Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Wife the Runner

This morning I swam, biked, and ran the Shelburne Triathlon sprint Number Four in hopes of qualifying for the US Age Group National Championships next summer. I entered under the incorrect understanding that I needed to finish in the top third of my age group in order to qualify (which I did, placing 3rd out of 9), but in reality I had to be in the top 10 percent. (Had I known this, I probably wouldn't have entered!)

Anyway, while I was off trying to qualify, my wife Alison was out for a jog back and forth over the bike and run courses. I joined her for an additional 11 miles after my race (which I barely managed). Anyway, all told, Ali ran 26.21 miles in 3 hours and 36 minutes -- eclipsing her best official marathon time by over 8 minutes and running in a Boston-qualifying time!

Question: who goes out and runs a marathon on a Saturday morning? And who does so in a Boston qualifying time?

Answer: Apparently, my wife the runner.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Breakfast Habits

I am not one to change my morning breakfast habits. Which is why, for 35 years (or whenever it is I got off the Gerber's), I have been eating Wheaties or Cheerios with milk and banana slices every morning. Sound boring? Tedious? I beg to differ; if it tastes good, why change?

[Important note: There are two exceptions to the above paragraph. 1) In moments of weakness, my mother did allow us to get sweetened cereals -- usually Alpha-bits (because it was educational) or, on extremely rare occasions, Fruity Pebbles, which we would go through in one sitting. And 2) when I was 8 years-old, I did eat Rice Krispies for 5 months because Kellogg's ran a promotion whereby kids could earn points by saving box tops and sending them in for cash. I earned 5 whole dollars though this deal... and haven't really eaten many Rice Krispies since.]

As I have learned more about food, where it comes from, and how it is made, however, I have slowly been making changes. For example, not really wanting to eat beef from feedlots where they feed grass-eating cows a diet of corn and antibiotics, I have been getting most of my beef from local farms that graze their cows in fields. I have been buying bread from local bakeries, rather than in supermarkets. One baker -- Red Hen -- even makes a bread with wheat grown in Vermont! Who knew?

Changing up breakfast, however, is not something to take lightly. A creature of habit, I have grown into my morning routine. Besides, what could be healthier and more wholesome than Wheaties, the breakfast of champions, or Cheerios, the toasted whole grain oat cereal? After months of denial, I finally studied the nutrition information of my two breakfast staples. The number two ingredient in Cheerios is corn starch. And not just corn starch... modified corn starch. Meanwhile, farther down on the Wheaties ingredient list (behind sugar) is corn syrup. Without getting into a rant about the mass quantities of corn being produced in America (so much that only subsidies from the federal government make it profitable and so much that they're putting it in my cereal and calling it Wheaties and in my automobile at the gas pump!), if I wanted corn for breakfast, I'd buy Corn Flakes!

So I have introduced new breakfast options. First, I worked with oatmeal, sweetened with honey and cinammon and spruced up with fruit. Pretty good, but I don't like having to cook in the morning. So now I'm onto granola mixed by my local bakery. There are different nuts, seeds, and raisins in there. It's not Wheaties, but it's good. But I also know where everything in my garnola came from, and it is what it is.

There are no double-agent foods hiding in my granola only to be revealed later.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Birds of Richmond

Last weekend, Ali and I went for a tour of southern New England. After a leisurely morning, we headed to Rumney, NH for an afternoon of rock climbing before catching the Alison Krauss concert at Meadowbrook Pavilion in Gilford. Comments: Rumney is a great spot. And Alison is just as good as ever. Saturday, we headed south to Bristol, RI for Karl Bahrenburg and Nicole Guercia's wedding. Comments: the wedding was spectacular and everyone I saw had an awesome time. Best wishes to K & N! Also, I will note that on our way out of town the following morning, Ali and I had breakfast at The Corner Cafe in Newport. I had some sort of Portuguese sweet bread French toast mixed with egg and peppers -- amazing. Ali had an omelette that blew her mind. It was the best breakfast I have had in awhile. Finally, Sunday, we continued to West Hartford, CT where we had lunch with family and met the newest member of the McKain family: Ben. Comment: kid toys have officially displaced the dog toy area in the McKain family room. It was great to see everyone, and a nice time was had by all.

But the trip report is not what today's post is about. Rather, I wanted to relay the experience that we had back in Richmond before we departed on the big southern New England swing. Wanting our dogs to have had at least a little physical activity before the dog-sitter arrived that evening, we took them for a walk to the river before we left. The walk contained the usual: nice views of Camel's Hump, plenty of dog running and ruckus, and a meander past the cornfields on our street. As we approached the river, however, I had a first-time Vermont experience: a single bald eagle emerged from the river and coasted over us. It only had to beat its wings once as it glided through the air. It checked us out, glanced at the dogs, and headed upstream.

The Bahrenburg family has some tight relationships with birds, so it came as no surprise to me to see such a beautiful creature as we left on Karl and Nicole's wedding weekend. But what did it mean? Was that eagle going to look after us on our travels? Was it going to keep an eye on the house and dogs? I left on Friday completely confident of both. As we drove away from home I knew we were in for a great weekend.

I was right.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Term Limits

This is not a political blog.

However, I have followed the debt crisis in Washington. But I'm not going to write about that. What I am going to write about are the people who were debating it. "It" in this case refers to the fact that we can't spend more money than we have and the fact that we need to raise more to spend more. So... the big question that in my opinion was never answered: why were we debating?

I'll tell you how to solve this -- and every other problem -- in Washington. First, some history: neither George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, nor James Monroe chose to seek third terms as President. Clearly, they saw the wisdom of term limits. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only president to break George Washington's precendent, and then Harry Truman quickly commissioned a study of presidential term limits. Congress quickly followed the commission's recommendations, amending the Constitution to limit presidents to two terms.

They did not go far enough. Senators and Representatives should also be limited. Congresspeople, beware: I am gunning for you! No more should senators be able to "outlast" a president. Let's get some good, healthy turnover down there on Capitol Hill! Serving in Congress shouldn't be a career; it should be a community service stint. These clowns spend half of their terms partying, half campaigning, and the other half sounding off like John Belushi in Animal House ("did we back down when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? No!"). Do you question my math? Notice no Congresspeople did either.

The debt ceiling debate was really just a symptom of a larger problem, which is that we put these people in Congress for life. Let's put a revolving door in the Capitol Building and start running some new blood in there. Limit Reps to two 4-year terms and Senators to two 6-years.

Any candidate who makes congressional term limits their top priority -- regardless of any of his or her other politics -- gets my vote.