Sunday, April 18, 2021

Good Food, Drinks, and Birthday Celebration for Carrie in Kansas City

To celebrate a birthday for Carrie, we took time and spent a few days in Kansas City February 8 - 10. We had a large time! We booked a house to stay in via VRBO. We went in with Greg and Erin to spend a few days enjoying good food, drinks, and getting away from our standard here in Topeka. Carrie had a great time as we all did celebrating and having fun.

Snacks at PF Changs
Apps at P.F. Chang's

Thursday night, we talked about ordering Minsky's Pizza which, staying at the house we rented, and hanging out playing games and drinking. As we were preparing to head to Kansas City for the few days, we changed our minds and decided we would instead do P.F. Chang's where we had some apps, drinks, and a wonderful meal. 

Going on a Thursday night, people still being selective on where they go, it was not busy at all. We had no issues getting a table and felt comfortable throughout our meal. It was good to see the Country Club Plaza again as we had not been there in a long time.

Friday morning was our first trip to Snooze A.M. Eatery in Westport. Carrie, Javier, Brenda, and I had all first had Snooze A.M. Eatery in Colorado years ago when visiting. We just happened to come across the place, try it, and loved it ever since. Now they are in various locations of Colorado, Texas, and one finally opened in KC although a second one is going to be opening soon in KC too. We had about an hour wait, but it was so worth it!

More drinks and delicious breakfast to get our day started. If you have not been to Snooze A.M. Eatery, I highly recommend checking it out!

Summermoon Coffee... Yum!
Us at Summer Moon

Following breakfast, we finally made it to the newly opened Summer Moon. We were first introduced to Summer Moon in Dallas, TX when we visited Javier. We are very excited to have it close and plan to make trips into KC for visits to Summer Moon and yes plan to do other things and not just coffee on those trips.

Our favorite drink to get at Summer Moon is the Summer Moon Latte. We got one before afternoon of going around KC and then the next day (Saturday), we went back for another Summer Moon Latte. Carrie and I both got two so we could have one then and one later. I had intended to have my second one later in the day on Saturday, but ended up taking it back to Topeka and having on Sunday. It was still really good. Thanks Erin for buying our two coffees on Saturday morning.

Following our Summer Moon visit, we did some shopping which amounted to walking around a few stores and me eventually going out to the car to sit. I did manage to get in a quick nap to prepare for the afternoon of tapas and drinks.

Drinks at La Bodegea
Drinks at La Bodega on the Patio

What other way is there to celebrate a birthday than to spend a few days eating and drinking. Friday afternoon, we went to La Bodega which is a favorite. The sangria was going down easily. We had a pitcher of white and a pitcher of red. Both were very good, although, I think Greg and I preferred the red sangria. They had completely redone their patio area since the last time Carrie and I were there with everything happening in COVID times, so it was really nice sitting on the patio and having space to ourselves. The tapas were just as we remembered where they were delicious. We did try pork fat which while Greg said he liked, we did not finish that dish. It was a little odd. Carrie only took a bite and I managed to finish the one I picked up. We left two on the plate that were not finished. Likely not something we would get again, but the rest of the tapas and sangria were fantastic!

Drinks at La Bodega
Sangria at La Bodega
We spent a few hours at La Bodega before heading back to the house to clean up and prepare for dinner. If you are in the Kansas City area, passing through, or making a special trip, we highly recommend checking out La Bodega if you have the chance. Worth the stop and worth spending some time there to enjoy the environment and be with family or friends.

Friday night we had dinner reservations for the Bristol Seafood Grill. Never a disappointment, we had a wonderful meal. Greg and I saw a former Kansas basketball player eating his meal as we entered and had to spend the first few moments of our time there trying to remember his name. It as Jeff Gueldner who played for KU 1986 - 1990. 

Carrie and I got fried oysters which was a good change. Dinner was delicious where I had swordfish. Another one of our favorite spots to visit when in KC. Hoping at some point, the Bristol Seafood Grill goes back to having Sunday brunch again and you will definitely see us back there again when that returns.

Birthday Cake from Greg and Erin
Mini Cupcakes to Celebrate
Friday night following dinner, we went back to the house to play games and have fun. It was pouring down rain most of the night and into the next day, but we did not mind. Erin and Greg got mini cupcakes for Carrie for her birthday celebration. It was a fun night and wonderful couple of days off of work and celebrating Carries' birthday.

The next morning (Saturday), we made a trip back to Summer Moon as previously mentioned to get our coffees before heading to BB's Lawnwside BBQ as we all wanted to try something new and can never go wrong with BBQ. It was a fun experience as we found that they had been to the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas a few times. They had a poster from an early festival in the '80s and then a recent one from 2018 or 2019 I believe.

Lunch at BB's BBQ & Blues
BB's Lawnside BBQ
It was a fun way to end our couple of day celebration for Carrie. I know Carrie had a lot of fun... oh, and she was very excited to finally be able to buy multiple packages of her Stiegl Radler Grapefruit beer that she loves but has been unable to get here in Topeka from any location. We stocked up from Trader Joe's by buying ten packages of Stiegl Radler Grapefruit on our way home on Saturday. Perfect end to a perfect couple of days.


Vaccine Second Shot Done April 8 and No Issues #MyTime #Vaccine

Image from Our First Shot -- We Are Vaccinated
Carrie and I both got in on Thursday, April 8 for our second shot. It went well and no side effects at all. Following the first shot (see Vaccine One is Done and Second Shot is Scheduled), we had minor side effects which included sore arm or shoulder. Following the second shot, the only thing I noticed was slight tenderness at the point where I received the shot. No soreness in my arm or shoulder following the second shot. Really, I could not tell that I had anything done other than feeling good that I have both shots and vaccinated toward the COVID virus.

Ready to get out into the world and get back to some normallacy. Now, for the rest of the population to get their vaccine. 

Following our second shot, we went on to celebrate a birthday weekend in KC...

 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Results of the March Madness Hopefuls! ESPN Tournament Challenge #MarchMadness #results

Photo by Wallace Chuck from Pexels
 

So good to have March Madness again this year! We had a good group participating in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. We had 25+ participate in the selections this year. A wide range of picks started out the tournament. The selected winners ranged from a dozen votes to single votes to win it all.

  • Gonzaga (12)
  • Illinois (4)
  • Michigan (3)
  • Kansas (2)
  • Alabama (1)
  • Baylor (1)
  • Iowa (1)
  • Oklahoma State (1)
  • Villanova (1)
  • West Virginia (1)

Gonzaga had the most votes with 12 followed by Illinois (4), Michigan (3), and Kansas (2). The remaining teams all had one vote each to win the tournament. For the majority of the rounds, Javier G was at the top of the leader board. Going into the championship game Monday night, Javi was leading the group with the most points. Following the end of the game the winner of the group was Dina H. She was the only one in our group to have Baylor winning.

Winners in the March Madness Hopefuls!

With a narrow margin of points, Dina H beat out Javi G 1,240 to 1,140. Followed by tsh34081. I am not sure who tsh34081 is but they came in third in our challenge. Congrats to Dina on winning the bracket this year with the only one picking Baylor from our league.

How did Dina compare to the entry winning all of ESPN? The winner of the entire ESPN bracket won with 1,690 points. What a fun tournament to watch. There were some heart breakers, some buzzer beaters, and a lot of efforts to watch in March Madness no one was able to enjoy a year ago. We are so happy to have it back and finish another tournament challenge.

Congrats to the winners, Dina H, Javi G, and tsh34081. 


Tent Set up with Happy Dog and Happy Tent Owners #Camping #Adventure

Picture of our New Tent Ready for an Adventure

Carrie and I are going to try camping. Sure, we have both been camping a few times in our lives, but not with our own gear. For Christmas, we got a tent and we spent Saturday, April 3 in the afternoon attempting to put it together in our back yard. You know, so we test out the process before we get to a camp site and realize we have not idea what we are doing. The process went well!

We did the test run of putting it up in our back yard, but did not spend the night in the back yard. We are old and want to get some comfortable items so we can sleep on them when we are at the camp site. After getting the tent put together, we spent a while reviewing cots, mats, etc., for items that can make the camp site comfortable. Of course, we do not want to spend a lot on items in the event we go and camp and do not like it, so trying to keep costs down but also find items that will make the stay comfortable.

Carrie had the great idea to record us putting the tent together, so I set it up as time-lapse. It worked out great! If you watch carefully, you can see us put it up once and then take it down as we used the shorter poles instead of the long poles for the center section. The process went well and we now know how to put it together and which poles to use.

 

We are making plans to find our first camp site. Carrie has done the research and make a selection of Pomona, KS. Our plan is to do a test run of two night stay at this first camp site. See how it goes, what other items we might need, and whether we like the process. We plan to take Oliver with us, so that will be interesting. I think he will have a lot of fun at a camp site with us, visiting other campers, and smelling or hearing the noises that come with being away from home. The next phase of our plan would be to camp with Greg and Erin at another location. We need to do so before it gets hot, so trying to determine the best time to do the second camping date.

Oliver had a great time after we set up the tent. He thought it was fun to hear his paws on the tent floor. As you can see, he was jumping and running around like it was a big game. Carrie and I both laughing at him. Finally, he flew out the front of the tent and did two running laps around the tent before settling in the grass to rest. He spent Sunday sleeping most of the day as he had a fun Saturday helping us with the tent.

More pictures, or video, later this month as we begin our camping experience. We both can hardly wait and looking forward to taking Oliver with us on our adventures.


Sunday, April 04, 2021

Happy Easter!

From Pexcels.com

Happy Easter! Have a wonderful Easter Sunday. 

I will spend the day connecting with my family. I plan to call my sisters, my brother, and my Mom. I plan to watch some baseball. There might be some golf watching in there too. Might even do a Zoom session with everyone if I can get it set up and sent out early in the day. There is a chance for a nap but hopefully not during the baseball game. Easter Sunday evening I will be at the Shirrons’ enjoying a wonderful dinner and spending time with family.

Have a wonderful Easter!


Bally Sports Kansas City New #Royals Graphics #TogetherRoyal #BallySports

Bally Sports Kansas City Copied from Twitter Bally Sports Tweet

The start of the MLB season started on Thursday, April 1 and with it we saw a new branded channel. Formerly Fox Sports Midwest. It seems like we have watched Royals baseball on Fox Sports Midwest forever, but looking it up the channel launched in March 2008 (according to Wiki). The new branding is Bally SportsBally Sports officially launched April 1 but their web site still says “Coming Soon” and the app on my iPhone and Roku devices still says Fox Sports Go. The rumor was that everything was going to change on Opening Day of baseball, but that does not appear to have happened.

What did change was the broadcast. Broadcasters saying “Bally Sports” now and graphics indicate we are watching “Bally Sports” just to remind us over and over. I am still upset that I cannot get Royals baseball on YouTube TV and have to watch through my Mom’s streaming account from Midco. I am happy that is working and hope it continues to work to watch Royals baseball. I am one of the lucky ones as many people are not able to watch their favorite teams with blackouts or their provider no longer carrying the games (see Contract Disputes posted back in January).

Fox Sports Midwest Graphics
For years we have had the same graphics and I have to admit I missed them when I first started watching the game on Thursday. I was so used to seeing the layout in the lower right hand corner when watching Royals baseball that I missed not seeing it in the corner. I am not sure, but I would guess the graphic for pitcher, batter, score, inning, outs, and count had not changed since Fox Sports Midwest launched in 2008, or if it did change it was not by much.

Having seen the same graphics for so many years, I get set in my ways, and expect to see them to start the new season. I think it will be fine with the new graphics, but I can still complain about what I do not like and then compliment the new changes that I do like.

Bally Sports Kansas City Graphics

Typical information on the graphics with the score on the left. Inning, bases, outs, and count in the middle. Then on the right side displays other games. The whole graphic is along the bottom of the screen. The center section is also where it displays MPH for a pitch. 

The addition of the running scores of other games is a new addition. I do not recall where scores of other games would post/scroll on Fox Sports Midwest  but I believe it might have been at the top and only if there was an interesting game in session. The most part, I do not think they showed scores of other games at all. That is a nice new addition with the scrolling scores to help keep an eye on those other games.

Center Graphic with Inning, bases, outs, and count from Bally Sports
The center section section where it displays inning, who is on base, outs, and count needs some work is fine, but could use some color changes. Instead of outs showing as black dots, I would rather see red. The other complaint is that outs usually show left to right so it is odd to see them right to left. Again, not a huge issue, but it is going to take a little while to get used to the change. Although it appears this was only for the first game of the season on Opening Day. The second game of the season on Saturday had corrected the sequence of going left to right on outs, so it was better.

Overall, I like the new graphics and especially the scrolling scores of other games. It will take a while to get used to saying Bally Sports Kanas City, but I am sure we will all get used to it as they say it over-and-over throughout the game, commercials, and via social media.

I am so excited to be watching baseball and happy that at least for now, I get to watch Royals baseball. Enjoy the season for whatever team you follow.


Sunday, March 28, 2021

4 Months Peloton and Losing Weight Motivation

John Haverty Weight Tracking Since November 2020
Weight Tracking from November 2020 to March 2021

Making progress at exercising and reducing weight. As with much of the population, 2020 and COVID caused me to max out my weight. Pants did not fit, did not feel great, and did nothing really other than work, watch TV, eat, sleep, and drink lots of beer. As indicated in November 2020 post (see New Peloton Bike+ Delivered...), we have been exercising and enjoying our Peloton experience.

When we received the bike back in November 2020, I was at my largest weight of my life of 259.2. Granted, I think a few times I have gone above 260 during 2020 year, but toward the end of the year and through the summer months, we started trying to focus more on eating better and not having a beer every evening, so by the time I started exercising it was a lower weight.

From Pexcels.com -- Blue Tape Measuring on Clear Glass Square Weighing Scale
A lot of variation in my weight, as I would expect, but I did not expect to go three or four weeks at a time and not lose, or gain, a thing. The dates between February 13 and March 5, I remained a constant 256 with just an increase, or decrease, in a point. Suddenly, I went from 256.2 up to 258.2 and the following week I went down to 252.2. The most recent weigh-in being 251.2. 

It is sure interesting how the body works and decides it is time to let go of the weight. My weigh-in days are Sunday mornings. A few changes during the time I stayed at relatively the same weight included eating more vegetarian dinners during the week with a meat introduced on the weekend. For the past few months since prior to when we got the bike, I have been limiting myself to only beer on the weekends (with a few exceptions such as watching sporting events during the week), so that has helped with weight decrease. Amazing how much weight can be lost just by doing away with any type of alcohol!

I have increased my bike riding to four times a week with at least one of the days being at least an hour of riding. The other three days are typically 30 minute blocks but broken up into smaller chunks or even two twenty minute rides that are easier than my 60 minute block. I continue to have fun and enjoy the experience that is Pelton. I am also trying to stay motivated to work out everyday with the Peloton app by doing weights, mediation, or Yoga. 

My motivation for doing the other non-bike days has been tough the past week or two. I tend to skip weights, or cardio, for mediation which is not ideal. Carrie tells me at least I am focusing on myself, but it feels as though I am cheating on the process. I have debated to just doing the four days of bike riding and not worrying about the other, but I do enjoy the feeling after I finish cardio or weights.

As the weather gets warmer, I do intend to introduce running into my workout again which will likely be one of my four days of workout. As I get older, I notice my knees hurt even following bike riding, so I am not sure how long I will be able to continue my runs. I do enjoy running outside though as compared to a treadmill but Oliver gets a walk following my run and I love how excited he gets when I put on my running shoes.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
What are your exercise routines? How do you keep yourself motivated? What is your favorite workout? Do you wake up and workout in the morning? Do you work out in the middle of the day? Or, wait until the last of the day to get your workout completed? 

I would love to hear from you and discuss through comments on this post, Twitter, or FaceBook.


Vaccine One is Done and Second Shot is Scheduled #MyTime #Vaccine

Carrie and I Got Our First Shot
Carrie and I were able to take advantage of the early vaccinations for Shawnee County thanks in large part to various staff at Washburn University. We received notice from Washburn that we could sign up on Friday, March 12 and we had our appointment scheduled for our first shot on Tuesday, March 16. Grateful to have our first shot and be scheduled for our second shot on April 8.

The process was extremely easy. We did not have to wait at all to get into the Expo Center, to be seen, or get our shot. The process was very smooth.

Following our first shot, we both experienced minor discomfort in our arms and shoulder where we had the shot. A dull feeling was all we both encountered. Tenderness at the point of the shot, but nothing more. We have heard that the second shot might have more side effects, but looking forward to getting our second and final shot on April 8.

As more and more of our community, and country, get the vaccine, the hope is that before long we will be back to normal activity in terms of going out, seeing family, friends, and strangers. We will all be wearing masks for the foreseeable future even after the vaccine from what I can tell but really at this point wearing the mask is second nature. I hardly think about it when I grab it to put it on.

Following our second shot on April 8, I will post another update to share how that goes for us both. Everyone I have spoken to thus far as not had terrible reactions to the second shot although a few people have had some reactions. I am excited to get it completed and will continue to wear my mask when out in public.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Oscar Movie Nominations and Impressions of Those We Have Watched So Far

The nominations have been announced for the 2021 Oscar Awards. Carrie and I have already watched half of the movies and plan to finish up the four four before April 25.

Having watched half of the nominated movies, I will post a brief description of each and my reaction to each movie thus far.

Watched Movies

Judas and the Black Messiah is a story of Bill O’Neal infiltrating the Black Panthers. Based on true events the movie kept my attention throughout. Powerful story of true events that I had never heard before. At this point through four movies watched, this is in the top two of my favorite movies.

Nomadland is a story of a woman who lost everything and lives in her van traveling the country. Another movie based on true events with some of the actors in this movie being people living as nomads. While not in my top two movies, it is a very well done movie and compelling story that kept me watching to the end.

Sound of Metal is a top two of the movies I have watched so far. This movie is based on a true story as well about a man that loses his hearing and his struggle through the process. The acting is excellent from the entire cast. The directing was also very good with special effects where I had myself questioning if I had lost my hearing while watching the movie. It helped to make a connection with he main character. I highly recommend watching this movie.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is about the trial of seven individuals that started at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. This is close to being in my top two movies watched thus far. Had some funny moments and also surprising as the story unfolds that this happened in our country.

Not Watched Yet

Mank sounds interesting about a 1930’s process of writing Citizen Kane. I do not believe I have ever watched Citizen Kane but might have to do so following watching of this movie.

Minari looks very interesting. A Korean family starts a farm in Arkansas in the 1980’s. I think this will be an interesting movie to watch and look forward to doing so before the Oscars.

The Father is a movie about a father who refuses assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he ages, he begins to question everything about him including those that love him.

Promising Young Woman is a story about a woman who has something bad happen in her past and then seeks out revenge against those that went against her. Again, sounds interesting and look forward to seeing how this plays out.

In Summary

There appear to be a number of nominated movies that are based on true events. Of the four we have watched so far, all four were based on true events. After we watch the other four, I will do another update on impressions of those movies and whether they too are based on true events.

If I had to pick my favorite movie today, I would say it would be Sound of Metal. Although after we watched Judas and the Black Messiah, I told Carrie it was my favorite movie. So, it might depend on the day which is my favorite. All four have been very good and highly recommend watching any or all of them.


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

St. Patrick's Day and a Little Luck to You

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
Happy St. Patrick's Day! A year ago, this day came and went and I barely noticed. Today, at least I am able to acknowledge it is St. Patrick's Day. Much like last year, there will not be any celebrating taking place on my part by drinking green beer or going out on the town. No, instead, it will be spent doing our regular routine. 

I hope you have a good St. Patrick's Day celebration. Stay safe. Be smart and Top of the Irish to you!

Good time to remind you if you have not already to complete your ESPN Tournament Challenge. A little different this year with play-in games being Thursday and then round one games on Friday/Saturday and round two games on Sunday/Monday. Get your picks in now!


Sunday, March 14, 2021

March Madness 2021 ESPN Tournament Challenge

ESPN Tournament Challenge Picture

It is good to have basketball again. Be sure to get your bracket created so you can be sure to take part in the 2021 ESPN Tournament Challenge. It is free, it is fun, and you might even win something (from ESPN) if you pick the correct picks. Make your pick today!

Directions for joining are listed below.
  1. Visit ESPN which will take you directly to the March Madness Hopefuls.
  2. If you are already signed into the ESPN web site, you can immediately create your bracket. If not sign into the site and then you will be taken to the March Madness Hopefuls group or you can search for March Madness Hopefuls to join.
  3. Join the group.
  4. Repeat the above process to create additional brackets. In the March Madness Hopefuls bracket, you can have three entries.
Be sure to submit your entries by 10:00 am CST Thursday, March 18. This will make sure you get your entries submitted and have time to get them submitted. First game tips at 11:15 am on Thursday March 18.

If you have any questions or problems, please post a comment to this post.

Good luck and enjoy March Madness!

Mower Replacement for Haverty Never Ends

Trees are starting to bud, grass is starting to turn green, and I see my neighbors starting to work on their lawns. I guess it means it is almost spring time in Kansas! I am so excited for spring to arrive and looking forward to green trees, grass, and spending more time outside.

As the spring starts, I am once again reviewing lawn mowers to purchase. This will be my third lawn mower since 2006. The first mower I had was a Honda mower which I loved, but a problem with the handle a few years ago and I was told it was cheaper to replace rather than repair. Basically, the weld came undone on the left side of the handle causing the whole unit to be useless. So, I order a Troy-Bilt self-propelled mower. I had it for about four or five years. 

I sent in the Troy-Bilt mower over the winter months for routine maintenance. I soon received a call to tell me it was badly damaged and could not be repaired. Seriously? Turns out that last summer when I was mowing one evening I went over a metal leg on our hammock and the blade caught on the leg. It scared the crap out of me and of course the mower stopped immediately. It bent up the leg on the hammock pretty good but from what I could tell, the mower was not damaged. I continued mowing and mowed the rest of the summer/fall 2020 season with that mower.

When the company doing maintenance on the mower called me to report major damage to the engine, I knew immediately what had caused the issue. I was told that they could try and repair it but again, like the Honda, the repair would cost more than buying a new mower and it might not fix the issue. No-brainer, I decided to let them keep the mower, pay for the work already completed, and get a new mower as it got warmer and time for mowing again.

So, here we are making another purchase. I actually did like the Troy-Bilt mower I had before, so looking at getting the same brand again. This will hopefully be the last mower I buy for a long time. Stay away from metal and keep from having the handle break on me, should be able to keep over ten years with maintenance and upkeep.

Happy mowing and wish me luck on keeping this mower for a long time to come!