Thursday, February 26, 2009

25 Random Things about Me

Creating a list of 25 random things about yourself is popular on Facebook right now. I created a list, so I'll share it here with the non-facebookers.
  1. Throughout middle school I had braces, 2 expanders, face gear, and 2 retainers. The roof of my mouth got infected for one of the expanders so they had to take it out (expanders are cemented on to your teeth) and put it back in an additional time.
  2. I am over-the-top competitive. I am able to somewhat hide it in certain circumstances but I still hate losing and do dirty things to ensure victory.
  3. My wife is also overly competitive. We cannot play each other in simple games because we both just get mad. We tried to play war once, and had to quit because of a heated disagreement on a technicality. Our children are going to have problems.
  4. At one point I knew the first 200 digits of pi by memory. I now only know (I think) 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884.
  5. I got a D- on my first college paper. My mom proof read nearly all of my college papers after that.
  6. My favorite candy is M&Ms. Peanut, regular, or peanut butter. I could eat them all day.
  7. I dislike wallets. I carry a money clip and regularly purge any unnecessary cards or receipts.
  8. Since college I have run 4 marathons, 4 riverbanks (25k), 3 half marathons, and a half ironman.
  9. My goal is to always be in good enough running shape to run 10 miles. I do a 10 mile run in any new big city I travel to so that I can aimlessly wander around the downtown. I have completed 10 mile runs on 3 continents (Asia, SA, NA), in 3 countries (Thailand, Brazil, US) , and in 12 states (AZ, CA, HI, IL, IN, MA, MI, MO, NY, NV, OR, WY).
  10. My best minesweeper scores are 62 (expert), 18 (intermediate), and 2 (beginner).
  11. My best free cell streak is 112 wins in a row without losing or restarting.
  12. I am very cheap. At the beginning of the summer of 2001 I had $56 in my wallet. I decided to buy gas with my credit card and spend no more than $56 on everything else for the entire summer. I succeeded, and $30 of my spending was on a single date. Fortunately (for my cheap budget), that girl broke up with me in June.
  13. I lost 50 lbs during the summer of 1999. I dropped from 265 to 215 in about 4 months. Several classmates did not recognize me when I went back to school in the fall.
  14. I struggle with eating. If I'm not careful I'll gain weight no matter what I'm doing. I consistently gain weight even when running 35 miles a week. Once, I gained 10 lbs in a week when I let myself go wild and eat as much as I wanted (on a cruise). I can't stand people that are "trying to gain weight" but can't.
  15. In the summer of 2001 I worked two consecutive days of 20 hours. After a 13 hour day on Monday I worked 8:00 am to 3:30 am on Tuesday, slept for 2.5 hours, worked 8:00 am to 4:30 am on Wednesday, slept for 3.5 hours, and then worked 11 hours on Thursday. I capped the week off with 16 hours on Friday for an 80-hour week in 5 days. I fell asleep driving a loaded truck at the end of the night Wednesday.
  16. I would rather learn how to fix something by quickly attempting it and screwing up than methodically researching it and doing it right the first time.
  17. I can't stand country music, but I really enjoy bluegrass.
  18. I played the string bass for 11 years, including 3 years of college orchestra. I was first chair most of those years. However, I routinely faked the difficult and fast sections. Also, I was usually first chair by default (the only bass player).
  19. Before college I was told that cafeteria food was terrible and that I would survive on cereal. I was confident I would love cafeteria food and decided not to eat cereal at all to prove whoever said that wrong. I did not eat a single bowl of cereal for the 3 years I lived on Calvin's campus.
  20. I can juggle 4 balls.
  21. I've never had a headache.
  22. I've never had coffee.
  23. I've completed the 30 hour famine (originally to raise money in youth group for hunger awareness) 6 times. After telling a roommate about it in 2001, I made a $1 bet that I could go the next 30 hours without eating or drinking anything except water. No problem.
  24. The first time I got in a varsity basketball game in high school I launched a 1/2 court shot with 10 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. I was dribbling down the sideline and a fan said "ten." In my excitement I thought I heard "two" and let it fly. I missed.
  25. I can't whistle.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

February Life

I got a little older this weekend, a whole year in fact. I celebrated with family parties and good food. On Friday my family of 3 took me out to eat. On Saturday and Sunday I had more good food with extended family. We ate the same cake the entire weekend. It was a 4 layer chocolate on chocolate cake provided by brother-in-law, who is in the restaurant business. The cake is 10" tall and has 18,000 calories. Each piece is a whopping 1,800 calories with 250% of your daily saturated fat. The cake fed 18 people, and we only finished 1/2 of it.
Evelyn will have cousins very soon, and I will finally be an uncle. Gwen is 36 weeks and Cindy is 32 weeks. Despite having 8 weeks until her due date, Cindy is measuring full term because she is growing two boys inside. She demonstrated by balancing two glasses of water on her belly.
Evie continues to develop character. She plays with her food regularly and makes a snout and "snorts" sometimes. She also swats violently at her bottle and spoon as soon as she decides she's done.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Appalachian Trail

I was going through some old files and found a recap of my first and only backpacking experience. Rob, Reuben, and I decided we wanted to take a road trip before our senior year of Calvin and do some backpacking. We thought we were tough, so we decided to hike the Duncan Ridge Trail which was dubbed the "toughest trail in Georgia." Here is my recap. It is kind of long and boring so I highlighted the important parts in RED (mostly our blunders). As you can see by the elevation chart the trail is nothing but ups and downs. None of us had even backpacked before. Aside from hiking the 30 miles of Duncan Ridge we had to hike 10 miles to access the start and another ten miles to reach our car at the end (where a friend had dropped it off).

September 2, 2003: Drove down from West Lafayette Indiana and did not allow ourselves enough time. We were also driving down with the sister of one of my roommates and planned on having her drop us off at three forks, however the complexity of our situation and apparent difficulty of navigating all of those Forest Service roads we had never been on before was too much in the dark. So we decided to have her drop us off at Amocola Falls state park which is right off of GA 52, adding 10 miles to our original plan. After filling up on one last good meal at McDonalds we started hiking at 9:30 pm (totally dark). Went about 2 miles up the access trail to the Appalachian Trail (AT) and set up camp.

September 3, 2003 (Wed) Hiked 5.5 miles to the southern terminus of the AT at the top of Springer Mountain by 10:30 am. After a short stay we trekked to three forks by noon and filled our water at the river there. Decided to filter and treat the water here but not again because it took so long and we were impatient. We decided to go to the Toccoa River for the night. The Benton Macaye Trail (BMT) was very difficult but easy to follow. Slight overgrowth rubbed against the legs but nothing too bad. We began experiencing fatigue around 2 and painfully stumbled to the footbridge over the Toccoa around 5:30 after a 20 mile day. Our water source was a nice stream at the base of the bridge on the south side. As the sun began to set the clouds rolled in and we had a big thunderstorm most of the night.

September 4, 2003 (Thurs) Woke up wet and disheartened and started hiking toward highway 60. After walking the 3 miles to GA 60 in a downpour we decided to quit and hitchhike back to Neels gap. In the 1.5 hours we spent trying to get a ride the sky cleared and our spirits lifted slightly so we decided to continue and finish what we started. The decision was very painful at first as the Wallalah and Licklog mountain climbs were incredibly hard and steep. We trekked on and finally split off the BMT and solely onto the Duncan Ridge Trail (DRT). Rhodes Mountain was supposed to have a good view but there wasn't so much as a peak. The rest of the day was more ups and downs and we hiked until we thought we reached Mulky Gap. We found a small stream about 500 yards down the main road at the clearing. We ate dinner and decided to get the 800 ft. ascent up West Wildcat out of the way before we went to bed. However after an hour of hiking we hadn't tackled any big hills and we pitched camp at 8:00 pm after about 15 miles of hiking for the day.

September 5, 2003 (Fri) Thinking we only had 8 miles left we started early to be done early. After 45 minutes of hiking we came to a clearing that had a gated road with a handicap sign on it and we realized that THIS was mulky gap. That was a miserable feeling (remember, we thought we were at Mulky Gap before dinner the previous night). So we continued and west wildcat was a hard ascent and the ups and downs continued. The hike dragged on in difficult fashion until we finally reached GA 180 where we knew we were almost done. The hike up Slaughter Mountain was hard but ranked about 7th of all the ascents. Going up Blood Mountain was an easy grade but rocky and hard on the feet after 45 miles. The summit of Blood Mountain was the first good view (or any view) since Springer Mountain some 40 miles ago. The last 2.4 miles were very painful on the feet as it was steep and rocky but the sight of the car at neels gap was so rewarding. Did about 13 miles on this day.

RECAP: The Duncan Ridge Trail was a very trying hike. It takes the right kind of hiker to enjoy it. I was physically challenged the entire time and the climbs did not disappoint. I'd say that about 90% of the hike was an incline or decline. I felt the hardest portion of the hike was the Wallalah/Licklog climbs but almost all of the other climbs were also very hard. I was expecting the Benton Macaye section to be the easiest part but it was just as hard. The DRT was very well marked with old and new blue blazes and staying on the trail was not a problem. I was hiking with the capacity of 6 Liters of water and each of my friends 1. We never risked running out and drank as we pleased. All three of us, though, got a bad case of traveler's diarrhea (terrible liquid poo) for about 3 days after the hike from the water because we didn't filter or treat it most of the way. The DRT was slightly overgrown but not that bad and overall I’d say the trail was in good shape. We did a total of about 50 miles in 18.5 hours of actual hiking (had a stopwatch just for timing our hiking-includes full 50 miles, not just DRT) but don't fool yourself into thinking you can do more than about 7 hours of hiking in one day. As far as scenery I was very disappointed. We kept spending so much energy to get to the top of a mountain and then did not see anything except trees and trees and trees. It was nothing but woods the entire hike except a small window on Springer Mountain and a bunch of good views from the top of Blood Mountain. For wildlife we saw a few deer (big deal, see them all the time in MI), a turtle (wow), and insects (cool butterflies at least). Also disappointing. For the entire hike we saw one other person hiking (going up Springer Mountain as we were going down) and two guys fishing in the Toccoa River for awhile. So we didn't see a soul on the DRT. On the whole I’d rate the hike as perfect for the right kind of person and an extreme challenge with little payoff for anyone else. If you enjoy solitude, plants, and great exercise this is the hike for you. But if you're like me and like exercise but really enjoy the cool views and sights along the way then I recommend you pick a hike with better attractions. The Amocola Falls we saw after 200 yards of hiking were probably the best out of everything.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ten Months

Little Miss Evelyn now runs the show at our house. At ten months she is very mobile and very curious. She has been pulling herself to standing for the last month and now stands up in the middle of the room when she wants and can balance for 15 seconds. In the blink of an eye she'll be in another room.Some of her favorite activities are opening drawers and pulling out the contents, getting chased by dad, and following mom wherever she goes. She kind of knows what "da" and "ma" mean and points at us in pictures. She also waves and claps, although not always when asked.
Her hair has grown long enough to fashion into a Mohawk after bath time.

Evie has already been to her first Michigan-OSU game and sat in a fire truck

Evie is not scared of much and is comfortable around almost everyone. The one person she is consistently afraid of is my brother Derek. Derek? He looks like me, doesn't have facial hair, and is very sweet to her. Derek wanted to be an uncle for the longest time, and now his niece cries whenever he gets close. Poor Derek.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Las Vegas

I ventured to Las Vegas with two brother-in-laws and a friend last week. Dave scored an awesome suite at the Venetian and we bummed off him.We had a great time playing casino games, hanging out, and checking out the hotels.
Our favorite playing casino was Casino Royale.
I learned a new game - Paigow.
The fountain at the Bellagio was spectacular as usual.
Overall it was a great 3 days in Vegas. We didn't break the bank, but we did find a way to scam the casino on a match play bet.
Vegas is expensive. At the airport the have the $10 store.

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