James River Park, early 70’s


This is the 22nd Street tower in the James River park that grants access from high on the bank down to the river. We ride to and across this bridge when we ride the Forest Hill/Buttermilk/North Bank MTB loop. Adam, who sent me the photo, can actually ride down the steps of the tower. It’s fun to watch. I’ll remember to get a present day shot the next time we’re over there.

13 for 13

I was chatting Adam before Christmas about a woodworking class he’d taken. We have a running gag between us about all of the hobbies we try to keep up with and he jokingly asked if I was trying to get a 10th. I said I was going for a dozen. The idea of coming up with a dozen hobbies stuck in my head and I naturally rounded it up to 13 (for 2013, duh). It seems like every couple of years I get Big Eyes about all of the things I want to get done in the new year.

Here is the long list with some comment on my choices. They aren’t all brand new but rather represent a firm list of things I want to give an honest effort to in the year to come. It should provide great fodder for this old blog, too, so please stay tuned.

  • Running
  • 2012 was the first really big running year for me in a long time. I got to the point that I really liked it so I’m sticking with it this year. I’ve got a decent calendar of events and I’m actually looking forward to the training. It’s almost like practice. I don’t mind practice.

  • MTB
  • I’m a big chicken on the mountain bike for two reasons: first because I don’t have a lot of experience. The other is that I’m terrified of falling off of my bike on the trail. Our Sunday Rides group got out for a handful of trail rides and I caught the bug. I brought my MTB to the shop for a tune up for the first time in, er, forever and I replaced my platform pedals with clipless jams and shoes. It’s a big step for me. Best case, I’ll get out for a (semi-?)monthly trail ride and get through 2013 with my collarbone intact. Worst case? Let’s not focus on that.

  • Hiking
  • I like being outside and I want to pass that along to my kids. An easy way to do that, I hope, will be with hikes. I got them this great book for Christmas. We have easy access to a lot of hiking options and I’m looking forward to getting out with the gang.

  • Meditation
  • I’ve got more that a couple of these hobbies aimed at my body and I want to spend some time this year working on my mind. I’ve been using Mindfulness in Plain English as a guide. I’ve actually started this one but I want to spend some more time with it before I talk about it.

  • Facebook
  • Back in the old days I used to try to get in to all of the social networks (when it seemed like there was a new one every other week) just to see what sorts of things they were doing differently. I wasn’t able to get into Facebook at the time because I didn’t have a .edu email address. By the time they had opened up it wasn’t new anymore so I wasn’t interested. My “I’m not on Facebook” card was the “I’m vegan/don’t watch tv/eat Paleo” card that makes you want to punch your friends because the won’t shut up about it. It was great. Now I’m on Facebook for a couple of reasons. I really did miss out on some social things that I would have enjoyed because I wasn’t on Facebook. Also, I have a newly-minted teenager in my house so a working knowledge of Facebook has become a parenting tool. It’s fine so far. I think I’m doing it right. If you know me, hit me up. I’ll be your Friend.

  • Woodworking
  • My Uncle Bruce, who died a few years back, was a very talented carpenter. He built buildings and could make delicate palm-sized pieces, too. I learned a ton from the guy from when he would come help us work on our house, and then later from working out at his house when he was too sick to do some stuff. I think I have a knack for making so I want to put a good effort into woodworking projects this year and I’m going to start with a class at our local Woodcraft store. It’s going to be good.

  • Gundam
  • It’s probably more accurate to say that Gundam is a series of movies and tv shows about flying battle suits. My interest isn’t in watching anything, though. I like building the models based on the flying battle suits. And it definitely qualifies as making stuff, however tangentially, because I start with a pile of sprues and I finish with a cool-looking robot toy. They can get crazy-complex (and expensive) but I’m not at that level yet.

  • Smoking Meats
  • I can’t have all of these hobbies be about health. I’m not that kind of guy. I am, however, the kind of guy that enjoys smoked meats. I’m going to learn how to do it. My grill game is pretty tight. My burgers are juicy with a nice crust, my beer can chickens are moist and delicious, my steaks are rare but hot. My smoker knowledge is minimal but it’s going to be awesome. I’ve been assured that it’s way easier than you’d think. We’ll see.

  • Weight Lifting
  • I’m probably well past the age where I can get maximum muscle mass, and that’s okay. I plan to make a run at finding out for sure this year. I’m going to use Starting Strength as a guide and then see how it goes. Ideally, I’ll use weight training as a supplement to my riding and running but we’ll have to see how it plays out.

  • Computer Repair
  • I happened upon a modern-but-wrecked Windows 7 pc a couple of months back. I think it’s sound from a software sense but there are some significant hardware problems. I started on this one back in December but some funding hiccups as well as some ordering-the-wrong-part-like-a-dumbass hiccups have delayed further progress. As long as I’ve got the manual as a guide, I feel relatively comfortable inside a computer.

  • a Windows 7 Certification
  • In an effort to grow professionally, I’m going to get a Windows certification. We’re going to be upgrading from XP here at the office and I want to have a good handle on the OS overall. My XP knowledge, such as it is, comes from using it. I think some official training could be a useful thing. This one can’t get started until the computer repair portion of this list is accomplished.

  • Gardening
  • We run a Square Foot Garden setup in our back yard. We were gung-ho the first couple of years but lately have slacked on it as the summer wears on. I’m making a public commitment right now (which will likely necessitate a public apology later) to stick with the damn thing and eat even more home grown vegetables this year.

  • Table Top Games!
  • I’m going to sit in on a couple of Adam‘s tabletop RPG sessions this year and see what that’s about. It’s been 25(?) years since I’ve done that and it could be fun. We’ll see how it goes. One fun distinct advantage to doing this as a grown up is the fact that there will be beer there. I’m a fan of beer.

    And that’s the list. I’ll see you all around.

    Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy?

    I’ve added meditation to my Things I Do list this year so this is the kind of thing I’m reading up on. It’s a very interesting question because, as he talks about in the article, the goal of this kind of meditation isn’t to “get happy”, but rather to become more observant. This can, I’ve read, lead to happiness if the result is letting go of counterproductive action (for example).

    I’ve really just started to maybe scratch the surface of what meditation can show. I don’t have a well-formed perspective to build an opinion on so I’ll reserve comment for now. The article is something good for me to mull on.

    [via Later On]

    Modern Seinfeld makes me laugh

    Modern Seinfeld answers a very important question: What if Seinfeld were still on the air today? The tweet-length episode blurbs are hit and miss, but when they’re funny they hit. I loved that show when it was on and it says something about how good it was that I can definitely picture how a lot of the episodes would play out. Good times.




    Posted in fun

    Brown Betty, when its tea for more than two.

    I lurve a cup of tea. Green tea, specifically. Michelle has never been one to horn in on my tea time and my kids’ preference for hot beverages are almost exclusively in the chocolate family so I could get all the tea I wanted from my little Beehouse pot.

    This winter, for some reason, Michelle and the kids got on the Tea Train. My little pot couldn’t keep up so I went to the pros down at Rostov’s and asked for a family-sized recommendation. Without any hesitation, they said to go with the Brown Betty.

    It’s giant, so there is plenty of tea for everyone. It’s ceramic, so it keeps the tea for up to an hour. And damn if it isn’t shaped exactly like Mrs. Potts.


    Beehouse on the left and Big Brown Betty on the right

    The old collector’s itch.

    I’ve been collecting things my whole life. It started with comic books. As soon as I could read I had a stash of comics that I refused to get rid of. I was physically incapable of throwing away a comic book. Like lots of kids my age I also got into Star Wars figures (and Adventure People and GI Joe but never Transformers) and baseball/football/basketball/hockey cards. I spent hours poring over price guides and classified sales ads daydreaming about the fortune I was sitting on and the various fortunes I’d soon have if only I could talk my mom into giving me a stamp for the envelope.

    Last month I saw a tweet from Steady Sounds advertizing some soul and funk 45’s they had on eBay. I popped over to check them out and ran across this Lee Morgan LP whose price had been bid up over $550 for some reason. I get that some records are rare (not the music, but the particulars of the pressing or of the label or the sleeve or whatever) but this seemed like it was even further out than normal. The title of the listing had some abbreviations I didn’t understand, either (W 63rd RVG EAR DG), but I have enough collector dork experience to know that they are shorthand for something important to someone. My spidey sense (nerd reference! was tingling like crazy so I had to start poking around to find out what the hell these things meant. Searching and reading led me here and to here, which laid out the case pretty plainly. This Lee Morgan record hits all of the marks for a first-pressing of a Blue Note LP, right in the sweet spot for Blue Note LP collectors. Some more poking around showed me that this isn’t even terribly expensive for a record in this narrow band of interest.

    I’ve gotten better about fighting off the urge to collect. I can recognize that sometimes wanting the thing feels better than having the thing. There was just something about seeing this record that set off some weird adolescent chemical reaction in my head. Really weird. Weird to the point that I was compelled to come here and write it down.