Jeopardy! Test & RAGBRAI

I just completed two tasks on the computer. One of them was taking the Jeopardy! online contestant search test. Damn, that was a lot harder than I remembered it being from when I took it almost two years ago. I do not think I passed. The second thing I just accomplished was signing Mel and myself up for this summer's RAGBRAI! Now that is something that I know I can be successful at!

Weight Watchers Week 40

Today's weight: 203.2 pounds
Change from last week: +1.2 pounds
Change from start of Weight Watchers: -28.2pounds
Change from beginning of 2008: -4.6 pounds
Amount from Goal: 8.2 pounds


Tax Time

I just got done filing our taxes since I received the last of our necessary tax documents, my W-2, on Saturday. I must say that Emma really helped out with the taxes this year, not in completing the forms, but by putting some extra money in our pockets. Oh, I know we are spending a lot more money on her than we get back on our taxes, but that extra credit is nice.



The overnight towns for this summer's RAGBRAI were announced today! For many of the past several years, I have told myself that that year's ride will be my last. Obviously that hasn't been the case. By the time the route is announced the next year, I am always eager to sign up once again. This past year was different. Usually I get so exhausted while riding, or it's so miserably hot and humid that I don't think I want to ride RAGBRAI again. Last year though, it was warm, but I didn't feel that it was too warm. Also, the route wasn't too difficult. Now, the only things that could possibly keep me from RAGBRAI are getting time off from work and the cost. Tomorrow I will see about the time off. I don't think it will be an issue, but I can't take it for granted. And with the tax rebates that we will be getting in the upcoming months, I don't think the money will be an issue either.

In case you are interested (and don't want to go to the Register's website), this year's overnight towns are:
  • Missouri Valley (Saturday)
  • Harlan (Sunday)
  • Jefferson (Monday)
  • Ames (Tuesday)
  • Tama/Toledo (Wednesday)
  • North Liberty (Thursday)
  • Tipton (Friday)
  • Le Claire (End)

Working My Way Through B5

With Mel working evenings this week, and with very little worth watching on TV most nights, I have spent my evenings, after putting Emma to bed, watching my Babylon 5 DVDs. During its initial run on TV, I didn't watch it. Oh, I saw an episode or two during the summer when I was staying at a friend's house, but at the time I just couldn't get into it. The problems I had then were that I had no idea what was going on and it was always hard to find on TV with its time slot seemingly changing from week to week. It wasn't until I moved to Texas that I really got into the show.

I had moved to Texas after graduating from college in December 1997. Shortly after I moved, the final season aired on TNT with episodes from the first four seasons airing nightly also on TNT. I was able to juggle watching new episodes between earlier episodes of the series, and I became a fan.

I just finished watching the second season of Babylon 5. Tomorrow night I will begin watching season three.


Weight Watchers Week 39

Despite the eating out I did this week, the weight loss has resumed.

Today's weight: 202.0 pounds
Change from last week: -2.8 pounds
Change from start of Weight Watchers: -29.4pounds
Change from beginning of 2008: -5.8 pounds
Amount from Goal: 7.0 pounds


A Day Off

In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, I got today off from work. As Mel is working evenings this week, and our daycare provider was still working today, we were able to drop Emma off so the two of us could have brunch at Perkins followed by a visit to the Wehrenberg Galaxy 16 Cine to see Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. We had both really wanted to see that movie, but it has been difficult to find the time with taking care of Emma. Prior to seeing this movie, I knew practically nothing about Sweeney Todd. All I was aware of was that he was a murderous barber. I really enjoyed the movie despite some of the gruesome scenes in contained. It isn't too often that I have seen movies in which people commit murders while singing songs. After seeing Sweeney Todd, I don't think I will ever look at a meat pie quite the same way again.



For the first time in a very long while, Emma slept through the night without waking up even once for just a moment! The previous few nights haven't been too bad as she only awoke once each night, usually around 1:00, and she quickly returned to sleep after being tucked back in and being given her pacifier, but she didn't even need that last night. Of course, having her sleep through the night when it has been a while caused me to have irrational fears that she was not well. Despite those fears, I let her be through the night, only checking on her at 5:00 this morning. She even slept a little later than she usually does, not waking up until 6:00.


Weight Watchers Week 38

I gained some weight this week, but not as much as I feared I would. Business travel always does this to me.

Today's weight: 204.8 pounds
Change from last week: +1.6 pounds
Change from start of Weight Watchers: -26.6 pounds
Change from beginning of 2008: -3.0 pounds
Amount from Goal: 9.8 pounds


Home Sick Today

I stayed home sick today. Mel and I went to bed before 8:00 last night because neither of us was feeling well. I slept really well until Emma woke me up shortly after 3:30 this morning. I was pretty much up with her until I put her back to bed at 5:15, allowing me to get an additional fifteen minutes of sleep before the alarm clock went off. I did get a little sleep while I was holding Emma while sitting in the living room. So after getting up this morning, and still not feeling all that well, I decided to stay home. I did have a little work that I had to complete this morning in order to keep it on schedule, but after completing that, I went back to bed. I was able to sleep from shortly after 9:30 until about noon. Once I woke up then, I did feel quite a bit better. Maybe it was just sleep that I needed.


Flying Home

Today I am flying home from Washington, D.C., to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I can not wait to get home to see Mel and Emma, but I will have to wait a little while as it is just under two hours until my flight leaves Saint Louis for Cedar Rapids. My flight is currently running on time. I really hope that status is maintained.

The photo which accompanies this posting is of the clouds below my flight from Washington to Saint Louis from over 30,000 feet. I thought it looked pretty, so I took out my camera and took a few photos of the sky.


Washington, D.C., Tour

This evening, a few coworkers and I took a tour of Washington, seeing several of the memorials that are located in the District of Columbia. I really wish I had brought the tripod for my camera along. That would have helped out quite a bit at getting good photos in the dark. As it was, I did not bring the tripod, so a lot of the photos I took are a little blurry.

The first stop on our tour at which we could get off the bus was at the White House. It was after I took a couple pictures of the White House that my camera's memory card developed an error, requiring it to be reformatted. Fortunately the only photos I lost, besides those I had just taken of the White House, were very bad photos of the Capitol Building that I took from the tour bus. After reformatting the card, I was able to get another photo of the White House.

The next stop on the tour was at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. I was amazed at how big the memorial was when I walked into it. Sure, I knew it would be big, but I just felt dwarfed by its size. Shown below is the bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson which is inside the memorial.

We then stopped at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial before going to the Lincoln Memorial. It was raining pretty hard when we were there. I was soaked! Here is a photo of the statue of Abraham Lincoln inside the memorial.

Near the Lincoln Memorial, were the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. I took a photo of the Three Servicemen Statue at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Of all the memorials we visited on our tour. I felt that the most moving memorial was the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The photos I took of it can not do it justice. The dark, rainy night gave the memorial a particularly haunting feel. Below is a photo of a statue from the memorial and part of the wall that is engraved with photos of soldiers.

I really must tour Washington, D.C., some time during the day when I can better see some of the sights. It would be nice if Mel, Emma, and I could come here on vacation some day to see all of the historical sights that there are to see.


And Then There Were Five

It looks like my man, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, is ending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. I really thought that he had a lot going for him. He had a lot of experience having been a secretary of energy, ambassador to the United Nations, a member of the House of Representatives, and a state governor. Maybe he will end up being in the running for vice president for whoever eventually gets the nomination. Now I am just wondering when Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel will end their futile campaigns for the nomination.

Trip to Washington, D.C.

Yesterday afternoon I arrived in Washington, D.C., for a business trip that will last the remainder of the work week. I had never been to D.C. before, and so far I have to say that I like this city. However I haven't seen much of it yet, and probably won't on this trip. I did see the Washington Monument from the window of the taxi as we rode to our hotel located on Dupont Circle. The view of Dupont Circle from my hotel room is shown below.

This morning when we were taking a break from our meeting I stepped outside and saw a familiar flag in front of the building next door. I walked over there, and as I suspected, the building next to the hotel is the Jamaican Embassy. So, as I walked up to the door, I guess I can say that I was on Jamaican soil. I knew I would want to back to Jamaica some time, but that was not what I imagined.


Weight Watchers Week 37

First of all, this week's weigh-in posting is a day early. That is because I am travelling to Washington, D.C., today for work and will not be able to weigh in tomorrow morning. Second, I am glad to say that my weight loss seems to be back on track, at least for this past week. Returning to really paying attention to what I have been eating has returned my weight to about where it was before the holidays. The previous two weeks I didn't do a very good job at trying to pay attention to my food intake. Now the question is, will I lose any weight this coming week? With work travel through Friday, I will probably exceed my daily points allowance, but I am going to try not to overindulge.

Today's weight: 203.2 pounds
Change from last week: -4.6 pound
Change from start of Weight Watchers: -28.2 pounds
Change from beginning of 2008: -4.6 pounds
Amount from Goal: 8.2 pounds



Yesterday I travelled south to Riverside, Iowa, to help out with the Gary Curtis Wrestling Invitational at Highland High School. I taught there from 1999 through 2002, and except for last year when I had a family wedding to attend, I have returned each year to assist with the tournament. I have been responsible for entering all the necessary data into a spreadsheet in order to compute the team scores. This was the first year I helped out in which I didn't know any of the Highland students, as the students I had in my final year there, when they were in seventh grade, graduated last year. Nevertheless, it was nice to see some of the staff there again, and of course, there were former students of mine in attendance at the tournament.


Thank God It's Over!

It's been nice being able to watch TV this morning without seeing a single political add now that the 2008 Iowa caucuses are over! Prior to lat night, I have twice attended presidential caucuses in Iowa, in 2004 and in 2000. This was by far the largest crowd of participants I have even seen at a caucus. The 252 people in attendance just about doubled the previous record for attendance at the Cedar Rapids Precinct 44 Democratic caucus.

While my candidate did not win, coming in fourth place in the state with just 2% of the delegates, I am really glad that Hillary Clinton didn't finish first, or even second! I am sure Hillary Clinton would be a decent president, but I do not think she can be elected. There are way too many people who absolutely despise her. I think this would make it tough for her to pick up votes from independents in the general election. Now if she were the nominee, I would most likely vote for her, especially if her opponent was Mike Huckabee. I am not sure exactly what it is, but Huckabee really scares me. Anyway, while I think that John Edwards is the most electable of the top three Democratic candidates, I won't be too disappointed if Barack Obama wins the nomination.

While watching Fox News at 3:00 this morning as I fed my hungry daughter, a commentator was talking to a Mitt Romney campaign official in New Hampshire. She wrote off his second place finish in Iowa as a result of the high number of evangelical Christians who voted in the Republican caucus since they had "one of their own" to vote for. I find that a bit insulting to assume that people would vote for someone purely because of their religion. However, it may very well be an accurate statement. This campaign official did not see it a big deal that Romney came in second despite all of the money the campaign spent here and his organization compared to Huckabee's lack of money and organization.

On a similar note, a commentator on ABC pointed out that is was interesting how well Obama did in a state in which 98% of the residents are white. What was this supposed to mean? Did he intend to imply that white people would not vote for a black person for president? I find that even more insulting that the comment I addressed in the previous paragraph. I think most Iowans look more at someone's qualifications for public office than his or her race, or even gender.

Anyway, I am very happy that the commercials, mailings, and phone calls will finally stop, at least for a few months!


Caucus Results

Well, the Richardson group couldn't get enough people to remain viable so I joined the Edwards group. In the end, the Obama group ended up with 4 delegates, the Edwards group earned 3 delegates, and the Clinton group ended up with 2 delegates.

Caucus Update

The caucus is now under way. I an currently in the Bill Richardson group. After the first round, we only had 18 out of the 252 people in attendance, 20 people short of the number needed to be viable. At our precinct, the Obama group has just over 100 people, and the Edwards and Clinton groups have a little more than 50 people each. We are trying to get more people, but if we are still short, I'm headed to the Edwards group.

Caucus Night

Well, the day is finally here. Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses are being held tonight, and I plan on being there. And while I do like playing an important part in the democratic process, I will be glad once the caucuses are over. Yesterday when I got home form my mother's house, there were five messages on our answering machine. Each of them was a recorded message supporting a presidential candidate -- two were for Obama, one for Edwards, one for Richardson, one for Dodd, and one for Biden. I have made a final decision on who I am supporting, and I am going to stick with the candidate who I was leaning towards all along, Bill Richardson. I had contemplated changing my decision to caucus for someone else, and I have changed my second-choice candidate from Barack Obama to John Edwards. So, if the Richardson group is not large enough to be viable at my caucus location, Edwards will be getting my support. We'll see how it goes later tonight.

Trip to Waterloo

Since I was home alone with Emma yesterday, the two of us headed up to Waterloo to visit my mother. We had a nice visit, which included lunch out at the Hong Kong Chinese restaurant in Cedar Falls. It had been a very long time since I had been there. I also helped my mom take her Christmas tree down. Her tree comes apart into three segments, and the middle one sure is heavy!


Happy New Year!

The year 2007 ended, and 2008 began, for us at the Wingate by Wyndham hotel in Cedar Falls, Iowa. We all went there to ring in the new year with some of Mel's relatives and friends of theirs. We had a lot of fun while we were there. Emma even got swimming got to for the first time. She really enjoyed it a lot! After putting Emma to bed, the rest of us played various games, including Taboo and Scatergories. It was a really fun evening.

Weight Watchers Week 36

Here's my first weekly weigh-in of 2008. I didn't post last week's weight which was up significantly from the week before. I managed to lose some weight from last week, but my weight is still up from the Wednesday before Christmas. Things should improve this week as I will be tracking all the food I eat.

Today's weight: 207.8 pounds
Change from last week: -0.8 pound
Change from start of Weight Watchers: -23.6 pounds
Change from beginning of 2008: 0 pounds
Amount from Goal: 12.8 pounds