I am in touch with the earth

I at least have an earth ground anyway.

Today my electrician friend and I ran a ground wire from my electrical box all the way to my office. It would be nice to think that my house has grounded electricity, but alas, it does not. I have been battling with wonky electricity since we have been in this house the last year and a half. Of particular difficulty has been with recording. I get a lot of electrical noise through the computer and the mixer.

I couldn’t convince my friend to let me run a grounding rod outside my office and just tie onto that. He insisted we go all the way to the electrical box. I am sure he is right and I am better off for it, but it sure seems like a lot of work. I think any ground has to be better than what I had. He was not persuaded.

So now (after several hours of work) I am in touch with the earth. Well, this is making one huge assumption. We assume that the electrical box is grounded. We were able to determine that our neighbors (on both sides) had good earth grounds, but were not able to run the definitive tests we needed at my house. Here’s to hoping!

We now have Starbucks

Like them or hate them, Starbucks is loved by many. We had our first one open in town this last Friday. We knew it was coming and decided to double date with some friends of ours. But, we certainly did not want to go in there on opening night, so we waited till Saturday.

After a very nice meal at our favorite Italian joint, we walked across the mall and through the parking lot to Starbucks. It was definitely busy. We had already decided that if the line was going to make us wait too long, we would hit one of the equally enjoyable coffee places in the mall.Starbucks logo

I have only been in two Starbucks stores that I remember. Both of them were small. Big enough for 3 or 4 of those dinky tables and a stand up bar on one side. This one is one of the larger style stores. There must have been seating for 50+ people. All the seats and tables were filled. The line stretched out to one door, but we were able to stand inside to wait. We decided to take part in the atmosphere.

The average age of our group was 40. We were much older than 90% of the people in there. I remember seeing 1 lady older than us and I will grant that there were probably a few our age. Everyone else was 18 to 24 years old.

I have only had Starbucks coffee 10 times or so, therefore I don’t really know the normal prices. What my wife and I had cost $38 (pesos) each. That is about $3.50. She had a white chocolate mocha and I had a hazelnut something. Both were the small size. (Someone needs to tell Starbucks that small is spelled “S-M-A-L-L” not “T-A-L-L”). The mediums were $4.00 (approx.) and the large we did not remember the price. Anyone know if this is about the same price as in the US?

It is fun to go there on occasion, but I won’t be in there too often. There is no need to spend that kind of money on coffee that I could brew at home. Lest you think I don’t like good coffee, I do. I just know where I can buy good coffee and cook it at home for far less than Starbucks wants to sell it to me for.

They will do well here. We will enjoy going there a few times a year. We hear they have plans to open at least 4 more in town.

Review: Shoot For The Star

Shoot for the Star is the autobiography of the inspirational speaker and Dallas Cowboys football player Bill Bates. This is not a new book. It was written just after winning his team’s second trip to the Super Bowl. Bates went on to play four more years and win one more Super Bowl ring.

Unlike some of the other sports biographies I have read recently (Armstrong, Runyan) this one did not have a universal theme of overcoming incredible odds to be in the position he was in. Therefore, you really have to be a football fan, or particularly a Cowboys fan, to really enjoy this book. Fortunately for me, I am a Cowboys fan and my years of greatest interest in football were from 1984 to 1998. Bates played from 1983 to 1997. Not knowing it at the time, I basically watched Bill Bates his whole career.

The great odds that Bates did have to struggle with are the types of things that makes him a good motivational speaker today. His biggest struggle was that he was an average guy trying to make it in a game that favored the exceptional. At 6’1″ he was not overly large. I don’t know what weight he finished his career at, but at one point in the book he talked about only weighing 183 pounds. That is not very large when facing guys like Herschel Walker’s 6’1″ / 225 pounds. Bates never had a multi season contract (at least through the writing of the book) that guaranteed him a spot on the team. Each year in training camp he had to fight 150+ other men for one of the coveted 47-53 slots on the team roster.

Bill Bates is an example of your average person who wants to go out and leave a mark on the world. He shows that through hard work and tenacity a person can often beat out more talented and naturally gifted people to achieve what they desire.

This book was definitely written with the football fan in mind. It was nice to be able to read a book that did not feel like it had to explain every position on the field and what all the terms mean. That said, this is not a book that would be very interesting to someone who only has a casual knowledge of the sport.

There were just enough stats and records mentioned in the book to keep a fan intrigued without overwhelming someone with too much information.

Some of the stories he tells are incredibly hilarious. Many of the anecdotes I had to share with my wife. We laugh at some of the great antics that went on in the delivery rooms for our children. It is fun to read stories of other people’s experiences that are just as hilarious. Just imagine this: 25 people in a stressful delivery room to deliver a set of very pre-mature triplets and in the middle of them all is an excited first time, football-playing dad calling a huddle with the doctors and nurses so he can give a pep rally speech moments before delivery!

The stories from the field were especially interesting to me because many of the plays that he recounts in the book were plays I remember seeing while glued to the TV on a Sunday afternoon.

Great book for the football fan that is looking for some motivation. Probably not a book that would interest my mom. However, unlike many biographies today, this one was completely devoid of cursing and I don’t feel I missed any of the emotion shared between the players. My hat’s off to an author who manages to keep it clean.

Shoot for the Star, Bill Bates, Word Publishing, 1994, 238 pages.

500 miles down the road

500 miles on my training logToday I ran my 500th mile for the year. I was planning to go over that mark, but my run last night with a friend was cut short. He had what he thought was a three mile course mapped out. It ended up being less than 2 miles. When I put the 1.93 mile run into my log last night, I was pleased to see that it brought me exactly up to 496.0 miles for the year.

This morning I went out and ran my 4 mile loop and capped off the day at 500.0 miles.

I have 7 weeks to try and get 100 more miles in for the year. 15 miles a week will take care of that. That is a comfortable number for me, but I just have to work on staying consistent. I would like to keep my weekly long runs between 8 and 10 miles, but without any specific reason, I have trouble staying motivated to do it. I have scaled back the number of miles the last couple of weeks just to give my body a small break. I will get back to the longer miles this coming week.

Young’uns grow so fast at this age

Banana plantIt seems like it was just three days ago that I last posted a picture about our banana bunch. Well, I guess it was.

Three days further progressed and it is amazing the difference. They say you can see these things grow and I tend to believe it now. If you will look at the picture I posted a couple of days ago you will see (or, I can see since I know what I am looking at) that there are four hands and then the main pod. There are actually five, but you can’t see that fifth one in the photo. In this new picture there are eight hands and the main pod. I am certain there are at least two more hands as part of the main pod there at the bottom, but there may be more.

This plant has three suckers (that is the technical name by the way) growing beside it. One is inconsequential since it is only about two inches high. The other two are too tall to cut off now. We did not know you were supposed to cut all suckers except one, which then becomes the follower. Since these plants grow in the wild and do just fine, I figure it is better to leave the two suckers we have now than to traumatize the plant by cutting off one of them.

The reddish protective leaf (I am sure there is probably a name for that) has fallen off of three of the hands and three more will probably fall tonight or tomorrow.

I suspect that a couple more hands will pop out of the pod at the bottom. If you look at the two pictures and can wrap your head around what you are seeing, you will realize that I have taken a picture of the same amount of information (just a slightly different angle). It is just that the stem that the bunch is growing on has gotten longer and the pod at the bottom has gotten smaller as the new hands pop out and begin to grow.

It seems like we will have bananas ready to eat in just a few more days, but having been through this process with some friends, we know it takes much longer than you expect.