Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bunny Decorator

Or, "Why We Cover the Bed With an Old Sheet."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holiday Weekend Recap

I had a nice, low-stress (by my strange standards) four day weekend. And boy, did I need it!

Thursday morning started with a two-hour spin session to put me in calorie deficit ahead of Thanksgiving dinner. Dan and I stayed home, no traipsing across the city to be bored by his family or annoyed by mine. Although we had toyed with the idea of cooking, we ended up buying the things we would need at the Central Market deli Tuesday night, instead. It was all very nice and we watched a movie afterwards, took naps, stayed up late puttering around and just generally didn’t do much at all. During my late-night writing time, I wrote a new short story.

On Friday I went thrift and consignment shopping. My favorite thrift store was closed, but I did well at a good consignment store near River Oaks. The store often has really nice stuff, sometimes with the tags still on. It’s amazing what rich people give away. Once I got home, it was time to do the laundry, since Friday is always laundry day around here. It was also grocery night, and we stocked up for the week. In the evening, I finished editing my new story and posted it.

Since it was raining like heck on Saturday morning, there was no hope of doing a long run. I dilly-dallied and finally forced myself to get my butt to the studio for a spin workout. I did three hours, thus earning the right to stuff myself on Indian food, which I did. I took a nap afterwards, overslept, and stayed up late to compensate.

While I napped, Dan went to meet his sisters on his father’s side of the family and was surprised when they gave him some his dad’s effects. His father passed away several years ago and Dan had been wanting to ask for something to remember him by, but had been shy about it. Long story, but to put it most simply, Dan’s father had a wife and family already when he started sneaking around with Dan’s mom. So Dan grew up without knowing his father, and only met him a few years before his death from lung cancer. So it was quite a special thing for him to get some mementos.

This morning I got up and cooked for the week. I made steamed carrots, sautéed spinach with garlic, roast potatoes (two kinds) and bread pudding. It took longer than I would’ve liked, so even though I had hoped to do a 20 mile run today, by the time I did 16 it was getting too late in the day to finish. I did today’s run in the gym due to the bad weather and alternated one mile on the treadmill with one mile on the indoor track. It worked pretty well and I think if it hadn’t been getting so late I would’ve had the mental stamina to do 20. I hope I don’t have to find out, though. I’d much rather run outdoors.

When I got home I ate dinner and put a bunch of things in the crock pot in the hope it would turn out to be turkey soup. And it did! I had some after my nap and it was delish!

So that was my long weekend. There’s a lot I meant to do but didn’t. I wanted to finish hanging pictures and tidy the studio some more—things left undone when I finally ran out of steam after our move in August. I meant to finish a lapsed salary report for work and of course I meant to do more writing and didn’t. I didn’t do a heavy weight workout this weekend, either.

I’m not disappointed in myself or the weekend, but I really do need to move to a planet with longer days. Or get a job with longer vacations.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Santa Claus Is Coming!

Okay, not for another month. But he's blogging again and getting ready for the big day. Be sure to check out Santa's blog and add it to your blog reader, if you've got one. It's a lot of fun!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing blessings to you and yours and another year to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ebay: I did not know that!

Tonight I found some items on Ebay Canada (ebay.ca) that I couldn't find on USA Ebay (ebay.com). Silly me, I had assumed that us being neighbors and all, I would find the same stuff on both sites.

Not so!

And what was I looking for, you ask? Old postcards of New Mexico towns. And I found them in Canada, of all places! Why our northern friends had postcards of the copper mines in Hurley, New Mexico, I'll never know. I'm just glad they didn't want them any more.

This 'n That

This past week was a busy one for me but I really got to enjoy the benefits of living so close to my job, rearranging my work and exercise schedule as needed so I could get done most of what I wanted to do without compromising the service my team delivers to our IT department.

I had a good run yesterday, staying close to campus because of the threat of rain. In spite of all the dark clouds swirling around though, we didn’t get rain until later in the day. While I was running, Dan went to help his sister set up her new router and received in payment some refrigerator art from his niece, who also put a sticker of a snail on his Ramones shirt. He wore that snail all day and every time I saw it I wanted to giggle.

This morning I took some old rice and made rice pudding with it. I didn’t have a recipe, but I did have a crock pot, and the rice pudding turned out well. One thing about working in a restaurant is that if you’re in that line of work long enough, you learn how to cook, even if you never pick up anything more culinary than a tray.

Between the rice pudding and just general dilly-dallying, I got a late start on my errands today and was annoyed when Dan asked me to get him some razors. I hadn’t planned on going to the drug store, even though there were a few things I needed. But I went because I was feeling nice, and on my way out of the store, I noticed a display of Tony Bennet CDs with a sticker on them saying that there was an AARP discount available. I had a sudden vision of some day seeing Clash and Ramones CDs similarly stamped and marketed to the AARP crowd, which would by then be me. I’ve got no problem with getting older, but the idea that the hip bands of my youth will become fodder for fuddy-duddies is another matter.

Oh, and I bought gas today. First time since September. What did it cost? Who cares? I haven't needed gas since September, people!

Recent Workouts
Monday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row
Tuesday: 45 minute spin
Wednesday: 3.5 mile run
Thursday: 30 minute elliptical
Friday: scheduled rest day
Saturday: 17 mile run
Sunday: 2 hour spin

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Job Fairs and Felines

I worked a job fair on behalf of my employer today. I had thought it would lead to something interesting to blog about but it didn’t, really. It was pretty obvious why a lot of people who attended didn’t have jobs or didn’t have good ones. I was actually surprised that we had as many potentially viable candidates as we did! If we get a few hires off this, the CEO will release funds for us to do more elaborate promos and setup, which could be fun. It beats spending a day at my desk while groundskeepers have leaf blower wars outside my window and my phone rings with people asking stupid questions.

In all, it ended up being a nice day out of the office for me. Tomorrow and Friday will probably be a minor nightmare, since the last thing I could really afford was a day away from my projects. But a front is moving through tonight and it will feel more like fall again tomorrow, so I take the blessings where I find them.

Feline Incident: Pixel has discovered the mantel over the fireplace and its view of the backyard through a nearby window. He was keeping watch on Sunday when I went to do a spin workout in the studio. According to Dan, Pixel became very anxious upon seeing me cross the yard and go into the studio and he sat there meowing furiously before jumping down, pacing the floor and going back to the mantel to look out the window again.

I forgot my water bottle and came back into the house and Pix jumped down again and went into some kind of crazy antics that I never saw because I grabbed my water from where I had left it in the kitchen and went right back to the studio. The cat meowed and watched for me for a long time before becoming bored and finding something else to do.

I have no idea what he was thinking, but it was probably something akin to whatever line of reasoning leads him to wait anxiously outside the bathroom door whenever one of us is taking a shower. I haven’t figured that one out, either.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend Bird Report

When we moved here in August we were told there were ospreys in the neighborhood. But although I diligently kept an eye out for them, I had no luck until today when I saw one circling a stand of trees near the bayou when I was on my way home from my run. It was anticlimactic in a way because it’s just another bird of prey. I’ve been closer to hawks and eagles in the mountains, where if you stand on a ledge they’ll fly so close you can see their eyes. Today’s osprey just flew overhead. But maybe this is a good sign and I’ll have better sightings in the future.

I’ve also identified my mystery bird from the bayou. There are two types of birds I see hanging out on the banks of the bayou— egrets and some black birds that look sort of like loons. Obviously the only way a loon is getting to the Texas Gulf Coast is via a zoo program. It took some clicking, but I finally waded through a lot of useless web sites to discover that my black birds are neotropic cormorants. One site even mentioned how they like to sit with their wings spread out to dry them, a behavior that when I first saw it made me wonder if something was wrong.

So there. I’ve now identified all the new-to-me birds that I’ve thus far encountered at my new home. What I find especially odd is that I only moved five miles, yet there really are noticeable differences in the wildlife. You wouldn’t think five miles, especially inner city miles, would make such a difference, but there you are.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dona Nobis Pacem

Monday, November 05, 2007

Health Issues: Weight/Size Maintenance

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed below are my own and are not to be taken as professional medical advice. If you want real advice on health matters, go to a real doctor and not to the blog of a random stranger whose avatar is a rabbit.

Okay, now that we’re through with the formalities, I’d like to start what I hope will be a series of posts on health and fitness by discussing of something that gets very little attention: weight maintenance.

Let’s face it, whether you’re happy as you are now or whether you think you need to lose some pounds, your goal, first and foremost, should be to not get any bigger. Weight loss, if desired, will follow from a solid base of weight maintenance.

But maintenance is harder than it sounds because of the way body composition affects metabolism. To put it simply, muscle speeds up your metabolism; fat slows it down. Gaining weight in the form of fat makes it more likely that you’ll gain more fat, thus slowing your metabolism further. Conversely, gaining weight in the form of muscle will help burn fat. And since muscle is more dense than fat, some people actually gain weight while losing inches.

This is why I believe scales are largely useless. Honestly folks, do you really care what the scale says? No one knows your weight unless you advertise it, but they can tell just by looking how big or small you are. So leave the scale alone!

Instead, make this simple promise to yourself: Never buy clothes that are bigger than the ones you have now.* If you have any “fat” clothes, put them in a box and take them to Goodwill.

Now you’re committed. You will either fit your clothes or you’ll have nothing to wear. No cheating by filling your closet with elastic waistbands, unless that's what you've got in there already!

Okay, so how do we maintain our current weight/size? Good question! This is highly individual and goes back to body composition and the matter of age. Getting older will slow down your metabolism, no matter what you do, so it’s important to get some kind of exercise each day (muscle burns fat, remember?) and to also have a realistic understanding of your diet. I’ll address both diet and exercise in future posts.

For now, let’s just accept that wherever we are today is our baseline, or perhaps more appropriately, our “Do Not Pass” line. Every day you stay at or below today’s size is a day to congratulate yourself. Many studies have suggested that stability and not weight/size in any given year is the best predictor of long term good health.

Be healthy and all other goals become possible!

* Note: Pre-menopausal women who are already on the skinny side of normal should expect to gain a dress size (one, not twelve!) after menopause. If it doesn’t happen, fantastic! But in general, this may be considered the exception that proves the rule of “never buy bigger clothes.”

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Weekend Check-In

Wow, I haven’t had much to say around here lately, have I? Well, the reasons aren’t at all mysterious. I just haven’t had anything very interesting going on. I’m pretty busy with my job, marathon training and fiction writing, and the rest is just the normal petty annoyances of life.

The time from Labor Day to Thanksgiving feels more grueling than usual this year. I think it’s a combination of my earlier-than-usual vacation (mid-May) and my moving-hell month of August. I go to the office and I don’t want to be there, but it seems everyone has a better excuse than I do to take time off, so I go in and wish I were somewhere else. Administrative work is never very exciting, but I’m finding it particularly mind-numbing these days.

It doesn’t help that the last few weeks have been noisy, with either mowers, leaf-blowers or hurricane shutter installers working outside my window nearly every day! And then there was the day where they spent the entire morning power-washing the courtyard. And the three days it took them to feed the trimmed branches of the nearby oaks into a wood-chipper. Three days! And the oaks look no different. If I were a mystery writer, I would’ve gotten a lot of good ideas off that one!

I get hardly any work done with all this going on, and I go home with my nerves shredded. I’d be looking forward to the holidays, except that they’re their own form of teeth-grinding stress.

I need a break. Or some new inspiration. In the meantime I’ll keep plugging away at things, because if life has taught me anything, it’s that change is a constant, and there are worse places to be than in the doldrums.

Recent Workouts
Today: 2 hour bike, 2 mile run, 30 min strength training
Saturday: 16.5 mile run
Friday: Scheduled rest day
Thursday: 30 min easy elliptical
Wednesday: 45 minute bike, 3.5 mile run
Tuesday: 4 mile run (speed drills)
Monday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row