Thursday, December 23, 2010

Patty's made a little progress

Regarding my previous post:

• Wrapping paper and gift bags have been found in basement rubble (and supplemented with a couple of new purchases from the nearby dollar store—mostly tissue paper) and gifts have been wrapped.

• An appointment has been made with one local doctor, and a Post-it® Note with the name and phone number of the other doctor is sitting on my desk at work. (I'll even give myself credit—I called that doctor, too, but his office was closed.)

• has been checked out per JC Dill's instructions. I hope to spend a little more time with FlyLady this weekend.

It's small progress, but it's progress. Thanks for your help—I’ll keep you posted!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Patty needs help. (Please? Pretty please?)

I'm done with the grumpy mood, more or less. Now I’m just feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I want or need to do.

Unfortunately, I’m a big believer in productive procrastination. When I was finishing grad school, for example, our house always became much cleaner when I had a paper to write or an exam to study for. Closets were de-junked. Drawers were organized. Files were purged. And perhaps now you’re beginning to understand why you’re reading my third consecutive blog entry when I have a laundry list of stuff to do (including, as it turns out, laundry).

So here’s the deal: While I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions, I've always set goals for myself and, more importantly, told other people about them so they could help to keep me moving in the right direction instead of getting derailed by the contents of my sock drawer.

In other words, I need you guys. So if I tell you about my to-do list, will you help to keep me working on it instead of alphabetizing our spice rack?

Here’s my to-do list at the moment:

By December 24:
  • Find wrapping paper/gift bags in basement rubble and wrap Christmas gifts
By January 1, 2011:
  • Back up the contacts on my personal cell phone so I can finally reset it so it will stop trying to sync me with an office where I haven’t worked since March
  • Make appointments with local doctors who have been recommended to me
  • Take the box of books we’re donating to the library to the library
  • Write “Christmas” letter
By February 1, 2011:
  • Mail "Christmas" letter
First quarter 2011:
  • Start swimming again—at least one swim a week in January, two a week in February and (stretch goal!) three a week in March
  • Unpack at least one box a week of the stuff remaining in the basement and either put the contents where it belongs or donate it to charity
There’s more, but I’m also trying to get in bed on time, so I better quit.

Can you guys hold me to this much, at least?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Patty ponders whether Fate is, in fact, a parent

Show of hands: How many of you, when you cried as a child, were told by your parents, "Quit crying or I'll give you something to cry about"?

I now believe Fate is a parent who, when I was grumpy a few days ago, said, "Quit being grumpy or I'll give you something to be grumpy about." The giving came in the form of a sudden and seemingly unprovoked lower back twinge that has prevented me from walking upright for two and a half days now. Said twinge will also keep me from writing much more tonight, as I need to go prop myself against an icepack.

Give me something to be grumpy about, indeed...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Patty's grumpy

I haven't had much to say, which is why I haven't said very much in the past couple of weeks. But it occurs to me that, if I'm a professional blogger (is there such a thing?) I need to write even when I have nothing to say. So here I am.

I've been grumpy today, in part because our first major snowstorm of the season led me to cancel a scheduled (and eagerly anticipated) massage this morning. Instead, I stayed home and tackled a small portion of the mess that is our basement, which is to say the mess that is all the stuff we still haven't unpacked from our move in, um, June. This might have lifted my spirits but for the realization that we'll be lucky to have it all unpacked in another six months.

I'm grumpy because there are just two stinkin' weeks left until Christmas and I'm not even close to ready. Not a single gift has been purchased; not a single cookie has been baked; not a single card has been mailed. (Hell, we still have friends who don't know that we moved in June. If any of them have tried to call us, they're now wondering why our phone's been disconnected. We were hoping to let everyone know when we mailed our annual Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice letter, but it hasn't been so annual in the past few years, which also makes me grumpy.)

I'm grumpy because I've been slacking on the blog, and I have higher standards for myself than that.

I'm grumpy because I've gained a little weight since the move and my work clothes mostly don't fit me, and I'm grumpy because I haven't managed a regular workout since early April which is WHY I've gained weight and my work clothes mostly don't fit me. (I'm also grumpy because I have to go to work every day in pants that are a bit snug in the waist, which would make anybody grumpy.)

I'm grumpy because Jef works too hard. (Although I'm not grumpy about the extra time he spent putting together the special Frazz holiday series, A Mall and the Right Visitor, that's currently running online ( because he put that time in years ago. It's a rerun, and a good one.)

I'm grumpy because I have bills to pay and bank accounts to reconcile and I didn't get to any of it this weekend because I was too grumpy.

I'm grumpy because I have to go to bed now and leave you with this grumpy blog entry.

Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day...


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Jef does his best Einstein

One staple of science fiction is time travel, and I don't get it. Doing something in a different location of the time-space continuum than it was originally scheduled is one of my specialties, although when I do it the term more commonly used is "procrastination," or perhaps "poor planning." When I get to name it, I prefer the word "flexibility."

I'm doing it now, writing Thursday's blog on Saturday morning, an insignificant shift when you consider the human race has been around anywhere from hundreds of thousands of years* to a couple of months†. Far from procrastination, this benefits you, the reader, in that instead reading a short piece of crap I hammered out when I had no time, you get to read something longer and closer to mediocre.

We athletes-with-real-jobs types time-shift a lot, too. The same Thursday I was not putting out a blog entry, I was also too busy to do my scheduled 10-mile run. But I did, barely, have time to squeeze in the 6-miler scheduled for Friday, so I swapped. Of course, bending the time-space continuum is not without consequence. It's like lying - you do it once, you have to keep doing it a while to cover for the original alteration.

Today the schedule calls for a 14-mile run, and even at the prescribed easy pace, I'm not likely to get the full benefit if I don't allow myself a day to adapt to yesterday's 10, even at that run's prescribed easy pace (man, I hate the early stages of a training program). So today it will be another easy 6, and the 14 tomorrow, and then Monday we're back to another easy 6 anyway, so I'll resume the originally planned schedule from there.

It works out well anyway. I need to go shoe shopping (this happens a lot in the runner's time-space-financial continuum), and even here in the land of plenty with regard to running specialty shops (Hanson's and Running Fit are among the best in the country and I love them), my go-to running store remains Playmakers, an hour or so away (and named, just this week, THE best running store in the country). Many of my Lansing running friends are running tomorrow morning near the store, so I'll run with them, have a coffee with them, then go visit some other friends and buy some shoes. And more than shoes, because I'm not always the one who gets to mess with time and space.

As I type this, my ears are ringing with the buzz of the clearly dying Garmin on the desk next to me. The Garmin is the GPS device that I wear to see that I'm going the proper distance at the proper pace and heartbeat/effort, and then load it onto my Internet-based training log so that my coach can see I'm not getting carried away. It's a wonderful tool, with more features than anybody needs but lacking the one that everybody would like, i.e., longevity. So until I can spend even more at Playmakers, I'll have to gauge my distance and pace the way the ancients‡ did: with a 100-lap Timex wrist/stopwatch and Google Maps. If I waited until after Christmas, the price might go down. But a man can only shift time so much.

* According to science or at least Wikipedia
† According to some religion somewhere
‡ According to teen-agers

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Patty hasn't been doing her fair share of blogging...

...and it's a weeknight, and it's around midnight (earworm alert!), so I'm still not going to do my fair share because I should have been in bed more than an hour ago. But I'll offer this: I've spent the past few days, for reasons I don't feel like explaining, pondering collective nounsnouns that refer to a group of people or things. You know, like "gaggle of geese" or the less well-known "crash of rhinoceroses" and "murder of crows." Anyway, on my way home from work Thursday, I came up with at least four good collective nouns:
  • Curtsy of debutantes
  • Ditz of sorority girls (or blonds, or whatever group you care to stereotype)
  • Entitlement of Baby Boomers
  • Hallucination of hippies
So I was wondering: How do I get in on the official creation of collective nouns? Because I think I've got potential, man... 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jef relates a tale of two revelations, with a beastly epilogue

It wasn't the best of times nor the worst, but I spent Thursday afternoon enjoying a couple of twin revelations while trying to learn something else.

I was, as I often am, trying to find out what I'm made of. This time I was looking for more empirical information in the form of my anaerobic threshold and VO2 max. So I was running on a treadmill, my left arm wrapped in a blood-pressure cuff, a heart-rate monitor belt around my chest, and most significantly, a mask over my mouth and nose connected to a tube with a valve that fed me fresh air one way and sent my expelled breath another. My job was simply to keep up with the slowly accelerating treadmill until I had reached the absolute limit of my ability.
  • Revelation 1: Somebody actually found a way to make running indoors on a treadmill more miserable.
  • Revelation 2: Tony Venticinque, the staff exercise physiologist at Fraser Bicycle and Fitness' sports performance lab, found a way to make it less miserable.

I've been worried ever since that I gave up too soon or too easily (just like after a race; it's automatic). My heart rate maxed out at 172 beats per minute, a rate I'll normally hold for 30 minutes to an hour on a training run. I'll usually top out in the low 180s. But that's without a big, heavy mask pinching my nose and rationing my oxygen through its valve somewhat more slowly than it arrives via the atmosphere. And really, it's just a weird way to run. Luke, my coach, says these tests are very uncomfortable the first time you do them and it's almost impossible for that not to have an effect. At any rate, we got the information we needed, and I'll re-test in six weeks or so anyway to gauge how my training is coming along. So maybe I've just set myself up for big-time improvement.

Still, after a Thursday run like that, I was ready for an easy Friday effort. I opted to run through the Detroit Zoo. It's about a mile and a half from my house; I'm a member, so I only have to disrupt my run long enough to flash a card instead of digging out cash for admission; and on a wintry weekday, you've just about got the place to yourself. And a lot of the animals are a good deal more active in the colder weather.

It was a nice, low-stress run - for me. Like I said, I just about had the place to myself. Just about. I think I ran across maybe four people. Unfortunately, I scared the bejesus out of two of them. They heard me coming up behind them and thought I was an escaped animal, which I'll bet raised their heart rate a good deal above 172 bpm.

I was so sorry. Yet vain. Sympathetic as I was, I still hoped, for at least a moment or two, they thought I was some kind of gazelle.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Patty has something to say that you might be interested in reading if you don't have anything really important to do right now

Call me a cynic, but I've found that most things hyped as the Biggest! the Best! the Unforgettable! tend to be not so great, or at least not nearly as great as billed.

A noteworthy example: The movie "Howard the Duck". Based on a Marvel Comics character, produced by George Lucas, using Industrial Light & Magic special effects and starring the red-hot Lea Thompson, the movie received extensive pre-release hype.

Have you seen "Howard the Duck"? Probably not, actually—it was a box office failure, grossing about $15 million on a $35 million budget. Critic Leonard Maltin described it as a "hopeless mess...a gargantuan production which produces a gargantuan headache". In other words, it was bad. It was really, really bad.

It was also the movie Jef selected for our first date in 1986.

So much for the hype.

More recently (two days ago), I needed to be in Frankenmuth, Michigan's Little Bavaria, for work. Because I was spending the night there, I felt compelled to try one of world-famous chicken dinners offered by one of Frankenmuth's two world-famous chicken-dinner purveyors (The Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Zehnder's of Frankenmuth).

Because I was dining solo, I missed out on the "family" aspect of the family-style chicken dinners. But I ordered a two-piece white-meat dinner and got 1) one large split chicken breast half that had been cut in half to make two "pieces" before it was batter-dipped and fried, 2) an ice-cream scoop's worth of mashed potatoes and an ice-cream scoop's worth of stuffing (think high-school cafeteria) covered in turkey gravy, 3) some overcooked green beans, yellow beans and carrots and 4) a white-bread dinner roll, all served by a friendly but mildly demoralized-looking high-school girl in a dirndl.

I wasn't impressed. I ordered dessert and called that dinner after picking at my famous  but mediocre chicken.

So much for the hype.

I've always liked the business advice, "Under-promise and over-deliver." "Howard the Duck" wouldn't have been a better movie without the hype, and my famous chicken dinner wouldn't have been any less mediocre without the hype. But maybe I wouldn't feel quite as ripped off by the whole experience...