Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Shelter is Up

I just got a call from our director. Conditions at the shelter are "terrible". She's headed in there to see for herself what's going on. I suspect that this may be due to miscommunication with supporting agencies. There were some occasions yesterday when it was stated at the state level that a national volunteer agency would be supplying food, over-the-counter medication and other assistance, which our local folks though was great. The day before, our local personnel indicated that said volunteer agency would absolutely not involved, which our local folks thought was great. I'm wondering which directive (help or not help) the actual agency people were given. That being said, the actual running of the shelter isn't under the purview of my particular agency/employer, but I imagine we'll all do what we can to make things better.

I'm also curious about the state of the facilities. We're working out of a national guard training camp and the evacuees are staying in the barracks. I hadn't gone inside the barracks buildings. Perhaps they're not up to having guests either.

Shortly I'll be getting an update from the site and then I get to break the news to the state ops center that our shelter is awful, though our ops commander may have already done that. I really hope these people have food, water and a place to lay down.

In the meantime, Gustav is still currently a Category 3 storm, but he's hell-bent on visiting New Orleans. (I don't mean to wish a hurricane on anybody else either, but you never hear about Houston having hurricane problems.) Some time around early to mid-morning on Tuesday, he's expected to make landfall around Houma, LA, a bit west of NOLA.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Apple Pie is *definitely* fruit!

I said so. I ate two pieces every night for dinner for 3 days running. It was yummy. I figured it really wasn't horrible calorie-wise since all I ate was the pie and nothing else, probably around 600-700 calories total. Of course, I haven't eaten much in the way of veggies in the past week, so that's not so good.

Holiday Weekend
Well, I'm going to have a different weekend than usual, but not exactly a holiday. There are approx 1000 New Orleans evacuees headed to my end of the state. The first trainload arrives around midnight. Half of that group will end up at our shelter. Our second arrival group is scheduled to arrive on Monday morning and will be put up at the second shelter. The shelters will be open at least two weeks. The details are shaky and highly changeable, which is to be expected given all the variables that affect arrival time, etc. I hit the ground running in the morning with an operations conference call, then take over the command post for a 12 hour shift. The good news is that this same shelter was open with many of the same people in 2005 following Katrina, so it's not a completely new situation for everybody.

The folks coming on the trains are people who were unable to evacuate on their own, due to lack of funds or other transportation. Given that the majority of the train folks are said to be elderly, I suspect that some of them just can't or won't drive on an Interstate highway any more or haven't got a place to go if they could. I hope they have as easy a trip as possible and that they get settled into the shelter ok. I suspect there will be lots of unhappy, stressed and probably weepy/sad people, but we'll do our best to take care of their needs and ease their worries while they're with us.

I'm hoping my headache goes away soon. It's been following me now for a day and a half. If nothing else, the coffee in the command post ought to drive it away. It will be brewed by either a law enforcement officer or an emergency management agency person, so probably strong enough to melt a spoon. In other words, just the thing to overwhelm a headache and get your world a rockin'. And I'm taking my knitting. I might not have a chance to get anything done, but I did knit a sock while I was hanging out in New Orleans in 2005. Heck, one of my co-workers said she knit most of a wrap while at the Katrina shelter. If I don't get a chance to knit, fine, but if I do, that's even better!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I am *SO* glad....

that I don't believe in diets.

I ate two pieces of apple pie for dinner.

That counts as two servings of fruit, right?

Exhausted
I didn't workout yesterday because I was too tired. I did workout today, though it wasn't a full weight circuit. Still, it was better than nothing.

Yesterday, I ate more fatty food than I usually do. I had a salad (which was good) with way too much blue cheese dressing (which was tasty, but less healthy) and a grilled cheese sammich (also good, but less healthy). The tables around us at the restaurant all seemed to be eating onion rings, so I got a side order of them too. They were very tasty, but definitely not healthy. Dinner was a plum and a piece of apple pie.

Today at lunch I had veggie fajitas, but loaded them up with guacamole and sour cream. Also not the healthiest, though I like to tell myself that avocado fat isn't as unhealthy as fries or trans fats. Tonight's dinner was, of course, two pieces of pie. I'd love to call that two servings of fruit (and it might well be), but it also comes with two servings of pastry.

This rather dramatic departure in dietary habits from my usual lowfat, high veggie and high fresh fruit intake may explain my feeling so tired. I even got a good night's sleep last night, but the morning workout didn't help perk me up at all. I'll try an early bedtime again tonight and maybe tomorrow will be more of a zingy day. In the meantime, I'm doing my best toddler impersonation and trying to stay up later than I really should when I'm tired. In fact, I feel a little like this looks:

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's a Triple w00t! Day!

First, I had a great workout and even made a friend while at the gym. The guy on the next treadmill struck up a conversation with me. Turns out he's a retired surgeon. We chatted a bit about medicine, changes in town in the past 40 years and traveling. He and his wife visit one of their kids in Boston and another in Atlanta fairly regularly. He also guessed that I was probably a midwesterner, based upon my diction.

Second, I had an excellent project conference call today and it looks like the three of us project folks will work together quite well. We ought to get the first leg of the project underway in the next 2 weeks. All three of us are quite excited.

Thirdly, this evening I made an apple pie with apples I picked from my very own apple tree. I had intended to have pie for dinner, but by the time it cools properly, it'll actually be bed time. I completely forgot to include any flour or cornstarch with the apples, so it's going to be really juicy. I added a bit of sugar, plus some cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg to the fruit, then dusted cinnamon-sugar over the top crust. It'll make a yummy dinner the rest of the week. The house is redolent with apple pie aroma.

If I Had a Million Bucks...

I'd pay off all my debt, fund my retirement and then I'd spend a chunk of it at Title 9 Sports. I love the colors and the quality of their products. It's just the right combination of function, style and whimsy, plus the "models" are actual active, athletic women, not stick models. Not only do I want the clothes, I look at the women as role models of a sort. The only downside is that they're a bit pricey for my budget, but if I save my clothing budget pennies, I can afford an occasional pair of pants or a sweater. In the meantime, I flip through the catalog or website and drool.

So Much For Plans....
I had every intention of weeding flower beds after work today. Alas, the a wave of rainstorms courtesy of Fay came roaring through just as work let out. So now I'm filling my brain with Star Trek: Next Generation and knitting. It feels somehow decadent to be avoiding work, though I did already get my work clothes for tomorrow ironed and hung up in the car. My gym bag is packed and ready to go as well. (Can you tell that I'm excited to go to the gym at 5:30 in the morning?)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Houston, we may have bad memory!

No, not me. Well, actually, me too, but I'm really referring to my computer. This explains the random re-boots I've been having and why in the middle of shutdown it will re-boot before shutting down. I've disabled the automatic re-starts so I get the actual Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) and the appropriate error codes. I now know that the issue is
"DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL".
This could be due to a hardware or software compatibility issue, a bad paging file or bad memory. I've re-built the paging file and deleted the recently added software apps (which I wasn't using on this machine anyway). We'll see if that helps. Next step will be to run memtest. Oddly enough, I found 512 MB RAM module a few weeks ago when I was cleaning out the computer parts closet. I was tempted to just throw the extra RAM into the machine anyway since I'm running only 512 MB RAM as it is, but I didn't quite get to that. Now I may need to just replace the existing RAM with the found module.

Here's hoping it was just a software conflict....

Of course, what I really need to do is retire this machine and switch over to the Mac for desktop computer operations. I'm dragging my feet because I like my old gaming box and it's pretty comfy for long-term gaming, for the games that still run on it. Of course, my primary game, Asheron's Call, won't actually run on this machine, but Grim Fandango and StarCraft run just fine.

I also have a sentimental attachment to this machine. This is the box that my gaming buddies pitched in and bought/built for me when I needed a gaming box and a PC machine to finish my PhD with (needed to crunch some maps in GIS applications and some stats, but couldn't get time on the "good" computer at school, despite setting a schedule for it). It's been a good machine for me and I've spent a lot of time with it gaming, e-mailing and generally keeping my sanity.

But it's now 5-7 years old and will need a new graphics card if I want to play some of hte new games. That's when the upgrade cascade starts. The current motherboard has AGP slots, which aren't really supported anymore. If I want a top end graphics card, I'll need a new motherboard. If I get a new mobo, then I might as well get a new chipset and move to a duo-core or quad-core processor. That will probably require a new case for better ventillation. The hard drives can stay, but I could use a USB 2.0 card. If I get a new graphics card, why not get a flat screen monitor too? Suddenly I have a new $1200 machine when all I really needed was a graphics card. And then I'd have to figure out what to do with SIX computers in my house, instead of five, when I only really use three of them. *sigh*

Maintenance Day
I decided against working out today. I need to stick around the house and catch up on the housework. The detritus is building up and starting to bother me. I have a bad habit of making piles of "things to handle later". These piles are now bigger than the initial mess was, so that's my sign that it's time to start throwing stuff out and getting the rest of it put away. For a break, I'm going to wax my car and weed the front flower bed, which is now more weeds than flowers. (I also need to re-think the plants in there, since it's not bloomed since July and looks a bit ragged.)

Update:
Turns out the problem isn't memory. It's an overzealous and demented firewall program that now won't let me uninstall the silly thing. Grrrrrr. But it's refused to go away before and I was able to kill it, so I know I'm not completely stuck yet. I have, at least, managed to get the BSOD to go away, so that's a start.

I didn't actually get much tidying up done. I did clean the excess papers off my computer desk and got a bunch of website work done, so that's a start. I only set foot outside to feed the birds.

Next weekend I'll have to do some cooking as both the pear and apple trees are ready to be picked over. I'll make at least one pie and a bunch of pear and apple butter. I might even try a combined pear-apple butter attempt. This reminds me that I need to find a pair of canning tongs somewhere so I can fish the jars out of the water bath.

Now I'm back in my comfy chair, ready to watch either a Harry Potter movie on ABC Family or to watch The Two Towers again while knitting.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Totally Cool!

I saw a totally cool thing this morning at the gym. I'd never really given much thought to blind people and working out, but a blind guy showed up at the gym this morning. The trainer on duty helped him get set up on a treadmill just as I was headed to the shower and when I left for work, he was walking away just like everybody else. It's just about the perfect workout activity for someone that's vision impaired--there are no obstacles to stumble over and the surface is uniformly smooth; if you get stuck or in trouble, just pull the emergency thing clipped to you and the treadmill stops; when you're done working out, you know exactly where you're at (as opposed to having to figure out where on a track you are during a partial lap). The control panel is perfectly smooth (as opposed to having Braille buttons or other texture to show where the buttons are), but there's always a trainer in the gym to help out so that shouldn't be any trouble at all. I hope he continues to come to the gym.

I figured out a mystery this morning as I was getting out of bed at 5:15. In the past, I always complained about "bed suck", which is that property that your bed has that keeps you from being able to get up. Since I started heading over to the gym to workout "with" a co-worker, I've discovered that I even get up on the days that my co-worker can't make it. I wake up, ask myself if I'm too tired to workout and then get up. There is no whining about being tired. There are no excuses being made so that I can stay in bed. I just get up. No excuses. No whining. Just do it, to borrow an apropos phrase.

Oddly enough, the "just do it"/no complaining attitude is oozing over into other parts of my life. I don't make excuses to not do the not-so-fun parts of my job, I just do them. I make a list of what needs to be done, prioritize it and then work on it until the list is done. At the end of the day, the remaining tasks are transferred to the next day and re-prioritized if necessary. I'm much more productive than I was a few weeks ago and that feels great. I've also got more energy to look for new tasks/jobs/things to learn, which comes in handy when there are slow periods. Now I just need to expand this attitudinal change to my chores around the house, particularly the mountain of laundry that needs to be folded and put away. :-)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Training Days

I love it when I get to do a full day of training off-site. It makes the day go sooooooo fast and it's usually really FUN! Today was no exception. My partner and I were also awarded a cookie for being the first to finish our practice exercise. Yay!

And then I came home and watched the end of the Olympic team show jumping event. The US won in a jump-off against Canada. I tried to knit during it, but gave up as I keep stopping to watch the horses. I got a big laugh when I noticed that I was breathing with the horses. (Horses that are galloping exhale when their feet hit the ground and inhale when their feet are all in the air or when they're jumping.) I was very happy to see that Ian Millar of Canada finally got an Olympic medal. I didn't realize he'd never medalled before. I thought for sure that he and Big Ben had received one at some point.

Now I'll keep telling myself that the lawn really doesn't need to be mowed until tomorrow and get back to my knitting!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Veggie Goodness

I grilled some summer squash today. It's going to be the basis for my lunch all this week. I can hardly wait to eat it.

As you can see, I've got lots more left to cook. Ordinarily, I'd pick them much earlier than this, so as to have squash with fewer and smaller seeds. These critters, however, were awaiting me after my week's vacation in July. Depending upon how the slowly declining zucchini and yellow squash plants continue to produce, I may compost these squash and just grill the newer, smaller ones.

I've also got a good supply of tomatoes. I might actually have to do something with them besides eating 2-3 of them a day. I'm just about to exceed my ability to continue eating fresh tomatoes at that pace. It's not that I like them any less, just that I don't feel the need to gorge myself on them because I know I'm going to continue to have tomatoes for several more weeks to come. And after that I'll have green tomatoes, which are also good.

The next garden related activity will be the harvesting of the basil plants. I didn't do a very good job of sowing the seed, but the basil did very well by the back door. This is only 4-6 plants. Time to make some pesto cubes.

Equally productive were the two pineapple sage plants I found at Lowe's. I don't know what I'll do with the leaves, but I love how it smells. I have a lemon-sage cookie recipe. I wonder how pineapple sage would do in that. Might have to give it a try.

Working Out Update
I did a full hour on the treadmill on Saturday morning, plus a complete weight circuit. I'll have to add the pec deck soon and some crunches. The pool is looking increasingly appealing too, but I don't think I'm ready to swim laps yet. For some odd reason, the networked weight machines don't record my workouts to the server. I've been having to add my weight circuits manually, which rather defeats the purpose of logging into the machines before I lift. So far, I have lifted the total weight equivalent of 5 elephants! (At least that's what Fitlinxx.com says)

I don't think I've actually lost any weight, but I did pull my belt in a notch the other day. I don't think my jeans fit that much more loosely. I'm still waiting to fit into my navy blue Dockers. Two more weeks and I might be there. Oddly enough, I'm just entertained by going and getting sweaty. I don't really need the motivation of the race in January to keep me going. I'm having fun getting out of the house and seeing folks at the gym who smile and wave. And the mighty endomorphins don't hurt either.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Good Works Are Rewarded!?

Ok, this is an interesting story. I complimented a listserv moderator earlier in the week on how he handled issuing a correction to a post he'd made. I thought it was handled very professionally and graciously and told him I was considering using that response as a template for my future boo-boos. He replied a day later thanking me for my kind words and mentioned that one of his former grad students works for my employer. I replied back and said I really enjoyed working with said student and thought said student was a valuable addition to our organization. I also mentioned a couple of projects that I'm working on with former student. Moderator writes back with some suggestions and ideas about these projects. A bit more back and forth ensues talking about satellite imagery and predicting tick habitat/presence. At one point I comment that I always thought it would be pretty straightforward to create a national predictive atlas of tick species. The reply I got today was "If you're seriously interested, let us know. I've cc'd the go-to person on the project." !!!

Wow. I never would have expected that to happen. Going from compliment to project in 4 days! Heck, I never even considered going from compliment to project at all!

I did, of course, say I was interested. I don't know what I can contribute, but I can certainly work with satellite data. I guess it's time to wait and see what happens next! Time to do some background reading on tick biology. I've worked on tick projects before and even on tick projects involving satellite imagery, but my PhD research was actually on mosquitoes. It's been ten years since I had to know detailed tick biology. Fortunately I never quite got around to throwing out my four file boxes full of research articles....

Working Out!

I tried to not go workout this morning. I even stayed in bed a bit late, trying to decide if I was tired. When my feet hit the floor, they took me to the bathroom to wash my face and put in my contacts, then to where I had left my workout clothes for today. All righty then. Looks like a workout day! I had just under an hour to workout, but it was just the right amount of time to do a full weight circuit. Tonight I'll hopefully get to bed a bit earlier so I can get out of bed a bit earlier and get in a full hour of cardio.

And I had a deja vu moment with my workout clothes and packing my gym bag last week. That was weird. Oddly enough, I also remember when I had the dream that it was weird to dream of working out/workout clothes when I absolutely wasn't doing any working out and hadn't been working out for several years.

How I Made My Sister Nearly Wet Her Pants
I left her voicemail yesterday. Voicemail in which I sang the Oscar Meyer Weiner Song as loudly as I could, in my best 5 year old's voice. Apparently she laughed so hard, she nearly wet herself.

So now, after that splendiferously spectacular day, I'm going to park my behind in my favorite chair and watch the Olympic dressage competition while knitting. Then I'll go mow my yard. w00t!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Raccoons,Turkeys and Deer! Oh My!

Yes, sports fans, I did indeed see all of those things today. First it was the mama raccoon crossing the road with three younglings. Then it was a whole family reunion of turkeys (at least two Toms with a couple hens and some younglings). Finally, I saw a solo doe. Maybe her kids were still in school. Alas, I was too slow with my old camera to get any pictures.

How did I accomplish this zoological feat on a work day, you ask? Well, today was another tick collecting day. These critters were all crossing the one of the back roads while I was wandering around LOST! I'm hereby resolving to purchase myself a Gazetteer for my state since the Google Maps seem to be not sufficiently accurate and the street signs may well have been "adjusted" so as to point in the wrong directions. Fortunately I have some semblance of an innate sense of direction and was able to at least keep going generally to the west, knowing that I'd sooner or later hit highway 70 and be able to re-establish navigation from there. But I did spend about 45 minutes wandering around the Backside of Nowhere. (During which time Twitchh sent me a text message telling me that Nowhere had called and wanted its backside back. I very nearly shot coffee out my nose and onto the windshield.)

Now, for the most important question: Why on earth was I out collecting ticks? Am I nuts? By now, you should know the answer to the latter is "yes". The answer to the former is that I'm working on a Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) project with colleagues from elsewhere in the state and also helping to characterize which tick species live where in the state. Later this year I'll be taking the lead in a collaborative project with CDC on RMSF.

The next question is invariably "How do you catch ticks?". This is easy. You drag a piece of white flannel behind you as you walk through the woods and other appropriate tick habitat. The ticks which are out looking for critters to feed on will grab onto the flannel as it goes past, then you stop periodically and remove the ticks from the drag, putting them in alcohol-filled vials. Yes, I wear repellent on myself and I check myself thoroughly for ticks at the end of the day. I have found several ticks on me at the end of collecting days, but never any embedded ticks. I also know to seek medical attention and a nice doxycycline prescription if I develop a fever, headache, rash, myalgia, etc.--the usual signs/symptoms of tick-borne disease. Today I found lots of ticks. Two weeks ago I wasn't as lucky. I'll go out again in two weeks.

I really enjoy fieldwork. I like to get out of the office and actually DO some epidemiology/public health stuff. It's a nice change from crunching numbers and analyzing things with the computer. The weather today was gorgeous--in the upper 80s to lower 90s, with a light breeze--and I had a Dean Koontz audiobook to listen to while I wandered around the woods. All in all, it was a great day. I had so much fun that I completely forgot to eat lunch! I didn't even figure that out until I got back into town at 5 pm and realized I was really hungry.

Gratuitous photo from my Florida vacation:
This is as close as we got to the shuttle launch pad 39B. The two wide driveways to the left are actually the crawler tracks. The tour took us past 39B to 39A as well and also to the landing strip. Very cool and definitely worth the extra money for up close bus tour!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

You know you've been going to the gym a lot when...

it is strange to take a shower at home. I wonder if this will result in less bathroom cleaning time. Probably not. I suppose there will be less soap scum, but probably the same amount of mold/mildew. I keep forgetting to use my handy dandy Spongebob Squarepants squeegee on the shower doors. Usually I remember about 20 minutes after I'm out of the shower.

I was actually somewhat motivated this morning. I folded and put away nearly all the clean laundry from the past two weeks. Now I just have a stack of t-shirts to fold and put away. I'll get that done before bed. I really ought to clean up the kitchen. If I'd empty the clean dishes out of the dishwasher, I could actually get the backlog of dirty dishes in there and cleaned and then put away. Sounds easy enough, right?

Obnoxious Behavior
While out grocery shopping earlier this week, I saw an interesting exchange between a teenaged girl and her mother. The teenager was apparently being told she couldn't have or do something she wanted. Her response to being told no was to reach out and flick her mother in the nose with her finger. The mother just laughed nervously and ignored it. No discipline was meted out at all. This exchange happened just as I approached the check-out lane and I was tempted to tell the girl she ought to have a little respect for her mother, but I figured it wasn't worth the effort since the mother didn't apparently care that she was being treated that way. I'm guessing this kid hasn't had much discipline or many boundaries set. That sort of disrespectful behavior could easily be nipped in the bud with toddlers. I guess I'm old-fashioned or perhaps it comes from some of my background with animal behavior, but *someone* has to be the parent/leader. Yes, it's good to be your child's friend and confidant, but sometimes you have to set boundaries and limits and be the adult. I wonder how much this particular mother complains about how awful her child has behaved in the past and blames the child for being "wild" or "independent". I'm not at all against independence in kids. I'm pretty darned strong-willed and independent myself, but there's a time and a place for that. Flicking a parent in the nose when you don't get your way isn't the time, place or method for exerting your independence. That is, however, a lovely indication of incredible immaturity and a bratty personality, IMO.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Sigh....

I had high hopes for today. It started reasonably well. I woke up early, feeling rested and no longer aggravated. I caught up on e-mail, then headed over to the gym where I had a good workout. After the gym, I stopped by the GoodWill store and found two sweaters (one wool and one cashmere) which I'll unravel for shawl yarn. Got home, mowed the yard, picked tomatoes and got started on the backlog of website updates. That's where things started to go downhill.

I discovered last week that there's a problem with the directories and I can't save edited files. I let the sys admin know and he increased the directory size limit. I still can't save files. My co-webmaster is able to save files just fine, so we deduced that the problem is with my home directory. So I set about deleting more personal files. It still didn't reduce my directory size very much. I have now deleted all of my personal files except for one 1767KB image. I'm still over quota. I don't get it. I understand that I don't get to use my entire quota and that there is overhead, but overhead that exceeds the actual quota?! What frustrates me even more is that I haven't added any files to my personal directory in months, but now I'm suddenly over quota? Sounds fishy to me. But the end result is that I've got about 2 dozen website updates to make and a class schedule to change that I cannot get to and people are starting to make 2nd requests. Grrrrrr.

Here's hoping I can calm down by knitting and not snap a needle or anything. Right now I really want to beat something to a pulp. Good thing the server is in a different state.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Meh

It's been one of those weeks and today was the worst day by far. Earlier this week, one of my supervisors bounced into my cube to tell me that a fellowship program I had considered applying for last year has a deadline coming up soon and I should make sure to apply, "not that I'm suggestion you should leave or anything". Well, that was a not-so-subtle hint. Funny that same person told me that the reason I have been having trouble getting along with people is that I don't put enough into it, yet now I'm feeling more than a little bit of pressure to get the heck out. Wow. And just what if I thought I might stay for a few more years? I guess that option is not terribly popular. I can take a hint. I'll get my offending personage out of their presence within the next 12 months, regardless of whether or not I can find a job first. Life is too short to spend it in the presence of people who wish you'd just go away.

Now I'm watching the Olympic opening ceremonies and they're just making me depressed. I enjoy seeing the great variation in team costumes/wardrobes. They are so colorful and varied in style from track suits to jeans/polo shirts to shirt/tie/sport coat to traditional robes. And the smiles on everybody's faces. For most of the athletes at the Olympics, there will be no medal. There will be a few days of excruciating effort with heartbreak at the end. Perhaps the Olympic Creed will bring them comfort:
"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
There is a Visa commercial running right now for the Olympic Games that drives this point home. It's about British track and field athlete Derek Redmond in the 1992 Summer Games. Derek was running the 400 meter sprint semi-final when he tore his hamstring muscle and fell. I remember watching him fall and seeing the agony on his face as the rest of the runners went on. Then he struggled to his feet and limped onward toward the finish line, barely able to bear any weight on his right leg. His father barged past security and on to the track to assist his son. father and son completed the lap of the track together, with Derek leaning on his father's shoulder for support. As they crossed the finish line, the 65,000 people in the stadium rose to give Derek a standing ovation.

I sincerely wish that professional athletes were not allowed in the Olympic Games. I find it highly ironic that it's now absolutely acceptable for pros to play in the formerly amateur Games, but Jim Thorpe had his medals for track and field stripped because he had played minor league baseball prior to becoming an Olympic athlete. The medals were later restored to him, but not until thirty years after his death.

Now that the Olympic Games are populated by pro athletes (at least for the U.S. team), I don't think they are much of a viable dream for kids any more. I remember watching the Games as a kid and thinking that maybe I could do that. Maybe I could learn to ride a horse well enough or practice hard enough to run fast enough.... Of course, everybody that ever heard me say I might like to try also told me that it was stupid to wish for that because it would never happen. Eventually, I believed them and the dream withered and died. Now watching the opening ceremonies makes me sad because it reminds me that I didn't hold on to that dream and that I let other people crush it.

It's been a dream-crushing sort of week. I'm trying to remind myself that I did good things this week: I went to the gym four days this week; on at least three different occasions, I chose the difficult right over the easy wrong even when nobody was looking or would have found out; and I did two scary (for me) things successfully. Right now I just want to crawl under a rock and hide, which just means the meany, negative people around me have won, which makes me feel even worse. Ugh.

Yard Lizard Update
The punk rock yard lizard with the neon blue tail is a blue-tailed skink that looks just like this:


Friday, August 01, 2008

Now I've Done It.....

I worked out last night at the Y. I had so much fun that I'm going to join the Y tomorrow. I really really really wanted to go join tonight after work, but we had a last minute Friday afternoon disaster at work, so I was delayed past 5:30 and I figured there wouldn't be anybody who could get me signed up after normal business hours. I did call and check that there WILL be someone there all day tomorrow who can get me signed up, so that's good. My workout buddy and I have already agreed to meet at the gym at 6am on Monday. Yay!!! I'm soooooo excited!!!!

Now I need to start planning workouts. I'm focusing on my walking/running ability, but I also want to take advantage of the rather large selection of weight machines and pool too. As long as I'm planning workouts, I need to get my meal plan figured out too. I completely fell off the wagon with respect to planning what I eat about the time I went on vacation. Given that it's supposed to be over 100 degrees this weekend, I think I'll have plenty of planning time when I'm NOT out in the sticky, sweltering heat.

As extra motivation to keep working out, my sister and I have officially registered for the Disney World 5K race in January 2009. That's what we finally decided to do for my 40th birthday. Yep, that's right. Run a 5K race. We'd thought about doing the half marathon, but it was already full. My co-workers think we're crazy because vacations are supposed to be for laying around on a beach and eating. I dunno, getting skin damage/cancer and getting fat/clogging my arteries just doesn't sound like that much fun to me. I'd rather go run around.