Saturday, February 26, 2011

February, you've outstayed your welcome

I am bored with winter.
And with trying to exercise in winter.
And with whining about trying to exercise in winter.

But wait! I know how to cheer myself up -- I'll write something brilliant and funny and heart-warming and endearing and totally, like, interesting and all that stuff! I am creative! I can write anything!

Um... no. Not today. Thus the urge toward self-expression is thwarted and diverted into the default behavior of searching on Google to see if someone else has something interesting to say.

I thought there might be some good sites out there on How To Make Exercising Interesting Even If It Is February, but they all involve me doing something that resembles hard work. So I found some other sites instead.

Equine Insanity wrote a good post about fear and animals.

The Ironic Catholic noted that a worldwide chocolate shortage brings people closer to God.

My new love Chart Porn posted a graph that charts women's earnings against men's earnings in the same field. Useful tip: don't go into banking if you're female.

An old post from An American Girl in Singapore led me to a fascinating study. You know how people of European ancestry used to complain that all Asians look alike? Turns out from the Asian perspective all Europeans look alike too. Caucasians and Asians don't examine faces in the same way.

A humorous site, stolen leveraged from PastaQueen, is the Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator. Create a best-seller, just by clicking!

And a video: Don't you ever interrupt me while I'm reading a book! (Stolen shamelessly from Librarians are weird.)

Photos of a hibiscus and condo on Maui, plus a random beach on Molokai. Sigh.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow, Chocolate & Vicodin

Got out of bed, opened the curtains, and what to my wondering eyes did appear?

All the branches are loaded with snow.

Everywhere you look...

Ha. That's one way to make sure I get white camellias!

Giveaway du jour: Want to win an iPod shuffle or gift cards? It's easy. Link to Jennette Fulda's new book, and you'll be entering into a drawing.

Actually, I was going to link to her site anyway, because I loved the book trailer she created to go with the release of her memoir: Chocolate & Vicodin.

I can't imagine having to deal with a headache that doesn't go away -- for years. It's all the more impressive that the book trailer is funny.
Warning: contains bears.

Exercise du jour: Walking. Slowly.
Done! And not all that slowly, actually. Turns out that a mad, frantic rush for the Max train is good exercise. Thankfully today wasn't icy. I need to do more exercise that will push the boundaries. Maybe I should run for the Max more often.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Naughty Camellias, or Pink is the new White

Last September... loads of potential blooms there...

Quote du jour: Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.
- Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

In today's news, I’m mad at Home Depot. (Yes, that is news. Usually I’m mad at Lowe’s.)

Last fall I planted seven, count ‘em seven Camellia trees (C. japonica). Only one of which bothered to put forth a few blooms last month. According to the label, it was supposed to bloom in the fall. Which, last I checked, ain't January.

Oh, I suppose I'll bloom a bit...

The others were “supposed” to bloom in early winter. Considering winter is two-thirds of the way along (at least if you believe the calendar), I’d say they’re confused. They’re not the only ones.

I planted these trees according to a plan, damn it. I was going to be this fancy dancy landscapey person, so I alternated the colors carefully: red, pink, white, red… all the way down the row.

I even left the labels on the plants, so I’d remember which one was which. (Yes, I could’ve written that info down, but then I’d lose the piece of paper.)

Here’s a picture of one of the camellias, which is thinking about considering the faint possibility of maybe, just possibly, starting to bloom a bit.
To bloom or not to bloom... decisions, decisions...

What color does that bud look to you? To me, it looks dark pink or maybe red.
Here’s the label came with the camellia tree. It's still attached; I never took it off.

White? It's not even remotely Caucasian...

Either the camellia is suffering from an identity crisis, or Home Depot has an issue with truthiness.

So yesterday, I blew money on a camellia that was already in bloom. I like the looks of these flowers, the color and the form. Plus, the label matched the blooms that were actually on the plant.
Not ashamed to be labeled a pinko

I like that I know what the heck I'm planting ahead of time, which makes me feel a bit more in control of the landscaping. The only drawback is the name of the variety.

Is it just me, or does that sound like the name for a naughty type of massage implement?

I realize that this camellia is also pink, not white, but a) I liked the particular color of pink b) I like the form and c) I couldn't find any bloomin' white camellias. (Sorry, guv. Slipped into Cockney dialect for a sec.) Besides, this one was intentionally pink. Plus, I bought it at a store that was not Home Depot. And I got to include a bit of spring color in the grey despair of Cubicle World.
Bloomin' camellia with a cuppa tea

Exercise du jour: Look, all I'm going to commit to is 20 minutes on the elliptical first thing in the a.m. before doing anything else besides getting out of bed and opening my eyes. After that, everything is negotiable.
Done! Plus, 3 miles walking. Plus, I didn't annihilate a single cow-orker today. That definitely calls for a star!

Quote courtesy of QuoteGarden.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back to work, back to exercise... yeah, I'm enthused...

If you want to 'get in touch with your feelings,' fine — talk to yourself; we all do. But, if you want to communicate with another thinking human being, get in touch with your thoughts. Put them in order; give them a purpose; use them to persuade, to instruct, to discover, to seduce. The secret way to do this is to write it down and then cut out the confusing parts.
- William Safire

Site du jour: I loved this news story: Philly homeowner forecloses on Wells Fargo.

Weird du jour: I don't know if you've ever read Young House Love, a blog written by a young couple who love buying older houses and renovating them. They posted about a note that the previous owner had left hidden in their house when they bought it.

It reminded me of another note, left beneath a pond in case the pond was ever dug up, which I thought was funny, albeit in a very dry and sarcastic way: "One of the more bizarre reasons could be that the removal of the pond was the direct result of a bite on the ankle from a Wildebeest, but I shall not speculate."

Whether the note was funny or just strange, what amazed me was the number of people who commented on it. The thread denigrated into a series of insults on the subject of Obsessive Parenting, Obsessive Note-leaving, and Obsessive Crank-commenting. Damn, but people take life on the internet seriously.

Exercise du jour: Usually, I know ahead of time what exercise I'm going to try for. Today, it depends on whether the weather listens to the weather man (i.e. nasty, in which case I walk) or good enough (in which case, I wanna bike). It was over 50 degrees on Monday, sunny and spring-like. Hard to believe that it's going to be snowing in another day or so.
FAIL. Didn't exercise morning, noon, or night. I decided to oversleep through the morning exercise, work through the lunch-time hail, and have a headache in the evening. I suspect the first two influenced the third.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Get up and go... while you can

Quote du jour: We should consider every day lost in which we do not Dance at least once.
- Nietzsche

Hugh photos du jour: A whole page of photos of Hugh running on the beach. Some day, summer will come again. Maybe.

Let's see. I can get up, go out into the cold and the dark, and pedal to work.
Or, I can go back to bed, where it's warm and comfy, and dream about running away to a tropical island.

Motivation du jour: Woman Dies in her Cubicle. No One Notices.

Ever feel like no one notices all the effort you put into your job?

Well, hopefully they at least notice you’re alive and breathing. If not, you could find yourself in the same situation as Rebecca Wells, a 51-year-old woman who died in her cubicle Friday in Los Angeles County.

Though she died on Friday, she was unnoticed at her desk in the Department of Internal Services until Saturday. The county coroner is yet to determine the cause of death.

When she passed away, Wells, who worked in risk management, was performing an audit. Despite not noticing the deceased, one of her coworkers remembered, “She was always working, always working.” Maybe, after this event, her coworkers will check on one another more often.

I swear, that makes me want to get up and work out. I can't (yet) rearrange my life so that I no longer have to sit in a cubicle for ten hours a day, but I can make sure to include time in my day for doing something besides sitting.

Exercise du jour: Cycling! I'm going for it!
Done! Well, as much as I could do. I am soaked to the skin, cold, and a bit grumpy. It's not that I think the Fates are conspiring against me, but -- oh, who am I kidding. All day, no rain. When did it start raining? A couple minutes before I started my ride. I hadn't gone two miles before I was soaked to the skin. As soon as I got home? Yep, that's when it stopped pouring. It's going to be warm and sunny all weekend. Until I head back to work. Then, they're thinking snow.
Coincidence? Ha!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

She who hesitates doesn't ride her bike to work

Quote du jour: Home is whatever you can rebel against.
- Pico Iyer

You (i.e. I) gotta get up earlier and leave earlier for work if I want to leave the house pedaling.
It's not stormy out right now. It's not even snowing... at least, not on the route I take.
So what's keeping me here? Besides my natural inclination to stay where it's warm rather than face the cruel, cruel world out there.
Sorry, can't talk now. Gotta go.

Exercise du jour: Cycling to work. 16 miles.
FAIL. Well, I didn't do the full 16. On the other hand, I did haul myself out the door and on the bike. It's not my fault that as I'm pedaling along, the rain changed to thick, heavy snowflakes. All of a sudden it felt like I was cycling along in a snowglobe that someone had shaken up. Kinda hard to see where I was going. The evening ride didn't have the predicted thunderstorm, but on the other hand it did have lots of black ice, which I don't like much either.
Maybe I'll give myself a star for trying even though all the Fates conspired against me. I did get some miles of cycling in, though not as many as I'd wanted.
There! Take that, Fate!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love and other vices

Quote du jour: Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age. - Anais Nin

Site du jour: In honor of V-day, I thought I'd throw out this site, where the romance publisher Harlequin describes why they decided to patent the kiss.

This invention, The Essential Romantic Kiss ("The Kiss"), involves a method by which two people can reciprocate their romantic feelings towards one another in a manner that deepens attachment, provides pleasure and promotes physical and emotional well‐being. Further, this method improves with repetition, can be performed at virtually any time and, if registered by the US Patent Office, will be freely available to all persons everywhere in the interests of enhancing romantic love and generally making the world a better place.
In case you think I'm kidding, here's the seven page kiss patent.

And, in other news, there's an anti-Valentine's day movement in Malaysia. "Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Monday's celebration of romantic love was "not suitable" for Muslims." The idea is that Valentine's day encourages vice. I don't get that. Commercializing romance is crass, maybe, but I have trouble associating heart-shaped chocolates with vice.

Hmmmn... well, okay, I guess I could think up a few associations...

Shout out du jour: Have to say, I love Xenia's Valentine's Day card. I am envious.

Exercise du jour: Really, considering the day, I should be indulging in some patented kind of vice-encouraging exercise. But I refuse to post that as a goal here. It's not That Kind of Blog. Instead, I'll settle for posting the goal of bicycling. Is there such a thing as bicycle vice? Hmmmn.... maybe I'd rather not know. Forget I asked that question. Nevermind. I really don't want to know.

FAIL. I am a failure. Or at least I feel like one. It was a dark and stormy day, with lots of rain falling vertically and wind blowing horizontally, so I guess I can give myself a pass on the bike ride. But in the evening -- of course! -- another computer crisis from a long-distance relative. Moral: exercise first thing on the elliptical. Evenings are not safe. [In this case, literally. Another cyclist was killed riding in that storm, even though he was wearing lights and was off to the side. A car, driven too fast for the conditions, "didn't see him" in an intersection.]

Rodin's unpatented version of The Kiss courtesy of Ulleskelf.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Me & Alfred Hitchcock

Yes, it's a photo I used once before. But it's cold outside, and this photo is hot.

Number of migraines: 1
Number of days entertaining said headache: 4
Minutes of exercising accomplished: 20 (on Tuesday)

Le sigh. At least I made it to Friday. Why does a headache leave you feeling wiped out? I mean, it's not as if I were working out or anything. Unfair, I call it.

Site du jour: Celebrities riding a bicycle. Somehow, I hadn't associated Alfred Hitchcock with bike riding. Sadly, no pictures of Hugh on the site. Yet.

Exercise du jour: Call me optimistic, if you will, but today the aim is to ride the bicycle. If Hitchcock can do it, why not me?
Done! Alfred was an inspiration. Or else having the wind at my back made the ride seem easier. 12 miles and all's well.

Photo courtesy of Barbara.Doduk

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Love the one you're with. Even if it's a machine.

Okay, some of you need to wash your minds out right now. Sheesh.

Ellie's a very respectable exercising machine

You might have noticed that there has not been a galaxy of sparkling gold stars on the blog lately.

Partly that's because I'm being picky. In the old days (i.e. last year), I'd stick up a star if I got any exercise in for the day, even some easy-paced walking. Now, I want to achieve the specific exercise that I posted or it doesn't count. At first, I wasn't sure if this was being persnickety or holding myself to a higher standard. Maybe both.

I think, on reflection, that it's a bad thing. I should post the exercise I do, even if it's not the exercise I want to do. Otherwise, I'm shooting myself in the foot here.

For example: sometimes I won't have time to jog, but I could slip in a quick* 20 minutes on the elliptical. However, since I'd posted that I would jog, it seems 'not good enough' to do what I can and ellipt. So I'll either not post the star up on the blog, since I didn't do the 'right' exercise, or -- wait for it -- I'll end up skipping exercising altogether for that day. The idea in the back of my mind, vague as it is, is something along the lines of "If I can't do the exercise I want, there's no point in doing any at all." Please feel free to point out that idea is pretty damned stupid. I agree. It's just my perfectionist tendency cropping up in a new guise.

Thankfully, I don't usually fall into that trap -- especially now that I've dragged that vague idea out of the back of my mind and subjected it to the unkind light of analysis. I generally do get in a few miles of walking even if I do nothing else. I keep the running (sic) total on the sidebar up to date.

Goal of the week: The computer is turned off at 7:07 pm. No cheating.
Done! Well... it will be in six minutes. I shan't be leaving any comments on any blogs tonight.

Exercise du jour: 8 miles on the bicycle. If I can't do that, I'll at least slip in a couple miles of walking at lunch and 20 minutes ellipticalling when I get home. One way or another, I'm gonna get that star up on this post.
20 minutes on the elliptical. The headache doesn't want to exercise tonight, and I'm humoring him. (No, "the headache" is not a euphemism for a significant other.)

*As opposed to a slow 20 minutes. Time expands or contracts during exercise depending on the excellence of the playlist on the iPod.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Plugging the time sink

Quote du jour: I named my iPhone 'The Titanic.' Now, every time I plug in the phone I see the message 'The Titanic is syncing.' - from Twitter.

Word du jour: Dalliance: Waste of time in frivolous action or in dawdling.

More and more, it seems to me that what's holding me back has changed. I'm no longer facing the challenge of overcoming my Inner Slug so I can get out there and exercise. The I.S. seems to have accepted the fact that most of the time it's going to lose. What I now have to wrestle with is the peril of time sinks.

You know the sort of thing. People* who hang out on Facebook talk about Farmville. Gamers have to deal with World of Warcraft. And there's always online Scrabble games. You just open the computer/phone/iPad up for one minute... and then look up an hour later to realize you've stepped into another time sink. Even something as simple as answering a few emails can cost you more time than you realize.

I've conditioned my mind and my body to accept exercise, but I find that I can get sideswiped by Life coming along and demanding my attention Right Away. If I had been more conscious of the time I frittered away, I could have gotten the exercise in first and not had to postpone it for another day.

Managing time is like managing a budget; it's one of those thing that I always have trouble with. I'm going to try to fix this with going on an Internet diet.

Goal of the week: The computer is going to be turned off promptly at 7:07 pm in the evening, and not turned on again until the following afternoon. Hell, I'm online all day at work; I can answer an emergency email if I have to. But no playtime for Merry. (Wah)

I'm going to try that for one week and see if there are any improvements to the a)weight b)exercising c)house organizing d)life.
Done! Yes, I know it's actually 7:09 but I am out of here!

Exercise du jour: 2 miles jogging. I need to do this earlier rather than later. No putting it off until the evening... 'cause 99% of the time that means 'never.'

Done! Not brilliantly, not briskly, but done. Why do my knees hurt? For that matter, I'm getting a headache. I wish being virtuous was more rewarding.

*i.e. everyone on the planet besides myself, my mother, and one of my brothers.

Photo courtesy of Fotologic.

Friday, February 04, 2011

If it's Friday, that means...

If it's Friday, it's time for Hugh... oh hell, it's ALWAYS time!

Quote du jour: I am of the firm belief that everybody could write books and I never understand why they don't. After all, everyone speaks. Once the grammar has been learnt it is simply talking on paper and in time learning what not to say. - Beryl Bainbridge

Site du jour: This site probably would appeal only to people who like snark or who like writing that pays attention to things like spelling, grammar, and diction ... so you'll understand why I liked it. Reasoning with Vampires. The blogger parses the Twilight books according to the rules of English grammar. Funny.

Exercise du jour: 2 miles jogging at an easy, relaxed pace -- my knees have been bothering me since I got on that dratted bike. I think it must need a tuneup or something like that. I mean the bike needs a tuneup. Unless there are tuneups for knees.

Photo courtesy of cool guyz.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Brainless exercising

funny pictures - CAMEL LOT
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Wince-inducing quote du jour: Sheridan and Delenn are the 'Arthur and Guinevere' of Babylon 5. - Bruce Boxleitner

[For those who've never watched Babylon 5, Bruce Boxleitner was the actor who played Sheridan, i.e. one of the two romantic leads. I don't think he's read a lot of Arthurian tragedy. ]

Site du jour: Annals of Improbable Research, "research that makes people laugh, then think." If you ever need to know about the aerodynamics of a boomerang, this is the site to visit. Even sometimes has useful stuff, like the notice of the FDA recalling a candy called Toxic Waste. My current favorite is a study on how computers are being used to write novels. No, not by you typing on the keyboard. The computer itself indulges in Brainless Writing.

Exercise du jour: Brainless exercising. Actually I think that might help. I think too much about exercising when I should be out doing the dang stuff. 2 miles around the track.
Done! You would've been proud of me. I looked at my schedule for the day, saw that it was back-to-back meetings all afternoon, and decided to go out running Early. (You know me. I never do anything early.) It was a quick impulse decision; I didn't stop to think it through. I did start to answer Just One More Email, but then I realized that if I sat there for another minute I'd start to dally, which would lead to dilly-dallying, which would lead to 6 p.m. with no exercise done. So I went for it.
p.s. All you people suffering through snow and below-insane temperatures? I'm sorry for you, I really am, but today was absolutely beautiful: bright sunshine, blue skies, and all the trimmings. Crocuses are starting to bloom. I think we're getting all this good weather at your expense. Maybe this would be a good time to visit?
Plus, 4 miles walking.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Back in the saddle again...

A bit rusty, but I'z back in saddle again

Quote du jour: I'm afraid sometimes you'll play lonely games too, games you can't win because you'll play against you. - Dr Seuss

I haven't been on the bicycle in months. It's not as if the roads are icy, so I don't really have a decent excuse. I just didn't feel ready. Have to be organized to commute by bicycle. Have to pack clothes to wear at work, find clothes to wear while cycling, get up early enough so that I can cycle in and still get to work at a reasonable time...

Exercise du jour: Cycle a measly 8 miles. That's not too much to ask. The real challenge is getting the brain and body to grasp the concept of getting up and pedaling away in the dark. Once I get on the bicycle, it's all easy. Well, easier. Here I go.
Done! Well, most of it. 6 miles. But I allowed the star for getting up when it was cold and dark and pedaling toward a distant and coldly beautiful sunrise. Did I mention it was cold? Just checking.*

*I probably shouldn't complain, since it wasn't much below freezing and that's balmy compared to some people's weather. But I bet they didn't forget where they put their gloves.