Being ‘from boston’

I’ve been in the greater boston area since fall of 1996. I’ve never lived in Boston. Closest I have ever lived to the city was 16 miles. The Boston area is a large metro population, with it’s spoke and hub, the suburbs spread far and wide. However when ever in a distant city, I always orient people to where I’m from as it’s location relative to Boston. I’ll always be a boston sports fan, even though I’m mostly a homer and a fair weather fan. While it has it’s issues, too numerous to name, it also has it’s reasons to be Proud. I like it inspire of it’s flaws.  I claim it as my own.

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My fondest memories of the city, are of the 2004 red sox victory parade. You can see from these photos, how crazy the city was. The streets are filled with people on a cold rainy late fall day. The spirit of the fans was electric having won the world series after such a drought.

This photo was taken during the parade, on Boylston St. street just feet away from where both of the bombs went off this past Monday.

I can’t help but think, with both Tasha and I (sometimes) aspiring runners, that some day in the future it could be one of us standing near the finish waiting for a loved one. As a matter of fact Tasha is signed up for her first 26.2 this fall in DC, at the http://www.marinemarathon.com/

This just hits a little too close to home.

I will try not to hold april 15 2013 in my mind as how I think of Boston, and the boston marathon (other than how amazing the first responders were in saving lives.) I prefer remember October 30th 2004 as how I see the city.

I think I need to go watch watch We still believe.

 

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Days go by.

As I sit here watching Monday night football, I’m pondering how much has changed since my last post. Back in early 2011 we had an 17 month old, and Tasha was very pregnant with our second. I was just dipping my toe into home brewing, Tasha had completing a the Dr. Sears nutrition course, and had begun contemplating further education. Abby was talking quite a bit for her age, and we thought we had it all figured out. Little did we know…

Flash forward 20 months. We’ve got a very active nearly two year old, a 3 year old with an amazing ability to communicate, Tasha will be graduating from Grad school in mid 2013, and I am starting a new job. Could life be more upside down? Well yes.

We’ve pretty much shut this site down, but if you do want to follow what we are doing you can do so here:

http://360lean.com/

http://thebottlefarm.com

http://www.bornwithcholesteatoma.net/

Basically, Tasha’s business, my hobby, and info about our little beanies’ challenges.

Happy Holidays from us here at Cranky n Stinky.com

A,T,A,L

Crossing long overdue items off the list

Sometime all it takes is a just a nudge to finally get something done. I’ve wanted to home brew beer for a long time. I’ve even owned most of the equipment for a few years. What’s been keeping me from getting it done? I suffer from perfection paralysis, I’m not a perfectionist, but with some projects, I can’t seem to get off the ground until things are just right. 

I finally had enough inertia to make the leap this past Monday, and all it took was getting a copy of the complete Joy of Home brewing. It’s funny that after reading the first few chapters of the book, I had enough confidence to get going. It’s rare the that a intro book is this good, if you want to try home brewing, this book will get you started no question. 

The beer I’m brewing is based on the True Brew american wheat extract kit, but I didn’t brew it exactly as it was in the box. I changed the boil time, the hop variety, quantity, and addition times. Those are the changes I intended. I have also made some changes that I did not intend, aka mess ups. I had a boil over, a few unintentional flame outs, I didn’t read the instructions on my yeast, and I had a cooling problem. All of these were just inconveniences and shouldn’t significant’y impact the beer. Or as they say, opportunities to learn. The good news, is that when I checked the airlock the next morning, it was bubbling away. I’d made beer! There are a few more steps to complete, days of fermentation, dry hopping, bottling and bottle conditioning before it’s ready for drinking, but I have made my first batch of beer. 

So what’s next? I’m going to follow the standard home brewing progression. I started with an extract kit, I plan to move on to extract and specialty grain brewing, and eventually making own recipes once I can follow a recipe well. Some day (when I’ve got a lot of free time) I’d like to try all grain brewing. I plan on brewing another batch as soon as I bottle this one, because I know my time afterwards will be limited. If anyone has recipe recommendations, or suggestions on an appropriate style of beer for me to brew I’d gladly take them into consideration. This first batch is going to be a light and hoppy american wheat beer. I’m thinking this next batch should be something appropriate for spring, bonus points for utilizing season appropriate ingredients.

This leaves one question for you. What’s been lingering on your list for a while that will be crossed off next? What will it take to get you to pull the trigger?

Thoughts on the Gulf

I realize I haven’t blogged in almost a year, not even on our daughter’s birth and amazing life unfolding. This is a big topical leap for such a long time… but I want to capture some of my thoughts on what’s been going on in the Gulf because I will be asked about this someday by her. And rightly so. I often picture her asking about many events in human history, most of which I will have only read about myself. I’ll do my best to answer those questions based on what I’ve learned, rather than experienced. But not this. This will join an already painful set of 9/11, the wars, and Katrina as the American experience in the early 21st century. She’ll ask what happened, how we let it happen.
There’s no soft-shoeing, we’re failing here. I see that BP was just the breaking point in the chain of events. It could have been Exxon, Conoco, or some other oil company. When the platform first blew up, the public didn’t really know the extent of the leak; maybe BP did not either. BP certainly did not seemed very concerned, and even now the concern from the company seems more about itself then the spill.
We mostly watched at first. Surely this would be contained quickly, impact minimized, and we could go on with our lives. Lives that depend on plentiful, cheap oil. Lives where most Americans give little thought to how we get our energy. We drive or fly ourselves and our food everywhere, we use plastic bags, toys, tools, medical equipment. For the vast majority of us, even with concerted effort to minimize our oil use, it is pervasive. We like what it gives us for a lifestyle, it makes a lot of tasks easier. And if it’s not oil, it’s coal, also dangerous and destructive to source, and polluting to use. This oil spill came on the heels of a horrible coal mine disaster where 29 miners lost their lives, where another company was scrutinized for safety violations in an effort to save money and speed production. It’d be reflexive to say we didn’t learn the lesson, but these two events were nearly simultaneous symptoms of the problem, the energy appetite unchecked, yet in crisis.
So, in the case of the oil spill, the government deferred to industry; industry said it would be handled quickly. Hours passed into days and weeks. All the while it flowed, estimated 29 million gallons that oozed its way across the ocean, wreaking havoc on any life crossing its path. Now, 46 days later, the oil is still coming. The blame for the lack of clean up floats heavy on the surface, just as the oil does. The blame for its cause, a dark and bigger undercurrent.
The oil has washed up on the shores, covering pelicans to the point where they can only flail in its midst, where even the best efforts of the most numerous and dedicated volunteers will only save some. Humans are so good at damaging each other, which is hard enough to witness. When what we’ve done is put upon animals and ecosystems that have no anticipation, defense, or response, it is numbing, embarrassing. Unlike the claimed intangible damage of climate change, the impact of this human behavior on the environment is laid bare for all to see.
And so we are at a crossroads. What will I tell my daughter in 10 or 15 years, when she asks me these questions? Will I be able to tell her that this was the true gut check to the American people (if not all people), the waning of the days of energy at any cost? Will I be able to tell her that we finally moved to more varied and more sustainable sources? That human and animal lives became more valued in the end, not less so? Will I be able to tell her that her parents played a small part in making this happen?
Or will I be telling her of the opportunity missed, apologizing with heavy heart?

And suddenly it is April!

Well, I promised more updates and so far haven’t really delivered to you, our faithful 5 or so blog readers, ;)
And now it’s April… The snow has finally melted from our huge shoveled piles. It is time for the flowers to be coming up (they are, but slowly), the grass to green (it’s sorta yellow on balance but the hints of green are there), and for us to ponder what the warmer weather will bring. To that end, I mentioned earlier that I won’t be doing a 1/2 Iron triathlon this year. In fact, I won’t be doing any triathlons or cycling this summer, but I will still be swimming and exercising. So what scenario is leading me down a non-tri season path? Some of you know the answer, but a few of you probably do not. My hints on why I’m not racing are below….
1. We will be doing some home projects which will take time.
2. I have to keep my heart rate reasonable.
3. I am being monitored medically.
4. We’ll be taking classes.
5. I’m going to be gaining a bunch of weight.
and last but not least,
6. We are preparing for something we’ve never done before!
Yep, you’ve probably figured it out. Aaron and I are becoming parents – we have a baby on the way. So, this is big news, and it’s real, and we’re very excited. I’m due in September!
And that is today’s blog entry.

7 things you probably do not know about me. M750 edition.

7 things you probably don’t know about me.

1. The nick name I use nearly exclusively online is based on a motorcycle I wanted many years ago, a Ducati monster 750 dark.

2. I took drum lessons in 3rd grade, but was too ADD / ADHD to actually learn anything useful.

3. I own a motorcycle and have long dreamed about a coast to coast ride. (I’d guess that 1/2 of you might not know that)

4. In 5th grade I broke my leg, then Broke my right hand. Since I could not write, I did everything by computer after that, including my spelling homework. I don’t think my teacher knew about spell check. The end result is I’m relatively adept at computers, and my right thumb is about 1/2 inch shorter than my left, and I still can’t spell.

5. I am bad with surprises or secrets. If you tell me that you have a surprise for me, or secret you can’t tell me, it will drive me crazy until I know. If you send me a birthday Card, or present, or Christmas present, I will open it when it arrives.

6. I despise mayonnaise. I will however eat most salad dressings, and hollandaise sauce. Even though I know they are pretty much the same. I’m sure I inherited this from my mother, she also doesn’t eat Mayo. However she has other odd food oddities, like she doesn’t like eggs, but will eat omelets, or french toast. She doesn’t like mustard, but if eating in the dark, she will eat it.

7. I’m a very sensitive guy. So sensitive in fact that when I was little I couldn’t watch the TV show V, or any sad / scary movie. I used to leave the TV room and go hide when things got scary.

2008 Year in Review.

I suppose this is what people do this time of year, they do a year in
review. It’s been a pretty good year. We’ve had a much more ‘normal’
year than 06, or 07, but 2008 has had a few firsts and other exciting
events.
Sold our first Condo.
Watching the Celtics win banner 17.
Became a Godfather again.
T completed her first 1/2 marathon.
Our first animals on the farm, the chickens.
Completed my first century and first double metric on the same ride.
Built our chicken coop with my dad.
Supported our local farmers market, and farmers.
Planted our first garden.
Participating in the road rally.Seeing our friends get married.
Tasha finished her first Olympic distance tri.The first alpacas arrived at the farm.
Austin city limits
The chickens laid their first eggs.
Found a project bike.
A turkey trot at Dana point.
Survived our first major power outage; the ice storm of 08.
First tank crash.

All in all, 2008 just flew by. We have many great plans for 09, and we wish everyone a safe and happy new year.

The kindness of strangers…

Tonight I saw something which is probably (hopefully) once in a lifetime event. I hadn’t been to my health club since last week’s power outages and this week’s snow storms. I had gone up to Milford to get some supplies at the Blue Seal feed store. For those who know Milford, it’s kinda on the far side of town. As I drove by the PSNH office, I couldn’t help but notice it was bustling with activity. Made sense, I thought, there are still a lot of people without power in this area. After I finished up my errands, I drove over to the fitness center. The part of the lot I usually park in was marked off, and signs stated “Reserved for PSNH crews after 7 pm.” As I came in, a man stopped at the front desk and said “Thanks for what you are doing,” but it still didn’t sink in.
Since I was early for my spin class, I wandered down the track which overlooks the basketball court, pool, and racquetball courts. Then it sunk in. All the racquetball courts were closed, and in each one, single mattresses with sheets, duffel bags, electric cords. Probably 20 in each court. It turns out that the gym is housing National Guardsmen and utility crews from all over – a warm place to sleep, hot food, showers, and even a way to relax (they can use the center itself) while they have to do their work. I was amazed.
And on my way out of spin class, they were rolling in. HMMVs and utility bucket trucks by the dozen. From MA, NH, NY, and probably other places too.
I’ve never seen anything like it. And I can’t believe how AWESOME my gym is for doing this.
I had a quick conversation with a lineman on my way out of the lot; he was walking to the building. Something like this:
Me: Thank you guys!
Him: You’re welcome!
Me: How are you holding up?
Him: Great, it’s going well.
Me: Are people being a pain?
Him: Not at all, they’re bringing out soup, everyone’s been real nice.
Me: Good – well, thanks, you’re doing a tremendous job, enjoy the evening.
Him: Will do!
There are real people taking care of each other in this mess, and it’s humbling to see. Too often we hear just the bad.
Picture of some of the parked vehicles (many more driving in) via my cell phone:

My thoughts from during and after the outage.

These were written at or around the same time Tasha was writing her thoughts, Saturday night. My spirits got significantly lower on Sunday am, when the toilet was frozen, and it was 32 in the bedroom.

As we approach hour 40 without power, I’ve been reflecting on the experience so far, and I have to say it hasn’t been terrible.
Yes, it is currently colder than 40 degrees in my bedroom, and yes, I am suffering from internet withdrawal. I am not however going hungry, dying of boredom, or even all that cold. We’ve managed quite well, despite the lack of alternate power, or heat. We’ve gotten by with extra layers, extra blankets, cat warmers, and disposable hand warmers. Not to mention the kindness of family and friends. We’ve spend significant amount of time at my brothers, showering, and getting connected (power and internet). We’ve even dropped our fish off there yesterday. They seem to be doing ok, last we checked today. We’ve also been lucky enough to have numerous offers of help from our friends, and even borrowed some dry firewood. Everything I could acquire locally at this time is not really worth burning, it’s so green and wet.
While it is getting old fast, and it is sapping our spirit a bit, since there doesn’t seem to be much progress on getting power pack, I am sure we can endure a little hardship, and bare another night without power. I don’t think however our heating via fireplace will keep the house warm enough for us to stay another night after tonight. 39 is pretty damn cold.
I am getting a bit worried about the pipes too, supposedly it takes a few cold days to freeze pipes, we’ve had 1 and a half, one more cold night could do it. I’ll be running the water tonight, hopefully, I’ll wake up either sweating from the furnace kicking on, or to the bright ball of fire in the sky and a 50 degree day.

While I was not very verbose, I was confident we were fine the night, but not much beyond that. By mid morning on Sunday we had given up, we had called around to find a shelter or kennel for the cats, and had made plans to stay the night at my brothers. We were done!

Even a few days out we are still ‘recovering’, and all in all we weren’t hit that hard. We didn’t have any damage to the house, very little in the way of tree damage to our fences, or out buildings. The two impacts were to the fridge / freezer, and the fish tank. I would estimate I will be throwing out about 50-100 worth of food. Thank god our chest freezer stayed frozen solid, otherwise the tally could have reached 1k if we didn’t find a home for our meat.

The fish tank on the other hand is nearly a total loss. We were wise enough to move the fish on Friday, they are still in a bucket today. The rest of the tank, the large open brain, corals, snails, crabs, even the bristle worms are all dead. The water is murky, I have been working hard on performing water changes, and changing filters to get the water and live rock back into a livable state. It’s so bad, I haven’t even tested the water. I need to work somewhat fast because the fish cannot live in that bucket indefinitely. I hope to do another large water change today, perhaps 20 gallons, I did about 15 yesterday. I will also try to remove any dead stuff from the tank, I haven’t yet because I wanted to give it all a change to bounce back, if it was alive, but I don’t see that happening two days out.

The local fish store is helping us out with water, and livestock, so, perhaps by the end of this weekend we can have the tank back on its feet. 

However as the saying is, live an learn. I think I’ve learned a bit from this experience. We are buying a generator. :)