I Was Bad Tonight

I have been fairly successful the past few weeks in losing weight using Weight Watchers. I haven't attended any meetings. Mel does however, and I get to take advantage of the materials she gets there. I have been trying to lose weight since the beginning of the year. I have had moderate success, but since I started being more serious about losing weight three weeks ago, I have lost an average of three pounds each week. This evening however, I didn't follow the diet very well. Mel went out with some friends tonight for a baseball game and then to go out to bars. This left me alone for dinner and unfortunately, I made a poor choice nutritionally. I went to Hardee's and got myself one of their Philly Cheesesteak Thickburgers that they have been advertising lately. I knew that the sandwich was not healthy, but I just checked out how unhealthy it is. The sandwich has 930 calories and 63 grams of fat. I am not even going to figure out how many Weight Watchers points that is because I know it is not good. One of the things I like about Weight Watchers is that I can still eat most anything I want, but I need to watch the portions. I do not think that this sandwich can fit in the diet however. I am afraid that I may have to stop going to Hardee's altogether.

Going Away Party

In the fall of 1990, at the beginning of my senior year of high school, my family moved from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo, Iowa. To put it mildly, I was not very happy about this move. I would really have preferred graduating from Jefferson High School than going to a new school, West High School, for one year. Most weekend during the school year, if weather and schedules permitted, I went back to Cedar Rapids to hang out with my friends there. This photo is from my going away party at my friend James's house on September 28, 1990. I have several more photos from this party which may make appearances in the future.

Visiting Friends

Mel and I went to the house of some friends, Melissa and Chris, in North Liberty last night. We hadn't seen them since our wedding in November, and we hadn't seen their new house yet. It was a beautiful house on a large, wooded lot. Mel really enjoyed the massive amount of trees. It was also nice and quiet, except for the pleasant sounds from the wildlife. I got the impression that Mel would like to have a house in that area, or one like it, some day. Perhaps that can be arranged. Another friend of Melissa was able to make it to their house. Unfortunately, the other people she invited could not attend. We grilled some burgers and played a board game. It was a fun night. We really need to get together with Melissa and Chris more often.



Mel and I went to the soccer game of one of her coworker's four-year-old son last night. It was pretty amusing watching these kids run around the soccer field for about 45 minutes. The boy who we went to see kept kicking the ball the wrong way down the field. At least he wasn't the one on his team who kicked the ball into their own goal. Whoops. One girl on his team came out of the game crying not once, but two times. The first time, a ball was kicked pretty hard into her lower leg. The second time, she took a ball in the face. Poor girl. I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't want to play again. For the most part it was fun to watch. Unfortunately, Mel's coworker's son's team lost with a final score of six to zero.



Yesterday, a week after building up the two small retaining walls by my garden, I returned to the garden to continue fixing it up. I started by placing some edging around the garden. I also planted some gladioli bulbs in a sunny part of the garden. They should begin blooming about when the tulips die down. Speaking of the tulips, I am a bit upset with the Michigan Bulb Company. Last fall I ordered two dozen tulip bulbs from them. The bulbs I ordered were supposed to produce purple tulips. Of the half dozen or so tulips that have bloomed so far, two of them are purple, the remainder are red. Anyway, we continued gardening by planting a couple of rose bushes and we added a new garden gnome. I wish I had a photo to post of all of this, but it was getting dark by the time we were done, so I didn't take one. Mel also planted several annuals that we had bought the week before.


The Gateway Arch

This week's photo of the week is of me, my sister, and my parents when we were in Saint Louis in March 1989. We were there with the Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School Band and Orchestra. We are pictured here at the top of the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis. I was sixteen years old when this photo was taken.


Jelly Belly

Last Monday, when I was grocery shopping, I gave in to a weakness of mine. I bought some Jelly Belly jelly beans. It was a small package that had Easter graphics on it, so it was on sale for 50% off. Jelly Bellys are a weakness of mine. My wife has gotten me large quantities for Valentines' Day, Christmas, and my birthday, and when I receive the large bag full of the tasty confection, I tend to overindulge. I am pretty proud of myself since I just now finished off the nine-ounce package that I bought. I have been trying to stay on my diet for the past two weeks, and for the most part I have. It's nice to know that I now have enough self control to keep from eating a pound or more of these flavorful sugary treats.


New Shoes

I went out tonight to buy some cycling shoes. When I inherited my father's new bike last June, it had SPD pedals. However, never having used clipless pedals before, I did not think that beginning to learn how to use them just a month before RAGBRAI was a good idea, so I took the pedals off and replaced them with my pedals with toe clips. With this year's RAGBRAI being one of the hilliest ever, I figured I can use any help I can get. Hopefully these shoes will help. I need to get some practice before I actually go out for a ride. I do not want to fall too many times. It's not that I am worried about getting hurt, I just don't want to hurt my bike. Besides, it would be embarrassing.


A New Flag

Linn County is getting a new flag. Apparently, there was only one copy of the previous flag, which was stolen from the state fairgrounds. It's just as well as the previous flag pretty much sucked. Now the Linn County Board of Supervisors is accepting input on a new flag for the county. They have narrowed the possible flag designs down to two, which they are calling Flag 1 and Flag A. Why not Flag 1 and Flag 2 or Flag A and Flag B? I am guessing it is so it doesn't appear that they are giving preferential treatment to one of the flags over the other. Another question I have about the two choices is why green and blue? The Iowa flag is blue, white, and red. Why not use blue and red instead of blue and green? In any way, if you are a Linn County, Iowa, resident and want to give your opinion, you have until May 1, 2006.

Homercles and Me

I got together with Homercles for dinner tonight at Bennigan’s. Except for running into him at the Hy-Vee one day in February, I hadn’t seen him since the end of December. It was about time that we got together to chat and eat dinner. It was a very nice evening. We caught each other up as to what we have been doing lately, although with our blogs, that hardly seemed necessary. We definitely need to do dinner again sometime in the future, and sooner than four months from now. Next time, we should find a time when Mel can come along. I think another trip to the Irish Democrat is definitely in order. I just love their ribs and chicken strips.



With RAGBRAI beginning in just 98 days, I have wanted to get on my bike and take it for a ride. With my Easter dinner plans changed, I thought today would be a great day to go for a ride. The weather forecast for today called for thunderstorms, but around 10:00 this morning, it was just overcast. So, before the rain hit, I set out for a bike ride. I went to inflate the tires after they have been sitting all winter and the end of the valve stem broke off on the front tire. As a consequence, I needed to change the tube. I have never actually done that myself. About half an hour later, after figuring out how to change the tube, I was on my way. I ended up riding clear across town to go past the house I grew up in. I got back to the house about half an hour before it started raining. I ended up riding 16.66 miles over the course of an hour and thirteen minutes (and sixteen seconds, but who’s counting).

Happy Easter

Good morning and happy Easter everyone. For the first time since moving here, I went to church in the Cedar Rapids area. Since June, the only times Mel and I have been to church have been for a funeral, weddings, and a baptism. I had to go by myself this morning since Mel ended up having to work this weekend. We have been meaning to find a church here in town, but we haven't gotten around to it yet, so I have begun checking out various churches.

The church I went to this morning is in Marion. It was recommended by a coworker of mine who goes there. The church was very different than one I have ever been to before. It was built fairly recently. The seats were like what you would expect to find in an auditorium. There was a screen on which the text of the service and the hymns appeared, so there were no hymnals at the seats. The sermon was good and they have a very good choir and live musicians. I may have to try it again with Mel so we can see if she likes it. The main drawback is the distance from our home. I passed a few Lutheran churches on the way to this one, but it may be worth the drive.

I had been planning on having Easter dinner at my grandmother's house in Keystone this noon, but there has been a change of plans. My grandfather is in the hospital yet again. He's doing better than he had been Friday night. The doctor was very concerned about his condition. He was doing better yesterday afternoon however. Now, instead of having Easter dinner at my grandmother's house, we will have dinner tonight in the Saint Luke's Hospital cafeteria.



Last fall, Mel and I removed some bushes from in front of our house. They didn't look very good and they blocked the basement windows in the front of the house. After removing the bushes, we planted some tulips and intended to plant other flowers and plants in front of the house. Since winter has ended, we have had a problem with rain eroding the dirt down an incline next to where the bushes were. So today I took a crack at doing some landscaping. I built two small retaining walls. I have more to do in order to finish this project, but it is looking a lot better than it did before I started the work.



Next, I am going to put some edging around the edge of the garden. We are also thinking about planting some rose bushes in the area between the retaining walls. I also need to plant some new grass outside the region that will be the garden. I also need to clean up the dirt that is now on my driveway from excavating the area where the walls were build. That will all wait until next weekend.

Cone and Wood

This week's photo of the week was taken in July 2001. I am pictured here with the statue "Cone and Wood." This was part of the Overalls All Over exhibit in downtown Cedar Rapids. Artists designed their own versions of the couple from Grant Wood's American Gothic painting.

More on the Tornados

Yesterday morning was fairly unproductive at work as people kept telling their tales of the tornados from the night before. A coworker of mine whose cubicle is adjacent to mine, was in a church that was practically destroyed by the storm. Here's a link to a photo of the church. Everyone there was unharmed. By the afternoon, I managed to get a little more work done.

I have noticed that some people have stumbled upon my blog looking for tornado photos, so here are links to places where you will find some. The University of Iowa has some on their web site. The Iowa City Press Citizen has photos from both their staff and from readers. Check out their web site, and you'll find even more photos. Finally, here's a link to a video of the tornado.



We had fun night watching storm coverage on TV last night while tornados were ripping through eastern Iowa. Iowa City was particurlarly hard hit. I hope all of our Blogger friends there are doing alright. We didn't have any damage at our house in southeast Cedar Rapids, although we did have some hail fall that was up to the size of ping pong balls. Well, I'm about to head off to Iowa City for work. Fortunately most of the damage was away from where I work, north of Interstate 80, so I shouldn't have any problems with getting to work.



One hobby of mine is tracking where currency I spend goes using Where's George, a currency tracking website. I just received an email about a one dollar bill that I entered into the system on April 22, 2004, when I was in Waterloo, Iowa. The bill turned up in Dubuque, Iowa, on November 2, 2004, and today it is in Honolulu, Hawaii. I am wondering how it ever ended up there, nearly two years after I first had the bill. I had received it from a student as change when buying a candy bar from a school fundraiser. It had been used to play a crane game in Maquoketa, Iowa, when it turned up in Dubuque. From what the current holder of the bill says, it is headed back to Texas with him or her. I hope this bill continues on its journey for a while before being removed from circulation.


Oil Change

My wife and I bought a brand new 2006 Saturn VUE in January. As I drive 30 miles to work every day, we have put just over 5,000 miles on it so far. I have yet to change the oil. With past vehicles I have owned, I had the oil changed every 3,000 miles. Well, sometimes I would go a bit longer, but not too much longer. I believe that I have heard the guys on Car Talk say that every 5,000 miles should be enough though. So, either way, I am thinking that the car may be due for an oil change.

However, the owner's manual for our new Saturn says that the car has a computer which analyzes engine temperatures and speeds. From that, the car determines when it needs an oil change. When it needs one, a light on the dashboard will come on. The owner's manual does say to get an oil change at least once a year, even if the light doesn't light up. I figure that if the car doesn't truly need an oil change, getting it done is just a waste of money, but the more and more I drive, the more I am bothered by not having the oil change. I think I will either go without an oil change until the light comes on or the end of the year, whichever comes first. Does anyone have any thoughts regarding this?

How often should I change my car's oil?
Every 3,000 miles
Every 5,000 miles
When the "Change Oil" light comes on
Other (please leave a comment)
Free polls from Pollhost.com


New Nephew

Mel's brother's wife had a baby boy last night. So after I get home from work tonight, Mel and I are off to Ames to see the new baby.


New Iowa Blog

A friend of mine, who apparently wants to be known as Captain Creative, has started a new blog. He claims to be planning on using the blog to post poetry, artwork, and more. We'll just have to see what turns up.

Yard Work

Mel and I spent a few nice hours this afternoon outdoors doing some yard work. We really needed to clean up the garden areas around the house. We also had some leaves still in the yard from last fall that needed picking up. Between that, and pruning back a bush by the house, we managed to collect more yard waste than out yard waste container can hold. With the yard cleaned up, I was able to spread some fertilizer on the lawn. I am hoping to get our lawn looking nice this summer. It was pretty good looking when we moved in last spring, but we didn't take good enough care of it last summer to keep it looking nice. But then again, except for the guy who lives across the street, most of the lawns had some problems. I would love to get my lawn looking as nice as the one across the street, but he spends hours a week taking care of it. I swear he mows the lawn at least every third day! In fact, he mowed for the first time yesterday afternoon.

Next weekend, my project is to try to put up a small retaining wall next to the driveway. We tore out some bushes last fall, and now when it rains dirt erodes into our driveway. It was my plan all along to put in a retaining wall. I just hadn't gotten around to it yet.


Paris Hotel and Casino

This week's photo of the week was taken in March 2005 when Mel and I were in Las Vegas on vacation. Here we are at the top of the Eiffel Tower replica at Paris Hotel and Casino.


Custom Star Wars Shirts

I got an email today from StarWarsShop.com promoting some of their new products. One of the products that they are now selling is custom Star Wars shirts. They have several styles of shirts to choose from and quite a few different images that can be put on the shirts. They have 74 different pictures of Yoda that can be put on a shirt. As a collector of all things Yoda, this could be dangerous. In addition to choosing the style of shirt, the image, and the color, the buyer can have a name, a number, or other text put on the shirt. They even have onesies for babies. I'll probably be buying one or two of those whenever Mel and I ever have a baby. In the meantime, I'm considering buying a shirt for myself.


Weather Radio

On Sunday, Mel and I bought a weather radio for our home. Ian Leonard on KWWL has been mentioning how they have teamed up with Hy-Vee to bring us these radios for a good price. We looked at Target, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot to find one, but none of those stores has what we were looking for, so we got it at Hy-Vee. The alarm went off twice Sunday, once alerting us to a tornado watch and then about a severe thunderstorm warning. The main reason we got the radio is to warn us about tornadoes, especially when we are sleeping. I do wish the radio would allow us to program it as to which alerts to warn us about. Last night it woke us up some time after 11:00 because of a severe thunderstorm warning. We don't usually take any special precautions for thunderstorms, so being woken up was a bit of an annoyance, but it's nice to know that if we need to be warned about severe weather, the radio is doing its job.



No, I'm not an alcoholic (and my denying it is not part of the problem). This week's photo of the week is of me finishing off an almost empty bottle of champagne (actually I should say sparkling wine) at my wedding reception last November.