2010 Miami Triathlon Report

It is once again that time of year – time for another triathlon report from TPMHTDM! I know my faithful readers have been waiting for a full report, and while I will attempt to blame external forces, the delay in the writeup for this race is mostly due to laziness.

As always, you may also be interested in my 2007 MUSF report, 3 pigs triathlon report, my 2008 MUSF report or my 2009 MUSF report

The months leading up to the race were not marked with the greatest in training regimens by me. I did train some, to the point where I was not expecting to die (always a bonus!), but my heart was just not in it. I don’t know if it’s just that the race has lost some of its “novel”-ness, or lack of time, or desire, or what, but my regimen was definitely half-hearted. One possibility would be to move up to a higher distance race, but I’m not sure that will do it for me either.

In any case, you may have heard of the 7 P’s. The way I first heard it was Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance (which I know is only 6 Ps – click the link if you want to). In this race, we will instead prove its corollary, Poor Planning Produces Poor Performance.

But enough of all that mumbo-jumbo – let’s get to race day! I have to say, having all these detailed prior year race reports is very handy for race day planning. For instance, I knew to set my alarm to 4:30, and knew all the things I should bring.

I slept much better than I did last year, but just like last year I did end up waking up on my own about 15 minutes beforehand. So I got up, got dressed and packed my standard race-day breakfast of peanut butter bagels. Again like last year, I had sufficiently “carbed up” with donuts the day before :-)

Due to the empirical data, I could better analyze my route towards Oxford. Last year I took 275, which measured 30 minutes and 23.3 miles. This year I took the Lateral to 75 to Cross County, which got me 25 minutes and 19.7 miles. Sounds like a clear winner! Though it does produce the odd effect of starting out an hour long trip to the northwest by taking 71 SOUTH!!!

After getting over to 75 and starting to head northwards, I passed the “lovely” aromas of the Jim Beam plant. When I was in college, I interviewed for a co-op position with a company called DataBeam. My roommates always refered to it as “Jim Beam” even though I’m sure they’re not related at all. So anyways, I didn’t get a job with them and a year or two passed. One of my out-of-town friends called me up out of the blue. She was studying something along the lines of environmental cleanup or something and was wanting to get a job at Jim Beam and asked if I had any references. I had to let her know that I was NOT going to be able to be very helpful at all!! :-)

Whenever I’m doing a race like this, I keep a notebook with me to write down snippets of things I want to include in the race report. Otherwise I’d clearly forget them. I’m sure this speaks to some strange side of my personality. Unfortunately, since the route to Oxford is pretty much the same every year, I tend to end up with a lot of recycled jokes, which I then have to filter out. Can’t remember the name of the town between Cincinnati and Oxford? Done. Talk about how I used to geocache here? Yup, did it already.

But one geocaching thought that I did have was some good memories of Electric Shavers, who was a guy who lived up in Hamilton who favored the “quantity not quality” method of hiding caches. And when I was really into geocaching, I always liked to keep my “list” of close caches clean. So that was really the last time I did much traveling up here. Had some good memories of that, even though the caches were not always the greatest.

So what does Jim Beam and shaving have to do with this race? Uh, nothing. But that’s what I’m all about! Continuing with my non-race jibber-jabber, I did notice a few things on the drive up to Oxford. It’s interesting since I only ever drive up here once a year (at least for the past 4 years) to see the new things each year. Some things I noticed on this trip – the speed limit was only 45 mph north of Millville – that seemed new. And also, there was a center lane through McGonigle (not to be confused with McGonagall). I know, I know – fascinating stuff….

Okay so onto the real race stuff. I managed to find a place to park on a street that did NOT have a Parking by City of Oxford Permit sign on it, unlike last year, so no parking tickets for me! I made my way with my bike over to the natatorium to pick up my packet, only to find it completely empty. Apparently they moved the packet pickup station to tables out in the lawn. So I went down there to check in. Except there was a brief problem in that it was still dark, so awful hard to see anything in there! Eventually I got checked in, and then got my timing chip (slight delay as I was there so early that they hadn’t set those up yet). One interesting thing I was told was that the swim caps were mandatory this year, which I thought was odd for a pool swim. I mean for an open-water swim sure, makes sense since you want to make sure you don’t “lose” anyone, but in a pool it seems odd.

One of the downfalls of planning enough “buffer time” is that when nothing actually DOES go wrong, you have a lot of time to kill. So after I got everything set up (on the “prime” end of row location, of course), I wandered around a bit. I checked out the parking garage that is right near the transition area to see what the deal was with that (i.e. if it was free). It appeared to be $5-10 to park there, or what we in the “business” refer to as the “sucker’s price” for parking.

Another key piece to my race planning was the post-swim towel placement. In previous years I had placed an extra towel on a set of bleachers that was placed near the swim exit. Basically the idea is that when you get out of the pool, on the way to the building exit (and path to transition area), I would stop, get this bonus towel and begin the drying process a few crucial seconds earlier. Two problems with this though – first, last year the race guy pointed out this bleacher and said you could put towels there, which led to it being a lot more crowded than it used to be. And secondly, the bleachers are not QUITE on the way to the door. So you have to detour a bit to get the towel, perhaps costing you the seconds that you gain.

So this year, I found a new spot – along the railing of the path outside that leads from the swim building into the transition area. Originally I was going to just put it in some bushes, but I found a pretty good spot along the railway that was tucked away somewhat out of sight. The idea there is that I didn’t want a) some race folks seeing it and deciding that it was not allowed and taking it and b) another racer seeing it and deciding “ooh! free towel!”. Later on as I was inspecting the area, I did see several other towels nearby.

Another thing I did pre-race was look for someone. My friend Kent who raced with me last year was not able to do it this year, due to recent birth of twins, but he had passed the info onto Brett, who I also knew somewhat (though not very well). Brett and I had exchanged a few emails about things and said we’d look for each other before the race. So I was trying to keep an eye out for him. Unfortunately, while I thought I would recognize him once I saw him, I was not really sure what to look for other than someone who was tall :) . But I spotted him before too long and we headed into the pavillion area.

We talked for awhile, and then as we were about to kick off the race, I was mentally prepping for what I would need to do, and realized I had left my goggles back in the transition area. So I had to race back there to get them. When I got there, they had already started up the timers on the pads at the entrance / exit of the transition area, so I had to walk around. Back at the race meeting, it went pretty well. One interesting thing was a note saying that the race organizers had tried to work with CSX to route the trains around the race course but they were un-responsive. And in fact, CSX apparently would not even provide them with a train timetable. They said that they had volunteers at the tracks and a plan to compensate times if it came to that, so that was…interesting and I filed that away.

So after awhile of waiting and watching the first crazy-fast swimmers go, Brett went down to take his turn, and around half an hour later, I went down too. I once again subscribed to the belief that because racers were “seeded” on their listed swim time, it’s better to put down a time that is faster than you actually are. My thoughts are that it a) might help you to swim faster as you try to stay with the racers that are around you and b) it’s faster and less taxing to be passed by people than having to pass people.

While I was down in line, waiting for my turn to start swimming, I was chatting with a few folks near me in line. Even though the original talk was that swim caps were required, later I heard that they weren’t, but I just kept mine on just in case. While we were chatting and such, we noticed someone swimming the wrong way in a lane. With a serpentine / pool swim, you swim down Lane 1 for 50m, then back the other way in Lane 2, then back down in Lane 3, etc. until you are swimming back in Lane 8 and then exit the pool and building. So at the end of each lane, you have to duck under the lane ropes. Apparently when this guy got to the end of Lane 1, he didn’t make it under the ropes into Lane 2and started swimming back in Lane 1. So we’re all trying to shout at him, like we’re in Planes, Trains and Automobiles – “YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!” but he couldn’t / didn’t hear us because, of course, he was swimming (“Ah he’s drunk – how would he know where we’re going”). So after he passed us and it became apparent that he was not going to change directions, we all watched him to wonder what he would do as he got to the end (errr beginning?) of Lane 1. Would he make it under the ropes and start swimming the wrong way in Lane 2, or would he realize his mistake and drop under 2 lanes and start swimming in the correct direction in Lane 3. And the answer is…. c) none of the above. He just turned around and went back in Lane 1. When he got to the end of Lane 1 again, he must have figured it out as he correctly ducked the ropes and got into Lane 2. So I guess for him it was the 500 meter swim! :-)

As it came to be my turn and I got ready to jump in, I readied my watch to start my time. But as I crossed the mat and started my time, my stopwatch wouldn’t start. I tried to fiddle with it and “hit buttons” but I quickly came to the same place I did when my goggles broke back in the 3 Little Pigs triathlon – either keep fiddling or just GO. So I just went. Later I realized that due to the fact that it was Carolyn’s watch and I was not familiar with it and I was just not hitting the right button.

The swim went fine. Nobody passed me till the end of Lane 2, and even then, because of the way the serpentine course is designed (i.e. you pass on the left, but at the end of the even numbered lanes you turn to the right), I passed right back because I had a shorter turn (being on the inside). They passed me right back at the start of Lane 3, and I was periodically passed by folks. Still, it was good, given my relative lack of swim training – I didn’t really feel in trouble and I was able to freestyle swim the whole way.

Made my way out of the swim area and grabbed my (carefully concealed) towel which was right where I left it. Sped through the transition time, putting on my shirt, socks, shoes, shades and helmet and went off on the bike. The bike course was the same as it has been the past 2 years, and I could definitely tell that my timing was not as good. Whereas last year, I was clipping around 16mph heading out, this year I was struggling to make 14. There was a bit of a wind going, but I don’t think that was most of it. I passed a few people and again was passed by some as I anticipated the big bad hill at about mile 3.5. It actually wasn’t that bad – I mean it was big, and hard to go up, but I biked the whole thing and passed about 5 people who were walking it.

The rest of the course was more of the same – rolling hills. The 2nd big hill was more of the same – I biked the whole way up and passed a few people walking. A little bit after that, at about mile 9-10 I heard the train whistle. I got a bit worried but figured that there was plenty of time for the train to go through and I was right – when I got back to the tracks it was clear. But afterwards I talked with Brett and he said that he hit the tail end of it. As he got to the tracks there were about 15-20 people lined up there and he had to wait, though only for about 15 seconds. I’m not clear if they adjusted his time or if so, by how much.

In any case, I made my way back to the transition area and went to put my bike on the rack. Final totals for the bike were 19 passed, and passed by 38 people. Having secured the end of rack spot, I was just scanning for my stuff, but I couldn’t find it! Eventually I figured out that someone had put their bike in my spot and I just put my bike on the rack next to mine and headed out. I have a fast transition time reputation to uphold!!!!

Run wasn’t too bad – it was definitely slower than last year but I felt good and felt like I was going at a pretty good pace. I was kind of expecting to see Brett coming back as I left, but he was apparently much faster than me and had already finished. Run is usually one of my better events, at least after a swim and bike compared to others – last year I passed about 30 people and was only passed by 1 person. This time I ended up passing 10 and being passed by 8. Final kick into the corral and finish!


I found Brett and we talked a bit. There was a table with some snacks / goodies but it had some of those pre-packaged cracker snack packs in it, which struck me as quite possibly the worst possible snack option! I mean, come on race organizers, I’m parched from just exercising for the past 1-2 hours and you think CRACKERS are the way to go?!!? There were also some apples and oranges, but what I really wanted was a banana, which I saw a few folks walking around with. Eventually I dug through the bags enough and found one.

Since the after-race party which was so awesome the first year I did this has progressively gotten crappier and crappier, I didn’t hang around and instead just left pretty soon after the race. And then…. the waiting began. Finally, Sunday night, they posted a version of the times up on the website. I was in 376th of 600 participants (555 finishers). Splits were 11:55 for the swim (which includes the time from when you get out of the pool until you enter the “official” transition area, 1:41 for T1, 55:59 for the bike and…. nothing for the run. Apparently they were still “working out some issues” with the run times and that along with the train adjustments would be up on Monday. The foreboding music of doom from last year began to reprise, just a little bit louder….

Naturally Monday came and went, with nothing. Then on I think Tuesday or Wednesday, they posted final race times, with no transition times at all, and a time of 58:24 for my bike, and 26:14 for the run, overall total of 1:36:34. I emailed to complain, and to ask if the transition times were going to be put back in. The response, from James at HFP:

The transition times are actually included in the bike splits. We had some battery issues with one of the timing boxes, causing some of the transition and split times to be incorrect. So, we included everything together to make it all accurate.

Uhhhhhh I’m not sure how you can say under any possible meanings of the word that just lumping that time into the bike time makes it more “accurate”. Since I’m definitely a complainer, I wrote back:

I’m not sure how you can say that lumping those times into the bike make it more “accurate”?!? As you may already be aware, this is now the 2nd year in a row where HFP “issues” have caused mistakes / omissions from the race times at the MUSF race.

I am not an expert or professional racer. I have limited funds to devote to triathlons, and typically do only one race per year. I have done the MUSF triathlon the last 4 years, and I have to say that it has gotten worse every year.

After last year’s debacle, HFP gave me a 50% coupon to apply to this year’s race. But now, after 2 straight years of HFP equipment malfunctions, I think I have to start looking for another race.

Do you have any kind of assurances that you can provide that we’re not going to see more of the same issues again in future races?

It’s unfortunate that there are limited triathlons in the area on Saturdays, and the only other one I know about here in Cincinnati is at Coney Island and ALSO run by HFP. So we’ll see what to do – but in any case, until I hear otherwise, I’m going to just combine the 2 versions of the times and give myself final splits of:

* 11:55 swim
* 1:41 T1
* 55:59 bike
* 0:45 T2
* 26:14 run
* 1:36:34 total

Thanks for reading, and (maybe) we’ll see you here again next year!!!

Day of Good Deeds!

Okay so I know it’s been awhile for TPMHTDM. Like Carolyn has said – facebook is killing my blog. (Softly. With its song)

But Saturday was my “Day of Good Deeds!” As you will see if you read on, it proved to be a good deeds day of mixed success.

The day started out like any other day – we went to basketball, where my son somehow scored 3 baskets! Woohoo! Then we went to do the grocery shopping. While we were at Aldi, after we had checked out and were bagging our groceries I noticed a woman who was using the phone there. She asked if I lived in Pleasant Ridge (the area where Aldi is), and I said no. Upon listening in a bit, I realized that she had locked her keys in the trunk of her car. So I offered to take her to her house and back to Aldi.

So I did – she got her keys, I drove her back, and as we were getting back to Aldi, she offered some money for gas. I told her she didn’t need to do that, since it was like 5 miles roundtrip, if that, but she shoved money into my hand. No, really, she did. So I took it – it ended up being $3, which is some pretty good ROI!! :-) She got into her trunk, and my son and I continued on with the grocery shopping.

We got done and home around 12:00 or so and as I’m eating my lunch there is a knock on the door. I open the door, and it is a guy who tells me his truck has broken down and he needs $16 for a tow truck. He says that he has some money (and flashes it) but needs $16 more. He says that he will give an ID or he has some work ladders in his truck as collateral for it. So eventually we agree on a ladder. He comes back with the ladder, and says that with tax it is $22. I give him the $22 and he gives me the ladder, and says that he will be back in an hour to an hour and a half.

So we wait for him and wait, and… (can you see where this is going?). It was especially annoying because it prevented us from trying for the triple coin cycle since we had to wait for this guy to show up. Lots of different thoughts in our head. We did consider calling the police on Sunday when he still hadn’t shown up, but mostly “couldn’t reach”.

Of course the guy never shows up, so I figure hey on the day I’m out $19 and up a ladder. In the end, no big deal because the ladder will easily sell for that much.

That is, until the police show up yesterday (Monday) night. Apparently he’s been pulling this scam in the neighborhood for awhile and they caught him because some good souls (not us) called the police when he showed up. The ladder? Stolen from a nearby neighbor, of course. So now I’m out $19 and all I got is this lousy story! :-)

And naturally, I feel a bit silly being scammed. In retrospect, there were a lot of warning signs that I should have picked up on. After he had left, I remember thinking to myself that it’s sad that the world has come to this where you can’t trust anyone. And that was even BEFORE he screwed me!

So while I do want to leave you with the point to be wary and watchful for scammers, I thought I’d just mention the other side of things. I shared this story / thought in Bishopric meeting this past Sunday, from Mosiah 4:16-25

…and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

So while I do again want to stress that there is no need to let yourself be scammed, and you should be watchful of this type of behavior, and of course above all else, make sure you keep you and your family / loved ones safe, we are only judged on our OWN thoughts / actions, not the actions of others. And while I definitely do not want to get into things like whether giving money to people on the street is an effective method of “helping” them, I am remembering (only somewhat vaguely so apologies to whoever if I’m misquoting – I tried to think of where I heard this and I am thinking it was at a stake conference but I can’t remember) hearing that if you say, give money to someone on the street and they use it improperly, you are not held accountable for that (Peter Parker aside and I know that’s not quite the same situation but work with me here!).

You could certainly argue that, if we set the safety issue aside which I know that you can’t do in the real world, it would be worth giving money 99 times to people that are going to use it for alcohol or drugs if you could help out the one that was truly in need.

And although I know it isn’t completely the same as our situation this weekend, I’ve always really liked the quote above – “I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give”. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m a cheapskate or use this line of thinking to justify not being as charitable as maybe I could be, but I like it.

In any case, that was the “big news” of what happened to us this weekend. In the end, it was a relatively “cheap” lesson to learn.

In which I was mocked for recycling

First off, I know Carolyn has mentioned this already, but Facebook really does seem to be killing my blog. I guess that’s the way things go – always something “newer” and “better”. Take email – to someone my age or even a bit younger, email is the way to go to communicate things. Someone older will probably call on the phone when an email might be better. But many folks younger than me don’t use email at all – it’s all texting and facebook and other such things. But the blog is back at least for now – 2nd post today (here is the other one if you missed it)

But anyways – the other day at work I was mocked for recycling.

Some backstory – my son is selling popcorn for Cub Scouts. A couple of people here at work had ordered some, so I brought in the popcorn to deliver. It came in big cardboard boxes. So after I delivered the poporn, I had these big cardboard boxes. Our office does recycle cans, bottles and paper, but not cardboard. So at the end of the day, I was carrying them out to my car to take home and recycle.

That is when the mocking commenced. I mean it was good-natured mocking, but it was definite mocking.

I guess I didn’t really understand. I mean I don’t really consider myself a “green” guy or some sort of eco-nut. Even my habit of turning off lights that people leave on is more because I’m the one who pays for the lights if they’re left on than any huge desire to save the environment.

Or maybe I am – I don’t know. I have been known to take plastic pop bottles out of the trash at work and take them to the recycling bin.

I guess I just figure that it is well known that recycling is better than throwing things in the trash, right? I mean this is well established fact, is it not? So if it’s just as easy, why not recycle? I was blown away at the zoo last week. We were there for a “Powered by Popcorn” show for the Scouts, and they gave out popcorn and little bottles of Sunny Delight. So at the end, as we were leaving the amphitheater, there were 2 big boxes. One said trash, and had a big picture of the recycle symbol with a line through it, and I think was even in red letters. Then the other one said recycle and had the recycle symbol. I was BLOWN AWAY by the amount of the bottles that were in the trash one. Cmon people we’re talking like 2 feet here!!!!

But anyway back to my story – I was mocked for not throwing them away. I guess my feeling is that it’s not like it’s some sort of noble cause that I’m doing all this extra work to take the cardboard to my house WHERE I AM ALREADY GOING!

Anyway just thought I’d share.

2009 Staycation, Part 4

Part 4 of the Great 2009 Staycation (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). Sorry for the delay in getting this up, but I have finally gotten around to it.

So, Tuesday, we originally were going to head downtown, but for various reasons, it didn’t work out great. So instead we just took kind of a relax day. During the afternoon, while kids were napping, I decided to do a test route on my Every Library in Hamilton County bike trip. The plan was to hit 7 libraries (Madisonville, Oakley, Hyde Park, Norwood, Pleasant Ridge, Deer Park and Madeira), which would be about a 16 mile trip. I was trying to just see what the route was like as well as getting a gauge for how long it took to check out a book once I got to each library.

It was going well till, tragically, I got a flat tire on my bike in Norwood. You can read all about it over at Every Whatever, once I get around to writing that report.

So I had Carolyn come pick me up and that was fun. Wednesday we decided to do our downtown trip, since that was the last day that we had before I had to go back to work on Thursday.

We drove downtown after lunch and the first stop was Fountain Square.


Here’s the kids in front of the Tyler Davidson Fountain. I believe that one of them is trying to make the birdman goggles. Honestly I think they enjoyed running around trying to catch pigeons the most.

Then we went up to the top of Carew Tower, which is the tallest building in Cincinnati (at least for another 2 years). You can see it in the background of the Fountain Square picture.

It was cool, yet freaky. You have to take the main elevators to the 45th floor, then get out and take another elevator to the 48th floor, then walk the stairs up to the 49th floor. It’s $2 for adults and $1 for kids 6-11. The thing that is freaky about it is that there is a wall maybe 3 feet high, but then nothing else. Not for the acrophobic, to be sure. I didn’t mind it much myself, but it was the kids. Since they outnumber us and were just running around like the lunatics that they are, I was nervous about them falling. I mean the wall is high enough that they couldn’t fall over just by running, but then they started climbing on the binocular pedestal and it was just hard to relax and check out the views, ya know?


That’s Fountain Square from above.

We started walking downtown towards Sawyer Point, then quickly realized that was much farther than we really wanted to walk, especially now that Cincinnati has finally remembered what August is generally like (hot and humid).

So we drove down and found some $2 parking at Bicentennial Commons. We played at the park that is nestled under the I-471 Big Mac Bridge. It was a lot of fun – it’s a pretty big park and nice and shady since it’s under the bridge.

After that we continued walking around Bicentennial Commons. We stopped and snapped a picture at the monument that marks the various flood stages of the Ohio River in different years.


Unfortunately Dan the crappy photog missed the very top mark, which is the 1937 flood, which was a whopping 28!! feet above the 1884 line. If you look closely at the picture, you can see a very bit of black at the top left of the red pole, which is the 1937 line.

Then we came to good ol’ Cincinnatus, for whom the city of Cincinnati is (sort of) named for. See, technically, it’s named for the Society of the Cincinnati, but that’s usually more than I feel like bothering to explain.

When I was in college, we used to come down here and poke our head up Cincinnatus’ skirt. I don’t know why we thought that was funny, but naturally I had to take the opportunity to do it while I was here again!!


In case you are wondering, he is not anatomically correct.

I wanted to walk across the Purple People bridge, but Carolyn didn’t, so I just took one of them on my walk.

You can’t really see us, but we’re up there.

After we walked across the river to Newport and back, we found the rest of the fam at the Otto Armleder Aquatic center, which is basically just all these fountains that you can play in.


Swimsuits? We don’t need no steenkin swimsuits.

It was about 4 pm by now, so we decided to head home, get some dinner, change the kids out of their sopping wet clothes, before heading out to our final series of destinations.

We went to Dave and Busters, as I had a $10 gift certificate. Unfortunately, the fine print states that it is not good on “Half Price Wednesdays” so we couldn’t use it.


Here we are growling at how annoying they are. And oh yes, they will be getting a Complaint from Me. Then we stopped by Tri-County mall, before ending the day with some Graeters (for us) and McDonalds ice cream cones (for the kids – no wasting the good stuff on them!)

Final budget tally!

Remember, the budget is $250.

Earlier days: $170


  • $1 in parking (Under the Westin Hotel – $1 for the first 2 hours
  • $6 for Carew Tower observation deck
  • $2 in parking at Bicentennial Commons
  • $2 at Graeters (I had $6 left on a gift card I won at work)
  • $4 at McDonalds
  • And the gas tank on the van is half full, so I’ll give it another $20 there.

Final Total: $205

I hope you enjoyed reading about our staycation / vacation – we sure had fun doing it!

2009 Staycation, Part 3

Part 3 of the great 2009 Staycation! (Part 1 and Part 2)

Saturday and Sunday we hung out at my parents house. For some reason we didn’t really take any pictures, so…. sorry! Saturday we had some friends of ours (the Olmsteds and Broadbents) that had moved from Cincinnati to Cleveland over for a BBQ. Unfortunately the weather did not really cooperate (it rained all day) but it was still fun.

Sunday we had church and then a bunch of family came over for a big pancake / waffle brunch. We had my uncle Rick and aunt Jackie along with all of their kids and grandkids, as well as my aunt Pam and uncle Greg and family. It was nice to see all of them and have our kids play with some of their second cousins.

Monday we packed up and headed home. But not before forgetting quite a bit of things at my parents house (grrr)

First stop of the day was exciting Campbell Hill. (Well actually before that we stopped for lunch). Campbell Hill is the highest point in Ohio (1529 ft)

The high point is actually on the campus of the “Hi Point Career Center” (a vocational school). We passed it up first because we were not sure if that was it or not.

I know 1529 ft sure seems “real” high, especially for those of you out west who are used to much higher elevations. I’m sure you’ll be even more impressed when I tell you about our “grueling” ascent to the summit. (You can drive all the way to the top :-) ). It reminded me a lot of our trip to Reddish Knob last year in Virginia.

Here is the marker.

The fam in front of the sign.

As I was signing the logbook, Carolyn made some sort of joke about how if that was where losers like me signed in. And I said of course! and then noted that already today, 2 other folks had already been here! Kind of crazy. Also saw a group that was trying to do all 48 state highpoints in 3 weeks. Sounds like my kind of folks!

There was a grassy hill off to the other side of the high point, which we sent the kids running down and up a few times to tire them out. But then, having had NEARLY our fill of excitement, we loaded everyone back in to the hill and headed west!

For yes, one highpoint is NOT enough. Hoosier Hill is only about an hour or so west, just across the Indiana border. Kids were glad to know that Ohio “won”, since the highpoint of Indiana is only 1257 ft.

Also a driveup, though the approach is even less well marked.

Kids in front of the Hoosier Hill sign.

And here is Carolyn, showing her true feelings of contentment, happiness and joy upon reaching the highest point in Indiana.

And this is Carolyn pretending to be annoyed at having to drive out of the way to visit this exciting part of Americana!

We got home about 5:30 and unpacked and hung out and such. Carolyn and I celebrated by getting a pizza and root beer and playing Mario Kart, a nice throwback to our early married days!

Remember, the budget is $250.

Earlier days: $83
Saturday: $3 for watermelon (though that does not count the $1.92 in coins I found while out shopping!)
Sunday: nothing

  • $30 in gas
  • $13 for Wendys
  • $33 in gas
  • $8 for the pizza and root beer

Total so far: $170

2009 Staycation, Part 2

Continuing my staycation report (Part 1). Thursday was a relax day. Well, it was supposed to be relaxing in that we didn’t really go anywhere. But it wasn’t so much relaxing since we had tons of shopping, cleaning, packing and preparing for our weekend trip up to Cleveland!

Friday we got up early (well normal time for us) and were out the door by about 8 to head up to COSI in Columbus. We had been there before since it is one of our reciprocal museums that we get into free as part of our museum pass.

COSI was cool as usual. Here are a few pictures and descriptions of some of the exhibits.

Kids really enjoyed this TV / camera machine. There was a dial that you could make the camera do all sorts of weird effects.

This was in the Gadgets area – it was a chair you could sit in and then pull yourself up using a pulley system (either 2, 3, or 4 pulleys to make it easier or harder)

Kids trying to use their feet to push a series of pistons. It didn’t work out too well for some reason.

While the little kids were in the little kid area, I took the big kids out because they were not allowed in. There was a live exhibit with someone demonstrating an electrostatic generator. So they had everyone get in line and hold hands and then the first person (who was touching the generator) touched hands with the second person in line (who was holding hands with everyone else down the line). Shock! Kids were not amused with that :-)

Another exhibit they liked was one where you could talk into this microphone and make it do all sorts of weird things with your voice. All the kids liked that.

We stayed till about 1:00 and then ate a picnic lunch and headed up to Cleveland. We also got a bunch of license plates in the COSI parking lot! We had pizza with my parents in Cleveland and then my grandpa and his new wife came over for desserts. We hung out with them for awhile and then snapped this family picture (minus the baby who was sleeping)


It was a fun day!

Remember, budget is $250
Earlier days: $34
Thursday: $5 in snacks for the car
Friday: $3 for parking at COSI

Total so far: $42

2009 Staycation, Part 1

So we have been planning a “staycation” here in and around town for awhile, and this past week we started it off.

First off was a Reds game on Tuesday night. It rained pretty much the entire day and it was not looking good for a game, but about 5:00 p.m. the clouds lifted and it actually turned out to be a very nice evening.

I took the 2 biggest kids with me.

Here we are in front of the stadium. Notice that my kids have inadvertently dressed in Cubs colors. But that’s okay because so did everyone else!! (Seriously it was like 4 to 1 Cubs fans)

We started off up in the upper deck with the $5 seats.

But before too long we moved down to right behind first base.

Reds lost 6-3. The kids kept asking me (constantly) when there were going to be fireworks. I tried to tell them that those were only if the Reds won or if they hit a home run. Winning did not look like an option, and there were no homers either. We went into the 9th inning with the bottom part of the order coming up and up to the plate stepped Wladimir Balentien, who (literally) had a batting average of 0. Naturally he promptly homered for some fireworky action. The kids were amused.

Wednesday was my first day off work and we went up to Dayton to visit the US Air Force museum as well as one of the Wright Brothers memorials.

Carolyn and the baby at the National Aviation History Museum (which was inside the AF museum)


Kids in front of one of the airplanes.

Ah… feel the love!

So the goal for this staycation was a budget of $250.


  • Reds Tickets: $15
  • Reds Parking: $2
  • Reds program: $1 (actually it was 50 cents but I round up)


  • Museums: Free
  • Wendys afterwards: $16

Total so far: $34.

An interesting perspective on parenting

So, I had an interesting thought on a different perspective on parenting while sitting in Priesthood class last week at church.

Within the past few weeks, Carolyn and I were talking about our kids (of course). And Carolyn was mentioning how you can’t treat kids as “little adults”. Meaning, that you think that you can just reason with them like you would reason with any regular person. Things like “If you continue teasing your sister, you will go to your room and not get a snack” or “If you won’t wear your shoes outside, then it will hurt when you walk across the gravel driveway” or “If you run into me with that shopping cart one more time, then I will take it away from you”. But they just don’t get it, and often do things that are not in their (rational) best interests. And as Carolyn pointed out, it’s because they are in fact NOT little adults, and their minds just aren’t mature enough to grasp that.

So while sitting in class on Sunday, we were tangentially talking about something like this, and I got the insight that this is probably EXACTLY how our Heavenly Father thinks about us, as HIS children.

He’s probably sitting up there thinking “Man these kids are SO stupid. I have told them over and over what they need to do to be happy, but they still do all this stupid stuff! Grr……….: :-)

$100 in coins!!!!!!

So as many of you are undoubtedly aware, for the past year or so (okay, okay, it’s been exactly 380 days according to my nerdy detailed spreadsheet), I have been trying to find $100 in coins. Well, actually it started out being just coins but I expanded it to just any found money.

I went into today at $97.76 and then the fam headed to the mall for Cow Appreciation Day. i.e. dress up like a cow and get free Chick-fil-A.

Family going to Chick-Fil-A

Immediately when we got there, we checked the racecar strollers. This has been a good source of coins – at the mall they have these racecar strollers that you can rent for $5. When you return them, you get 4 quarters back. But sometimes people don’t return them, or they don’t put them back in the dock right, or sometimes they try to return them but the bank of places to turn them in is full. So we tested the strollers near the food court and boom – one of them came right out – it hadn’t been returned correctly, so we were up to $98.76. Then it was off to Chick-Fil-A. We ordered 4 #1 meals and 3 #3s – all free!

The manager came out and wanted to take our picture with the cow. We were snapping pictures too – you can see more on FB.
Meeting the Chick-Fil-A cow

We found 2 dimes and a bunch of pennies at the mall that put us up over $99 and I started thinking about how if I had a good day tomorrow that I might hit $100. We were really trying to find a nickel for the 2nd straight day of coin cycle but couldn’t find one. Then, as we were leaving, we spotted a family with a racecar stroller that was heading towards the Miller Family play area (i.e. where Nordstrom is under construction). We had previously noted that the bank that is located by the exit there was full, so we thought that might bear watching. Instead, they turned to go out another exit and left the mall with their stroller. We “discreetly” followed them.

They got into their car and just left the stroller in the parking garage. After a bit of loitering as we waited for them to drive away, we pounced on the stroller and took it back into the mall. We headed down and returned it. Here’s me returning the stroller that put us up over $100.

Me returning the $100 stroller

And here’s the final 4 quarters that did it.
Scott with the final quarters

So now what? I’m not sure – I still plan on trying to find coins and other money but I’m not sure what to set as my next goal. Maybe I’ll try to hit $200 by the end of the year?

Fathers Day 2009

So I thought I would share some things I got for Fathers Day. Of course not the big chocolate candy bars that I got at church – I’m not sharing those! Well, actually come to think of it I did share them with Carolyn. But they’re gone now.





A few comments. The first one might be somewhat hard to read because it got ripped :) . Also, we appear to be having a date problem. That is, unless they used last year’s card and trusted me not to notice!!! (If so, you got me!)

I liked Joel’s answers, especially about the popcorn. As I recall, I actually don’t really care for popcorn, but I guess if I did, it would definitely be the yummy yummy kind. He also drew a picture of the 2 of us on the back of that paper but it didn’t scan well.

Thanks kids!