Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Land Between the Lakes

Two weekends ago, my good buddy Lori drove up from Atlanta and I drove down from Urbana and we met at the Land Between the Lakes on the KY and TN border in western Kentucky. We backpacked for two nights at a leisurely pace and did a lot of swimming. The first night, we forded across to a small island to camp the first night. The first picture shows Lori during sunset from our island campsight and the second shows her wading back across in the morning carrying our trekking poles and boots (I was the only one tall enough to carry our packs across and had to make a couple of trips). The water was perfect, though, in the mid-70's and we had a really nice backcountry trip. The last picture shows us with our finger companions, Virginia la Viajera and Teresa the Traveler. Loyal readers of the blog will recognize Teresa from our trip around the country in the summer of 2005. Lori got me Virginia in Mexico with the intention that I would take her to China, but she didn't arrive in the mail early enough, so she's making her travel album debut at LBL.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

This morning I ran the Memorial Day 5K at the VA Hospital in Danville, IL. I rode over with a couple of guys that I run with sometimes during lunch, which made for a nice little trip (Danville is about 30 minutes east of C-U). Nevermind that I biked about 40 miles last night, I ran the 5K in 16:38 finishing in second place overall, so I was pretty pleased with the performance.

Last year for Memorial Day I helped my buddy Tiny--a purple-heart veteran--put on the Silent March in Brownsville. Since I couldn't be there this year, I wore my shirt and sent Tiny the picture of me wearing the shirt with him last year.

Tonight a few people came over for dessert and I made strawberry shortcake with lemon cream, which I'd been wanting to make since I saw it in Food & Wine Magazine. The recipe is here. I'd never made a lemon curd before so I read a few websites about it before I attempted to do it, which was a good thing because it's about as intense and invigorating an experience as I've had in the kitchen! There's a picture on the recipe website, which I mimicked as shown below. Delicious!
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Bright Idea

I just replaced 6 of my old tungsten incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. The box advertises that I'll save $38 per bulb, which would be a savings of $228 for the six bulbs that I just installed. The box says that's based on 10 cents/kWh, but I just opened up my electric bill and after the Illinois rate increase (we had a 9-year rate freeze in the state), which pumped up bills over 40%, I'm paying over 13 cents/kWh. Still, I probably don't use my light bulbs as much as the average consumer, but even if I only get half the savings, that's quite the adjustment! (Addendum: the Phillips box makes it more clear than the GE box that the savings is over the lifetime of the bulb.) I'm planning to buy some more CFB's soon. I know that the bulbs are supposed to last 10 years, but I'm a little concerned because they do contain mercury and the boxes only have a tiny warning on the back that reads "Manage in Accord with Disposal Laws." I'm hoping that before everybody who's switched to CFB's start burning them out in a decade, there's some awareness about those laws.

I did a little research and it turns out that it's hard as heck to figure out where you can get rid of these things safely. I'll list some websites below, but you'll find that there are not many places right now that will take them off your hands and many are very inconvenient. Here's what the FAQ from GE says:

What do I do with a CFL when it burns out? What is the proper disposal of a CFL bulb?Follow these guidelines to dispose your CFL properly:
Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. To find out what to do first check www.earth911.org (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code) or call 1-877-EARTH911 for local disposal options. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community. Additional information is available at www.lamprecycle.org. Finally, IKEA stores take back used CFLs, and other retailers are currently exploring take back programs.
If your local waste management agency offers no other disposal options except your household garbage, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in the trash. If your waste agency incinerates its garbage, you should search a wider geographic area for proper disposal options. Never send a CFL or other mercury containing product to an incinerator.
ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs have a two-year warranty. If the bulb fails within the warranty period, return it to your retailer.
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Monday, May 21, 2007

My sister is engaged!

I got a call from my sister Jen yesterday letting me know that she and her boyfriend (now fiance!), Ben had gotten engaged while in the Canyonlands on a hike. Here's a picture of my future bro'-in-law and my sister that I yanked from their photo album. I was generous and didn't snag the one where Ben's hair looks like it's as windy as it apparently was. Congrats, you two!
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My worst nightmare come true

We had a brood of cicadas emerge when I was in elementary school and I hated it. Looks like I'm in for more fun:

Swarms of cicadas emerging in Midwest | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

Saturday, May 12, 2007

MAYHEM TRIATHLON-DUATHLON 2007

Last night, Craig Robinson and I drove down to Mattoon Beach to compete in the Multisport Mayhem (results) this morning. We got there in time to go for a quick spin on the bike and a quick dip in the lake before grabbing a bite to eat at Joe's pizza in the cute classic midwestern American town of Effingham. Then we camped along Lake Mattoon just a few hundred feet from the start of this morning's race. Craig won the race, taking a commanding lead on his blazing fast and sexy new tri bike and his fancy new disc wheel. I, having done minimal training on the bike or in the water, however, staggered along until I got to the run where I put down the fastest time in the field, running 16:55 for 3 miles (5:38/mi avg pace) despite the fact that I felt really sluggish going into the run, which earned me 10th overall and 3rd in the 25-29 age group. It was a perfectly beautiful day and we went for a swim in the lake (~75 degrees F) after the race as well and wolfed down the provided post-race pizza.

I was really impressed by how well run the event was and I'll probably head back for several of their other races this year. The course was well laid-out and staffed with support, the corners were swept on the bike route, and everything was fabulously organized complete with chip timing. I'm also incredibly impressed with the fact that the results are already posted online. The race organizer has taken on timing races as a full-time job, though, and it looks like he's doing a great job. I have nothing to complain about, except of course how weak my cycling legs are. It's time to spend some serious time in the saddle.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Triathlon Season Opener

I've not been swimming or biking much, but I decided to go ahead and do a small sprint triathlon on Saturday, the Mattoon Beach Multisport Mayhem. It's short at 0.25 mile swim, 14.75 mile bike, and 3 mile run, so it's a good place to start. The race is put on by the same people who host the half-iron distance triathlon that I'm planning to do in September, so this will give me an opportunity to see how they run things. I'm going to the race with one or two other guys from the Fighting Illini Triathlon Club, so it should be a good time and a less than subtle reminder that I need to start spending some serious time in my bike saddle.
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Brian's Graduation

My brother graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Geology this past weekend. Some important things to note about the photographs:
1) my grandfather's totally sweet and styling sunglasses
2) the Rupp Arena concession stand was open, complete with hot dogs


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Carolina Gold

My mom came to visit a few weeks ago and we did some yard work, including planting a few new plants that we bought at the Allerton Park plant sale. A few days ago, my Carolina Gold iris (purchased for its sentimental namesake) bloomed.
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Wrigley's

On the last day of classes, Lindsay, Apratim, and I went to the Union in search of a snack before we had to teach. Wrigley's was there giving away gum and other prizes. They kept handing me gum and telling me about its stress-relieving and brain-empowering properties despite my reassurances that I don't like gum. I tried to convince the PR representative to give me 60 packs of gum to give to my students during their final exam. Lindsay, Apratim, and I took advantage of the free photo booth (note that my pathetic attempt to give Apratim bunny ears resulted in giving him a unicorn). Later that afternoon, I got a call telling me that I had won the drawing for the Microsoft Zune. Nevermind that I don't even chew gum, I got lots of free stuff from them, so here's my plug for Wrigley's.
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