Sunday, November 30, 2008
Remember I was aiming to complete some kind of workout, whether it was running or biking or taking a walk, every day until the end of November?
Well, November's done. And so is the challenge.
I have to admit, I didn't get a workout in every single day. But 21 of 33 days I did something active. I mostly biked and ran, but I did fit in a walk or two. Sadly, I didn't dive into the pool and swim, but I'm going to make myself get back in the pool soon. Maybe sometime in December, cause I haven't swam since July (eek!) and I kind of miss it.
During the last 33 days I
... ran 21.75 miles.
... biked 81.2 miles.
... took a few walks, but didn't record any distances.
... lifted a few weights.
... ran a Santa Scamper and a Turkey Trot. I didn't see Santa or a turkey, but I did see an awful lot of reindeer.
And I don't know if it's because of the challenge, or because the nasty medicine has finally decided to leave my body, or a combination of both, but the number on my scale? It got smaller this month! Three pounds smaller! I know it's not a lot, but remember I'm looking at an extra 30 pounds the nasty medicine and the Monster left behind when they decided they'd overstayed their welcome.
Overall, I think the challenge was a success. I think I'm going to try to keep it up, maybe not aiming to hit the gym everyday. But 4 or 5 days a week sounds do-able to me, especially since the holidays have arrived.
I read six books in November for a total of 1,750 pages. That brings the yearly totals to 41 books and 14,437 pages. I obviously have met my goal of 40 books for the year, now it's just time to see what I can finish in December and what the final numbers are for pages read and how many books I finished.
So what'd I read in November? Have a look:
Pinkerton's Secret by Eric Lerner
A Lion Among Men: Vol. 3 in the Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire
Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities by Alexandra Robbins
For One More Day by Mitch Albom
Queen of Babble In the Big City by Meg Cabot
Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot
Like I said, the last three on the list were some easy, fluffy reading which were very easy to get through and really didn't require much thought. In fact I think I finished all of them within the last week, which is also when I had the most time off of work.
I think A Lion Among Men was my favorite this month. It's the same author that wrote Wicked and this time the story revolves around the life of the Cowardly Lion when he was skipping down the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and Toto. Good stuff.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Either he was a super fast turkey heading out on a 5-mile journey before being served up for Thanksgiving dinner or he was nestled in the back of the pack with those who were pushing strollers and walking their dogs.
Because I didn't see him. Although I did see a few running reindeer. Must be gettin' in shape for next month's marathon of a sleigh ride.
I hung out in the middle of the pack for the 2-miler folks. Just running, albeit at a very slow pace. But I ran every step of that 2 miles. Keeping my eye on a mom and her daughter who were just in front of me. I didn't let them get too far ahead. The 2-mile event wasn't timed, but based on the clock at the finish line and doing some mental math, subtracting a estimate of how much time lapsed between the 5 mile start and my 2 mile start, I'd guess I finished the trot in about 23 minutes or so. Not the best, but not awful. I'll take it, especially since my legs felt like ice cubes for about half of the run and I think I momentarily lost feeling in my toes before the starting horn went off. That might have been due to the fact that it was a balmy 19 degrees or so when the run started!
Now the trot is done. Time to eat some turkey and watch some football!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I've spent some time thinking about what the last year has presented me with. Granted, the year didn't get off to a very good start last year, with the Monster invading my head right after Thanksgiving and leaving me curled up in a fetal position for a good chunk of December. And while there is a part of me that is terrified the Monster will appear on the one year anniversary of our meeting, I can't let myself dwell on it, because the Monster? He actually did teach me a few things and made me realize a few others.
What the Monster taught me:
That I'm thankful for the family and friends that I have. While curled in that fetal position, I received an amazing outpouring of love and support from those who I'm thankful to call my friends and family. And once the Monster was tamed? They didn't leave my side. They were still there, still supporting me in both my nearly yearlong recovery and in all of the other endeavors that I set out to do.
That I am a strong person and I can overcome the obstacles that life presents me with. And I'm thankful for that. If I didn't have the drive and determination to fight the Monster and put him in his place, I don't think I would have been able to pull through the whole ordeal. But I did. And I think I've showed the Monster who's boss. And it's not him. I'll continue to rely on that determination and drive as I finish off fighting the Monster and the nasty side effects he's left me with. And I will return to the person I was before he showed up.
Those are the two big things the Monster taught me. And they're lessons that I can apply to all areas of my life. If there's one thing that I like about the Monster, it's that he taught me those two things. Because those things - my family and friends and the drive and determination that I have inside me - are things that may have always been present in my life. But I may not have realized it. Or realized how important they were. And it took the Monster to make me see it. So thank you, Monster.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Tonight was the one-mile Santa Scamper, the "fun run" held before Appleton's Christmas parade. You run down the parade route which is lined with people who are waiting for the parade to start and for Santa to appear.
I went into the Santa Scamper just wanting to have a good time. I knew where my mom was sitting with The Rugrats and was planning on moving off to the side of the road to get a high five or two or three. I didn't wear a watch and wasn't really concerned about time. I just wanted to run and enjoy it.
Of course, there were a few mishaps.
First there was the TV van that was parked less than a half a block from the starting line. And of course it was the side of the street I was running on. So I had to weave to avoid running smack dab into the van, the camera man and the reporter. Seriously. The camera man I could understand him being in the road. The reporter? Get on the sidewalk.
Then there were the folks who would run really fast to get around you and all of a sudden just stop and walk. Ummm, you couldn't have walked behind me? To the mom with the two little girls who were all decked out in red snowflake sweatshirts and Santa hats with blinking lights, yes, I'm talking to you.
And since it was a Santa Scamper right before the Christmas parade (we don't mess around with holiday parades) there were a ton of kids. Which is fine. Except I almost ran a few over. Especially the little boy who came to a screeching halt right in front of me. As we were running downhill. Not good. Luckily I swerved, avoided him, and kept running.
Even though there were a few obstacles to avoid, it was a good time. I didn't wear a watch and didn't care about the time, but the clock at the finish line said I finished around 11 minutes and 30 seconds. Not too bad if you consider the crazy start and swerving to avoid all the people who randomly stopped in front of me.
Besides, the rock hard Dilly Bar I got at the end made the run worth it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Jack Bauer returns.
After a really, really long time.
And once the opening credits of "24: Redemption" begin to roll, I'm not moving from my comfy recliner. It will be good. And the 2-hour movie will tide me over until January, when my weekly dose of Jack Bauer goodness returns.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Well yesterday the vampires came to the big screen. That's right folks. Twilight opened in theaters and last night, my friend from the 'burg Amanda and I went to go see it. We weren't the only ones, since I think every single middle school kid in the city was packed into the theater with us. In fact, I think there maybe was a handful of people in the theater that were older than me.
But it was soo worth it.
I loved the books when I read them. And even though I'm some times hesitant to watch a movie that's based on the book, I was looking forward to this one coming out. I mean seriously, look at this, can you blame me?
And based on the reactions of all the middle school kids waiting in line with us? They were ready to see Edward and Bella too. OK, maybe they were looking forward to seeing Edward. I'm thinking that was the case considering when he made his first appearance on screen? There was a round of applause.
Applause? Five minutes into a movie? Whatever.
Their signs of appreciation didn't stop there. Because that scene, the one where Edward leans in and kisses Bella? Oh my God. Really well done. And accompanied by catcalls, whistles and giggles from the middle schoolers.
Sigh. Kind of ruined the moment.
But the movie. Overall. Really good. There were a few parts that seemed a bit awkward or forced to me, but not many. Watching it made me want to go back and re-read Twilight. Because it has been a while and the book is that good. And now I want to see if they're going to make movies of the other three books in the series.
Go see it. Now.
And I'd definitly go see it again. Hopefully without the catcalls and giggles from a mostly middle school aged audience though
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I wasn't worried about the needles or the whole donation process because it's gone very smoothly every time I've done it so far. It usually takes between 5 and 7 minutes for me to fill that bag up with blood and aside from a slightly sore arm after, no problems.
Today? Not so much.
Since I spent all of the morning in a courtroom for work, I didn't get to drink a ton of water like I normally do. But I downed as much as I could in the hour and a half I had.
I went in, filled out the form, got my finger pricked and passed with flying colors. The Blood Lady scrubbed my arm and inserted the needle and the blood started flowing into the bag.
At first it went OK. The blood was moving. The bag was filling up. Then all of a sudden it seems like it just stopped. The Blood Lady kept coming by, shaking the bag. And it didn't seem like it was getting any fuller.
Five minutes passed. Then seven. Then 10. Finally 13 minutes after she stuck the needle in my arm she said the bag was full and she just needed those four little vials they take.
That's when the problems started.
The first vial filled, although it was a bit slow. Then the second vial was inserted. And it stayed empty. There was no blood.
"Looks like we drained you dry," the Blood Lady said in an effort to lighten the mood.
I wasn't amused.
The other Blood Lady came over to help. She held on to the cords and the vials while Blood Lady No. 1 started to unstrap the tubing from my arm.
"This isn't good," I thought.
Then she started jiggling the needle around. The needle that was still embedded in my vein. Ouch. I have to give her props. She was pretty gentle so it wasn't sharp pains or anything. But still. It hurt. And I started to feel a wee bit light headed. Then the blood started to flow again.
And all of a sudden the remaining two vials were full and the needle was out of my arm. I still felt funny though. Slightly light headed. A bit dizzy. Content to sit in the canteen area of the Bloodmobile and chomp on my cherry chip cookie and drink my orange juice.
I know donating blood can't go super smoothly every time and there will be times, like today, when it's a bit more difficult. And like I said, I know I didn't get to drink enough fluids today. So I'll still go back in February when we have the next blood drive at work, because I'm only two donations away from a gallon!
It was just a bit scary today. That's never happened to me before. The whole light headed feeling. And my arm? It's pretty sore and I'm sure I'll have a whooper of a bruise. So I thought it was in my best interest to head home and crash on my couch, watching "Grey's Anatomy" and reading a book.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Normally when I go to work it's light outside. Today? My alarm started buzzing at 4:45 a.m. Yes. 4:45 a.m. That wasn't a typo, the incredibly early wake up call was because I had to be into the office at 6 a.m. instead of my usual 8:30 a.m. So it was dark.
But at least it was still light outside when I got to leave at 3 p.m. Normally it's pitch black when I unchain myself from my desk at 5:30 p.m.
And heading over to the YMCA and logging 3.2 miles on the treadmill to nowhere followed by a 20 minute bike ride and STILL finishing before I normally would get out of work for the day? Beautiful.
It's only 6:30 p.m. and I've got nothing left to do tonight other than iron a shirt for work, watch some TV, read a little bit and maybe balance my checkbook. And chances are the checkbook's going to sit untouched.
My feet? They're happy right now. While I really do like the pair of black boots I normally wear to work, I bought a new pair of shoes this weekend. Work appropriate shoes. A pair of black Mary Jane-like shoes that have just a bit of a heel. And they are SO COMFY! I wish I owned five pairs of black dress socks, because then I could wear them every day.
Because honestly, which pair looks more comfortable to you?
Time for a weather update. It's cold outside. I know, it's mid-November. It shouldn't surprise me that the mercury in the thermometer is struggling to get above 35 degrees.
But when it gets cold in my office and I start to lose feeling in my hands? Then I get a bit worried. And so do my co-workers. Because they look over and see me wearing these and even though they're pretty sure they know the answer they ask me, "Um, you aren't expecting to type with those on, are you?"
And since it's cold outside and I've got the Santa Scamper and Turkey Trot coming up, I need to make sure I have appropriate clothing so I don't become an icicle. This past weekend I went to the Nike Outlet here in the City on the Water and bought myself some running pants and a long sleeve shirt. Add a few more layers, some kind of gloves and some head gear and I should be set.
And while I'm sitting in the office, I do have my scarf on but I've still got feeling in my hands. My mittens are sitting on my desk though, ready in case I need them.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I'm running in a Santa Scamper on Tuesday. It's just a one-mile "fun run" type event before the annual Christmas parade in Appleton.
Then on Thursday, just two days later, I'm running in a Turkey Trot. Appropriately named since it does fall on Thanksgiving Day.
But the last time I checked, Thanksgiving came before Christmas. So shouldn't I be trotting after turkeys first and THEN scampering after Santa? Don't blame me if I get my holidays confused after this. Blame the race organizers.
I dunno. What I do know is that I've already got the Santa Scamper hat, which might be useful since I have a feeling it might be a bit chilly next week. And after I get done trotting, I'll have a new long sleeved T-shift in my possession. AND a pumpkin pie, which I'll promptly take with me to my cousin's house for Thanksgiving. Because I don't like pumpkin. If it was a chocolate pie, now that would be a different story.
A lot has happened. Adjusting to a new city, slicing open my neck. A half marathon. Monsters in my head. A coach. A triathlon. And let's not forget about all the time I spend talking about books and the Badgers. It's been a busy few years.
Happy birthday to my blog and here's hoping the next year is just as eventful!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I won't lie.
When I saw the halftime score of the Border Battle between the Badgers and Minnesota was 21-7 in favor of those dang Golden Gophers, I was worried. Wisconsin has gone from being mentioned in the same sentence with the words "national contender" to an 0-4 start in the Big Ten, losing close games against Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State - all games they should have won. And let's not even talk about the blows outs against Iowa and Penn State.
So I was worried today at halftime.
But that must have been one hell of a halftime speech that Bret Bielema gave the boys in the locker room. Because the Badgers came back out fired up, erased a 14-point deficit, beat Minnesota and kept Paul Bunyan's Axe in Madison.
In process they've even become bowl eligible. It was a good day.
That being said, I cannot tell you how excited I am that basketball season tips off Sunday when the Badgers host Long Beach State. Let's just say I'll be flipping between the Badger game and the Packer game tomorrow. It'll be a good day.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
My grandfather served in World War II. I don't know the story behind his service. All I know is that he served overseas, was injured and awarded a Purple Heart. He was a man of few words and didn't speak about his military service and he passed away before I was old enough to realize what he did for our country.
I didn't know Michael Wendling, but I attended his funeral at a hilltop cemetery on a warm October day in 2005. Wendling was killed while serving in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard when a roadside bomb exploded near the Humvee he was driving. The images from that simple, yet powerful, graveside military service are still etched in my mind. And every time I hear a bagpiper play "Amazing Grace," I am reminded of Michael and that day.
My friend Beth spent a year with her National Guard unit deployed to Kuwait and Tim is awaiting a deployment. I can't put into words what their service to our country, both what they've done and that they had to guts to do it, mean to me.
To all the other veterans, thank you.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
A cranky old man hit me last night.
I went down to Madison with my friend Amanda last night for our annual hockey outing. I'm a Wisconsin grad and she went to school at Michigan Tech, so whenever the Huskies come to town, we head down to the Kohl Center for a night of checking, fighting, goal scoring and other hockey goodness.
Friday night the Badgers beat Michigan Tech 3-2 and were up 1-0 when the second period started. Then the Badgers got in the goal-scoring groove and jumped out to 2-0 lead by the end of the second period. Just 3 minutes into the third period, Bucky scores again and the students start with the "high school goalie" chants, which quickly turned into "pee wee goalie" chants.
It was a good night. Five power play goals, a 34-save shutout by sophomore goalie Scott Gudmandson and the Badgers walked away with a 6-0 win and a weekend sweep of the Huskies.
Sounds like a good night. Right? Well it was. Until you factor in the cranky old man.
With 3 minutes left in the game, the student section starts up the "stand up old people" chant. And me? I'd rather stand as I watch a good college basketball, football or hockey game. But because I now fall in the "old people" category and my seats are no longer in the student section, I have to sit. Unless it's halftime during a football game or a goal is scored during a hockey game. Then I'm allowed to stand and cheer.
So last night, I followed the "old people" rules. I sat during the action and jumped out of my seat when the Badgers scored a goal, rejoicing with my fellow fans, calling the Michigan Tech goalie a sieve.
And with the 3 minutes to go, the students started calling for the old people to stand up. Because remember, Bucky was up by 6 goals. All that stood between them and a victory was 3 minutes of going through the motions on the ice.
We were supposed to be happy. Excited.
So we stood. The entire crowd at the Kohl Center, with the exception of Amanda and her son (because remember they were Tech fans) and the handful of Tech fans behind the bench, stood and cheered.
And the cranky old man sitting behind me. He stayed glued to his seat. Sitting. And grumbling. And yelling at me to sit down. I ignored him at first. Seriously. Everyone else in the arena was standing. He kept grumbling. And yelling at me to sit down.
Maybe he thought I was hard of hearing or something. Because all of a sudden?
He hit me.
Not just a polite tap on the elbow. A full fledged smack on the shoulder.
I turned around and glared at him.
"Why? Everyone else is standing. We're winning. Be happy."
"You don't even have people standing in front of you. Sit down," he growled at me.
With a glare, I sat. And felt stupid. Because everyone else remained standing. Except me and the cranky old man. And then I fumed. Seriously, if he didn't want people standing in front of him, he had a few options. Either fork over more cash and get the swanky box seats, save some money and buy seats in the nose bleed section or better yet, stay home and watch the game on television.
So when there was 1 minute left on the clock, I stood. And he grumbled. And yelled at me again. But I stood my ground and continued to stand. And cheer on the Badgers to victory and celebrated with the rest of the Badger faithful.
And the cranky old man? He kept grumbling and got out of his seat with 10 seconds remaining and left the arena before the final horn even sounded.
Hitting another Badger fan, not staying for the end of the game, disobeying the students plea to "stand up old people" and not even bothering to stay and celebrate the victory with the time-honored tradition of "Varsity."
Some Badger fan he is.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
The tire situation? It's fixed. I took my car up to the tire guy this morning. Granted it normally takes me 30 minutes to get to the tire man. Today, because I couldn't take the highway and had to go completely out of my way here in The City on the Water because of the holiday parade (yes, Santa made an appearance here today. Nov. 8), it took me an hour and ten minutes. Crazy.
But my little Ford Focus is now sporting a shiny new tire.
And you know what that means?
It's time to hit the road. Because I'm heading down to Madison for some fun times at a Badger Hockey game. Details to follow tomorrow.
Drop the puck!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I took my car to an auto shop today, crossing my fingers they would be able to patch up the hole. I dropped my car off and went to lunch with a co-worker.
Eight boneless wings drenched in Sweet BBQ sauce later, I get a cal from the car place. They had news about my tire.
Not good news.
Apparently there was a cut in the side wall. I dunno. I don't understand cars. I know to put gas in, get an oil change every 3,000 miles and rotate the tires every 6,000 miles. Side walls? Those I don't understand.
But I do know the meaning of the word unrepairable.
And that's what the car man told me about my tire. It was unrepairable. But he could sell me a new one for $96.
Uh, no thanks. Just put my spare tire back on and I'm calling my real tire guy. The one I bought the tires I have on my car a year ago. The tires which are now three good ones and one unrepairable one.
I called my tire guy. Told him what happened. He sounded confused. Apparently it's kind of hard to get a cut in your tire's side wall. But the tire guy? He's going to sell me a new tire. For $60. A deal. Thank you tire guy.
So I'm still riding around with my ghetto looking spare tire on my car until Saturday morning. Then I get my new one. And hopefully this will put an end to my tire problems. Because I think I've dealt with enough of them lately.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I was a bit confused. It was sunny. And in the mid-70s. And it's November. And correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time I checked, I still lived in Wisconsin. The weather? Crazy. But I'll take it.
Originally I was planning on hitting the YMCA in the early afternoon and logging some miles on the treadmill. But it was way too nice outside to be couped up indoors, running to nowhere. So instead I pulled out my bike. Remember, it's November and the nice biking days are numbered. I hopped on and was only planning on a short ride, somewhere around 6 miles or so. But once I started riding, it was so nice that I didn't want to stop.
So I kept going. Fourteen miles later I pulled back into my driveway and parked my bike, but only because I had an hour to shower, get ready and make it work. The next hour was rushed, but it was so worth it.
That rush kind of prepared me for what was going to come during the rest of the night. Election nights at a newspaper are hectic. You've got a bunch of stuff to do in a limited amount of time. And results never seem to be available by the time deadline rolls around.
Last night I didn't have problems with deadlines or election results.
I had problems with my car.
In the form of a flat tire. Again.
I was standing in the parking lot, talking to one of our photographers about where we were heading to. I was on my way out to Democratic headquarters to do the color piece about the mood at the party, focusing on the presidential election. As we were talking, my eyes wandered over to my car, which was sitting in the same parking spot I left it in two hours before when I got back from a polling location run.
"Does that look like a flat tire to you Joe?"
The photographer just laughs.
The rear passenger side tire on my car? Flat as a pancake. Making my car undriveable. Not a good things when you've got places to go.
Thankfully the photographer offered to take the flat tire off and replace it with my spare. Good thing since I kind of needed my car, not only to get to my assignment, but more importantly to get home at the end of the night.
He used some tools and a jack (which I didn't even know was buried in my trunk) and took the flat tire off and replaced it with that funny looking donut-like spare tire. Twenty minutes and I was set to go.
Now I just need to get the tire patched. Because honestly, I'm not buying another tire. The ones on my car now? They're only a year old. I'm not forking over all that money to replace a perfectly fine tire, even if it has suffered a minor puncture and gone flat as a pancake on election night.
Yes, I voted. I was voter No. 198 in my ward at 11:30 a.m. There were no lines. I walked in, gave them my name, got my ballot and went to my voting booth. I filled in the circles, fed it to the machine, got my sticker and walked out. Time it took to vote? At most two minutes.
And while I did fill in the circle next to Barack Obama's name, I'm not over the moon happy that he won like so many other people. Yes, there are some things about the man that I like. But there are also things about the man and his ideas that I don't really like. Given other choices, he may not have gotten my vote. But given the candidates I had to choose from, I kind of saw Barack Obama as the lesser of two evils.
Stop throwing stuff at me and hurling insults my way.
Given that he's been chosen by the voters to lead our country for the next four years, I'll give the man a chance. Maybe he'll surprise me.
Monday, November 3, 2008
So tonight I baked. OK. I admit, the cupcakes? They came from a box. But they're still good. And by this time tomorrow night, they'll look delicious to any reporter in my building. That is, if there are any left. Cupcakes that is. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if a reporter or two went missing as well.
Because on Election Night, you must have food. Preferably treats. And of course pizza.
For those of you who aren't spending Election Day in a newsroom, remember to go out and vote. Because if you don't? You can't complain.
No. I just happened to choose books that were kind of long. Lots of pages. Lots. Of. Pages. I'm talking about 1,284 pages. An average of 642 pages per books, because I only finished two books.
But that brings the total to 35 books for the year and 12,687 pages. Not too bad. Only a couple more books until I hit my goal of 40 for the year. And pages? I don't think I ever actually set a page goal.
So what did I read in October? Take a look:
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
The Other Boleyn Girl was OK. It dragged for a bit, especially in the beginning, but the last 200 or so pages were good. Me? I never realized Anne Boleyn had a sister. And while The Host was good, it was no Twilight series. If I had to choose, I'd rather read about vampires than aliens. But it was a good read.