Adidas Men’s Sport Low Cut Performance Sock and My Best Childhood Christmas

One of my fondest memories of my Uncle Jack occurred the Christmas when I was about 10 years old.  We had driven out to Arizona to visit family and that in and of itself was memorable enough.  I can remember going outside with my brother and my uncle to throw the Frisbee back and forth down the perfectly flat and straight street before everyone else was up and ready to open presents.  Not only was it not snowing, it wasn’t even cold.  Not only was it not even cold, it was hot.  We were wearing shorts.  But that isn’t best part.

At our house we always take turns opening gifts.  The youngest goes first and everyone sits impatiently waiting for them to finish so they can tear into their own gift watches them, delighted to take in the appreciation of the opener.  Eventually my Uncle Jack’s turn came.  It may have been his last present – let’s say it was.  He unwrapped a smallish floppy package.  I was thinking to myself “tie” when out came a pair of oversized socks.  My Uncle looked a little confused.  “Wow, a single pair of socks.”  He didn’t mind joking around because he knew they were from my grandmother and she was a good sport.  “No,” she said, “they are for when you travel.  You put your shoes in them so they don’t get your clothes all dirty in your suitcase.”  My uncle, the great comedian, noticed that my brother and I could barely sit up straight because we were straining not to laugh out loud and make my grandmother feel bad, muttered “G-g-r-r-e-e-a-a-t,” in the long drawn out way that was his signature move, “shoe warmers.”  My brother and I lost it.  We couldn’t seem to catch our breath.  “I think that’s enough,” said my mom.  But it wasn’t.  We kept laughing until my brother’s face was red and only stopped when corporal punishment was imminent.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned to appreciate good socks.  They really are a good gift (as long as your heart isn’t set on a go-kart or the Death Star Playset).  They are practical.  They feel good.  You can get enjoyment from them every single day.  If you are a runner or a hiker then there is the added appeal of not causing damage – no hot spots, no blisters, no funny marks where the back edge of the sock rubs against the top of the shoe.

So you can understand my excitement when a couple of months ago I tried yet another type of running sock that I had purchased from Costco and it was like a dream (You can also see them at Amazon here).  They were silky and cushy feeling in the store and, best of all, they sold them in an oversized model.  You see most athletic socks seem to be designed for shoe size small-12-if-you-really-stretch-them.  So if you have a size 13 foot this means every sock is pulling on the end of your toes.  No biggie if you are just wearing them to the gym or around the house but if you go out for a long run, it can actually get a little painful.

I’ve bought other running socks before that seemed good for the first few wears but then the luxury seems to get washed right out.  So far, after several times through the washer, these seem to be retaining their fluffiness.

They are not very expensive, so I’d recommend giving them a try the next time you are sock shopping.

PS  Even better than the shoe warmer incident, this was the Christmas that I got my BB rifle.  It had a scope and everything.  It was the single best Christmas present of my materialistic childhood.  We had a great time that holiday season.

How to Make an Instant Cup of Cake

Have you ever wanted just a little cake right now?  Well, a friend of mine explained a super simple way to make cake that is actually healthier than regular cake, tastes pretty good, and goes from cup to mouth in about one minute.  I know it sounds impossible but it really works.  The secret is using angel food cake mix because it already has the egg whites in it.

It is so simple that rather than give you a recipe, I thought I’d just show you pictorially.

STEP ONE – Buy Angel Food Cake Mix

STEP TWO – Buy Any Other Cake Mix

STEP THREE – Blend Cake Mixes Together in a Large Sealable Container (Shaking Then Stirring with a Fork Works Well)

STEP FOUR – Measure out Three Tablespoons of the Mix

STEP FIVE – Measure out Two Tablespoons of Water

STEP SIX – Combine Mix and Water in Coffee Cup and Stir (Double Recipe Pictured)

STEP SEVEN – Microwave for One Minute

STEP EIGHT – Turn Cake out onto Plate (Double Recipe Pictured)

While cooking and cooling, the cake will have a moderately farty smell (I assume from the egg whites).  I expected the cake to be really tough or hard but it is actually more delicate than a normal cake.  It can be frosted though.  It isn’t nearly as good as “real” cake but overall is a nice substitute when a small cake emergency arises.

For you calorie counters here is nutritional info using the two cake mixes I selected:

If you end up giving this recipe a try, let me know what variations you tried and how well they worked in the comments below.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games!  The Hunger Games!  That is all I’ve been hearing lately.  Supposedly, the movie adaptation is even more eagerly anticipated than the next (last?) Twilight movie.  The book has been recommended by a few friends and I’ve seen numerous references to it.  All I knew going into it was that there was some girl with a bow in the woods.  That was a good start since I like archery.

The Hunger Games is a teen book that strikes a surprising balance between the extremes of what boys want in a book and what girls want.  It does not do this by blandly serving up a grey oatmeal of an inoffensive middle ground.  Instead it has a base storyline that zigs and zags from a kissy face girly story of the attractive boys that attempt to win the heart of the courageous female lead character and the could-you-survive-on-your-own, brutal fighting, alternate futureverse that boys will eat up.

I can’t speak to how well the author inspires young women with those aspects of the story but I could easily see this being a favorite book of mine growing up.  It has some wonderful similarities to one of my all-time favorites, Robinson Crusoe.  I worried that it would gloss over the actual hunger games event in favor of the personal relationship aspects of the story, but I was delighted to be completely wrong.  In fact, the bulk of the novel centers on what happens during the games themselves and allows the reader to wonder Would I have done that?  Would this way have been better?  Which weapon would I have chosen?

Besides the focus on the games themselves, this book held another surprise for me:  the brutality.  I have a 12-yr old niece and I would not let her read this book right now if she were my child.  Is it anything worse than what you’d read in an adult murder mystery?  Maybe.  Worse than an adult crime drama.  Probably not.  It is the fact that it is for younger readers that it caught me off guard.  I can agree that teens would be just fine reading this book but it would have to be on an individual basis until they were at least mid-teens.

I don’t want to give away anything more about the story so just go read it for yourself.  It is well written, entertaining, and imaginative.  Melanie and I can’t wait to listen to books two and three of the trilogy.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Hey gang!  Here is a very quick review for your upcoming holiday trips.  I just finished listening to the fictional sci-fi book Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson on audiobook.  It is well performed and I think it is a perfect match for travel – fast-paced, interesting, action-packed and exciting.  I liked it so much that I’ve added it to my recommended reading list in the sidebar.

The absolute worst part of it is the title.  It implies a run of the mill robots terrorize the world story, but in fact is filled with lots of creative ideas.  I noticed that the author has a Ph. D. in robotics and it shows with his command of the subject matter.  He does a good job of creating distinct characters and reasonable dialog but where this book really shines is the big picture concept and how it is realized.  Much like the appeal of the original Jurassic Park, it is the mental exercise of how robots might take over the world that makes this book shine.

With extremely visual scenes that fire the imagination and plenty of incredible action sequences, it is no wonder Steven Spielberg has been in talks to make a movie adaptation.  Any industrial designer would leap at the chance to realize this world and the creatures that inhabit it.

The laughable title caused me to pass this one by without a second glance when it initially came out.  Our local librarian actually suggested it to me along with Ready Player One (which I don’t believe is available on audiobook yet).  So read this book and support your local library!