Saturday, December 31, 2011

Running into a New Year

Okay, so I didn't meet my goal of finishing a half marathon in less than 2 hours this past year.  No biggie, it's not for a lack of trying, and now it's something to shoot for in 2012.

I did complete my second obstacle course race in my history.  And I did it with friends!

This year I've found something even more up my alley than an obstacle course...a 5K/eating competition!  There's a relay race called the Dine N' Dash in the Chicago suburbs that has each participant run a 5K then polish off local dishes before he member of your four person team may start their leg of the race.  This one is on April 28th, is limited to only 80 participants, and should be an absolute blast.  I'm going to try my best to register and be one of the first 80 to do so. 

This past year I also managed to log over 300 miles in a calendar year for the third time in the last four years.  Not bad for a guy who doesn't really consider himself a runner.  Even better when you consider I don't ever really run between Halloween and Valentine's Day.  Many of those 300 miles came when I trained for my first half marathon.

Here are the options for this year:

RACE A: I can't start training until after my basketball coaching duties are off, so the first race on April 7th may be too early for me. I'm not crying over that one, because I shudder at the thought of a hilly race couse that is 13.1 miles long.

RACE B: The race in Champaign is the same day as the aforementioned Dine N' Dash.  Boy, I hope I'm able to be one of the fist 80 registrants!  I'm not a fan of crowded race courses.

RACE C: This one is the Saturday before my high school's graduation, which my attendance is mandatory.  Sitting in a car for 2.5 hours and then running is not the best of ideas, so add in a night's stay in Quincy.

RACE D: No conflicts with the date, small number of racers, and a relatively flat course.  Plus, I would probably be able to stay with my BFF and maybe even have a couple of other friends run the race with me.

Tom's best friend forever
If you're interested in running a half marathon or training for one with me please give me a shout in the comments!

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cashing In on eBay

I've been a member of eBay for a little over 12 years now.  I've purchase many items from what I affectionately call, "The World's Garage Sale."  When students leave items behind in my classroom I've even joked around about selling the lost items on eBay if they aren't claimed.

My purchase count is up over 200 items.  Here's a short list of the types of items that I have won in the last year alone:
  • Randy Johnson bobblehead
  • a black vest and cowboy boots for Emily & Steven's western themed wedding
  • 1,000 Chicago Cubs baseball cards to help create/finish my table project
  • a 50' ethernet cable and coupler to hook up the Roku
  • numerous baseball cards for others and my own personal collection
I usually "watch" items for a while to get a feel for their price and then I strike in the closing seconds of an auction that is undervalued. I even will search for items late at night as an attempt to "wind down" before going to bed.  Sometimes that backfires though as I can lose myself for more than hour at a time.

Anyway.  I sold my first item.  I redeemed a diamond embedded baseball card this year as part of one of  Topps 2011 promotions.  (Yes, I'm 34, and I still collect baseball cards. Get over it.)  All attempts to trade the card for a Cub were rebuffed and I decided it might fetch a fair price on eBay.  Here's my first listing: click here.

The card sold for $147.  Not a bad catch, but not near the haul that my sister claimed with a similar card.  Overall, it was a good experience and now I'm considering what other possibilities I might be able to sell on "The Bay."

Perhaps the extra unused SUP pump?  We don't really need two. 
We have 14 pairs of 3D glasses that came with our new television.  Um, yeah, that's ridiculous.
I could try selling more baseball cards.
Or perhaps I could make and sell coasters!

What? Coasters?  Yep.  I've made two sets of two so far.  The first set was a pair of the pictured Atlanta Braves as a thank you to a baseball card blogger who sent me some really cool Cubs cards for my table.  The second set was a pair of Cubs that I gave to a good friend as a Christmas present.  They are made out of the same epoxy resin that I used to make my table and are pretty nice.  The second set turned out much better as I tweaked my technique.

Who knows? Either way, I enjoy eBay and the possibilities it holds!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Don't Wake Me. I'm hibernating... in the middle of the yard!

 So, I threw on some shoes, approached the beaver, and stopped about 15 feet short.  To my dismay, it was not a beaver.  It was only a raccoon.  Probably the same $%!@#& that has been doing his business on my roof!


To my knowledge, I don't believe animals hibernate out in the open.  But as I made my way to the kitchen this morning to make Laura some peanut butter & jelly toast for breakfast I noticed a dark mass in our neighbor's backyard.

"Laura!  Come quick!  I think it's a beaver!"  

Wait, do beavers hibernate?  No matter.  I’m already thinking about buying a bag of quikrete, a 4by4 post, and this sign to post in the backyard.  

"No, let me get the binoculars," she retorted. "It's a raccoon or opossum.”

Well, yeah, I knew it wasn’t actually a beaver.  But I fervently seek out animals in locations that they would normally have no logical reason for dwelling.  For example, I was bound and determined to see a moose while in Colorado this September.  Moose can weigh up to 1,500 pounds.  That would have been awesome!

I whistled at the coon and he didn’t move as he appeared to be sleeping…  or perhaps… <gasp!> … he fell out of the 40-foot pine tree and met his untimely demise.

I wasn’t about to poke a possibly rabid raccoon to find out.  I picked up a couple of gourds from our still-developing compost pile in the back corner of the yard.  I returned to my original viewing spot and bowled a gourd and struck the raccoon in his posterior.  Nothing; no reaction.  I bowled again and missed.  I need more ammo!  With two more gourds I return and the third attempt came up empty.c Augh!  The fourth though, that was a beautiful shot.  It came in much hotter than the first one that connected and it jarred his body pretty good.  His head peaked up and he looked at me as though to say, “Why did you go and do that for?”

So, it’s alive.  Why is he sleeping in the middle of the lawn?  Is he injured?  I tried to get him to move.  I did jumping jacks and yelled at him.  I made as though I was going to bum rush him. 
Nothing.  He was not fazed.

I tossed him a corn cob and went back inside.  I had toast to make.  Laura needed to go to work and offered to make her toast!  This is not a time to play with raccoons!
Five minutes later he tried to eat the gourd nearest him.  He never approached the corn cob.  He’s now sleeping in the pine tree.  He's lucky that I'm so dedicated to toast making.