The sun was just extending its arms into the sky when I got up this morning.  Early!  With triathlon swim lessons scheduled for Thursdays at 6:45 in the morning starting next week, I figure this week is a good time to program my body for this new early schedule.  It is less likely that I'll skip the lesson if I get up at the crack-o-stupid every day.

Yesterday was my first day on the new schedule, and I started out punching the keyboard shortly after seven in the morning.  Wow!  It was quite nice being able to get some focus-specific work done without anyone there.  No interruptions lent to some good productivity.  When 11:45 rolled around, I was more than ready to take my lunch.  As life would have it, I didn't leave until almost 12:45.  So be it.  I still managed to get in a great swim, get back to work, and solve problems.  The evening found me cooking again, but I threw in a twist: chicken breasts with a side salad, croissants, and croissant-covered, baked Brie.  Yum!  All in all a great day!

From Drop Box

Although I didn't get to bed until close to midnight last night, I was still confident that getting up early would pay off.  The morning started out fine.  I steamed along at work, attending emails and trying to move forward on a long-standing task.  I didn't get as far along as I wanted, and the dreaded Tuesday meetings started.  Soon enough, it was noon, and I was stuck in a 90+ minute meeting.  We did get lunch, but I wasn't knocking off tasks as I would have liked.  Right after the meeting, Jesse and I spent time with co-workers explaining some of the more interesting and confusing characteristics of HTML-based email.  Not a half hour later, I was in another hour-long meeting.

Four thirty was staring at me, and a high-priority fix consumed another hour.  Conspicuously missing: my workout!  My run!  It didn't happen.  In fact, I didn't get out of the office until 18:00!  Arg!  I started out early hoping to carve out time in the afternoon or leave early and neither happened.

"Block out time, at the same time of day, every day, and people will schedule around you." This was the advice given me by my boss about a month or so ago.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.  Life, and all that comes with it, sometimes shuffles priorities and timelines around you.  I said I wanted to complain, and if I left the post here, it might qualify.

In fact, I headed home in a sour mood, forewarning Meghan before I got there.  I wanted to order supper, deliver, and then run while everyone ate.  That's when I learned that our back door was stuck.  Connor had slammed the door once too many times.  The hinges had loosened in the old frame, and the doorknob bolt was stuck in the extended position.  I couldn't have a fire hazard in the house over night, so back to work I went.

It just so happened that I had a set of new door locks awaiting installation from last August or September.  After cutting out the old slide with a saws-all and remounting the door, I picked up dinner at McDonalds and finished up the lock installation by around 20:45.  All in all, I've had approximately 30 minutes of down-time today.

The whole day today has been about dealing with the pot holes on the road that life takes you. One after another I dodged, swerved, or jumped over them. I'm not always graceful, and I don't always land on my feet, but I always get up and keep moving.

Tomorrow?  Another early day.  In fact, it's time to turn in.  I have a plan, and this one involves a morning run while dropping off the car to get an oil change.  I know I'll make this one, since there won't be any interruptions from work to deal with -- lesson learned.  Still, who knows what's going to happen.

From Drop Box
I've finished my favorite night-cap, so it's time to say good night!  Here's to a pothole-filled day!



Bigbee's Sloppy Joes

Night had arrived early, as it does this time of year, and brought a howling wind to toss the new snow about.  Even with proper attire, you would be hard pressed to stay warm.  As I began cleaning the kitchen to prepare for dinner, a solid knock was heard above the ruckus outside.  On the stoop leaned an older man dressed in strange attire, carrying sacks and bags over his shoulder and attached to a wide army belt.  His grey beard whipped about, and tufts of grey hair stuck out from under his stocking cap.  He coughed before speaking.

"Pardon me, but my car has broken down around the block.  No one is answering their doors tonight.  Could I be so bold as to ask to stay inside and borrow your phone to call a towing agency?"

Normally, I would ask for the person to stay on the stoop and hand the phone to him, but it was not a night for leaving someone out in the cold.  He didn't seem drunk, nor was he trying to sell me anything.

"Please.  Come in.  My name is Chad, and these are my son's Connor and Ryan." Peter was jumping all over the man, of course.  The little Boston simply can't contain his excitement.

"Oh, ho, little one."  The name had a pleasant smile and a crackly chuckle. He reached down to pat the incorrigible dog.  I tossed him the wireless phone and invited him to make himself comfortable.

"Pardon me, but I've got supper to make.  Connor, Ryan.  Tubby time."  I figured having the boys in the bathroom and not in the stranger's way was a good move.  The boys hopped to, happy to have time in the bubble tub.  Meghan was off at Katie's for the night, her Wednesday routine.  I'd definitely have to tell her about our visitor when she got home.

Time to turn back to dinner, or rather deciding what to make with the meager pantry.  I had hamburger, bread, some ketchup and and onions.  I needed something that was quick and delicious to a 5 year old and toddler.

"Could I be of some assistance?"  The old man still wore his coat with its many assorted, draped bags and sacks.  "I believe this should work nicely."  He handed me a 3x5" recipe card with the following inscription:

Bigbee's Sloppy Joes
1 lb ground beef (93/7)
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 tsp Worchteshire sauce
1/4 tsp ground mustard seed
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Brown the beef and drain.  Saute the onions in a little vegetable oil.  Mix the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, and chile powder.  Return the beef to the skillet and add stock and ketchup mixture.  Simmer 5-10 minutes.  Serve on toasted bread or hamburger buns.

Bigbee?  Now, where have I heard that name before?  The old man smiled and nodded.  "Thanks for letting me borrow your phone.  The wrecker will be here shortly.  I'd best be at the car when it arrives."

I escorted the old man out the front door and locked it behind him, shook my head, and prepared dinner.  The boys ate with gusto, leaving not a morsel behind.  It didn't hurt serving the sloppy joes with tater tots.  Ever since that night, I've wanted to properly thank the man for such a kind gift, but I never heard from him again.


Slow workout week on account of busy...

Busy.  Always busy.  This is something I think everyone has to struggle with, how to accomplish all of the goals you set forth for yourself through the week and beyond.  This week was a tough one for me.  I seem to lose momentum on the weekends, as Saturdays are generally reserved for taking care of the boys while Meghan gets a day to sleep in and then run afternoon errands.  I plan on running my long-slow-distance on Sundays, but that rarely comes to be.  It has been my day to sleep in then cook an afternoon brunch of waffles, pancakes, Eggs Benedict or other terribly satisfying and lethargy-inducing food.  It was waffles today.

Monday's weight-lifting workout did happen, but it was in the early evening rather than mid-afternoon as planned.  We had a potential issue at work that needed investigating, one that I thought had a higher priority than it actually proved to be.  I managed to eek in the workout before heading over to my friend's house for late night Cribbage game and a little Scotch.  Yes, "Dad's Night Out" can be quite rewarding!

Tuesday, I missed my afternoon run with the gang on account of busy!  This one was perhaps my fault.  I scheduled a production release of software before lunch, which can sometimes run long for unforeseen issues.  I should know better.  Lunch didn't happen until 14:30 CST, just two hours before I had to leave to bring Connor to swimming lessons.  I was going to leave at 15:30 to get my workout in, but had another deadline to meet by the end of the business day.  I didn't get out until 16:30 anyway.  My boss' comment, "Make time for yourself. Plan to be gone and people will adjust around your schedule."  Lovely!  I immediately blocked off an hour and a half for lunches every day.

Wednesday, I made it for my swimming workout!  Wahoo!  It seems that I am effective in applying  the "Total Immersion" principles to my swimming. I spent a lot of time focusing on form and keeping my head down, as if I were trying to hold an orange between my chin and my chest. I aimed deliberately for arm re-entry and tried to remain balanced in the water. I did falter a bit when I got tired and sub-luxed my left shoulder (a half-dislocation), and I'm still feeling the after-affects today. I may have over-worked my shoulders on Monday's lifting workout, and the moment I lost my concentration was when it happened. I just need to remember that with good form, I prevent injuries, my efficiency improves, and I swim better. The results showed this: two 400 meter legs with only a five minute break between them. My goal is 1600 meters, 64 laps, in an hour -- no stopping.

Thursday was a nice run with our afternoon "club". We ran West along the river and back again. The pace felt a little fast for me for some reason, I think perhaps because I didn't have a good breakfast at all and had coffee all morning. I really need to eat healthier throughout the day if I want to get the most benefit out of these workouts. It's early in the season, so I can afford to make these little mistakes and adjust accordingly.

Friday was a loss on account of busy. This time it was a company lunch! I knew ahead of time, though, and should have adjusted my workout to the morning. Failing to do so meant lost potential and momentum.

You of course know what happened Saturday, my rest day, and today: waffles. So, what dos this tell me about the upcoming week? Plan effectively, eat healthy morning meals, and remember that form is everything.  Oh, and waffles are REALLY tasty!