Last month, you may have noticed baseball and football players wearing pink to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research. This month, I have decided to join the Movember movement to raise awareness about prostate cancer and men’s health. Here’s how it works: I start out November clean shaven, then all month I grow a moustache and you all donate money to support me in my efforts. I will post occasional blog updates with pictures on my progress, and you all donate money to support me in my efforts. Did I mention the part where you all donate money to support me in my efforts? I’m trying to raise $1000, but I’d settle for $500. Every little bit helps. If everybody gives just $25 or $50, we’ll hit my goal and then some. Click the link there to view my MoSpace page and donate today. Here are some pictures to get your imagination going.

Day one.

Day two.

Day three.

Now, how about some badly Photoshopped previews of what style moustache I should grow?

The trucker goes nicely with a wife-beater t-shirt.

The pencil thin is a classic, and Jimmy Buffett did a song about it!

Ooh, don’t I look dastardly???

So come on, folks, click the link and donate today!

Breaking out of a slump

I have been in a bit of a slump lately. A couple of things not quite going right, unexpected expenses, stuff like that. But this weekend was pretty darned good, I have to say.
On Saturday, the kids and I went to a local park to go geocaching with some friends of mine. The kids were great the whole time, and didn’t complain. They actually had a lot of fun, and were very good when we got home and discovered that we were covered in some sort of tiny bugs (ticks or chiggers, not sure which) that required laborious tweezer removal.
On Saturday night, Lisa and I went to the Eddie From Ohio concert at Wolf Trap. It was a fun date night away from the kids, even if it was still pretty dang hot. Did you know that they let you bring ANYTHING in to the show? Alcohol, coolers, food, whatever, they don’t care. Somehow, I managed to scam samples of Fin du Monde (wonderful all around) and Ommegang Abbey Ale (I think the guy has had this for a while, so it’s “aged” well: reminded me of these Vosges chocolates with goji berries we’ve had before).
And yesterday, the kids and I made our first ever FTF geocache! You can read all about it here.
I think it’s safe to say I’m out of the slump now. It was a good weekend.

Father’s Day dinner

Yesterday, we went downtown for dinner at Jaleo, one of Jose Andres’ restaurants (perhaps you heard Alex name drop him on Top Chef DC last week?). It was “Kids Restaurant Week” in DC, which meant that the kids paid their age for two tapas and a fruit dessert. It was a good thing too, because it was not a cheap meal! I took a few (bad) cell phone pictures of the food, so allow me to describe them to you.
First up was the sea urchin:
Sea urchin on Twitpic

A spoonful of refreshing summer goodness. Next up were three Ibérico hams.
Tres ibericos! on Twitpic

As you can see by the picture, this was one of our favorites, and I didn’t get to take the picture before most of it was gone already! I really enjoyed the fancy shmancy acorn-fed Lomo Ibérico de bellota.

The fried artichoke was a mild disappointment, though the tapenade was very good.
Fried artichoke on Twitpic

Then came Lisa’s new favorite dish: fried bacon wrapped dates. I have to say, this was definitely a standout.
Fried bacon wrapped dates on Twitpic

The menu said you would want to eat them every day, and I think that’s absolutely true. I miss them already.
The last dish I took a picture of was the rabbit confit.
Rabbit confit on Twitpic

It was a good dish, the apricot puree went nicely with the gamy rabbit, but the sauce was a little grainy for me.
Not pictured: the kids’ chicken croquettes (not at all like chicken nuggets), salmon, Pan con tomate, and garlic shrimp. Also, Lisa’s rice with duck confit and warm green bean salad. Also, the desserts: Chocolate and hazelnut mousse torte, and apple charlotte, both of which were delicious.
All told, we had a good time at our fancy dinner with the kids. The favorites were definitely the ham, the dates, and the desserts. Here’s hoping your father’s day went just as well.

Run Amuck!

On Saturday, I ran in a new kind of race: Run Amuck! This kind of race is more for fun than competition. The course is set up with obstacles like a climbing wall and, of course, mud! I got off to a quick start and made it to the first obstacles in the top 20. It was a good thing too, because if you were back in the pack, you had to wait to get over the wall. After bear crawling under some bungee ropes, and climbing over the wall, it was time to get in the water. Water up to my knees, and my shoes into the mud up to my ankles, for a solid 30 yards. Needless to say, I was not running through this part. On the way out of the water, we had to bear crawl through the mud again. Two more times through the water on the way back left my shoes waterlogged. A few more obstacles (a couple of hurdles, a maze of giant punching bags) and it was on to this:

The giant man-made mud pit at the finish line.

The duckies did not make it any less intimidating.

Check out that hair! Still looking good.

I was bear crawling like crazy trying to catch the guy in front of me.

Alas, I managed to clothesline myself on the last line of flags, and he escaped just ahead of me.

That’s as close as the kids wanted to get to muddy Dad.

Muddy shoes, muddy feet.

A top ten finish! Imagine if I actually trained for one of these things….

Some of the other entrants wore costumes. Pretty crazy stuff, some of them.

I had a great time doing this race. I’ll probably do another trail race or two before the fall, when the Warrior Dash is coming to Baltimore! That one has fire! And beer! Awesome.

Second Ride

Things seem to go more smoothly when preparations are made the night prior. Chilly again, but sweating again by the end. More cars today, still only the few biking stalwarts.
Then it happens. Ride home begins, and stops abruptly. Flat tire! 25 minutes later, the ride begins anew, take heart in the warm weather. Home again, a water bottle is casually tossed… on top of sunglasses, breaking them irreparably.
Last ride for a while.

First Ride

The night before: Lunch is made, bags are packed. Shoes and gear are pulled from their hiding places.
The morning of: Trying to make sure nothing is forgotten. Fill the tires with air. Bundle up. Cold for the first five minutes, huffing and puffing. Remembering every pothole, crack, and bump. Lights blazing down the deserted trail. Passing old friends, just as crazy as me. Am I halfway there yet? Hard to remember. Sucking down the water, breathing harder. There’s the old folks sitting out on their porch, as ever. Almost there, one more big hill. Sweating for the last ten minutes in spite of the 38 measly degrees. Relief: I made it.
The evening of: Much warmer now, stuffing the bags with the unneeded cold weather gear. Did I remember everything? I think so. Start down the road. My water! Always something forgotten. Pushing on, avoiding the sand and grit left over from last month’s snow. Up the really big hill now, that wasn’t so bad. More people on the trail this afternoon. New Year’s resolution folks, they’ll be gone in a couple of weeks. Stopped at a light, sunglasses fogging up. Hey, they repaved this formerly pothole infested road! Small miracles. Home again. Ready to do it again tomorrow? You bet.
The first bike ride of the New Year.

2009 Favorites

It’s time to close out the aughts with one last year-end wrapup. Let’s take a look back at the year that was, shall we?
I slacked off a little bit this year and only got through 32 books. But quality, not quantity, was the word this year. I really only felt like two or three books were real clunkers (*cough*Dan Brown*cough*), and there were a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings. Some of my 4-star ratings are ending up on other people’s top books this year! The clear non-fiction favorite was The Lost City of Z. Fiction is not so easy. The Gone-Away World was one of the most original I read. At Swim-Two-Birds was my favorite “classic.” If pushed to pick an overall favorite though, I’d have to go with City of Refuge, but be sure to check out all my reviews from the past year, lots of good ones I haven’t mentioned here.
Only 19 beers this year, definitely slacking on that front. By far the favorites came from the newcomer to the DC area, Founders Brewing, with their Breakfast Stout, and Red’s Rye.
Of course, one of the big reasons I slacked on beer reviews was the fact that I became custodian of my neighbor’s kegerator, definitely a big highlight this year. Evan started preschool this year, big for him. If you asked Ellie, her highlight would probably be the fact that we had a lease membership at the pool this year, so she got to have her birthday party there. We also went to see Bruce Springsteen in concert, awesome. The Spartans made it to the NCAA basketball championship game, but lost to UNC.
Last but not least, the highlight of the entire year was finally going to Ireland. Did I seriously never get around to writing about that? Jeez, what a slacker.