Many Magical Things I Learned During Christmas Break

01.5.2009 | 12:38 pm

I have learned several very important things about myself — and, since I consider myself to be the perfect expression of ordinariness, about everybody in the whole world — during the past few weeks of vacation.

I would like to share them with you.

The Magic of the Lack of Deadlines

I have been writing this blog for close to four years, now (the actual four-year anniversary of my first entry occurs May 9). I have been remarkably consistent in that four years. In fact, I’ve been writing so consistently that I didn’t think that when I said I was going to take a vacation that I’d actually do it. I figured I’d take a couple of days off, then get the itch, and then start writing every day again.

That did not happen.

Without a deadline, evidently I am more than happy to turn into a non-writing slackaholic (yes, there’s such a substance as “slackahol,” and it’s delicious). I didn’t write at all for a couple weeks — not on the blog, not on the special projects I had planned (but which I had not set a deadline for), not on anything.

I didn’t answer email. I didn’t write a Christmas letter.

But my failure to get things done wasn’t limited to writing. I also failed to execute my magnificent plan for how I’d fit all the bikes and both cars into the garage, and yet still be able to get to our storage area. It’s a complex, wonderful plan involving many hooks and no small number of pulleys. And I didn’t even get it started. So it’s a good thing there’s so much snow and ice on the road that Susan isn’t even tempted to go down the ramp and out the garage right now, because that route is currently choked with hastily parked bikes.

So what did I do? Well, you’ll figure that out from some of the other things I learned.

The Magic of No Particular Time to Rise

I am an early riser in a family of late risers. One of my boys is in fact on the government’s list of suspected vampires.

So for the first couple days of my vacation I’d get up early, exercise, and then sit around for a couple of hours waiting for someone else to wake up.

And then I started sleeping later. And later.

By the end of my first week of vacation I wasn’t getting up until 8, so that I finished exercising around 10. Or 11. By then, everyone but the (suspected) vampire was up, and the day would begin — ending sometime after midnight, the existence of which I was previously unaware.

I Am Magically Unobservant

I have mentioned before that one of my most highly-regarded superpowers is the ability to buy the right gifts for the right people. This year, that power came in handy, since it was — for the first time ever — my responsibility to buy most of the presents for everyone in the family.

For the twins, this mostly meant buying the stuff they had written down — in startling detail — in their Santa lists. The most difficult part of this was deciphering their spelling.

For the boys, I just went to and bought stuff I would have liked to have when I was a teenage boy. Did you know, for example, that you can now purchase remote-control flying saucers and fly them around your house?

Admit it: right now you are wishing you had a flying saucer.

Here’s the thing, though: It wasn’t that easy to find a great present for Susan. Finally (hat-tip to my Mom, who helped me find this), though, I got her a new easy chair. And this chair does it all:

  • Electronic-controlled leg rest and recline
  • Power lift and tilt to make it easy to get out of the chair
  • Heat
  • Massage

Yes, it really does all those things. Unfortunately, the one we wanted was only available in red or blue (no carbon wrap available at this time). I chose the lesser of two evils and went with blue.

Here it is, after it has been delivered and signed for:IMG_1518.JPG

You see the problem? Yes, that’s right. I didn’t even notice that this blue chair is in fact red until an hour or two later, when one of my kids pointed it out. Even then, I held out hope that when Susan saw it, she’d just say, “Oh, this red one is just fine; let’s go with it.”

The blue one will be delivered this Friday.

The Magical Secret Behind Riding the Rollers

During this break, I did make one very useful discovery: how to ride the rollers without quitting. You see, I’ve had this problem lately of coasting to a halt when I came to a boring part in the show I’m watching. I’d –practically unconsciously — just put my hand out to the wall for balance and coast to a stop.

The solution was remarkably easy: I moved my rollers out away from anything I can put out to balance myself, so now if I want to stop, I’ve got to clip out and put my foot down on the rails at the side of the rollers — a precarious motion, fraught with danger and not taken lightly.

Since I have done this, I find I now only stop between episodes.

Around here, that’s what passes for an epiphany.

Several Very Important Discoveries About The Properties of Shot Bloks Once They’ve Reached the One-Year Anniversary of Their Expiration Date

While I didn’t get a lot (OK, any) writing done, I did get one thing done that’s been bugging me for a good long while: I cleaned out the bike food shelf in the kitchen pantry. Among the ancient canisters of Accelerade (unopened: I’m a committed CarboRocket guy) and Vanilla Bean Gu packets was an intriguing treasure:

Two packets of Margarita Shot Bloks, almost exactly a year past their expired date. Even through the packets, I could tell: they were astoundingly hard. Like rocks.

They deserved further investigation. And perhaps experimentation.

Which is what I will write about tomorrow.

PS: See the clever way I just gave myself a deadline?


  1. Comment by dug | 01.5.2009 | 12:43 pm

    sure you just gave yourself a deadline, but you also discovered a magical ability to ignore them. neat.

  2. Comment by Woody | 01.5.2009 | 12:47 pm

    8am is sleeping late? Seriously??

  3. Comment by RachelGio | 01.5.2009 | 12:51 pm

    Oh, yeah, I had a shot blok like that yesterday. I was gonna write more, but would rather hear what you have to say about it tomorrow. : )

  4. Comment by Don | 01.5.2009 | 12:55 pm

    I have a ShotBlok pack that’s 2 months past. I’ll likely eat them soon.
    This had me rolling. Good to see you again!


  5. Comment by Aaron | 01.5.2009 | 1:03 pm

    I have several packets of old ShotBloks. Yes, I think I could cut glass with them. I tried them out, and although they seem to last longer, they REALLY get stuck to my teeth.

  6. Comment by MikeonhisBike | 01.5.2009 | 1:13 pm

    Wait, you bought your daughters gifts off of their Santa lists? Didn’t that confuse Santa?


  7. Comment by WheelDancer | 01.5.2009 | 1:34 pm

    If there was anyone due for a leave it all behind vacation, I’d say it was you.

    Welcome back!

  8. Comment by buckythedonkey | 01.5.2009 | 1:43 pm

    I went out on Sunday and it was cold enough to freeze my bidons. Both of them. It never gets that cold here, so this was quite an event I can assure you.

    While I cannot comment about past-their-best ShotBloks, I learned something important about Jelly Belly beans yesterday: below zero they become a new, improved form of dental adhesive.

    Having chucked a handful into my mouth, I chewed hard (for those cold beans were hard) and found myself lock-jawed all the way up the climb to Ranmore Common. Not sure which flavour was the culprit (it was a mixed bag) but the finger of suspicion points at Top Banana.

    Happy New Year!

  9. Comment by Big Boned | 01.5.2009 | 2:09 pm

    Nice to see you back. If you need any help with garage project let me know. I can always use another car or bike. Giving me either item will help clear the ramp I’m thinking…
    Big Boned

  10. Comment by Arlyn | 01.5.2009 | 2:13 pm

    Happy New Year Fatty,

    I also reverted into a late-sleeping troll, sometimes not becoming conscience until 10am. It was really nice to know that I had absolutely nothing to do.

    I used to love shotblox and now I have two extra CASES of them and can’t stand them. Looking forward to hearding what experiments I can run on the overage. Vanilla Bean GU is still my absolute fav.

  11. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 01.5.2009 | 2:51 pm

    8am? What’s 8am? Is that even part of the real world?

    Actually, slackahol is so real, and so delicious, that there are actually a lot of slackaholics. And support groups. And 7 step plans. Don’t ask how I know this.

    I’ve also perfected the Christmas shopping thing. My technique is to work like a dog in the blazing sun, earn lots (a relative term) of money, deposit it directly to the credit card to prevent getting arrested, watch as the pile of presents grows each day while I’m at work.

  12. Comment by Ken | 01.5.2009 | 2:55 pm

    Mike- is a 7-step plan just a 12 step plan with a few steps removed?(since we are dealing with slackahol) I personally think slackerness is much maligned… I prefer to think of it as being efficient and/or just dealing with the highest priorities.

  13. Comment by Hilslug | 01.5.2009 | 3:18 pm

    I think year old Shot Bloks morph into turbo powered Jolly Ranchers.

  14. Comment by Emy | 01.5.2009 | 3:19 pm

    While I have happily eaten expired shot blocks of many assorted flavors, I have NEVER “happily” eaten a margarita flavored shot block–expired or otherwise. I can’t imagine they’d get any better and the thought that they might get worse is making me gag. Seriously. Those things are nasty. Can’t wait to hear how your experiment goes!

  15. Comment by LidsB2 | 01.5.2009 | 3:22 pm

    Welcome back Fatty. I’ve had your url on a 30 minute refresh cycle waiting for a post today (I did accomplish some work between each refresh). Being the not-so-proud owner of half of a case of Margarita Shot Bloks, I’m eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s post as well. So far I’m fairly confident they won’t be fatal. But how much discomfort will they cause? As a perpetual cheapskate, I’m hoping to be able to use them up rather than throw them out. Tell me what I want to hear, please!

  16. Comment by Lizzylou | 01.5.2009 | 3:33 pm

    Good thing I don’t like the margarita variety of shot bloks. Scarry.

  17. Comment by kiwi | 01.5.2009 | 3:36 pm

    Colour is always important to a woman.

    Red bad, blue good…need I say more?

  18. Comment by Born 4Lycra | 01.5.2009 | 3:48 pm

    See now the seat would and did get by me. I’m colour blind altho I like to call it colour confused for Red and Blue. You said you ordered Blue and from what I can see you got it. Nice choice by the way. Even better what a brilliant Xmas pressie for Susan I also tips me lid to your mum.
    Hope everyone in your Household had a great Xmas and New Year.
    Arlyn it’s good to know you get a conscience after 10.00am – how long does it last for?

  19. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.5.2009 | 3:49 pm

    yes. I DO want an RC flying saucer. And I want to challenge Ender to a dual to the saucer death.

  20. Comment by BurkeInTheOzarks | 01.5.2009 | 4:08 pm

    Welcome to 2009! Great post, as always. It’s good to hear from you.

  21. Comment by Beth | 01.5.2009 | 5:19 pm

    Welcome back Fatty! It is great to be able to look forward to your posts again – yay for deadlines!

  22. Comment by Dobovedo | 01.5.2009 | 5:19 pm

    I figured the chair was called “purple” and that at least you could say you were half right. Oh well.

  23. Comment by Mary | 01.5.2009 | 5:22 pm

    I also succumbed to the not working, may as well sleep-in, seduction of the holidays. Getting up for work today was not pleasant. I do not have a suspected vampire in my house, but I do have a daughter home from college for the holidays. I’ll be writing about her sleeping habits in my blog tomorrow. I bet she could give your (suspected) vampire a run for the money.

  24. Comment by Dobovedo | 01.5.2009 | 5:23 pm

    Why not just market and resell the Shot Bloks as Shot Rocks? Time-release energy cubes. Dissolves slowly over a period of… hours? days? months?

  25. Comment by justrun | 01.5.2009 | 5:42 pm

    Midnight exists? Like every night? Weird.
    Glad you’re back!

  26. Comment by SYJ | 01.5.2009 | 6:08 pm

    C’mon fatty…Blue over Red? Even with the U winning the sugar bowl this year? And the Y’s performance in Vegas? I’d think you could make an exception this one time. (I’ll return to cycling once the Nat’l Championship game is done)

  27. Comment by oilcanracer | 01.5.2009 | 6:20 pm

    ha…..checkout “church of the subgenius” for real slackers.

  28. Comment by Charlie | 01.5.2009 | 6:53 pm

    No way can a petrified shot block be as hard as a Powerbar on a ski lift in 0 degree weather…

  29. Comment by Charisa | 01.5.2009 | 7:58 pm

    Shot roks are not good!

  30. Comment by Tinker | 01.5.2009 | 9:48 pm

    Since I am, more or less, permanently retired now, I can sleep until all hours of the afternoon. Since, in the process, I learned I have obstructive sleep apnea, this explains where my time goes, fairly much. The hard part is learning to ignore the sunlight in my eyes. The easy part is the diagnostic test is fairly simple/painless, as medical diagnosis goes, you get to sleep through it all!

  31. Comment by Jon | 01.5.2009 | 11:34 pm

    I found some of those old shotblocks in my camelback on my first snowboarding trip this year. A year past expiration and 12 degrees. They were hard as ice cubes. Funny thing is…. I ate them! It took about 5 minutes each to get them down, probably burned more calories eating them than they provide.

  32. Comment by Penny | 01.5.2009 | 11:58 pm

    I’d have kept the red chair.

    As for the Shot Block, I consider them like candy. They don’t last long and they’re a good reason to ride.

    Happy New Year!

  33. Comment by Susan | 01.6.2009 | 1:01 am

    Ahhh…midnight is grand. So is 1 a.m. – second night in a row; and it’s back to work tomorrow. Wonder if I can actually do it?? It’s tough being a night-owl. (Preferred terminology over vampire!! :) )

  34. Comment by buckythedonkey | 01.6.2009 | 4:32 am

    6th of the month = TwinSix T-Shirt of the Month Day… :-)

  35. Comment by MOCougFan | 01.6.2009 | 10:09 am

    I’m glad Susan was able to hold the line on Blue. Can’t have a red chair in the house. I opened my dental office 18 months ago. Blue and Gold baby.

    Lids… don’t be a cheapskate. Use em or lose em flyboy.

    Good to have you back Fatty. Missed your humor. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post.

  36. Comment by Kathleen | 01.6.2009 | 11:00 am

    Oh good, all is right in Blogland once again. Hi friends!

  37. Comment by Lowrydr | 01.6.2009 | 11:24 am

    I to wish to say welcome back to this internet thingie.

    As for having a Vampire in the house, just squirt him with some garlic water to see if he screams. Then again if the water is cold he’ll scream anyway and won’t prove anything. But it is entertaining when you have nothing else to do.

    And does he just get up so he can fall asleep again on the couch 10 minutes later. If so, I have one of them in my house too. But mines older and refuses to move out.

    Let me know how the garlic works.

    Thoughts and Good Karma to Susan and the rest of the gang.

  38. Comment by bubbaseadog | 01.6.2009 | 8:18 pm

    i think u can make a dentist rich by eating or trying to chew old shot blocks (any flavor) not just good old fahioned dds. but orthodonts and plate and bridge makers.remove a crown easily or lose your partial not to mention what it might do to your colon…..


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