A New Link

I have added a new entry to the Blogs I Read to the right side of my blog. It's Rambling Nelle. She's been reading and commenting on my blog for a while now and has recently begun blogging herself. So let's see what she has to say.


What is with people in this town? Do they not believe the street signs on the side of the road? For the past few days, the intersection at the west end of the street I live on has been torn up for construction, so at the east end of the street is a "Road Closed Ahead" sign. While I was outside for just five minutes this evening watering the hostas I transplanted this weekend, I saw three cars head west on my street, only to turn around in my or someone else's driveway. If my street were longer than one block, I could see that some people would think they could get where they wanted to go, but alas the street is a mere one block in length. So, if the road is closed ahead, and you want to turn onto the intersecting street, it is very unlikely that you will make it to your destination. Hopefully the construction will be done soon as it is a lot easier to get onto the major street nearby by using the street at the west end of my street, since it has a stoplight and the street at the east end does not.


Weight Watchers Week 5

I lost six tenths of a pound this week. Earlier in the week, I was wondering if I would lose any weight. I weighed myself on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and found that my weight each day was the same as it had been on Wednesday. Then when I weighed myself on Sunday and Monday, I was a pound heavier than the Wednesday before. Needless to say, the Weight Watchers website didn't say I lost too much weight this week. In my first five weeks of Weight Watchers, I have managed to lost 15.2 pounds.

This evening, since my functional manager at work was in the Iowa City office, visiting from Austin, Texas, several of us from work went to Old Chicago for dinner. I opted for one of the healthier entrees, even substituting vegetables for the french fries that I could have had. I did sample a few of the appetizers that were being passed around, but even with that, I don't think I did too badly with my points today. Mel and I will be going out to eat this weekend after we see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, so I don't want to blow all my weekly allowance points this early in the week.



Now that Memorial Day is over, summer has unofficially begun, and that means that I get to wear shorts to work! Not many people were taking advantage of our dress code which allows shorts between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but there were a few people.

Speaking of Memorial Day, we had a nice day yesterday. We went for a bike ride and a walk. We also went to the high school graduation party of the kid across the street from us. That gave us a chance to talk to some of our neighbors who we don't really talk to all that often, although we do wave and smile as they drive past. I really hope we can better get to know our neighbors.

Yesterday I also cleaned out the gutters of the house. I had tried to use a product called the Gutter Buster that we bought at Menards. However, that device was a piece of crap, breaking the first time I tried to use it. So, I used the ladder we bought at Menards to climb onto the roof where I was able to unclog the downspouts in the front of the house. The back gutter was fine, but both ends of the front gutter were blocked. As I have a bit of a phobia of heights, I was a bit nervous being on top of the roof, two stories above the concrete driveway below, but it wasn't that bad. Now I'll be a bit more confident about going up there again when I need to.


Sunday Wrap-up

Yesterday I went over to Creativity Cave's apartment for the evening. This was the first time I had been away from Emma since she was born, except of course for going to work. Besides CC and myself, CC's son and Jason were there. Homercles stopped in for a bit as well. We played a little poker, although not for money and snacked on the food that CC made as well as that which the others of us brought. CC had recently acquired an entire season of Beavis and Butthead on DVD, so we watched that as well. It had been a while since I had seen Beavis and Butthead and watching it last was fun.

Today Mel and I finally made it out on our bike rides. We went down to Cedar Lake and while Mel rode the bike around the lake, I walked Emma the mile and a half distance around the lake as well. We then traded places.

Late this afternoon, we all went to Menard's to get some flowers and other gardening supplies. We have been wanting to get some flowers planted but have just been so busy. The holiday weekend gave us the perfect opportunity to get this done. We also got a new bracket for our flagpole. When we moved into this house two years ago, there was a flagpole bracket on the outside of the house, but our flagpole did not fit into it. I figured that Memorial Day weekend was a fitting time to spend the two dollars it cost for a different bracket. Now we'll be able to put our flag up for the holiday.


Damn Rain

Mel and I were going to go out for a bike ride today, but it looks like the weather will be keeping us from getting any riding in. Hopefully the weather is better tomorrow. We really need to go out on the bikes before RAGBRAI.


Wrapping Up the Week

I haven't blogged for a few days, so I'll just wrap up the remainder of my week in one posting.

Two Months Old
On Sunday, Emma was two months old, and on Thursday, she had her two-month appointment at the pediatrician's office. Emma has gained quite a bit of week since her two-week appointment. She now weighs eleven pounds, fourteen ounces. This puts her at the seventieth percentile for weight, up from the tenth percentile at her two-week check-up. She's also taller, measuring a whole two feet tall now. This places her at the ninetieth percentile for height. I have a feeling she's going to be one tall kid.

When we showed up at the pediatrician's office, we were expecting for Emma to receive some vaccinations. However it turned out that she has an ear infection. Because of this, she gets a two-week reprieve from her shots to give time for the antibiotic to do its work.

Happy Thirtieth Anniversary
Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Star Wars. Star Wars is the very first movie that I can remember going to in the theater. I may have seen other movies in the theater before Star Wars, but I do not have any recollection of them. I suppose the fact that I was only four or five years old when I saw it in the theater could have something to do with not remembering any earlier movie experiences.

I specifically remember entering the theater late. By the time my mom, my friend Trenton, and I were walking down the aisle of the theater, the stormtroopers were already blasting their way into the rebel ship. That means we missed the text crawl at the very beginning, although I maybe couldn't have read it fast enough at that age. Star Wars played a very big role in my life throughout my childhood, and it still does to this day.

Changes at Work
Ok, this probably isn't all that interesting to anyone, but almost everyone at work got some new equipment this week--computer locks! Since many of us at work have to travel on occasion, we all have laptop computers that snap into a docking station while we are in the office. In order to prevent theft of computers from the docking stations while we are away from our desks, we now have to lock our computers to our docking stations. We already locked them up, or took them home, at night to prevent theft, but now our laptop computers are secure when we go to lunch or a meeting. I don't think this has really been a problem in the office. I guess we are just being proactive in preventing possible computer theft.

The Weekend!
Memorial Day weekend is finally here! Mel and I won't be doing too much this weekend. I had originally thought about going to the graduation party of one of my students at Waterloo West High School tonight, decided that I just wouldn't be able to make it. Gas prices are one of the reasons why I decided not to go. Also, it would have been pretty late by the time we got there since it would take an hour to get there once I got home from work. Then another hour to get home and it would have been really late.

Anyway, Mel and I plan on going cycling tomorrow to begin to train for RAGBRAI. Mel got some cycling gloves tonight. We'll take turns watching Emma while the other one of us rides the trails in town.

I also plan on going to Creativity Cave's apartment tomorrow night for a get-together of some of our friends. That should be fun since I haven't been there in a while.


Weight Watchers Week 4

This week I lost an additional 2.8 pounds, making my total weight loss since starting Weight Watchers four weeks ago 14.6 pounds. The Weight Watchers web site did scold be this morning when I entered my weight. Apparently I am losing weight too quickly. Over the past three weeks, I have lost an average of about 2.7 pounds per week. This is more than the 1 to 2 pounds per week that they recommend. I did not try to lose more than 2 pounds this past week, and I did follow the plan for the most part. I guess I'll just have to take their suggestion of eating a little more.


A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle

Since we were out of town all weekend, we didn't have a chance to do our grocery shopping on Sunday as we usually do. So tonight, while Mel was bathing Emma, I went out to do the grocery shopping. Usually we go to Wal-Mart because the low prices, but today I went to the Hy-Vee down the street instead driving about one mile in all instead of around sixteen miles. Not only did this save some gas and wear on the car, but it also saved around twenty minutes of my time. The one down side of doing my grocery shopping at Hy-Vee is that it costs more than shopping at Wal-Mart. However, I get a better feeling from shopping at Hy-Vee. Not only is Hy-Vee based in Iowa, but the atmosphere is much more pleasant. I also think it has a better selection than Wal-Mart.

Trip to Minnesota

This weekend Emma took her first trip out of Iowa to visit relatives in Minnesota. We left Friday morning, stopping in Waterloo to pick up some furniture from my mom's house to deliver to my sister. We also met up with my mom with whom we travelled to Minnesota, although she took her own car since the truck was packed full, and she planned on staying a little longer than we were. On our way, we stopped for lunch in Spring Valley, Minnesota. While we were in Spring Valley, we noticed a garage sale that had some baby clothes, so we stopped and bought a few outfits as well as some toys for Emma.

Since we would have arrived at my sister's house before she got home from work, we stopped at my grandmother's apartment in Hastings. When we arrived there, my aunt and two uncles were there visiting her. We spent a couple hours visiting with them all before going to my sister's house.

We spent most of Saturday at my aunt and uncle's house in Cottage Grove. Three of my cousins, one of their husbands, and five of their collective six children were there as well. With the exception of one of my cousins and her husband, I hadn't seen any of them in quite some time. It was good to see everyone. That evening Emma went to her first concert as we went to the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra concert, in which my sister performs, at Sundin Music Hall at Hamline University. Emma managed to sleep through most of the concert, although she was wide awake during the first piece, Chamber Symphony Number 5 for 10 Winds, Op. 75, by Darius Milhaud. I was afraid that she would start crying during that piece since it was not too pleasant sounding. She did get frightened during the first piece after the intermission, Robert Schumann's Konzerstrück for Four Horns and Orchestra in F Major, Op. 86. With the four horns and drums, it was quite loud. Mel managed to calm her down and she fell asleep before the piece was over.
Finally, yesterday we took Emma on her first trip to the Mall of America following a visit to Ikea. While Mel and I enjoyed chili dogs from Nathan's Famous, Emma had a bottle of Similac. Our return trip was a bit painful when we filled the truck with nearly eighty dollars worth of gas when we were halfway home. But other than that, the drive home was not too bad. We did have to wake Emma up in Clear Lake to eat. We did not want to end up with a screaming, hungry baby in the middle of nowhere. With gas prices as they are, it may be a while until we take another long trip, but this one was fun.


Weight Watchers Week 3

I only ended up losing eight tenths of a pound this past week. That's actually not too bad considering I exceeded my weekly points allowance on Sunday when we had people over for lunch for Emma's baptism. This week might be pretty tough as well as we are heading up to the Twin Cities to visit my sister and other relatives this weekend. That means we'll probably be eating out some.


Power Outage

As I was returning home from work yesterday, I discovered that the electricity was out in my neighborhood. I was amazed at how out of control the streets were. I always assumed that when traffic lights were not functioning, and I mean completely off, not flashing red or yellow, that they should be treated as an all-way stop. Apparently I am the only one who believes that. People just kept driving through the lights, some of them without even slowing down! I am amazed that I did not witness any collisions!

Once I got home, it was pretty warm with temperatures in the eighties outside. The air conditioner had been running prior to the power outage. Fortunately, within two hours of my returning home, the power came on. We had dinner a bit late last night because of the interrupted electrical service, but we did get to have hot food.


Choppin' Onions

While we were doing our grocery shopping at Wal-Mart this morning, we decided to buy a kitchen gadget that we have seen advertised on TV, the onion chopper. We are having some family and friends over tomorrow for lunch after Emma's baptism. I'll be grilling burgers and Mel thought we should chop up some onions for people to put on their burgers. I guess some people like that kind of thing. The onion chopper made cutting the onions up into small pieces very easy! In face, I kind of wish I had purchased this item earlier. I will definitely be using it for all my onion-chopping needs!



Friday is finally here, and it's about time! This week has just dragged on so slowly. Perhaps it's because I have been pretty busy at work most of the week. A lot of that time was filled with training sessions which have taken time away from the other work I need to get done.

Speaking of Fridays. It looks like Cedar Rapids will be getting a T.G.I. Friday's restaurant on the Westdale Mall property. Not that I'll be eating there all the time, but I do like their food. When I was living in Rosenberg, Texas, T.G.I. Friday's was one of the two restaurants I went to for dinner on Friday nights. The other restaurant being Chili's. Those were the restaurants off the first two exits on my drive into Sugar Land, Texas, from Rosenberg. Right now, the only time I get a chance to eat at T.G.I. Friday's is when I am in the Twin Cities for work.


EARLY Morning

It looks like Emma's streak of six days of not waking up until 4:00 or later has ended. She was a little hungry about an hour ago, but she fell back to sleep fairly quickly after getting a little formula inside her. Now I just need to get back to sleep. I have a bit of a cold or allergies or something, and that is making it a little more difficult for be to return to my slumber. I don't want to awaken Mel from my coughing in the bedroom, so I came down to the computer to check my email and such. Well, I think my coughing has finally subsided for now, so it's back to bed for me.


Concert Tickets

It looks like Mel and I will be going to a concert next month. Earlier this evening I won a pair of tickets to see "Weird Al" Yankovic when his Straight Outta Lynwood tour comes to the Paramount Theater in Cedar Rapids on July 1.

On my way home from work Monday, I heard Karol Kelly on KZIA announce that she was giving away tickets to Weird Al's concert. I hadn't even realized that he was coming to Cedar Rapids. Yesterday I tried to win some tickets, and I ended up being caller four when dialing in, but she was giving the tickets to the ninth caller. So I tried again today, and I won! I had planned on buying tickets when they go on sale this coming Saturday, but now I won't have to.

I have seen Weird Al in concert at the Paramount Theater over ten years ago during his Bad Hair Day tour. That performance was awesome and I'm sure this one will be awesome as well! I can hardly wait until July 1 for the concert.

Weight Watchers Week 2

So far, so good. This week I lost another 3.8 pounds, making my total weight loss 11 pounds since signing up for Weight Watchers online two weeks ago. This week was particularly difficult since I went to a wedding reception and a breakfast the following morning. I also ate out three times during the week. I am expecting my weight loss for next week to be slightly less than it was for this week. After another week, I should not be losing much more than 2 pounds each week.



We've been having a lot of luck with Emma sleeping well and not being very fussy most of the time. She didn't wake us up at all last night until just after 5:00 this morning, and the previous few nights, she hasn't been waking up until around 4:00. I kind of like when I get to feed her at 4:00 in the morning. It gives Emma and me some quality time together watching classic Star Trek episodes on TV Land. This evening however, Emma has been crying quite a bit. Mel is feeding her again. Hopefully that helps her to settle down. I really hope she sleeps tonight like she has been since I could really use the sleep.

Olive Garden and a Wedding

The past couple of days has been a bit of a challenge for following Weight Watchers. On Friday, Mel and I went to Olive Garden for dinner. That actually did not make following my diet too difficult as I chose one of the healthier entrees and I took part of it home for lunch on Saturday. Last night however, made the diet a bit of a challenge. We went to the wedding of one of Mel's cousins. I tried to watch what I was eating at the reception, and while I could have done better -- eating just one piece of cake and skipping one of the entrees would have been good -- I could have done a lot worse, and I still haven't violated the diet for the week. That even includes going to Mel's aunt and uncle's house for breakfast this morning.


New Technology

Just a few days after ordering it from TigerDirect.com, our new Linksys wireless router has arrived! For quite some time now, the router we had hadn't been giving us consistent service, then last week, it finally just went kaput. Not only did the wireless not work, but I had to bypass it altogether to get a signal to the desktop computer. Well, the new one came yesterday and it is working great! Hopefully it will give me a faster and more consistent connection when I work from home.

Weight Watchers Week 1

In my first week using Weight Watchers's online program, I managed to lose 7.2 pounds. While a weight loss of that amount would not be healthy if achieved each week, I guess it is not uncommon to lose quite a bit of weight during the first week or two on a new diet. I'll probably drop down to losing just a pound or two each week pretty soon. I have to say that with their new program, the Weight Watchers diet is a lot easier to follow than it was when I tried it before, although I did not attend meetings or go online. I just used my wife's books.

My first goal is to get my weight below 200 pounds for the first time in quite a while. I got pretty close to that in 2004 when I began watching what I was eating using a dieting program at eDiets.com. I had started the summer of 2004 weighing 243 pounds, and through exercise and watching what I ate, I managed to get my weight down to 210 pounds by October. I managed to keep most of it off for quite a while, with my weight staying between 210 and 220 pounds until the beginning of June 2005. I think the stress I was under that June really hurt my focus on what I was eating and the exercise I was getting. By the end of 2005, my weight was back up to the upper 220s or lower 230s. So, of the 33 pounds I managed to lose, I gained about 20 pounds back. I think this diet I am on now will help me to learn healthier eating habits, so that should help me in the long run.