Monday, July 31, 2006

Breakfast Challenge

I'm having a problem figuring out what to eat for breakfast.

Eating breakfast is a good idea. I started it because it's supposed to help with weight loss, and now I'm used to having something in the morning, so I can't easily go without it.

Lately I've been having a frozen burrito and a cup of milk. It works OK and the plain frozen bean burritos are cheap and not overtly unhealthy (no lard or trans fats, for instance).

But I really want to cut refined carbs from my normal diet (I get plenty of them when I eat out or go off plan), and starting the day with a white tortilla like that doesn't seem like a great plan.

My big breakfast constraint is that I cannot do anything that takes time to put together. I just won't do it. I can't get up any earlier than absolutely necessary, and if I have to do something at all complicated for breakfast (even something like making a sandwich), I'll just stop at McDonald's instead, which is not healthy.

I tried looking at Whole Foods for similar burritos that would at least be whole wheat, but I couldn't find any that were 100% whole wheat. I can't make burritos myself - it takes too much time. (I could make them ahead but (a) what a pain, and (b) I suck at wrapping burritos).

I have considered the following options:

1. a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, plus a piece of fruit - I had this today and found I cannot digest peanut butter toast in the morning; it took about 15 minutes just to get it down.

2. a trail mix of almonds and raisins - this is very high in fat and I'd really like to have some whole grains included

3. cereal, milk, banana - I won't eat any of the cereals that are whole-grainy enough to qualify as being better than the frozen burrito

4. oatmeal, perhaps with nuts and fruit - I can eat oatmeal without a bunch of added sugar, but in practice, I won't

5. eggs and fruit - cooking eggs is too hard; I don't like hard-boiled eggs very much; too high in cholesterol

Any ideas for me?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

8-Meal Sunday

Every Sunday, I try to make 4 meals to eat for dinner during the week (I usally eat one after I make it, so I actually have 3 left). I usually make pasta. For the week's lunches, I usually bring frozen dinners.

But this week, I had two ideas I wanted to try, so I made 4 of each, lunches and dinners. This should make for a good week.

First I made a pasta dish out of the following (all weights are raw):

6 oz whole wheat fusilli
1 jar marinara sauce (Whole Foods brand, which I don't like)
5 oz spinach
6 oz mushrooms
1 medium onion
1 can of garbanzo beans
1/4 cup olive oil
8 oz chicken breast

The olive oil & chicken breast need explanation. I usually make the pasta with cheese (parmesan or mozzarella), or I plan to add cheese later, but I'm trying to cut back on saturated fat. I added the extra olive oil to try to make it taste good enough that I'd want to eat it even without cheese.

Removing the cheese also made it too low in protein, despite the garbanzos. I prefer to cook without meat (because it is easier, cheaper, and kinder), but chicken breast was the easiest way to make up the lack there, and I had some in the freezer.

This dish has 531 calories per serving and is very healthy in general.

Once I was done with that dish, I washed the giant frying pan and made a stir-fry. For this, I used these ingredients:

2 cups cooked brown rice
16 oz (one of those bags of pre-washed, cut-up) broccoli
8 oz (half of a normal-sized bag) baby carrots
1 block of extra-firm tofu
1 tsp canola oil
1 medium onion

and, for the sauce:

6 T peanut butter
8 t sriracha hot sauce (the rooster bottle you sometimes see at cheap Vietnamese or thai restaurants)

I made a peanut sauce last week that was really delicious, with peanut butter and coconut milk, but coconut milk is basically nothing but saturated fat, so I left it out this week. This is what the sauce looked like after I whisked it together:

simple peanut sauce
And here is my final product:

tofu and veggies with peanut sauce
This dish has 461 calories per (large) serving.

Friday, July 28, 2006

People You Don't Like

One of my pet peeves (I call it "Spot") is when people treat others unfairly because they don't like them.

It's natural that, when you don't like someone, everything they do rubs you a bit the wrong way. A minor annoyance that you'd instantly forgive in a friend is yet another piece of evidence against the unliked person. But I really try to refrain from criticizing someone I don't like for something I would never criticize a friend for. For instance, I don't make fun of people for being fat, or unattractive, or bald, or old, or whatever, so it's not OK to make fun of those things in someone I dislike.

But what I really hate is when this happens at work. One woman that I work with becomes totally suspicious of a person's every move once she takes a dislike to them. The disliked person will visit me with a perfectly reasonable request - something they need for their job - and I'll later be asked, "What did he want?" in a suspicious way, and interrogated about why he needed that thing, and told how he didn't really need it, which will be followed by a reiteration of how & why she doesn't like him.

Even the most disagreeable coworkers often legitimately need things from us in the course of business. It's just dumb to be continually suspicious, intransigent, and difficult towards them. And it sucks.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Computer Science & Work

I realized today that one of the things that bugs me about my job is that my workflow resembles a bad kind of data structure (in the computer science sense).

Many jobs resembles a queue - when you receive new work, it goes to the back of the line, to be handled after current work is done. In some jobs this is literally true, like if you check groceries or work on an assembly line. For other jobs, it's true because nothing that you do is of specifically high priority, so you just process things as they show up.

Most office jobs probably resemble a priority queue - a line in which the order is determined by priority. If an assignment comes in that is higher priority than one you already have, it goes in front of that one. This can require some effort to keep track of, but it's basically functional.

But my job resembles a stack - a structure that is "first in, last out." Oh, in theory my job is a priority queue like it should be, but in fact, it always seems to happen that whatever I am asked to do needs to be done right now, even before the thing I was given to do right now a few minutes ago. I think the main person who gives me work does not mean to structure it in this way, but has kind of a short attention span, so that's how it works out. It means I am continually interrupted in the middle of one task to start a new one, and have to battle to get back down the stack to all the unfinished projects that are waiting.

It makes me a little nutty.

In regular life, tasks that appear as a stack are very hard for me to get started on. What I mean are things where your thinking goes like this:

I need to do a load of dark laundry. Oh, but first I need to gather up all the dark laundry. Oh, but first I'll have to mend that pair of dark pants I wanted to have in that load that are in the drawer. Oh, but first I need to disassemble the chest of drawers so I can get that drawer to open. Oh, but first I need to get my tool chest back from the neighbor who borrowed it.

I tend to give up somewhere around the third "oh, but" and just not do the task. (My example is a little silly, but sometimes household tasks do present in this way.) I don't know if everyone is like this, but the fact that I'm like this makes it even harder, I think, for me to deal with my job in a productive way.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Great Bar Experience

I gave blood yesterday, which was great. (I always get a mental high from it because it's very fearsome to me.) I was glad that the instructions they gave me only told me to avoid lifting heavy things for four hours afterwards, so I could still go lift weights last night (about 7 hours after the donation).

Two of the things I do at the gym are the bench press (where you lie on your back on a bench and lift a bar off your chest) and shoulder press (where, standing or sitting up, you lift a bar over your head - straight up, that is - and then down to your chest). I've been doing these with free weights because the bars for the barbells are 45 lbs, and I can't yet press 45 pounds in either direction. (I'm bench pressing about 30 lbs, which sounds really woeful, but whatever.) But I don't like the free weights because my wrists aren't very strong and they wobble around a lot when I raise them.

cambered curl barSo yesterday I finally found out what some of the other bars weigh. It turns out the the "cambered curl bar" (like the one on the left) weighs only 20 lbs. (I was actually told it was 25 lbs, but when I weighed myself with and without it on the scale, it was only 20.) So I put a couple of tiny plates on either end of that sucker and, man, it made my presses really much more enjoyable than before.

the squatI also used weights for squatting for the first time - I did my first set of squats (10 squats) with a 10-lb plate held against my chest. I did a second set (12 squats) with no weight. I think I'll be ready to try a bar soon, and while I was exploring the bars, I discovered that the giant aluminum bar (same size as the regular 45-lb bars, but aluminum instead of whatever heavier metal they are) weighs only 25 pounds. So assuming I had facility with having a bar on my back, I could probably squat that right now, at least a few times.

Overall it was a great session. I really love lifting weights!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mechanical Turk

Salon has an article about Mechanical Turk today. I had not heard of this before, but it's a site run by Amazon that allows companies to hire people with computers and spare time to perform rote tasks that computers can't do (like looking at shoes and determining what colors they are, or transcribing podcasts). The prices are very cheap because apparently a lot of people are willing to do this type of work in their spare time almost for free.

They call it "artificial artificial intelligence", which is awesome. I think the whole thing is really cool - distributed computing using human brains.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Winter Park Extravaganza!

Yesterday, Mosch and I had an extra-fun outing with two kids in his family. I'll call the kids A and K. They're 10 and 9. K lives in town and we see her pretty often; she's the one who came over to our house recently and spent the day with us. A lives in Austin. They're not related to each other, but Mosch is close with both of them, and he wanted them to meet.

We picked the kids up Wednesday night and got up yesterday morning and headed for the Winter Park Resort, where you can ski in the winter, but where they also have a ton of neat stuff to do in the summer. We got all-day passes, which gave us unlimited access to the alpine slide, a maze, mini golf, a bungee trampoline (where you have bungees hooked to a harness and you bounce on a trampoline), the big ski lift (my personal favorite), etc. I'd been there twice before, with my cousin Erin and my aunt, and it seemed like a great place to take kids. I'd wanted to take Mosch too, and for him this was a good opportunity to get the girls together.

alpine slideWe had an awesome day. The alpine slide (shown in the picture) is the big attraction there, and it's the biggest one in Colorado. It's basically a sort of tube or partial pipe (as you can see). You slide down it on a fancy sled.

The sled has a place to sit, and plastic on the bottom that slides along the track. It has a handle in the middle. If you pull the handle towards you, some braking material goes down under the sled and makes you go slower (or stop), and if you push the handle forward, some wheels come down and you go faster. It's up to you to control your speed so that you don't fly off the track (though I think you can go at any speed safely if you ride properly) or hit the people in front of you.

To facilitate not hitting the people in front of you, there are two tracks - a slow one and a fast one. On the slow one, you're allowed to go as slow as you want, and sometimes there are little kids on there (3 or 4 years old) who go really quite slow. (If the parents are smart, they ride behind the little kids in case somebody comes down too fast behind them. I've been hit from behind, and it's frightening but not actually painful.) On the fast slide, which is otherwise identical, you're supposed to go fast and be experienced.

I only rode on the slow side with my cousin and aunt, but yesterday, after one trip down the slow side, the kids were ready for the fast lane, and we all switched over. Whee!

The slide is LONG...I mean, all the way down a mountainside. It probably takes about 2 minutes to slide all the way down it. There are a lot of turns and dips and things, of course. You take a ski lift to the top.

marmotAll kinds of animals live nearby. We saw a ton of ground squirrles (or chipmunks, as I think of them) and marmots (big fuzzies like a badger or a beaver). I saw three marmots on one slide trip alone, all sitting right next to the slide. (I saw a ground squirrel perching on the side of the slide itself, seeming oblivious to me zooming by on my sled.)

We went down about seven times. My worst trip was when I got a bad sled that wouldn't go fast. I was in the fast lane and there was a guy right behind me for a lot of the time - I could hear his cart going click-clack click-clack too close for comfort - but he never hit me.

The last trip down - not just my last trip, but the last trip of the day, after closing time - I actually fell off my sled. I had lost my fear of the slide and could feel that my attention in general was waning - I wasn't paying enough attention to the curves in terms of where I was leaning (there's no way or need to steer). During one curve, I felt that I was leaning slightly the wrong way, and as I continued, I felt it get worse and I knew I was going to crash. You can get really hurt on the slide, so this was bad.

Eventually my sled turned over and I was sliding down on my butt quite fast for a long way until I slowed down enough to put my hand down and stop. (Mosch was behind me, and I was afraid he would hit me while I was sliding down with no sled.) I scrambled out of the track and pulled my sled off. I waved at Mosch as he went by and assured him I was fine so he wouldn't stop. After the track was clear (I could see a good way up at that point, which was good), I clambered back on with my sled (harder than it sounds) and came down the rest of the way.

I managed to only get something like a rug burn on one elbow and a similar scrape on the heel of that hand. I was saved by my shorts, which I bought at a thrift store for $2, and which are kind of cargo-type shorts made of a slightly stiff canvas, so they stayed in place and protected me from the worst of the sliding.

Meanwhile, the two girls got along not fabulously but well enough, and, as they say, a good time was had by all. We dropped them off around 8 and got home at 9:30 after eating dinner, and here I am at work today, a bit sore and exhausted but happy about the good time we had.

Just Remember, Kids...


Drunk Driving

Today, my coworker buddy and I were going to have lunch together. My boss and her boss invited themselves/each other along, so we had lunch with them too.

Her boss is an officer of our company, a guy who seems really attractive until you get to know what a goofball he is. At some point, he was telling the story of how he paid his wife $5000 to sing with the band at some party they were drunk at.

And then he told how he drove home drunk. He demonstrated how he was covering one eye and squinting down the road. He admitted "I shouldn't have been driving" but was chuckling as he told us of this feat.

My boss smilingly said, "That's not a good idea, you know..."

That was nearly an hour ago and I'm still pissed off about it. I don't think drunk driving is defensible for anyone, but certainly not for someone who is so rich that a taxi fare wouldn't even register. I don't think it's funny or makes for a charming story to tell over lunch. It just lets everyone know you're a fucking asshole with no regard for others.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Upper Crust Sports Weekend

This is how my weekend went.

Friday night, Mosch and I ate dinner and then watched "The Man Who Knew Too Much." I saw this movie at my mom's house around Christmas and really enjoyed it. I'm not a Hitchcock buff, but I find the movies pretty delightfully fun.

Incidentally, the other movie we have at home right now is a silent Charlie Chaplin one, so it's apparently Oldies Week around here.

This weekend there was a polo charity event that my company is a sponsor of, so we employees got some tickets. I'd never seen polo before. (We had the Saturday tickets, when you can dress like a slob; every year I laugh at the Sunday tickets, where you have to wear "garden party attire" - whatever the hell that is.)

We had a really hot weekend; it was about 97 when we got to the polo field. The guests all sat at round tables under a giant canopy. At the edge away from the field, was a big line where you could get (free) food prepared/sponsored by local restaurants. (The lure of free food was too much for me; I ate freely.)

We sat at a table near the field, and watched polo for the first time. Polo is played on a huge field - several times larger than a football field - so the action is not always nearby. The exciting parts are when the horses are running full-out, or when one team is trying to score a goal. (They change horses pretty frequently to keep them fresh for all of this running.) There is also a lot of comparatively dead time taken up by penalties, end changes, horse changes, and so on. They have a lot of rules about what angle you can cut another person off at, what part of their horse you can bump into, etc., and obviously it's not easy to precisely maneuver a bunch of giant animals.

I could definitely get into watching polo, but it's also a fun sport to have going on alongside you while you do something else and only look up when things get exciting or you hear the horses come near. (My favorite part was when the announcer, who announced the whole thing with the assumption you knew nothing about polo, which was nice, explained that polo is played at many different levels so that "everyone can play." Um, yeah..everyone who is rich.)

We didn't stay for the entire event - I eventually had my fill of the extreme heat. At home I took a nap, and then we went to the gym, where I got to do my new strength training routine. (I ran out of slots on my last sheet, so I got to redesign the whole routine and make a new chart; I was really eager to try it out.) It went really well. I was properly tired and weak afterwards (as in, my arms were shaky whenever I moved them). Today I have sore triceps and lower back (I added a back exercise for the first time). But as I went to bed that night I felt the all-over well-being that I get from strength training, which I suspect is really something like extra blood flow as my body strives to heal a thousand tiny muscle injuries...but it feels good, so I'll take it.

I wanted to get in at least some tennis this weekend, but it was so god-awful hot. How hot was it? Hot enough that I was willing to get up early on Sunday morning; we left the house at 8:30 to go play. It was still really hot. We played one set, which Mosch won 6-1 (he usually wins 6-2 or 6-3 these days; he also plays easily for me on purpose). I just could not serve; something about being still and focused was not possible for me in the heat. (I have a low tolerance for heat in general, and it was about 90 degrees and quite sunny.) We decided to play a second set with Mosch serving every game. Amazingly, I won this set 6-4 - a first! I've never taken a set from Mosch before. So we played for about 70 minutes total. About halfway through, I got as hot as I could get and from that point I was just in a sort of heat stasis, but I was able to keep playing, and well.

The rest of my weekend was boring - laundry, cooking, lazing around, etc.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Being Good

I often eat a diet frozen entree for lunch, and one of the brands I buy most commonly is Smart Ones, which are affiliated with Weight Watchers. They're reasonably priced when they're on sale, and tend to be tastier and more filling (per calorie) than most brands (excluding the brands like Amy's that are very good but also expensive and less widely available).

But one thing really bothers me about the Smart Ones, and that is their slogan, which is "Taste so good, you want to be good" (TM). This is on all of the boxes, as well as something like, "Another way you can be good today."

I really reject the view that sticking to my eating plan is "being good" and that making different choices is "being bad," though it's hard to avoid using that language sometimes. (My coworker diet mate uses that type of language all the time, and of course I'm not going to pick a fight about it.)

I think when you use that kind of language, it sets up a view where there is like an adult you and a child you. The child you wants to eat all kinds of unhealthy food - it's a bad, naughty, willful child - and the adult you thinks in terms of controlling the child you with rewards, punishments, lectures, shame, etc. It gives you this whole pattern of thinking that involves morals and deserving. ("I was good today, so I deserve X.")

The way I prefer to think is that my choices determine the outcomes I receive directly - there's no moral link or god to punish or reward me. Some choices satisfy my short-term desires but may harm me in the long run, but I'm fully authorized to make those choices. If I look at yesterday's eating and conclude that it wasn't in my best interests, I will try to choose differently next time, but there's no sense that I was bad or naughty.

I could be totally full of shit about this, but my feeling is that this kind of good/bad talk, which is totally pervasive in our culture, actually makes it harder, not easier, for people to choose well. And I'm sorry that Weight Watchers, which usually has their head on correctly about issues relating to dieting, is sponsoring this other view.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Squat Safety

Many people are concerned that squatting low - that is, with your knee at an acute angle, rather than just to the point that your thighs are parallel to the floor - can cause knee injury. I've seen a few sites (including the one I linked yesterday) that claim otherwise, but the very fact of seeing so many denials made me wonder whether anyone is making a credible case that deep bends are risky.

So I found this article, which argues pretty extensively (with multiple references) that squats are safe for most people, even people with various types of knee injuries, and in general have a protective effect on knees. My squats have been causing me a little bit of knee discomfort and "fuzziness" (both of which go away by the next day), and the article suggests I should do them shallower if that's the case, until I build up strength. (I've been nervous about the knee sensations, but not sure whether they were injuries or just soreness like you often have in your muscles after lifting weights.)

So I'll be keeping my squats shallower for now, but I hope to continue working up to higher reps and more depth over time as my knees adapt. The article also covers spinal concerns, but I won't be worrying about my spine until I actually start squatting with a barbell (or at least a bar).

More About People Eating

Mosch (who apparently follows the links I post more assiduously than I do) directed me to this page by a doctor who thinks the problem with hearing people eat is a form of hyperacusis. It was interesting and does fit my experiences. Mostly it made me feel grateful that (a) my experience is so mild compared to some people's, and (b) this didn't start when I was a kid.

I really don't mean to post about this like it's a big disorder or something I'm stricken with. It is only a very tiny part of my experience of life.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Listening to People Eating

Today's Since You Asked advice column in Salon is about a woman who can't stand to hear other people eat. I'm the same way, though not as afflicted as the letter writer, in that I don't usually hear other people eating if I myself am eating. And it only started to bother me around late high school or college.

I don't think what I have is "hyperacusis" or any kind of medical condition. I don't really know why the sounds of people eating can make me so angry. It's not too bad with strangers, as long as they're not really loud eaters (I could never live in Asia, where the cultural norms allow louder eating, for this reason), but with people I am close to, especially people I live with for long periods of time, it gets really bad. And raging at people for chewing is not really an acceptable behavior.

Denver Buildings!

Today, Slate has a slide show about Denver architecture. Yippee! Fun!

I really like that library he says looks "outdated." I also basically like the art museum (which I always think of as looking like a castle in a pop-up book), and the new addition is fine with me too. I think it helps that I'm not a snob. I like that our city has interesting things like that to look at. An unusual building would probably have to be really hideous for me not to like it just for being unusual.

I used to live within easy walking distance from the library and the museum (and downtown, for that matter). It was a great decision to live so near downtown when I first moved here. Otherwise I don't think I'd have ever gotten familiar with that part of the city.

Our convention center is also an interesting building. Or at least it has some interesting sculpture on either side. On the downtown side, this giant blue bear peers in the windows.

I can see the bear from my office. I look at him (her?) a lot. It's probably too cute for some people, but for me it is just cute enough.

On the other side of the convention center, but actually in front of the Denver Performing Art Complex, there are these two giant figures (surrounded, for reasons that are totally mysterious to me, by rusty scrap metal). (This picture, like the bear one, will expand if you click on it.)

I used to drive by these guys on my way to work every day, and I always thought they were not very good art, but I still liked looking at their white butts as I drove by. (I like to imagine that some people think the opposite: "those may be great art, but I don't like looking at those butts.")

I'm sure some of you (Sally) will notice that these figures also look like the people I draw, like the picture I drew for the "house tree person" test. So maybe I like them for that reason too.

I should issue a big disclaimer here that I'm totally unqualified as any kind of art or architecture critic. But as a person who merely lives in Denver, I enjoy all of these odd things we have around.

Jill Greenberg

Jim Lewis has an article in Slate this week about Jill Greenberg's photo project where she made some toddlers cry (by, for instance, giving them candy and then taking it away) and then took big glossy photos of them. Like this one.

I'm not completely outraged by this the way some people are - I agree that as long as it doesn't happen often, it's probably fairly harmless to make a little kid cry, given how often they cry on their own over the slightest thing (like, er, having candy taken away). It's hard to really call it child abuse. I don't think I'd let my own kid participate in a project like that, though.

At the same time, I can't imagine wanting to have one of these photos on my wall, and not just because that cartoon-like lighting is ugly to me. The idea of making a kid cry for my enjoyment makes me feel dirty.

I know there are great photos that document suffering, though, being a total ignoramus, I can't tell you which ones I'm thinking of. But those photos are documenting something that happened on its own; they're journalistic and tell us about a moment in time. And it's not like I'd want a famous photo of some atrocity on my wall either.

I tend to think that most of our use of children for entertainment is basically exploitative. But I'm not sure it's worth never portraying kids in movies, TV shows, etc., just to stop it. But I wish I could watch the Olympics, for instance, without wondering what kind of abuses the little girl gymnasts endure as part of their training.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Weight Training

In contrast to my not-quite-in-control eating, I've been doing really well with weight training lately. I've been going pretty regularly three times a week and spending about 45 minutes on my routine, which involves a lot of free weights, ab work, and a couple of machines.

I enjoy it in that I (usually) look forward to going and start off in a good mood, and in that I feel very good after doing it. But it's somewhat murderously hard to pick up weights that you can barely move 8 or 10 times. Your body gets into an anaerobic thing where you can't get enough air and it kind of feels like you're going to die all over. Afterwards I am completely worn out.

Last week, I found this awesome website - - about women's weight training. It has a ton of information, advice, and just general kick-assness about the whole thing. (Almost all of the advice and info is gender-neutral, so guys, feel free to check it out.) I especially like the suggestions about routines and, really, all of the articles on the training page. But just click through the links at the top and enjoy.

Since finding that site, I've added squats to my workout. (You can read all about them here if you want.) I had been using a leg press machine, and doing some partial squats holding onto a railing, but a couple of visits ago I tried a real squat (not with weights). I did about 5 of them (not all with great form) and it murdered my legs. I could barely walk for three days.

But last time, I did 2 sets of 3, with better form than last time (still no weights; arms out in front zombie-style as illustrated on the link above), and my legs were weak afterwards but not sore the next day. People who are serious about weight lifting seem to think squats are super-important, so I'm glad to be headed down this path. It makes me feel like a stud, though I'm pretty far away from being able to do them with a heavy bar on my back. (Once I can do a set of 15 or 20 with my weight, I'll start working on the real thing.)

When I first wanted to do a squat, I couldn't even figure out how to try one. I mean, physically I didn't know how to start. Then I remembered peeing in the woods in snowshoes and a ski bib last winter, and realized I do at least know how to crouch, which somehow gave me the courage to just get down into some kind of a squat. I'm still working on balance so that I'll be reliably on my heels and not forward on my toes, but it gave me a place to start.

So despite the eating thing not going entirely well, I'm having success in an area that is fun and important to me. And I'm definitely getting stronger all over.

Week 10 Update

Is it a bad sign that I had to calculate from an old post what week I'm on of my 15-Week Plan?


I haven't totally blown it or anything, but I'm not doing that well either. I seem to be hungry more than I should be (I had a few weeks there where I had no troublesome appetite), and I seem to be stuck on a Doritos kick. (Oddly, I only like Doritos when I am dieting. I much prefer other types of snacks under other circumstances.) Plus I keep eating Twix bars. Crazy stuff.

So overall I have lost about 6 pounds, which is not terrible. My coworker and I went to Weight Watchers today, after skipping the past 3 weeks, and I was the same weight as 4 weeks ago, which is...well, under the circumstances, pretty good, I guess?

Anyway, this has been the most boring post ever, but I thought I should at least post something about it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Last night, Mosch and I watched the movie Crash.

I try not to read reviews of movies I plan to see soon, but I vaguely remember reading some reviews of Crash when it first came out. Probably Ebert loved it, and probably somebody at Slate or Salon thought its views of race in America were off-target.

I thought it was a great movie, by which I really mean, it does what a movie should do - it's gripping, entertaining, funny, painful, heart-warming, terrifying, tragic, and suspenseful, all in turns. I highly recommend watching it.

I don't want to address its "message" at all, really. It surely has one, or several, but it's really the movie qua movie that I thought was great. I enjoyed watching it. As for the race stuff - yes, I think the movie takes an exaggerated view of racial conflict, but it wasn't annoying or harmful. You don't have to imagine that the director of a movie means for the cast to be some kind of a representative sample of humanity.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Kid Visit

I mentioned a few posts ago that my plan for last weekend was to have our 10-year-old kid friend come over Thursday night and hang out with us all day Friday. So what was that like?

Exhausting! She's a really charming kid, and I enjoyed her a lot, but I was also really ready to drop her off when we did.

Whenever we were at home, she was in my lap, like a giant cat, telling me stories or asking me questions or poking or tickling me. It was sweet but also took all of my attention to keep up with.

Thursday night when she got here, we went out and played tennis for over an hour. It was pretty late - we got to the court at 10 pm - and I was actually ready for bed, but she was full of energy and we all had a good time.

Friday morning we all got up and ate breakfast and then went to the pool at our rec center, which is just a fabulous (indoor) pool with a lazy river, buckets that dump water on you, lots of areas to play in, a big-ass water slide, and so on. I had always wanted to bring a kid there to properly have fun. We stayed there a couple of hours and got completely worn out playing chase in the lazy river (which involved a lot of running "upstream"), among other things.

Back at home, she was all "What's next? What's next?" We ate lunch and then played Monopoly - which Mosch hates but won anyway. Then we watched the Miyazaki movie "Spirited Away", which is probably officially my favorite movie ever. (It's the one where the girl's parents turn into pigs and she works in a bathhouse for the spirits.) And then it was time to take her back home. We stopped on the way and played some more tennis.

It doesn't sound like that much, but I was completely worn out by it. I can only imagine that if you actually live with children (for instance, if they are your kids), you get used to interacting with them so it doesn't take as much attention and exhaust you continuously. (I know babies are continually exhausting, but 10 year olds?)

Super Quick and Easy Dinner

I had a large lunch today (at a Mexican restaurant), so when I got home I wanted to have a small dinner. I also wanted something easy to make. So I made something new that turned out to be extremely tasty and also very easy.

I thought I had a fresh bag of broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix in the fridge, but it was bad already (no wonder; apparently I bought it in mid June), so I started by cooking up 4 cups of "Normandy Blend" frozen vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yellow squash - sorry, Momm, it only gets worse later - and zucchini).

When those were done, I stirred in a tablespoon of olive oil (I would use less next time, but I wanted to make sure it was palatable), a 3-oz packet of salmon (one of those new-fangled metal packets), and half an ounce of parmesan. I stirred that in the pot until it was all warm.

It was 370 calories and delicious! And pretty healthy, albeit high in (healthy) fat. Also it was hugely volumetric.

Speaking of those salmon packets, they are really great. The salmon is wild and not farmed, which is preferable for environmental reasons, and the packets are about $1 for 3 cooked ounces (at least at Wal-Mart), which works out to be equivalent to $4/lb if you bought it fresh, which is a fabulous price for wild salmon. Of course, you can't make steaks with it, or throw it on the grill, or use it for sushi, etc., but if you're eating salmon for health and convenience, it's a great value.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Today At Work

I had today off (part of my 5-day Weekend of Wonderment), but I went in anyway, to try to untangle some of my desk, which lately has been a sort of minefield in that every time I try to find anything, I come across a bunch of crap I should already have handled. Between my natural laziness and time-killing attitude at work, the large number of people who can ask me for things, and my boss's propensity for interrupting me all day, it's been hard for me to catch up on any of this at work. (80% of this is completely my fault; only 20% can fairly be attributed to my work environment.)

Anyway, today I sent out some important certified mail things (which I got Mosch to assemble for me) that I was kind of letting people think I had already done a while back. That kind of thing is good to do when nobody is around. Not that I would know.

I also went through some initial surface damage payments we had made (these are payments we make in advance to surface owners before we drill wells) and deciphered the annual payments that will be due, and added these payments to the rental calendar. That took literally hours.

Then I finished some map updates I had been working on before the break. That was the fun part of my day.

Near the end, I went through most of the stuff on my desk and cleaned it up. A lot of the stuff that ends up on my desk can simply be thrown away immediately (recycled, of course) - it's things like drafts of maps and documents I was working on. But there was a bunch of other stuff, so I came up with a New Organizational Scheme, which should make my boss happy to see, though doubtless I won't keep it up in the future.

Basically, I found some legal-size foldery things and, everything I found that wasn't to be thrown away, I decided what hypothetical category it might go in (e.g., "Original Documents", "Arkansas Miscellaneous", "Regulatory Notes", "Current Assignments"), put a label on a folder, and stuck the stuff in there. I ended up with about 15 of these folders. It looks all neat and organized. I even used my nifty little label machine (which is hooked up to the computer and thus is actually easier than hand-writing anything) to make neat little labels.

What with processing the surface payments, doing the certified mail stuff, and sorting through my desk, I was able to foist a ton of filing tasks off on our wonderful receptionist (who was a file clerk in her previous life at our old company), which is great.

I left work at about 8 PM (after arriving around 1:30) and was very satisfied with my day.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Wal-Mart Finale

It seems that Furman couldn't really let Ehrenreich get the last word, so he's posted a final summary of his position.