Monday, December 31, 2007

Judy would be proud...

After visiting BK & Amy in Bartlesville with their 4 Christmas trees and getting the scrooge comments, we decided we'd go shop for a tree on the after Christmas sales this year. I've never owned a fake tree, but these days they look good and just make more sense.

So we hit up a couple stores, but finally found nice trees on sale at Hobby Lobby. Really nice looking trees at 66% off were just what we were looking for. It was a bit of an adventure between the "we'll take this one" and the completion of the whole transaction, but it gave me some time to scoop us some decorations at bargain prices as well.

Pics? Not this year. I contemplated briefly about setting it up when we got it home, but that thought was quickly fleeting as I realized I had a lot of other things my time would be better served doing.

When all was said and done we got the tree and tons of ornaments, which normally would have cost a bit over $400, for around $130. Not bad eh Judy? And get this, we were only gone a couple of hours, not all day! :)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Holiday Shuffle

Well the holidays are coming to a close, especially since I don't truly consider New Year's Eve or Day to be "real" holidays. A week before Christmas, we did the tour de Oklahoma then hosted my parents here over the actual holiday. We were significantly lazy, but had a good time just spending time with each other.

Lots of nice presents distributed to the group, but without a doubt the hit was Sarah giving me Dance Dance Revolution for the Wii. Considering the White family is rhythmically challenged, Jill was definitely the star of DDR. You can't simply go through the robotic motions like I tried, you've got to commit to it.

The drama of the week has been doggy health. First Baloo had bloodied his tail at Sarah's while we were in Oklahoma, and he continuously opens up the wound which causes every wall/surface he passes to get a small line of blood smacked onto it when his perpetually in motion tail contacts it. The more you try to get him to not wag his tail, the more excited he gets and it wags faster.

Then we had the second round of bleeding dogs, only much more serious. Molly had some sort of tumor in her ear that got ruptured, which caused her to bleed somewhat profusely for quite some time. After contacting the emergency vet and getting their recommendation, we decided to wait and go to her normal vet the next day. After a consultation with her normal vet, she recommended taking her to a specialist in Wheat Ridge for laser surgery removal.

In the meantime, MJ & Yack's flight got canceled for the next morning due to the nasty snowstorm that moved in. So they got an extra night at Chateu de White, but had to endure dog bleeding incident #2. I created "doggy jail" in the kitchen to keep Molly from bleeding everywhere and ended up sleeping by her in the kitchen on the tile. The next day we braved the bad roads and got her to the clinic, where she had successful laser surgery and is doing much better now. She still has a sensitive ear, but it appears to be getting better now.

Yesterday we got another visit from family as BK & Bob dropped in. They had bigger plans, but squeezed us in for lunch yesterday. Got to enjoy some Pasta Jay's, which was excellent as always although they only had 1 chicken julianna special left. I conceded it to BK, and opted for the shrimp scampi ravioli which was dynamite as well.

Now its time to get back to the daily grind, resume the diet and get back on the bike. I've been really bad about my eating habits over the holidays, but it gives me motivation to get back to my pre-holiday diet and training plans. I'm blatantly ignoring my scheduled weigh-in today as I don't want to know the damage just yet, maybe next week...

And here are some more random doggys pictures from the last couple days...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Oklahoma!

Fearing the inevitable holiday travel nightmares and the potential travel ending snowstorms like we received last year, we opted to do our "Christmas Tour" the week preceding Christmas. We got some super cheap flights on Southwest, which made travel easy.

We had a slight detour through Dallas due to weather in OKC, but we did finally get to OKC albeit a bit later than expected. Some lunch at Charleston's with my parents, then on to BVille by way of Tulsa. Judy cooked up more food than we could eat, per the usual, and we got to get caught up with Jill's parents and the ageless Grandma Vi.

Judy & Jill pose with peppermint bark, my personal favorite holiday treat

Too much to do and bad weather left us grounded in BVille, but we were able to at least make it across town to BK & Amy's house to watch the OState/Pitt game, and of course play some trains with Ty. Ty was quite happy to see Jill, but I'm pretty sure he could have done without me.

After we let the streets melt out Sunday morning, we headed back to the big town of Union City. By my request, we spent Monday morning checking the cows out west with my parents. Its always nice to get out into the serene terrain, and all the cows are very happy to see the truck that brings them cake.

Momma cow hides her new twins

One of the many cute babies that took interest in us as we fed

Lots of the 75ish herd have names, and several are quite forward about getting their cake. It was evident though that they weren't sure what to make of me, regardless of how much I resemble their beloved Yackster. Penelope, the queen of the herd, finally did warm up to me a bit but she still preferred the 'Ster...

Penelope doesn't bite the hand that feeds her

P took interest in me when Yack ran out of cake

P posed for even more pics

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Labs love snow

Worked from home today, so I took my lunch break today and let the pups play in the backyard while I snapped some pics. Thankfully we've gotten easy to deal with snow as opposed to the dreadful ice storms that Oklahoma has gotten.

Baloo looks up

Look out!

Molly isn't sure she wants to give up the ball just yet

Puppies playing together

Baloo looks on

First turns of the new ski season

In a blink of an eye, the ski areas went from being brown and barren to having plentiful white powder. Several feet of snow (yes I mean feet) have fallen in the high country in the last two weeks, and Sunday Sarah & I headed for Winter Park to shake the rust out of our ski legs.

The first day out is always a bit of an adventure, and with another 6"+ of fresh powder Sunday was no exception. Feeling a bit like Bambi on the ice, we hit up a couple of steeper blues. Sarah's newly reconstructed knee didn't seem to keen to be skiing, so after a couple of runs she headed for the comfort of some hot chocolate.

I took the opportunity to power out some runs while the crowds were nonexistent. I was hitting the lift up, hopping off, powering down the long blues and skiing straight up to the chair and hopping on again. No lines at all meant I could carry speed off the base of the slopes straight through the lift lines with zero wait. Nice.

45 minutes later I had pounded out 5 runs and stopped by the restaurant at the top. Sarah was ready to give it another go, so we hit up a couple more runs before skiing back to the car with pretty burned up legs. The rutted powder and first day out combined to work me over pretty quickly despite all my trainer time the past couple of months.

Of course the first day out wouldn't be complete without a good crash and a pic of the aftermath. I caught an edge in the deep powder and went head over heels, sinking almost to my waist while trying to recover my lost ski.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Studio C Time

I'll admit it. I've got a bit of a man crush on the Boulder radio station KBCO. Every since I've moved here, I've been pretty enamored with the music they play. One of my favorite things about it is their "Studio C", which is basically a small studio where artists come in and play a couple of songs, typically acoustic. Most of the higher quality live, acoustic performances you'll hear are from Studio C.

Every year the first Saturday in December they put a CD on sale that features some of the best tracks from the previous years Studio C. This year was volume 19. Its hard to understand just how big of a deal this day is in Boulder County, but people begin lining up hours before they go are released. They only cost $10 and the proceeds benefit local charities.

Last year, I was shocked at the line as we arrived in Boulder to pick up our CD. It had to be 1,000 people lined up, even a couple hours after the doors had opened. Despite temps in the 20s and heavy snow falling, the line wrapped all the way around the Ultimate Electronics building. We killed some time, let the line dissipate then snuck in around 11am and grabbed a CD.

They cut 30,000 copies of the CD and its sold out by noon every year. This year we headed to Westminster, thinking avoiding Boulder would be the best option. We arrived about 9 a.m., but the line was still huge. I'd guess about 750 people in front of us when we arrived, but after about 45 minutes to an hour we had our CDs.

So for now I'll enjoy the acoustic melodies of Volume 19 and dread standing in the cold next year for Volume 20.

And since I'm on the topic of music, I'll serve up some "Joel Recommended" music that are currently getting lots of play on my iPod...

1. Eddie Vedder - Hard Sun
This is from the Into the Wild soundtrack, and doesn't sound like anything Pearl Jam or solo Eddie Vedder to this point, but I like it. Nice to know Eddie still has some good left after several disappointing Pearl Jam albums.

2. Spoon - The Underdog
A very Bill Joel-esque sounding song, but has a good flow and a lot of instruments.

3. Finger Eleven - Paralyzer
Just a good rock song that won't stand the test of time as a classic, but its hard to not turn up right now.

4. Mushaboom - Feist
Sure her iPod selling "1234" is much more well known, but this song is a hidden gem from an older album.

5. Incubus - Dig
What? They can still make decent music? Pleasantly surprised at their latest album, Light Grendades, it reminds me why the Solarc crew saw this band numerous times in at least 3 different states.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Toy Shopping Time

No not for me, I do that pretty much all year long. I mean Toys for Tots shopping, which has become a steadfast White family tradition. This year Jill & I are doing two rounds, one here in Colorado and then another in Oklahoma with Martha & Yack. The first round happened last Sunday, after meeting up with Sarah and Bill & Chris Houston for some brunch, the 5 of us headed out to Target to fill up some baskets with toys.

We carefully cruised the aisles looking for just the right mix of toys for old and young, boys and girls. Of course I had to stop and reminisce at the toys of my youth that have suddenly made a comeback (like G.I. Joe & Transformers), before continuing on my way.

When all was said and done the 5 of us had filled up 6 shopping baskets of toys. Hopefully these will find some kids who need a little Christmas cheer.

Some pics from the end of the shopping:

Jill posing with one of the baskets

6 baskets later...

The funny part was the strange, often glaring, looks we got from people likely thinking "What kind of spoiled brats do these people have?" as we grabbed toys rapidly. Most people weren't subtle at all as they gawked, but we just had fun with it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Long time, no blog.

For some reason I've fallen off the Blog wagon this month. Short days, colder temps have moved in and frankly me sitting on the trainer watching TV just isn't real exciting. But I've rounded up some of the recent blog-worthy events and thrown them into one big cornucopia of post Thanksgiving things...

Turkey Day

With my parents sunning it up in Hawaii (more on that later) and Jill's parents in Oklahoma, we figured to just do a small dinner at our house for the 4 of us (the two humans and the two pooches). Then we got an invitation to crash Chris & Molly's Thanksgiving dinner at their place, which we gladly accepted.

Note: Don't ever extend an invitation to me for turkey & dressing if you don't expect me to accept without ever thinking twice.

Thanksgiving was a mix of Chris & Molly's families, friends and classmates. Lots of good food and fun times, and maybe the most important part - leftovers to take home! We watched football, caught up on all the happenings of MBA & Law School life, played some games and talked a lot. A very eclectic group, but a good time by all.

Parental Vacation

The Parentals took a much overdue vacation to Maui over Thanksgiving, partly to watch the OState Cowboys in the Maui Invitational basketball tournament. While the Cowboy's results left quite a bit to be desired, it sounds like they really enjoyed their time living it up on the island.

Some Light Reading

Winter's short days and cold temps bring me indoors in a hurry. In preparation for the "fattening season", I picked up a couple books last week that I've been eyeing for some time now. One is The Cyclist Training Bible, which is written by Joe Friel who is a Boulder resident. The other is Training and Racing with a Powermeter, which is a change I will likely make this winter. I've been using the Polar heart rate monitor for several seasons, and I'm finally starting to get to the point where I think I could use power training more effectively.

Training Time

Last winter I built a nice aerobic base before basically burning myself out in early June. The good news was that even though I didn't fully take advantage of my newfound conditioning, I did find myself having a much better overall base conditioning even late in the summer when my riding had been minimized.

So this winter I'm out to build on last year's semi-successful winter program. I'll again be using PC Coach Cycling Plans to at least outline my plan and to help me keep from working myself too hard and to generate the periodization (4 weeks of build - build - build - rest) for me.

November has been a very good month so far. I've just wrapped up my hardest (exertion point based) week to date, but I still feel like I've got pretty good legs. I'm using a different approach in PC Coach this year, which seems to be working better for me so far. I'm working on setting some goals for next summer, but the one that seems to keep coming up is the Laramie Enduro. I'm still upset I didn't get to finish that one last year, so I'm expecting that is going a major goal for me next summer.

You can see here in my PC Coach monthly calendar view that the majority of the work is easier, aerobic base building work.

Yesterday I managed to get out and hit the tarmac and avoid 2 hours of trainer time. It was sunny and 50 when I started, but as the sun moved behind the clouds it got pretty chilly buzzing down the road at 17mph. I've got some shoe covers on order that should help my chronically chilly feet, but they have yet to arrive.

And the real bottom line here is this:
During the week of Thanksgiving I managed to lose 4 pounds, and gain a lost belt loop.

More updates on the fitness front to come, and if/when I ever do make the switch to power you can expect to be inundated by charts.

You've been warned.

Guitar Hero 3

While waiting in Sam's Club to get new tires on Jill's car, I starting playing Guitar Hero III on the display they had setup. After a quick tutorial by the worker who was undoubtedly tired of hearing my bad attempts, I was hooked. I somehow fought the urge to buy it off immediately, but gave in later that night.

For those who have no idea what it is, its basically a guitar you play by pressing buttons on the neck while strumming. The notes come down the screen at you, and if you play them correctly you get the sweet sounds of music. Incorrectly gets you a squawk from the guitar. Its very fun and addictive.

I pretty much mastered the 3 button Easy mode, but have found myself struggling with the Medium mode which uses 4 (of the 5) buttons and the notes come much faster. Its a long winter and the replay value is high, so I expect to conquer medium in due time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jill's twin sister visits

Jill anxiously awaiting her twin's arrival...

The other sister arrives!

Lets take a group shot.

And what would happen if we took 1/2 of each of you...

OK, so Jill doesn't have a twin (too bad for some other guy out there), and she doesn't even have a sister. All this nonsense really is about something good, as Jill grows her flowing jet black locks out and then cuts off 10 inches of it to be donated to Locks of Love. They make wigs for young kids who are undergoing chemo treatments and have lost their hair.

So what you are really seeing is:

1. Jill ready to get her haircut
2. Jill after her haircut
3. Before & After side by side
4. A composite I made of 1/2 of the before and after.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fruita Trip Day 2

Day 2 started with a hearty breakfast, an extra hour of sleep due to the time change, and a group of 7 of us heading west towards the CO/Utah border to Rabbit Valley to ride the Western Rim trail. There was some discussion about trying to do a Bookcliffs ride or something closer, but it was all new trails to me so I was game for anything.

Western Rim is a 15ish mile roundtrip lollipop loop that starts with a steady uphill climb and then all the sudden opens into a downhill rim ripping singletrack blitz around the edge of the canyon. Our group motored on pretty well, getting most of the mechanicals out of the way the day before. Only a flat and a small crash (neither mine) held us up today, and since I was due to be home I was off the front pushing the pace as much as I could.

The Punisher makes this steep look easy

Justin rolls this impossible looking steep

It was interesting how quickly the trail changed, and all of the sudden I was third bike ripping around the rim of the canyon. The section of trail around the rim was such a blast, incredible good flow and just technical enough to make you keep your hands on the brakes. We blasted a couple miles of trail before stopping to grab some food and take in the views.

The trail snaked along the rim of this canyon for several miles.

As with all good things, this too had to come to an end John & I were on a tight schedule and we ultimately had to bid farewell to the rest of the group and hike up the side of the cliff to grab the road back. Once on the road, The Punisher & I kept the pace relatively high and steady as we made our way back.

After climbing the road section, we got to enjoy some downhill with short rolling uphills on the way back. One section saw The Punisher go wide and hit a sandy bog, and I pulled up next to him and asserted myself by saying "This is where my singlespeeding pays off".

And about that time The Punisher downshifted, got back into the track and powered away from me up the climb. I guess that is what I get for opening my mouth.

We railed the last few sections and then pounded out the 1.3 miles of sandy road back to the car. The deep, sandy uphill sections were tough on tired legs, but overall I held my own. My fitness was better than expected, and after a couple days of riding the Yeti my technical skills were starting to wake up from their coma a bit. Now I just have to make it through the long winter so that I can get back out to Fruita and hit up some of the other trails that I missed this time.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ah Fruita.....

So after 3+ years of living within 4 hours (make that 4.5!) of one of the premier mountain bike destinations in the country, I finally got a chance to get my tires dirty there. In a last minute "are you sure you want to do this" decision, I loaded up Friday after a long work week and John "The Punisher" Perry and I motored towards the Western Slope.

The weather promised to be outstanding all weekend, and that promise was upheld. We couldn't have asked for any better weather. We lucked out and instead of having to camp at a remote state park, we got to sleep in a newly built custom home courtesy of some friend's very gracious parents who recently moved to the Western Slope. Oh and they fed us a ridiculous amount of food too...

So on to the riding, which is why you go there...
Saturday our group of 9 loaded up and headed to the Kokopelli parking lot to sample some Fruita classics. We started with Horsethief Bench, which has a ridiculous entrance to it. Some rode about 1/2 way down, which was impressive, while most walked. No one cleaned it while we were there, but there are some who can ride it top to bottom.

Justin is the king of rolling ridiculously steep things

Once down the entrance to Horsethief Bench, we did that loop then walked back up to the top where we would start Mary's Loop. Mary's is fast and fun and took us over to Steve's Loop where we continued on to Handcuffs. At this point it was decision time.

Blue skies, great trails and good views.

This picture in now way shows how disgustingly tough this drop was. I walked it.

Our group had splintered into 5 and we opted to hit the "Most Difficult" Moore Fun trail. I've heard about Moore Fun, but it was much tougher than I expected. A long, rocky climb that was often unrideable for most of us was frustrating at times, but got better when you could actually string together a couple of rocky moves and make it up something you didn't expect to make.

Once we reached the top, the fun began as the technical down was a lot of fun, in a frightening "don't go over the bars" type of way. I was starting to get in tune with Betty the Yeti again, and my riding improved all day. At first the little wheels and suspension really had me spooked as I'm so used to riding the 29er rigid these days but I got progressively better as the trip went along.

Not a single pic from Moore Fun, and not really very many pics from the entire trip. The trails are just too much fun to be stopping and snapping that often.

So Day 1 was in the books. My fitness felt remarkably good considering I've really only been back on the bike the last couple of weeks, and my technical riding skills were slowly coming back. I think there is hope that I can salvage this tattered relationship with Betty the Yeti after all.

We ended up putting in a bit over 17 miles, about 2,000 feet of climbing and 2:20 of ride time. What you don't see in those numbers were that we were out for almost 6 hours that day, meaning lots of stopping for regroups/lunches/flats/mechanical problems/etc.

GPS Batteries died, so only the Polar HR graph this time and no pretty Google Earth from above shot...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Welcome Parentals...Have a beer

My parents dropped into town Friday afternoon for a quick visit. With the weather turning from (so I hear) gorgeous to gloomy we opted for some indoor entertainment. Much to the chagrin of my reeling liver after a week of Solarc Ascent, we headed up north to Fort Collins for some beer sampling and brew tours. First stop on our tour was New Belgium brewery, where we'd divide and conquer and belly up to the bar for a tray of samples as we awaited our guided tour to start.

Sarah, Yack and Jill diligently study the beer dictionary

Samples arrive, followed by happy faces

Pretty maids in a row

Cheers to family reunions

Cheers to being back at home with my lovely wife

So at 1:30, we headed back for our tour. New Belgium is an incredibly cool place, and everyone that works there seems genuinely overjoyed to be there. They are a really family type employee base, with perks ranging from profit sharing to stock in the company to a free bike (you had me at free bike!) to a trip to Belgium after 5 years on the job.

The tour was very informal, but told the story of how New Belgium came to be and turned into what they are today. They are a very green company, using 100% wind power and lots of other eco-friendly type of policies. And they give you a free bike.

More pretty maids in a row...

Sweet Trike

Tile mosaic surrounding a huge 1.5 story vat, again bike oriented

And why not throw in an alien for good measure

Yet more Pretty maids in a row

Our tour guide after serving up yet another sample

After finishing the tour and buying some New Belgium gear, we headed to old town to grab some food. After filling our bellies we hit up Odell's for another quick tasting before heading back south towards the house to watch the Rockies, which unfortunately wasn't much fun to watch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SolArc Ascent 2007

In 7 years of working at Solarc, I never once attended the user conference. In fact, I avoided it at all costs even when lots of my buddies headed down to do various duties. Last year when I started at MarkWest, my first week on the job coincided with Ascent and I didn't go. This year, I've been really looking forward to Ascent and after 3 days of catching up with a lot of my old friends, it lived up to my expectations.

The common theme seemed to be everyone having more kids than I expected. The list of friends I got to catch up with is extensive, and several people I didn't expect to see showed up too, like Lisa Garcia and Kelly Stocksen. Lots of story telling with Cliff and Duke, hearing the ins and outs with Jake and just enjoying getting to see what all craziness has transpired in the 3 years I've been gone. Time definitely has not stood still, we've all grown up and changed and matured (well not Cliff) but the overwhelming thing we all had in common is that everyone truly seemed to be as happy as I've ever seen. Of course, that could have just been due to the open tab at the SkyBar....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The evil temptress

There is no hiding it, I've been pretty obsessed with the iPhone since its announcement earlier this year. Its pretty much the Holy Grail in portable media devices for me, allowing me to carry just the iPhone instead of my Ipod and phone every day. Since its launch I've purposely avoided going into the Apple stores to play with it too much, and had to listen to all my buddies from Solarc tell me how great it is. Well all except Jake, which is maybe the most shocking development.

Well today was to be the day, or so I thought. I was given the opportunity to switch my cell phone to the MarkWest corporate account, a nice surprise, which is on Cingular. I had it all worked out how I could get our Network Manager to allow me to use the IPhone, even though its not supported. He gave me the thumbs up (it helps he is a mountain biking buddy of mine), so I was just going through the final stages of "Do I just buy it and then transfer it to the MW account" or "Should I just buy it through our corporate agent?"

Well after a quick email to our corporate agent crushed all my hopes and dreams. Evidently iPhones are not allowed to be added to corporate accounts. What? I didn't believe it, so I googled it. Yep, pretty much screwed here. With that revelation, I thought through a couple of other options before realizing its probably just time to conform to corporate policy like everyone else.

So that leaves me with two choices: Treo 750 on the Verizon Network or the new Blackberry 8820 on Cingular (shown below).

After spending about 30 minutes playing with both phones today in the office, I think I like the Blackberry better. All 3 people I asked about the Treo pretty much said uniformly they hated it, especially with the Windows Mobile OS that apparently locks up a lot. I've never been a Blackberry fan, but from a corporate phone stance it really makes more sense. Perhaps with the next iteration of the iPhone it will be "corporate approved" and then I can switch over, but if not maybe I'll just buy myself a new touch iPod at some point. Besides all those visions of watching movies or The Office on my iPhone on the bus ride to/from work are just pipe dreams, I like sleeping too much...