Thursday, January 26, 2006

The mysteries of lost and found

Whenever I go looking for something, inevitably, I find something else instead. "Oh, that's where that got to!" I sometimes do find what I originally went looking for. But typically only after I've torn the house apart eight ways until Sunday. It's both frustrating and intriguing.

A couple of months ago, I was looking under our bed for something (we have storage boxes under there). That is when I discovered that my seemingly normal cat (no, that is NOT an oxymoron) is actually part squirrel. Beneath the bed he had a stash of chewed up empty Ziploc bags. A couple of them had never had anything in them.

Just before the holidays, I had a paper grocery bag with a bunch of items I was taking to church for some crafting with some friends. Towards the top of the bag was an opened, though relatively full, box of Ziploc bags. From the other room, I heard the sound of the paper bag crinkling. I peered around the corner to see Caboose taking off with the box of Ziploc bags firmly in his mouth, held by the open flap. He started to head upstairs towards my bedroom, but dropped the box as he tried to climb the stairs.

Two weeks ago, I set three small bags of frozen chicken in a large bowl of water in the sink to thaw. I left the room for two minutes and came back to discover only two bags of chicken in the bowl. I immediately yelled for my son to go look under my bed for the missing chicken. Sure enough, Caboose was happily gnawing on the bag of chicken under the bed.

While chicken-stealing makes sense for most cats, the chicken was merely a bonus for Caboose. As I said, he will just as quickly steal an unused bag as one with something in it. He's even taken one with celery in it. Weirdo.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Day four of "the plague"

I have been sick for four solid days now. Other than a quick trip to the Mobil last night for a soda and some lottery tickets (yeah, I know. don't start with me on that), I haven't been out of the house since Saturday evening.

Yesterday I worried that I might become one of Jerry's Kids today. "Jerry" being Jerry Springer. Fortunately, I was not remotely tempted by the television today. While I was still pretty congested and foggy, I did manage to work a full day. I had an unavoidable two and a half hour nap in the middle of the day though. I highly recommend the practice even for the healthy.

I felt the worse last night. My face was very dry and felt hot to me, if not to anyone else. I finally figured out that it was dehydration at work. So, huge DUH! That whole thing about "drink plenty of fluids" utterly makes sense to me now. High tissue usage = need more fluids!!! (grin)

Needless to say, I haven't been utterly strict about following my diet. I was on Sunday and Monday. I gave in a little yesterday. Today, I had a vegan lasagna for lunch (only 300 calories). But, oh, it was SO GOOD! If I feel better tomorrow, I'm crediting the lasgna.

I have been taking my vitamins, however. Part of me says "Fat lot of good it's doing to send these germs packing." But, my husband says, "Think how sick you'd be if you weren't taking them." Fine. I'll keep taking them.

All in all, I'd really like a huge bag of potato chips and a Slurpee. Any time I'm miserable I comfort myself with really unhealthy food. When things are going well, I still overeat. But, typically, I overeat relatively healthy food when life isn't throwing me curve balls. The trick is really to learn to be moderate and not overeat. With my digestive issues, there are a lot of foods I need to avoid to not feel ill. However, there are a few that I may allow myself to treat on sometime in the distant future. Perhaps if I ever see a size 14 again.

So, all things in moderation, including cold germs. Four days is enough. Be gone foul beasties!

A VoIPing we will go!

I just got the email from Vonage confirming that our current phone number will be cut over from Verizon to Vonage tomorrow. I started this process in November (read To VoIP or Not to VoIP). First, I wanted to get the wireless phones and test them out. I finally hooked the phones up over the holidays. Since I was satisfied with the performance, I contacted Vonage and told them to begin the number transfer process. They said it could take several weeks. I anticipated it taking at least a month. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I got the notice today.

I'll post here on the smoothness, or lack thereof, of the transition.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

To be, or not to be ... anonymous

This blog is anything but anonymous, which is why there are some things I won't discuss here. Those topics I save for my real journal, or the ears (virtual or otherwise) of good friends. I started blogging, in large part, as a way to kick start my writing. I also hoped to engage a couple of distant friends in occasional dialog.

It would be very difficult for me to write while trying to censor myself for anonymity's sake. Also, writing anonymously would probably discourage commentary with the friends I had hoped to engage.

A few of my friends who have their own blogs don't hide who they are. They put their whole beings out there for any and all to discover. Their blogs are very interesting, and usually full of good commentary by others.

When I stumble on blogs that reveal little about their authors, I usually don't go back. I'm not sure what the point of blogging is if you are not revealing at least a bit of yourself. If you just want to write for yourself, keep a journal, not a blog. Don't be an Admiral Stockdale, asking your audience "Who am I? Why am I here?"

For those who like to journal, a few years ago I found a really great journaling program called Life Journal. You can have multiple journals. You can assign indexing terms to entries, so you can find them later. The program also has prompts, for those days where you want to write but the mind just goes blank when you sit down at the keyboard.

Illness, sloth, and cabin fever

Last week, B and K stayed home sick several days. Since starting this diet, I have been on MEGA vitamins. So, I had hoped that I would avoid the scourge. Oh, well.

The timing of my decline into illness was fairly good for a change. I had my first class of the semester on Saturday morning, which I did not want to miss. I had my fingers crossed that I would stay healthy at least through Saturday morning. While I had a slight tickle in my throat that morning, I wasn't really ill. I got my newsletter article in for the church bulletin on Saturday afternoon. (OK, those of you who have known me a long time, enjoy the belly laugh on that one.) Other than that, I had no real commitments over the weekend. So, when I woke up with a really sore throat on Sunday I accepted my plight somewhat stoically. It was simply my turn.

Is my turn over yet? OK. I really didn't mind staying home yesterday. We got eight inches of snow. I did a little work here and there throughout the day (more in the evening). But, mostly I lounged about. I woke up at 3 am and was unable to get back to sleep, so I worked a few hours, then went back to bed for a few more hours. Got up. Worked a bit. Then I lounged about sipping soup and watching true crime shows on A&E. HELP!!!

I'm too tired and foggy to engage in much mentally. However, I'm too achy to go back to sleep. I made a mess in the kitchen, but I really don't feel like cleaning up right now. (Is there a "WHINE" tag in HTML?) So, I challenged myself to at least blog for a bit. Anything to avoid another senseless hour in front of the television.

I plan on resting as much as possible today and taking extra vitamin C. I do not want to be home again tomorrow. It'd be ok to go to work for a while, and come home and sleep. But, I have to get out of here. I fear that if I am here tomorrow I will find myself watching Jerry Springer, or someone equally depressing.

Friday, January 20, 2006

World's easiest quiz

The title is an absolute lie. A friend passed it on to me to show me how dumb I am, I guess. I failed. It only takes four correct answers to pass. I only got three right. To see the answers, click on the comments link below this post:

  1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?
  2. Which country makes Panama hats?
  3. From which animal do we get catgut?
  4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
  5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?
  6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
  7. What was King George VI's first name?
  8. What color is a purple finch?
  9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
  10. What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Not quite check-in time but ... 12 lbs

My check-in weigh-ins are supposed to be on Monday morning (for logging on However, I get on the scale every morning since I am a bit obsessive about the weight loss thing right now. I'm pretty psyched that I've lost 12 pounds in thirteen days. In truth, I'm not even very hungry most of the time. Now, I just have to figure out how to start including that ever-dreaded exercise aspect to my plan. (grin)

I know that I will not continue to lose weight at this rate for long. The body will kick in and ratchet down my metabolism because it'll think that I'm starving, probably. So, that's why I KNOW that I have to fight back by exercising, since exercise pushes your metabolism up.

It's difficult to think about exercise when its grey and cold (and sometimes snowy and icey) outside. Plus, my exercise bike is downstairs in the unheated dingy and cluttered basement.

I've been contemplating joining the nearby YMCA. I just hate committing to that kind of financial outlay. For just me it would be $43/month. However, I'd want to join as a family and that's $63/month. Kiel goes after school one day a week for tennis lessons. However, I think he'd go more if he could. There are often pick-up games of basketball. Plus, I think he would benefit from some strength training (the poor scrawny fellow).

I've been holding off on joining because Ben's been in talks with the YMCA about starting a martial arts class there. If he teaches, we may be able to wrangle a family membership out of the deal. We already have one at Manchester (because of Ben teaches THERE), but that's a twenty plus minute drive each way since we moved. The local YMCA is less than five minutes from our house.

When the weight drop rate slows down, I'll definitely have to do something. And, yes, I know that sooner is better. Not just for my weight loss, but my health.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Postage increase and a loathing of pennies

As of this past Sunday, it now costs 39 cents to mail a standard business sized envelope via the United States Postage Service. The previous rate was 37 cents.

I really do not mind postage increases. The amount we pay for first class postage is still quite a bargain compared to the rest of the industrialized world. At the current exchange rates here some other countries where it is still more expensive (see this site for current 1st class postage rates:

Great Britain0.53

What I mind about our postage increases is the bizarre ammounts. At this point, why do we have to increase the rate by a penny or two? I would much rather pay for postage in five cent increments. Maybe if the postal service would round up every increase to the nearest nickle we could keep the same postage for longer, and the service could operate in the black for longer.

All in all, I think it boils down to my loathing of pennies. When I was a kid, pennies were worth something. You could buy a piece of candy with a penny. I don't think you can buy anything with a penny any more. You have to put a few of them together before you can get anything. Does anyone know of ANYTHING you can buy for less than a nickel?

Pennies have become disposable in our society. Many people will mindlessly toss any penny change they get during a cash transaction into the (now prevalent) "penny cup" or, if one isn't apparent, into some charity collection display near the cash register. I've seen people in a hurry not wait for their change if it was only going to be a couple of pennies. In our "fast paced" society, waiting for or putting away pennies is just not worth our time.

Again, back in my childhood, I would gladly take pennies that relatives and friends of the family offered me. Periodically, I would roll the pennies and use the rolls to make significant (to a child) purchases of small toys.

My son has piles of pennies in his room. Even when he is supremely cashless, he is almost never inspired to roll the pennnies up. It takes a bucketload of pennies for him to acquire even the most inexpensive item that he is interested in. How many pennies does it take to buy a CD? [ on average: 1500 pennies - that's 30 rolls of the little suckers ]

The British offer their own version of the "penny", their "pence", in valuations of one, two, three, and four, in addition to denominations divisible by five. Maybe they have the right idea. Maybe if our wallets weren't weighed down by a hundred coins valued at one cent each, but with thirty-five or forty coins with slightly higher values, we would be more inclined to respect a few pennies worth of change. Taking such change at every transaction's end wouldn't ultimately lead some of us to seek out our chiropractor at week's end.

Alas, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Postal Service will not be listening to the likes of me. Fortunately, for the stalwart among us, there is now the ubiquitous CoinStar machine. A couple of times a year, you can gather up all the heavy, seemingly valueless, change. Put it in a sturdy plastic bucket. Take it to the grocery store with you. Stand there and slowly, laboriously feed it your treasure. Allow it to calculate it's minor commission on your booty (about 3%), and then take the proffered receipt to the check out register with you where it will be exchanged for "real money". But note, experience has taught us that it takes nearly a gallon of pennies to net you the cost of a CD. [ grin ]

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

You CAN Take A 12 Year Old To See Brokeback Mountain

I have been wanting to see Brokeback Mountain for several months. I figured I would have to wait for cable or DVD. New Hampshire usually only gets the mass release movies. So, I was THRILLED when the film was listed on a neighboring town's multiplex listing last weekend. I had planned to go on my own. Ben was only marginally interested.

Going on my own meant leaving Kiel home to his own devices. No biggie. He's managed on his own for the evening before.

Then, I got to thinking about it. K has been involved with a kind of "sex education" course through our church. The course covers all aspects of sex, sexuality, sexual health, and a broad spectrum of relationships (friendships as well as sexual relationships). No topic is taboo, no stone is left unturned. In December the course covered same sex relationships and sexual relations.

So, I described the plot of Brokeback Mountain on Friday morning and gave K the day to consider if he wanted to go with me to see it. I figured the the movie might help him understand some of what his class had talked about regarding homosexuality, and put the topic in context somewhat. Part of me supposed that he might find the focus of the movie, the difficulties and intricacies of a relationship, to be a bit boring. Not surprisingly though, K's affinity for watching almost any movie won out. When he got home from school and made his check-in call to me he told me he wanted to go.

I related my evening plans to many of my coworkers. Almost everyone joked with me about it. They warned me of the stares and horrified expressions I would probably inspire. Many applauded my braveness in taking my twelve year old to any sexually themed movie. Only one, noted homophobe, was shocked at my decision. I think I told him because I knew it would whig him out.

The theater was about three quarters full by the time the movie started. K was the youngest member of the audience by a good five years. Not surprisingly, a large portion of the audience consisted of gay male couples or groups. There were a few groups of women. The rest were primarily couples around my age, with a few scattered pairings and groupings of young adults.

The film was very much what I had expected from the reviews I had read. It deserves all the award nominations that it has and will garner. The only uncomfortable moment for me during the film is the first sex scene between the two main characters. The act itself was very sudden and on the edge of violent, in my opinion. However, it was brief. After that point, the relationship between the two men was portrayed as very loving, albeit problematic due to one of the character's inability to commit to the relationship out of fear of the repercussions.

After we left the theater, I asked K what he thought of the movie. He said that it was "ok". It was a positive sounding "ok" though. Since the movie ended somewhat sadly, I wasn't too surprised with that reaction. In the car, I told K about how people who are different have often been persecuted. The relationship in the movie begins in the early 1960s in the rural west. Homosexuality was not tolerated in that world. I also explained to K that, while things are much better for homosexuals, about once a year a violent crime against a homosexual somewhere in this country makes national news. I told him that there are still people in this country who hate other people just because they are different from themselves, whether the difference is their sexuality, the color of their skin, or their religion. I told him that I am glad that there are so many different kinds of people in the world, otherwise everybody would be the same and the world would be a pretty boring place.

On Sunday, I made sure to mention our movie excursions to his course instructor when I dropped him at the door. I asked him after what he had told his group about the movie, and he said that he told them that it was "pretty good". So, I suspect that he spent some time thinking about it afterwards, during the interim between Friday night and Sunday morning.

Some might say that I am a "bad parent" for taking my twelve year old to see an R rated movie about a homosexual relationship. I think that exposing my child to something that helps him understand the world better makes me a good parent. Was it an easy choice? No. Would I recommend it for other twelve year olds? Probably not. I am fortunate to have a thoughtful and mature twelve year old. (I am sure that there are some sixteen year olds I would not recommend view the film.) Would I do it again? You bet.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

So far, so good

OK. It's been eight days and I've shed seven pounds. Some would say that the initial weight loss is primarily water weight. Perhaps. But, considering my high sodium intake, I don't know if I'll discount the success that way.

One of the cool things about is the food journal. If you religiously track everything you eat (and, so far, I have), you get to see more than just the calories you consume. The daily nutrition summary shows you your overall intake of all the major FDA recommended nutrients and categories. The summaries let me know that I really don't get enough of some nutrients (niacin, thiamin and E). While I usually take a multivitamin, this knowledge led me to reassess my multivitamin. I am now taking GNC's Ultramega Max for Women, plus a Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc supplement. I am farily confident that I have the bases covered now.

In addition to embarking on the weight reduction journey, I have severely curtailed my caffene intake. I am down to one diet soda first thing in the morning. Ultimately, I want to do away with the habitual consumption altogether. I do not like that I "need" the stuff. Also, since I should watch my sugar intake, I either have to have a "diet" caffenated beverage or make tea or coffee with some sort of artificial sweetner. With all the dietary reading I've been doing lately (related to my IBS as much as to weight loss), I am not comfortable putting most artificial sweetners into my body. So, I would like to minimize my exposure to them. When given a choice, I am switching to stevia.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Year's Resolution redux

Fine. I am the proverbial lemming. On New Year's Day, I decided that I couldn't stand being this overweight any more. My good buddy BriWei recently lost thirty pounds. I am very happy for him, and down right jealous.

I figure I need to lose about (prepare to be horrified) seventy pounds. No, I am NOT exagerating. I'd be thrilled to get under two hundred pounds at this point. I haven't seen that side of the scale in nearly a decade. I came close a few years ago when I did Atkins. However, I couldn't stick with it.

Part of the inspiration for the weight loss is health issues. I am borderline diabetic. My knees and back are chronically agonizing. I also suffer from IBS (if you don't know, don't ask ... ouch and yuck).

Brian did Weight Watchers. But, as he and I have much discussed, I am not a meetings kind of girl. So, I signed up with, mostly for the tracking tools. I could have purchased a computer program, but having a web site that I can enter my food consumption in means that I can keep up from almost anywhere I am (since I am a connected kind of girl ). Also, the periodic fees to are a bit of a guilty incentive to stay with it, at least for the initial 90 day commitment.

I'll post here how I do. Cross your fingers everyone!