Wednesday, April 28, 2010

red letter day

For the past few days at work, things have been tense. There's been a weird vibe in the air. Everyone is grumpy. Including me. Questions are answered with terse, one to two word word responses. We all wanted to throw the computer out the window. Patients have been extra crazy. And we all just want to go home.

And today? A chorus of "I'm so hungry". "I need chocolate." "Anybody got any ibuprofen?"


(I had been thinking it was the full moon. Silly me.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

book review

If Holden Caulfield had been a girl growing up in the 1980s instead of going to a prep school in the 1950s, the story just may have been "The Wonder Spot." It tells the story of Sophie Applebaum from her early adolescence, through college, and into early adulthood. Sophie never quite feels comfortable in her own skin, nor does she ever feel like she fits in anywhere. She goes through a series of failed relationships and mediocre jobs and struggles to define her place in her own family. Though she is clearly smart, funny, and articulate, Sophie always appears to feel inferior to those around her and ends up selling herself short.

I really liked this book for fairly obvious reasons. (Anyone want to read a book about a 40 year old living in an apartment over her best friend's garage? ) It was written in the same style as Melissa Bank's first novel "The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing"; a series of short stories with recurring characters that are set in chronological order. Each story could stand alone on its own, but strung together form a non-traditional novel of sorts.

I logged onto a few online discussion groups with comments about this book. I was floored at how strong and angry some people were after reading this! (The words selfish, immature, boring, pointless, unable-to-learn are thrown around a lot) Jeez!

I happen to like true to life anti-heroes. If you do, as well, you may just enjoy this book.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recently I was talking with my Dad about a concept we dubbed “acclimation to nonsense”. (BTW -- a Google search of “acclimation to nonsense” will generate a large number of scientific research articles like this one) Our definition of acclimation to nonsense was much less intellectual.

In short, it’s the phenomenon that occurs when you are repeatedly exposed to something that normally you wouldn’t take seriously in the least. After a while, you become so acclimated, that it actually starts to make sense. Be it your co-workers’ critiques of the participants on “Dancing with the Stars”, Sarah Palin’s incessant babbling, or Lady Gaga’s music, after a while you start to think “This is genius!”

Of course, people like you and me are immune to this.


Except, maybe, -- in my case, anyway -- for infomercials.

Last weekend, I went to get my oil changed and I spent the better part of an hour sitting in a waiting room where a TV was tuned to -- is there an infomercial channel? It sure seemed like this TV was tuned in to it.

You will be happy to know that I didn’t fall prey to the “Lifestyle Lift Mini Face Lift” infomercial. I don’t care if I was exposed to that for weeks on end 24 hours per day. The before and after shots are downright scary! All the befores resemble nice grandmothers who might bake you a piping hot batch of cookies or something. The afters? Remember the Joker from Batman? Yeah. Like that. (Jack Nicholson, not Heath Ledger)

I said I’m not immune to infomercials, not that I’m crazy.

No, it was the next infomercial that got me. And in my defense, it seemed to be targeting me specifically. I’m into health and fitness. I exercise regularly. I try to eat right. But I don’t always succeed. I could use a little help in that department.

Besides, Jack La Lane looks fantastic for his age! What is he? 137 year old? And he still swims 7 or 8 miles before breakfast every morning! I want to be like him. So we he started talking about his juicer…man, oh, man. I was hanging on every word.

When my Jeep was ready, I made a beeline to the mall. I had a bunch of Macy’ gift cards and coupons that were just itching to be spent. As it turned out, the Sharper Image had the exact same juicer as Mr. La Lane for $30 cheaper. (Sorry Jack. Thanks for the inspiration, but you’ll have to make due without my $50 in Macy’s points)

My apartment has been in turmoil. My countertops have been a hodgepodge of apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, carrots, celery, strawberries, cucumbers, mangos…you name it, I’ll juice it! I think I may be gaining weight at an exponential rate simple because of the sheer volume of juice I’ve produced. (just kidding. It’s really filling. I got a freezer full of juice because I can’t possibly drink it all at once)

The only problem is that there’s somebody else who likes the juice even more than me. ANTS.

Now I’m trying to find that infomercial channel, again. I’m sure somebody out there want to sell me an environmentally friendly ant solution!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

weekend wrap up

At long last, things seem to be falling into place I have a semblance of normalcy. For the first time since my return from Vancouver, Ifeel like I have not been at the mercy of back pain. That being said, work has become exponentially busier and more physically demanding. Which means I made it to the gym exactly once this week. Bummer.

This week, we celebrated earth day (well, we observed earth day. I don't know about you, but I wasn't able to fit any celebrating into April 22. I'm going to have to do some good, old fashioned celebratory rolling in the grass at another time for earth day. Any day can be earth day, I guess!) Despite my lack of celebration, I'm still going strong in the year long attempt at cutting down on the trash, no plastic bags, no disposable plates at work. Yay everybody!

This week's book: Finished "The Audacity of Hope". Thought provoking.

This week's project: Digital picture organizing! I finally got all the pics off the camera and loaded onto the computer. Went through all the picture files and deleted pics that are useless and organized the remaining pictures into files that make more sense. Finally, got them all loaded onto an online photo sharing site and onto a flash drive for backup.

And as an added bonus: repotted the plants. I've been needing to do that for a while!

Tomorrow, I'm going to try riding the road bike!

I've been seeing lots of people out running and riding bikes and feeling sooo jealous! I just want to be in a place where I can resume training without putting myself back. I'm trying to embrace the idea of only sprint tri's for the season, but it's tough when I so wanted to do a half ironman this year.....First things first, though. Try the road bike tomorrow and do my spinal stabilization exercises tonite!

Have a good nite, everyone!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Born on a Blue Day

A few weeks ago, I read Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet, a memoir written by a high functioning autistic savant. It was quite an interesting read, mostly because it read like it was written by an autistic person! Which seems pretty self explanatory...but if you ever have spoken or had prolonged contact with somebody with autism, you know the typical mannerisms. The absence of emotion. The focus on minute details. A seeming tendency to put the same amount of weight on all events, no matter how large or small. The monotone speech. (Think of Spock in the original Star Trek) And now picture a memoir written in the same vein.

I felt that this made the book more powerful. The catch phrase was "Inside the extraordinarry mind of an autistic savant". And the flat, almost emotionless style definitely accomplishes that.

One of the most fascinating aspect of Daniel Tammet's condition is his overwhelmingly vivid synaesthesia, which is a phenomenon where stimulation of one neurological pathway involuntarily stimulates another, unrelated pathway. Thus, people with synaesthesia experience things in a multi-sensory way. So, for instance, Daniel experiences dates as colors (hence the title of the book...Mondays are blue) and numbers as shapes. Moreover, he experiences numbers as emotional, with personalities, as well. (At one point in the book, he relays how he was trying to relate to his peers more closely, he pictured certain numbers in his mind in order to conjure up the emotion he intellectually knew he should be having)

This pronounced synaesthesia is closely linked to his amazing ability with numbers and language. Daniel is able to instantly perform complex mathematical equations by picturing the numbers' shapes and then combining the shapes to form a new shape. He is also able to memorize huge sequences of numbers by lining the numbers shapes up in his mind like a landscape and "strolling through the landscape". In this way, he recited from memory pi digits to 22,514 places as a charity challenge for the National Society for Epilepsy. (His autism is believed to have been triggered by an epileptic seizure as a toddler)

I have read quite a few memoirs and I enjoy the genre. I find them entertaining and fascinating. Sometimes because they demonstrate life fraught with obstacles and the uplifting tale of somebody overcoming adversity to succeed. Think: Running with Scissors, Cherry, Prozac Nation. Some tell of a fascinating, once in a lifetime event (mixed with soul searching). Think: Eat, Pray, Love. Some tell of an amazingly different life than one I will ever lead. Think: Three Cups of Tea. This memoir was quite different in that it told the story of somebody who was able to live an ordinary, unassuming life. Daniel's extraordinary condition made achieving an ordinary life a big feat.

On interesting note, I passed this book along to a coworker who has suddenly been tossed into extraordinary circumstances of her own. Two family deaths within one year have left her taking care of 5 kids...2 with autism and one with developmental delays of a different sort. I thought it may help her with the days that she says push her to the edge "with the counting and the clapping and the counting and the clapping and the flapping and the counting" I sure hope she's keeping a journal because I'd like to read HER memoir one day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

weekend wrap up

It's been too too long since I did a weekend wrap up. Mainly because I had that trip to Vancouver and then the pesky injury that had me sidelined for a while. But also because I was feeling very behind in projects and goals and didn't know where to begin. And lastly because all this sidetracking activity left me feeling lost. The weird thing is, I started this entire blog thingie to work through lost feelings of another sort. And all the beginning posts were geared around working through the lost feelings. But now I get a little lost and I have no idea what to post. WTF??


My original goals of 52 books in 52 weeks:
This week marks week 15 and I am in the midst of book #15, so just a bit behind. Quite behind in book review posts, but I promise for a bunch of those in the near future.
Books Read:
1) The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud
2) The Running Foot Doctor
3) A New Earth
4) The Last Season
5) The Power of Now
6) You Better Not Cry
7) Three Cups of Tea
8) Born on a Blue Day
9) The Essential Green You
10) From Me to We
11) The Wonder Spot
12) Pretty Birds
13) Body Surfing
14) Memoirs of a Geisha
15) halfway through The Audacity of Hope

Of Course, My 52 Project in 52 Weeks isn't quite as up to date. I've completed 12 of 15 projects but now have more inspiration to complete some projects
Projects Completed:
1) Hung Curtain
2) Organized Recipes in a Spiral Notebook
3) Organized Recycling
4) Uploaded CDs onto Computer
5) Put up Hatrack
6) Brought a bunch of CDs to the used CD store
7) Put up another hat rack and hung up all the hats
8) Organized File Cabinet and Paperwork
9) Replaced tools in Jeep Toolbox
10) Figured out what that noise was in the Jeep and fixed it (power steering fluid leak. I generally like to figure it out on my own before I bring the Jeep to get it fixed. Long story. Post for another day. But I do at least have a place to bring it that I trust now.)
11) Got taxes done and filed.
12) Defrosted and cleaned out the freezer

More creative and involved projects to come.

And most importantly: the back is getting better. Its still not 100%. But much better. In a weird way, I think I have a much better understanding of the injury process and the lower kinetic chain (for all you runner-type people out there) having gone through this. I was able to ride the road bike 15 miles today and then run 3. I was pretty sore this evening, though. But at least I know I can handle sprint distance triathlons ok. The goal of a half ironman in June just ain't gonna happen, though. Not when I felt so out of shape on the run today. And not with how unstable my knee is feeling. (With the back injury, I got some pain, numbness, and weakness in L3. Which over the past 4 weeks has lead to some serious VMO atrophy. It's crazy! You can see the assymmetry in my thighs and I was still pretty active the whole time. So now in addition to core strengthening, I'm doing VMO recruitment exercises.) But I'm not going to push the racing and risk another injury.

Oh, it sucks getting older when you can't just bounce back in a week to 10 days.

So, after that long winded explanation of what my life has been about for the past month, I'll leave you with the following promises:
More book reviews soon
More project reviews soon
A nice story about Jeep maintenence
An indepth explanation about the relationship between ankle pronation, SI joint dysfunction, L3 facet irritation, the "facilitated segment" and VMO function. ( I may have been heading down this road without that little punk falling on me in Vancouver. He may have just speeded up the process) Just those running geeks out there will be interested, I'm sure!

Happy weekend, all!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Just call me juicy

This weekend, I was going through a pile of gift cards I had -- some half spent, some not spent at all, some probably completely spent but just taking up space in my wallet -- and trying to decide what to do with them. Then I was thinking about my struggle to get 6-8 produce servings in per day without feeling like a bloated whale. And I figured I'd combine these two seemingly unrelated tasks.

I am now absolutely in love with my NEW JUICER!!!!

It rocks. And who knew carrots and celery could make such a tasty beverage?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More Helpful Advice

More Helpful Advice from My 2 Year Old Nephew and 5 Year Old Neice:

Nephew: "I can play with this Spongebob ball but I can't watch his show."

Me: "Well, that sounds pretty reasonable."

Neice: "Spongebob is fresh! He says bad words and does all kinds of naughty things. I don't even know how he has time to do all those things, because he's probably always in time out."

Nephew: "I'm always in time out, too."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Helpful Advice from my Two Year Old Nephew:

"It's okay to say 'Shake your tailfeathers' but it's NOT okay to say 'Shake your booty'. That's fresh! And you'll end up in time out."

Monday, April 5, 2010

April Goals

1) Completely rehab my back so I can resume triathlon training. (Fully knowing that maybe this year is a year of sprint distance. Or not. We'll see)

2) Six to Eight servings of veggies a day.

3) Trunk stabilization exercises every day this month.

4) Six to eight glasses of water per day.

5) Back to journaling daily...gratitude and events!

6) Get roth IRA set.

7) Up 403 B contributions at work

8) Go out twice this month. (it's a sad sad state of affairs when I need to make goals to get my ass out of the house!)

9) Spring cleaning done and done (including getting the warm weather clothes out of storage. Yay!)

10) DVD classes done and done.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

March goals recap I am, in full recuperation mode. I can actually sit long enough to do a proper post without regretting it later. I was wondering if I should even do a goals update, seeing how my little injury messed up all my plans. But then I thought...isn't that what goal updates are all about? Factoring in life and adjusting the goals accordingly? SO here is my fractured, rather sad goal update.

March Goals:

1) Get taxes filed. ok. that I got done.

2) Triathlon training in full swing. um, no. I tried to get on my bike with my awesome new clipless pedals yesterday to take advantage of this splendid weather. But I had gone about 1/2 mile when my entire right leg went numb. So I came home, did my back exercises, and tried to take the mountain bike out. I got about 1 mile before I had to turn around. I did my back exercises again and jumped in my car to head to the gym to ride an exercise bike for 45 minutes. I'm gonna try the biking again next week. Ditto on the running. Swimming is going just swimmingly, though.

3) Go out twice. Done! (Of course, one of the outings was at a blues bar in Hyannis which was pretty much like going out in Hyannis in March. ie: really really lame. Almost scary) The warm weather is creeping in, though. Which means these beach towns will start waking up.

4) Finish work presentation. done

5) Have a movie night with my buds. yeah, that didn't happen. Between my back injury and my buddy, Shell's unexpected foot surgery, sitting in movie theater seats for 2 hours just wasn't happening for either of us. It'll happen eventually, though.

6) Register for spring races. Holding off on that, too. I want to make sure I sign up for races I can handle. ANd at this point, I'm not sure what that'll be.

7) reduce soda intake. half credit. still working on it.

8) 6 servings fruit/ veggies a day. half credit again. I'm defintely eating more, though I don't always get the 6 servings every day.

9) resume and keep up with gratitude journal. fail. all journals went right out the window this month.

10) have a great trip to Vancouver. SUCCESS! Always glad to end on a high note.