My thoughts on life

Morning Smoothies

Recently I started having a smoothie for breakfast several days a week. I’ve tried doing this before, but I’ve never kept it up more than twice, before forgetting about my plans and going back to cereal or oatmeal every day. It always started the same way: I would buy a bunch of bags of frozen fruit and maybe some juice, and tell myself I was going to start having fruit smoothies for breakfast. Because I’ve done this repeatedly, and I don’t have many other uses for frozen fruit, we had quite the stockpile going in our freezer. Continue reading →

August 19, 2013 Health , , ,

Hill Runs

I like to do a lot of research about my hobbies and interests, and running is no exception. Across the Internet, there are recommended training plans and workouts to get faster and stronger as a runner. I’ll admit that I haven’t been very good at putting these into practice so far. The three workouts I see crop up over and over again are fartleks (speed intervals during a slower run), tempo runs (running continuously at a slightly uncomfortable pace for 20 minutes), and hill runs, which require no explanation.

I’ve struggled with hill runs, because in North Minneapolis it is remarkably flat. Near my house the only hills are a natural valley to the Mississippi, which is wooded and peppered with signs discouraging park visitors from leaving the trails, and an unnatural valley to highway 94, where running could get you arrested or killed. I looked at routes near my house and could only find hills about 30 feet high, which isn’t really sufficient for hill training. Continue reading →

August 13, 2013 Fitness , ,

MuckFest 2013

Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw a living social deal for MuckFest Twin Cities, which I hadn’t heard of before. I looked into it a little, and asked Ethan if he wanted to do it. we decided the price was right and it looked like fun, so we signed up.

The MuckFest is a 5 mile mud run set up to raise money for treating MS. Comparing this to other mud runs we’ve done, this was a middle length (most are 5K, but the Tough Mudders have been 9 – 12 miles), had moderate hills, LOTS of mud, and the obstacles were challenging, but not overly strenuous. I felt like anyone who was in good enough condition to cover the distance could have accomplished this mud race and had some fun. Continue reading →

August 11, 2013 Fitness , ,

Garden Harvest

This year we planted just a few things, but were a little more careful about spacing the plants, and planting them at the right times, compared to last year. We planted one plant each of three tomato varieties, three cucumber plants, a couple of pepper plants, four soybean (edamame) plants, a cantaloupe, and some basil.

We have two raised beds, and this year we forgot to amend one of them with any compost before planting, and the plants in it have looked a little weak compared to those in the other bed. As a stop-gap to get some much needed nutrients into the soil, and add some air and moisture retention to it, I tilled in some pelleted alfalfa around the plants. I’m hoping that this will be sufficient to keep the plants happy until everything is ready to harvest from that bed, as we won’t have more compost ready until next Spring.

In spite of the poor soil quality in the first raised bed, the cucumbers are doing really well. I just harvested three good sized cukes, and saw many more that will be ready in the coming weeks. The vines are planted along the edge of the bed closest to our chain link fence, and they are starting to climb the fence, which will make locating and harvesting the fruits so much easier than on the ground.

I also picked the first modest handful of cherry tomatoes. They are sweet and flavorful, and I can’t wait until tomato season is in full swing. There are so many green tomatoes on our plants this year that we will surely have more than we can eat, even with just three plants. I’m excited at the thought of tomato salads with fresh basil and cucumber, thick slices of tomatoes on salads, and pasta with fresh tomato sauce.

August 4, 2013 Gardening , ,

Nutrition Facts

While listening to a Rich Roll Podcast I learned about NutritionFacts.org which is a non-profit site that has short video summaries of an extremely wide variety of nutrition studies. All of the information comes from peer reviewed research, and is summed up in terms that are easily understood by a lay-person. The site offers a wealth of information that is of interest to anyone. I highly recommend checking it out. You might find yourself listening to those short little videos for hours.

July 25, 2013 Health

Tough Mudder MN 2013

Tough Mudder 2013 team shot

Tough Mudder 2013 team shot
Left to Right: Ethan, Rex, Lukes, me and Drew

On Saturday, Ethan and I participated in our 4th Tough Mudder event. We initially had 10 people signed up on our team, but three people dropped out due to injuries prior to the event, one dropped out because her boyfriend was one of the injured ones and she didn’t want to run it without him, and two of our teammates didn’t show up by our start time, so it was down to four of us: Ethan, Rex, Lukes and me.  One of our teammates, Drew, came along to support us, even though he was unable to participate. Ethan’s parents also came out for the day and got some photos. Continue reading →

July 24, 2013 Fitness ,


Our Karl’s 90 Schilling has been in a keg for a few weeks and we’ve had a few opportunities to share it with friends and family. Ethan and I are both happy with how it turned out, and so far everyone who tried it said that they liked it (though I always think that people might be being polite).  Anyway, I’m going to call it a success, as I actually enjoy drinking it more than the other beer we have on tap right now.

Today we’re brewing a Tall Grass Buffalo Sweat copy-cat recipe. The two beers we have brewed so far have both been extract (easy/beginner) kits, and this is a partial mash kit. Partial mash seems to be an ‘intermediate’ beer brewing method. You have some extract that you add in, but you make most of the extract by steeping grains yourself and then using that as the base of your beer.

The wort (un-fermented beer) is currently boiling, now that we just rinsed the grains. I can see how people who do a lot of brewing would prefer to have more equipment for some of these steps. It’s a bit of a challenge to hold a large wet bag full of grains and hot water over a kettle to let it drain. In the future we will probably buy a wort chiller to cool the wort more quickly and easily than using an ice-bath, and at that time we’ll probably also get a different thermometer that is built into the brew kettle. For now, though, we have a really minimal set up, to keep things “cheap.”

July 13, 2013 Home Brewing , ,

Running with a heart rate monitor

Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts by No Meat Athlete and Rich Roll, who are both vegan endurance athletes. No Meat Athlete sticks to topics pretty close to endurance athletics and a vegan or vegetarian diet, but Rich Roll has a wide variety of guests and topics, covering many aspects of health, diet and wellness.

In a Rich Roll podcast with Brian MacKenzie, they discussed wearing a heart rate monitor during training. Rich says he wears one all the time to help him determine if he’s in the right training zone for a particular workout. Brian, on the other hand, was vehemently against them. Brian does training and coaching, and he said one of the first things he does is ban his clients from wearing a HR monitor. His reason behind this was that he sees people get fixated on it. They stare at the output and, regardless of how they’re feeling, will refuse to keep up the pace because their heart rate is too high. They get obsessed with the number and stop paying attention to how they are feeling. Continue reading →

July 4, 2013 Fitness , ,

A zombie survival tip

This weekend I went to see World War Z with Ethan. The movie got me thinking, again, about survival techniques in a zombie apocalypse. One thing I had not previous considered was armor. Rarely in zombie movies/tv shows/games is armor worn. Now, I get that in the early stages of a zombie apocalypse, you wouldn’t necessarily have time to find or put on armor of any kind, but if you survive long enough to find longer term shelter, have food and weapons on hand, and are generally surviving, armor might be your next bet. Continue reading →

July 1, 2013 Survival

Medica’s Healthy Savings Plan

My employer offers group health insurance through Medica, and our benefits coordinator recently announced a new program that Medica is rolling out. It’s called the Healthy Savings Program and it was described as a rebate for buying healthy groceries. A few grocery chains in the region are participating, and the way it works is that for certain healthy purchases you make, you get an instant rebate (basically like a coupon) at the register. It sounds like a really good idea to me.

Even though I’m not on Medica health insurance, I was intrigued by the idea, and decided to learn more about it. I envisioned a program where you got cash back for buying things like fresh and frozen vegetables, as well as low-fat proteins. In my mind, the groceries that would merit a rebate would be whole, unprocessed foods that are healthiest for you. Upon looking at their website, I was entirely disappointed, and eventually disgusted. Continue reading →

June 23, 2013 Health , , ,