Archive for the ‘ steph ’ Category

country music marathon and 35,000 little cups

I suppose after 11 years of living in Nashville it’s about time I participated in the Country Music Marathon.

No, I did not run it.

But I had two rockin’ friends that DID run it and ran it in style. Congrats to Josh and Dave (first marathon props!!) for taking on the hills of Music City! And to everyone else who braved the pavement, you’re awesome.

Me? I worked the water table. Steph, Jess, Kristen and a handful of others from Grace Community manned the Servpro Hydration Station at mile 3. Mile 3 is far enough in to a marathon where people are starting to get thirsty, but not so far in that those who ultimately don’t make it have given up yet. Plus it’s also close enough to the start line that people are still pretty well grouped together and come at you en masse – 35,000 people en masse. Basically this means in the course of a 30 minute period you witness the entire range of human emotions, from energized enthusiasm to homicidal desperation.

It was our job to serve all these people – both the enthused and the desperate – water and Cytomax, a drink commonly known amongst seasoned runners as foul-tasting rip-off Gatorade. This was a difficult job.

Things started off with a bang. The Kenyans blew by us, sprinting through the water station hardly batting an eye. The rest of the leaders followed closely behind, and we got into the rhythm of grabbing handfuls of Cytomax cups from our beautifully stacked hydration table. Let’s pause a moment and recognize the architectural wonder that was our hydration table. They said it couldn’t be done, but we successfully stacked tiny cups of Cytomax four levels high on a folding table, giving us about 750 pre-filled cups at the start of the race. Pretty sure everyone else topped out at three levels.

Things started to get interesting about 20 minutes in when it was clear our slow pace at resupplying the table was drastically under-performing our ability to quickly give out Cytomax cups. As we cleared the last layer of pre-filled cups we decided to cut our losses and redirect energy towards re-filling.

As a side note, runners of Nashville, I’m not sure if you knew this or not, but Cytomax is created by mixing measured portions of Cytomax powder in giant coolers of water. The water is sourced via garden hose from nearby fire hydrants. The resulting Cytomax solution is dumped into a 45 gallon garbage barrel lined with two heavy-duty black garbage bags and secured with a hefty portion of duct tape. I cannot comment as to whether this is a sterile process or not.

At 40 minutes into the race we were at a complete loss. A long-lost lecture in macroeconomics came to mind, recalling that some professor somewhere told us that supply equals demand. Except this was false, as our supply had reached zero and demand had skyrocketed through the roof. I’m sure the professor had addressed this situation as well, but it was simply impossible to keep up.

The efforts of our team changed dramatically at that point. At the beginning of the race we had three people giving out Cytomax and one person refilling. A little later we switched to two people refilling and two handing out cups. But now we had three people refilling and one person frantically waving their arms in front of our table yelling, “We’re empty! We’re empty! Keep going up! Keep going up!”

“Keep going up” is the last thing a homicidal desperate person wants to hear after they’ve run a mile uphill and can see that the incline only continues in front of them for the foreseeable future.

We all took turns at delivering the depressing news to the runners, but Steph’s performance was the most interesting. It went something like this:

“We’re empty! We’re empty! Keep going up!”

The runners keep coming at her.

“We don’t have anything! We’re completely out! Keep moving!

They keep coming. At this point she tries to have a logical discussion.

“I PROMISE they have more up ahead of you!! Don’t stop. Our cups are empty!”

They keep coming.


We call this an exercise in futility. This continued for about an hour and a half. She may have been hitting runners, I’m not sure.

And they never did listen. They would grab empty cups off our table and then give us a scowling, disgusted look as they threw the cup at the curb. We had considered shouting demeaning insults at them. Things like, “Well if you had run a little faster you wouldn’t be in this predicament would you?” Or, “Maybe you should have thought about the fact you were thirsty before you took off sprinting down the street!”  But let’s face it, they were the ones actually out there running the race, and that’s something in itself.

At one point a wide-eyed middle-aged lady came up to us speaking in a panicked British accent, “Can you tell me where the bathrooms are?” And I think Steph responded, “They’re just up the hill a little bit, about half a block more.” And she said, “I can’t wait that long.” And Steph said, “You’re almost there – it’s literally just a few feet more.” And she said, “I can’t do it. I have already got the poop in my pants.” And, well, the conversation went downhill from there. What do you do with that? I’m sorry ma’am but all we’ve got here are empty cups and a fire hydrant. We can hose you down if you want.

Thankfully, the crazed and peculiar encounters were the minority. We had a blast, and all in all successfully served at least 80 gallons of Cytomax and water to runners on Saturday. And most everyone was very grateful for the volunteers and it was a lot of fun cheering everyone along. So, with the exception of the few of you that scowled and threw empty cups in our faces, congrats to everyone who ran the race!

merry christmas from nashville!!

Well, it’s our last Christmas “alone”. And with the baby’s due date just around the corner we decided not to make the annual marathon across the Midwest this year and instead hunker down close to home. So it’s been a quiet Christmas, and surprisingly a white Christmas! We’ve been getting the baby room ready, spending time with friends, and appreciating the fact that life will be changing soon for us. Here’s a few photos from Christmas Eve – we made a little turkey dinner and had a celebration for ourselves. Wishing you a wonderfully Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, wherever you might be reading this from this year!

time it takes me to install a light fixture

6 Minutes: Fumbling around in the fuse box trying to figure out which breaker cuts power to the kitchen.

3 Minutes: Fumbling around in the dark because I flipped the wrong breaker.

10 Minutes: Digging through the closet looking for an extension cord to run a light to the kitchen so I can see what I’m working on.

5 Minutes: Emptying out the contents of the light fixture box onto the living room floor.

20 Minutes: Pulling down the old light fixture.

3 Minutes: Yelling at the old light fixture because it won’t come down.

2 Minutes: Yelling at myself because I cut the source wires too close to the junction box, thereby complicating the rest of my evening.

12 Minutes: Staring at the instructions trying to comprehend Figure B(1)-ii

1 Minute: Deciding I can do this without the instructions.

43 Minutes: Trying to wrestle the new fixture into place.

2 Minutes: Realizing I probably should have read the instructions.

5 Minutes: Stripping wires with a razor blade.

15 Minutes: Waiting for my finger to stop bleeding.

2 Minutes: “Oh, I have to drill a hole in the ceiling?”

7 Minutes: Waiting for my cordless drill to charge.

12 Minutes: “Steph? Can you help me for a minute?”

18 Minutes: Arms over head. More wrestling.

3 Minutes: Letting the blood rush back into my arms.

2 Minutes: Steph letting the blood rush back into her arms.

4 Minutes: “Were light-bulbs included in the box?”

steph goes to the art store

My wife likes to paint things. She’s a much better artist than I’ll ever be, and I like that the walls of our house get free custom artwork. Every once in a while artists have to go to art stores to get supplies, such as canvases and paints and brushes. We have a great art store about 5 miles from our house that offers crazy good deals on canvases and a selection of paint colors that would make the snobby little kid from your 4th grade class, who was so proud of his box of 96 Crayola crayons, speechless. This weekend was cause for one of those trips to Jerry’s Art Store.

Now, when Steph goes to the art store I usually go with her. My self-appointed job on these trips is to manage expectations. I have but one goal when we go to Jerry’s: To get in, and get out, as fast as humanly possible… otherwise, I will get a call from my bank the next day asking why I have charged $14,000 in paints and brushes to my account.

So we went to the art store Saturday. I did a quick scan of the store – there was a children’s painting class taking up one whole corner of the building, blocking the Easel display. Good, one less area to worry about. I felt comfortable leaving the Papers section unattended – Steph was on a painting trip and trying to finish a project for some friends… drawing was not top of mind. I knew she needed a couple paint based markers, so I escorted her in that direction for a quick drop off while I headed to the Acrylics Paint section. I knew if I could somehow coral five or six shoppers into Acrylics, that would be enough commotion to make Steph want to skip that area.

I quietly pushed a shopping cart over to block one end of the Acrylics aisle and then spread a rumor amongst other shoppers of a “5-for-1 acrylics paint sale”. That seemed to cause the desired result and I ran back to find Steph, who by now had long ago left the paint markers. I raced down to Brushes And Knives to find her holding a 4-inch wide albino Qinling Panda-hair paint brush in her hand, eying it like Gollum at Mount Doom, with a $75.99 price tag dangling daintily from the handle. Frantic, I grabbed her arm and gently turned her towards some modestly priced palette knives while easing the Panda-haired brush from her grip. In disbelief I glanced down at a shopping basket she had acquired sometime in the last five minutes, half full of items not on our shopping list.

I can sense I am beginning to lose control. I plant an idea in Steph’s mind that we “should go look at the art books” over in the Books And Manuals section. This is always a safe bet, because while books tend to be more expensive items, she will rarely buy one and instead thumb through the pictures looking for future ideas. She gives in and I escort her away from Brushes, while suggesting to her that I go scout out vacancy at the checkout counter. I cannot deal with a line at this point. If we have to stand in line at checkout, she’s likely to wander back into Acrylics, and then there will be no hope. We have to walk right up to the cashier, lay down the cash, and get out of there before she has a chance to take in the counter displays.

The checkout line looks good. A beret capped 40-something is just finishing up his purchase, so now is the time to move in. I give the “I’ll be 1 second” gesture to the cashier, who acknowledges me from across the store. I head back to Books to find Steph… who is not there…. Oh good moogly googly, where could she possibly have gone? A feeling of dread overwhelms me as the truth begins to sink in…


Canvases is the black hole of Jerry’s Art Store. It’s seven solid aisles of nothing but stretched white linen. Sheets of canvas as large as pool tables. The walls are made of canvas in Canvases. It’s a maze designed to trap you in, and never let you go, until you have convinced yourself that, “Why yes, certainly I can take home this 7-foot x 13-foot monstrosity of wood and double-primed acid-free linen and conceive upon it a work worthy of Michelangelo’s praise and adulation!” No one ever returns from Canvases.

I hear rustling. “What do you think about this one?” a familiar voice calls out. “What one?” I respond, “Where are you?” I see movement in the far back corner. “I’m right here… I think this one would look good on our living room wall!” A canvas starts to move towards me – yes, move towards me – as though self propelled. Suddenly Steph pops out from behind the 9-foot tall ‘potential of art’, peering up at a canvas which is twice as tall as her. “Maybe it would go better in the stairway where the ceilings are taller,” she counters to herself.

I sigh, and select a more unassuming 2-foot by 2-foot canvas and suggest, “You know, I’ve always wanted something to go on that blank wall in the kitchen. Perhaps you could do something with this?”

I hand it to over, which distracts her long enough for me to guide her out of Canvases and towards the front of the store, where a line has developed at the cash register. Great. We stand there while Patricia and her four kids stock up on enough water colors to keep them busy for the rest of the summer. “You know, I’ve been wanting one of these,” says Steph grabbing an Artist’s Color Wheel from the counter display. “It will help me match colors.” The name of the game is now called appeasement. “Fine,” I say as I hand the cashier my check card and start emptying items out onto the counter.

Of course a trip to the art store with Steph is really nothing like that. The Canvas section is only five aisles wide.

it’s a horse!

Steph works at a horse hospital where she’s basically an equine surgical assistant or, as Brian says, an “equinarian”.

I came across this the other day, courtesy of GraphJam, and thought it was hilarious. I can just imagine Steph and her boss posting this in their treatment area and begin diagnosing cases based on this chart:

(click the image to enlarge…)

10 states in 10 days

Well, we’re back, and wow, what a trip. I look forward to spending a few posts to ‘unpack’ the trip, especially the backpacking portion. But to kick things off I thought it would be fun to start simply with a cartographic representation of our trip. This will go to great lengths to demonstrate just how nerdy I am.

10 states in 10 days was accomplished by leaving Nashville and heading north towards Kentucky, then Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. We changed things up a bit for the return trip and visited some new states, starting with New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and finally back home to Tennessee.

Anyways, check out this handy dandy Google map I made of our trip. You can see our route, and you can also click on the place-markers to see some comments and pictures.

steph bought me a goat for my birthday

My birthday was Monday. I meant to write this Tuesday, but I was busy, as was Wednesday and Thursday. Here we are on Friday, so now here is my update four days late.

Birthday was good. Friends took me to lunch at a favorite lunch stop – the Chile Burrito… authentic TexMex on a budget. Gotta love that.

Then later that evening Steph took me to the Genghis Grill, which is always a thrill. Get to pile a bunch of stuff into a little bowl and then watch the guys cook it on a big circular stone grill. Awesome.

Then Steph gave me my birthday present, which was really exciting. We’ve been wrestling with this for a few years… now that we’re married, going out and getting a birthday present, using dollars that we both worked for seems silly sometimes so we’re trying something new out. Instead of splurging on some gift that we don’t necessarily need, we’re going to help some other people out with our money.

So Steph got me a goat through World Vision. They offer a cool program where you can purchase actual tangible items – like a cow, or a well, or malaria vaccines – and they go directly to help people in need. So that’s what I get to do this weekend – go buy a goat for a family so they can provide themselves with fresh milk and cheese. Cool huh?

gedney: the minnesota pickle

We went home to Minnesota this weekend for the wedding of our good friend James. Great wedding, great to see old friends.

I imagine everyone has those things that make home, home. And hence the ridonkulously large jar of dill pickles. We grew up eating Gedney Pickles. They’re Minnesota grown and jarred in Chaska, MN, and their slogan is “the Minnesota pickle”, so we’re loyal to them. They taste great too!

Steph has an obsession with dill pickles – no she’s not pregnant – so my family was nice enough to take us to Sam’s Club and buy us this goofishly big bottle. I don’t know if you can tell or not from the picture, but that’s a full gallon there – a nearly 12 inch tall bottle! I’m sure it seems odd, but having a bottle of dill pickles grown in your home state on hand is one of those nice things that gives a sense of home when you live miles away.

Of course, now that I’m looking at the bottle, I see it says “Refrigerate After Opening”. We may need to buy an additional mini-fridge to accommodate.

anybody want a tic tac?

My wife has new blog – check it out at!

pillow talk

Sometimes when husbands accidently half-wake up their wives from their sleep in the middle of the night, comedy ensues. Such was the case last night…

It was 1AM, and Steph had been sleeping for a couple hours. I couldn’t fall asleep, and must have bumped her and she kind of startled awake from a dream or something. As she was falling back to sleep, this is the “conversation” that took place:

Steph (in a groggy, I’m not at all awake sort of voice): “You have to take the horse up and back into there and back….”
Me: “What?”
Steph: “You have to take the horse for and to the back to be up and in the stall…..”
Me (in a, this should be good entertainment sort of voice): “What’s wrong with the horse?”
Steph: “He’s really skinny”
Me: “He’s skinny?”
Steph: “The horsey is really skinny”
Me: “Why is the horsey skinny?”
Steph: “Because no one is feeding the horsey”
Me: “They’re not – why aren’t they feeding the horsey?”
Steph: “I don’t know….”
Me: “Does the skinny horsey have a name?”
Steph: “No….”
Me: “Why not?”
Steph: “I don’t know”
Me: “You should name the horsey”
Steph: “Huh?”
Me: “Why don’t you name the horsey?”
Steph (in a fully alert, realizing she has just been having a ridiculous conversation sort of voice): “YOU’RE NOT A VERY NICE PERSON YOU KNOW THAT!!”

Ah, such good fun….