Category Archives: Ranting and Ravings

Best laid plans and the destruction of serenity

Today was a rare day… a day just for ME!  Well, kind of… more like a couple of hours in the afternoon but hey, I’m a Mom, I’ll take what I can get, right?  Big Sister had her annual talent show at school this morning and while I tried to make it work for me to go to work AND make it to support her, logistically it just wasn’t going to happen so I took the whole day off at the last minute.  Our amazing nanny spent the day with Little Sister as planned which meant that after I got home from the talent show at noon, I had five glorious hours to do whatever I wanted.

I filled the first hour with a good lunch and a chat with the nanny who it feels like I haven’t talked to for ages except for snippets of instructions and reports as we pass each other in the morning and evening.  The plan for the afternoon was a seven mile run which I had plenty of time for and which I was going to do outside.  Until I was all dressed and ready to go and realized that was the wind howling in the eaves and banging against the windows I was hearing and decided it would be miserable.  So, I changed my running gear configuration for the indoor apparel and headed for the gym instead.  Still on schedule for a great two hours to be spent with my current audio book on the iPod and a treadmill followed by a relaxing “soak” in the sauna. 

That was the plan, anyway.  What actually happened only slightly resembled that plan.  I stretched, I warmed up, I was stoked for the run, the iPod was going, I was already anticipating the endorphins and the joy that comes with running and the smile to hit my face… and then I ramped up the treadmill and immediately was wincing in pain.  No matter what I did, my knees were both killing me with every step and I couldn’t run through it like I usually can after the first few minutes.  I was limping and I knew it would never happen, and actually shouldn’t or I was asking for an injury.  So I struggled through a mile – because I can’t sync my run with Nike and publish it to Facebook without at LEAST a mile, right? – and threw in the towel.  Well, I could still sit in the sauna – which I did and that was amazing but I felt like I was wasting my valuable time when I could be doing something different.  So, I grabbed my mid-afternoon snack in the cafe with a book I just happened to have tucked into my gym bag because you never know when you might need a book.

But the music at the gym is loud and piped in everywhere.  I couldn’t concentrate on my book.  My mind started wandering and thinking about how appealing tucking myself into a quiet corner of somewhere – anywhere – and just reading for an hour sounded.  Decadent, actually.  But where?

The library!  I’ll go to the library!

Actually, the first thought was a coffee shop but how insane is it that there isn’t a single coffee shop between the gym and the library which is a ten mile drive?  So, the library it is.

I don’t know about you, but the library in my mind evokes images of hushed and whispering old ladies and plastic covered books being checked out; images from childhood of my mother and every other adult around me shushing me if I even thought of raising my voice to a normal pitch instead of the whisper required for the hallowed halls of the library.  A soothing and peaceful hour with a good book in that kind of space was exactly what I was craving.

What I got was a big slap in the face of reality.

Know what I found at my neighborhood library?  People who didn’t give a shit that they were in a library.  People who were talking to each other like they were in the aisle at the Walmart or worse, their own kitchens.  People who were NOT instilling in their offspring any reverence for the building they were inside of – when you are talking to your child in a loud inside voice from halfway down the aisle, they aren’t going to think anything of using their outside voice to answer you.  I had the audacity to shush one little boy – approximate age 4 – and he glared at me with daggers shooting from his eyes.  I smiled with my finger against my lips while his Dad – who had pulled his head out of the computer screen he’d been sucked into most likely by the absence of noise from his snot-nose little brat – said “Carter, she’s just asking you to be quiet in the library.”  To which the lovely Carter responded – loudly – “I don’t like being quiet” and ran off.  Minutes later the same twosome could be heard playing their version of Marco Polo through the stacks because Dad couldn’t find Carter and apparently Carter was now scared that he’d run away and couldn’t see Dad anymore.  At the same time, the reference desk, which was about 20 feet from the chair I’d picked because of the low height of it’s seat in relation to the floor for added comfort appeal for my short legs, was manned by a woman of the appropriate old lady hair variety but without the appropriate library tone to match.  She was having a conversation with a co-worker that had nothing to do with the library and which sounded more like gossip than a conversation and they were talking so loud that I actually found myself shushing THEM.  When they didn’t notice, I left the area in search of somewhere a bit more out of the way.

Location number two I should have known better than to pick but when I approached the kids corner with the love sacks all deserted and beckoning with it’s quietness, I couldn’t resist.  That comfy spot lasted all of about five minutes until the idiot mother with her five kids in tow herded them all to the area to talk – LOUDLY – about all the books they had picked and review their selections before heading to the checkout desk.  I might have mumbled some obscenities under my breath as I leaped up and headed for another corner.  I don’t quite remember, but I hope I did!

Location three lasted a bit longer – it was a nice, quiet corner with an equally aged adult, her books sprawled across a table, clearly and intently studying and lost in thought.  I sat down, got comfy, got engaged in my book, and then there was a dog lose in the library.  I kid you not.  A. DOG.  And of course the dog ended up with me, don’t ask me why.  He must have sensed that I was looking for some peace and viewed me as a kindred spirit.  After the workers collected the dog – but not before they sat next to me trying to read the tags and made a LOT of noise – I had another few minutes of somewhat quiet where the din of the library patrons was only slightly intruding on the edges of my hearing.

And then the baby started crying.

And by crying, I really mean wailing – at the top of it’s lungs.

And didn’t stop for what seemed like ten minutes.

Enough that the other girl sitting there with her sprawled books trying to study turned to me in disgust to say “so much for a quiet library!”  (So see, I’m not over exaggerating here!)

At that point, I officially threw in the towel and headed back home to mom-land… where I proceeded to make certain that Big Sister knows that she is always supposed to be quiet in a library and can expect to be shushed and beaten if she ever isn’t.  Did I miss a memo somewhere that states since the majority of people are now  all loud Americans who never know when to shut our pie holes that we are no longer required to do so at the library?  Or was it just an off day at my neighborhood branch?  I guess it doesn’t really matter because next time I will drive out of my way to find that quiet coffee shop instead regardless of how inconvenient.

Thank you, today’s library patrons, for ruining the library for me as anything more than a place to walk in, pick up a hold from the shelf and leave.  The craziest part?  The teenagers in the ‘booths’ at the back were the best ones in the joint!  All you adults should be ashamed of yourselves!

Emotional setbacks and rediscovery

It has been a roller coaster of emotions for me the last few weeks in the physical fitness department.  Topped off with a seriously depressing climax last week.  And as I’ve said before I wouldn’t be an honest blogger if I didn’t share the bad times as well as the good.  So here goes….

Remember Hubby and I both started HCG together and quit early because neither could give up the gym and are training for the same upcoming relay race.  I’m so glad we’re both committed to living more healthily since it would be much harder to make healthy choices alone – which I’ve had to do in the past.  Plus, it is amazing to see a smile on his face now that he can play basketball again – something he thought would never happen with a bad back and recent ACL replacement.  He was always very active before his injuries and it’s no surprise that he bounced back quickly.  He’s lost thirty pounds and is back to looking like the Greek god I married sixteen years ago. 

All well and good except when I find myself comparing my slower results (which makes them feel like non-results) to his lickety-split total body transformation.  And feeling very jealous.  And resentful.  Such a girl response, I know.

Seriously, I’m happy for him.  Except I also hate him for it because it was so quick and easy while I work my ass of for less noticeable results.

Last month I worked with a trainer who laid out all my workouts for me and kept me accountable with weekly communication on how I’d stuck with it.  And I made it a very conscious choice to cut out all the bad stuff that I know I shouldn’t eat – like desserts at lunch and sweets at night.  I felt like it made a huge difference.  Lifting weights has my upper body noticeably if not visibly leaner – I had to tighten my chest strap on my heart rate monitor, I can fit my upper arms in a shirt I’ve been hoarding and hoping to wear eventually and I can fit more comfortably in my bras. (Yah, less back fat!) So when it came time last week to see my trainer and do my assessment to see my progress in numbers and data I was less than happy to see that nothing had changed.  Nothing.  And according to her I’d actually gained body fat in my body composition.  How the hell does that happen?  I lifted weights three times a week, ran 15-20 miles a week on average and your numbers say that I gained fat?  What the fuck?

I won’t lie.  There were tears… There was more than one f-bomb…  There were several outbursts with the words “bull shit”.  All born from frustration since I expected it to be much better news after such efforts.  And after working this hard I want results like Hubby has, damn it!

I partially feel bad for my poor trainer who, two months in a row now, has had me in tears at our monthly assessment appointments.  Last month she talked me into signing up with her for a month of coaching.  Which didn’t work.  And this month got me scheduled for my RMR testing – Resting Metabolic Rate – which I did Saturday and led to me signed up for a 9-week program with a nutritionist. (It makes sense… I’m exercising six times a week, both cardio and weights, and I should be dropping the weight like Hubby.  Since I’m not, I have to look at the nutritional aspect of it.  Preliminary discussions with both the trainer and the nutritionist have them thinking that I’m under eating.  Lovely… then where’s the cookies?)  But I also am a bit unhappy with my trainer for not first focusing on the good things that I had to find out for myself by looking at my data AFTER I got home.  My upper body strength rating has gone from 50 to 63 in just one month.  My sit and reach rating has gone from 10 to 12 in a month.  My VO2 lung capacity has gone from 27 to 29 – in a month!  But what did we focus on?  Just the bad… I was disappointed looking back since that’s not the kind of motivation I want or need.

At the same time, something a good friend said had me wondering.  She made the comment that she thought her trainer fudged her numbers to get her to sign up for more training.  Fudged as in made them sound better than she thought they were.  I’m sure she said it in jest but the logical animal that I am started analyzing my data collecting.  The body composition number is calculated by a three-site skin fold reading with calipers.  They have a fancy shmancy one attached to a computer plus cheesy manual ones.  I’ve done these readings three times now.  The first time, sites one and two were computer read, the third manual (since I had my slippery pants on and it kept sliding off).  The second time, all three sites were computer read (no slippery pants).  This last time, all three were manual readings.  I’m thinking that the inconsistency of the data collection not ever being the exact same method has to be a factor.  Right?  Plus, why is this the only thing measured?  Oh, and two of the sites are skin to caliper but the other is over my pants?  Seems less than scientific in my mind.

It’s human to want to have some external factor to blame and I’m not discounting that this train of thought might just be rationalization.  If it is, I’m fine with that. This is just my ranting and raving and trying to deal with the shit my way anyway, right?

Thank god I’m an analytical, data-hungry girl and for years now have done basically quarterly and sometimes monthly measurements.  These measurements – in my handy dandy spreadsheet – give me valuable insight into how my efforts are actually paying off.  While I wanted to just throw in the towel, say to hell with it all and grab a pint of ice cream with a side of girl scout cookies (because either way I’m not losing weight!) instead I did my monthly measurements.  Because despite it all I was curious.

I’m so glad I did!  Guess what – I’ve lost inches everywhere except my thighs which have stayed the same.  AND, I’m thinner according to the measurements than I was at my lowest scale weight a year ago.  Which means I’ve added twenty pounds of pure muscle thanks to my efforts over the past year.  Go me!  Definitely not the dismal picture painted by the earlier skewed or at least questionable numbers.

Another aspect of my roller coaster ride came to light last week when I realized that I no longer look forward with joyous anticipation to my runs.  Really?  I love to run!  I used to wake up in the morning and immediately start thinking about when I was going to get to run that day.  Now I’ve skipped a couple due to lack of motivation.  So I started taking stock and trying to determine what is different.  The only thing that has changed is that instead of just running and concentrating on how many miles I need to run, I’ve been doing what the trainer has told me to do for heart rate zone training.  I am a short girl at five foot two inches with squatty legs, which means I can’t run very fast anyway.  And now I’m having to run slower to keep my heart rate in the “right” zone.  My legs hurt more from running slower and I’m just not having any fun when I have to worry about how high my heart rate is going.  I thought it was worth it because keeping my heart rate in the proper zone to burn more fat was the goal.  But it clearly hasn’t given me the trade off I was expecting.

Yesterday it all changed.  I headed out on an eight mile run.  Before I left I mapped out my route using the MapMyRun website.  I strapped on my heart rate monitor so I could make sure I stayed in zone two and three so I was at least aerobic in my efforts.  I charged up my iPod for an hour so it would have a full battery for the two hours it was required to play for.  And I fired up my cool new app on my Droid phone to see exactly how far I went according to GPS so I could calibrate my Nike+ foot sensor when I got back – because I don’t think it is calculating my mileage accurately lately.  Yes, I’m a gadget geek.  Are you really surprised?

Halfway through my chilly, mildly rainy run, right after it turned mostly uphill with a headwind… yeah, it was not really fun at that point… my heart rate monitor stopped registering on my watch.  I tried to fiddle with the strap through my clothes and finally gave up.  About ten minutes later my GPS lost the signal from the satellite so no data to calibrate with my foot sensor.  SHIT!  Twenty minutes later after forty minutes of sustained uphill – have I mentioned how much I hate uphill running? – with the wind strongly blowing into my face I stopped, screamed FUCK YOU into the wind at the top of my lungs, and turned around to go back the way I came instead of finishing out my loop.  About five minutes later my iPod battery died.

Seriously?  Are you kidding me?!?!  EVERY. SINGLE. GADGET.  With the exception of my Nike+ which I was questioning before I even left.

Turns out, it was the Universe talking to me… 

With no gadgets to obsess about, no hill to be running up and the wind at my back I rediscovered how much I love to run.  Just run.  Not caring about how fast my damn heart is beating.  Because guess what, if it is beating too high and I’m up in the anaerobic regions I get out of breath and I naturally slow down.  And who cares how far I go when I go except for bragging rights on Facebook and Twitter and as a way to gauge how soon I’ll need a new pair of running shoes.  Without the iPod distraction I even noticed the wheat fields and horse corrals I was running past which I have only vaguely registered before.  That horse running around the corral?  It was super pretty with it’s mane and tail swishing spiritedly.  Thank you, Universe… I’m listening.

I’m going back to basics and, other than the nutritionist, I’m not dropping any more money in personal training and gimmicks at the gym.  I’m a smart girl… I can google workouts for weight training and I can read articles on how to improve speed and endurance for my running.  Hell, there’s probably an app for that, too, I just have to look!  And without all the pressure to perform perfectly I might just relax and have some fun while I’m at it.

So while this particular roller coaster ride of emotions had me feeling more down than up, I have turned it around and am re-focused on me and the things that I want to do.  Do I still secretly hate hearing that number read off joyously every morning when Hubby steps on the scale?  Of course… I’m a chick!  But it doesn’t have to stab me in the heart anymore because I know how exciting it is to see results and I want that for him as much as I want it for me.  Maybe the stress released by this decision will free up some of my stubborn fat cells… they say stress will inhibit weight loss after all.  Either way, here’s to a much more enjoyable month ahead with more measurable results for my efforts!

Music fuels the soul

I’m not one of those people who knows a ton about all different kinds of music.  All the music I own doesn’t even fill up my 30 gig iPod (pathetic, I know!).  I listen to NPR (that’s National Public Radio for the acronym challenged since I hate bloggers who assume everyone who is reading knows exactly what their acronyms mean…)  NPR is talk radio without left or right leaning spin – you know, the news as it used to be where they could only tell you the facts and let you make your own decision about how you felt about it?  Oh wait… I digress!  We were talking music not politics or the media.  My point being that when I’m in the car, which is the only time I listen to the radio, it isn’t music I’m listening to.  I’m not one of those people who knows every band on the planet and where each is from and where they got their musical inspiration.  Although I know some people who are like that and they intimidate the hell out of me.  Hell, I usually can’t even name the band let alone the album the song was originally released on.

Even so, I have what I like to consider an eclectic mix of music.  I’m a child of the 80’s and 90’s and lots of my music hails from these time periods – from Madonna to hair bands and rock ballads.  But I also have things that I grew up listening to – I love CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) thanks to my Daddy (and if truth be told the Beach Boys, too although I don’t actually have any of their stuff on my iPod) and the Carpenters thank to my Mom.  I am musical myself – played piano growing up which enabled me to take up the guitar as a teen which led to a stint in a garage band in my early 20’s – so I also love classical music.  LOVE LOVE LOVE it.  So, yeah, I listen to everything – well, except country because that is not music in my book and I never understood the genre.  I even – reluctantly – like some of the music I’m hearing because of Big Sister like Selena Gomez and Miranda Cosgrove.  Don’t judge.  I like some old-school rap thanks to my younger brothers, well, mostly just Eminem which makes no sense really.  My most embarrassing resident on the iPod is Barry Manilow but god I love singing along to him.  If asked to pick my favorite I tend to like heavy and loud the best – Metallica, Kiss, Disturbed, Marilyn Manson.  But I also love Sarah McLachlan and Matchbox Twenty and Avril Levine.  I can’t get enough of bad-girl P!nk and anyone else who can belt out a great set of lyrics to heavy riffs.  I never got into show tunes – unless you count the Grease Soundtrack which is on there, too.  And the list goes on and on.  Every song representing a time in my life or a feeling it evokes when I hear it.

So, what’s the point, you ask?

Yesterday I had the most amazing thing happen. 

Work has become a cesspool of idiocy where I’m surrounded by slackers who don’t do much to actually earn the paycheck they collect every other week.  I might have mentioned this before.  Instead of work happening all around me, talking and gossiping and visiting is happening.  ALL. DAY.  It’s one of the reasons why I prefer to work with men but, alas, the team is primarily women.  It’s gotten bad lately mostly I think due to a lack of leadership from the puffed up smidgen of blow fish shit we call a supervisor.  If it isn’t the unchecked womenfolk and their quilting bee bullshit, it’s the guy on the next row over hacking up a lung and farting – not that I’m innocent of public farting occasionally myself but usually it isn’t of the trumpeting variety – or the other guy who cackles like a woman when he gets nervous.  Which seems to be all the time.  The only way I’ve found to stave off the urge to step outside my cubicle and shout “SHUT THE FUCK UP” at the top of my lungs is to escape to the heaven of my iPod and Skull Candy ear buds.  Luckily I can still concentrate on the technical details of my job with metal blaring in my ears.

So what made yesterday so different than the countless days before it?  I’ll tell you.

I had been listening to my latest audiobook on my run (which is heaven, by the way) and didn’t have the time necessary to figure out what music I was in the mood for before my top blew so I fumbled for the “shuffle songs” selection and left it up to chance.  What ensued was the most magical twenty five minutes.  Every song the iPod selected for me fit my mood like a glove.  I found myself so distracted by the music that instead of allowing me to focus on my work it had me sitting and dancing in my chair hoping I could contain my urge to sing along out loud.  The genre’s were different – Duran Duran, Violent Femmes, P!nk, KISS, 30 Seconds to Mars – but they were all songs that I loved, hadn’t listened to in ages and which , yesterday, were the exact mix of music I needed to soothe my soul.

I don’t know what it is about music that can transport me to a time or a feeling so completely but damn I’m glad it works that way for me.  And although I know my beautiful (yet old school) iPod is merely an inanimate object I love that it knows – at least some of the time – exactly what I need even when I don’t know it myself.  IPod, I love you!  And thank you for keeping me out of the HR office this week even though I just realized it’s only Tuesday…

Public Service Announcement

It’s been a while since I got on my soap box about society here in America.  Today that ends, if just for a moment.  Several years ago we banned High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) from our diet after I read the book “The Omnivore’s Dilema” and learned the real nature of our “food” here in the States.  I was such a vocal bitch that all my friends and family heard about it and eventually hopped on the band wagon if only half-heartedly; well, most of them anyway.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one.  Now, enough people in general have started reading labels that the food industry is having to change their tactics.  I heard the other day that they are going to relabel HFCS as “corn sugar”.  Doesn’t that sound so much more appealing and so much less harmful?  Yeah, I think that’s the point.  What enrages me the most of late are the commercials where people are talking about how “they’ve done studies and, cane sugar or corn sugar, you’re body doesn’t know the difference”.  Every time the variations of this commercial come on I literally yell “BULLSHIT” at the television at the top of my lungs.  Yes, I know they can’t hear me but it sure makes me feel better.

Here’s the truth in a nutshell for those of you who haven’t read all the studies.  Yes, your body DOES know the difference and here’s where it gets freaky.  Your stomach is not able to handle the digestion of HFCS, your liver has to do it.  And your liver can only process so much of it.  The excess the liver can’t handle gets converted directly into triglycerides in your blood stream.  You know, that part of “bad” cholesterol that clogs your arteries and gives you heart disease?  Yeah, that.  Told you it was bad!  And even worse is the fact that HFCS is in everything – and I do mean everything – so you eat a ton of it without even knowing if you aren’t paying attention..  Your yogurt that you think is healthy?  Check the label and chances are you’ll find HFCS!  Your bread – yes, even the wheat variety.  Your milk can even have it in it!  So people please, start reading the ingredient lists on your labels and take control of your own health because trust me, the food industry isn’t going to do it for you.  They are the ones feeding you propaganda on the television after all!  You can find practically everything – even soda – with real old fashioned natural cane sugar if you’re willing to read every label before buying something.  Trust me, your arteries will thank you for your vigilance!

This past weekend I came across something even more frightening.  An article in the magazine put out by our gym was talking about how in one study they had taken cancer cells and fed them different forms of sugar to see how the cancer responded.  Apparently it was already well known that cancer cells thrive on all kinds of sugar but what they found is that high fructose corn syrup not only fed them but increased how fast they metabolized and split to multiply and MAKE. MORE. CANCER. 

HOLY SHIT!  I might just go to a diet of 100% whole and natural after reading that article!  If only it wasn’t so expensive to eat “real” food in this country…

Time for another rant…

It has been quite some time since I had a rant and rave session… something necessary on a daily basis before I switched cubicles to one NOT on the aisle and therefore subject to all the crazies and their hallway meetings.  I’m in a really good area of the cube farm now… nestled between my supervisor who is off in meetings more than he’s at his desk and the technical team lead who just works all day.  I realized after moving that the incessant chatter that drove me crazy and made my lack of a concealed weapon permit a good thing for those around me is not what the real problem is – it is when that chatter is NOT work related that I get crazed.  Since my move, I hear probably more chatter but because it is primarily work related, it doesn’t bug me!

There are two people within earshot of my new cube who are in the bottom third of the productivity scale on my team… Today one of them had a group of two other slackers gathered and were discussing – wait for it – the eating habits of their dogs and why, when they feed their dogs and cats half of their food, they just can’t understand how they don’t lose weight.  At one point, I heard one of them proclaim that she’d found not eating an entire bag of potato chips at night had led to her dropping a few pounds.  Are you kidding me?  An ENTIRE BAG of potato chips by yourself?  My arteries closed up a bit and my stomach rolled at the thought of it!  Another one said she makes an extra grilled cheese just to feed to her greyhound.  Well, that might be why your diet of “feed the dogs what I eat” (yes, that’s what she referred to HER diet as) isn’t working since you are still consuming the same food but making extras to give to the dogs.  The conversation devolved into the dynamics of sharing a bed with multiple cats who demand their own pillows and I entertained thoughts of a .22 bullet.  I can only assume that these people are single women because I don’t know a man who would put up with that kind of shit.  Although, clearly, I just might not know the right kind of people. 

One of these days, the insanity of how LITTLE work is actually performed at my work place by people expecting a paycheck every couple of weeks that they’ve done very little to earn will be exposed and something done about it.  In the meantime, I will quietly scream “SHUT THE FUCK UP” under my breath multiple times a week and rant and rave on the blog when that doesn’t cut it. 

A ban I can support

I was struck today on the drive home that enough has not been said about the horrors of plastic bags… at least not from my own soapbox. Why aren’t the rest of the cities of the world taking a queue from San Francisco and supporting a ban on plastic shopping bags? My opposition includes all the normal issues about how they are not biodegradable and most of them end up in the oceans where they either literally choke living things or break down into smaller pieces that totally mess with the DNA of those unlucky enough to ingest them. However, I have a much bigger beef than even that – the laziness of the average American. At this point in our history you would think we had learned SOME lessons from our recent history about re-using. During the early 19th century they had “rag and paper men” who’s job it was to go to individual houses and collect rags from sewing and paper and take them away to be reused. Why, then, a century later, are we having to reinvent this and find ways to make recycling hip again? Every other developed nation in the world (well, OK, at least in Europe where I have personal experience) expects their citizens to bring their own bags when they do their shopping. So why is it a novelty that I get bitchy looks about from folks unlucky enough to be behind me at the grocery store checkout when my bagger is struggling to load my reusable bags with my purchases? I’m sorry my efforts at saving the planet interfere with your rush to be wherever you are heading. Several years ago when Ikea first appeared in my city, I thought it novel I was charged for the plastic bags I used to carry my purchases away and it was the first time it got me really thinking about the issue. Today, I get a credit for every bag I return to the store to reuse which is a nice incentive to get people to purchase the reusable bags but I think we should go farther. It should be a requirement that you go to the store with your own bags and if you don’t you should be charged for the plastic ones you take away. Maybe if it hurt people in the only place most of us care about – the pocketbook – more people would be interested in making a difference that takes such little effort. Call me a hippie or a tree-hugger, call me a liberal fascist, just do it while you are reusing your own bags, please! I would rather see them banned altogether!

Inconsiderate and oblivious

What, exactly, is wrong with people? We were at a local restaurant a few weeks ago and what I observed is still bugging me. So here I am with more ranting and raving. Normally our beef is with the service or the food – why is it SO hard to find good service in the food SERVICE industry? This particular night, however, we had a fabulous waiter who was attentive without being at our table too often. No, the beef this night was with two workers – I think you call them hostesses? – who stood right behind our table performing the menial task of wrapping napkins around utensils. I get that it is a mindless type of duty but if you are standing adjacent to customers trying to eat would you really be as mindless as these two who stood there talking loudly and bothering multiple tables around them who could hear every word? A normal person would probably notice the annoyed stares from the patrons but these two were totally oblivious and carried on for 10 minutes. I wonder though, is it me who is just abnormal and this is what “normal” has become? More often than not the majority of people around me are inconsiderate and oblivious to their impact on others far outnumbering those who are considerate and observant. Is this a type of social evolution similar to where we think nothing of walking around with a telephone attached to our ear and carry on conversations inconsiderately imposing our chatter to others around us where without the technology it wouldn’t be expected? I know I pay attention more lately to how my behaviour is impacting those around me – although is doesn’t seem to be the normal thing to do. What a shame…

The phantom hand

Just when I thought I had figured out a way to deal with the insanity of my high traffic cubicle aisle – all hail the iPod playing very loudly in my ears – another anomaly has surfaced to drive me over the edge. The other day I’m sitting in my cube, working away, attempting to ignore the drivel of the two inconsiderate workers who just happened to stop right there to have a personal conversation and what do I see but a hand hanging over my cube. (reeee reeee reeee) I couldn’t help but stare at it. It had hairy knuckles. It had a watch on a cheap band. I wanted to reach up and poke at it to warn the body attached that someone was on the other side of the wall. The hand still haunts me…

Other than the incredible diversity of people inhabiting the same floor as I do at work – which has really no bearing on what I’m doing there – I am truly enjoying my work at the new job. I have opportunity to grow and am working with old friends and new. And who can complain about a workplace that sets up multiple large viewing screens for the presidential inauguration yesterday and encouraged everyone to come to watch instead of killing the bandwidth in the building. It just doesn’t get better than that!

New fence, old grass

I don’t know what I was thinking – perhaps that I would swap my old grass for something greener on the other side of the fence? Why is it that people are forever falling for that old adage? While I am loving the new work digs for more reasons than not, today was the first day that I thought the honeymoon must be over… I am now, more than ever before, working in a typical cube farm. Literally my building has 4 floors and with the exception of the squatters from a different company on one of them they ALL LOOK THE SAME with cubicles as far as the eye can seen. The bathrooms are in the same place on every floor, the cubicles are all the same size, shape, color and layout on every floor and even the filing cabinets are in the same place on every floor. Several times I’ve gotten lost and wondered if I was going to have to go back to the elevator (if I could find it) to see what floor I was on and get my bearings. (I don’t know what I’ll do when the holiday decorations come down in my dept because that’s the only way I know which cube is mine – first with the Halloween spiderwebs and now the Christmas tinsel to distinguish it from all the rest!) Today the thing that has irritated me the very most for the very longest time happened in the hallowed new environment like a bad acid trip returning…. The hallway meeting of inconsiderate coworkers! You know what I’m talking about, don’t deny it (maybe you are one who does this!) Two people (or if you’re on a lucky streak more of them!) stop right in the middle of the hallway on the other side of your cubicle partition – it is wrong to call it a wall since it doesn’t even drown out the muffled sound of a cell phone vibrating from two cubes over let alone the mindless banter of the testers in the next row – and decide to have a meeting! One or more of them usually has a puffed up chest and loud, irritatingly obnoxious voice to go with it because subconsciously they know they are being listened to by a captive audience of at least 15 within earshot who have nowhere to go to escape but the shitters – and even then it probably won’t drown out the noise. They talk loudly and at length about things more appropriately discussed in private – or sometimes even outside the work environment! – and never think once about the people they are disrupting with their incessant chatter! (I think I.T. people are the worst at this but it could also be just that it is what I know…) I was the lucky recipient of two of these lovely “meetings” right outside my cube today and I swear I almost stood and yelled at the top of my lungs – SHUT THE FUCK UP OR GET A ROOM!! People, be considerate that there might be folks working all around you before stopping for a “quick” chat… because trust me, there’s nothing quick about the chatter of your bullshit when having to be endured by someone trying to work!

Medical Insanity

Okay, time for the soap box again…. I am thinking that everyone has gone a bit insane and has forgotten the secret to staying healthy is actually getting sick once in a while so we can actually build new immunities. What has set me off on this topic is the incessant bombardment about getting a damn flu shot I’ve had to endure in the last week. Remember, I work in health care now… Gawd help me! So let’s break things down a bit. First, they spew all these crazy statistics about how dangerous it is to get the flu and how people DIE from it every year and how we must vaccinate against this deadly thing. HELLO, do we live in the dark ages? No, last time I checked it was the good ol’ industrial age still. The reality is, that while there is indeed a very SMALL subset of the population who could benefit, there is very little actual risk to the typical person dying of the influenza virus. Which brings me to the second point. IT IS A VIRUS! Repeat after me, bacteria can be treated with antibiotics but if you go to the doctor and all you have is a virus they are going to tell you to get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids. Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN’T KILL A FREAKIN’ VIRUS! Third, that crazy vaccine that they are injecting you with is last year’s flu strain – which has already mutated as virus’ are wont to do – and will not really protect you from much anyway. Just eat good food – you know, real food from whole plants and stuff with vitamins and minerals and all the good stuff nature intended for us – and you are going to be better off than getting that stupid shot. And if you don’t believe me, remember what happened to those pesky invaders in War of The Worlds… We are building up immunities to everything around us that actually protect us from all the nasty things that are out there but only if we are actually exposed to them! Hey, while we are protesting the insanity, let’s throw out the antibacterial hand crap and even the antibacterial soaps! And what do you say you don’t wash your hands – unless of course you are in a public restroom or in a hospital where you might really catch some nasty bugs. And for the love of GOD, don’t get a damn flu shot!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

How will I live without my Blackberry?!? (OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!)

Now that this whole craziness of quitting my job is getting real and hitting me where the Blackberry rests on my hip I am FREAKING out. Today I reached for my favorite accessory to mapquest where dance camp is for next weekend while sitting at a red light on my commute home. HELLO! Not gonna have that Internet connection on your hip 24/7 in like 16 days… but who’s counting… BESIDES ME!?!?! I believe in a moment of realized panic at what I will be losing I actually embraced the little black beauty and tried to kiss it today.

It is really getting that bad.

How do I stay in touch with friends if it isn’t on Blackberry Messenger WHENEVER I want? How do I ONLY check email when I’ve found free time to actually sit in front of my computer? How do I go back to texting without the beloved querty keyboard? (THE HORROR!) How do I sit through meetings without something to keep me occupied? (Well, clearly I may not need that where I’m going since I’m hoping they just have the productive kind but you never know…) And who – I ask you, WHO! – will look up words on mid-book-club-discussion every month? Oh, and I’m going to need a new alarm clock, too….

Told you, really getting that bad.

Why did I have to drop my personal cell phone in the toilet and WASTE my “new every two” credit so I’m not eligible for an upgrade for another 18 MONTHS. (Could have used the damn crystal ball on that one for sure!) I’m bidding on a used one on eBay but somehow I think my measly 12-dollar max bid won’t do me much good in the next 2 days. Please be an obscure listing and let no one else see MY item… please… please… please…

I think the doctor would diagnose this as withdrawal symptoms… YOU THINK?!?

I might have had too much coffee today but I don’t think that is the only thing that’s happening here…. Universe, send me a cheap blackberry I can afford right now!

When is it time for a new job?

How do you know when it is time to move on to a new job? This is exactly one of those times when I desperately wish for a real crystal ball to look into the future! I love what I do in system engineering and I have a super manager although the executive level leaves much to be desired at my current company. But, there is uncertainty on whether there is a future for the platform I support if they decide to replace core software systems. I have the potential to move into management, I’m on the boss’ succession plan if he ever leaves or gets promoted; plus, I have the option to move into project management if I choose or cross-train on a different platform at the companies expense thereby increasing resume and future potential opportunities. Other than the uncertain future, I am happy where I am and really like where I am working. But here’s the dilemma… there is another company in town hiring right now for my skill set. It is on the Top 100 places to work in the US, I have former colleagues who work there and love it and are urging me to make the move, AND I know that when I am done with where I am, that’s the first place I want to be. The question is, is that time now or later? Do I stay where I am and wait out the uncertainty while making killer money and loving what I do but possibly lose the chance for employment where I want to end up if I ever do move? What if I stay and they decide to eliminate my system platform and then when I decide it really was time all along, the other company doesn’t have any opportunities for me? What if I decide to make the move assuming that the uncertainty won’t work out for me and then realize in the long run that I should have stayed because I could have had everything I wanted long-term and more? What if I apply for the open position and interview just to see what the money is like and what the job would be but not really ready to make a move? Then when/if they offer me a position and I turn it down have I burned my bridges for future opportunities by leading them on? Do I apply and tell them honestly that yes I am interested in working there, just not now? (But, hey, thanks for taking the time to talk to me!) If I look at it from a hiring manager’s perspective, I’m going to want anyone who is applying to be serious about wanting the position… otherwise, I’m getting my hopes set on a candidate who doesn’t really want the position. I know that I don’t want to burn any bridges at the potential new company eliminating future possibilities. What if I decide not to apply and never know more than just what the job posting says and it could be even better than the job I have and love now but I never even applied? What if I apply, love the job but they won’t pay me the wage that makes sense to move on? Like I said – I really need a crystal ball right about now… The endless internal debate just might kill me and I need to apply if I’m going to do it! Maybe it’s time to break out the crystals and tarot cards… But I’ll probably just second guess everything I can come up with anyway, right? Good grief what a mess….

The Environment

What is it about Americans that makes us think that we can continue to consume everything in sight and not give a damn about the impact we are making on the world as a whole? We have more open space in our country than most countries in Europe and yet we take it all for granted that the natural resources we rely on will just continue to exist for as long as we need them. We pollute our air and our water and don’t give a damn about what it will mean for our children or our grandchildren – let alone the species of the planet that are unfortunate to have to co-exist with us and deal with how we are ruining their habitats. Most people would call me a tree-hugger like most of my extended family does but that doesn’t mean that I am going to change my ways. (And yes, I have been known to hug a tree now and then.) My in-laws live in a farming community in the Midwest and on a recent visit it appalled me to learn that their sewer doesn’t go to a septic tank as I had always assumed but instead drains across the road into the river to float downstream in the water supply. It is OK, they said, because the farmhouse was so old that was just how they did it back then. I about died and yet it was just accepted as normal to them. For a week I cringed every time I flushed as much as I cringed every time I threw something in the garbage and had no recycle can to chose when appropriate. I believe that even the small things will make a huge difference and wish that more people would take the time and effort to change. We spent 2 weeks in Germany several years ago and man, were my eyes opened in those two weeks! They have garbage cans half the size of our behemoths and they only get collected and emptied every other week. They have two – one for trash and one for recycling – and neither can contain glass containers which have to be deposited in a glass recycle drop separately. Most of their packaging is paper and cardboard so that it fits nicely into the recycle program and I don’t believe I saw an ounce of plastic the entire time we were there. Then, there was the lack of a garbage disposal in the kitchen sink. That took a bit of getting used to and I asked what the reasoning was behind that. Want to know? They don’t put food down the drain because then it takes more energy at the water treatment plants to get rid of it. What a fucking concept! I was a changed person when we came home. We are lucky to live in a community with a recycling program through the city and have 3 trash cans that get picked up weekly. One for trash, one for recycling, and one for green waste. We are fanatical recyclers and now have separate boxes to collect glass to drop at the glass place when it is full as well as a bag for bad batteries to recycle appropriately. On top of that, we’ve eliminated paper napkins for cloth ones. No, they aren’t just for special occasions when you bring out the china, folks! You’re doing laundry every week anyway, what’s a few more napkins? We only typically eat one meal a day at home with both of us working full time so it isn’t a big deal. We also don’t use our garbage disposal anymore. I know the water treatment plant has to treat other people’s trash in the water supply still but maybe not having ours added in makes a tiny little difference, or at least I hope! The latest thing I’ve added is asking for paper instead of plastic bags when I shop for groceries. It freaks those poor baggers out that someone would actually ask for paper and I’ve even seen them hunt for a stack of bags. The craziest was when the young kid bagging today’s purchases said “paper is so complicated” as he was trying to fit my stuff into the rectangular area of the bag to which I replied “yes, but it’s so much better for the environment!”. We don’t even have the luxury of being asked “paper or plastic?” before they start throwing the stuff in plastic anymore. You know that every plastic bag that you use and then throw away ends up in a landfill or worse, in the ocean? It costs thousands to recycle the plastic which they can then only resell for reuse for pennies so they just don’t do it. Sea creatures and birds become entangled and eat the crap and then die. Or worse, the polymers break down in their digestive tracks and fuck with their DNA potentially destroying the species. (Read “The World Without Us” for some insane looks at what we do to our world if you’re interested!) The even crazier part of all those plastic bags? They are made from OIL products!! By eliminating the use of plastic bags in our lives, we are at the same time limiting our dependence on oil… another resource that will soon run out because it isn’t a self-renewing thing. I am proud to set myself apart as an environmental freak and hope that by doing small things like I do it will somehow rub off on others and start a chain reaction that will impact the world in a positive way. I wish more people were like me in this regard…. Blessed are the non-consumers for they will preserve the planet!