Valentine's Day

Katie and I aren't huge fans of overhyped, overcommercialized Valentine's Day but we never turn down an opportunity for a special date night. Instead of going out to a restaurant, we always stay in and cook a special meal for Valentine's Day. Usually we choose a specific culinary ingredient or theme and we alternate who takes the lead each year. This year it was my turn and I chose ginger as the common ingredient since Katie is a little--OK, a LOT--crazy about ginger.

Katie had been gone much of the day Saturday, giving me ample opportunity to prepare dishes in advance in secret. When Sunday rolled around, the day shaped up to be so beautiful that we decided to forgo dinner in lieu of an all-afternoon late lunch outdoors on our patio. The weather was in the mid-60s and very sunny, great for sitting out on our deck chairs and enjoying some Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2008.

The first course was just as light and refreshing as the sauv blanc: cold lychees marinated in fresh lime juice and ginger. Zesty and delicious! Next up was the first of two soups: pear and ginger bisque. This was a carrot and sweet potato soup base with big chunks of Bosc pear and butternut squash for texture. It was delicious hot but, as we later found out, even better cold.

The next soup was similar in that it too had a base of carrot and sweet potato. However, its flavor profile was very different: Indian-spiced carrot-ginger soup. This had a very smooth texture and spicy overtones. I served it hot with a dollop of plain yogurt to complement the spice.

That was enough soup for a while so the next course was stir fried broccoli, tofu, and butternut squash in a light ginger-garlic butter. Technically the recipe only called for me to produce ginger butter, but who would go for ginger only when you have the option to add garlic?!

Last but not least was the piece de resistance. With the wine finished and the temperature cooling outside, we headed into the warm indoors for . . . homemade dark chocolate and ginger ice cream! So good! Most of the meal made for days and days of leftovers, but the ice cream was gone before that evening's Olympics broadcast had ended.

This was the our first Valentine's Day together in three years and I think it's safe to say that we both enjoyed it tremendously.

Pics are in my facebook album.


Sports Season Transition

There were two reasons to be depressed following the Super Bowl this year. The first was that Peyton Manning failed to win a second league championship. Colts special teams were poor and Manning couldn't get any help at all from his receivers. Kudos to New Orleans, which played a great game of ballsy calls and good execution.

The second reason to be depressed is simply that the football season is now over. Sure there will be some buzz around scouting combines, spring training, and the NFL draft, but things really won't pick back up again until August. This makes Bryan sad--probably more productive, but sad.

Fortunately there are some silver linings. For instance, the end of football always marks the beginning of college baseball. The mighty Rice Owls opened the season poorly, being swept this weekend by Stanford, but it's better to stumble at this point of the season than in the post-season!

Another silver lining is the start of the beach volleyball season. In colder climates, beach volleyball might not be possible for months, but here in Houston this weekend offered the perfect opportunity for it. Saturday was sunny with a high in the low 70s. Several of us met early in the morning and played for hours. Some rust had to be shaken off--and it didn't help that some of us had been out until 4 AM the night before--but it was a lot of fun. Welcome back, Spring weather!

In the meantime I'm continuing to enjoy the Winter Olympics. I've never cheered so hard for sports I understand so little! Saturday night, at a friend's birthday party, we all found ourself huddled around the TV and cheering on the US Curling team, not to mention our speed skaters. The USA is still in first place according to my weighted medal scoring system, with a score of 66, but Germany is breathing down our neck with 56. Here's hoping for an exciting final week!


Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics have begun and I once again find myself captivated by numerous sports that I don't understand at all. There's just something so fundamentally interesting about assembling the best in the world for fair competition, no matter the sport or event.

Relative to the Winter Olympics of 2006, these games have more meaning for me. Of course I cheer for the USA, as I always have, and for Italy, as I always have. But now I also cheer for Switzerland and a host of other countries where I now have dear friends, classmates, and colleagues. For example, when the Czech Republic won gold, I smiled broadly as I knew my Czech friends would be celebrating intensely--especially as seriously as they take winter sports!

As there is still debate among countries about the proper way to "score" Olympic medal counts (See my post from the Summer Olympics of 2008.), I continue to use my weighted medal system (See my follow-up post from the Summer Olympics of 2008.) in which golds receive 5 points, silvers 3 points, and bronzes 1 point. By this account, the current standings are:

USA and Germany tied for first (14 points), France (11), South Korea (8), Canada (6), Czech Republic, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Slovakia tied (5), Italy (2)

Note that if the Czech Republic and Slovakia are combined (as I know my good friend, Martin Najzr, would want), they're in fourth place, just behind France. Russia is conspicuously missing from the list so far, but I know our comrades will pick up the pace soon.

Let the Games begin; I look forward to following the events over the next two weeks!



A good friend of mine, fitness/nutrition enthusiast, and national champion Division I-A college athlete runs an awesome blog called The SHOP. I encourage anyone interested in fitness and/or nutrition to check it out. Occasionally he allows guest columnists. After a mutual acquaintance posted a recap of his half marathon experience, I was compelled to post a more detailed recap of my own competitive running experience--the Texas Med Center 5k of two weekends ago.

What began as a simple recap, though, quickly became more of a complete history of my involvement in running for training and competition purposes. You can see the full post on The Shop's most recent blog entry:


2010 Goal Progress

With January behind us, it's time to reflect on my progress toward meeting this year's new year's resolutions.

So far my weekly relationship goals have been met; I'm connecting with Katie, friends, family, mentors, and mentees (manatees?) as much as I set out to. My exercise and activity goals have largely been met, although my progress toward body composition goals isn't advancing as quickly as I would like. This may be related to my caloric intake, which is still too high.

Professionally things are moving along. Although I've only closed 25% of our seed round of financing, many additional parties have expressed interest and I am confident that we'll get it done by the end of March. In the meantime we're also progressing toward our Series A financing, which is exciting, and our first pilot installations have been a huge success. By now we have reduced CO2 emissions by only 0.01 tons, but it's a start!

One major goal checked off this month actually occurred on Saturday. I set a new year's resolution to run a 5k race in under 22:00. This time was chosen somewhat arbitrarily. I've only run one 5k race before, almost three years ago, and I came in at 24:28. 22:00 therefore seemed like a stretch goal worth training for.

I haven't done any 5k-specific training other than running a timed 5k a few times a year but I do run greater distances at lower speeds with more frequency. This seems to have helped as I ran a timed 5k last week as a warm-up for this weekend's race and I came in at 22:35. I'm about 15 pounds lighter than I was at my last race and I'm sure that helps!

Saturday Katie and I entered the Texas Med 5k, which kicked off at 8:30 AM. The race route wound its way through the [very flat] Texas Medical Center and proceeds went to the Harris County Hospital District. I had been very excited about this race as it would be my first race running barefoot. My confidence wavered, though, when we woke up to a rainy 35 degrees F! Was this really the environment in which I wanted to debut my barefoot running? Maybe I should wear shoes and save the Vibrams for the next race . . .

I steeled myself, though, donned my Swiss cold weather running gear, put on my Vibrams, and headed to the race. To make a long story short, I blew through my 22:00 goal and finished at 21:43, #46 of 1,000+ runners. #1 came in at 15:21 so I still have quite a ways to go if I want to place! It took a lot out of me as I dry heaved at the finish line, but it felt great to nail one of my 2010 goals so early. I'll run at least one more 5k this year and will see how much I can improve on that time--it would be great to get down into the teens!

Katie also came in significantly under her goal time so we celebrated together at the finish line. They had hot food, cold beer, and live blues for us at the after-race party, but we didn't stick around long--too cold!

Now, with one goal checked off, it's time to redouble efforts in pursuit of the others!