Friday, December 30, 2011

Survived the car-free month

see more

Made it through 30 days of being car-free -- well, almost car free. I did take the car to visit the mechanic, and I drove it yesterday because I wanted to buy a heap of stuff from the store and I couldn't carry it all home on a bicycle. Ordinarily, I would've waited until the month was up, but I needed the stuff for this month's challenge.

My thoughts on going car-free for a month:
  • It's doable, in large part because I made a point of buying a house in a walkable neighborhood.
  • It takes planning and organizing, skills that are not among my strong points. If I want to go to the library, the grocery store, and Home Depot, I have to figure out my route and make sure that the lights are working on my bicycle.
  • I was limited in how much I could carry home at one time. Therefore, I shopped more often. Even though I bought fewer items each visit, I still bought more things because I was in the store more.
  • Going car-free is great if you have a monthly pass and access to a train or light-rail. It stinks if you take the bus. I didn't know this before, but I am an elitist. I hate riding the bus. I don't like the bus drivers and I don't like the people who ride buses. One woman I rode next to, Ms. Contagion, had a long conversation on her cell phone describing in detail how sick she was and how she still had to go to work. (I really hope she doesn't work in a restaurant.) On another bus ride, Mrs. Sharp Elbows squeezed in next to me. She kept jabbing me in the ribs. Finally I worked my arm in between us, so she couldn't actually hurt me anymore, but it was still uncomfortable. Note: I only rode the bus a couple times. There might be intelligent, charming, polite and healthy people out there riding buses. I just didn't see them.
  • Going car-free is a terrific way to work in exercise into your day. I love having exercise become part of my commute.
  • Having a car-free commute saves a ton of money. A lot of people told me that they could ride the light rail, but their car got good mileage. I don't think they've actually sat down and ran the numbers. By taking the train instead of the car, I saved over $300 a month. Granted, my car is an SUV, so it doesn't get fantastic mileage. But even if a car does pretty good with the gas, it's much cheaper to take the train.

Will I continue to take the train to work? Definitely. Will I use the bicycle to do my shopping? Most of the time. Am I ready to toss the car keys away and walk everywhere? Not yet. But I think I can do a lot more without driving.

Site du jour: A family decided to get rid of their car and go car-free. And they're not living in a particularly walkable neighborhood.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's Boxing Day -- not Kickboxing Day

Quote du jour: Next to a circus there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit.
- Kin Hubbard

I've never found a good explanation for why the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day. Even Scopes found it hard to explain. All I know is that it means I have to clean up wrapping paper and do some extra dishwashing.

Wait. It also means I have to go back to work tomorrow? Already? Jeez.

Something tells me that if I found a job that I loved to do and looked forward to every morning, I wouldn't have that reaction. Just a hunch.

Job hunt update: Got some nibbles, but most employers aren't really interested in hiring between Christmas and New Years. Still, I've updated the résumé, dusted off the interview outfit, and posted my latest info up on Monster. (Surprisingly, that's still a highly popular job site. I'd have expected a more tech-specific site, but that's where a lot of employers still look.)

Exercise update: I've been Suzy Slacker all week. Luckily, this blog is a guilt-free zone (or I'd have a lot to say to myself on this subject). Instead, I'm going to focus on getting something done exercise-wise every day this week. It's not that I'm incapable. I'm just totally unmotivated. Pretty sure I don't need to be motivated to exercise; I just need to be capable.
Plus, if I get up and work out this week, I'll end the year on an up note, which is always a good thing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter is coming

It's dark outside.
It's too dark outside.
Therefore, it is entirely logical for me to think that it's too dark to:

  • Exercise yes, that includes the elliptical in my bedroom, the one that is currently sulking from neglect

  • Do yard work no, even if the sun is up for part of the day. Hey, it's going to get dark soon. No sense starting something I can't finish, right?

  • Clean my house okay, so this one takes more rationalizing, but bear with me. It's cold outside and therefore unless I want to spend all my money on heating bills, it's going to be cold inside. Therefore, I think I will spend the rest of this month curled up in bed huddling under the covers.

I do realize that work is needed on the attitude front. On the plus side, I have been doing well on the car-free front. Not that I had much choice, since I had to take the car in to see Mr. Mechanic. I will have to drive today, since I can't pick up the car from the mechanic and also hie myself to work. (That's one drawback to taking a commuter train that doesn't run in the middle of the day.)

Exercise du jour: 4 miles of walking a day. I can, I can, IcanIcanIreallycan.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Can't go forward, don't want to go backward. Will tread.

funny pictures - DON'T ASK ME  I JUST WORK HERE
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Quote du jour: Nothing will work unless you do.
- Maya Angelou

Feel a bit up in the air. Can't concentrate on exercise because I'm spending a lot of my time focusing on getting a job or fixing the one I've got. Going to see the manager of the department today to see if something can be done. Sent 5 résumés out last night. A couple of the jobs were pretty good fits for what I can do, another was a long shot, one was 'meh' and the last one was sent to a former co-worker whose new company might need somebody.

Exercise du jour: I will aim for 4 miles of walking a day. I know, I know, it's not pushing myself to do this. This week, maintenance is all I am asking of myself.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Would it be okay if I were assertive? Or I could just impersonate a doormat if you'd prefer

Funny Pictures - It's Not Nonsense Because KITTIES!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Good: Legs not so swollen up, can walk without limping. Still don't know what the heck I did to earn that.
Bad: I don't know if I should even ask a doctor about it.

Remember a few months back, when I was talking to new recruiters every day? Every time it was the same routine:
  1. They'd describe the job and ask what rate I'd expect.
  2. I'd say the rate would depend on whether or not I'd have to pay for health insurance.
The responses fell into three basic categories:
  • Most recruiters said "No insurance and oh my that's a high rate Merry."
  • Some said "Welllll, we have a sort of reimbursement plan and oh my that's a high rate Merry."
  • A rare few said "Oh yes, we offer health insurance and that rate is a bit high, but we can deal."

This job I'm at now, the conversation fell into the last category "but of course there's a waiting period." The waiting period is now up. And... they don't offer health insurance.

So I send them an email saying, essentially, "WTF?"

They sent back an email saying "let's chat." I was not interested in anything they had to say unless it was in writing, so I suggested email instead.

Now I get an email from them saying "Oh gosh! Turns out that when you first spoke to the recruiter we did offer health insurance, but by the time you got an offer from the company, we'd changed our policy. Still, since we're such nice people, we'll up your salary by an additional $300 a month so you can buy your own insurance."

Huh. Now I've got to sit down and figure out whether or not that's a good move. I'm not even sure I could get health insurance -- surely being overweight is a bad mark in the eyes of an insurance company?

Site du jour: Jennette Fulda wrote a post on insurance for the self-employed. I found it clear, comprehensive, and depressing. I think the best thing to do would be to marry a rich old man who had no close relatives. Preferably one who is Canadian.

Monday, December 05, 2011

How hard can it be?

see more

“In a sense the car has become a prosthetic, and though prosthetics are usually for injured or missing limbs, the auto-prosthetic is for a conceptually impaired body or a body impaired by the creation of a world that is no longer human in scale.”
- Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Yes, I thought up another 30 day challenge. It occurred to me, since my car is having difficulties, that this might be a good month to try going car-free. This might be considered making a virtue of necessity: my mechanic doesn't work weekends, so with my work schedule it's awkward trying to get the car to him right now. I'm going to try to work another week of four 10-hour days, so maybe I can drop the car off Friday, pick it up next Friday. Aside from that, I want to see if I can go without driving anywhere at all for a month.

What I've discovered so far is that I'm getting a lot more incidental exercise. Just shopping for groceries or picking up a DVD from the library involves walking or cycling for several miles. On the down side, I have to plan a lot better. Because it gets dark so much earlier, my bike ride had to be cut short yesterday when I found out that the batteries in my bike lights had quit working. Even so, I managed to cycle for about five miles. It's not much, but it's a start.

These 30-day challenge things seem a bit cheesy, but I've noticed that they get results. The other day, I was running out of steam at work at the end of my 12-hour stint. I picked up a packet of M&Ms to give me some energy, but I couldn't finish them. The first taste of chocolate was great, but after that I didn't enjoy the experience. It tasted as if I were eating wax flavored with a lot of chemicals. Probably I was. Maybe going a month sans car will lead me to automatically reach for my bike helmet instead of my car keys.

Site du jour: SuperMarket Sweep blog. Last weekend in San Francisco there was the 6th annual Supermarket Sweep race, where participants go to local grocery stores -- on their bicycles -- and haul food back to donate it to charity. The winners hauled 845 pounds in 2 hours. (It was a father-and-son team on a tandem. They had a long line of grocery carts, filled with groceries and linked together, that they hauled up and down S.F. hills.) Makes my little grocery run (1 pannier) look pretty wimpy.

Exercise du jour: This week, I'm aiming for 5 miles of walking a day and 15 minutes ellipticalling at night.
Most emphatic FAIL.
Yes, I did walk about 2 miles, what with my commute to the Max and the trek down to the cafeteria for the morning coffee, but other than that -- Pffft!
My legs felt swollen at the start of the day.
It only got worse as the day went on. I couldn't even touch my toes. (No, that's not normal. Usually I can almost touch my palms to the carpet.)
Don't ask me what the problem was today. I don't know. I didn't exercise at all yesterday, neither did I feel sore from the bike ride the day before. I'm pretty sure that starting my cycle wouldn't cause my hamstring muscles to throw a hissy fit. On the walk home, it was so bad that I was limping. Noticeably.
I think this is a sign that I should chalk the day up to Whatever and try again tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wake me up when it's December, 'k?

funny pictures - Oh!  Gheesh!   Heres  it  comes  again.  Dat  fing  called  Mondae. Wen  i  rulez  da  wurld,  i  iz  gettin  rid  ob  itz.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Good: Thanks to the lack of car, I got a lot of walking done this weekend just from Getting Things Done. To wit, walked 7-1/2 miles this weekend.
Bad: Might not get any exercise at all this week.

The next seven days are going to be hellish. I don't get paid for hours I don't work, so I'm going to try to work three 12-hour days this week to make up for the loss of money from the holidays. Plus which, I'm going to be spending money, flying home for Thanksgiving and then on to Southern California for a family reunion. The odds of healthy eating, regular exercise, or enough sleep occurring this week are, unlike the woman typing these words, extremely slim.

Site du week: Eco Cat Lady has a great post on why Alarm Clocks are the Root of All Evil.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting crafty

Confession du jour: I'm trying to learn crafty things like crochet. (Yes, I know this photo shows Cary Grant trying to knit. Stretch your imagination a bit, okay? I defy you to produce a photo of a hunk crocheting. Must be something only women do.)

I figure that spending three hours a day commuting by public transport should provide the ideal time and place to learn this craft stuff. For one thing, you can't throw the tangled yarn down and run out the door screaming. Not while the train is moving, at any rate.

If all goes as planned, I will be able to do a bit more serious exercise today. Since I worked four 10-hour days, I get today off. So I have the time to exercise... presuming I don't spend it doing chores. Are chores more important than exercise? Clearly not. Well... unless you want to be able to find clean clothes, eat off clean plates, have the electric bill paid before they cut it off... pish! Trivial things like that.

Exercise du jour: I'm figuring two hours of ellipticalling: one in the morning, one in the evening.

Note: I don't know how this will go. I've been extremely lax on the elliptical lately, so this might prove too much for Damn Knee. Six weeks ago, this would've been an easy goal to do. Let's see what happens.

Photo courtesy of Noelle Noodle.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

But baby it's cold outside

job fails - We Must Leave the Shower-Womb Eventually
see more Monday Through Friday

Quote du jour: I was so cold the other day, I almost got married.
- Shelley Winters

Quiz du jour: Reader, I married him, a quiz about lines from well-known books in English literature. Some of them I could identify the book, some I could only identify the author. A couple, alas, I knew them not.

Exercise du jour: 4 miles walking, 15 minutes ellipticalling.
Sigh. Yes, again. Let's see if I can do the full stint this time, even though I hab a code and hab to sneeze before I can breed through my nodz. (Yes, having a cold does make me type like that. What? It doesn't affect your spelling?)

Done! With the help of drugs, so I won't qualify for any Olympic records (I'm sure NyquilTM is on the proscribed list), but it's done!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Every family has its own internal language

Quote du jour:
Me: What's this potted plant?
Mother: Oh, Cathy gave me that. It's to replace that plant we had by the front door, the one that died when the weather got below freezing. I forget the name... something that begins with 'P'...
Me: Hibiscus?
Mother: That's the one.

Site du jour: In case you missed it, A Mouse in France wrote a series of posts on how to avoid getting computer viruses. And since she deals with that sort of thing for a living, this is straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. (From the mouse's mouth? Whatever.)

Exercise du jour: 4 miles walking, 15 minutes ellipticalling.
Sigh. Yes, again. This will become a habit eventually. I just wish I had a precise definition of what 'eventually' means in this case.
Done. Finally. Actually, not quite done. I skimped on the walking (2-1/2 miles), because my body decided that since everyone else was sniffling and sneezing, it should join in the fun. Slowest 15 minutes of ellipticalling ever, but I got up and did it anyway, so I'm putting the star up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oh, gift me a break

job fails - Halloween isn't Even Cold to the Touch Yet! Wait a Few Weeks!
see more Monday Through Friday

Quote du jour: I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.
- Shirley Temple

Exercise du jour: 4 miles walking, 15 minutes ellipticalling. It shall be done.
It has been done. That 'just 15 minutes' thing still works.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Oh good. You still work here."

job fails - Clippy Asks A More Relevant Question
see more Monday Through Friday

Not the best way to start the day: "Oh good. You still work here."
- A co-worker, when I walked into the office one day last week. Turns out the company's been playing musical chairs, a.k.a. reorganizing.

Not the best way to end the day: That night I drove home by back roads, going 60 down dark, narrow roads that don't even had a shoulder if you need to pull over. I turned into the driveway, shut off the engine, and only then noticed clouds of steam rising up from under the hood. Half an hour later, the car was still steaming. Can't see any loose hoses, but there's a definite smell of antifreeze. Thankfully, I can get around without a car if I have to.

Goal for the week: I'm thinking that I might try working four 10-hour days this week. The manager told me that this was an option, and I'm wondering if it will work out better. I get more done when I can concentrate for long periods of time. Plus, I'm spending three friggin' hours a day commuting. Would be nice to only have to do that four days a week.

On the down side, doing this means that I will have less time to exercise during the week. Therefore, I have to take a walking lunch break. Also, I will have to make it an absolute rule to use the elliptical every night. That's going to be hard. I don't mean physically, but mentally. By the end of the day I'm usually worn out and want "me" time -- I want to relax, put my feet up, and be self-indulgent. The trick here is to try to persuade my inner slug that using the elliptical is a form of self-indulgence.

Exercise du jour: 4 miles walking, 15 minutes elliptical. Yes, I know it's the same goal as before. When it gets easy, I'll up the workout. (It's easy enough physically. The challenge here involves time and discipline.)
Done! Actually did 5 miles walking.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Internet is making it harder for me to be a slacker

Here I was, spending time on the Internet because it was too dark and cold and gloomy to get off my ever-increasing bottom and get on my bicycle for a short 4-mile ride. (But it's so dark! It's so cold! It's so glooooooomy!)

Then I had to go and read Lynne's blog about her ride from Eugene to Beaverton.* (For those of you from elsewhere, she rode 136 miles that day. For those of you from somewhere with a more sensible measuring system, that's 218 kilometers.)

Damn. It's much harder to look my conscience in the eye and tell it that I can't do my simple get-the-chores-done ride.

Done! 4 miles on a bike

*Sorry, Julie, but even though I'd love to stop in for a visit, it ain't gonna be by bike.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The magic of 15 minutes

Quote du jour:It always seems impossible until it's done.
- Nelson Mandela

Thanks to the amazing MessyMimi, I now know that today is National Cliché day. And it is a cliché that you can do more than you think you can.

When I absolutely positively cannot in any way Get Up And Exercise... for some reason, I can almost always still manage to get on the elliptical for 15 minutes. Can't manage half an hour, 20 minutes is still too long. But just 15 minutes, well, the bar is set low enough that the weary brain can grasp the concept and see it as doable. As often as not, I find that once I'm going, I can go a little further.

Exercise du jour: Yes, another 4 miles walking, 15 minutes ellipticalling. (Merry, when are you going to change the routine? A - when it becomes easy.)
Done! I'm claiming the star even though I did 30 minutes ellipticalling and no minutes walking. I figure I deserve it on humanitarian grounds, for even though I had a rotten day and really wanted nothing more than to crawl into my home/cave at the end of the day, I got on the elliptical machine. Of course, I wouldn't have done it if you -- yes, you right there, don't look away -- hadn't had faith that I could do it. The guilt of letting you down, well, I was ready to get up there and go through the motions to placate that guilt. Then, once I was going through the motions, it was easy enough to put a good tune on the headphones and get some real exercise.
I think the formula is Friends + Guilt + iTunes = Workout.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Why You Should Exercise Every Day

Hella long Quote du jour:

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts show
that, after just one day of not exercising, your body loses some
of its ability to respond to insulin (Metabolism: Clinical and
Experimental, July 2011). Inability to respond to insulin is the
cause of most cases of diabetes that has the potential to cause
premature death in one of every three North Americans.

HOW SUGAR DAMAGES CELLS: After you eat, blood sugar levels
rise. If they rise too high, sugar sticks to outer cell membranes
to destroy those cells. That's why diabetics suffer from damage
to every cell in their bodies, leading to blindness, deafness, dementia, heart attacks, strokes, impotence, and damage to nerves, kidneys or liver. To keep blood sugar levels from rising too high, your pancreas releases insulin which drives sugar from the bloodstream into cells. Exercising every day helps to keep sugar levels from rising too high.

HOW CONTRACTING MUSCLES CAN PREVENT DIABETES: Resting muscles cannot draw sugar from the bloodstream without receiving large amounts of insulin. However, contracting muscles can remove sugar from the bloodstream without using insulin. This effect is maximal during exercise and is gone completely after 17

ONE MISSED DAY OF EXERCISE: In the study from the University of Massachusetts, after just one day of sitting, people had higher blood sugar levels after a meal, decreased ability to respond to insulin, and higher insulin levels. The more food they ate on the day of not exercising, the higher their blood sugar levels, and the less their bodies responded to insulin. This study shows that just one day of not exercising increases a person's risk for the side effects of diabetes.

HOW TO EXERCISE EVERY DAY: Many people become injured when they try to exercise every day. The most likely cause is that they do not understand the hard-easy principle that every knowledgeable exerciser should learn. You take a more intense workout on one day. The next day, you can expect to feel sore. That is when you must put very little pressure on your muscles. That means to run, dance, skate, cycle very slowly or lift lightly until the soreness diminishes. Only then should you move faster and lift heavier. You can tell that you are headed for an injury if you feel soreness that is not symmetrical and it worsens with exercise. Stop because continuing discomfort with exercise is often a sign of impending injury.

- Dr. Mirkin

Okay, I have a plan. Yesterday started off pretty good, with me drinking like a fish. I drank about three liters of water in the morning, but I slacked off in the afternoon only to find Mr. Headache coming back for a visit.

So today, I'm hitting the bottle every hour from the moment I walk in the front door to the last-minute frantic dash for the exit at night. And I'm going to exercise.

4 miles. 15 minutes elliptically. It shall be done, damn it.
It has been done. 30 on the elliptical. And it was good. The drinking plan seems to be helping.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Back to the routine

Quote du jour: Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.
- Yeats (attrib.)

Why does a headache leave you feeling as drained as if you'd indulged in an orgy of debauchery? If I'd known I was going to have a hangover, I would've gone out on the town, damn it.

Oh well. Another day, another dollar cliché exercise goal.

Exercise du jour: 4 miles walking, 15 minutes elliptical.
Semi-win. Did 3 miles walking. Yes, the headache came back. I am nearly positive that it's caused by dehydration. The workplace humidity is kept unnaturally low, to make the products feel better. They do provide extra drinking water stations to make the people feel better, and a round-trip walk to the closest one is a 1/4 mile walk, so it's not too bad. So long as I remember to keep drinking. Slacked off this afternoon, and lo! The headache returned this evening like an old friend. The kind who owes you money and sits around on your couch drinking your beer and watching shows you hate.

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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ending the month on a good note

Good: This is the last day of my goal of doing 3 hours of daily exercise for 30 days.

Better: This is the last work day wherein I will be able to collect an unemployment check, since I start a new job on Monday.

Best: My shower still works!

Hey, don't knock it. You try going for months without a working shower. It really affects the mood. Okay, yes, I am happy/nervous about the new job, too.

Summary du 30 day push: The first two weeks were good. After I wrote a status post summarizing the good stuff I did, things went down hill. In short, I got distracted by all the hoops I had to jump through to get my new job (for example, I had to read 45 pages of paperwork and fill out, sign, and send back 20 pages) and all the things (chores, road trips, etc.) that I needed to get done before becoming a wage slave again. Still managed to get some exercise in, but not nearly as much as I hoped.

If my math skills are functioning, by the end of today I will have done a total of 66 hours of exercise this month. That's only two-thirds of the exercise I'd planned (90). Even so, if I hadn't aimed that high I would not have worked out nearly so much. So I'm tossing the calculator out the window and calling this a win.

Video clip du jour: This cracked me up. If you've ever seen A Game of Thrones (or read the books) then you'll know that whatever else the story is, it is not a comedy. And yet, a selection of carefully edited clips and a smooth-voiced announcer can make it sound like hilarity ensues.

Exercise du jour: 1 hour elliptical
Did 45 minutes before the hole-in-the-wall contractor showed up. Damn Knee is complaining again. Methinks it's time to be flexible and try something else for the rest of today's stint.
Done! After the contractor left for a while.

1 hour gardening
Done! After the wasp-killing contractor left.

1 hour gentle walking, stretching
Done! Finally. At 9:49 p.m., but who's counting. It's done. Fini. So long and thanks for all the exercise. That kind of thing. Feels very good to be done.

Photo courtesy of ravenU.