike was in a green bean mood, though, so he wouldn't even touch the salmon. Oh well. Two out of three kids ain't bad.

100 Pushups - Week 4 Exhaustion Test & Musings

I was planning on doing my exhaustion test tonight after I put the boys to bed, but sometimes my Sabbath "day of rest" is anything but...and I figured I'd need to be at least somewhat rested to come anywhere close to 50 push ups. So this morning, after breakfast, I went up to my room to get some privacy, and started psyching myself up.

Since both of my older boys were already awake and downstairs, I figured they'd be asking questions, running around, bickering with each other, etc., and that I'd have to stop halfway through my set and separate them. Not exactly an environment conducive to concentration. There was only one unforeseen problem: the carpet in my bedroom is a bit less worn that the carpet in my living room, and is a bit more slippery. So when I was "resting" between push ups (forming an upside-down U with my hindparts in the air), my hands were sliding away from my feet and apart from each other. Again, not exactly an environment conducive to concentration.

I maxed at 55 push ups today, and I think I might have had another 5 to 7 in me somewhere, had I been able to concentrate better. Either way, I still think Monday is going to...how shall I say it? "Whip my hud?" That's probably sufficient.

On a separate but related note, I've been reading some of my fellow hundred push ups challengers and have felt rather inadequate. There are men (and women!) who have been maxing at 50-60 push ups every day since week 2. Meanwhile, I've been barely eeking out the minimum maximum. It's been rather disheartening, to say the least. Then, I read Steve Speirs' blog and started feeling a bit better about myself.

You might expect that the guy who runs the hundredpushups.com website would be a push up God...but (and no offense to you if you read this, mate) he's just a regular guy like me. He has had to repeat a week, he maxes out at around the recommended max, and he struggles with the sets sometimes. Steve, you may not know me from Adam, but I've got to thank you. You've helped me realize that this program is attainable for us humans.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kara's Blog

Shameless plug here:

My sweet, adorable wife, Kara, has just started a blog, http://reallygoodatmath.blogspot.com/. Several of the readers of this blog have asked me if she has one, and the answer was no. Your prayers have been answered...or something like that.

No go and comment on her blog please, and make her feel like someone out there is reading it. She really is a rather amusing writer, so it certainly won't be a chore or anything.

Friday, August 22, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 4 Day 3

Okay, I was really, really nervous about how I would do today. The sets were 30, 22, 22, 20, max > 29, with 120 seconds between sets. I had already done 223 push ups this week, and spent the afternoon outside, in the heat, playing with my family at a friend's farm, not resting. Oh, and unlike my experience with previous weeks, I was sore going into today's sets.

But I did it. I got every single push up--and then some. With only 2 minutes between sets, I maxed at 35 push ups today after having completed 94! Somehow, I forgot that those extra 30 seconds between sets (30 seconds more than day 2's sets) makes all the difference. I'll have to remember that for next week.

Speaking of next week...

I thought I was scared of today's sets. Next week has me quaking in my proverbial moon boots. *cough*Rob*cough* Day 1's sets are 40, 32, 30, 25, max > 40. Are you joking? But before I get to week 4, I still need to do my exhaustion test this weekend. My goal is to get 50 push ups, which is more than double where I started (I got 21 push ups on my pretest...I've come a long way!), but I don't think it's unreasonable. Okay, it's unreasonable, but I still think I might be able to squeak out half a hundred. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 4 Day 2

Tough set today. 27, 21, 21, 18, max > 25. I was hurting at the 18 set and wasn't sure I'd be able to make the max set, but I pulled through and got all 112 today. Friday's set just plain scares me: 30, 22, 22, 20, max > 29? In my dreams. Still, I'm going to go for it. I'm really curious as to how my exhaustion test will go this weekend.

I am getting a lot of positive support from the guys at the gym. They're asking me questions about the program and how I'm doing--it's kinda nice.

No-knead Pseudo-Sourdough Rehash

I made mention of this recipe once before but I thought I'd rehash it because:
  1. It just may be my favorite bread ever! It's got a nice chewy crust, and just a hint of the sourdough flavor without the harshness sourdough sometimes gives. Oh, and there's no sourdough starter to maintain either!
  2. The first mention was a pretty popular landing place on my blog, so I thought I'd give it some spotlight time.
  3. It is so super easy that everyone should try it at least once.
  4. I've got pics for most of the steps now.
  5. FAVRIT. BREAD. EVAR.

When I make this bread, I do it in a regular 10" dutch oven, usually in my oven. (I don't always have the patience to wait for the coals, then to feed them while it's cooking.) I suppose you could do this on a sheet pan or in a large casserole dish, but IMHO, everyone should have a dutch oven. :) Heck, it might be worth it to get one just for this recipe!

So how does this recipe work with no kneading and 1/4 tsp of yeast? Time. In order to have a good risen bread you need gluten. One way to develop the gluten is to knead and knead and knead. Another way is to let the bread rise for a long time. This bread uses the latter method obviously, and as far as I'm concerned, takes a lot of the guesswork out of breadmaking. You don't need to worry if it has been kneaded enough, or if there's enough flour in it, or if it has risen long enough. This is almost "Bread for Dummies." Try it. You might like it. And if you do try it, let me know how it goes.

No-knead Pseudo-Sourdough

Ingredients
17 1/2 ounces* bread flour, plus extra for shaping
1/4 teaspoon active-dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 ounces filtered water
2 tablespoons cornmeal

*Why is the flour measured by weight? Primarily, because that's what Alton Brown does, and this is his recipe. But why does he measure flour by weight? Because, he alleges, flour is easily compactable and your 4 cups of flour may weigh significantly more or less than my 4 cups of flour, leading to there being either too much or too little flour in the recipe. I picked up a dinky little kitchen scale at Wal-Mart for about $4, which does the trick; however, I wouldn't mind it at all if someone were to buy me a nice kitchen scale for Christmas... hint hint

Recipe
Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl.



Add the water and stir until combined.



Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (do not use a towel or your bread will dry out, develop a skin, and get yucky!) and allow to sit at room temperature for 19 hours.



After 19 hours, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. (You may want to sprinkle the dough lightly with flour if it gets too sticky to work with.) Punch down the dough and turn it over onto itself a couple of times. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, shape dough into a ball. Coat hands with flour if needed to prevent sticking.



Sprinkle the tea towel with half of the cornmeal and lay the dough on top of it, with the seam side down. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the other half of the cornmeal and cover with the towel. Allow to rise for another 2 to 3 hours or until dough has doubled in size.



Oven baking:
While the dough is rising the second time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a 5-quart Dutch oven in the oven while it preheats. Once the dough is ready, carefully transfer it to the preheated Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 210 to 212 degrees F. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.



Outdoor coals:
Heat charcoal in a chimney starter until ash covers all of the coals. Place 20 to 24 coals on a Dutch oven table. Set a 5-quart Dutch oven on top of this rack and allow to preheat during the last 30 minutes of the second rise. Carefully transfer the dough to the Dutch oven and cover with the lid. Place 20 coals on top. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 210 to 212 degrees F. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New 100 Pushups Shirt!

Me wearing my new "I'm doing the hundred" shirt!

Monday, August 18, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 4 Day 1

Finally! Week 4! The sets for today were 27, 20, 20, 17, max > 27, with 1 minute in between.

I have come to the conclusion that push ups, like life in general, are harder on Mondays. This one measly stinkin' minute between sets almost did me in today. As it was, I was struggling to get the 17 set in so I gave myself 2 minutes before the max set. I just barely made that max set, and I mean by the skin of my teeth. But 27 is 27, right? And they were *cough* mostly *cough* good form push ups.

For any of y'all who are keeping track, today's total number of push ups was 111, which is also a palindrome. Friday's total will be 129! Yeesh!

I ordered a shirt from the hundredpushups.com store the other day, and wore it to the gym for the first time today. I intentionally got a medium so that it would fit snug, but not too tightly. :) One of the guys that works out at the same time I do--I see him around quite a bit--said that I was "looking big." He made my week. Although, now that I think of it, he very well may have said that I was looking "fig," as in seedy and rather purple. I hope it was the former. But after doing today's sets, I probably was rather purplish. *sigh*

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Birthday Cake

In the September 2008 issue of Bon Appetit, I found the most delicious-sounding cake recipe! It's called Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling, and...just wow. Now, my cake didn't turn out picture perfect--in fact, I'm afraid it'll break the camera if I try to get a photo!--but I tasted all of the ingredients separately and they were really darn good. Together, the combination of all three is heavenly! The caramel has a hint of salty-sweet tartness. The cake is moist and rich. The ganache...how can you go wrong with chocolate and cream? I used Ghirardeli chocolate, so that might have helped.

Oh, and this cake has over 3 cups of heavy cream, so it's got to be good!

Caramel Filling
Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Large pinch Fleur de Sel (a type of sea salt--I used Kosher)

Directions
Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in deep medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; cover pan and cook 4 minutes. Uncover; increase heat to high. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 6 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Whisk in butter, then sour cream, lemon juice, and a pinch of fleur de sel. Cool Completely.

Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

Ganache Filling and Frosting
Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 cups heavy cream

Directions
Place chocolate in a large bowl. Bring cream to simmer in a medium saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate. Let soften 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate is smooth. Cool, then cover and chill overnight.

Ganache can be made up to 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.

Brig's note: I never chilled my ganache, but I did let it cool to room temperature. Maybe that's why it decided to slide so much...

Cake
Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup hot water
1 1/4 cup almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped

Directions
Position rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch diameter cake pans with 2-inch high sides. (I realized after I put the mix in my regular 9" pans that it would spectacularly overflow during cooking so I transferred the batter to 10" pans. I don't recommend that approach.) Line bottom of each with parchment paper; butter paper and dust pan with flour. (Also an important step!)
Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add milk, eggs, melted butter, and water. Using electric mixer, beat at low speed until blended. Increase speed and beat 2 minutes. Beat until blended (batter will be thin). Divide batter between pans (about 3 cups each).
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks about 10 minutes. Cut around cakes; turn out onto racks. Peel off parchment and cool completely.
Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 layer on platter; spread with 1/2 cup room-temperature ganache. Spoon 3/4 cup ganache into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch plain round tip. (I ended up using a dremel to cut off, then file down, one of my existing tips that I knew I wouldn't use much.) Pipe ring of ganache around the edge of layer. Spread 1/4 cup room-temperature caramel filling evenly inside ring. Sprinkle caramel with large pinch of fleur de sel, then 1 tablespoon almonds. Top with second cake layer, ganache, ganache ring, caramel filling, fleur de sel, and almonds. Repeat with third cake layer. Top with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Press remaining almonds onto sides.

Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Change to Comments

For what it's worth, I just changed commenting on this blog to be open everyone. I didn't know it was restricted to Google users until I was perusing the settings today.

So comment away, y'all!

12 Years!



Happy Anniversary to Kara and me!
Happy Anniversary to Kara and me!
Happy Anniversary to us!
Happy Anniversary to Kara and me!

12 years, and I'm still hot fer your bod, baby! I love you!



Oh, and Happy Birthday to me, too!


(I contemplated putting the "projects" label on this just to see if anyone noticed...but I didn't.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 3 Day 3 (for the last time!)

I not only won today, I spanked it.

The sets were 30, 22, 22, 20, max > 27. Repeating the mantra , "I can do this!" before each set, I was able to get the first 4 sets with only moderate difficulty. After my 2 minute rest from the 20 set, I thought, "I really think I can do this!" and launched myself at it. When I hit 27, I still had some left in me, so I pushed all the way to 30!

Okay, so three stinkin' push ups may not seem like that big of a deal, but after last week's struggle to do the week 3 sets, this was a major personal victory. On to week 4!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 3 Day 2 (again)

I know there are many of you out there on the net who are waiting with bated breath for my 100 pushups updates *cough*, so here's another fix for ya'll:

This second week of week 3 is going by much better than the first time, and to be honest I'm a bit surprised. Today's set was 27, 19, 19, 15, max > 25 with 90 second intervals in between. I did all the pushups in every set with no extra rest time! It was still tough, but not quite as tough as Monday's set I think.

I'll be curious to see what my max is at the end of this week... I mean, when I started this whole thing, I maxed at 21, and I'm regularly doing more than that--several times a week, in fact. Maybe 35? I don't think I could do 40 yet, but I might be able to catch 35.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Caving Nature Photos

I also grabbed the chance to take some macro photos of things that I wouldn't normally see, like condensation on a cave roof. That sort of thing. And since I can't resist flower closeups, I snagged some of those on my hike out. And yes, that's a Kentucky cactus.








Bats! Oh my!

So, Brig, what did you do this weekend?

How nice of you to ask! I went on a campout.

Oh really? How was it?

Pretty neat. We went spelunking. I slept in a cave. With bats.







100 Pushups - Week 3 Day 1 (again!)

Well, I knew I'd be doing week 3 again...but I hoped it wouldn't suck as bad. Well, I was right on one of the two.

Today was 25, 17, 17, 15, max > 25. I knew I'd be in trouble on the max set when my arms started shaking on the second 17 set. When I was sweating at 12 of 15, I figured I was doomed. But somehow, through either supreme mind over matter or channeling a bit of Arnold (it's not a tumah!) I squeezed out every single bit of 25 push ups on that max set. Well, mayhaps "every single bit" is misleading. My body was straight, but maybe, just maybe, those last 15 or so weren't quite as low as they should have been. Perhaps.

And it is entirely conceivable that the only reason why I was able to hold up my weight at all was that I waited two minutes before the last set instead of the recommended one...but really now, who's counting? I mean except me. Hey, it says right on the hundredpushups.com web site "rest 60 seconds between each level (longer if required)" so I guess technically it's all good, right? I would imagine that resting, say, 30 minutes between sets rather negates some of the muscular benefits from doing one set right after the other, but is still technically within the letter of the plan. Not that I'd do that, but it's nice to know the letter of the law sometimes, don't you think?

Next week, unless something horrendous happens later this week, I'll go on to week 4.

Friday, August 8, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 3 Day 3

Okay, I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now. Today's sets were 30, 22, 22, 20, max > 27. Before I did my first set, I wasn't even really sure I'd make all 30; however, I think this week has really helped build up my strength! I got through the 30 without dying!

The 22s were tough--I "rested" by arching my back either way up or way down, but I never touched the floor, about halfway through each. The 20 was pretty gruelling, too. But I left myself double the rest time before the max set again, and I think it made a lot of difference--I maxed at 30! I was somewhat amazed when I actually hit 27 and didn't collapse to the floor, so I figured what the heck? I squeezed out 3 more to make it a round 30.

I had a hard enough time with this week that I'll do it again next week, but I have confidence that I'll be able to move on to week 4 after one more round of week 3.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 3 Day 2

Before I started it, I thought today's workout would kill me. It turns out it wasn't so bad! Tough, sure, but not as gruelling as I had envisioned that it could be. The set was 27, 19, 19, 15, max > 25, with 90 second breaks in between. The 27 wasn't so bad, the 19s were tough, and the 15 almost didn't happen. But I waited 180 seconds before the max set--I figured that waiting double the time was better than getting maxing out at 5 pushups!--and was able to get 21! All in all, I did... drumroll please!... 101 pushups! And as encouraging as that sounds, I am painfully (stress the "pain" part of that) aware that I've got some work to do before I am anywhere near 100 consecutive.

Oh, and now everyone from my gym knows that I'm working towards the hundred. I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Even More Shower Anagrams

What might one receive after a gruelling day of shopping on Rodeo Drive? Probably some pretty posh battle wounds...


...and if I gave birth to a huge troll, I don't think I'd pay my OB bills either!


So challenge me: What word or subject should I use in a future shower anagram?

Monday, August 4, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 3 Day 1

Oh my. This week is going to be killer. Day 1 just about did me in...in fact, this was the first time that I didn't way overmax on the last set. In fact, I only got to 20 out of 25. The set was 25, 17, 17, 15, > 25, and I was doing okay (sorta!) until that last set. I even gave myself 2 minutes before the max set instead of the normal 1 minute.

My suspicions were confirmed today: I'll be doing week 3 at least twice, in order to complete it properly.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 2 Days 2 & 3 (2nd Pass)

I finished days 2 and 3 of week 2 without incident. Day 3 wasn't actually all that tough, and both days I maxxed at least 5 over what was recommended. However, I seem to recall week 3 being particularly rough.

On a brighter note, my wife says she notices a difference (insert Hans and Franz voice) in my pectoral muscles! It is because I am pumped up!

More Nature Photos

These are from a set I took today when I went out to look at our sunflowers...



Saturday, August 2, 2008

More Shower Anagrams

Okay, so they don't make a whole lot of sense, but I'm working with a pretty limited set of letters.

Oh, and this is a different set from the previous pic since the kids grabbed the letters for their tub, and I had to pluck some back at random.


I can see the headline now: "Bump spoils loopy hair net!" Wait until the readers of the Daily Punctilio read this!