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October, 2011

  1. Flexible Tennis for Busy People

    October 22, 2011 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    I played tennis in high school (albeit, not well) because it's fun, a good way to stay in shape, relatively, social, a sport you can play for life, etc.

    But I was hesitant to pick tennis back up in Atlanta because the leagues sounded so formal, so serious… and so committed. I am committed to playing, but I don't want to have to play EVERY Sunday afternoon or every Tuesday. What if I have plans? What if I go out of town. I wanted something flexible.

    Then someone (I believe my former coworker Elizabeth) told me about Atlanta's Flexible Tennis Leagues. They are designed for busy people who still want to get their tennis in.

    There are two here in Atlanta — T2 Tennis and Ultimate Tennis (formerly known as "KSwiss") — but they essentially work the same way.

    1. You pay $30 to sign up (singles or doubles).

    2. You select your ranking/skill level. You can play a "verification match" with someone if you want to make sure you're signed up in the right skill level. I signed up for 3.0- (3.0 "low") and it's been perfect for me. (T2 and Ultimate us USTA ratings, which go from 2.5 to 5.0. They also have "half" levels. In other words, if you're slightly better than 3.0, you can sign up as a 3.0+).

    3. You pick a "home" court. Your home court doesn't have to be at a fancy tennis club; it can be your apartment complex or a public park. The hubs and I both play out of Glenlake Tennis Center in Decatur. Court fees are reasonable: maybe $10-$16 for a two-hour match depending on the courts. And if you play at your apartment or condo complex, they're likely free!

    4. You're e-mailed a five or six week schedule. For singles, for example, the schedule includes an opponent name and a "play by" date for each week. (The scheduling system automatically picks people who are in your general area of town to cut down on travel times.) Every other game will be "home" (at your court) and every other game will be "away."

    5. Starting with week one, you simply e-mail or call your opponent (using the provided contact information) and ask them when they're available to play. You know, like "Hey Susie — I am your T2 opponent for week one. I can play Tuesday, Oct. 18 after 6pm, Saturday, Oct. 22 at 9am or Sunday, Oct. 23 after 3pm." Your opponent responds ("Saturday 9am works great"). Convenience/flexibility? Check!

    6. Whoever is home court calls and reserves a court. (When you're "home," you reserve the court, pay for the court and provide a new/fresh can of tennis balls.)

    7. Show up and have a good time! (The winner reports the score online.)

    It's actually quite easy — and quite awesome! This is my fifth "season" playing, and I'm having a great time. I've also enjoyed that Dan is playing, too. Maybe one day we'll even try mixed doubles!

    These flexible leagues are also a great way to get started in tennis — just join at the lowest skill level and give it a go. Way fun.

    T2 Tennis is offered in Atlanta; Charlotte; Denver; and Scottsdale.

    Ultimate Tennis is currently offered in Atlanta; Tampa Bay, Florida; the Sarasota, Florida, area; Los Angeles; San Francisco; San Diego; Dallas/Fort Worth; Houston; Austin; and San Antonio.


  2. Urban Chickens

    October 20, 2011 by SavvyInTheCity

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    In August, I got a press release about the Urban Coop Tour (a self-guided tour of Atlanta in-town homes with chicken coops) and forwarded it to my neighbor and friend Vica. I said, "Hey – I thought you'd get a kick out of this!"

    Vica quickly replied to my e-mail and said, "yeah, do you wanna go?"

    To be honest, the event is probably not something I would have attended without being prompted, but I thought, "what the hell?"

    So on September 25, off we went.

    According to the tour web site, "Backyard chickens coops are a fast growing trend in many Hinton Atlanta neighborhoods with families, community gardens and neighborhood co-ops getting in on the action. The dual benefits of farm fresh eggs as well as the experience of reclaiming ownership of the food chain has inspired hundreds of people to get involved. You can't get any more local than walking outside your door and gathering eggs… and the chickens are also pretty cute." Tickets for non-Georgia Organics members were $20 in advance.

    See all my Urban Coop Tour photos on my Flickr photo stream.

    10 things I learned along our 10-coop voyage (the tour featured 24 homes, but we were out of time after 10):

    1. Chickens are only about a $20-$30 per month investment for food and ground cover.

    2. While it varies by breed, chickens lay an average of 1 egg per day (though productivity goes down during colder weather months).

    3. Some neighbors co-op (share chickens and take turns cleaning the coops — which only takes about 30 minutes a week — and pulling the eggs). And apparently, a lot of kids REALLY enjoy having chickens. Eli Williams, coop owner in Decatur on the tour, shared: "The chicken whisperer to Decatur City elementary schools. He started a fascination." Williams' 7 year-old son does most of chicken-keeping legwork at his house: feeding, cleaning the coop, etc.

    4. The chicks themselves only cost about $2 – $3 each, but often you have to go in with others to buy them (many farmers only sell chicks in bulk). A chick needs to mature to ~6 months before it begins producing eggs.

    5. The biggest investment in owning a coop is the coop/chicken house, and coops come in all shapes/sizes/denominations. You can go all out and have a fancy "custom home" built ($2,000+), DIY your own chicken-wire coop for <$200 or go somewhere in between.

    6. While chickens are legit, roosters are illegal in town (make too much noise).

    7. Every metro-Atlanta communities are all different in terms of legislation. According to Michael McLane, a tour volunteer, in Roswell you can have a max 8 chickens. City of Decatur allows yard chickens with almost any setup, while DeKalb County requires two acres of land.

    8. Some coop owners allow their chickens to run wild ("free range"), but it all depends on your backyard; the amount of tree cover and size of your yard plays into the number of predators (owls, hawks, etc.). Some chickens have fallen pray to winged predators… no bueno. Another varmint to watch for: rats. Rats may hang out near a coop because of the food source. It's recommended you keep your coop a little ways from your house, and keep the food suspended.

    9. A chicken breed that's fun but not such a great producer is the "Easter Egger" or Americana: they produce light green, light blue or pink eggs. You'll get more steady egg production with a White Plymouth or Barred Rock breed. Across all breeds, average production is one egg per chicken per day.

    10. More than one homeowner on the tour added chicken coops to their lots to help with bee-keeping, as chickens fight off a certain type of mite that's detrimental to bee colonies.
     

    And I'm not going to lie: I enjoyed the mild voyeurism of getting to snoop around in some fancy homes' backyards.


  3. Aviators! (Affordable Sunnies)

    October 6, 2011 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    It's a surreal day.

    I'm writing this post from my Mac notebook computer. I can't believe we've lost the innovator, software genius and technology mastermind behind Apple. He helped create thousands of devices, computers, apps and more. It's hard to believe the man was only 56 years old. He revolutionized the way we live and work… even down to the way I blog… RIP, Mr. Jobs.

    Well, before I found out the sad news about Apple's founder, I decided I wanted to tell you guys about my new sunglasses.

    Trivial, I know, but sometimes a good deal can at least cheer me up a little.

    I'd been in the mood for a new pair of sunnies for quite sometime. Unfortunately for me, I can't just buy any sunglasses. I've been a prescription lenses wearer for distance vision for about the last three years, which means I can't wear any just ole sunglasses. For driving, sight seeing, etc… I need to see, and that means I need prescription sunglasses.

    Good news for me (and maybe for you?): Zenni Optical. Zenni Optical is a reliable/affordable-probably-made-in-China-kind-of-resource for prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses. It's pretty much the bomb. (See my previous posts about Zenni Optical glasses here.) I'm talking these sunglasses-cost-me-$22-kind-of-sunglasses.

    Anyhoo, these thingamajigs really did only cost me $22, which included the frames, tinting, anti-reflective coating and shipping*. Tell me that's not a great deal! Some of the glasses are even a good chunk less expensive than that.

    Check out traditional, funky, fashion and sunglass frames at www.zennioptical.com. Here are a few looks from their site:

    (and they have dude glasses, too, btw)

    *Zenni glasses are the bomb… but they do take about 3 weeks to be manufactured, shipped and delivered.