Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I read some words in April

It's the last day of the month. And while I technically still have an hour or two before I call it a night, I don't see myself finishing the last 150 plus pages of "Atonement," so here's the reading recap for the month.

I finished four books during the month for a total of 833 pages. Not stellar. But decent. I have to keep remembering, the weather's getting nicer and my reading will probably drop. Anyway that brings my yearly total to 17 books and 5,465 pages.

Here's what I finished during the month of April:

Night by Elie Wiesel
Dawn by Elie Wiesel
What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rouge Tooth Fairy by Gregory Maguire
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

On the Elie Wiesel note, I had hoped to finish a third one by him, called "The Accident," but I never got around to reading it. So it might make an appearance at some point this year yet. But my pile of books that I want to read is growing. And it seems like whenever I'm successful and able to take a book off the "To Read" pile, I end up putting two more titles back on it. The pile? I don't think it'll ever disappear.

Good thing I didn't wear white

The pink tank top I was wearing? It was drenched.

Thankfully, it's one of those Under Armour ones, the kind that is supposed to wick away the sweat, so it's not like the sweat was dripping off my tank top or like I was wearing something I had just pulled out of the washing machine mid-spin cycle.

But still. It was wet. And yes, there was sweat rolling down my arms and neck. And the ponytail I had in? Yeah, my hair was a bit drippy.

But I felt good. I probably didn't smell very good. But even though my legs were weary, I was sweaty and stinky, I felt productive. Like I had accomplished something.

Which I guess I did.

The training program I'm following called for a 45-minute bike followed by some weights and an "optional" run. What I'd do? I started with a 2.1 mile run on the treadmill, followed it with the 45-minutes on the bike, during which I covered 11 miles and plowed through a sizeable chunk of "Atonement." And then, even though I was sweaty and my legs were starting to feel the burn, I wandered over into the land of weights and lifted for a bit.

Not a bad night at the YMCA if I do say.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I could pay bills. But I really want a set of wheels.

Everyone's been talking about that economic stimulus rebate check we're supposed to be getting from the government.

Some people are talking about how they're going to save the money. Others will put it towards paying off bills. And ole George W wants us to spend it.

Me? I think I'm going to follow W's wishes, even though I think he's somewhat lousy as a president. I'm going to spend it. And treat myself to a new bike.

I bought my current bike back in 2000. And it's served me well during the past 8 years. During college, it was my primary mode of transportation, getting me around campus and to and from my part-time gig at The Wisconsin State Journal. And while my bike came with me to Indiana, I admit, it never left my apartment. Of course, I don't blame it. I lived in Indiana. But then it moved to Beaverburg. And it got around Dodge County. I learned the country back roads and how awesome it felt to go 30 miles an hour down a rural country road hill, only to find yourself going 3 miles an hour as you attempted the uphill bike on the other end of the road.

But it's time for a new set of wheels. And while I've debated using this rebate to pay off some medical bills, my mom told me after what I've endured the last year health wise, I deserve to treat myself.

So I'm going to.

This past weekend I went bike shopping. Mostly to get an idea of what I want. I'm not sure I want to buy a road bike, but I don't really want a mountain bike. I live in Wisconsin, why do I need a mountain bike when there are no mountains? But I think I've decided what I want.

After looking around, this is the bike that's caught my eye. And it's reasonably priced and I might even have some of that great rebate leftover to save. But the most important part? I'd have a new bike. And with a triathlon coming up, that would be pretty cool.

I put one foot in front of the other. Then I swam.

I got back on track today.

At least I hope I did.

I left work and hit the YMCA. After a 3-mile run I headed down to the pool where I swam 40 laps, for a grand total of 1,000 yards. My longest swim yet. And I felt good afterwards.

I squeezed both the run and the swim in today for a few reasons. Mostly because I slacked so badly last week. But also because I'm giving myself the day off tomorrow. I have dinner plans with an old friend, so making it to the YMCA after work isn't going to happen. And I think we can all agree that I'm not really a morning workout person. At least not at this moment.

But after tonight's workout, I feel like Week 2 is going to be a good week for me.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Triathlon training: Week 1

Call me a slacker. Because Week 1 of my triathlon training? It didn't go so well.

I ran. Once. It was three miles.

And that was the extent of my training. Oh wait. I did manage to sneak in that really important rest day on Friday.

That was it. One run and a bunch of non-scheduled rest days. It was kind of a crazy week, I had a lot of stuff going on, making it hard to get to the YMCA after work. And this weekend was just nasty outside and that didn't help with the motivation.

But I promise. Week 2 will be better. I'm planning on fitting in a run and a swim after work tomorrow. And I'll get back on track. And then I'll have stuff to write about.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy birthday to my niece. And her cat?

I'm pulling birthday party duty tonight.

The oldest Rugrat? She turns 6 tomorrow and her party is tonight. Meaning in a matter of a half hour or so, I'll be pointing my car north and heading to her house, gift in hand.

But the party isn't all about her.

It's for her cat, Ollie Twinkle, as well.

Yes. I'm going to a party for a cat. Turns out Ollie was born the same day as my niece. So she's celebrating. Because it's her cat. And she's serious. I had to get a gift for the cat (I choose some milk and cheese flavored cat treats) and Ollie's name? It's even on the birthday cake - which is i the shape of a cat. Or so I hear.

Looking back, maybe Ollie has reason to celebrate her first year. After all, The Middle Child did stick her down the heating vent. And the youngest, who I like to refer to as the Hellion, he pushed her off the basement stairway railing, causing Ollie to fall 14 feet to the basement floor. Ollie survived both incidents. No injuries. But honestly? Ollie isn't the brightest kitty cat.

And while it's also her party, I'm guessing I'm not going to see Ollie tonight. Turns out she had a trip to my niece's school planned for this morning's show and tell. And Ollie? She doesn't like large numbers of strangers. So after a bunch of kindergartners this morning, I'm guessing she stays in the basement tonight. Even if it means missing presents.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I forgot about these springtime traits

The one downfall to spring?

The return of the bugs and creepy crawly things.

It's been nice here for a week. And so far? I think I've killed four fairly large spiders that decided to try to take over my apartment.

Me? I don't like bugs. The less often I have to touch them, the better. But when I have a spider the size of a half dollar crawling on my floor, towards my bed of all places, I need to figure out how to get rid of them. I prefer the scoop and flush method. Grab them in a wad of paper toweling or toilet paper and drown them by flushing them down the toilet.

And then I cross my fingers that the little buggers don't know how to swim.

The other downfall to the crawling critters? They're kind of loud at night. They make all these chirping noises. And since I can leave my window open, it can be a bit hard to fall asleep. Granted, the trains that come through on the hour every hour all night long keep me up longer. Or wake me up just as I've fallen asleep.

But I'm not complaining. I'm good at the scoop and flush method. As long as I don't get too many crickets this year. And the trains? I'll get used to them in a week or two.

Welcome spring.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I couldn't slack two days in a row

I'm happy to announce that I made it to the YMCA after work today.

And I ran, logging 3.1 miles on the treadmill.

It felt good, being able to come home, record the number of miles I ran on the Excel spreadsheet and then uncap the bright yellow highlighter and make it known that, yes, I did complete the workout scheduled for Day 2 of my 12-week triathlon training program.

Now I just have to take advantage of the gorgeous weather we've been having. Because winter has apparently left Wisconsin and spring has arrived. And me? I'm still running on a treadmill. And I don't like it. So at some point this week, I'm lacing up my sneakers and will attempt my first outdoor run of the year. And hopefully it will go smoothly and it'll give me some motivation to start increasing the mileage a bit. Because I feel like I'm stuck at 3 miles.

Like I said though. Today I ran. Tomorrow? The bike is calling my name.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Training or slacking? Which do you prefer?

And on Day 1 I slacked.

Today was supposed to be Day 1 of my 12-week triathlon training program that I'm going to be following in order to prepare for the Danskin Triathlon I'm doing in July.

It wasn't even supposed to be a difficult day. The training grid called for a short 20 minute swim. And I was going to add a short run to it. And I had good intentions all day. My gym bag was packed and it sat in the backseat of my car all afternoon.

But it was so nice outside today. And then I got stuck at work late. And my feet kind of hurt from the ballet-type slippers I decided to wear today. And I was hungry. I was bit crabby and my head was starting to hurt a bit.

So instead of going to the YMCA after I finally left the office, I got in my car, ran an errand and came home.

And that's how I started my training program off on the wrong foot. By slacking.

Tomorrow's another day though. The grid calls for a 30 minute run. Maybe I'll try to sneak the swim in as well. It's better late than never. Right? Besides, I still have 12 weeks. Lots of time.

The evidence

It took me a few days, but cut me some slack. It's been busy here in the City on the Water.

Something about a movie shooting here. At least that's what everyone else was talking about.

Anyway, I present to you the photographic evidence that I was this close to Johnny Depp. Since I was manning the video camera, thanks to Erin for snapping pictures and sharing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

He looked into my eyes, but my camera kept rolling

And on the third day, everything lined up in place.

The weather was beautiful. The sounds of gunfire pierced the air. And I could have left work at a normal time.

Note the could have. I would have too. Except my boss handed me a video camera, said the overtime was OK and told me to go and stand with the throng of gawkers who were waiting for their chance to get an up close peek at Johnny Depp when he did a meet and greet along the rope line when shooting for "Public Enemies" wrapped for the day.

He's not my favorite actor, but it'd be pretty cool to get a chance to see Johnny Depp up close. So I said OK and I armed myself with a point and shoot video camera before heading out with two co-workers to secure a spot along the line.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Three and a half hours later I found myself videotaping Johnny Depp as he walked along the line. He was like two feet away from me. And since I'm a multi-tasker, I was able to film him, touch his jacket and tell him "Thanks."

The video looks kind of neat, very "Entertainment Tonight" looking. I think I got some good stuff. Up close and personal. And Johnny Depp even spoke! Granted it wasn't directly to me, but you could hear him talking. And he's very soft spoken, which surprised me.

And while I can multi-task, I would have needed a third arm to man my digital camera to get photos. But my friends have promised me copies of theirs, so at some point you'll not only be able to see the moving images of Johnny Depp, but also photographic proof.

So it's been a good week. The assignments have been fun and I've even gotten the chance to see Johnny Depp up close. Which was all I really wanted to do. Because while watching filming from a block and a half away is interesting, it's also pretty cool to be able to say that you were two feet from Johnny Depp and you got to touch his jacket while he looked at you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Can the paparazzi swim?

It's been a long two days of playing paparazzi.

Yesterday there was gunfire and movie stars. Today? I chased coach buses out of town and followed them to an "undisclosed" location in another part of the county where shooting was going to be taking place.

And let's not even talk about coming back to the office and writing stories with a 1930s style. While what I wrote ended up sounding OK, it was tough. It required a bit too much thought considering I woke up before the crack of dawn at 4:55 a.m. the last two mornings.

So by the time the clock hit 3 p.m. today, all I wanted was some me time.

And when I finally walked out the door an hour later, I headed straight over to the YMCA. Some mindless time on the treadmill to nowhere sounded kind of appealing. So I ran. I logged three miles tonight and followed it up with some time on the bike. Although I have to admit, what I really wanted to do was swim for a little while. Unfortunately I got to the YMCA too late and all the lap lanes were being used for swimming lessons and I didn't want to stick around an extra hour until they opened back up for laps. So I skipped the pool. But hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to swim.

Now it's time to curl up in my chair, watch some mindless TV and later read a book. And tomorrow? I'm a lucky girl. I get to sleep and extra two hours. Which means it'll actually be light out when I wake up. So exciting.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Capt. Jack wasn't spotted. Neither was Johnny Depp

I heard the gunfire.

I saw the crowds of people that packed the streets and parking lots.

And while I think I might have seen Johnny Depp, I'm not sure. Because I was a block away. And it was kind of hard to see him.

So maybe tomorrow. When I go out on Day No. 2 of my Johnny Depp stalking assignment. I'll just make sure I wander around a little more. Find some new nooks and crannies to watch from. And maybe I'll see him.

If not, there's always Day No. 3.

My life of crime begins today

Remember how I said Johnny Depp was coming to The City on the Water?

Well he got here Friday night and began filming some scenes over at the airport. But today? Filming starts downtown. As in one block from my office. As in, for the past hour I've been looking out my office window at this huge, three-story fluorescent green screen they've erected in front of a building.

And in just a few minutes I'm going to start my Johnny Depp duty. Yes, three days this week my "assignment" is to cover the movie filming. Not to shabby of a gig. Especially since it's supposed to be nice this week, unlike last week.

But still. Yes, John Dillinger is cool. Yes, "Public Enemies" is a film all about notorious bank robbers. And as the girl who writes about crime and grime, that's cool. But if Johnny Depp had showed up in The City on the Water as Capt. Jack Sparrow? That would have been so much cooler.

Because if you pit a pirate against a bank robber? The pirate would win. Hands down.

Now it's time for me to go stalk a bank robber. And see if I can get on the other side of that green screen.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The wind made my decision for me

I didn't do it.

The alarm went off at 6:30 this morning. Then I heard the wind howling. And rattling my windows.

Yes, I turned on the TV to check the weather. The radar looked scary. A bunch of greens, whites, grays and some pink. But the wind? It continued to howl.

So I decided not to run.

And I snuggled back into my bed and went back to sleep until 10 a.m.

Maybe I'll sneak that 3 mile run in at some point this weekend. Maybe.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Will I put one foot in front of the other?

So I'm supposed to a run a 5K tomorrow.

But there's a chance I won't. Because the weather forecast? It doesn't look so pretty. Possible snow. Rain. And let's not talk about the temperatures in the 30s or the fact that it's going to be super windy.

Doesn't sound like weather I really want to run outside for 3 miles in.

And it doesn't help that since I was sick in December my immune system has gone to pot. Meaning I get sick really, really easy. Add the crappy weather and the chances that I get sick if I choose to run tomorrow are probably pretty high. And since I've gone most of the winter so far without getting sick, I'm tempted to stay snuggled in bed if there are raindrops pouring from the sky tomorrow morning.

So ask me around 7 a.m. and I'll be able to tell you if I'm going to line up at the starting line to run a 5K. Yes, I'll feel bad if I don't. Because I want to run and I have registered. But at least my company paid the registration fee, so it's not like I'm out the cash.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Scene 353: The bank robbery

The City on the Water has been crazy the past few weeks.

At first it was just rumblings.

"Did you hear, Johnny Depp's" coming to town to film a movie. At the same time, there were other rumors flying around the state that Johnny Depp was going to a different city to film a movie. But the days went by and slowly, the rumors started to be confirmed.

Yes, Johnny Depp was going to come to The City on the Water. And yes, he was going to be filming a movie here. The movie's called "Public Enemies" and it's about how the Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s. Bank robberies people. Coming from a girl who writes about crime and grime for a living, that's pretty cool.

Well, the constructions crews have been in town for about two weeks now, transforming our downtown into a 1930s era Main Street. Storefronts have been revamped, signs have been erected and display windows have been created, complete with the items these stores are selling. There's even been a big wall built in the downtown park that resembles the outfield wall at a baseball diamond, complete with advertisements from the era.

And tomorrow's the day it's supposed to all start. Apparently that's the day Johnny Depp's coming to town and filming on "Public Enemies" will begin.

Being a reporter, I've had to do my share of taking pictures of what's happening downtown already, but last weekend I took some me time and wandered around, snapping pictures for myself. And while I have my fair share of assignments next week while filming is going on, I'm also planning a little me time again. Just a bit of time to go scope it out as a person rather than a reporter.

Because even though Johnny Depp isn't my favorite actor, (although I have to admit, if he was coming to The City on the Water as Capt. Jack Sparrow, that'd be pretty cool), what's happening here in town is still something pretty amazing and probably won't ever happen again.

So I'll make sure to get the full movie making experience while Johnny's in town. And once the movie actually comes out? I'll make sure to see it. Because I think it'll be a good movies. Who knows, I may even venture to a movie theater to see it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The beds could have been a bit more comfy

Cardboard boxes can be useful.

They store stuff, which is helpful when you're moving. Or they can serve as a make shift table. And you can pile stuff on them. When you're unpacking and need a break? A closed cardboard box can serve as a nice footrest. There are a lot of uses for cardboard boxes.

Sleeping? Not one of them.

Yet that's what I was worried I was going to have to do. Either sleep in a cardboard box or in my car. The night before a triathlon. Which doesn't sound so appealing. And I don't think I'd get a very good night's rest. And my mom? She wouldn't be coming to watch me.

But I was worried that I'd be staying at the Cardboard Box Inn. Because all of the hotels in Pleasant Prairie and Kenosha area? Full. Not a single room available the night before the triathlon I'm doing in July.

So I broadened my search. Included places in Racine. And I was running into the same problem there. But tonight? I got lucky. I found a room. At the Ramada Limited. And it has a bed. And is non-smoking. And there's a pool and even a free breakfast in the morning.

And now there's a room with my name on it for July 12.

For those of you still looking for a place to stay that night, I hear there's still some vacancies at the Cardboard Box Inn. Classy place too, but sadly, no pool.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Race day's almost here?

A handful of days.

That's all the time I've got left before the Oshkosh 5K this weekend.

I'm not too worried. I know I can cover the 3 miles, heck I did it tonight at the YMCA with no problems. But at the same time, the race arrived so quickly. It doesn't seem like it should be here yet.

I'll be excited to line up with the other runners on Saturday morning, waiting for the starting gun to go off. But there will be a little piece of me that's disappointed. Because I was originally planning on running the half marathon. But that plan got left on the side of the road when my head almost made me die in December. So my half marathon plans have to wait until the fall.

But the 5K on Saturday? It will be fun. I won't be the fastest runner out there and I might not run it as quickly as I did last spring, but I'll finish. And I'll have a good time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Are the 50s really coming?

I really hope the weathermen don't think this is some kind of funny joke. Because if it really is a joke, I'm not laughing.

At the moment, the weathermen are telling me temperatures may hover in the 50s at the end of the week. With sunshine. Warmness? I'm ready for that. I've been ready for warm temperatures for a long time.

And if it really does get into the 50s, I might finally be able to venture outside for a run. Meaning, I wouldn't have to drag my butt to the YMCA and put myself through the torture known as the treadmill. Because the treadmill and me? While we get along, I'd much rather log my miles on the sidewalks, where I can control my pace whenever I please and there's a lot more to look at instead of just staring out a second-story window.

Yes, yes. I know. I could have ventured outside already for a run. Because the 40s isn't so cold and the snow and ice have finally almost all melted. But call me a wuss. It was a bit chilly for me yet. And besides, I didn't want to get sick. Again. So I stuck with the treadmill.

Tonight I stuck with the treadmill though. I wanted to sneak in a 2.5 mile run before hitting the pool for some laps. And even though my calf had been a little sore all day, the run went fine. And so did the swim, all 700 yards of it.

Tomorrow night I'm venturing into something new. Since I'm crashing at my parents' house for the night, I'm going with my mom to a swim-robics class. She's been doing it for a bunch of years and really enjoys it. I've been meaning to try it with for a while now, but haven't been able to. Tomorrow night's the night though. I'm not sure what to expect exactly in terms of what I'll have to do, but it'll be something different. And it's always good to mix stuff up.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A recap of what I read

March wasn't too bad of a month in terms of reading. I'm still not quite sure when I managed to read, but obviously I did since I finished a few books.

There were four books that I finished in March for a total of 1,144 pages. That brings my yearly total to 13 books and 4,632 pages. Not too bad. So what books did I manage to finish during the month? Let's take a look.

Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Triathlon Training by Colin Barr & Steve Katai
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson