Monday, January 31, 2011

Rolling the dice

I woke up to a surprise this morning. The power was out. It tried to come back up while I laid in bed but quickly went dead again. The funny thing was that the smoke detector, which chirps briefly when the electricity returns and goes away, settled into a strangled squeal. So what does THAT mean, I wondered. I didn't smell or see any smoke. About a half hour later the power blinked on and off again, and the persistent noise went away. It returned the next time the power flickered. Two hours or so after I first noticed the power was off, it came back on and stayed that way. I felt that I could leave home at this point and that the silent detector meant all was well.

And it was. The building was still there when I returned home around 7:30 p.m. The power was down again, though. This presented some problems. At the very least I had to watch a DVD screener for work, and I'd hoped to finish some writing. I couldn't do that at home. One theater in town is playing the film, but I was going to be stuck having to see it at 10:20 p.m. With freezing rain and sleet in the forecast, I didn't exactly want to be on the road home around midnight in those conditions. What to do, what to do.

First things first: get dinner. I went to get a sandwich and to think over the situation. The longer I sat there, the more convinced I was that getting an inexpensive hotel room for the night would be the best of both worlds. I could watch the DVD on my laptop and be done with it earlier than if I went to see it. I could write if I felt up to it. I would be a little bit closer to the office and wouldn't have to take the interstate in the morning, both of which might be advantageous based on what's being called for during the morning commute.

All right, I've talked myself into it. Then I drove home to get what I might need and, naturally, the power had been restored. Going by my flashing clock radio display, it had been back for a half hour, so it would seem like it was going to stay on. Still, if I put the DVD in the player and the power went down again, I'd have the problem of not finishing the film and being unable to remove the disk. (Here's the benefit of being in two professional organizations: I have two copies, so if I needed to depart for a hotel, I could get the task done.)

Before I started watching the movie, I tried to get my wireless internet working. It wouldn't cooperate. I called my cable provider, as it didn't appear that internet service was working at all. By the time I got through to someone, it was working with my slow, old desktop. Wireless still wouldn't work. The cable company doesn't deal with that, though, so I was given a number for the router's customer service.

After explaining the situation and giving all the necessary (and probably some unnecessary) information, the representative informed me that the warranty had expired for the router--no kidding--and that I could either refer to online help or pay one of two exorbitant sums for telephone assistance. Fat chance that I was going to pay half of what a new router might cost.

I selected the online chat help option, which was all well and good, except there too I was told that the piece of equipment was out of warranty, etc. This person did give me a link that explains how to reset the router and so on and so forth. By this point I'd burned at least an hour, didn't have wireless internet service, was getting tired, and still hadn't attended to the work at hand. Maybe I should have gone to a hotel.

With wireless internet solutions pushed aside until another time, I watched the film and, as I'm able to post this, made it through the rest of the evening with electric service. In the end I saved the little spot of money that I had been willing to part with if necessary. I can tell you this, though. Since I'll be leaving work late on Tuesday, you better believe I'm going to have an overnight bag ready if it's as nasty as they say it'll be.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In knitting news

While in line at the grocery store I noticed a magazine with a cover announcing that Sandra Bullock was "stabbed in the heart". Since I've heard nothing about her being physically attacked, I assume this is in reference to the end of her marriage about a year ago. A year ago! Even if this stuff interests you, is there really anything new here?

Of course, there seems to be no celebrity gossip too small or over-reported to make the rounds. Since I'm grasping at straws for something today, I lower myself to the same level: Jennifer Aniston is a knitter.

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weird eats

I was reading The AV Club's survey of its writers about weird childhood foods, and the memories came flooding back about the strange stuff I ate. The following items were not consumed out of necessity but because I liked them or because others ate them. I cannot say that I remember when I last ate any of these, so it's been some time.

-Mustard sandwiches

These are self-explanatory. I like mustard. Spread it on some bread and there you go.

-Grated Parmesan cheese sandwiches

As far as I know, this recipe is my own creation. Toast two pieces of bread. Shake Kraft grated Parmesan cheese on one piece of toast. Top with the other piece of toast. It's a good thing I'm not hungry right now because this sounds good. Of all the items on this list, this is one I'm likely to have eaten within the last ten to fifteen years.

I would also dip into that memorable green can to eat the grated cheese by the spoonful.

-Cinnamon Graham crackers with cake frosting

Take two cinnamon Graham crackers and put cake frosting, preferably vanilla, between them. I'm so ashamed.

-Ice cream with Ritz crackers

This one may have come from my grandmother. I remember that sometimes she would eat vanilla ice cream with Ritz crackers kind of like one might enjoy chips and salsa. What's the idea behind it? I DON'T KNOW.

-Ice cream with Nestle Quik

In comparison to the rest, this one probably isn't as weird and might even be considered normal use of the product. Sprinkle the powdered flavoring on top of vanilla ice cream and mix in to create a new flavor--I'd use chocolate and strawberry--or don't mix it in and enjoy. That works too.

-Chicken livers

I'll end on something that is legitimately recognized as what one might eat. I loved chicken livers as a kid. I want to say that I even got them from Kentucky Fried Chicken on occasion. I definitely ate those that my grandmother made. I think that at one point I must have been put off them, probably when I became more aware of what livers are. Still, it done right, I think I'd eat these again.

Fess up. What weird things did you eat as a kid?

Labels: ,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Looking back

In the article tied to the archive TV news report about the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, the incident is called "the beginning of the age when the whole world knew what happened as it happened." The main reason why this tragedy earns that distinction is because many schoolchildren were watching the launch live since the shuttle would be carrying a teacher.

As a member of Generation X, of course I remember where I was when I found out: seventh grade, sixth period, biology class. I did not see the live telecast. I don't know if anyone was watching it in the junior high school, although it would make sense for a science class to have it on.

The details are fuzzy. Given the time it occurred, chances are I was at lunch or in one of the home economics classes. (The rotating series of courses--typing, cooking, sewing, metal shop, and wood shop--wasn't called home ec, but the name escapes me.) The biology teacher told us what happened. Random remembrance: I think we were studying reproduction that day.

If the explosion happened at 11:38 a.m., I didn't find out about it until sixty to ninety minutes later. For 1986 that certainly would have been fast-spreading news, especially inside a school's walls. Think how slow that would seem today.

Rewatching the TV news report above, I'm struck by the relatively leisurely cutting compared to the style of today. Perhaps the nature of the story slows it down, but I'd venture to guess that the pace is typical of that time.

To end on a lighter note, here are The Today Show anchors in January 1994--or so the clip info says--trying to figure out what the internet is and how to read an e-mail address. In fairness to Bryant Gumbel, the @ is a lowercase a in a circle, possibly because the symbol wasn't in the graphics program at the time, which is revealing enough in its own right. That said, the woman who isn't Katie Couric knew what it was.

As funny as this clip is now, seventeen years ago I think I would have been just as bewildered as they were.

Update: Although I referred to what happened to Challenger as an explosion, National Geographic says that it is a myth that the shuttle blew up. The problem is that it was often characterized as such in reports, and it certainly looks like that's what happened. The article clarifies it as breaking apart.

The article also claims that reports of those who watched this incident on live TV have been greatly overstated.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, January 27, 2011


At the risk of an All About Me! entry that may or may not interest you, some stuff that's going on...

-I've not been entirely sure who's living in the apartment next to me since I returned home after Christmas. One of the young women in the loud apartment resided there before, but I don't know if it's just her in there or if someone has replaced her roommate. It certainly sounds like they're down a couple dogs. (They had at least three, plus a minimum of one cat.) I'm assuming two departed with the neighbor with the loud car. I'm also assuming that she was the one more likely to listen to the sound system at louder volumes. Yes, it didn't come down some after I knocked on their door, but it's not been as intrusive since it seems she moved out. Or maybe it's just temporary. Who knows?

-My parents may be moving before the season is over?!?!

-Oh yeah, you saw the woman knitting on The Office tonight, right?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


"Hader still makes the ornaments for her 106 nieces and nephews, which includes her blood-related greats, great-greats and triple-greats."

This 97-year-old woman claims she couldn't get the hang of knitting, although for someone who's crafted as often and much as she has, I bet she could do it.

The stories about old crafters may tend to be similar, but there's always something appealing about them anyway.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pushing through

It's time to face the facts and admit that I feel overloaded with everything on my plate right now. There's a lot to get done and a shrinking supply of time to do it. How am I going to pull it all off? One way or another I will--it's not a question of if but when--but that mountain in need of climbing keeps looking steeper.

I'm going to try to apply a lesson from my exercise yesterday and today to help me see everything through. Yesterday I got on the treadmill and set it at the four miles per hour rate that I've been using. Typically my calves take awhile to loosen up, but I was more than a mile in and really feeling the pain. I was struggling to keep up and finally took it down to 3.8 mph because I could tell that 4 mph was more than I could handle at the moment.

Even this slightly reduced speed was a challenge. My legs continued to hurt, but I kept going. I felt like I needed to push through. Yes, there had been easier workouts, but this one was challenging me to summon the willpower and toughness for those days when I'm struggling. I'll be all the better for gutting it out.

The thing is, I never hit a point when I felt good. It was a tough slog of a workout, and I occasionally bargained with myself that I'd stop after 40 or 45 minutes. Somehow I made it through the full hour, but did I ever hurt. Plus, I zonked out around 8:30 p.m. and woke up after 10. I "won" by completing the workout, but it exacted a toll.

I decided to give it a try again today. I can't explain it, but I felt really good and had maybe my easiest sixty minutes of exercise this year. (Well, that's excluding the interruptions by accidentally knocking my iPod onto the treadmill and having a fire alarm go off halfway through.) I was tempted to keep on going after time was up because I was killing it.

Did slugging my way through the difficulties of Monday provide me with additional endurance to succeed on Tuesday? Maybe, maybe not. Still, the idea of pushing through the resistance and knowing that it will pay off in the long run certainly seems like something applicable out of all this. At least that's what I'm telling myself to get through it.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 24, 2011

It must be stopped

Beware this damaging trend in America.

(You know The Onion is a humor publication, right?)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

On the radio

While on the road yesterday I came across a station playing '80s pop and decided to listen for a bit. Part of my reason for sticking with it was that it played a couple songs I haven't heard in ages. For instance, I remember liking this Wham! song, but I had forgotten it even existed. "Everything She Wants" isn't the go-to Wham! hit to signify the decade, but it was a #1 Billboard single.

Soon after that they played a Survivor hit that wasn't from a Rocky movie. Again, I forgot about it until it hit my ears, yet "High On You" got as high as #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

See, programmers, you don't have to play only the same 200 hits of yesteryear. It's fun to hear the ones we've forgotten too.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Neon

When I decided to return to my old stomping grounds in the Miami Valley for the day, my plans included going to the University of Dayton basketball game and visiting my great aunt on the farm. Out of curiosity I checked to see what downtown Dayton's arthouse theater was showing and discovered that it was playing a film that hasn't yet opened in Columbus. Catching a noontime matinee fit into my schedule, so I added it to the itinerary.

I didn't see a huge number of films at The Neon, but it was an influential place in terms of exposing me to another world of films beyond the mall and multiplex screens...or tipping off my friends to stuff that would filter its way into family room VCRs when we hung out. Whatever art movies they were showing--and I imagine some of them were nonthreatening costume dramas--to my teenage mind there was a bit of danger or subversion in what they showed. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and Orlando, to name two, were not the sorts of things that would be available to you under the same roof as Waldenbooks and Camelot Records. (Come to think of it, I've still not seen either of those.) Being in the middle of the city's downtown also added to the perception of it being a place outside the safety of the suburbs.

I specifically recall seeing two drastically different films there--the gorefest Dead Alive and the urbane comedy Barcelona. Seeing that latter film was what I did on the night of my 21st birthday. Considering how much it and that director's movies would come to mean to me, I couldn't have made a better choice to spend that milestone birthday watching it.

After I'd settled in Columbus, I did go back to sample one of The Neon's Cinerama screenings in the late '90s. During one of the last Christmastimes that my parents were living in my hometown, I took my mom there to see Life is Beautiful. Late December 1998 must be the last time I'd been in this theater. Wow, it's been that long?

Revisiting the theater after all this time was a nice reminder of pleasant memories. And how's this for confirming my teenage perception of it as a place that took risks? The first two trailers--I Love You Phillip Morris and Blue Valentine-- were for films that had been candidates for the NC-17 rating.

The movie I saw, Made in Dagenham, was just okay. Regardless, I still enjoyed being in a theater that helped shape my idea of what movies could be beyond what was more readily available. Considering the difficulty in operating an independent cinema with just two houses and showing specialty films, I'm glad to see that it's still there and appears to be successful.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Contains original blogging flavor!

The headline says plenty: "Fake Blueberries Masquerade As Real Fruit". (The video that is the basis for the article can be found here.)

The short of it is that many products that appear to contain blueberries aren't made with the fruit but rather a combination of sugars, oils, and dyes. Despite what you might simply and reasonably assume, especially from the name and description on the box, you better check the list of ingredients to see if any are actually in there.

To this news I give a big sigh. Life can be busy enough without needing to parse every single little thing to deal with nonsense like this. The box of blueberry muffin mix in my kitchen lists blueberries in the ingredients, so I guess I lucked into that one.


Thursday, January 20, 2011


During January I've been subsisting mostly on Healthy Choice meals for lunch and dinner. If I'm going to eat out of convenience and putting forth the least effort, I might as well sample a variety of their frozen meals so I don't get bored with it.

Of those I've tried my favorite is the Honey Ginger Chicken. The flavor is fairly intense, especially for these kinds of meals. While I've tried not to repeat any meals in back-to-back days, this one occasionally has been the exception to the rule.

It's also been discontinued.

A couple weeks ago I saw it on sale for less than anything else in the freezer. I happily purchased a few extras. I wondered if the yellow closeout sticker with the lower price meant that it wouldn't be available much longer. That's what closeout means, right? I wasn't too concerned since there were plenty boxes of the meal at this grocery.

A few days later I went back and stockpiled five more Honey Ginger Chicken meals. There was no shortage in the freezer, so I figured I might be able to stretch this out for awhile. I recently discovered that this particular offering is no longer available where I've been doing most of my grocery shopping. Uh oh.

Today I decided to check out a different chain in a different part of town. Surely they'll have a few. Nope. Not a one. I will probably try to plunder a few other stores before I stop the search, and I may still locate some. The writing is on the wall, though. I better savor the last three of these that I possess.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A different world

Assuming that the weather doesn't scuttle my Saturday plans, I intend to head back to my old stomping grounds to take my great aunt to an early dinner before I go to a college basketball game. (I hope that snow and ice don't interfere or else I'm eating the cost of the ticket.)

I was trying to think if there's anything online that I'm involved with that I might want to print off or take to show her. Then I realized how difficult it might be to explain what any of that might be. This is someone who does not have cable television, a DVD player, a computer, or even an answering machine. Her phone line may still be a party line. (If it isn't now, it used to be. She and her neighbors, some of whom were relatives, shared it.) The newest technology in the big farmhouse may be a VCR.

This led to thinking about how foreign my life would be to her. What she knows of today's technology mostly must come from whatever is gleaned from broadcast television, especially now that my parents don't live within an easy drive's distance. How incomprehensible must it all be? I'm not suggesting that she never gets out, although I don't think she goes out much.

I was just struck by the fact that she is, in essence, living in a way that wouldn't be terribly different from forty years ago...or more. What is that like?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Surprise, surprise

OK, everyone get out your copy of the January 21, 2011 Entertainment Weekly. I'll wait while you find yours or head to a store to read along.

All set? Good.

Please turn to page 9. Why look at that, it's Tom Hanks and the rest of those on the Larry Crowne set (mostly not in the shot) knitting to surprise noted knitter Julia Roberts as she arrives.

Apparently this is quite the protected photo as I couldn't find a copy online, so this walk-through will have to suffice.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 17, 2011

The art of the deal

While doing an ordinary task that most people probably don't think twice about--or even dislike--I realized that I get a real charge out of it. The activity: making hotel reservations.

Mostly the appeal is in finding a great rate at the right location. Usually I'm not staying anywhere remotely fancy, but for whatever reason, I have a knack for identifying inexpensive hotels with just enough amenities for my minimal needs that are in good-to-perfect spots.

It helps that I have a couple preferred chains that reward repeated stays, thus thinning the search field. Two spring film festivals are among my usual destinations. For the event in Illinois I've stayed at the same hotel eight out of the ten years I've attended. This year will make it nine out of eleven. Incredibly, I think I'm staying for about half the cost of the room I had at a different place in 2001, the first year I went. Granted, I wasn't as familiar with the area then, and I don't remember pricing information being as readily available online. Anyway, it was a point of pride and a rush of adrenaline to check the online prices this year, call the reservation number, and land a rate lower than what was listed on the website.

I'll be going to the Cleveland event for the seventh consecutive year, but the first place I found is still the best in terms of economical lodging. (The only time I haven't stayed there was when blizzard-like conditions coincided with the festival's start and I switched my first few nights to a hotel much closer.) I'd prefer if my usual hotel were closer, but I can't beat the price, especially for somewhere that I'm lucky to return to for six or seven hours of sleep. Booking it again for slightly less than the usual price felt like another win.

So while I was on a roll, I thought I'd consider getting a hotel in Dayton when I'm there back-to-back days for the NCAA Tournament's First Four basketball games. Sure, it's close enough that a hotel isn't necessary, but if I can get a room for around the price of a tank of gas, I decided I'd go ahead and make it an overnight trip. I'd rather spend the money on a hotel than fuel. Plus, it would give me a full day to spend in Dayton or to run down the road to IKEA.

The website listed some intriguingly low prices but didn't explain the codes attached to them. The telephone representative wasn't sure what they were and then eventually tracked down an answer that they weren't supposed to be posted. I wasn't able to reserve with those prices, but I have an idea as to what the rates may drop to when the listing is corrected. So we'll see.

I guess all this rambling essentially boils down to a tip for reserving hotel rooms. Check prices online, but call to make the reservation. As I found in this set of bookings, lower rates may be available for the taking.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Small talk

The Golden Globes are pretty much a joke of an awards show from a sham of an organization. The group's network television contract and the awards' value as another accolade for trumpeting in marketing campaigns are the main reasons why they have any traction. I watch the awards show, not because I grant it any legitimacy but because it's part of the conversation...and there's usually nothing else on television.

Unlike the Academy Awards, I don't really know of people holding parties to watch the show. I imagine it happens, just not on the same scale. No, the place to get together, make snarky observations, and maybe gripe about the worthiness of winners is on Twitter.

Unfortunately my contributions to the stream weren't very inspired. Guess I wasn't on tonight. Nevertheless, for all the talk of interactive media, this was the way to view the program (and NFL playoffs and the recent college football bowls). It's strange to think of such broadcasts as the canvas on which friends around the country can joke around and chat in real time about, yet that seems to be an increasing attraction to them.

Oh, and for what it's worth, this awards season is pretty predictable. Get a jump on your Oscars pool by picking these near-sure things to win:

Picture: The Social Network
Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter (upset special: Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech)
Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

The nominees haven't even been announced, but at worst I've just predicted four of the winners. Maybe one of those will be wrong, but it's not looking that way.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 15, 2011

On the verge of sleep

I've split the day at the movies and at work, and I'm crashing hard here at the end of the day. So, before I doze off while trying to make it through the rest of this DVRed hockey game, I toss a question out there: what do you want to ask me?

That's right, I'm soliciting blog content requests. If you like, leave yours in the comments.


Friday, January 14, 2011

16 miles

Observations from logging 16 miles on a treadmill this week:

-It sure was a good idea to take a day off after the first two days. I needed a day for recovery after overdoing it.

-I don't think my legs and knees take as much of a beating on the treadmill. There have been times in the hours or day afterward that I'm hobbling around, but generally speaking, I haven't been hurting as much as I would after an hour of exercise following a long layoff. I've pushed myself fairly hard this week, but I'm not wincing at every step in a flight of stairs, which I've done in the past.

-The treadmill keeps me honest with my stride. This is important if I work up to running rather than walking on it.

-I'm curious if being forced to keep a consistent pace for an hour translates to the track or trail.

-Music is definitely better than a podcast. I thought that listening to talk might be more distracting, but without the rhythm, it kind of makes the minutes seem to drag.

-It is endlessly tempting to look at my progress and the remaining time. The willpower not to peer at it is part of the conditioning and the challenge.

-The effects of doing this are already noticeable. I feel better. I'm sleeping better (and sometimes too early in the evening). I look forward to it. For the first week, I consider this a major success. Now I just need to keep it up, step by step, day by day, and week by week.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

What's going on

"Hey, secret knitter," you say.

"Yes?" I reply.

"Not a whole lot of blogging on here lately about what you're knitting."

"Hmm, that's kind of hostile," I observe to myself. "Yes, that's true," I respond.


"Well, the truth of the matter is that I'm not knitting anything right now."


"Mmm hmm. With some disastrous attempts to hand wind yarn into balls from hanks and being insanely busy lately, I haven't had the time. I'd hoped to do some over the holidays, but it turned out that I had little time to myself."

"And is this going to change in the near future?"

"Being busy? Probably not for at least a month. Remember how I've been writing about taking things day by day? I would like to make myself another scarf and hat, though. I ought to get on that. If only there were more hours in the day."

"Not sounding very convincing there, secret knitter."

"That's how it is right now. Tonight I was going to make my first appearance at knit night in a couple months, but the lack of anything on the needles and ability to use that time to finish some work I'd otherwise have to tackle this weekend overruled going to it. So how about I give myself two weeks? I hope to have completed some of the more pressing work by then. Plus, it'll give me time to get a project going."

"So this means more posts about whatever random junk comes to mind for the next two weeks, doesn't it?"

"Isn't that what the blog is, regardless of if there's knitting content?"

"You've got me there."


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One missed call

I missed a call to my cell phone from my mom around 7:00 p.m. tonight. No message was left. I returned the call to her mobile and home numbers but didn't receive a response. No big deal, right?

Chances are it probably wasn't, and in this case it wasn't. Nevertheless, I've noticed that when I miss a call from my parents at a time when I wouldn't expect to receive one and don't get a message, part of me wonders if--and this is going to sound terrible--one of them has died or is being admitted to the hospital.

They're both at retirement age, so I suppose the news wouldn't be entirely unexpected. Still, neither of them are ill or in any state that would give me reason to jump to such a wild conclusion. It is purely my overactive imagination? worrisome nature? something else? I don't know that I grant such speculation any real seriousness, but it seems to me to be a bad impulse to have at all, especially because there's no evidence to merit it whatsoever.

As it turns out, tonight's call was an inquiry about getting audio and video from a computer to a television. I don't know why both of my calls went to voicemail--maybe they were on the line with another brother--but time was of the essence so my dad could watch a basketball game. Color me relieved and somewhat mortified where my mind meant. You can bet I didn't tell them what conclusion I leaped to.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


OK, maybe I overdid the treadmill today. I'm hobbling around this evening like an old man. Also, I conked out around 8:00 p.m.

So, with nothing much to say on this snowy Tuesday, how about checking out the amazing resolution available in a 17 gigapixel photo?

Labels: ,

Monday, January 10, 2011

In place

Today I initiated phase two of my new year's resolution to lose weight/get in shape again. I've been doing pretty good at watching what I'm eating, but that won't do the trick on it's own. Time to add some exercise into the mix.

Usually I walk or run outside, but the weather makes that simply unfeasible. It's too cold, too slick more often than not, and dark too early. Since I work at an institution of higher learning, there's a workout room with treadmills. I've never used it before and have only been on a treadmill a couple times. There's a room with much less equipment in my apartment complex's rental office, but I haven't set foot in that room since touring the facilities.

I decided that three or four times a week I need to make the trek to the school's recreation center and hop onto one of those treadmills. It will be a way of avoiding rush hour traffic on the way home and doing some necessary physical activity.

As I walked into the facility, I thought that my best laid plans had already been laid to waste. It looked like all of the treadmills were busy at 5:00 p.m. I was able to snag the last available one, though. I worked up to the fifteen-minute mile setting and maintained that pace for around forty minutes.

I could handle the pace, but having to keep it consistently over that period of time was enough of a challenge for jumping back into exercising. When I finished, I lingered on the machine for a bit because I knew that if I stepped off right away, I would completely lose my balance and fall down. (Anybody have suggestions for avoiding that?)

I'm going to deem this first session a success. I was looking forward to it as the day went on, and I felt like it helped me let go of the tension that had built up over the work day.

Also, I'll be really sore in the morning, won't I?

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Day by day

My approach to the new year has been to take things day by day. There was a lot on my plate for the first week of work, and the same extends to the rest of the month. Rather than get inordinately stressed about it all, I decided that I just needed to keep my focus on the matters at hand. Do what is possible instead of worrying about everything I'm incapable of addressing in the limits of one day.

Such a mindset really helped me plow through a lot last week. Oh, there's plenty still to be done--and plenty I wish I'd already put behind me--but I found myself less burdened because I could tell that chipping away at the pile was slowly making a difference.

What I didn't have during that week was a lot of time for myself, so I resolved to keep the list from encroaching on the weekend. Initially I was going to give up Sunday, but once it got here, I realized that I needed to hold onto it. A long nap and TV watching were the orders of the day. While I've done nothing productive, such lounging has restored me for what's sure to be another wearying week.

I don't know if this is some kind of a breakthrough, but it is has allowed me to be more at peace with the daily stresses. Maybe the effect will be temporary, maybe it will become a regular thing. To be sure, the aggravations of noisy neighbors and job uncertainty have faded for the time being and provide relief as well. Yet as I also embark on renewing healthier eating habits, I wonder if all of these things can be reduced to a matter of perspective and routine. Replace what isn't working--a worrisome attitude or bad diet--with better alternatives and make them the new normal. It isn't easy, especially at the start, but once such habits become more or less automatic, the effort proves its worth. We'll see how it goes.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Archies: The Top 56 Things in the World (2010)

It's time for my annual contribution to The Archies. The post title pretty much explains it all, but I suggest following the link for more information, especially if you decide to participate too.

My previous entries include the top things for 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

It goes without saying that I've probably forgotten some things, but looking over this lengthy list, it tells me that maybe last year was better than I thought it was. Without further ado, I present my selections for The Top 56 Things in the World: 2010 edition.

1. Angry Birds
2. @pourmecoffee
3. Arcade Fire at Lollapalooza
4. "Arrow" - Kathryn Calder
5. Bangor, Maine
6. Bemidji, Minnesota
7. The Best Show on WFMU
8. "Bright Lights Bigger City" - Cee Lo Green
9. Bigelow Constant Comment decaffeinated tea
10. Blackduck Lake
11. "Blue As Your Blood" - The Walkmen
12. Bone
13. Charity: Water
14. Chicago, Illinois
15. Chick-fil-a’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich
16. Community
17. Curling in the Olympics
18. DK Diner donuts
19. creation in The Social Network
20. Fossil messenger bag
21. Friars' Bakehouse
22. Guided by Voices reunion show at Outland on Liberty
23. Hot Doug's
24. Inception
25. Joanna Newsom at the Southern Theatre
26. Kindle
27. Lobster roll
28. Lourdes
29. "Madder Red" - Yeasayer (For the album version, here's the official video, which may be a bit gross to some.)
30. Mexican Cokes
31. Minneapolis, Minnesota
32. Moxie
33. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
34. NCAA Opening Round game
35. Nephew
36. The New Pornographers at the Newport Music Hall
37. Netflix Watch Instantly
38. New-to-me car (Let's not have this item on here for a third consecutive year.)
39. Online bill pay
40. "Out Go the Lights" - Spoon
41. Parks and Recreation
42. Pavement at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion
43. The Red Shoes
44. Reds home playoff game!
45. Sherlock Holmes stories
46. "Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk" - The New Pornographers
47. Taco Bueno
48. Taco trucks
49. Teen Dream - Beach House
50. Trains
51. Twitter
52. Ultrasound machine that helped work out tight neck muscles
53. University of Dayton NIT Championship (and attending one of the games)
54. Vancouver Winter Olympics
55. Visiting ballparks (PNC Park, Target Field, Wrigley Field)
56. Words with Friends

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 07, 2011


Friday kind of got away from me. In early at the office, a quick stop at the garage where I regularly take my car to get a second opinion on the appearance of my tires, and then out watching movies until late evening.

Tomorrow, though, I'll be posting my contribution to The Archies, so that will provide plenty for your reading pleasure. Until then, maybe you could come up with your own list to participate?


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Slip sliding away

On the first Thursday of 2010 I had all the proof I needed that I had to get new tires for my car. We received a pretty good snowfall, and I didn't feel like I had very good control of the vehicle.

Today we didn't get nearly as much snow as a year ago, yet my car exhibited practically no traction. Making a slow right turn onto a neighborhood street, I skidded toward a car sitting at the cross street traffic light. Fortunately I came to a stop in time. (I may have been luckier nobody from behind plowed into me.)

That would be enough to keep me home, but I had to head out for the evening. The roads weren't terrible, but traffic was exceptionally slow for early evening beyond rush hour. On the way back I chose to take city streets for the last leg as a police car was dealing with another driver at the on ramp to the outerbelt. Smart thinking? Maybe, maybe not.

I was being a careful driver, which is probably what saved me earlier and definitely did on this second occasion. The car in front of me slowed to a crawl and then a near stop to get around a car in the ditch being assisted by a tow truck. As I hit the breaks I fishtailed and started sliding toward the car on the road and the one half off of it. I jammed on the brakes, which didn't seem to be doing much good, and came to a stop turned around almost ninety degrees. Again, I hit no one.

When I bought this car--a replacement for the one totaled when someone hit me last March--one benefit was that the tires appeared to be new. The tread is certainly in good shape, but if today's any indication, they have no grip. I nearly slid down the small incline from my apartment complex's parking lot into oncoming cars.

I didn't expect to, nor planned on, replacing tires in perfectly fine condition, but at least after today, I feel like they may get me injured or killed otherwise. Tire Rack, here I come again?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


It was a strange experience to start having my Twitter feed link to a Columbus story that I knew nothing about. This video, featuring the person who has come to be known as the homeless man with a golden radio voice, went viral about as quickly as possible. Celebrities were tweeting and retweeting it. For all I know, there was only the video, not even a story on the web or in the newspaper.

Today's Dispatch featured a piece about the rapidly developing story. I expect this will stay in the cycle, at least locally, for a little while. It's potentially a terrific story that might make careers.

I know exactly where he was "discovered" and have used that exit many times. I don't know that I ever saw him, whether he was there or not. Now a whole lot more people will, at least for a bit.


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Healthy choices

First of all, yes, I know I could be doing better than eating Healthy Choice meals for lunch and dinner, but it's a vast improvement over the fast food routine I resumed the past couple years. While I did feel a sense of shame in sidling up to the checkout line conveyor belt with a basket loaded with these boxes--what does that say?--I also knew I was making a better effort to be smart about what I'm eating.

If I'm going to settle for the quick option--and that's definitely been a major factor in what I consume--I might as well go for the healthier alternative. This week is a bruiser for me. There's no way I have the time or inclination to make something. So frozen meals it is.

The thing is, I'm finding that there are some good ones available. I'm not going to make any claims that these are the epitome of dining, but I've found some that have good flavor. (Some are also bland as bland.) I feel little guilty about the amount of (presumably) non-recyclable packaging that the meals come in. There was no symbol on the steamer pack for today's lunch. Still, it's the best I can do for the time being. Consider these a gateway to improved habits.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that at some point I may have to do a rundown of my favorites and non-favorites and that I'm taking baby steps toward one of my New Year's resolutions.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 03, 2011


The Wall Street bull. Crochet. Yarn bombing.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Knitting away

I'm at work on some upcoming entries, but as they require a fair amount of time, I'll most likely have to hold off on them for a few days. I am swamped this week and took today as mental preparation for the onslaught.

Meanwhile, here's a weird old performance video of the Bay City Rollers with a particularly intent knitter spotted at the 1:25 mark. All I ask is that you not follow her example.

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 01, 2011


Ah, a new year. Although there's really nothing different between yesterday and today than our observance of this passage of time, I like the idea of using the annual changing of the calendar to recharge and take stock of what I'd like to accomplish. Sure, this can be done at any time of the year, but there's something especially appealing about having twelve fresh months ahead to switch things up.

I haven't necessarily been one to make resolutions or put them down for posterity's sake, but I could use something to blog about today and a small way of motivating myself. What follows isn't anywhere complete, but it should be a good start. So, I present some resolutions for 2011.

-Lose weight/get in shape again.

I might as well put first the resolution most people have on their lists. I lost a fair amount of weight a few years ago and have proceeded to add it back on. Enough is enough. A recurring theme in these resolutions will likely involve making time for something. I need to make time for exercise and for preparing food better for me than whatever junk is easier to grab. I've done it before. I can do it again. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

-Read The Bible all the way through.

Four years ago I was given The One Year Bible, which is arranged in such a way that you read a portion each day and have finished it all by the end of the year. I kept up with it for a month or so, but I eventually fell behind and then stopped. The book has been sitting there waiting for me to pick it up again. Since it starts on January 1, what reason do I have for not giving it another go? I've wanted to make an effort to read more, so setting aside a few minutes for devotions also puts me on the path toward achieving that goal.

-Read more.

Sorry folks, reading pieces on the internet is not the same as reading a novel. I read plenty online, but it's entirely different from becoming absorbed in a book. I have a Kindle and plenty of unread classics, so there's no excuse for me not to be successful with this resolution. Back in the fall I felt a lot better if I read something on the Kindle for 45 minutes or so during lunch. That in and of itself is a habit well worth carving out time for.

-Give more to charity.

All right, this one is going to be a challenge, but it shouldn't all be easy, right? My parents tithe or come close to it, which is something I've always found intimidating. I'm not setting myself to that standard, but having given more to charity last year than I ever have--settle down, it wasn't an impressive amount--I'd like to make that more of a habit. I don't really know how I'm going to go about it, so this might be interesting. I have a church that I attend--infrequently, as it turned out last year--but I'm not involved. (Let's put it this way, I doubt anybody there could name me, and that also applies in reverse.) So it won't necessarily be a weekly offering. Honestly, I'm thinking out loud with this one.

-When it comes to media consumption, aim for more depth among the breadth.

I suppose this applies to music the most. Rip the CD to iTunes, transfer it to the iPod, listen a few times, and then mostly forget about it because something else has come along. I've read others who seem to feel like they don't listen the way they used to, when you'd get an album and listen to it until you knew it backwards and forwards. I expect this is a product of a time in which there's so much readily available to us than we can ever consume. Still, I've got a plethora of music--I've filled the iPod--and could stand to be better acquainted with plenty of it.

Labels: ,