Pregnancy Stuff, MN Trip, Dick’s Garage

I think Lauren’s pregnancy is beginning to rub off on me. With Lauren often craving ice cream and greasy foods from Sonic, I am quick to jump on board with her plans. Not to say we haven’t been eating healthy things too. Lauren made our weeknight meal-plan more friendly this week by pre-slicing ingredients for four different meals. Now I can just get home from work and throw some things in a pot and there’s no excuse for not eating a home-cooked meal.

Since Lauren can’t drink, I’ve been trying my best to limit my intake of “fun” alcohol around her. The Rosoks brought us (me) 12 cans of Surly from Minnesota, but I’ve been nursing those while drinking unexciting things like Bud Light, or something Lauren wouldn’t like anyway, like very potent Scotch, when in her presence. I have also been getting very tired much earlier. Last night I was ready for bed around 9 and sleeping by 10.

Lauren bought me a book for fathers-to-be, and what men should know about pregnancy. I am about halfway through and learning some interesting facts. That part about drinking around Lauren was actually briefly mentioned in the book.

People have been asking about baby registries. As of right now we do not have one. But the plan is to go out Saturday and make one. I will relay that information here when we have registries created.

The trip back to the Twin Cities is taking shape, with plans for a BBQ to be held at Walsh and Sarah’s house on Saturday, April 26. In the past, we’ve tried to see all our friends at different times and places, so this big BBQ bash should make our trip more relaxing and manageable. And we’ll still get to see most everyone. I’m very excited to get back out to Target Field as well. The Tigers, Dodgers, and Orioles are all in town while we’re back (hence the dates the trip was scheduled). While the team may suck as bad as ever, I am foaming at the mouth looking at all the new foods being offered. Aside from those things, I’m sure we’ll kick back and visit some of our favorite restaurants, bars, and hangouts.

I’ve been working on building the new and improved Dick’s Garage website. And today I launched the Dick’s Garage Facebook page. Go and Like it!

Baby On Board!

As you probably heard from me or Lauren, or saw on Facebook, we are excited to announce that sometime around August 17 the family will be expanding! As of the 20-week check-in Wednesday morning all was looking very good with the baby’s development.

So yes, lots of excitement! We need to find a new vehicle, we need to prepare a nursery, we need to get Baxter to stop freaking out around babies, and we need to start birthing classes.

Even though we can find out now, we will not be learning the gender until the baby is born. Lauren is big on gender-neutral baby things anyway, and as we all know I can’t keep my mouth shut about anything, so why go finding out?

It was a difficult journey to get to this point, dealing with an array of infertility issues on my side dating back to mid-2012. (I’d be happy to personally discuss with anyone who’s interested in knowing the full story, but I’ll keep the details off the blog.)

Baby3

I avoided putting this one on Facebook just to avoid the confusion of us having twins.

Things That Happened

You asked for it—more frequent updates!  Unfortunately, there’s not a lot new to report this week. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the upcoming baseball season, working, raking leaves, and hosting the karaoke league. We’ve also been busy getting the house ready for the arrival of our guests, the Rosoks. Tim, Kate, and Annika will be in town for a few days, marking the third straight year they will have been in Austin for Opening Day of the baseball season, which also should mark the third straight year of me being intoxicated by mid-afternoon on a Monday!

Aside from that, here are some other recent happenings.

  • I tried my hand at some cooking last weekend, preparing a large vat of jambalaya, a Cajun rice-based dish. It was edible but slightly overcooked. Still, not terrible for my first ever attempt at cooking Cajun food.
  • I have sold a couple household items on Craigslist this week, hoping to earn some extra spending cash for our upcoming return to Minnesota. The tickets have been booked and we’ll be in town for 8 days, April 25 – May 3.
  • We made a visit to Ikea on Sunday for some new household items including a new TV stand, a chair, and a coffee table. As usual, Ikea on Sunday is nothing short of mayhem. I managed to put together the items this week after work.
  • Several co-workers and I witnessed a strangely low-flying aircraft overhead on the way to Happy Hour on Wednesday. Turned out it was a government test flight of some sort. I thought for sure we were about to see a devastating aerial disaster.
  • It hasn’t been all fun and games. We recently witnessed a car accident right in front of us on Mopac where the driver for no apparent reason spun out of control at a high rate of speed, doing a complete circle on the highway at 70+mph and crashing into a barricade. We also witnessed a shouting match between a customer and the chef at a restaurant called Lucky Dog. Well that customer was no lucky dog, let me tell you. He ordered his au jus on the side but the chef put it on the sandwich anyway. The Hispanic customer and the Asian chef began calling each other ethnic slurs and I thought a shoot-out might ensue.
  • Turns out simply resting my legs for a while has seemed to cure what ailed them. I tried a run for the first time in 10 days and my legs felt refreshed and new. Regardless I will use any excuse I can tell myself to avoid unnecessary running on concrete, it’s just not much fun.

Yeah it’s been a dull week. Here’s a recent picture of us.

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Ryan’s Pessimistic 2014 MLB Predictions

Minnesota Twins Preview
Baseball is nearly back!  Opening Day is always one of my most anticipated days of the year, regardless of how bleak the Twins’ chances look.  And this year, I think things look very, very bleak.  Just how bad?  Wait until you see my prediction for their final record.

Last year’s team featured historically bad hitting and historically bad pitching.  The front office addressed one of those two areas, upgrading the starting pitching.  Offensively, they will need virtually every single player to either a) bounce back after a down year (Plouffe, among others), b) have a break-out season (Hicks, Arcia, etc.), or c) not get injured (Mauer, Willingham, etc.).

I just participated in two fantasy drafts and of the 250 or so players drafted, really only Mauer and Glen Perkins provide any useful fantasy value. Maybe Dozier in a deep league. That’s where it ends. Roughly 1% of the players drafted are Twins.

Here’s my absolute best-case scenario for 2014.

The pitching is improved and is keeping the opponents off the board in the early innings, allowing the bats to relax a little and possibly jump out to a few early leads before turning it over to a great bullpen. Maybe a lot of 3-2 or 4-3 wins.  Mauer is healthy and thriving at first base, not missing substantial time.  Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer make their debuts and suddenly fielding a competitive team in 2015 seems very realistic.  The team goes 81-81, finishing third in the division.

But here’s the likelier scenario as I see things playing out.

The offense is shut out often in April, thereby adding stress to the pitching staff which feels it needs to be perfect in order to win a game. Lots of ugly 9-1, 7-0 types of losses early on, burying the team in the standings.  The injury bug bites key veterans and a carrousel of AAA players are forced into the lineup, striking out at a historic pace. Players with marginal value such as Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, Brian Duensing, and Jared Burton are traded off for prospects. The team at least earns the #1 pick in the 2015 draft.

I am really worried that this team is going to set some records for offensive futility this year. I think they’ll rank last in the AL in runs scored and home runs, and first in strikeouts. Last year’s team scored the second-fewest runs in team history, and then they proceeded to trade away Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit (2nd and 5th on the team in OPS in ’13), and essentially replaced them with even more inferior hitters.

My Twins prediction for 2014… 57-105.

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And now for my overall predictions…

AL East W L GB NL East W L GB
Boston 99 63 - Washington 92 70 -
Tampa Bay* 92 70 7 Atlanta* 90 72 2
NY Yankees* 91 71 8 NY Mets 80 82 12
Baltimore 83 79 16 Philadelphia 73 89 19
Toronto 76 86 23 Miami 63 99 29
AL Central W L GB NL Central W L GB
Detroit 89 73 - St Louis 104 58 -
Cleveland 80 82 9 Milwaukee 89 73 15
Chicago WS 77 85 12 Cincinnati 84 78 20
Kansas City 73 89 16 Pittsburgh 77 85 27
Minnesota 57 105 32 Chicago Cubs 60 102 44
AL West W L GB NL West W L GB
Texas 95 67 - LA Dodgers 95 67 -
LA Angels 87 75 8 Arizona* 92 70 3
Oakland 83 79 12 San Diego 81 81 14
Seattle 72 90 23 San Francisco 78 84 17
Houston 64 98 31 Colorado 72 90 23

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay def. NY Yankees
NL Wild Card: Arizona def. Atlanta

ALDS: Boston def. Tampa Bay, Texas def. Detroit
NLDS: St Louis def. Arizona, LA Dodgers def. Washington

ALCS: Boston def. Texas
NLCS: St Louis def. LA Dodgers

World Series: St. Louis def. Boston

AL MVP: Mike Trout, LAA
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, ARI

AL CY: Chris Sale, CHW
NL CY: Jose Fernandez, MIA

AL MGR: Joe Maddon, TB
NL MGR: Mike Matheny, STL

AL ROY: Yordano Ventura, KC
NL ROY: Billy Hamilton, CIN

Jimmy Kimmel, Dead Legs, Golf, Beagle

I had only seen Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show on ABC a handful of times ever, but when I heard he was bringing the show to Austin again this year during SXSW I decided it would be fun to be in attendance.

The line for Kimmel grows longer.

The line for Kimmel grows longer.

Lauren was obviously my original guest to bring along, but when she was stricken with a massive headache on Wednesday, I had to find a replacement or I couldn’t go, as all members of the party needed be present to attend. I scrambled to find someone to come along, and thankfully my Callaway co-worker Allison was able to take the afternoon off and join me.

While in line, I recognized a familiar face, that of comedian Don Barris. I yelled “Don! Don!” and he seemed very surprised to be recognized. Few would recognize him unless you’d seen the movie “Windy City Heat” which aired on Comedy Central about 10 years ago. To this day it remains the single funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I own the DVD and would be very happy to lend it to anyone. Don and I had a friendly chat. He serves as Jimmy Kimmel’s warm-up comedian on the show, helping to get the crowd riled up and in a laughing mood.

Me with Windy City Heat's Don Barris.

Me with Windy City Heat’s Don Barris.

Once we finally got inside after over two hours of waiting, we waited another hour for the show to start filming. Jimmy eventually came out and the cameras started rolling, and I did my best to be visible to the TV audience. Guests for the show were actor Robert Duvall (of Godfather fame), TV foodie Rachael Ray, and the music stylings of Damon Albarn, the man behind Gorillaz and Blur.

Can you find me? 7th row center, about 5 seats in.

Can you find me? 7th row center, about 5 seats in.

Just like my experience at Late Night with David Letterman in 2011, I watched the show again once I got home and paused many times trying to pick myself out of the crowd. The best shot of me was actually the back of my head during the musical performance. Look just to the left of the ABC logo. Yep, that’s my hair and shirt. Allison can technically also be seen but she is much shorter than me and is mostly covered by the ABC logo.

My head can be seen just to the left of the ABC logo in the bottom right corner of the screen.

My head can be seen just to the left of the ABC logo in the bottom right corner of the screen.

In other news, everyone at work converted to standing desks this week. And by “converted” I mean the IT guy went to Home Depot and bought a bunch of cinder blocks and we helped each other lift our desks on top of stacks of blocks. A bit hacky, perhaps, but everyone is excited to change things up a bit. Here’s a look at my new work station/Minnesota Twins shrine.

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Here are some other notes of interest this week…

  • I went to Top Golf on Tuesday with colleagues from the office and some execs from the Carlsbad office, including CMO Harry, who I spoke with about starting my own golf-related web series. I’m beginning to brainstorm some ideas.
  • Mark April 26-May 4 on your calendars as highly likely dates for our return to Minneapolis. We hope to make one big trip back before summer, in the midst of Lauren’s work travels.
  • There has suddenly been some renewed buzz in the 1000 Question Interview series Jason LaPlant and I conducted around 2007 or so. And by “renewed buzz” I mean Jason and I have begun preliminary talks about doing a similar project all these years later.
  • I am thinking of quitting running outside for exercise. First of all, I really hate doing it, although I do feel good about myself afterwards. Secondly, my legs/ankles/feet have been in severe discomfort for a very long time, probably half a year or longer. I won’t go so far as to say my legs are in pain, but they feel dead, or very heavy, tight and achy the minute I start running and it doesn’t go away. And yes I have tried resting, stretching, hydrating, etc. I think swimming might be my next thing, unless someone has some excellent advice for me.
  • A final thought to leave you with today, for no particular reason… a beagle in a box.

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Nest Installed After Scare; Dog Stories

The thermostat of tomorrow... today!

The thermostat of tomorrow… today!

Lauren and I recently purchased a Nest thermostat after hearing rave reviews from our friends. Basically it is the most hi-tech thermostat thingy that there is. It is like a little circular computer with big energy-saving capabilities once it learns your daily schedule. In the summer our AC had been running around the clock, costing us hundreds. Now, Nest will learn our schedule and turn down the AC when it knows we’re at work. The temp can also be controlled by our phones.

It was a $250 unit, but we receive a check for $85 from the city of Austin for participating in their summer “rush hour” program which means the city can regulate our house’s temperature during peak hours when huge amounts of power are being used. We can always go in and override their settings if we don’t like it.

So, last night while Lauren was away, I set out to install the Nest. The directions were extremely simple. Make sure the power is off, take off the old thermostat, hook in the new one, turn power back on, and Nest does the rest. Only problem was, I assumed the power I wanted to turn off was in the living room since that’s where the thermostat was. In reality, I needed to turn off the power for the HVAC in the upstairs closet. So there I was, working with live wires in hand.

Needless to say, something went terribly wrong. The Nest was hooked up but not functioning as expected. After a lengthy but helpful call to Customer Service (which oddly is just down the road right here in Austin) it was determined that I had blown a fuse. This morning I went out and purchased a fuse for mere pennies and now all works great!

In other news, why does Baxter want to destroy his most favorite item–his comfy bed? “Oh look, my bed is full of stuffing! I will take it all out! I don’t know very many things.” Well, a quick search will tell you that he is either bored, suffering from some sort of anxiety due to a change in his environment, or just has a ton of pent-up energy. I would wager to bet that it’s all three with this mutt—he’s bored out of his mind, it’s rainy and we can’t go on a walk, and Lauren has been disappearing for streak of days at a time due to work and he’s anxious.

But still… can’t you find something you hate, like the window blinds that prevent you from staring at the cat across the street to destroy instead of your beloved bed?!

Or maybe he’s still sulking from when I kicked the volleyball directly into his little hound face on Wednesday morning. God knows I’d be crying.

Recent Goings-On

Lauren is on the road again for work, this time venturing off to Anaheim for the National Products Expo West for five nights. Before she left, she cooked up 3 pounds of braised beef for me to make meals with. Such a sweet dear, that one! While she’s away, here’s what I intend to do: NOTHING. After the necessities like going to work, making sure the dog is alive, and basic household maintenance, I want to come home, sit my ass on the couch, and not do anything. So tonight, that’s what I’m doing! I’ve got a bottle of Appleton Estate rum, the Twins spring training game on MLB.TV, and Mr. Hound at my side. And that’s all I intend to do tonight and it should be glorious.

Several local friends–bless their little hearts–have tried to invite me to do things with them, assuming I must be lonely being home alone for nearly a week. Well, one friend has been PLEADING IN ALL CAPS for me to go Sixth Street-ing with him Friday night, not very interested in taking ‘no’ for an answer. I thank them all for their thoughtfulness, but… this chilling at home thing is nice for now.

This week at work I’ve tried something new–standing. I put a file cabinet on top of my desk and am standing instead of sitting all day. When I’m busy and doing lots of work I barely even notice. But when I’m not super busy and I focus on the fact that I’m standing, I find myself getting tired. I don’t have a tall enough chair to sit at my new desk and see the computer, so I’m left standing. I don’t know if there’s much of a benefit to it but two other co-workers have been doing it for months and have given rave reviews.

This week at the office has also been a little unusual. Not only am I already temporarily bumped up a level for three months while my manager is on maternity leave, but every other person at the office who I could potentially report to has been out at a conference so far this week. I found myself signing off on projects and helping train a new employee. It’s the first time I’ve had any sort of supervising power since supervising dozens of amusement park employees in 2005!

The car has been acting up again with a jerking feeling when shifting gears. I figured the transmission was about to go to crap, so I took it to a local shop for repair today. Fearing the worst, I was somewhat relieved when they called and said they couldn’t replicate the problem after driving around for 10-15 miles. So I picked it up and am back to where I started. I also drove it around for 10-15 miles tonight with no symptoms. Who knows what’s wrong.

I recently completed watching the entire series Louie on Netflix. I have recently been on a big Louis C.K. kick, watching various stand-up acts and his entire 40-episode series. That is the one stand-up comedian I would pay to see if he comes to Austin.

Speaking of comedians in Austin, I scored two free tickets to a taping of the Jimmy Kimmel late-night show on ABC, which is filming on-location in Austin next week during SXSW! So, be sure to watch the Kimmel show that night for me and Lauren on TV. Excited to see who the guests will be.

Finally, I have built most of the first of two farmhouse benches for the farmhouse table. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

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