Springs Preserve

Nick and I finally made it to the Springs Preserve. I am so glad we had a voucher for two free admissions because if we had to spend money on it, I would have been even more disappointed. This place was just pretty lame overall. The only neat parts were a couple desert animal exhibits and the Nevada State Museum. We still had a good time cuz we’re awesome like that.

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Nick modeling under a palm tree
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It’s like a little bonsai cactus!
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One of the few things we don’t get to see too often is this type of cactus
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Coolest thing at the Springs Preserve was this tortoise because tortoises ROCK! Side note – this enclosure was pretty small and it was actually kind of sad. Wish he had more room to roam around.
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Channeling my inner mountain lion
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ROSES!
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Ostriches, including scrap metal sculptures, are pretty creepy.
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Whatever this was…

 

Hiking at Mount Charleston

After a great win yesterday at flag football, Angela suggested we head up to Mount Charleston to do some hiking and see what Fitz would do in the snow. After some initial hesitation on my part, due to both tiredness and laziness, I agreed it would be a good idea.

We both knew the hiking trails were close, but we had no idea it would take less than an hour to get to the trailhead we wanted. After lacing up our hiking boots, we headed out.

To our surprise, Fitz was not surprised by the snow at all. I expected a little more caution, but our dog is apparently an all-terrain model:

After seeing that he was comfortable with the compressed snow, we decided to take it up a notch and delve into some deeper drifts:

Finally, we thought we’d try to get Fitz to do some adventure wiener shots – that didn’t work out so well:

He did eventually strike a pose that I reasonably believe you could call majestic:

Our dog likes to flex as much as Nick does
Our dog likes to flex as much as Nick does

I tried to get Fitz to pose with me, but that didn’t work as well:

"C'mon Fitz, just look at the camera"
“C’mon Fitz, just look at the camera”
"Fine, don't look at the camera, I guess"
“Fine, don’t look at the camera, I guess”

We had better luck when decided to take our family picture:

Family hiking picture
Family hiking picture

We had a really great time. We spent about an hour and a half in the hiking area before heading home. It was a little muddy and I was tired so we didn’t hike the entirety of the Mary Jane Falls trails that we stopped at. We’ll definitely be going back, though, especially during the summer months!

Squat Fun!

Angela and I had another great workout today. It consisted primarily of lots and lots of squats, and I thought I’d post a sampling of what we did:

Angela Back Squat – 135 x 10

Nick Back Squat – 225 x 20

Nick Front Squat – 275 x 1

Nick Front Squat – 315 x 1

Deadlift Fun!

Angela and I deadlifted today and it was great. We took some videos and I wanted to share them! I need to work on finishing at the top a little bit better, pushing my hips through, but Angela absolutely killed it!

Angela Deadlift – 185 x 6

Nick Deadlift – 225 x 15

Nick Deadlift – 315 x 15

For this one, the first rep got cut off somehow so you only see 14. I swear I did 15, though.

Model Rocketry as a Family

One of the things that has been on our to do list for a while is to build and launch a large model rocket. We finally assembled a kit towards the end of last year, but it languished unlaunched in my office for the past few months as we prepared for our big move.

I used to launch model rockets as a kid, but the biggest engines I ever sent into the sky were C level engines from Estes. I wanted to do something bigger now that I’m an adult, so Angela and I built a bigger rocket that holds an E engine.

Today, the wind was finally right for a launch and we headed out to a nearby empty area to blast it off. Here’s our bright blue rocket (in retrospect, not a great color for tracking, but whatever):

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After checking the launch controller a final time and hooking up the ignition wires, Angela and Fitz were ready to launch:

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The rocket went really, really high. It got to the point where we couldn’t really track it anymore, although I did see it turn over at the apex.

Unfortunately, there was a malfunction and the nose cone didn’t pop so the rocket dived nose first straight into the ground about 200 yards from where it was launched.

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A cursory investigation revealed that the engine tube decoupled from its attachment points and allowed the engine to push itself up into the rocket. This caused the second “pop” to not fire on the engine, so the wadding and parachute were not ejected. Oh well – we know what to do better next time!

East Coast Trip 2014

In late September, Angela and I journeyed to the east coast of the United States, visiting Boston, Rhode Island (Newport and Narraganset), and New York City. We had a ton of fun and did a lot of cool stuff. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, however, I’ll just let them tell the story:

Boston

Rhode Island

Also, a wedding happened here, but I’m not about to steal someone else’s thunder by posting wedding pictures.

New York City

Had a blast in NYC. Loved everything.

Delmonico Steakhouse at The Palazzo

Angela and I had the pleasure of dining at Delmonico Steakhouse tonight at The Palazzo here in Las Vegas. We didn’t manage to snag any pictures, but I wanted to give a brief review of the food and our dining experience.

We arrived around 5:15 PM to find we were one of only three parties dining at the time. We were seated as soon as we checked in and promptly greeted by our server who quickly fetched us ice water and menus. Bread (which was actually deliciously buttery popovers) arrived shortly thereafter. We decided on our meal quickly, having looked at the menu prior to leaving home, and our waiter was present to take our order as soon as we put our menus down.

We ordered the Caesar salad for 2 (prepared table side) and the Chateaubriand for 2 (cut table side), which comes with sides of asparagus and mashed potatoes. After nibbling on our popovers for a few minutes, we noticed our waiter roll a mobile preparation station up to our table. Then, to my amazement, he started to make Caesar salad dressing from the ingredients right in front of us. It was a delightful little experience, and he chatted with us for a little bit as he finished things up. The salad tasted great – super fresh and flavorful, but not too heavy. It came with thin Parmesan toast, which was super tasty.

After we finished our salads, up rolls another mobile prep station, this time with a lit burner. Our waiter appears with a pan containing our steak and asparagus, as well as a bowl of freshly prepared mashed potatoes. He moved the steak from the burner to the cutting board and sliced it in half to allow us to check the temperature. It was perfectly medium rare, so he moved the asparagus to marinate in steak juices while cutting our meat into six approximately equal pieces. Our food was then distributed evenly on to two plates and served to us simultaneously (another waiter appeared out of nowhere just when he was needed).

Everything was delicious. The steak had a wonderful char that sealed the juices in and made every bite a delight. The seasoning was bold but not overwhelming. The asparagus was cooked perfectly and tasted great and the mashed potatoes were out of this world tasty. It was a wonderful entree, and the portion was just right for me.

Because we were already splurging, Angela and I each decided to get desert. She chose the key lime pie and I selected a chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. As an accompaniment, we ordered a French press full of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. My cake was everything I love in a desert – chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate with just a hint of fruit. Angela’s key lime pie was “delicious.” The coffee was worth the ridiculous amount they were charging for it – I drank it black so as not to spoil the delightful aroma and full flavor of the brew.

The service was top notch throughout our meal, and we were wholly impressed by the experience as a whole. I can’t say we’ll definitely go back (too many awesome restaurants in this city to choose from) but I would never hesitate to recommend it as a place to splurge on a bunch of amazing food and a great overall experience.

Man Made Food: Potato and Egg Skillet

Angela isn’t around to cook for me right now, so I’ve been trying my best to cook food that tastes good. Luckily, she took the time to walk me through a few things before she left. I’ve been putting my own twist on her recipes, but the majority of credit definitely goes to her.

This recipe is easy to make and is super delicious and nutritious. If you suck at cooking (like I kind of do), this is a meal even you can make.

Ingredients

This recipe is fairly basic. There are four main ingredients and five spices / herbs / seasonings. You also need two different oils for cooking.

Ingredients and Equipment
Gather your ingredients and equipment.
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 red potatoes
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 bell pepper – red or orange
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Parsley
  • Granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil or Pam

I’d like to point out the granulated garlic. I didn’t even know this existed until I found it in our pantry. I’m really happy with it and would recommend it over garlic powder or salt.

In terms of equipment, you don’t need anything fancy: a spatula, a frying pan, a high-sided pan (with lid), and a bowl to dump everything in at the end.

Steps

Put both pans on the stove. Clean and dice the potatoes. When you’re almost done dicing the potatoes, turn the high sided pan on relatively high heat (7/10).

Turn the heat on the high-sided pan when you get done slicing (but not dicing) the potatoes
Turn the heat on the high-sided pan when you get done slicing (but not dicing) the potatoes

Put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the pan – enough to mostly cover the bottom when you swirl the pan – and cover it. Finish dicing the potatoes. Once you’re done dicing, the pan and oil should be hot. To test, put a single potato piece in the oily part of the pan. It should sizzle.

Look at that sizzle!
Look at that sizzle!

Now, dump all the potatoes in the pan and season them. I don’t measure anything, I just use some of each of the things that are listed above. I find that experimenting until you find what works for you is best. Surprisingly, even though I’m not a fan of spicy food in general, I find myself dumping a ton of red pepper flakes in because I like the kick it gives the skillet.

After seasoning, put the lid on
After seasoning, put the lid on

After seasoning, cover the pan (so stuff doesn’t fly out) and then do that chef-y thing where they move the pan around in a vertical arc to get stuff to mix. It took me a while to figure it out, I’m sad to say, but it worked eventually. Keep the pan on high heat but make sure you do the aforementioned chef-y thing every 90 seconds or so to prevent burning.

Now, clean and dice the peppers and scallions. This should be a lot faster than the potatoes.

If you can, cut the pepper like this because it means you're a badass
If you can, cut the pepper like this because it means you’re a badass

When done, put them in the pan with the potatoes and mix them. Turn the heat down (4/10) and let it simmer. You only need to mix every 120 seconds or so at this point.

Mmm... veggies!
Mmm… veggies!
Combine the potatoes and veggies so you get a good mix
Combine the potatoes and veggies so you get a good mix

Once the mixture has cooked for 5-6 minutes, turn the other pan on (6/10) and wait a minute, then spray with canola oil or Pam. Crack five eggs into the pan and let them get mostly done on the bottom. Don’t forget to keep mixing the potatoes. Once the bottom half of the eggs is all the way white, mix the potatoes one last time, turn off the heat to both pans, and flip the eggs.

Flip those eggs after turning the heat off on both pans (thanks for the trick Angela!)
Flip those eggs after turning the heat off on both pans (thanks for the trick Angela!)

Put the potato mixture in a big bowl and, after two minutes, put the eggs on top. The yolks should still be somewhat soft so you can mix it all together. If you’re feeling super daring, mix in 1/2 (or a full) avocado to add some extra richness. Here’s what my bowl ‘o skillet looks like:

Just missing the eggs!
Just missing the eggs!
The skillet is complete and ready to eat
The skillet is complete and ready to eat

I’d love to know if you try it! If I can make it, anyone can. It takes me about 20 minutes total now that I can chop everything reasonably fast, and I love the way it tastes.

Journey to the Top of Lone Mountain

Fitz looks over the Las Vegas vallery

A few days ago, Fitz and I were at the local dog park. Fitz is finally starting to get used to the other dogs and was being, somewhat surprisingly, polite to the yorkie and terrier mix that were in the pen with us.

I was talking to the other owners and one mentioned that he likes to take his dog hiking and he had recently taken her to the top of Lone Mountain. I asked if she needed any help along the way and he confirmed that, due to the amount of rock scrambling, he needed to lift her up at times on the way to the top.

In my mind a challenge was born. I decided Fitz was getting to the top of the mountain without any help.

Yesterday, Fitz and I headed out as soon as we woke up. The sun was still low as we arrived at the trail head. I could tell Fitz was excited about the journey ahead. I decided I’d be happy if he made it halfway before getting tired. I knew this was something unusual for our little dachshund.

You can imagine my surprise as we reached the halfway point and Fitz showed no signs of slowing. He was ready to head for the peak. He let me know by continually bursting onwards and upwards.

In what seemed like no time at all we reached the summit. I’m proud to say that Fitz received no help as we headed to the top. He used his powerful little legs to hop on rocks and leap over crevices.

Fitz gazes upon his domain with pleasure

The way down was only slightly more eventful because we encountered another owner and dog. Fitz got into a barking match with the other canine, presumably discussing ownership of the turf.

Alas, Fitz’s energy ran low as we reached the car. After drinking almost a full liter of water, he fell soundly asleep on the passenger seat and stayed asleep almost the entirety of the day.

NFL Picks – 2013, Final Tally

A long time ago, I made the last post about our picks for each week. We continued to pick the games, but I stopped posting them here on the blog because of a lack of time.

With the super bowl less than a week away at this point, I figured it was time to loop back and post the final results. Here’s a complete breakdown of our record by week. Just as a reminder, we started in Week 2 and didn’t pick the Thursday game that week. Also, for some reason, we stopped picking the tiebreaker starting in Week 14, so that doesn’t change after that point.

Week Angela Nick Angela (Total) Nick (Total) Tiebreaker (Angela – Nick)
2 8-7 12-3 0-0 0-0 0-0
3 9-7 6-10 8-7 12-3 1-0
4 9-6 8-7 17-14 18-13 1-1
5 8-6 7-7 26-20 26-20 2-1
6 10-5 11-4 34-26 33-27 3-1
7 9-6 7-8 44-31 44-31 4-1
8 10-3 10-3 53-37 51-39 4-2
9 7-6 8-5 63-40 61-42 4-3
10 6-8 5-9 70-46 69-47 4-4
11 11-4 10-5 76-54 74-56 5-4
12 5-9 7-7 87-58 84-61 5-5
13 10-6 11-5 92-67 91-68 6-5
14 14-2 14-2 102-73 102-73 7-5
15 10-6 7-9 116-75 116-75 7-6
16 8-8 9-7 126-81 123-84 7-6
17 14-2 12-4 134-89 132-91 7-6
Final     148-91 (0.619) 144-95 (0.602) 7-6

As you can see, we both made pretty good picks throughout the season. Angela beat me out in the end, though, and she deserved it. She did her homework, watched the injury report, and picked her teams strategically. I tried to stay on top of things, but Angela always knew something I didn’t.

The Winnings

Angela and I made a small bet, but by the time the season was over I’d already bought my “prize” for myself as a birthday present. Angela won, but I’ll admit I welched on the bet. Instead of cleaning the apartment on my hands and knees, I purchased a voucher for house cleaning so that I could spend time with my wife rather than scrubbing floors and walls.

Overall, this was fun. It was kind of a pain in the ass to keep track of things manually (plus we could both see the other person’s picks depending on who picked first) so next year I’m going to propose we use one of the pick’em games on NFL.com or ESPN.com.

My hat is off to my beautiful wife for being a better game picker than I am. We’ll see who wins next year!