Thursday, March 30, 2006

iPods suck

I have now owned three iPods. Credit to for the following image, by the way. I have no idea if there are legal issues with using it, but I'll let them contact me and yell at me if there are. At least that would be once instance where you can get a human at Apple on the phone easily.

We got the first generation brick when we bought our Powermac several years ago. We loved it, but it was a little too big for the hand, didn't have a ton of storage, and the software interface wasn't that wonderful. All in all, though, it was light years ahead of the HipZip we had at the time, a miserable MP3 player that required the use of Clik discs, 40MB discs that could barely hold a full album.

Again, that sucker was great when it came out, but quickly became painfully obsolete. So, we were happy with our new iPod. Then, Apple decided to come out with all sorts of other stuff, thinner designs with more storage, color screens, etc. So, Audrey bought me a 40GB 3G iPod. It was beautiful and worked great and I couldn't fill up all that space no matter how hard I tried. I got into listening to podcasts on long drives, particularly enjoying stuff from IT Conversations, and I just loved having access to all of our music anywhere I went.

Then, I started running. A 40GB iPod is too big to run with. There are no armbands available for it and holding it in your hand is a real pain. But, I did it anyways. Funny thing was, it would stop working on almost every run. In many cases, it "died" on the same song. I figured it was just a problem with the file itself and that the iPod couldn't play it. So, I took the iPod to the Genius Bar...nice name, but not exactly accurate. They should call it Spiky Hair Bar or Sexy Geek Bar or Jerky Teenage Nerd Bar or Smelly College Kid Bar or We Can't Do Crap For You Bar or something like that. They could at least name the one at my local Apple store something like "Place for stupid people in expensive clothes to complain about their iPods" Bar. Okay, so I went there (not stupid and not in expensive clothes). And, some turd with a wacky hairdo "helps" me by holding my iPod to his ear to diagnose that the hard drive has gone bad. He then tells me I am past my warranty and that I can trade in my iPod for a 10% discount on a new one. Oh, wonderful. He also gives me a card for iPodRESQ, a company that fixes busted iPods. After considering my options, including destroying my iPod in some display of Apple-focused hatred, I decide to try out the iPod repair service.

Okay, these dudes must be running a scam or something. You pay $30 for them to ship you a box and give you an overnight diagnosis. Then, when the diagnosis comes up with a repair that costs as much as a new iPod, you have the option to have them return your busted device or they'll buy it from you...for $30. So, you end up having spent nothing more than some of your own time, but you have no iPod at all and two silly transactions on your credit card. In the end, I'd be better off having just sold it for scrap on eBay and then buying a refurbished one from Apple. Or, going without a stinking iPod altogether.

My iPod Shuffle works well enough, though.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Nocturnal Emissions

...from my son's stomach! Our little guy caught a stomach bug. He started puking in the afternoon, kept it up all night, and again found a way to puke on me in the middle of night, sans clothing (on top). Puke all over your chest and back with no t-shirt on is just no fun.

The worst part, though, is having to see your child go through this kind of thing. Vomiting, not feeling well, crying because he is just miserable. Pleading for us to give him food or water, which we are withholding only because we know it will just come right back up. Last report from Audrey is that he has held liquids down all morning. I don't know how things are at the moment, but the pediatrician said we can't give him food until he hasn't puked for at least 8 hours.

Noah must be starving by now.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Another Lost Evening

Yet again, I fell asleep early and didn't wake up from my evening "nap" until after 11PM. Too late to get anything real done other than eating a snack, messing around on the computer, and watching television. All of which is fine, but it would have been nice to have done something more productive, like sanding the half-finished cabinet sitting in the garage or actively straightening up the house. Instead, I am blogging and finishing off a bowl of Puffins, my son's favorite new cereal. I'm eating them dry as to avoid the backlash of lactose intolerance (again, assuming that I am).

We had Thai for dinner, taking Noah to Sakoontra. Things went unbelievably well and we will definitely head back there. Noah is often a problem in restaurants and we've come to rely on only going to places that we know work for him. "Work for him" means that there is enough going on to distract him, no major problems with the stuff on the table or objects within reach, acceptance on the part of the restaurant staff and guests for children, and food that he can and will eat. This means we go to Red Robin a lot, but we also frequent our local sushi extravaganza, Todai. Ruby Tuesday's is a good place for him as well since I can hit the salad bar and get him some snacks immediately. Sakoontra doesn't have a kid's menu, but their appetizers work for kids and we got Noah the Chicken Satay Skewers, which he really enjoyed. It was partly the peanut sauce he got to dip everything in, but he also loved having sticks all to himself. He spent most of his meal with a skewer in eat hand, alternating between nibbling on each one. He also ate some of Audrey's Panang Chicken Curry and finished off some rice too. I am amazed at this, frankly. I was never exposed to that kind of food when I was a kid, so it seems crazy to me that he likes it. Thai food is great, though, so I'm glad we can go somewhere that we can all enjoy.

He got a little nutty at the end, so Audrey took him to the sports store next door to look at bicycles. By the time I joined them, he was in full mode freakout, running around like a maniac and trying to grab everything. Sometimes he just wants to touch everything, which is pretty normal for his age. Couple that with it being the end of the day and we were bound to have trouble. He just gets unhinged at the end of the day, becoming less patient, less willing to listen to us, and less able to control his wants and desires. So, he didn't want to try on any sneakers and the evening ended with me chasing him across the store.

It was a good day, all in all. Audrey got back from Seattle this morning and things could be heating up for us. Of course, she needs to get an offer first, but we are definitely open to making the move if the stars line up. It is a place that we have always liked (okay, I think Audrey loves it there) and we have talked about living there someday. I'd be perfectly happy to stay here in the DC Metro area, even in this same house we are in, but Seattle might be a better cultural fit for us. Liberal, non-churchgoing types who are a bit more laid back, a bit more culturally experienced, and just generally more open to alternative stuff. Of course, Seattle is the birthplace of some of our favorite music and coffee is plentiful out there, but it is also a place that seems full of possibilities for an ideal life. Maybe we can move into the city and become the hipster parents we sometimes think we might be. Of course, we could stay here and continue to evolve into the dorky suburbanites that I think we are as well.

I am excited about the prospect. I think I can find work out there, although I may also be able to keep my current job. I'm not wedded to it and won't feel too bad if they decide that it would be better to sever ties. That would just give me the opportunity to get us settled in and to think about my next move. I could renovate an old house for us or go back to school and follow my dream of opening my own restaurant someday. Or, maybe I go down another path entirely. Again, I just think that Seattle is full of possibilities for us and might be the best place for us to carve out a life. All this optimism aside (and without getting too ahead of myself...she still hasn't gotten the job offer), I am very concerned about moving so far from friends and family. The vast majority of our friends live here, my sister lives here, and our families are not that far a ride from here. Moving to Seattle would mean only seeing family a few times a year and would probably require that we fly east, whether it be to NJ or FL. Seeing friends here would be even tougher and we'd probably have to make a trip back to DC periodically as well. We've lived in the area for 8 years now and have built some strong relationships, obviously. It would be hard to start over and we'd only have two couples as friends. Of course, both are married and one is expecting a child any day now, so it would work nicely. But, we can't exactly expect these people to just accept us into their social networks. We'd have to go make friends again...ugh.

I feel like a lot of people have assumed we'd stay here and have included that assumption in some of their plans. My parents moved to Florida a long time ago and I have never made a commitment to them to stay in this area, but I think it would upset them if we move. Even our potential move to Boston last year made them nervous. My grandparents, who can still drive to our house in an afternoon, would be disappointed and we'd rarely see them if we go. I don't think they've assumed anything, though, and they'd probably be supportive of us. My sister certainly included other things in her decision to move to DC, like it being the city with the best law school willing to accept her, but she always says she wants to be close to family and considers it important that she lives near us. Besides, she is great with Noah. Now, my younger sister is talking about moving here after she finishes undergrad, in part because we live here. I don't want to call it pressure to stay, but I do feel the weight of their expectations and I'd feel guilty if we moved. But, I'm also not willing to give up on opportunity simply because other people's plans don't fit ours. We can always buy them plane tickets...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Toddler Skills not include the ability to pick good fruit. I took Noah to the grocery store last night on the way back home. He didn't want to go out to dinner, but when I mentioned the grocery store, he got excited. So, we went to buy some basics, like produce and eggs and stuff. He helped me do the shopping and I let him pick some apples for us. They looked fine at the time, but I just ate one and it was already getting mealy. I guess I shouldn't expect too much from a 2 year old when it comes to identifying good fruit.

What is a Daddy Bar?

It is about time I explain why this is called The Daddy Bar. It is a mediocre name for a blog, but it is something our son came up with. I eat Balance bars, Yogurt Honey Peanut to be exact. That is the only flavor I've ever really enjoyed. Like many toddlers, our son likes to eat whatever I am eating, particularly if what I am eating is not what he has at that moment. So, at some point several months ago, I shared one of these bars with him. Not surprisingly, he loved it. And, since it is definitely healthier than giving him ice cream for breakfast (something I did this morning), we've never really had any issue with him eating these bars. He also likes to eat whatever his Mommy is eating, meaning that he has also gotten to nibble on the various flavors that Audrey likes. But, he seems to prefer the Yogurt Honey Peanut, which he associates with me. So, instead of saying "yogurt honey peanut", he just says "Daddy bar" when he wants one. But, as a phrase, it sounds like the name of a hangout for fathers. So, since this is sort of a virtual hangout and I talk about being a get the point.


Damn, my NCAA brackets are busted all over the place. I got trashed in my office pool, largely because I didn't pick enough of the big upsets and I had Duke and Gonzaga going to the Final Four. Same goes for my brackets with the Trashtalking crowd, but I am doing a bit better there. the only place I've still got some respect is with the brackets I do with my brother, Ben. Thankfully, it looks like I'll beat him in both our full bracket competition and our round-by-round selections. I say thankfully because I have beaten him every year since we started doing this and it is the only NCAA betting that I have been able to win the past few years. I did clean house in an office pool back in 2003, but I haven't done squat since then.

On a related note, I am surprisingly happy for the George Mason Patriots. I can't pretend that I cared what happened to them at first, but I am totally on their bandwagon now. Since they are the "local" school in our town, it can only be good for us if they keep winning.

Go Patriots!

To Run or Not to Run?

The real question is...train for a marathon or not?

I certainly think I can accomplish my goal of running a marathon in less than 4:30 and I think I can do it this year, assuming I can get into a marathon this Fall. MCM and New York might be longshots in the lottery, but I bet I could get into Richmond or some other smaller event. In any case, it isn't a question of whether I can physically pull it off or whether I could find a marathon to run in. The problem is whether or not I can find the time to do the training. It is hard enough to make the time to run 10 miles on a Saturday morning, what happens when I need to run 15 or 20 or try a few practice runs doing the full 26.2? How many Saturdays am I willing to give up to do this? Is it even remotely fair to ask my wife and son to accept that I will spend so much of my time running? What won't get done because I am out on the running path and won't be back until dinner time? Can I juggle work, family, and marathon training?

I am reluctant to say that I can. I think it would be very, very tough to do this and be successful. Again, I can run the marathon, but would my family grow to hate my running? How supportive can I really ask them to be? How much can I really expect them to be willing to deal with? I won't even begin to think about the potential for running more than one marathon.

Let's say a marathon is out, at least for now. What distance should I focus on then? I could stick to 10 milers or go back to 10Ks (not that I'm some 10K expert) and work on getting faster at those distances. I can still fit in 20-25 miles a week or more, but maybe just even out the training a bit so that I am distributing the miles in a more even fashion. Right now, I run three times a week. First two runs are 5-6 miles and the weekend run is 10+. Maybe I should get back to running four times a week and stick to 5-6 miles each time. That would put me in great position for 10Ks and I could do an 8 mile run on the weekends as my endurance run. If I feel good, then I can always stretch that out to 10 or 12 or something like that.

I need to strike a balance, I think, but I also need a goal to shoot for or I find it difficult to be motivated. I have this 10 Miler coming up and I've been able to run 20+ miles a week for the past few weeks, so I am pretty happy with where I am at. But, what is next? Again, I've got the half marathon coming up and then...nothing. Maybe I should find a middle distance race in the early summer and shoot for getting a PR on my race pace. Fastest race pace I've had was in my first 5K, where I cranked an 8:10/mi. Not that fast, really. Maybe I should try a few 5Ks and see if I can't get that down to 7:30/mi or faster.

All that being said, I would still love to do a marathon some day.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Treadmills and Carrot Cake

So, I "went" for a run yesterday at the hotel. On a treadmill.

I don't know this area at all and I wasn't confident that the routes I could map out would work that well for me, so I just used the treadmill. I was bored out of my mind. At around 4 miles, I started having trouble with the headphones and I tried to readjust them. In the process of trying to straighten them out, I pulled the emergency stop switch. And, since both my hands were busy with the headphones and iPod, I had no ability to catch the handles to stabilize myself. So, I flew off the treadmill.

What could have been quite painful turned out to be mildly embarrassing. I basically did a mildly uncoordinated jump to the side, landing on both feet and cursing out loud. I then got back on and did another two miles, careful to not bother clipping the emergency stop to my clothes again.

It is a good thing that I did that run because I ate a massive piece of carrot cake last night. My boss, a coworker, and I went out to dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery. They both order the BBQ ribs, but I opted for the Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken - one of those menu items listed as a healthy option. Less than 500 calories, low in fat, etc. Well, I am sure it was healthy because it wasn't very much food. Chicken was dry, salad was basically just spinach leaves, and there wasn't much else. A bit of dressing, some feta, and sundried tomatos and olives rounded out the package...and the package didn't even come close to filling the salad bowl. Joe and Eric, boss and coworker, teased and taunted me as they gorged themselves on their ribs. I finished quickly and got to watch them eat, feeling sorry for myself and wondering what the hell else I would eat before bed. And then I saw her...Little Miss Carrot Cake. I figured that I had been such a good boy with the salad that I could enjoy a piece of cake, guilt-free. And she was talking to me, beckoning me from the little advertisement on the table. Eat me, Dave. Stab your fork into my icing-covered, super moist goodness.

Little did I know how big she really was. It was more like two pieces of cake stacked on top of each other with icing in between. I talked Joe into getting a piece as well and we both went at them with gusto. He bowed out at the halfway mark, but I soldiered on, getting into the bottom half. I felt gross and full and satiated. Then, we sat at the table. And sat and sat and sat until I became hungry enough to finish the rest of that piece of cake. The waitress was impressed, Joe and Eric were laughing, and I am still horrified by how much I ate. I can't find any nutritional information on it, but a similarly large piece of carrot cake from The Cheesecake Factory is over 1500 calories a serving. Ugh.

If I find a picture of this nightmare dessert, I will post it.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Daddy Bar On Demand

So, I know that there are very few people reading this. And, given that there is a rather small audience, few people will find much use in the fact that I've published this blog as an RSS feed. But, I did it anyways. Blogger makes it possible to do this with the built-in Atom capability. But, who the heck uses Atom? Well, many newsreaders don't, including My Yahoo, which is what I like to use. So, I went to Feedburner and used their free service to "convert" the Atom feed to RSS. So, if you want to get my feed and always see the latest posts from me in your newsreader, just point to the following URL,

Feedburner is easy and gives you some basic stats on subscribers, but that doesn't mean much when you only have two.

On the Road Again

Well, doing a bit of travel for the new job. I'm out in San Diego for two days, hanging out with our engineers and customer support folks. I'm just here to introduce myself and ask technical questions without the interruption of every day activity.

Took JetBlue out here, thanks to the direct flights in and out of Dulles. Only once a day, so getting in at 9:15PM on the way out and having to get up at 4AM on the way back is part of the bargain. But, dude...DirecTV all the way.

I just hope I get a decent meal tonight and can crawl into bed at a normal hour. I am beat.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Training and new LDR

So, I'm training for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, as mentioned before, but I don't exactly have a strict training regimen. I haven't followed any of the plans laid out in Runner's World, although I might need to more seriously consider them at some point. All I do is keep upping my mileage each week until I have comfortably past the distance of the next race I am going to run. I time myself as well to see if I am going to meet my race goal too, but that isn't a very exact science. So, for my last real race, a 10K, I kept upping my LDR until I hit 7-8 miles or so. I figured I'd have no problem running 6.2 miles if I was used to running longer distance. Same logic is in place for the 10 Miler. I have been running 10+ miles for two weeks now and today I ran the longest distance I've ever run in my life, 11.3 miles. I didn't time myself, although I think I was doing 10:00/mi pace or so. The wind was ridiculous and my knees didn't seem to enjoy it. But, like all LDRs, the last mile or two was almost effortless. I hit a flat stretch at the end and it just feels like I could keep running forever. Of course, then I hit that last hill and think I am going to die.

Not only did I hit a personal distance record today, but this is the crappiest I've ever felt after a run. It was like I got hit by a truck. I was sore all over and completely exhausted. My underwear was soaked, my hat was stained with salt, and I stiffened up immediately. But, at least I know I'll have no problem with 10 flat miles in the city in two weeks. Then, I've got to push myself to 15 miles or so in order to prepare for my half-marathon in early May. Of course, it is an off-road race, so who knows what that will mean. I should start doing some trail running, but I have no idea where some decent trails are around my house. I just hope I don't trip over a rock or fall in a stream.

I don't know how I'm going to find the time to do all this stinkin' running.

I did find a way to feel better, though. First, I stuffed myself with my wife's awesome cooking...a turkey meatloaf and some roasted brussel sprouts (roasted with bacon!). Then, I filled in the gaps in my stomach with butter pecan ice cream. Mmmmm. Now I will go sit on the couch and not move for the rest of the night.

One last thing. My goal for the 10 Miler is to complete it in 1:30 or better, which would be a 9:00/mi pace. I have come close to that in training, but who knows what will happen.

Two Posts in One

First, my brackets are shredded. I am near the bottom of my office pool, in the middle of the pack in a friend's pool, and falling behind my brother in our annual sibling matchup. I usually kick his ass and let him welch on the bet, but I have a feeling he won't extend the same offer to me. Ugh. March Madness is madness.

Second, unrelated...I don't know if I like the template for this blog. I wasn't happy with the last one, but I'm not sold on this one either. And, I don't like the font that I used for all of the previous posts. What to do...what do you think, o faithful reader? Post in the comments if you have any suggestions.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Running or Parenthood or Stupidity?

I think this whole thing will get very uninteresting if all I talk about is running and related subjects. Okay, so it is a hobby of mine and I'm really into it and all that, but who wants to hear that crap all the time? And, yes, I am a father and I love my son and we have loads of wacky adventures and experiences. But, again, how corny will that be?

So, should I start venting about politics and culture? Should I post a daily gripe? Should I just attempt to be crass and insulting and post all sorts of nasty humor?

Here is something that always bothers me and I figure it is postable since I just vocalized my irritation to a coworker: the proliferation of Nalgene bottles in the workplace. Yes, it is important to drink water and I am sure that these bottles are a good way to do that, but they don't function better than a basic squeeze bottle from Rubbermaid. What they do, though, is suggest that the person drinking the water is outdoorsy. It fits with the clownish suburban parents that never ski, run, or go camping, yet have NorthFace or Patagonia jackets on. It is just the latest fad, a waning one at that, in a long line of fads that make middle class status seekers feel like they have achieved some status. I am sure it is great for Nalgene to convince people that they must have their water bottle, but it is silly in the end. Besides, is it really that great for an outdoor products company if people begin to associate their products with the fat cubicle slaves that I've seen using them. First person I ever met who had one was a bald, dorky customer support manager at a tech company. He also had the fancy jacket and the leatherman on his belt...heck of a poster child for Nalgene.

What do I use to drink water at work? I use a 20 oz bottle of Dasani. I bought the water, drank it, and have refilled it every day since I started this job. It cost me $1 and it will not end up in the recycling bin until it really is completely used up.

I know, Jon, I know. I am a crank and I won't ever buy a Nalgene bottle, let alone New Balance or Under Armour. I will complain about that stuff later.


That is what my son likes to exclaim when I try to cut his toast or a slice of pizza for him. Sometimes, the kid just wants the whole, unadulterated thing. He never finishes it, of course, leaving barely eaten fruit and other things all over the kitchen. In fact, there is a pear in the fridge right now that looks like a squirrel gave it a good time...lots of scratches made with somebody's front teeth.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Runner's Runs or Dairy Destruction?

So, this morning, I am gassy and bloated as all hell. I was thinking that I might be lactose intolerant (which is actually the normal condition in our species), so I've been avoiding dairy and my gut seemed to appreciate it. Much less in the fart department, less bloat and cramping, etc. But, I wondered if it might not be something else - a fluke stomach bug or maybe the veggies that I eat. So, I tried out some dairy yesterday and I am freaking dying right now. Bad gas pain, farts out the wazoo...I feel bad for anyone who comes by my cube this morning. Oof...that was a hot one! Anyways, I can't say for sure that it is dairy because I also had a great big bowl of pea soup last night, courtesy of my wife's wonderful cooking skills, and it might be related to that too.

Of course, that mound of ice cream I ate afterwards could be the problem too. Or the cheese I ate, although cheese is very low in lactose and shouldn't have been a problem. All I've eaten today has been two scrambled eggs, with no milk added...but I guess eggs could do it too. At least, I could imagine eggs being the problem since my vapors often smell like a sulfuric acid spill. Disgusting, right? Imagine how I feel, not only in the discomfort of the process of expulsion, but in having to sit in my own funk all day. No good, man. No good.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Midnight Pains

I don't know what the do's and don'ts of breaking in a new pair of Adrenalines is, but I know that my right hip was freaking killing me last night. Bad enough that it woke me up. Although, sleeping on the couch probably didn't help much. My hip was sore when I got up, but stretching at the gym must have helped because it isn't a problem at this point. I just wonder which pair I should wear for tomorrow's run.

I am beginning to think that I could train for a marathon this year. It will take a lot of effort, but the MCM isn't out of the realm of possibility. I just wonder if it won't take up too much time and if I won't end up burning out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Running in the Morning

Despite a bit of a rough night for Noah and Audrey, I was able to get myself up and out the door for a run by 6AM. I took advantage of the great weather (61 degrees) and broke in the new Adrenalines with a slow 5.75 miles. No shin pain at all, but my knees took it a bit tough and my left leg is behaving as usual. Maybe my left leg just doesn't like me or what I am doing and feels the need to complain every time I run. In any case, I am right on track for my mileage this week. I am going to take it easy and try for 11+ this Saturday. The Cherry Blossom race will be here pretty soon and I don't want to overdo it. Plus, my schedule is going to be kind of wacky and I am going to have a tough time fitting my runs in. A trip to San Diego, Audrey's potential jaunt to Seattle...and the usual nonsense will transpire to derail my training plans.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Third Time's A Charm

This has to be at least the third time I've started a blog. I'll try to keep it clean and stay focused on the topics of running, running after my son, running around as a husband/father/employee, and not running sometimes.

I hope to post often enough to make it mildly interesting, but not more than a notch or two above boring.