Sunday, January 30, 2022

Finished Reading News of the World and Watched the Movie Along with Books I am Reading

I continue my reading journey. I have read four books so far in 2022. Probably the most books I have read in a short amount of time in my life. Right now I am going back through my GoodReads to finish books that I started in the past. I am down to three books remaining in my “reading” list. More on this later as right now I want to talk about News of the World that I recently finished. I started reading this book back on March 12, 2021. Carrie had recommended the book to me to read and so I started the book. The book uses a unique process of writing compared to what I am used to reading in books. It does not use quotes to show what the characters are saying. It took me a little while to get use to the writing style, but I enjoyed how it all came together. At a certain point reading the book, I did not notice it was not written like other books. So, it took me a few months to read the book, but there were months between March and January where I did not read the book, or any book, at all.

After finishing News of the World, we decided to watch the movie. We watched News of the World on HBO MaxNews of the World movie features Tom Hanks as Captain Kidd. The movie was very well done. It captured what I had in my mind as I read the book. The casting was perfect with Tom Hanks as the Captain and then Helena Zengel as Johanna. The movie had been in our queue to watch for a few months since it was released, so it was good to be able to watch it last evening. The movie stuck close to the book from what I could tell. Obviously, going from book to movie there are going to be changes, items left out, or modified, but I thought it stuck well to how the story went and matched what I had visioned in my mind as I read the book. 

The three books I have remaining in my reading list of GoodReads include Fortune’s RisingSleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King, and then Dark Light. I started Fortune’s Rising back in 2019 while I was waiting for a library book at the time to become available. I do not believe I have started Sleeping Beauties or if I have, I will need to restart it as I do not remember anything about the book. I also have not started reading Dark Light which I see is a series and it is book #13. So, I might end that book and start at #1 in the series as I do not believe I have read any of the books by Randy Wayne White.

I have found that for the past month I find time to read whenever I can fit it into the day. I head home for lunch and instead of watching television I grab my Kindle and read. When I get home in the evenings from work, I will grab my book to read. Or, at night when it is bedtime, instead of grabbing my phone, I will grab my Kindle and read a chapter or two. I have a tendency to fall asleep while reading, so it is perfect for the evenings, but when I want to read over lunch or when I get home in the evenings, it is frustrating as I will read the same passage multiple times as I drift off to sleep. While it is kind of nice and mind plays tricks on me over the passage I just read, it does not help with finishing the book. The time I get most of my reading completed happens to be on the weekends when I read a lot on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

I continue to be well ahead of my goal of twenty books for the year. I am hoping by the end of 2022 that I will be way past 20 books and set a new record for myself on reading. Carrie set her reading challenge to 80 books. Carrie has already read eight books and the month is not over. I am sure she will go way past her target of 80 books and if I could do half that number, I will be happy.

So, back to reading for me. Enjoy your weekend and your reading.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Thinking of Warmer Weather and Camping… Lots and Lots of Camping

Is it bad that I am already thinking of camping. I cannot wait to go camping. Thinking about where we are going to camp, what we will do while we are there, or what trails we will walk. We are still a few months out from camping weather here in Kansas. It is hard to believe that just a year ago Carrie and I started camping. We set up our tent for the first time back in April (see Tent Set up with Happy Dog and Happy Tent Owners) and then we did our first camping trip on May 16 (see Camping at Eisenhower State Park) where we actually went twice last season to the same exact spot both times. We loved the camp site and the area.

When we had nice weather not too many days ago, I would go outside with Oliver and talk about how we could go camping. Well, until evening came and the temp dropped and there was not way we could be camping. Last year, Carrie and I went to three different camp sites last year. We are hoping to expand on the new sites this year. Another couple of months and we will begin plotting out our stops. We do plan on taking one trip to a camp site outside of Kansas although that is up in the air currently on whether that one will happen.

I am looking forward to relaxing by our camp site, reading or playing games, and enjoying the scenery of the lake we are near. Looking forward to spending time with Carrie and Oliver while we relax and not worry about what is happening elsewhere. We might even find a spot where cell service does not work and we are suddenly disconnected from the world. It is fun to look back at all of our adventures from last year (see Camping) to see our adventures. Carrie cooked some amazing meals while we were camping and we had great times with great memories while we were camping. I cannot wait to get out and start new memories this year.

What are your favorite camp sites? Where is a spot you have visited more than once? Do you have any recommendations for places to visit either in or out of Kansas?

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Rumor of Apple Possibly Streaming MLB Games for 2022… Yes Please and no Blackouts!

Recent rumors about Apple being involved in MLB streaming (see NY Post) has a lot of buzz happening the past few weeks. Apparently following ESPN losing the contract for weeknight games, Apple might take over the chance to get into the sports world and stream games. I am interested to see what happens with this news. I was happy that YouTube TV added MLB TV to their line up as an add-on option, but with blackouts it really did not do a whole lot for me this past season. I had to watch all of the games this past season through my Mom’s account in Lawrence through her streaming service. It worked, but it would be nice to have a streaming service where I could watch the game with my own account.

With ESPN losing regular Monday and Wednesday games, it does open up a potential for another streaming service to take those spots. As rumored through news releases of Bally Sports with their possibly released streaming service, I like the Apple angle much more. Bally Sports has been rumored to be trying to spin off their own streaming service with a subscription fee separate from providing their feed to services. If they go this direction, I do not plan to by a subscription to Bally Sports. In the same manner, I do not intend to renew my MLB TV subscription through YouTube TV as I could not watch the games live. Yes, I did enjoy watching other games and catching up on games or following out-of-market teams, but I am not sure that is enough for me to spend $100+ this next season.

The price point Apple decides to do for the games if they get the contract will be interesting. I would hope it would be $4.99 or less if only looking at Monday/Wednesday games.

I hold out a hope that MLB will return to YouTube TV, but I know that is far fetched unless Bally Sports changes their model or works with companies such as YouTube TVSling, or Dish for a contract that those companies can accept and not impact heavily their customers.

My Book Reading Experience Has Peaks and Valleys… Right Now on a Peak! I am Enjoying Reading for Fun! #books #reading

A few times a year, I find myself reading for fun. I would not call myself an avid reader, but I do enjoy reading. Of course I spend every day reading a lot of email, information, etc., for work, but sitting down to read is not something I do regularly or at least most years. The past few weeks, I have found myself reading in the evening, weekends, and often times as I go to sleep. I have started reading when riding the bike on my regular workouts which is a nice change and helps to make the time pass as I ride. 

My book reading is typically read for a few weeks, finish a book, and then I stop reading for a period of time. As 2021 ended, I started a series which I have found I really enjoy. There are seven books in the series and I have read four of them so far. I set my GoodReads profile goal this year to read 20 books. I am at 2 of 20 so far to start 2022.

The series I stumbled across is the Rachel Hatch series by L.T. Ryan. Easy reading and they keep my interest. I am taking a little break from them currently and reading another book but I plan to go back to the Rachel Hatch series once I am done with The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towels. I recently joined a book reading club which I have never done before. This one is through Washburn University and you can join it too by visiting The book being reviewed at this time is A Gentleman in Moscow. I am currently on a waiting list from the library to get the book. Estimated to be 16 weeks, so I am hoping to get the book in time to review before the first part of March. 

So, I am interested to participate in the book reading club and to discuss books with others from the Washburn community. If you are not a member of GoodReads, I would encourage you to do so. A popular site to track books you are reading, want to read, or connect with others with similar interests. I have been a member of GoodReads since 2013. If you check my profile at GoodReads, you will see if I have not read that many books in the nine years since I joined (78 read books). 

This year, I am hoping to change my GoodReads stats for reading and meet my goal of 20 books for the year if not surpass the goal I set of 20 books. As I mentioned earlier, I read a lot throughout the week as most of us do relying on email for our work. I read a lot of documents, I stay updated on news by reading the local paper (online of course), and I read a lot in my job to stay current on technology. 

I forget how much I enjoy reading until I become entrenched in a story. When I get a good book that takes me to where ever the story is happening, I can make the movie in my head and I find I dream of the story of the book too at night when I am sleeping. The story becomes so real, that I cannot wait to get back to the book to see what is happening and what will happen next. In the past, I have read books that later go on to be movies (i.e. The Woman in the Window, The Girl on the Train, The Client, etc.) where I think what I had in my mind is better than what was depicted on the big screen. Still, it is fun to read the books and then see how the director plays out the story.

A few books, I have had problems finishing. Carrie will recommend them to me and I will start, but they are difficult to read or do not keep my interest. I will start them, read a few chapters, and then stop reading. Sometimes I will start a book and read it over the course of a few months between either not reading at all or reading other books and going back to pick up where I left off to read more of the book. It is fun to find a good book, or series, that keeps my interest and helps me to go back to reading to find out what will happen next. 

We will see where I am at in another five to six months to see where I am at in my reading challenge of 20 books for the year, but I am hoping to be to about ten by that time… if not more. More on this later this year as I continue by reading journey.

What are your favorite books? Do you have any series that you enjoy that you would share? You can see my GoodReads Profile to see what I have read, or those I want to read, and make suggestions, I am open to checking out new titles.

Happy reading…

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Progress Report for December 2021 Working Out... Dipped a Little with Holidays... Reading and Biking

December Workout Report from Peloton

December 2021 working out was a little less than I had expected, but only one day fewer than I had done in November 2021. So, overall, not bad, but I could have used a few more days of working out. When I went back to work on January 3, I noticed some of my work pants fit a little more snug than they had prior to the holiday season. So, I am still working on getting back into the swing of things. I only worked out 9 days during December as indicated to the right. I plan to increase my workout to the three times a week and stick to it moving forward. If I need to adjust my days, that is not an issue, but I need to make sure to stay with my plan of working out three days a week. Taking more than three days off from riding is almost like starting over when I ride again. 

My plan for February 2022 is to completely remove alcohol. I know from past experience when I do this removal, I lose all kinds of weight and really feel a lot better. So, come February 1, 2022, I will be going the month not drinking beer or any alcohol. Yes, I know the Super Bowl is in there, but it seems like a good time to go without and try to get my body feeling better. More on this as February approaches and my status.

December Peloton Stats for Havertyj

Overall for December, I did well with working out. I spent 189 minutes working out during December and traveled 43.7 miles as tracked through Peloton. While the calories burned looks really good, it does not help that I also would eat whatever I wanted and have beers. So, I am hoping that February will help get me back into better exercise with better results and also eating better too. Doing so for a month will help me and I am hope that during that month I will get to the point where I like it and continue to eating trend into March.

Carrie and I have both done this type monitoring with our food intake and alcohol removed from diet, but it has been a few years. We both plan to eat better and remove fast food from our routine when working. Most of it comes from it being so easy to pick up something to eat instead of spending time to prepare lunch or dinner which is healthier than Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonalds.

In regards to my bike riding, I am starting to feel better on the bike. I enjoy my rides and look forward to riding the bike. My backside still gets sore, but it is getting better. I am riding regularly 30 minutes on my rides. I will plan to continue 30 minute rides through January and then increase to 45 minute rides for February. I am taking the slow approach and gradually moving back into where I was at back in early July 2021 with riding. I still have issues with sore knees or stiff legs the day after riding, but I do feel much better than I do when I was jogging on a regular basis. Yes, I still have plans to start jogging at least one day a week although at this point, that will likely not occur until probably May or June.

One thing I have started as of about two weeks ago is to read while I bike. I have started reading again and reading a lot. I find it helpful to read while I am biking as it completely takes me out of my head and I can focus on the content of the book instead of my journey of riding. More on this later in another post later this month as I continue my reading journey. I do enjoy reading and riding whether I am doing instructor led or solo bike rides, it has been a good journey and makes the process fun.

Watch for another update on my exercise status in early February. Enjoy your biking, jogging, or whatever exercise you are doing.

Our Trip to the Kansas City Plaza with our Dog for Three Days with Eating, Drinking, and Fun

Kansas City Plaza Lights from Hotel Room
View from Our Room at InterContinental on the Plaza

Carrie and I had a wonderful time in Kansas City on the Plaza following the Christmas Holiday. We had planned it back in November to make for a fun time away from home and since we were not traveling anywhere for the holidays. We wanted to stay in a hotel and because we were taking Oliver, we wanted a dog friendly location. 

We selected the InterContinental on the Plaza. We contacted them back in November to schedule the room and stay. We were told it would be $75 additional to have Oliver stay with us. No problem! The rates were really low following the holiday, so we jumped on it and booked the room.

Oliver Watching People on The Plaza Ready to Bark!
Oliver Watching People
This would be a first time trip for Oliver staying in a hotel. He is ten and never stayed in a hotel. We were hopeful he would be good, not bark, or cause a disturbance while we were out two nights. He did great! He was a perfect little gentleman... well, except that in our room he could see the people walking in front of the shops and he would do a low bark as he watched them walk along the sidewalk. Nothing loud, but it was constant as he did this the whole time we there. The only time he was not concerned what was happening outside was when we shut the curtains so he could not see out. It made us laugh and I think he was trying to protect us from whatever those tiny people were doing he could see way off in the distance.

Overall, he did great! We took him out and did good on walks. He loved it because we took him on walks multiple times each day we were in the hotel. On the way back from walks, he had not figured out that all the rooms look alike, so he would stop at each room on our way back to our room on the second floor.  The first night when we went to dinner, we came home to find him on top of the coffee table looking at us when we came in the door... we are still not sure what he was doing, but he looked to be having fun!

Carrie and I at Capital Grill
Carrie and John at Dinner

The first night (Monday) we were able to connect with my brother, Tim, who was having dinner with his boys. Originally I had contacted Tim to see if he could meet for dinner or drinks Monday night, but he said he already had a commitment. As it turned out, he invited Carrie and I to join him, Donna, Brian, Jack, and their spouses. Tim took us to The Capital Grille on the Plaza. What an experience! Tim had a private space for us to eat and we had a nice visit with everyone. The food was good and the wine was flowing freely. Good memories to be able to meet up and see everyone that evening. Carrie and I did not do great with pictures on our adventure to Kansas City, but we did manage to get a picture of us at dinner that evening... no, did not get any pictures with anyone else, but it was a fun time!

Sandwiches in the Hotel Room for Lunch
BayCoyKC Sandwiches
Tuesday was a lazy day. We stayed in bed, read, snoozed, took Oliver on walks, and basically did nothing the whole day. We did order BayBoyKC for lunch. It was really good and the sandwiches were huge! After finishing lunch, we decided to lounge more, so we continued to read, watch TV, and lounge around our room. Oliver was enjoying barking at the people on the sidewalks of the Plaza. By about 4 or 4:30, we decided we better figure out where we were going to eat. I reached out to my brother, Tim, to check if he would like to meet for drinks and/or dinner, so we made arrangements to meet him for drinks. Again, no pictures of our visit, but we were able to spend a few hours with him having drinks, eating oysters, and enjoying conversation. 

Dinner at McCormick & Schmicks
Dinner at McCormick & Schmick's
Carrie and I had late reservations at McCormick & Schmick's at 8:45, so we decided to head over early to sit at their bar and enjoy more drinks, apps, etc. Our plan was to hang out and then sit and have dinner, but we decided to eat at the bar. We had more oysters, drinks, and a delicious meal all while at the bar. I opted for the lobster which was good, but could have used some butter. What I had ordered originally was two lobster tails, but they were out of that and went with this lobster pictured to the right which had shrimp over the top. All very good and we had an enjoyable time.

The best thing about staying at the InterContinentalwas that we could walk to everywhere. Monday night when we met Tim for dinner, the The Capital Grille was right across from the hotel. For Tuesday nights meal, we were able to walk to meet Tim for drinks and then walk on to McCormick & Schmick's for dinner. It was perfect! Really, the whole three days felt like date night with Carrie, so we had fun and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

By eating at the bar, we were able to beat the 8:45 reservation so we were not out as late and we could get back to Oliver who was holding down the hotel room for us. When we got back to the hotel room, he was sleeping on the couch and looked up as we came through the door. I think he enjoyed some alone time after being with us for the whole day.

Oliver at Snooze Enjoying Life
Oliver at Snooze Eatery
Wednesday was our day to leave, so we set a late checkout as we wanted to sleep late (we are on vacation) and run some errands later in the day before heading back to Topeka. I took Oliver on a few walks that morning before we finally checked out about 12:30. Our first stop was going to be Snooze A.M. Eatery. This was our second visit to Snooze and it did not disappoint. We selected this place to eat as we like it and because they allow pets. Oliver was the hit of the patio! The staff all wanted to come out and see him. He got whipped cream to enjoy and lots of praise and petting from the staff. I think he had a great time!

Following our lunch, we stopped by Summer Moon Coffee which is another favorite before we made one last stop and headed home to end our fun in Kansas City.

We did this whole trip while Washburn University was closed between December 25 and January 2. I would certainly do this again as we had a wonderful time. Like I mentioned earlier, it felt like one large date night with our kid along. We both had a lot of fun and look forward to doing something similar next year for the holiday break.

Amazing Kansas Skies in 2021 and Off to a Spectacular Start of Skies in 2022... Be Sure to Watch for the Beauty!

Taken January 5, 2021 on Washburn University Campus
Taken January 5, 2021
I have lived in Kansas for almost 50 years and I have seen some beautiful sunsets as well as some beautiful sunrises. I am not sure why, but 2021 and so far in 2022, the views from nature have been spectacular! I cannot count the times in September, October, or November where I would be leaving work and found myself in awe of the setting sun. The 2021 year started and as I was driving into work to start 2021, I saw the image to the left of the sky above the Indoor Athletic Facility on Washburn University campus. Wow! Throughout 2021 the views were amazing from being on campus to our camping trips, nature did not disappoint!

Sunrise from Washburn Campus
Sunrise from Washburn Campus

On Tuesday, January 4 to start the new year I noticed the sky looking incredible as I left the house. My commute from home to work is short (less than 5 minutes), but I was tempted to pull off to take pictures. Instead, I continued my drive and arrived at work to find the sky was still looking amazing. Pictures really do not do it justice as it was the entire eastern sky that was lit up in the pink glorious colors. The picture to the right was taken from Morgan Hall looking over Bennett Computer Center on Washburn University campus as I was preparing to walk into the building to start the day.

Sky on January 4 Image from Erin
Taken by Erin of Jan 4 Sky

My sister-in-law, Erin, took pictures and we usually get pictures when the skies looking amazing from my brother-in-law, Greg, that we send to the whole group in a family text thread to share what we are seeing. The image to the left was taken by Erin on her way into work that morning. Again, just amazing and awe inspiring.

The question could be asked if I am noticing the beautiful sunrises and sunsets because I am up at those times whereas I was not in past years. I do not believe that to be the case. I have been getting up early for work for years and of course seeing the the sunsets happens throughout the years, but what nature has been showing the past few months have been incredible! If you have not been able to catch one of these events, I encourage you keep an eye out for one when it occurs. Sometimes this can be difficult if you are not outside, but well worth it if you are able to see it with the naked eye on not through a camera.

Photo from Greg at 17th and Macvicar
Photo by Greg of Jan 4 Sky

Greg took the picture to the right the same morning on January 4 as he was driving to work. This photo is looking over the Washburn University campus from 17th and Macvicar. The photo taken by Greg shows much more of the sky of what we were seeing that morning as it seriously stretched from north to south on the horizon taking up the entire eastern part of the sky in a bright pink. I saw others on social media posting about it too that morning after I got into work.

I look forward to see how the skies of Kansas work to impress for 2022. So far after the January 4 epic skies, the Kansas skies are off to a great start and will have not problem beating out 2021 with impressive skies.

Be sure to keep an eye out on the skies when out and about no matter where you are located especially dawn or dusk to catch those rare views we do not get to see often. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 02, 2022

The Cooldown from Peloton a Year of Stats in Review

This year as the year came to an end, Peloton sent “The Cooldown” showing stats from my use of Peloton over the past year. I stuck with it for many months and then let it slide for a few months before getting back on the bike and working out. It was a little difficult during the Christmas break too only working out a few times, but I am fully committed and expect to be back on the bike for 2022.

I hope your workouts have met your expectations for 2021 and set new expectations for 2022. Enjoy the year working out!