Monday, October 31, 2011

What, I'm supposed to share all this candy with little kids whose mothers dress them funny?

I mean, there's all this candy just lying around the house. How much sugar do little kids need, anyway?

And I've just gone 30 days without tasting anything sweet. Surely my stores of sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients are dangerously depleted.

Well, it won't hurt if I open the bag, just to air the chocolates a bit.

And maybe one leeetle bite won't hurt. Just to test that they're all right. For the sake of the children.

Oh dear. Maybe I'll turn out the lights and hide tonight.

Exercise du jour: Only 2 miles of walking today, and 15 minutes elliptical.

Update du 7:35 a.m.: Okay, so I was kidding about eating up all that chocolate. Last night, I actually ate one piece. Tasted okay. This morning, I woke up with a fierce headache. It's been coming and going for the last few days, so I don't think it was caused by the chocolate. But I don't think the chocolate helped either. Not sure if I'm going to get the exercising in after all.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last day of the sweet-free challenge

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~George Cooper, "October's Party"

Last day of the 30 days of no-sweets. I managed to avoid eating any sweets, but there was that little tug toward the pastries whenever I went shopping. I realized that I eat a lot more sweets than I'd thought -- just in small quantities, but they do add up.

Doing this helped me eat more fruit. I used to combat the late afternoon slump with something chocolate -- now, I reach for an apple.

I did cheat a couple of times. I mean, if you're at a party celebrating something, it's hard to refuse a glass of champagne. Well, three times to be accurate, but I didn't count the last one. The glass of red wine tasted like cough syrup. (I did check the label, and it's a brand that I had enjoyed previously. Maybe it was a bad batch. Or maybe my tastebuds have modified themselves.)

Tomorrow, I'll try a little chocolate. Be interesting to see how it tastes.

Site du jour: I liked Amber Adrian's suggestions on how to reduce your level of cranky.

Exercise du jour: Raking. And more raking. One of the drawbacks of having six mature shade trees (twice the height of my house) in the backyard. Maybe I'll try to picture all those leaves as money. Then I'll be raking it in.

Photo of a copper beech in Belgium courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Heading toward Progress

funny pictures - WHAT YEAR IS IT?
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Quote du jour: When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.
- Yeats

I'm feeling old and gray and full of sleep this morning... if I sat down by the fire I wouldn't be reading, that's for sure. I think this week has been better. Managed to get some kind of exercise in every day, even if I'm falling down on the eating healthy veggie stuff from home part. I'll work on that next week. Progress is being made.

Yesterday I managed to drive to work with hardly a wrong turn at all. (This is along very convoluted back roads rather than the congested freeway.) At one point, I came to an intersection. The road sign told me that I had to choose between taking a right and heading to Newberg or turning left toward Progress. I chose to head toward Progress.

Site du jour: Suldog has a good post on incarnation. "...putting great wealth into your hands would be akin to granting a meteor the ability to tap dance."

Exercise du jour: I am going to fit in the 4 miles of exercise and 15 minutes elliptical. That's not too much to ask. I can do that.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh, hell no.

funny pictures - Fool Him Twice...Oh I Think Not!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

This company I'm now at has a morning culture. Not all businesses do.

My last company, like many start ups, had a late-night culture. People would straggle in at 9, or 10(ish) and stay until 7 or 8.

This place, after 4:15, is a desert. After 5, it gets creepy. So I started getting there at 7:30, and all was good. There were people there, people I needed to check in with, and I got to leave before 5:00.

Then, they sez, "Well, you clearly like to get here early. Why not come to the 7:30 meeting that deals with your project?"

[FYI: If you don't have this kind of culture, know that it is common for companies to stage meetings at times like this when they're trying to coordinate with teams on PST (Pacific Standard Time), EST (Eastern Standard Time), and Bangalore time, which is 12 hours off of (ahead? behind? whatever) PST time.]

The last company I worked at, I attended a similar meeting. After Daylight Savings kicked in, I ended up having to go to a meeting at 5 in the friggin' a.m. Me, of all people. Luckily, I could log in from home before. This time, I'm a lowly peon and must come into the office if I want to access my computer.

So far, I've been making it into work in time for the 7:30 meeting. (Which involves my heading out the door at 5:30 a.m., not that I'm complaining bemoaning my fate more than any non-morning person.) I've been making it.

Then today, they sez to me, they sez: "Hey, instead of the 7:30 a.m. meeting, why not come to the one on Thursday instead? Much more useful for this project."

"Okay," says I. "When does this one meet?"

And they tells me, "6:00 a.m."

Exercise du jour: Still going to try for 4 miles walking, 15 minutes ellipticalling.
Done. Well, good enough to warrant a star. Walked not a step, but did 30 minutes ellipticalling. Plus, I got an okay to phone in to the 6 a.m. meeting instead of getting up at 4 to try to get there, which methinks deserves a damned star just on its own.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Those who fail to plan, plan to make up for it with a mad dash first thing in the morning

Which results in totally skimpy blog posts.

Quote du jour:
A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man's life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.
- Henry David Thoreau

There are times when I wonder about Henry David. Did he ever have to haul himself out of bed to catch a Max train that wouldn't wait? I think not.

Exercise du jour: Me + 4 miles walking + 15 minutes ellipticaling = 1 gold star

Done! Finally. Took a lot of guilt to get on that damn elliptical tonight.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The World of NIM

funny dog pictures - make it work
see more dog and puppy pictures

NIMTM (New Improved Merry) is a person who:
  • Leaves the house at 5 I'm-not-kidding-move-it-woman 30 in the morning

  • Every day Monday through Friday

  • Is bright, cheerful, energetic and a good worker good at faking the right things, given sufficient coffee

  • Is determined to get into a positive rut re: exercising

The trouble with this new job is that while it is infinitely cheaper to take public transport, the train stops running at a fairly early hour. (It only runs during rush hour, which is not the same thing as Merry Transport Time.) So I can either haul myself out of bed at an early hour or take the evil SUV, spending much gas and taking almost as much time to get to work.

I am not, by nature, one of those people blessed with an early morning mindset. I think mornings are something best enjoyed from a warm, cozy bed. Given my druthers, I would crawl out of bed by 9 o'clock. Or 10, at least. 11 o'clock, definitely.

Okay, okay, I've done with the whining. No doubt re-inventing myself will prove an interesting and worthwhile experience. Maybe. It's possible, anyway.

Exercise du jour: Okay, I will try this again. Didn't always managed to do both 15 measly minutes on the elliptical and 4 miles of walking. Maybe it'll be easier this week. Maybe I'm getting used to this new schedule. Only one way to find out.

Done! Well, close enough. Only 3.5 miles of walking, but I made up for it with 30 minutes ellipticalling. According to Theresa's formula, that should work. And she's a doctor and everything, so even if she can't take my temperature she should at least be able to do complicated Ph.D-ish computations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'm not the only one who's glad it's Friday

Why yes, I am Happy It's Friday!

Quote du jour: People are surprised at how down-to-earth I am. I like to stay home on Friday nights and listen to 'The Art of Happiness' by the Dalai Lama.
- Carmen Electra

Exercise du jour: Closing out the week with one more round of 4 miles walking, 15 minutes ellipticalling. I will do it, damn it.
I'm giving myself the gold star, even though I only did 1-1/2 miles of walking and 30 minutes on the elliptical. I'm doing this because even though I really wanted to give up and go to bed, I got up and worked out instead. That's your fault, of course, so you should really get the credit. If I hadn't known that you -- yes, I do mean you right there reading this -- were trusting me to get this done, I would have bailed. Thank you.

George courtesy of Nicogenin.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Almost there

A stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces. Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father's heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone? O waste of loss, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this most weary unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When? O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.
- Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel

Two days to the weekend. I think I can make it.

Exercise du jour: 4 miles walking, 15 minutes elliptical. Again. And again. 'Til it becomes a habit.
Done. 4 miles walking, 20 minutes elliptical. Clinging on to the routine. I'm getting there.

Photo courtesy of lovestruck.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It was the Lone Ranger, not the Lonely Ranger

Sadly, there are stretches of I-5 where you can only get one radio station. Why is it always a lousy one?

On my last road trip from California to Oregon, I ended up listening to a supposed 'relationship expert' from a supposedly 'Christian' station saying that people who aren't in a relationship grew up in problem families where they never learned to bond properly with others. Huh. All seven of my siblings are either married or planning to be shortly, and I distinctly recall growing up in the same family that they did.

Site du jour: The Coffee Helps blog had a good post about how sometimes people live alone because they need more alone time than most people.

Exercise du jour: 2 miles walk, 15 minutes elliptical
Yeah, yeah, I know. Same old. What can I say. I'm trying to get into a rut.

Semi-done. I mean, I got in a little over 5 miles of walking, but I'm giving up on the elliptical. Too damn tired. Tomorrow. Same blog, probably the same time. Damn it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I love looking at leaves I don't have to rake

(Alas, these are leaves I do have to rake)

Quote du jour: How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.
- John Burroughs

Video clip du jour: There's a website hosting a Dance Your Dissertation contest. No, it's not for people getting a Ph.D in Interpretive Dance. It's for people in the sciences. No wonder it's so hard for people to finish a Ph.D if they know they're going to be critiqued for the ability to do the Rumba while defending their research. Oi.

This is last year's winner. Maureen McKeague did an interpretive dance on "Selection of a DNA aptamer for homocysteine using Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment."

Y'know, if people are creative enough to think up things like that, I should be able to figure out how to organize my life.

I've more than doubled my commute, spending more than 2 hours a day commuting. I know that's not a big deal to some people, but it's causing me to have to re-figure my day. I don't have time to spare if I want to exercise and eat and sleep as well as that work stuff.

While I can't... yet... cycle to work (it's 30 miles one way), I can save much money by taking the local light rail. And the second half of the train trip actually has free WiFi, which is totally awesome. I love the idea of checking my mail, getting in touch with people, while whizzing through the countryside.

If I play this right, I will be able to organize my time so that I can get a lot of dull-but-necessary stuff done during the commute. Maybe. And if I can force myself to get up from my desk and walk at lunch, that could work too.

Originally I'd planned to walk from the train to work, which would add three miles to my daily commute. But I'm rethinking that idea, at least for now. It would involve walking along busy streets in the dark. No sidewalk, few streetlights, sharing the shoulder with bicyclists. I might hold off on that. There is a shuttle that takes me from the train to within ten feet of my building's front door. Hard to argue with that. Plus, I get to admire the beautiful fall countryside on my way to work.

Site du jour: Speaking of beautiful fall countryside, I love the pictures on True Calling's blog.

Exercise du jour: Again, I'm going to go for the 15 minutes ellipticalling, and a 2 mile walk at lunch. No interpretive dance for me.
Done. Barely. There's something about just having to do 15 minutes that works for me... much easier to face than 20 minutes of exercise.

Monday, October 17, 2011

How to sneak exercise into your work day

I'm trying to psyche myself into finding ways to exercise more during the day.

  1. Exercising on the sly can make you feel guilty. Adopt the mindset that you are entitled to exercise. Make entitlement work for you. Often I tend to think I have to be at my desk for 8 hours straight or I won't get things done. Wrong. A quick break wakes me up so that I am more effective, get more done.
  2. Be on the lookout for low-hanging fruit on the exercise tree, such as drinking so much tea that you have to walk to the bathroom frequently. It doesn't matter what gets you up and moving -- anything that gets you up and away from the desk is a good thing.
  3. Get a job in a place where moving is built into the routine. Seriously, it's a quarter-mile walk at this place just to get a cup of coffee in the morning. I figure that will add up.
  4. Sneak in a walk. According to a map, if I walk the hallways, following the perimeter of the building on the inside, the distance is about 3/4 of a mile. If I happen to take such a walk while carrying a notepad or folder, then it will look like I'm on my way to a meeting or something, right? And therefore it really wouldn't look like I was doing something frivolous like getting exercise during the work day.

None of these are going to get the heart beating fast enough to count as cardio exercise, but I do believe they will help. There have been enough studies to convince me that even incidental exercise, just keeping moving through the day, helps to keep people fit.

I wish that this work place had stairs. That was the perfect way to get the heart rate up. As it is, I will have to plan some cardio in the day as well. Meager as it sounds, I'm going to plan for the following this week:
  • 15 measly minutes on the elliptical in the morning
  • 2 walks (1/2 mile) to and from the train, morning and evening
  • 2 walks (3/4 mile) each at morning and afternoon breaks
  • 1 walk (2 miles) at lunch

4 miles of easy walking and 15 minutes of ellipticalling. I'll try that for the week and see how it goes.

Done! Well, technically it's a semi-fail, since I only managed 2.4 miles of walking. But to make up for it, I did 30 minutes on the elliptical. I told myself that I only had to do 15 minutes on the elliptical. Then once I started, I was able to spin it out to 30. To my mind, that qualifies the star.

Site du jour: Cranky Fitness has some good ideas on how to sneak exercise into your day. I might be biased, since the inestimable Crabby McSlacker let me post there sometimes, but I think it's a great site.

Cartoon courtesy of brainpop_uk.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Does salty language come from your diet?

15 days into the 30-days of no sweets. It's actually going pretty well.

At the start, I was surprised. I would not have thought that I had a big sweet tooth, but out shopping I would find myself thinking it would be nice to pick up something chocolately or pastry-like. Just a niggling little impulse tugging me toward the sweets. I didn't act on it, but if I hadn't started this I never would have realized that I do eat more sweets than I thought.

I have noticed that I'm finding ways to sweeten the diet. The other day, I baked chicken with onions that I had sautéed until they were sweet. On impulse, I chopped up an apple and threw that into the mix as well. Came out quite nice, I thought. I don't think I would have eaten as much of it if not for the sweet bits.

Study du jour: Apparently, people who have a sweet tooth also have a sweet personality. I'm not sure I agree with the way they conducted the study, but I like the conclusion. Does this mean someone with a sour personality eats lots of pickles?

Exercise du jour: 1 hour on the elliptical.

Photo courtesy of Mykal Shaw.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dashing... very dashing indeed

Quote du jour: For disappearing acts, it's hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work.
- Doug Larson

Where the frack did the week go?

Oh, right. At work.

I've been putting in a little extra time trying to come up to speed on this insanely convoluted workflow. It's all good. Or it will be all good. I think. No one else is asking me to push myself; I want to do it. I won't feel at ease until I'm able to sink my teeth into the job and rip it to shreds.

That metaphor really doesn't work. Makes me feel like I'm supposed to masticate, which is a nasty word. I mean just the way the word sounds is nasty.

I'm tired. That makes me ramble more than usual, which is saying something. Still, walked two miles yesterday, thanks to Crabby's timely comment. Plus, I've discovered the company website has walking maps. They've even got a map for walking inside. If I went around the inside perimeter of the building, it would be almost 3/4 of a mile. That might come in handy when it's absolutely stinking rotten outside in the winter. (The building doesn't have any stairs, alas.)

Best Moment in Science du jour: Best abstract ever. (From the Annals of Improbable Research.)

Exercise du jour: I have to be home early today to let in contractors. (Hence all the insane work hours to make up the time ahead of time, if that makes any sense.) So no lunch walks. I am going to find time to fit in the elliptical. Somehow. I promise.
Done! Go figure. I sit at a desk for hours at a time, and I can just *feel* the knee swelling up. But half an hour on the elliptical? If knees were kittens, this one would be purring. Very strange.

Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi Live Music.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What, again? I exercised Yesterday, damn it!

Quote du jour: I seated ugliness on my knee, and almost immediately grew tired of it.
- Salvador Dali

Well fine. If I have to exercise again, then I suppose I will get it done.
Self-pitying sigh

Really, I will remember how to be an Employed Person again soon. In the meantime, I'll use guilt to get me moving.

Exercise du jour: Again, another two friggin' miles of walking. This is setting the bar so low that it is pitiable. At the same time, it's setting the bar so low that I don't have any face-saving way to avoid exercising. What I'm after right now is, like a nun, getting back into the habit.

done?it's hard enough typing On an ip ad (sic), don't expect a gold star. I done the walk.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Okay, maybe it was just a crazy idea

My knee is as strong as it was before, if not stronger, and it's a matter of getting my leg strong. I lost six years of strength in about six month's time, so it's going to take another year or two to get that leg back up to full strength, but I'm good to go so far.
Picabo Street

One of my faults is that I am so easily distracted by bright shiny things. Did almost no exercise last week. Other things took priority. My mindset went totally into Work Mode Only. I know it's possible to combine work and exercise. I've done it before. Can't remember how, but I know I did it. Just couldn't seem to get the balance this week.

Okay, inner slug, I'll give you the first week of work is crazy.
Enough of that.

In my defense, I really did the good girl thing re making a healthy lunch, full of vegetables and good calories, and taking it to work each day. Didn't help much, since people kept saying 'let's go out to lunch' each day. (I mean, you can't say 'no' to that sort of thing. You really can't, especially in the first week. But damn I am sick of Chinese food now.)

Another weird thing to note is that Damn Knee has gotten more cranky this week rather than less. All that complaining it was doing about doing more than an hour on the elliptical? It complains even more if I don't exercise. It's not as consistently loud complaining -- it more takes the form of suddenly it's painful to get up from a chair. Not always, sometimes it's fine. But sometimes -- ouch. I think I need to strengthen the muscles around the knee more.

Yes, I am babbling. Tangent woman needs to focus. I am setting the bar low so that I can get back into the habit of exercise.

Exercise du jour: Okay, inner slug, here's the deal. All you have to do is walk two miles. Given that one of those miles is covered by walking to/from the Max, that means all the exercise you have to go out and achieve is One - Friggin' - Mile. That's all you need to do today.
Done! Walked at lunch. A bit. But hey, I set a goal and I made it. Maybe this will become a habit.

Friday, October 07, 2011

It's a crazy idea... but it might just work

Narrated by Steve Jobs

Quote du jour:

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.

- Steve Jobs in Wired, February 1996

Me: I'd like a rich husband, a new car, and a roast chicken.
Woman behind the Deli counter: I can get you one out of three.

Was it the new car?
Did she find me a rich husband?
Sheesh. Service, these days.

Okay, this is the end of the first crazy week at work.
It's Friday.
Therefore, I have Friday night and then two whole days wherein I might slip some exercising.
It might just work.

It's a trend. I'm going to start it today.

Exercise du jour: Me. Elliptical. 45 minutes. It Will Happen. I don't care if I have to put up a gold star at 11:58:58 pm, I will make this goal. I have spoken. (And indeed, typed.)

Watch this space for a genuine (if virtual) gold star.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

So I haven't written much lately. Neither has Shakespeare.

What can I say. I'm a working girl. Though not at Kmart.

Normal posting will hopefully resume shortly. Or as normal as I get, anyway.

Walked a couple miles the past couple of days, to and from the commute train. Aside from that, I got nothing. Except that I'm still being good re the no sweets for 30 days stuff.

Supposed Kmart employee courtesy of Wilgar.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho, hi ho ho's!

Me (to salesgirl): I love that you're selling Halloween stuff before Halloween instead of Christmas stuff!
Salesgirl: Thank you. Um... by the way, you don't want to look two aisles over.

Survived first day of work.

Good: Showed up before I was supposed to.
Bad: The rain turned my carefully achieved sleek & chic hairstyle into a frizz & 'fro style instead.
Worse: I showed up and discovered that I was going to be using a new software application that I've never touched in my life.

That last threw me a bit. I've double-checked, and nowhere is it mentioned in the job requirements when I originally applied. It certainly wasn't mentioned in the job interview. And yet, the other new tech writer who showed up today had heard about it. Well fine. BE that way. I'll just have to scramble, that's all. No doubt it's good exercise.

On the plus side, despite the highly caloric and tasty-smelling food in the on-site café, I did not touch sugar. Well, except for the odd tic-tac, but I've decided that does not count. I merely said "hi" to the other stuff.

Exercise du jour: A measly, crummy, lousy 20 minutes on the elliptical. Is work a good excuse for skipping exercise? I think not. Must try harder. After I get some sleep.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

It's the perfect 30 day challenge for October

Quote du jour: Patience is bitter, but it bears sweet fruit.
- Turkish proverb

Paradox du jour: I don't like 30 day challenges, I don't want to make them a habit, but even so I'm going to do another one. Why? Well, it worked last time. Today I got up and did 30 minutes on the elliptical before coffee -- I felt like an underachiever. I've gotten into the habit of exercising longer than that.

I like even numbers and clearly definable finish lines, so I generally don't do a challenge in October anyway. However, this one is too perfect. Therefore, I herewith state, swear, and affirm that I do hereby proclaim yadayada that I intend to have no sugar pass my lips for the next 30 days. Unless I come up with a way to mainline sugar, it's out of the game.

About the only thing I like about challenges like this one is the freedom to make up my own rules. Last month, I considered it fair to count simply moving for one hour as exercise, even if I didn't work up a sweat. (Though only one of the three hours of daily exercise could be allotted to just moving; the other two I had to sweat... does this make sense to you? Sounds much more complicated when I try to explain it.)

Anyway, the rules for the no sugar for 30 days challenge:

  • No chocolate, no candy, no Twinkies, pies, cakes, puddings, you get the idea
  • No champagne or other wine
  • No fruit juice or sodas
  • No dried fruit
I'll probably add to the list as I go along. Basically, nothing with added sugar in it. If I want something sweet, I will eat fruit. For the next 30 days, that is. On the 31st day, however...

Exercise du jour:
I really like the idea of exercising 3 times a day, even though Damn Knee won't put up with my doing 3 hours on the elliptical.

Morning: 1/2 hour elliptical

Noon: 1-1/2 hours gardening
Fail. On the other hand, I went shopping and walked past a lot of candy. It was harder than I had expected. Maybe I shouldn't have started this challenge the week before I start my cycle.
Night: 1/2 hour stretching, gentle walking

Noon - 1 hour elliptical
9 pm - 1 hour elliptical

Halloween candy courtesy of Ana_Fuji.