Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Think This is Progress

This morning my back was not all tied up in knots. I did, however, wake up with a head/neck ache. I got to thinking that perhaps the pain was just moving to the end of my body in preparation of leaving the premises. Alas, that seems to not quite be the case. My hips is bothering me again. Compared to yesterday's back pain, however, this is perfectly fine. I can deal with this with some ibuprofen, caffeine and moving slowly. Yesterday was not particularly manageable with respect to getting things done.

Today I have handwashed a bunch of socks, made food for the baby shower at work tomorrow that I now won't be able to attend (scheduling conflict with a last minute site visit), downloaded Asheron's Call (though I can't get it to actually run), cleaned the master bathroom, emptied the dishwasher, tidied up the kitchen and ate lunch. I also solved NPR's Sunday puzzle in about 30 seconds, which was simultaneously amusing and disappointing. Now I need to vacuum the house, sweep/mop the tile and hardwood floors, work on the messy fiber room and fold/put away all the laundry. I will have to iron clothes this week. I can't say that I'm looking forward to that, but I don't completely hate ironing either. It's just another thing to do, like brushing my teeth and taking out the trash. Speaking of other things to do, my car is due for an oil change.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hip is Good! Now Back is Bad!

I'm very pleased to report that my hip no longer hurts at all. However, I woke up with my back in knots this morning. Surprisingly, this was NOT after an unusually long amount of time spent in bed or any activity other than sleep. A hot pack on my lower back, gentle stretching, 800 mg ibuprofen, a hot shower and eight hours later, I can at least go from standing to sitting (and vice versa) without holding my breath. Needless to say I haven't gotten a whole lot of housekeeping done today. I have, however, watched Wall-E and the shuttle landing. I believe I'll do some knitting in a little bit, since I can do that laying down, which makes my back feel better. Mentally, I'm about ready to go postal from the inactivity. Isn't it amazing how you get used to physically doing stuff and then it drives you NUTS to be a couch potato?

Had toast with marmalade and a banana for breakfast and pancakes for lunch. I might go completely crazy and have oatmeal or hash browns for dinner. It's a breakfast food sort of day. I have, however, gotten dressed in real clothes and even put on shoes. I did NOT stay in my PJs all day.

Oh, and I ordered a new video card (and a bigger power supply to drive it) for my gaming PC. I've got too much computer stuff to do to just work off the laptop. It's also more comfortable to do marathon gaming sessions on the big box. I've had a hankering to run through Quake2 lately and to give Call of Duty a try.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ok, Pity Party is Over.

Things weren't as bad at work today. I did get included in two meetings about some investigations. I'm making a point of not getting my hopes up that I might get to do something besides take notes at a couple of meetings. I think having a more realistic expectation of my involvement will help a lot. I'm also going to make a point of explicitly asking what they want/expect me to do when I do get asked to do stuff, since I clearly have been expecting to do things that are verboten for my position. I did make some progress getting DOBs looked up on 2ooo people, so that was good. The secure FTP server connection is being fixed, which is also good, since I haven't gotten data in a week. Of course, the two server admins involved say it's the other server's problem and nobody changed anything. Uh-huh.

Hip Update
I didn't get to the gym this morning either, though I did make a point of stretching well before and after I showered this morning. Even this afternoon I didn't have the stiffness and pain I had yesterday. I'm happy with that. I'll still take it easy tomorrow if I wake up in time to go to the gym. If I don't get to the gym, I'll definitely get on the trainer at home. I've missed getting sweaty the past two days and I've definitely missed the endorphins.

I Need a Vacation
I have a lot of stuff to accomplish this weekend, like putting all the crap back into my fiber/yarn room. I've got 5 weeks before relatives come to visit for a day. I know my house will be pathetic to them not matter what I do, but maybe it would be nice to make a good showing. I'm trying to tell myself that they don't have to live here and it doesn't matter what they think, but it's really old always having people look down at me. Meh.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hardcore Job Search Commencing

I've hit the final breaking point with my job. I have heard far too many times through the grapevine that there are problems with what I am doing and/or that I am doing things I should not be doing. Nothing is ever actually said to me though. Oddly enough, when I speak with the persons reportedly doing the speaking about my performance, they say things are fine. It would seem that there is some expectation that I should magically know what I am not supposed to do and not do it or what I am supposed to do and do it.

I would be happy to not do bad things or to change my behavior if someone would tell me what they want from me. I even specifically asked what I could/should be doing differently the last time I sat down with my supervisors. There were minor suggestions. I have attempted to implement these suggestions. I have been specifically asking co-workers on a regular basis what I can do to help them. I get told "I'll let you know if I need anything." So, what do I hear at lunch conversations or during breaks when co-workers are in each other cubes gossiping? About how horribly busy they are, that they are completely swamped and could really use help. I have gone up and said, I can help out, just tell me what you need. "Oh, it's not really that bad." Right. Ok. So what you really mean is that you are absolutely certain I have nothing to offer. I'm the only person with any formal training in how to do that job, but I am considered useless for some infuriating and unknown reason. I don't get it, unless the true problem is that allowing me to help would take away their chance to complain.

Today's aggravating moments included half a dozen different people asking me why I wasn't out at a bioterrorism training exercise I didn't even know about because they were sure I was supposed to be there. Of course, several months ago the BT staff were told to stop asking me things to work on things with them, despite the fact that my salary is actually paid out of BT money. The day ended with myself and one other co-worker being the only two people in our side of the office. Co-worker #3 comes up and starts talking to co-worker #2 in a whisper. I didn't think anything of it, until I got up to check the fax machine, stretch my injured hip and get a drink of water. The whispering stops after they see/hear me. I leave. When I return, again I hear the whispering, until they see me, when it stops, but then starts again after I'm in my cube. Next time I think I'll just tell them that I'll go somewhere else so I don't get in the way of whatever it is they have to whisper about since my presence is apparently intrusive. (For all I know they weren't talking about me, but it pisses me off that it happens on a regular basis when I go to/from my cube. I feel the urge on many days to walk around with my hands on my ears and announcing my approach so I don't inconvenience anybody. Why the heck they can't go somewhere AWAY from my cube to have whatever discussion I cannot be allowed to hear, I do not know. I just can't believe they think they're being discreet. Then again, I also happen to be of the opinion that if you are having a conversation at work which nobody else is allowed to hear, perhaps it's not really appropriate to be having it at work. But then we all know that I'm a weirdo.)

If I had 6 mos salary saved up, I'd quit on the 31st (finishing out the pay period), sell my house and move, figuring out the job thing later. In any event, I will not be here in 12 more months, come heck or high water. I'll even take a paycut and give up working in the field in which I got my degree, just to get a job and get the heck out of here. I cannot and will not continue to work in an office where the people I work for refuse to tell me things I need to know, who exclude me from discussions then don't understand when I don't know what they're talking about and who find talking about people to be a valid method of communication. It's far too aggravating, frustrating and enraging. I've already tried three times to address this sort of crap, by asking what we can all do to change things and telling them that I have problems working in the current situation. Ain't nothing changed. It's very clear that it will never change. They win. I quit. They can keep their smug superiority complexes and gossip mongering. I'd rather work with honest, open straight-forward people who dislike me but are trustworthy than the cliqueish Janus-faced bunch I work with now. I'm sure they'll be happy that I'm gone and will have fun making up stories about me.

(I really am trying to keep a good attitude about everything and not let poopyheads get to me or wreck my mood. I'm sorry I'm failing miserably at the moment. I really just wish people would tell me what the heck the problem with me is instead of treating me like either a pariah or like absolutely nothing is wrong. A little honesty would go a long way.)

About the Hip
I overslept this morning so didn't get to the gym. My sister advised I should do 10 min walking, some stretching, 20 min walking and more stretching, then stop for the day. I tried to get up every 50 minutes at work and walk to the other end of the building so I didn't get all stiffened up. I don't know that it helped. I thought about getting on my trainer tonight, but I'm about brain dead thanks to 7.5 hours of mindnumbing data cleaning. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, acetominophen and some heat on my hip are my friend.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chuck Jones Night

Turner Classic Movies is having a Chuck Jones Night tonight. They showed a 30 minute documentary interview show first. Now they're about to launch into 2 1/2 hours of Chuck Jones animated shorts, including not only Sniffles and the Book Worm but also The Phantom Tollbooth! WOO HOO!!!!! (I like Sniffles the Mouse. My favorite cartoon of his is Sniffles Takes a Trip.)

Yes, it's true. I am an adult with no kids who watches cartoons. I'm always a little sad when I hear an adult say they can't go to animated films now that their kids are grown. I always lean in a bit, raise an eyebrow in what I imagine to be a conspiratorial manner, and say "I've never had kids. I go to the cartoons anyway." More often than not, the adult says something like "I never thought of that." Sometimes they say they couldn't do that because people would think them silly, which is even sadder than not doing because the kids are grown.

One of these days, before I grow up, I'm going to do computer generated animation stuff. I already have a 20 minute film mapped out. Now I just need to learn the programming to make it real.

A Better Garden Picture
I raked the chewed up grass off the new parts of the garden, which makes for a nice tidy border in a picture. I measured it today too. It measures 40 x 50 feet. Would you believe that I have as much garden area as I have house?
Bad Hip
I got in a nice run/walk this morning. I even ran a whole 1/4 mile without stopping and it felt pretty good. During the walk interval after the run, the back of my left hip hurt a little bit. On the next run interval, it really lit up pretty quick and I cut the run short. I ended up going a total of 2 1/2 miles though, which was good.

Throughout the day today, my hip would get stiff when I sat too long without moving. By the end of the day things were loosening up. Tomorrow morning could be awful, but my sister (former sports team athletic trainer) has ordered me to get my behind to the gym and hit the treadmill again in the morning and has also prescribed stretches, but to avoid any strength training with my legs. We both think I've got a ticked off piriformis. Here's hoping it's amenable to being placated. Having pain on only one side does, however, indicate that I've got an uneven stride for some reason, which may lead to more problems down the road (or treadmill).

Monday, March 23, 2009

More Weekend Work

I got the big flowerbed out front and the irises by the garage weeded.

I even dug up most of the grass patch flower bed by the south end of the house.

Somewhere along the way I whacked my leg on something rather solid. Of course, I have no recollection today of hitting anything with my leg, but judging from the scrape on top of the bruise, I must have said "Ouchies!" (at a minimum) when I hit it.

Yesterday I found another toad. He was already out and about and hopped all over, unlike Saturday's toad who was more laidback and sleepy. (The toad is in the middle of the picture, below the stick weed thing and behind the little iris leaf. He's only about 2 inches long, but has pretty spots and big eyes.)
I also flushed out a skink but he didn't stick around very long at all and I didn't get a picture of him.

So, between Saturday and Sunday, I spent 11 hours digging up flowerbeds. This explains why my hamstrings are about 1/2 inch shorter than usual. My calves are pretty tight too. I was not, however, overly tired this weekend or this morning. A year ago I would have only been able to do one monster day of digging and would have been completely drained the next day.

Tonight I spent an hour and a half tilling up the veggie garden. (The garden is the tan/brown rather squarish area toward the back of the photo. The definitely brown square in the middle is last year's garden.) I completely forgot that I had an area of volunteer strawberries, until after I'd run the tiller over them. Oopsies. We'll see how hardy they are to tilling. They survived the lawnmower last spring. I don't expect to harvest any berries. Last year's berries were about the size of a green pea and didn't taste very good. Strawberries are, however, cheerful little plants.

I've made it a lot larger than last year. It might measure 50x50 feet. I know. That's huge. I'll be asking myself what the $#*%&#! I was thinking in July when temps are in the upper 90s, the air is thick with humidity, the zucchini are multiplying geometrically and the weeds are threatening to overthrow the management. My intention is to have the option of eating almost solely from my garden for a good chunk of the summer. We'll see how well that plays out.

The day ended with a beautiful sunset, don't you think?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Since the President Mentioned the Special Olympics

I thought I'd share my favorite Special Olympics video.

Yardwork Progress
It still hasn't rained. I worked for five hours and got one entire flowerbed de-grassed. This was the largest one that needed help. There are four rose bushes and some random perennials that I threw in without much thought. Obviously I'll have to add some more plants.

While I was digging, I found a toad. I think I interrupted his winter nap by accidentally digging up his burrow. I covered him back up, though he later hopped along the bed and followed me a little bit. After hanging out a short while on top of the freshly dug earth, he re-buried himself for another nap. If I'd had my camera handy, I'd have taken a photo of him with just his nose and the side of his face sticking out of the dirt. I hope he has a good sleep.

The next worst flowerbed is about 1/3 that long, but completely grass covered and also has gladiolus bulbs in it. Perhaps I'll get that done tomorrow. I'll have to see how tired I am in the morning.

While I'm tearing things up, the big flowerbed at the front of the house also needs to be re-done. Right now it is completely lacking in structure or design. I sort of just threw coreopsis seed across it and let the daisies that came up on their own stay where they came up. There are also some tulips and calla lilies from the previous owners. It is a disorganized messy mess, though it's gorgeous when all the coreopsis are in bloom.

I suppose it's time to hit the garden book section at the library again. I'm definitely interested in mostly perennials so I don't have to keep buying plants/flowers every year. I'm also interested in coming up with some sort of a plan so that I'm not just randomly adding plants. I'd like things to look at least somewhat coordinated/organized throughout the yard, so that it adds beauty to the property, not distraction.

One More Thing
I discovered I fit into my size 12 jeans today. Didn't have to suck anything in to button or zip them either. Best of all, they aren't skin tight and I can bend, walk and sit. Yay!! I'll have to go pants shopping some time soon. I do at least have a nice pair of dark jeans to wear now, so that buys me a little time.

Now here's the funny part about this. I would like to reward myself for this accomplishment. Six months ago, I would have bought a frozen pizza or gone out to lunch or dinner for whatever I wanted. The prize would have been some sort of "bad" food reward that would have helped undo whatever change in weight or size I had accomplished. Do you know what I want now? A book or some yarn or some iTunes downloads. Tonight, I may compromise and have a couple of buckwheat pancakes or a bowl of oatmeal with blackberries. I'm really getting into this whole getting fitter thing. It's fun to do and it's even more fun to see my body change. I'm definitely not interested in sabotaging it with poorly chosen food rewards.

Productive, No Excuses Weekend Ahead!

The past week was warm and dry, so the yard work tasks have been calling to me. We had a chance of rain on Thursday, but that skipped by us. Ideally, in a world with 40 hour days, I would accomplish the weeding/de-grassing of all the flower beds, the digging out of a new flower bed/landscaping area by the deck, the raking of the leaves and depositing said leaves on the veggie garden for burning and/or tilling under, the degrassing/weeding of the blackberry bushes, the tilling up of the veggie garden, the spraying of the fruit trees with anti-fungal stuff and finish the mowing/weed whacking of the lawn.

Unfortunately, there is a line of rain headed this way today. Based on the current rate of progression, I've got about two hours before it arrives. Now I need to decide if I'd rather rake/pile leaves or dig up flower beds. Sunday and Monday are also expected to be dry, but the rest of the week has a 30%+ chance of rain every day. I think rainy season has arrived. I desperately want to get the garden tilled up (soon to be closer to 30x40 feet in size) before the rains arrive. I can plant seeds in dirt that's too wet to till, if I have to. I just can't till up wet soil.

Once the rain gets here today, there is plenty of stuff to do inside the house. I need to jumpstart the decluttering again and there's a bit of tidying up to do from the past week. Plus, I need to return the knitting/fiber stuff back to the newly cleaned up fiber room. That by itself could take all day to sort through. The stuff that doesn't fit back into the fiber room will go into the garage, but again, a space needs to be cleared up there too. Don't you just love it when tasks cascade like that?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vegan Eating Update

I've had a few non-vegan moments, but I'm mostly doing just fine with no animal products. Two of the moments involved social events at work where I had small (1" x 2") pieces of cake. Last week, I went to a local Mexican restaurant at lunch and, without thinking, ordered my usual veggie quesadilla. It didn't even occur to me that there was cheese in it until after I'd eaten half of it. I am, however, pleased to report that I ate only ten tortilla chips with salsa. Next time I go to the Mexican restaurant I'll order the veggie fajitas. Finally, today I had a small serving (1/3 to 1/2 cup) of soft-serve ice cream at Jason's Deli. I initially intended to resist completely, but decided that a treat wasn't out of line. Afterwards I thought about the other "little treats" I've had (the cake).

It's the "little treats" that get me into trouble and make it possible for me to eat more than I should be eating. I think I'll just rule out all "little treats", unless they have some significant nutritional value (i.e. fresh raspberries as a treat would be perfectly acceptable). Otherwise, I'll risk sabotaging my new healthy habits and end up making exceptions the rule. I'll start up the food journal again to force me to think about what I'm eating and how much. For a little while a regular reminder of my goals will be helpful. I shouldn't have any trouble getting back on track with vegan eating either.

On the Working Out Front
Last week was pretty much a no-show at the gym. I did, however, lift weights at home. I'm making a particular effort to get to the gym four days this week and to spend at least 2 miles on the treadmill each of those days. I'm still keeping up with the strength training too. That is really starting to feel good now. I can tell I'm getting stronger. It takes much less effort to hoist a 40 pound bag of bird seed to my shoulder now and I don't have any trouble curling it with both arms to set it down in my car. Time to work on developing my shoulders and back. I've always wanted to have nicely muscled shoulders.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Appeal of the Action Film

It's really quite simple. I like action films because there is little to no whining. The protagonist gets stuck in a bad situation, but doesn't spend the next hour or two whining about it. Instead he or she takes action and does something to change the situation they are in. This may or may not involve wreaking vengeance on the persons deemed responsible for the bad situation. What it doesn't generally involve is sitting around bemoaning the unfortunate situation. There may be a brief period of whining, but rarely does that last more than ten to fifteen minutes. The protagonist certainly doesn't spend more time whining than it would actually take to fix the problem, if he or she would just stop whining and get on with the fixing.

This brings us to Woody Allen movies. I don't like them. I've forced myself to watch several of them and I can't stand any of them. Mostly I just can't stand Woody Allen. I'm really not interested in watching a neurotic whiner who is firmly ensconced in victim mode parade around on screen for two hours, whining about the various troubles he or she experiences and sometimes causes. If I want to see/hear whining victims, I needn't pay good money to see it in a movie. I'd rather go to the movies and escape reality for a little while.

Now, for all that I like action films and find large explosions rather satisfying, I'm not a big fan of plotless violent movies. I also don't like movies which are nothing but a demo reel for whichever special effects company was hired by the studio. Even action films need to have a plot or story line to hold it all together. If all I want is gratuitous violence, I can stay home and watch pro wrestling and mixed martial arts cage matches on TV. I can also find plenty of other places to watch special effects and CGI clips. Without a story line that's at least somewhat believable, it's hard to stay interested in endless effects and violence, even if the movie is only ninety minutes long.

With that said, good special effects/CGI can really enhance a movie and poor effects/CGI can kick you out of the story in an instant. I'm a stickler for seamless effects and flawless continuity. Failing to catch boo-boos in post-production leads to a shoddy product. Yes, it takes more effort to catch things like the water level in a drinking glass changing repeatedly during a scene or a sword moving from one side of the swordsman's body to the other, but your audience does appreciate the attention to detail.

Action films do not, however, have a monopoly on getting things done with a minimum of whining. As an example, I wouldn't call any of The Thin Man movies or any of the Disney/Pixar animation features "action movies", but the protagonists once again take action to change their circumstances rather than wallowing in their misery and having a pity party. Certainly in the Disney/Pixar films, the protagonists have phases where they may lose heart, but after a good, rousing pep talk from a sidekick, they leave the pity party and get back on track. Frankly, most animated shorts and features that I can think of off the top of my head feature protagonists who actually work to create a better outcome for themselves and for others.

To me, a movie is a partial, if not complete, escape from reality. It may be a comedy, a drama, a mystery, an action flick and/or sci-fi/fantasy movie. The idea is to take a break from reality and be distracted by the life story(ies) of someone else. I may or may not learn something applicable to my own life, but I usually gain a different perspective about various situations. Sometimes it's good just to see that I'm not the only person who has a bad day or who makes a fool of themselves. (Yes, I know that I'm being comforted by being just as big a dork as an imaginary person, but it's still comforting.)

So, if you want to catch a movie some time, just pick one that isn't a whine-fest or a plotless special effects extravaganza and I'll be there!

A Thought From Several Weeks Ago

Some time ago, I heard a story on NPR that stated that accused/convicted (I don't remember which) terrorists in Yemen who promise to not to any more terrorism in Yemen are released. Apparently promising to not do bad things in Yemen again is sufficient. Needless to say, the U.S. got all up in arms over that, which I suppose is understandable though I found it somewhat hypocritical. Oddly enough, the U.S. accepts promises from accused and convicted corporate entities that they will cease breaking the law next time or will stop stealing/misusing money and then continues to hand said corporate entities more cash.

Not long ago, KBR was fined $400 million dollars for paying illegal bribes to foreign governments. Of course, their government contract (worth $6 BILLION) was not suspended. I'd be willing to bet that the $400 million dollars was deemed a simple expense. A cost of doing business. Will this bad behavior be held against them in future negotiations for government contracts? I doubt it.

This weekend it was announced that AIG will be paying large bonuses to its executives, after having taken a large chunk of change from the bank bailout funds so the company didn't just completely fail. I *love* how I haven't gotten a raise in years and have already been told to not expect one for the next several years, but now I get to foot the bill for executive bonuses through my taxes. I don't know what sort of sense the folks managing the bailout giveaway have, but they clearly got a bad batch of it. How much sense does it make to give EVEN MORE MONEY to companies who have clearly demonstrated poor fiscal management? If these companies spent the last several years spending themselves into a hole, financially, why on earth would we expect them to change their behaviors after handing them a large amount of free cash with no strings attached? Did they honestly believe that the execs would suddenly decide to do the right thing so that it would benefit the rest of us and stop benefiting themselves? They're being rewarded for poor performance. What is the motivation to do hard work and have good performance when you can get a couple million dollars in bonuses for running a major corporation into the ground?

Whatever the heck happened to personal responsibility on the part of both the bailout giveaway managers and the recipients? I wish I had a magic formula I could mix into the food and/or water supply in this country which would instill personal responsibility and a solid work ethic into those who ate/drank it. I wouldn't even want to be paid for the formula. I just want to see and venefit from the end result.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cleaning Up

I had the crazy idea to empty out my fiber room this evening and steam clean half the carpet. I'll clean the other half tomorrow morning. Perhaps by tomorrow evening the carpet will be dry enough that I can assemble the work table that goes in there. Then I'll need to figure out how to arrange the table, loom, and storage bins and get things moved back. Not all of the bins will go back in the room, so I'll have to decide what goes elsewhere in the house and figure out where that elsewhere will be. I suspect that will be the garage. I can't wait until the first warm weekend so that I can re-arrange the garage and get a bunch of stuff thrown out of there too.

Once the work table is set up, I'll have a permanent place to leave my wool combs, drum carder and sewing machine. Right now I end up hauling them out to the living room if I want to use any of those items. This, of course, makes a mess in the living room and makes it highly unlikely that I'll work on any large project for very long since I dislike a messy, cluttered living room.

After the fiber room is cleaned up, I need to get the computer room sorted out again. First, I'll haul the old Macs in from the spare bedroom and get the hard drives wiped in preparation for recycling. Then I'll systematically work my way around the room and throw out the non-essential stuff. A couple of months ago I had cleaned off the desks and put everything into a box. Slowly I've managed to clutter up the desks again. Time to clean things up for good and find a place to keep everything so that it *stays* cleaned up. Then all I'll need to do is keep putting things away after I use them instead of letting stuff stack up to be put away "later".

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Unfortunate Week for Someone

A house in my neighborhood burned last night.
I see it every day, but don't really pay that much attention to it. It's just a house that's a door or two past the corner where I turn. This morning I noticed the siding on one side looked funny. I drove past the front on the way home. If the floorplan is the same as the others in the subdivision, the kitchen is located at the front of the house on the right with the living room at the back and the bedrooms are on the left. I'm sure there was extensive smoke damage, but perhaps structural damage wasn't too bad.

I can't imagine having my house burn. I know it's just stuff and you move on. That doesn't really bother me very much, though I'd certainly be sad. It's more the disruption of things and having to start over, plus dealing with the insurance stuff. Anyway, I hope nobody was injured. Hopefully they were fully insured and life will begin the trek back toward normal for them soon.

Winter Death 2009 v.3?

I don't remember what round of winter we're on now. The sleet/freezing rain started in the middle of the day and continued off/on. We might get up to an inch of sleet/snow. I ditched the gym this morning because I thought it might be icy. I will probably ditch the gym again tomorrow morning so as to give the roads a bit more time to warm up and thaw. I didn't even bother thinking about the grocery store tonight. I do have a pot of black bean soup on the stove though. It smells wonderful.

I tried to tell my trees that perhaps they might want to wait a little bit to start showing off, but they didn't listen. These two may be *very* confused by tomorrow morning, since they think Spring has already arrived.

Bloodwork Result

The workplace annual wellness screening was this week. Last year my test results were good. This year they were even better. Total cholesterol 128, LDL 74, HDL 39 (could be higher), triglycerides 77 and glucose 80. BP 96/62 and BMI at 25.1 (0.1 away from dropping out of the "overweight" category). Strictly speaking the LDL, glucose and triglyceride results may not be accurate. While this was supposed to be a fasting test, I got woozy feeling about 2 hours before test time, so I ate a piece of plain whole grain bread to keep from being dizzy and sick. Regardless of how much that affected the results, I'm very very pleased with my numbers. I'll have a new batch of labwork done in a week or so when I have my 40,000 mile checkup, tire rotation and oil change. It will be interesting to see how the "real" lab results and the quick test results compare to each other. I'm also interested in seeing how the numbers change after a year of eating low-fat, 98% vegan and exercising 5x/week.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
This is my current bedtime and lunchtime reading. It's a fantastic book. It's set in post-WWII London and Guernsey. The book is entirely a series of letters written back and forth between characters. The main character is an author (Juliet) living in London who receives a letter from a man in Guernsey. He had received a book which at one time belonged to her (her name/address was written inside the cover) and wrote to her asking about the author and to request assistance in tracking down more books by the same author. From there a friendship builds and when Juliet is asked to write a magazine article about what reading means to people, she decides to write about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The members of the group send her letters, describing their involvement. There are quite a few entertaining characters and I have laughed repeatedly at the things they write to each other in their letters. Utterly delightful. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yay Me!

Yay for a couple of things:
  1. I now have "fat pants". I'm going to donate two, and maybe three, pair of work pants to the GoodWill store because they're too big. The third pair fits kind of ok, though a little loose. However, I'm thinking that if I can remove them without unzipping them that they might be too big. (I did have to undo the button to accomplish this rather entertaining feat, so they're not completely huge or anything.)
  2. According to the bathroom scale, I have lost 15 pounds since late last fall. I seem to have achieved some sort of critical mass with body changes. I can really see the muscles starting to show through the fluff and I've definitely got to buy some more clothes so I don't look quite so much like a schlep.
  3. It's getting easier to eat healthy and to eat less. I'm learning to pay attention to when I no longer feel hungry. That works a whole lot better for me than waiting until I'm full to stop.
Next up: Take this motivation from reaching a possible halfway point in my fitness goal and use it to kick up the intensity in working out. I've been slacking off (still) and not feeling very inspired to hit the gym lately, but that needs to change if I want to keep up the progress and reach my goal. I also need to buy some new clothes that fit. I'm tired of having droopy drawers and a belt that's too big to hold up said droopy drawers.

Garden Season Commencing!
I've spent about five hours in the past three days working in the flowerbeds, so I've not been completely inactive even if I haven't been putting in my daily treadmill time. I'm getting a jump start on digging out the stinking Bermuda grass before it starts growing full tilt. I also decided to re-arrange things around the end of the deck where the bird feeder is located. The birds have just about killed two of the holly bushes and the piles of sunflower seed shells aren't doing the rest of the bushes any good. I don't know what exactly I'm going to do with that area besides move the holly bushes somewhere else, but I'm sure something will come to me eventually.

Today I finished digging the grass out of the south bed at the back of the house. Next I'll need to expand the end of the bed around the corner of the house, then dig out/expand the herb garden bed at the north end of the back of the house. Soon I'll need to dig up and divide all the cannas. They did spectacularly well at the back and front of the house. They just need to be placed somewhere/somehow that doesn't look quite so much like I planted them there because I didn't know what else to do with them (which is exactly what I did).

Other upcoming garden tasks:
  1. remove grass from rosebushes, front flowerbed and raspberry/blackberry bushes
  2. buy load of mulch with which to cover the non-plant areas of the aforementioned flower beds in hopes of preventing rapid re-establishment of icky grass
  3. remove grass from around the base of the three fruit trees and mulch heavily
  4. add plants (perennials, preferably) to the flowerbeds
  5. till up veggie garden and expand it. The moles have already trashed a bunch of the lawn in that area, might as well take advantage of it. Buy a couple bales of straw for mulching garden and mow up the big leaf pile too.
  6. install pavers at the bottom of the deck steps and under hose reel.
  7. consider ordering a half load of dirt to fill in the low spots in the yard.
Of course, the weather for the next five days is expected to be uniformly rainy. This should give me time to order veggie seed/plants.

Coming Soon!
An essay on the appeal of the action film and why I dislike Woody Allen movies. Yes, the two are indeed related.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Oxymoron of the Day

Natural Pepperoni. Seriously? Who ever thought that one up? Pepperoni isn't natural. There are no little pepperoni plants or pepperoni critters just waiting to be picked up, sliced, cooked and eaten. It's a seasoned, smoked (usually pork) sausage, often with lots of salt, preservatives and that odd pepperoni-colored dye. If you are curious where I heard the phrase "natural pepperoni", one of the cheap pizza chains is now selling healthy pizza made with light whole wheat crust and natural pepperoni. I'm willing to bet a slice of meat(less) loaf that there are just as many calories and just as much fat and sodium in the "healthy" pizza as in the regular pizza. But it's "natural" so it *must* be good, right? Let's not forget that the plague, arsenic, asbestos and ionizing radiation are also natural. :o)

Eating Better Day #Whatever
No, I haven't given up. I just don't know what number day I'm on now. I had the usual oatmeal (plain this time) for breakfast. Lunch was some of the chili I made a week ago and a sweet potato (also plain). I had an apple for a snack. Dinner was meat(less)loaf following a recipe in The Engine 2 Diet. It's made with tofu and vegie burger crumbles and vegetables. I didn't have any ketchup for the top, so I used some homemade barbecue sauce. That was a great idea. The sauce around the edges got all dark and caramelized, just like when you grill stuff with barbecue sauce. Yummy!!! Anyway, the meat(less)loaf turned out really well. Now I just need to stop gorging myself on it in the evenings. It really would be a better idea to have one slice of it and then have some actual vegetables, rather than having a plate full of meat(less)loaf and no veggies.

Back to the Gym!
I'm getting back on the gym bandwagon. Of course, I'm now enough of a regular that it's a little bit like Norm showing up at Cheers. These people NOTICE when I ditch working out for a day or two and ASK ME WHERE I WAS. It's a bit embarassing to have to admit that I was lazy and didn't feel like getting out of bed. So obviously I won't be doing that much more (the staying in bed part, not the truthfully telling them where I was part). I think it's time to start ramping up the intensity level again. I've been starting to feel a bit bored and uninspired. This might explain why I haven't been bounding out of bed for the gym lately. So I think it's time to start changing things up and make it more fun. If nothing else, I'll confuse the heck out of my muscles. It's been a long time since I felt that deliciously tired and achey from exercise feeling.

Today's Three Beautiful Things:
  1. A snowman family, complete with a snowdog on a leash sitting next to the largest snowman.
  2. Sun reflecting off snow and making a bright day even brighter.
  3. The relieved smiles on the faces of three women who couldn't find the bathroom before I pointed them in the right direction.
Today's Three Grateful Things:
  1. A cubicle with a window to see the aforementioned bright day.
  2. Having an evening free to finish the final chapter of the library book that was due yesterday. I am sooooo close to finding out who did it!!! Just as soon as I finish writing out my grocery list and meal plan for the next week.
  3. Feeling wiggly.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

This Week's Interesting Overheard Comment

I'm apparently in one of those strange phases of the earth's revolution cycle where I keep coming across odd or thought-provoking conversations when I am out in public. This week the magic location was the library, of all places. A small cluster of women was chatting by the main doors as I was looking at this month's display exhibit. Apparently one of them has been having difficulty with a teenaged daughter. An incident in which the teenaged daughter had a teenaged sized meltdown was related. The meltdown included wailing, crying and shouted statements that she was never goign to school again, she hated everybody and she was never going to have any friends. The mother of said daughter was getting increasingly worked up during the retelling of the story, with increasingly dramatic hand gestures and facial expressions. The story ended with the mother saying "I don't know *where* she gets all of this drama from" and later called her daughter an utter bitch. The other women agreed that daughters are all unpleasant creatures who must learn this sort of crummy behavior from their friends.

If all daughters only learn crummy behavior from their friends (who are also daughters), from where does the crummy, overly dramatic behavior originate? Might it come from the overly dramatic mothers who apparently shout down their kids and call them bitches? I find it sad to find a cluster of women who are clearly of the impression that female children are all unpleasant, as though there is something defective about them. Might that unpleasantness not have something to do with *how* said female children are being reared? Did these mothers not realize that they are also calling themselves unpleasant creatures since they too were once female children? Why is it that there is so much complaining about how things are, but little critical thinking about why things are the way they are or attempts at changing the situation? If you don't like your child's behavior, what purpose does it serve to complain about the child without doing anything to address the behavior? Why on earth would you run your child down to your friends anyway? Do you have that little faith in your offspring? I find that concept to be utterly abhorrent.

Workplace Sponsored Seminars
Tomorrow there is a seminar being offered about goal setting, stress reduction and financial planning. I was very happy to see that there are workplace seminars here. No, the subject is not entirely applicable to my job, but I've always been of the opinion that workplace seminars which help employees become better, less-stressed people are likely to have a positive impact on productivity. Apparently the higher-ups at my workplace think this too or there wouldn't be a workplace seminar program. I'm always surprised that more employees don't take advantage of such programs, but the perception seems to be that if they don't have to do it or it's not directly applicable, then it's a waste of time and not worth learning. I've never understood that. Why wouldn't someone take advantage of the free opportunity to learn new skills which might help them be more successful in life?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Winter Death 2009 v2!

Only this time it really did snow a bunch! I probably had six to eight inches of snow at my house. I briefly debated going to the grocery store on Saturday after it started snowing, just to be amused by the panic buying, but I decided that would be a) mean and b) a great way to end up in a car accident, so I stayed home and watched The Lord of the Rings. (It wasn't really my idea to do that. TNT showed the trilogy over the past three nights and I *hate* watching good movies chopped up for commercial television.)

Anyway, here are the obligatory snow photos. I did do a bit of shoveling. I shoveled clear some drainage paths so the melt water wouldn't pool on the driveway or sidewalk, then freeze overnight into a nice ice pond. Then I shoveled one shovel width down each side of the driveway so I can more clearly see in the morning where the driveway ends and the yard or ditch begins. I also shoveled off part of the deck so I could feed the birds. You can see from the second photo how much bird foot traffic my backyard got today. The neighbor's dogs trekked through too on their daily explorations. I put out about 2 gallons of black oil sunflower seed over the course of the past two days. The last photo is, of course, the obligatory snow angel picture.

I felt pretty productive this weekend. I got the laundry caught up for the most part, cleaned the house, shoveled a bunch of snow, cooked two big meals to eat the rest of the week and cleaned up after the cooking too. I didn't get much decluttering done and very little reading, but it still feels like a full weekend and I'm not unhappy with the amount of stuff I got done.