Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm a wimp!

I cut my ride a little short on Saturday. It was gray and chilly. 46 degrees and windy. The first 10 miles on the Silver Comet were straight into the wind. I turned around at that point. With the wind at my back, the trip back to the car went a bit faster. Still cold though.

My face didn't thaw until after my fish-n-chips & beer refuel. A hot shower was necessary to get my toes past the numb phase.

I'm really looking forward to spring.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dottie's Chicken Soup

A few weeks ago, Dottie's class spent some time creating their own soup recipes. She's been very eager to try it out. We've been waiting for the right day to make it. A rainy, icky, don't-want-to-do-anything sort of a day.
Today was that day. It's stormy. She has a cold. We're all feeling a bit tired & cranky.

A few modifications were made to the original. We used chicken stock with minced garlic, onions & parsley (freezer), and a box of pasta stars, instead of noodles. We also added a 1/4 cup of frozen corn, just to make it look happy. I love my little Dottie B.

According to big brother, this soup falls on the "every other week" list for foods he likes to eat. For him, that's fairly high praise.

Government 'Gifts'

Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson called the stimulus package a "gift for the middle class." What kind of a gift is it, though?

If you haven't tried it yet, PBS has a calculator to figure out the amount of your 'gift'.

According to what I've read at CNN and several of the personal finance sites, the 'gift' is based on the 2007 tax year, and your tax return must be filed to be eligible. (Not to mention the other income eligibility requirements.) So, would that mean the money received is an additional refund of taxes paid in 2007? I wouldn't exactly call that a gift. That's more like a mail-in rebate.

This "gift" isn't a rebate though. It's based on 2007, but is actually a pre-bate of money we'll be paying in taxes during 2008. Except, we have to report it in our 2008 tax return, and pay taxes on it. I'm actually a bit fuzzy about whether it's counted as taxable income, or if it will be deducted from any refund amounts / added to taxes due next year. Again, not much of a gift.

The AGI caps for the stimulus checks are $75k for an individual, $150k for a couple, filing jointly. If this is truly a gift, shouldn't it be something for every single person on the tax rolls?

From what I understand, millions of retired and lower income individuals will also be receiving checks as part of the stimulus package, even though they have little or no tax liability at all. I've heard this called relief from payroll taxes. I'm pretty sure that was the reason for the Earned Income Tax Credit, wasn't it?

For the person who has no tax liability to offset, and who will not be required to pay taxes next year, the stimulus package may be called a 'gift'. Or, maybe not. Considering this is an election year, and the politicians adjusted the stimulus package until it included the maximum number of voters, I think the proper term is bribe.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mileage Update - Mid February

Went for a spin on Bloo (road bike) today. Not long, about 15 miles. It felt great to be zipping along, fast enough to hear the woosh of the wind past my ears. Most rides over the last couple of months have been the 2.5 mile roundtrip Trader Joe's runs, or slow rides on the Silver Comet with child(ren) in tow. That's all done on the hybrid. Comfy, slow, and practical.

Today reminded me that riding is FUN!

Anyway, with the slightly longer rides last week and this, I'm right around 50 miles for the mid point of February. (The actual number is 48-point-something.) If I can stay healthy for the next couple of weeks, the 100 mile cycle/run goal is looking good.

I need to start keeping my camera on me during rides. Today I missed a great shot of geese stopping traffic. They don't move out of the way of the cyclists any faster than they do for cars. They aren't slower about it either. The geese just squawk at the oncoming bikes like a bunch of grumpy old folks.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cutting off your nose... spite your face.* That is one phrase which has never made sense to me. I'm sure I wasn't the only kid to hear it and think it was the dumbest things I'd ever heard. I mean, really. Who would do something that stupid?

The answer? Us.

Michael Shermer, at the LA Times, has written about envy, evolution and economics.
Would you rather be A or B?

A is waiting in line at a movie theater. When he gets to the ticket window, he is told that as he is the 100,000th customer of the theater, he has just won $100.

B is waiting in line at a different theater. The man in front of him wins $1,000 for being the 1-millionth customer of the theater. Mr. B wins $150.
I would like to be Mr. B, with $150. I could do some sensible or fun stuff with $150. The next part of his story surprised me though:
Amazingly, most people said that they would prefer to be A. In other words, they would rather forgo $50 in order to alleviate the feeling of regret that comes with not winning the thousand bucks. Essentially, they were willing to pay $50 for regret therapy.

Regret falls under a psychological effect known as loss aversion. Research shows that before we risk an investment, we need to feel assured that the potential gain is twice what the possible loss might be because a loss feels twice as bad as a gain feels good. That's weird and irrational, but it's the way it is.
It's not a human thing, it's a primate thing. It's something they've found in the behavior of monkeys, too. Capuchin monkeys would rather take less fruit, if taking more means another monkey receives more as well.

All the class warfare rhetoric we hear on the news about the evil rich... the calls for salary caps, for progressive (punitive) income taxes, for wealth redistribution... it's genetic?

The story is worth reading. There's a little experiment I may modify by replacing money with hershey's kisses and try out on my children:
Consider one more experimental example to prove the point: the ultimatum game. You are given $100 to split between yourself and your game partner. Whatever division of the money you propose, if your partner accepts it, you each get to keep your share. If, however, your partner rejects it, neither of you gets any money.

How much should you offer? Why not suggest a $90-$10 split? If your game partner is a rational, self-interested money-maximizer -- the very embodiment of Homo economicus -- he isn't going to turn down a free 10 bucks, is he? He is. Research shows that proposals that offer much less than a $70-$30 split are usually rejected.

The idea of turning down 2 good things because someone else will get 3 good things is completely irrational to me. Let's see if that was passed down to my munchkins.

*Since I was crying over spilt milk yesterday, I decided to stick with idiomatic phrases today.

Crying Over Spilt Milk?

Managed to get a little over 30 solid minutes of run time yesterday. For the first time since being sick, I did not feel there was an elephant sitting on my chest every time I breathed in.

Tackled the breakfast/lunch making mess in the kitchen when I got back home. I know, I should have changed first. But, I wasn't quite ready to hop in the shower, and it was only supposed to take 10-15 minutes...

...I knocked a half-empty cup of milk over. Directly onto the top of my right foot. That icky sensation when you misjudge the depth of a puddle, and water seeps into your shoe? It was like that, only it was MILK! Yuck.

Peeled off my shoe, and pulled out the insole. Started running cold water through the top, until the water went from cloudy white to clear. I replaced the newspaper stuffing this morning. I think it's almost dry.

No running today. I'll stick my trail shoes in the truck, and go for a walk after I finish being the Mystery Reader in my son's class. Right now, I'm off to search online for a second pair of my shoes. Really hope I can find them. Having an in-store expert help me choose the right shoe was worth it, but I think I can find a backup pair for less than $108.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Morning De-Stress

Yesterday was an amazingly busy day. I knew this going into it. So, I dressed in running gear right out of bed, and was able to head to the gym directly from school dropoff.

In just over an hour, I made it to the Y, ran a lazy 2.5 miles, and drove back home. Quick shower, and I was opening up the map I'm working on by 9:00.

It went so well, I'm going to try it again today. (Fingers crossed.)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Family Ride

Took to the Silver Comet today, with kids in tow. Literally, since I clipped a Trail-A-Bike onto the back of the hybrid. Fairly easy, 12 mile ride. Was beautiful. Sunny and about 60 degrees. Very breezy, but still comfy.

I completely forgot to take my phone/camera with us, so no photos, but lots of great little moments stored away in my head.

Before heading out, my daughter pointed out that the one wheel trail-a-bike was a unicycle, and that she wished she had a clown nose, so riding would be like the circus. She kept chattering behind me during the ride about how she was riding a unicycle. Didn't think much about it... until a serious cyclist slowed down to smile back at her and say "great balance!"

This is how I learned my daughter had spent the much of the 12 miles with her arms in the airplane position. I love that goofy little clown.

I also learned a 13-year-old goes from being a whiny slowpoke to speed racer when his younger sibling points out that he's slower than the whole family, even [gasp] Mom.

Finally, pulling a 6-year-old on a bike during her balancing act is a very good workout for one's core. I feel like I spent the afternoon doing crunches.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

10k Delay

I was okay on Monday's slow run for 40 minutes, but it was the only day this week I made it past 30 minutes without major coughing. The bronchitis left me a bit weaker than I thought.

Am going to stick with the 30 minute workouts for another week or so, and start building up again. I may try a 15 mile lazy ride this weekend, since I can maintain a relaxed pace without pushing my heart rate too fast.

Since the Monday morning women's run clinic is half stretching and warm up / cool down, with only about half an hour of running, I should be able to pick back up this coming Monday. That'll help me get back on track, I hope.

Monday, February 04, 2008

40 Minutes!

I made it a whole 40 minutes today without feeling like my lungs were collapsing! Yea!

I was slow. Very slow. According to Runners World's route finder, it was just about 3.5 miles.

But I made it. I even feel well enough that I will try another 30 minutes tomorrow.

I may just be able to run in Saturday's 10k after all.

On cycling:
I seriously need to replace my seat. The one that came on the via narone is beautiful, but it is hard on the bum. I tried a super short ride, to test the padding in my sugoi cycling skort. It's been super cozy during 40 mile rides on the commuter bike, but fails to protect me from the minty green torture device that is my bianchi seat.

Lemon Meringue Cup-Pie

Tia(?) at Living Deliberately has been on a creative streak with cupcakes lately. The cupcakes, especially the lemon-raspberry, started a serious craving for me. Problem is, not everyone in my family is big on the cake part of the cupcake. What to do?

Try Google!

Lemon Meringue Tarts. Recipe was from The Canadian Baker. Instructions for making mini pie crusts using an upside down muffin tin were dug up with another google search. I enlisted the help from the other cake lover by telling her we'd be making cup-pies, just like Chuck on Pushing Daisies. Handed over the official 'hands on' smock, tied on an apron, and got to work.

The mini pie crusts were easier than I thought they'd be. Directions called for turning a 2nd tin over the first to make for easy flipping and less burning, but I only have one 12-muffin tin. So, DD and I fashioned little aluminum foil cups to reduce the chance of burning. When we pulled them out of the oven, we topped the tin with a cookie sheet & flipped. Worked like a charm.

While cooling, we mixed up the lemon filling. DD spooned it into the mini crusts with a tablespoon, and watched the magic of making meringue while the filling cooled. The small casserole dish was used for the extra pie crust & filling. There wasn't enough for a whole pie, so we rolled out the dough and went through the cabinets to find a pan to match.

Quick 15 minute bake, and... behold!

Oh. Wait. DD couldn't wait long enough for me to grab the camera, so our finished product photo is lacking it's meringue. (According to DD, the meringue is just like toasted marshmallows, which are only her favorite thing in the whole world.)

That's okay. The cup-pies were a success.

I now have requests for a chocolate silk version, so I guess it's back to Google to plan an upcoming weekend project.

Friday, February 01, 2008

If at first you don't succeed

My goal for January was 100 miles, running and cycling combined.

I didn't make it. A full week out with the flu, followed by a week of sick children and a case of bronchitis, ACK!

I'm setting the same challenge for the month of February. 100 miles, combined. Since I managed just under 50 miles the half of January when I was able to get out, it's not an unrealistic goal for February.

Besides, this year, I have Leap Day on my side.

Next week is the Chattahoochee Challenge 10k. Barring my mild case of bronchitis turning into pneumonia, I'll be there. (Uh-oh. I just tempted fate, didn't I?)

Growing like a weed

Remember those Stretch Armstrong dolls - sorry, action figures? I'm pretty sure that's what's happening to my 13-year-old son. I swear, he's growing faster than his hair. Really!

I purchased a couple pairs of boys size 16 school pants and jeans for him about two months ago. It was the day he had his last haircut. I made him try them on, so as to be sure they would fit for more than a week.

Flash forward to this morning. I caught a glimpse of ankle. Even if the pants have shrunk slightly, he still has stretched by at least another inch! He must be pushing 5'10". He was shorter than me this time last year!

So, this week's mission is to stock up on pants & jeans... in mens sizes. Hopefully, I can find everything I need at the thrift store. If not, I'll be looking for some serious bargains online.