Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Freecycle Transaction

I joined the Tallahassee chapter of Freecycle a while ago and I have so far been ignoring the emails since they come so often. I haven't been searching for anything in particular.

I had a problem with my fan light kits a while ago and I bought some candelabra base CFLs. They didn't work without producing an annoying flicker. I replaced them with incandescents and had 11 crappy lights that I wouldn't use. I put them up on Freecycle and the same day received emails from 3 interested people. The first emailer came the following day to pick them up.

Freecycle seems like a really cool way to get stuff out of your house into the hands of people who will actually use it. If you haven't already heard of it, check out their website.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm a Blood Donor

Believe it or not, I just went back to the Tally blood bank for the third time this past weekend. Erin convinced me to go with her as a date a couple months ago. We are going to try to go just a little less frequently than every 8 weeks. There is a 56 day mandatory rest interval between donations. We have to make sure that Erin meets the weight cutoff every time. We might have to consume a large dinner and breakfast plus lots of fluids to make her eligible.

The first time we went here, I got an amazing tech/nurse who poked me so nice that I started to not even notice that the needle was in my arm. The second time saw a little greener assistant who poked me in such a way that I couldn't ignore the needle and didn't want to squeeze the foam they put in my hand. The third time I got an experienced dude who did a good job. It stung when the needle first went in and he informed me that it was from some of the sanitizing alcohol getting on the needle and into my vein. It was cool to know why that sensation was occurring. After that feeling went away, I felt pretty good and the blood flowed fast.

I thought I might try to time my donations based on the gifts you get. The first time we got a Lowe's gift card, which is sweet. The second time we got a kind of weak T-shirt, but we could have rocked a way cooler shirt if we waited until the following week. The blood bank publishes their donor gifts, so I think it's a good idea to look ahead and see if there's something better on the horizon. It looks like everything on the visible time horizon is a T shirt. I didn't accept the shirt this weekend because I have enough shirts. Too bad I can't get Lowe's cards every time.

The very first time I gave blood back in Jupiter, I went running and didn't eat enough beforehand and I got a little light headed. I've made a note not to make this mistake again. I make sure to snack and take advantage of the drinks they're doling out in the vampire room. After these last 3 times of getting a pint out, Erin and I have gone to 1 Fresh Stir Fry and reloaded our bodies with tater tots and a stir fry.

I've always thought that donating blood sounded good in theory but that I couldn't do it because I was training so seriously. I guess that other areas of your life can suffer when you're training really hard. I'm not sure, but I think that it would be alright to donate blood, as long as you had at least 6 weeks until your race. I decided not to donate again until after collegiate nationals coming up in April.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Does Milk Leach Calcium from Your Bones?

There's an article on USA Triathlon's website claiming that
"Dairy products are the most acidic foods we can put in our bodies. While a serving of milk might be high in calcium, the net affect [sic] it has on the body is acidic, so the body must leach this precious mineral from our bones in an attempt to buffer. The net take-home is that you’re better off eating a cup of raw kale with 94 mg calcium than a cup of milk with 300, since the former is so much more alkaline to the body. "
What a load of crap...lemon juice, orange juice, vinegar, and soda are WAY more acidic (I'm talking 10,000 times more acidic)! I studied (minored in) chemistry in undergrad and I immediately called BS on the author, Nell Stephenson. In case you want to see for yourself, here's a reputable website that can teach you a little about pH (which deals with acidity).

While your body may decide to leach calcium from your bones in order to buffer a ton of acid, there are lots of other, more easily available options (such as the calcium in the milk itself!). Oh, and guess what else is really acidic in your body........STOMACH ACID! Putting milk into your stomach will momentarily raise the pH of the contents of your stomach (make it less acidic).

I thought that USAT could be counted on to be a reliable source of information for triathletes looking to educate themselves on how to improve their training. Apparently I was wrong.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Light Lane

Possibly one of the coolest/best lights you could put on your bike, Light Lane projects (using "lasers") the image of a bike lane so you have a bike lane wherever you ride. I'm trying to convince them to let me demo one since they aren't for sale yet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Stinky Washed Shoes

I can usually get a pair of running shoes and keep them smelling ok for a long time, even after profusely sweating from my feet. They only start to stink once they've been fully immersed in water. It either happens when I run through a puddle or after I wash them. It's so strange that washing shoes can make them smell worse. Too bad I can't just keep wearing dirty shoes everywhere all the time (although it's not uncommon for me to rock some dirty shoes).

Does anyone have tips on how to keep my running shoes from stinking after I wash them?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flavor Blasted Goldfish

I do not, do not, like the extra cheddar variety of Pepperidge Farm's Flavor Blasted Goldfish. I love the original cheddar, but flavor blasting it with cheddar makes it gross. It's not necessarily the fault of the flavor blasting. The flavor blasted pizza isn't bad. Anyway, watch out for the gross ones.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Microwave Videos

I was talking to my roommate tonight about how funny microwave videos are. If you're unfamiliar, try youtube-ing microwave. People put all kinds of crazy stuff in a microwave and turn it on for a couple minutes. Sometimes things swell up really big (like Peeps), nails, CDs, rice cakes, car batteries, and the list goes on. I think part of the appeal of these videos is that you'd never microwave aluminum foil in your own microwave and it's cool to see other people try it with theirs.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Personal Sandwich Making

I feel like everyone has their own style of how they prefer a sandwich to be made. For instance, I like mayonnaise on the bread, then cheese on the mayo, then other stuff. Some might prefer that the mayo touch their meat. There are different ways to assemble the sandwich, toast it, cut it, etc. that sometimes other people just won't make you a sandwich the way you want it.

My mom thinks that food tastes better if you don't have to prepare it yourself. I don't really think that sandwich assembly does much to alter the taste, but it may somehow change the whole sandwich experience.

I wish there was a sandwich shop where you go in, pay, get a pair of gloves, then proceed to make your sandwich using their bread, cut-ups, and condiments.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

So Much Popcorn

How do they fit all that popcorn in one bag? I'm not talking about putting little kernels in and then making them expand. I'm always surprised by how many popped kernels come out of the bag. I see the size of it when I pull it out of the microwave, then I empty some out. It seems like there's usually at least 123% of the amount I thought there was. Does this happen to anyone else?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Upcoming Krank It Up! Events

We had a KIU! meeting tonight and there's going to be a lot of upcoming events for those of you who are interested. There is a Black Tie Soiree, an alleycat race, a Drinking Socially event at the Fermentation Lounge, and a series of workshops ranging from basic maintenance like lubing a chain all the way up to wheel building. For more info, check out the KIU! Facebook page by searching for Krank It Up! Bicycle Project. More details will follow when dates are set. There's already a FB event for the first workshop in the series.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Krishna Food

I had been going to FSU for about 4 years without trying the Krishna lunch. It's too bad, because it's a lot of good food for $5. I can stuff myself on it. I went for the first time last summer or early in the fall semester. I bring my own bowl and they fill it up. Then they'll refill it for free. Then you get dessert. And it's all vegetarian and good for you. Plus it's tasty. Best meal for $5 on/around campus. It's served on the first floor of the International Student Center from 11:30am-2pm Monday through Friday.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Farm Outside Tally


Look at that landscape. Dead trees in the background, shoddy fence in the foreground, complete with dilapidated buildings all under a mostly blue clear sky. This was taken while on a bike ride. I should carry my camera more and document nice places I visit.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fallacy of Composition in Reverse

While I was running, I had an idea...we economists always teach the fallacy of composition as being the errant rationale that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. For example, if I stand up at a sporting event, I have a better view. However, if everyone stands up, then not only do I have the same/worse view as before, but now I'm standing and that requires more effort. Therefore, what's good for one person to do is not good for everyone to do.

Now let's reverse it. What if I do something that makes me worse off, but everyone else does that action too? For example, say I return an item that I have borrowed in better condition than when I first took possession. I may have had to put some effort into improving the object from its initial borrowed state, but everyone would be more willing to loan things out if everyone was a great custodian of the borrowed item. Having a culture where you can borrow items for temporary use instead of purchasing them would lead to lower waste, which is good for everyone.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gift Bag

Shell and Jensen gave me a Christmas present in a reusable bag called a WrapSack. The idea is that instead of throwing out wrapping paper each time you give a gift, you can re-use the wrap sack. Another cool feature is that you can go online and enter what you got and from whom and the bag develops a history that everyone who has received the bag can see (possibly others could see it too??). The person who first registers the bag gets to give it a name and come up with a goal for the bag (such as: be given to the president, or be gifted on 5 continents, etc.). I guess there are a couple limitations due to the size of the bag itself, but if you're careful about who you give it to (meaning that they are people who will be sure to regift it), then it could work out to be a pretty nifty thing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Profiled Again

So tonight I was driving, some time after 10pm where Tharpe splits onto Blountstown and I saw 2 cop cars idling in a parking lot. Erin was following behind me (we were dropping her car off for service, not foolishly wasting gas). I saw the cop driving behind Erin. I turned on to Tennessee and the cop passed Erin and gave me the lights. I pulled over into the easternmost part of the Toyota dealership which was, after all, our destination. I turned off my ignition, turned on my dome lights, rolled down my window, killed the stereo, and put my hands on the wheel.
The officer approached, asked me to see my license, and told me that he thought my tint was a little too dark. He returned to the cruiser to run my license and grab the light transmittance detector. He asked me to roll the window up a little less than halfway. I watched him do the test. I came in at 32.5% transmittance, which is above the legal limit of 28%. I imagine the law is only for the front windows because I know my back ones are darker.
Now, the real reason I was pulled over wasn't for dark windows. It was for driving my car through a part of town where that car might mean trouble. I should attach a picture of my car some day, but it used to be an old person car and now it's a gangsta car. The windows are tinted near the legal limit, my front passenger center cap is missing, and my airbags are broken so the back of the car is up in the air, the shiny piece that goes on the doors is coming off, and it's 16 years old. I was driving the speed limit, not swerving out of my lane or anything, and I guess that's the excuse they used to pull me over. I'm not mad about it. The officer was very courteous and professional. He didn't ask me any questions that did not pertain to the tint (such as: do you have any drugs or weapons, etc). However, I have a feeling that if I was also guilty of DWB during that stop, there could have been a little more harassment...meaning that I was profiled twice: once when I was targeted to be pulled over and yet again when I was discovered to be a polite white guy without a record.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Recap of 2010: A more relaxed year

I think it would be good to get in the habit of reflecting on my life once I have a little bit of perspective. Last year I blogged about changes in my life over 2009 and I would like to try to do the same with 2010. I will break the developments down into categories.

Academic:
I applied for the DeVoe Moore Dissertation Fellowship, which pays a little more than an assistantship while requiring the student only to work on their own dissertation. I was one of two students to receive the award and I am very grateful for this support. The fellowship started in the fall semester and will continue through summer 2011.
I spent a good deal of time during the spring trying to figure out how to become a better teacher. I reviewed things I had done in classes I taught in the past to see what was effective and what was not. I was assigned to teach a class I'd never taught before (ECO2000) in the summer. This course came complete with a high degree of freedom and flexibility for me as an instructor. I decided to take notes from Whitney's class and Dr. Calhoun's class while borrowing demonstration ideas from Dr. Corey, my past experience, and Whitney. All that work paid off when I won the Rockwood Teaching award for being the best graduate student teacher in the department for the 2009-2010 school year.
I've been a little less productive on my dissertation than I would like. It took me a lot of time and effort to get all the tax millage information together, but it's in amazing shape now that I have it. I just wish that the FL DOR didn't do stupid stuff with their data; they're making it hard for me to get everything into one file because they change things around from year to year.

Athletic:
I enjoyed taking it easy on the athletic front. I finished the year running only 429 miles...a record low. It was nice not worrying about super hard training like last year. I balanced out triathlon by picking up a couple new sports. In 2011, I'd want to make sure I don't let a calendar week elapse without getting in at least one run.
I started rock climbing with the FSU club in the spring semester, took the summer off, and climbed a bit in the fall semester again. I saw major improvements and found a great way to get a full body workout.
I started playing bicycle polo over the summer. I've also seen a lot of progress since I first started. In fact, I was way better at the end of the first night than I was at the beginning of that night. I'd like to build myself a polo bike so I can have some consistency and high performance. I think that would make me a better player. Right now it seems like I'm on some nights and off others. It's almost always fun, though.
I was race director for Tri the Rez again. This year was much easier since I knew who I had to contact and what permits I needed, etc. I was able to put on a way better race and I feel like I did a way better job. I got lots of positive feedback. I'm hoping not to be the race director in 2011, but will do it if absolutely necessary. There's still plenty of room for improvement to make the race better all around, and I learned a lot this year. On a related note, the City of Tallahassee is interested in putting in a bid to host USAT Collegiate National Championships and they want me to be the USAT/FSU liaison and local head honcho if we get the bid. That's still a ways off, but would be very cool if it happened.

Travels:
I've decided that it would be ideal to visit a new place at least once per year. I went to Sweden to visit some family over the summer. I went with my dad, his sister, her husband, and my grandmother. We stayed with many different members of my granny's family in different parts of the country. We took a side trip to Norway to see a fjord. I'm glad I got to go to Norway and see the amazing unpatrolled, unfenced border, but I feel that we spent too much time on the road and not enough time visiting with people. We made a lot of our overland travels in a motor home. I got to go running on part of the course for the Stockholm Marathon (which I hope to run some day) and I went to the Absolut Ice Bar in Stockholm. I saw a good deal of snow in Trollstigen...in the summer!!! I also think I got to see midnight sun for the first time, but the locals said that it wasn't quite what they call midnight sun. I got to learn a little bit of the language while I was over there and that's always kinda cool. I think that it would take me quite a while to distinguish and make the vowel sounds that we don't have.

House:
I got a new roof. Too bad that I had to spend the money, but hopefully it will pay off when I sell the house. Also, I prevented the roof from leaking before it actually happened. There were some rotten patches that had to be replaced and they would have ended up causing me way more trouble.
Jennifer moved in early in the year and is just now moving out. She got a dog, so I had one in the house for a while, but it didn't like me so much. David moved out and Javi moved in.

Bicycles:
I started working on bikes that I didn't own in the beginning of 2010. Micah was running the Green Bicycle Project back then and I started helping him out on Saturdays. I learned a lot with hands on teaching. After working (I mean volunteering) with GBP for the first part of the year, I began to volunteer my services to Krank It Up! over the late part of the summer. Some time either late summer or early fall, Micah transitioned to the new bike shop: Damn Good Bikes. I'm still working with him there about once per week. Although I don't get paid, there are benefits. Sometimes I get to work on really sweet bikes and sometimes I get amazing discounts. I took advantage of one of those great discounts to buy my first fixed gear bike, the KHS Urban Uno. I've been commuting on it a lot. For my birthday, I got an amazing LED headlight/taillight set. It's changed my life while riding at night.

I did my first (and second) alley cat race this year and my first cyclocross race. While I have biked to a 5k in town before, 2010 was the first year that I biked about 92 miles to get to a 5k race, only to stay the night and ride back in the morning.


Side Projects:
I found out about Bread and Roses around late November of 2009. I looked into it and eventually became a member in early 2010. After going there and doing my regular member-worker shifts for a couple months, I ended up volunteering to be on the finance committee while the head of the committee was gone in Africa for a couple months. Only a couple months ago, I ended up being voted on to the board of directors.
My idea to start a garden failed. I think I'd like to try again to grow my own food, inspired by the deliciousness of my dad's garden back in Vero.
In the early part of the year, though the end of the spring semester, I stared a dinner club where someone cooked/cleaned/hosted at their house and everyone else in the club was invited. I think we had about 12 weeks of this and nobody ended up cooking twice. I would have liked for it to continue, but people leave for the summer and it just fell apart. I'd like to be a part of something like this again, but I don't want to be the one to organize it.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nickel and Dimed

Erin loaned me Nickel and Dimed, On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. The introduction is very easy reading, but Barbara Ehrenreich, PhD, displays her wonderfully developed lexicon in the ensuing chapters. She writes about trying to survive at various low wage jobs in 3 different places in the country. She starts out close to her actual home and works as a waitress in Key West. Chapter 2 has a description of being a maid in Maine. Chapter 3 brings her to Minneapolis where she works at Wal-Mart. She concludes the book with a valuable analysis of her experience.

Ehrenreich relates information about working and living conditions, social interactions, and daily struggles she faces while living undercover as a low wage worker. She is not shy to point out that she is not facing the full reality of poverty because she can fall back on her savings if things go disastrously for her. She is not prepared to endanger her long-term well being for this journalistic endeavor.

Often I encounter works like this from people who do not understand economics. She has obviously studied economics and recognizes that supply and demand are the reasons why housing costs are so high. She also cites market failures and immobility of labor as reasons why wages are kept so low. It is the fault of the rich that the poor can't get affordable housing close to where they work serving the rich, but it's nothing intentional done by rich people (exclusionary covenants in homeowners associations aren't what I'm talking about here). Through her economic analysis, Ehrenreich does a wonderful job of pointing out poverty traps. Poverty traps are systems which keep the poor from climbing the income ladder. For instance, having to rent a small apartment without a kitchen forces residents to eat more expensive, prepared food. For some reason, employers can hold the first week's paycheck until the employee leaves the firm. Another poverty trap is that sick and injured workers have to "work through it" because losing a day's wages could mean losing a day's (or more) food. It could also lead to termination of employment.

One more reason why the "low-skill" labor market doesn't work as well as it should is due to information asymmetry. Ehrenreich hilights the taboo of workers talking about how much they're paid. Also, they can't very well shop around for the best wage as companies will take them right from an interview to orientation without discussing the terms of the contract. That way new hires won't go looking around to other companies for jobs when they would be jeopardizing the one they just acquired.

On another note, unrelated to economics, she make the following observation about Jesus that I liked...She's at a "tent revival" in Maine and thinks that:
"It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth."

I've had much the same reaction to Christians who preach that God hates certain groups of people. It is strange to me to hear messages about justifying negative actions with Jesus on the radio, let alone in person at a tent revival.

Enough rambling from me...go pick the book up and read it yourself.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Found a fun website to help you decide on what to make for dinner. It's called whatthefuckshouldimakefordinner.com. Not only does it give you suggestions for what to make, but it links to recipes for the suggested dishes.