100 Pushups – Week 1

Sorry to scare all the millions of followers of this blog, but rest assured, I am not dead!  Just busy/life getting in the way.  But I’m going to try and do a better job at keeping up with this.

So after watching the 2015 Crossfit Games, I’m forced to admit that I am never going to be capable of the ridiculous feats that I witnessed.  But I CAN try to get myself in a better position to tackle the workouts at Paper Street.  I haven’t set the lead score/time on a WOD since the 2 km row coach Michael made us do after 15.5.

I’d really like to focus on getting my pushups and pullups better.  While I managed to get a few muscle ups a few months ago, I seem to have lost it.  I think I need to focus first on my overall pulling strength before I take another crack at it.  Not only should that make it easier, but it should also make it less likely that I hurt myself.  Unfortunately, I do not have a pullup bar in my cubicle (it’s a shame).  But I do have a relaxed enough work environment where people don’t mind too much if I drop down to knock out a set of pushups.

I’ve never liked pushups.  Never.  I’ve never had an overabundance of upper body strength, so doing pushups has always been a bit hard.  I can do them, but they never look effortless.  So my plan is to aim for 100 each workday.  To start, I’m going with 10×10, but if I can get that down for a couple weeks, maybe I can push it to 10×15 or even 10×20.  If I can get to the point where I am doing a “Murph’s” worth of pushups 5 days a week, it’s got to help, right?

Cold Brew Coffee – Part 2

Lately the weather here in Houston has just been freaking amazing.  It’s cool in the mornings, then it warms up with sunshine and a slight breeze, and most surprisingly, not much in the way of humidity (that won’t last).

However, I’m still the sort of person who tends to run hot, so I’ve started in again on the cold brew coffee.  And since my wife discovered my stash, I’ve had to start making a lot of it!

After a bit more internet research and some experimentation, I’ve modified my recipe somewhat.  Also, it helps that we have bought a scale:IMG_0029As mentioned before, I am a huge nerd, so the fact that I can now weigh out ingredients to the 100th of an ounce is just awesome.  My current ratio is now 2.5 oz to roughly 1 quart of water.  I say “roughly” because I mix this up in quart size mason jars (BTW, you should buy mason jars, you’ll end up using them for everything).  I add the ground coffee to the jar, and then fill it up, so the actual amount of water varies a little bit.

A few notes on brewing this way:

  • Don’t grind the coffee too fine.  I just use a blade style grinder and pulse it until I cannot see any full beans, and then I give it 1-2 more pulses.  I’ve considered getting a fancier burr grinder, but I just don’t know if I would be able to appreciate the difference.
  • Give it a shake.  I leave the jars out on the counter, and I try to shake them every few hours.  The coffee floats to the top, so try to keep it evenly distributed.
  • Filter twice.  I first pour the brew through a fine mesh sieve.  This catches about 95% of the ground coffee, and makes the second filtration much faster.  For the second pass, I put it through a reusable coffee filter.  This catches most of the remaining grounds, although some fine particles still make it through.
  • Mix 1:1 with water or milk.  If you’re feeling really decadent, throw in a tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk.  Make it closer to a Vietnamese coffee (which I love).

I like to mix mine up in a mason jar (see?  use them everywhere!) with ice.  You’d be surprised how fast it goes, so if it’s starting to get hot where you live, make up 2-3 batches at a time.  The concentrate seems to last pretty well in the fridge.  Bonus, on the weekends, you can spice it up with some Baileys or Kalua and really kick the morning off right.

I’ve also tried making larger batches using a fine mesh bag like this.  I’m still working on the correct ratio.  I tried the 2.5 oz per 2 quarts like with the mason jars, but then I realized I don’t actually use 2 quarts because the coffee displaces some of the volume.  I’ll probably try 3 oz of ground coffee next time.  I will say that using the bag is easier in terms of clean up, as you can skip the filtering when you remove the bag.  I’m sure this will come into its own once the temperature at 6 am is above 90 degrees.  Sooo…. next week probably.

Stay frosty my friends.

What’s SUP?

Hello avid readers!

Seriously… hello?  Anyone still out there?  Well, I can’t blame you for not hanging around while I do nothing.  Life just seems to get in the way.  Or perhaps I just haven’t been using my time as efficiently as I should.  In any event, I haven’t posted in a long time, but here we go!

This weekend, my wife and I headed down to Bayou Vista, TX for a little Stand Up Paddleboarding (often abbreviated as SUP).  This was her first time, and my second.  I had gone down to the same place a couple of months ago with my friends to give it a shot.  I’ll admit, I was a bit apprehensive to try it.  Last year, I tried surfing for the first time when visiting my sister in San Diego, and it was incredibly difficult.  I think I was able to legitimately “surf” on perhaps two of my attempts, and I feared SUP would be much the same.  Luckily, it wasn’t.

We rented our boards from an establishment called Paddle Monkeys.  For anyone in the Houston or Galveston area, I would recommend them.  It’s run out of a house on one of the inlets.  You have to really look for it or you’ll drive right by.  But after finding it, it was just a matter of signing the paperwork, getting a 5-minute brief on the basics, and off you go.

The inlet is a perfect place to try for the first time because the water is so calm.  This last time, it was like glass.  There’s not a whole to learn about SUP before you try it.  You start out sitting on your knees on the board, and then using your paddle sort of like a walking stick, you stand up.  That’s the trickiest part.  The board will wobble but I think it probably feels worse than it is.  I actually think it’s easier to sort of hop up on both feet at the same time rather than go one at a time.  You get less rocking back and forth as you shift weight.  Then you sort of wiggle your feet out until you have a solid base (or as solid as you think you’re going to get), and you start paddling.

Much like riding a bike, it’s easier once you start moving.  Having some momentum seems to stabilize the board.  Or perhaps it just distracts you.  In any event, we quickly got the hang of paddling, and headed down the inlet.

Now, while Bayou Vista is a good place to try SUP for the first time, it’s now what I would call a scenic destination.  However, in place of scenery, there is a bar (Louis’ Bait Shack) to reward you if you paddle far enough.  We actually went past it a ways, and then came back taking advantage of the current.

Feeling confident in our newfound mastery of SUP, we decided to try out a variation: SUP Yoga.  Now, I have all the flexibility of a tire iron.  I’ll bend, but it takes a lot of coaxing.  And wouldn’t you know it?  I fell off.  And lost my Maui Jim sunglasses in the process.  Now, had I been smart, I would have a) brought a cheap pair of sunglasses that I wouldn’t mind loosing, or b) used one of the floating sunglass straps available at Paddle Monkeys.  The moral of the story: don’t be stupid like me.

Still, it was a good time.  Despite being October, it was probably 90 degrees out, and you work up a sweat paddling.  It does a nice job of working your arms, shoulders and core.  I’d imagine that any sort of destination SUPing would leave you pretty wrung out.  And that’s where the beer comes in.  This place didn’t mind to have two swimsuit clad, dripping (we both fell in attempting yoga) individuals walking in and ordering some beer.  And as we sat outside looking over the water with Shiner in hand, we agreed that there were a lot worse ways to spend an early-autumn Saturday.

Lake Tahoe Ski Trip – Part 1: Northstar

Hi folks, I’m sorry for the lonnnnng delay in posts.  It’s been a little busy.  I actually drafted these while I was on my ski trip awhile back, so I hope you enjoy.

As you might have read in some previous posts, I was getting ready for a ski trip to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday.  Well, we looked into going a few places, but ended up settling on Lake Tahoe, CA.  Now I had read about the resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe in skiing magazines and online articles, but I have to be honest, I was a complete Colorado snob.  There was just no way that these resorts were going to stack up to my beloved Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek and Telluride.  You’ll notice that I use the past tense, because I am a convert.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Colorado mountains, and they are truly world class, but so is the stuff here in Tahoe.

We are staying outside of Truckee, which is on the north side of the lake.  It’s a fairly easy drive from the airport in Reno, and there are plenty of option for accomodations.  My sister arranged for us to stay at a nice rental house complete with hot tub, which has been AMAZING after long days of skiing.

Our first ski day lead us to Northstar.  Northstar is one of the Vail resorts, and the base certainly has that familiar upscale feel to it (complete with very upscale parking costs of $25).  But I don’t go skiing to sit in the lodge and drink hot coaco, I’m there to hit the slopes.  And Northstar does not dissapoint.  It took us a gondola and two chairlifts to get us to the top, but from there, you can reach anywhere on the mountain.  Because the weather had been unfortunately lacking in snow, we started off on some cruisers in the area known as “The Backside”.  I’d insert my own joke here, but I’m sure you’ve come up with some already.  We warmed up on “Castle Peak” and “The Islands”, which are both nice, long cruisers.  From there, we started venturing into some of the more gladed areas.

I am not a big glade skier.  Quite frankly, I think I’m just too big for it.  Also, with telemark turns requiring (generally) a bit more room than normal turns, it’s just not a lot of fun lunging from one side to the other in the desperate hope of not wrapping myself around a tree.  But here in Tahoe, it’s a bit different.  I can’t put my finger on the exact cause, but the glades here are a little bit looser.  I think it might have to do with the positively enourmous trees.  Whatever the reason, I found myself venturing into the glades where the snow was a bit softer.  And it was a blast!  You still need to be heads up to not hit a tree, but there is enough time to react.  And it brought back some of the memories of being 6 or 7 years old when I used to head into the trees every time I could.  Of course back then I was about 1/3 the size am now, and weaving around the trees was a lot easier.

We spent most of the morning skiing “The Backside” (snicker snicker) and took our lunch at the Zephyr Lodge.  The food is your typical Vail fare, pretty good, but mighty exspensive.  But the accomdations are nice, and they give you plenty to eat.

After lunch, we decended to the portion of the resort called “Lookout Mountain”.  It’s mostly blacks, with one blue (“Washoe”) that’s a lot of fun.  All of it suffered from lack of good snow, but there were a few groomed runs that allowed you to rip top to bottom with some real speed.  But remember kids, always stay in control.  They even had signs reminding people that trees dont move, but they do hurt.  Good advice.  Also in this area is the summit of Lookout Mountain where you can take in the epic scenery of north Tahoe.

After we had skied our fill, which wasn’t hard given the almost complete lack of lines despite being a Sunday, we decended to the base around 3:00 pm.  And there we got to take advantage of the fact that Northstar is a Vail resort.  Freshly made smores were being circulated, and let me tell you, that tastes good after a long day of skiing.

After that, we piled back in the car and headed for home, tired, sore, and with great big smiles.

Pros: Vail-quality ammenities, decent variety of terrain, great scenery, glades, smores
Cons: Smaller resort, not a lot of real challenging terrain, expensive

Bottom Line: Worth a trip if you’re staying in Tahoe, particularly if you’ve got a Vail resort pass.  And did I mention free post-skiing smores?