Morning Schedule

I’m always strugging to find the right morning schedule that works for me. I’d like to be in some sort of routine, but it’s just not working for me right now. I’m always sleeping in, snoozing too many times, getting to work later than I’d like, skipping my morning runs, or something else.  Sometimes I shower, sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I eat a quick bite, sometimes I don’t.  I’m curious to know if my faithful readers have had any more luck establishing a morning routine than I have.

How strictly do you adhere to a morning routine (i.e. perform the same tasks at approximately the same time each morning)? If not, why not? What varies in your morning routine?  Do you keep hitting snooze as much as I do?

Also, I could use an bacon & egg sandwich right now.  You too?

Taxes & Bacon Envelopes

I finished up my taxes this evening and I’m pretty excited about it.  This is a lot later than I usually file.  Usually I’m done spending my tax return by the end of February.  I guess I’m just lazy this year.

My usual strategy for filing taxes is to use two or three different online tax preparation thingys, and then I e-file whichever one gives me the biggest return.  Yea, I know.. it shouldn’t matter which one I use, it should turn out the same regardless.  Except for that it doesn’t.  This was especially true while I was still in college and some preparers found creative ways to get me more tuition deductions than others – probably illegally.  But I don’t know the difference, and I’m comfortable arguing that I don’t know the difference if I’m ever audited – since it would be the truth and all…

Anyway, I only filled out one online return this year, and I’m not very happy about it.  My federal return was way smaller than last year.  And Oh My Gravy the State of Minnesota thinks I owe them $15.  And wouldn’t you know it, but TaxACT wouldn’t let me e-file since I owed them money.  They made me print it out and MAIL my Minnesota Taxes.  Yea.  MAIL.  ON PAPER.  What is this? 2006????

Here’s the kicker:  Apparently, you have to mail the completed tax forms to one address, but you have to mail the $15 to another address.  Seriously?  It takes two letters?

I guess it’s kind of like the census.  They sent me a letter telling me they were going to send me the census.  Then they sent me the census.  Then they sent me a letter telling me that they just sent me the census.  Then they sent me the census again, even though I had completed and returned the last one.

Oh well.  At least it gave me a chance to use my bacon envelopes:

Jess sent me some bacon envelopes a while back when I blew her mind with my popchips haiku.  I can confirm, the glue tastes like bacon when you lick it.  Or at least it tastes like bacon covered with glue.

New Data: Waffles

A couple months ago, Emily conducted a pretty exhaustive study and determined that I “might have the coolest wife ever” because Mel is extraordinarily talented and she made her own snuggie/slanket.  I agreed with Emily’s conclusion, believing that I might, in fact, have the coolest wife ever.

However, new data has been discovered that may warrant revisiting the previous conclusion.  On Sunday, January 31st, 2010, Melanie was observed to produce the following breakfast for me:


This breakfast specimen was produced without provocation, and without expectation of payment.  Various tests, including but not limited to taste & smell tests, confirmed the phenomenal and remarkable nature of the specimen.  I determined that the breakfast specimen was of exceptional quality and tastiness, more spectacular in quality and tastiness than I have previously observed in any waffles.  The specimen provided marvelous sustenance that continued to provide energy throughout the excruciating 3 hours of church that followed soon thereafter – a feat not previously accomplished by any other breakfast, save biscuits & gravy w/ bacon.

After reviewing the new data, and once again partaking of the uncommon comfort provided by said snuggie/slanket, it is determined that the previous conclusion demands revision.

It is Resolved:  I definitely have the coolest wife ever.

Product Review: Presto Powercrisp

I finally got around to using the [item] provided to me free of charge by [website].  Here’s the skinny:

The out-of-box experience was simple.  It’s just a plastic tray, with four slotted, flat pieces of plastic that you snap together to make two little tents to stretch the bacon over.  Nothing hard about that!  Here I am carefully reading the instructions:

I was pretty excited to get started, until I realized that our bacon was quite possibly the worst bacon ever.  It was Shoppers Value brand and it was total garbage.  You know how buying bacon is always kind of a bait-and-switch?  When you look through the window on the package, it looks all meaty and tasty.  But then you open it and realize that there’s actually hardly any meat on your bacon?  And you feel angry and cheated?  Well that’s what Shoppers Value did to me.  Behold:


But I wanted to eat it anyway, so onto the Presto Powercrisp Microwave Bacon Cooker it went:

I was most concerned about splattering inside the microwave, so I covered it with a paper towel.  50 seconds per strip, and it was ready!

I was pretty darned impressed at how well the bacon crisped up, even for such bad bacon.  My wife and I discussed whether or not using the Powercrisp to nuke the fat somehow molecularly transformed it into a non-fat.  We decided it probably didn’t.

Ok, overall, I had a good bacon experience.  It was way easier than frying and much less messy.  It is clearly a better option than frying bacon.  But can it beat pre-cooked frozen bacon in terms of easiness?????  well… that’s a close call….


A while back, Jess received a box of Popchips to review, and she said they were “” I’m not cool enough to know what that means, but it was good enough to make me start thinking, “What the hell are popchips?” A month later, Jess did her first blog giveaway. She asked readers to submit popchip-themed haikus, and then she’d let us vote. The winner would receive a case of 24 single-serving bags of popchips and the runner-up would recieve a “Bacon Salt-y thing”! I submitted the following:

Tired of greasy chips,
I yearn for something better.
Popchips save the day.
I came in second (thanks for the votes, peeps!), so I wasn’t supposed to receive any popchips, but I asked Jess to pass on my info to Corinne at Popchips just to see if they’d send me free stuff anyway. Imagine my surprise when I came home one day to find a box of six single-serving bags of popchips waiting on my doorstep! Corinne must have been TOTALLY floored by the genius of my haiku. Ok, now after that LOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG intro, I guess I’ll let you peeps know what I thought of them.
Mmm… Popchips are tasty! The Original flavor were my favorite – they reminded me a lot of kettle chips, but not quite as greasy. Sour Cream & Onion and Sea Salt & Vinegar were both pretty good, too. My wife ate the Barbeque flavored chips. She’s not here right now for me to ask her how they were, but I’ll pretend like I asked her previously and she said they were “quite decorous.” I’m not exactly sure what she meant by that. I had to look that up in a dictionary and I’m still not sure. The Cheddar and Salt & Pepper flavors were awful – but I think those flavors of normal potato chips are awful, too, so I can’t hold it against the Popchips.
The texture seemed about halfway between kettle chips and Quaker Quakes Rice Snacks, which I imagine is one of their big competitors in the kind-of-like-chips-but-not-exactly market. They packed more crunch than run-of-the-mill potato chips; not quite as significant as kettle chips; not quite as puffy as Quakes.
Overall, they were pretty dang tasty, and I’d pay money for them. I don’t exactly know what it means to “pop” a potato, so that bothers me a little bit. But not enough to keep me from eating them. So check them out! Big thanks to Popchips for providing the chips for free, and thanks to Jess for persuading Corinne to send me some snacks.
By the way, Jess, I’m still waiting for my Bacon Salt-y thingy. Don’t start thinking you’re off the hook just because Popchips sent me some snacks.

Forthcoming Product Review: Presto Power Crisp

Alright, I mentioned a few posts ago that I have found a willing sponsor for either the first-ever SingleSpeed giveaway or the first-ever sponsored product review. I’m open to the idea of a give-away, but I really wanted to find a way to make sure that somebody ended up with something they actually wanted. Well I’ve been chatting with Ashley from the PromoTeam (who I first accused of being a techno-bot spammer when she first contacted me, but she later convinced me that she was a real human). I lobbied her to let me do a $50 gift-card giveaway, but she insisted that $35 was the maximum budget limit and that gift-cards or promo-codes were not an option. Oh well. See how I’m always looking out for you, trying to stuff more cash in your pockets?

Also, you guys weren’t very excited about a giveaway – out of 7 comments on that post, three were entirely opposed to the idea of a giveaway – anonymous is even concerned that a SingleSpeed Give-away will steal business from local bike shops, which I admit, is a threat I had not previously considered. Scott even claimed he would quit reading the blog altogether, but we know he’s all talk and that I could come right out and say that SCOTT IS A NO-TALENT CLOWN and he’d keep reading – because he’s cool like that. But it’s clear that my readers are luke-warm at best about a give-away, so I’m gonna do a sponsored product review instead.
I’d never heard of Ashley’s store before, [website] (which I have learned is a parent company for some 200+ online retail outlets), but I was excited to see what they had to offer. I first checked out their selection of bicycling gear at [website] and was tempted by their [item]. I also discovered that they have an extraordinarily large offering of [items], a couple of which would look quite nice in our bicycle-themed kitchen. I invited my wife to help me select the perfect item four the first-ever SingleSpeed Sponsored Product Review, and together we made a decision:

Without further delay, I will have Ashley from the PromoTeam send me a [item] (courtesy of [website]) – a $15.99 value – because I love me some bacon! My first impression is that it appears to be a slotted piece of plastic with a drip tray – true technological genius. Stay tuned for the first-ever SingleSpeed Sponsored Product Review. Also, if it sucks, we may still be having the first ever SingleSpeed give-away!

Adventure: Root River & Harmony-Preston Valley State Trails

Our latest adventure was a 110 mile bike ride in southeast Minnesota along the Root River State Trail and Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail. Our adventure started Saturday morning as we packed up the car and stopped at Arby’s on our way out of town for some mid-morning lunch. Our plan was to park the car at one end of the trail, bike to the other end, camp, then bike back the next day – so we’d have to carry all our camping gear with us. But while we were eating lunch, we realized that neither of us were really all that excited about carrying gear with us, that the bikes we were bringing were ill-equipped for such a thing, and that we’d both be just as happy parking in the middle of the trail so we didn’t have to carry our stuff with us (huzzah!). So that’s how we ended up in Lanesboro, MN, which is pretty much at the center of both trails (trail map).

Lanesboro is a pretty typical small town, but it was surprisingly active with trail riders and such. The trail cuts right through the middle of downtown Lanesboro, so there were tons of people on bikes everywhere (not shown in photo).
We decided to camp right in the city park in town because we were already there and it was getting late – and because the trail system web site isn’t really very helpful at helping you understand what your camping options are. Pretty much, camping is just sort of a free-for-all along the edge of the city park. You pay $10, and then just set up your tent anywhere you want along the edge of the park – along with everyone else. There aren’t any organized camping sites, which means the tents are as close together as you want them to be. When we set up our tent, there weren’t very many other people there. By sundown, though, it was pretty comical how many tents were crammed into this little strip of grass. The tents were practically touching each other…. Here’s what it looked like before it started getting crowded (picture about twice as many tents for the after-scenario):

Turns out, though, I sleep like a rock. So it didn’t bother me any. Mel had a tough time sleeping, though. The funniest part was that each of the several dozen tents had their own campfires – so there were at least 30 campfires going in this little park that evening. The whole town was really smoky.
After we had set up camp, we started our cycling. We cycled to Fountain, MN, which is the western terminus of the Root River Trail & about 11.2 miles from Lanesboro. This section of the trail is pretty nice. Most of it uses an old railroad right-of-way, so it’s mostly pretty flat. It was a steady uphill from the trail junction (where the Root River and Harmony-Preston Valley Trails meet) to Fountain, which means a smooth-sailing downhill on the way back, which was really fun. We turned south at the junction and cycled on to Preston, MN, about 12.0 miles from Fountain. The trail section from the junction to Preston is probably one of the most beautiful sections of trail in the whole system. It’s entirely an old railroad right-of-way and you’re pretty close to the river the whole time. Then we cycled down to Harmony, MN, about 12.3 miles from Preston and the end of the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail. We didn’t really enjoy this section of the trail too much. It might have just been that we were tired, or that it was getting late, or that it wasn’t along a railroad right-of-way, but it just wasn’t as scenic (to be fair, we ran into another cyclist who said this was his favorite section of the trail…). But it does have this great section with some cows, and mel made friends with Oklahoma Oscar:

At any rate, when we got to Harmony, we wanted to get home quickly, so we opted to ride the highways back, 13.6 miles instead of the 22.5 mile trail route. We were a little hesitant to ride on the highways at first, but US 52 is actually an Amish Buggy Byway, so the shoulders were extremely wide. Here’s Mel pretending to be an buggy:
Plus, TH-16 heading into Lanesboro has a HUGE downhill section we got to ride down that was probably my favorite part of the whole weekend. Seriously, I recommend riding the trails to Harmony, but taking the highways back – just so you get to ride the giant hill! Day one: 49.1 miles.
We ate dinner Saturday night at Rhino’s Pizza & Sub Shoppe & received some pretty snarky service from one of the employees, who was visibly unhappy to see us (& the other 8 customers who walked in with us) since it was 8:50 PM and they close at 9:00. I gave an extra dollar tip, hoping that she wouldn’t spit on my burger, but I’m still pretty sure she wasn’t very happy with us. Our burgers were surprisingly tasty, though, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t sabotage our burgers or milkshake, so a thumbs up to Rhino’s (in a this-is-the-only-thing-open-on-a-Saturday-night-in-Lanesboro-at-8:50-PM sort of way).
We got an early start on the trail on Sunday, this time headed east. We passed through the towns of Whalan, Peterson, and Rushford, MN, before arriving Houston, MN, around lunch time, a total of 31.1 miles. This section of trail is really nice – especially through Rushford where the trail is all along old railroad right-of-way and stays pretty close to the Root River. Here are some photos of us on the trail:

In Houston, we were pretty hungry for lunch, so we quickly found The Brickhouse, which looks small from the outside, but is surprisingly large on the inside. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any soups, but the grilled cheese + bacon was superb, and Mel’s chicken wrap was pretty good, too. Lunch for two including sodas for a measly $11 was fantastic, so another thumbs up for The Brickhouse in Houston, MN.
After lunch, it was just 31.1 miles back to Lanesboro before packing up and coming home. Day two: 62.2 miles. Trip total: 111.3 miles! Great weekend for a bike trip!

Must See: Quicksilver (1986)

So you’ve all totally got to watch Quicksilver – the 1986 smash hit featuring Kevin Bacon, Jami Gertz, Laurence Fishburne, & even Louie Anderson. It was seriously the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. Cool bike tricks, an awesome bike dancing scene, bike chases, and awesome fake bike wrecks are only a few of the treasures you’ll find in this movie. Seriously – bump this to the top of your Netflix queue NOW. Here’s a few tidbits:

Awesome bike dancing scene:

Awesome bike tricks:

The (boring) Trailer: