Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Book Review: Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

This is a great, fun book to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it through and through. The best part is that it's not too long to read (I gave up on a recent book to read this one) but keeps you enthralled.

For the most part, I have a list of books I keep on the Wake County Library website I add them as I hear or read about books that seem interesting to me. Then as I go finish up books, I randomly pick another one from my list and request it from Wake County. This, BTW, is a great feature of the Wake County Library system. You can simply search for a book you want, request it, and it gets delivered, and placed on hold for you, at the library of your choice.

I do not normally re-review my book choices. I just simply select a book off my list. So for the most part, I do not know what the story is about which makes it very interesting to read. If you like to be kept in the dark, then I highly recommend this method for reading.

Literacy is focused on one woman, Dora, and the current going-ons in her life. Dora is a literary enthusiast and their are several references to great literature peppered throughout the book. Sadly, although I am familiar with some of the work and authors, I have not read as many of the classics that Dora has read which is quite impressive.

The writing is amazing and hard to believe two people could collaborate and produce an entertaining, thoughtful novel. This is Kaufman and Mack's first novel together, which makes it even more amazing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Contender

This is one, if not my very, favorite show on television.

This says a lot because I am a TV addict. DVR is my best friend. I have two of them and I can fill them both up. Like books, there are just too many to enjoy. And I don't have the time to devote to books and TV, but fortunately, books will not go away and DVR keeps my shows until I can watch them (technically, if everything works just right).

In time, I may reveal my other favorites shows...maybe, but The Contender is, to me, one of the best in the reality/docu-dramas.

It first appeared on one of the national networks a few years ago, with none other than the fake boxer, Rocky -- aka Sylvester Stallone -- hosting the show. It was hokey, but good. There were stupid boxer tricks they had to do to "win", like a bunch of guys pulling a truck full of tires.

There was more focus on each fighter with their family. A great hook. But what really impressed me was the human element. These boxers are not people who are hollywood wanna-bes that want to try boxing. These are men who are bonafide boxers, most who who work another job for a living and then box on the side FOR THE LOVE OF IT. Their dream is to be a great boxer and a great person -- a dad, a son, a brother, whatever.

They are not rich and yet they devote their time to this 'sport'. I am NOT a boxing fan or aficionado. I did not think this show would be that good. But it caught me by surprise and for the most part, I am tense throughout the match.

These men have elements that I think is missing from other mainstream sports: integrity, pride, respect, endurance, commitment, and passion.

Maybe I read to much into the show, but it truly moves me. These guys talk crap to another and then box to win. Whoever wins usually ends up speaking well of the opponent. The one who loses does the same thing. They both talk about how the other was a great fighter and put up a great fight. Amazing. Truly amazing.

The first season produced Sergio "The Snake" Mora, now a well know boxing figure. Along with Alfonso Gomez. The second season was just as good and now, the third season, which appears on ESPN.

It was canceled from national TV for low ratings, but thankfully, ESPN picked it up and took out the stupid human tricks. What they show now is more documentary with a slice of reality TV in it. We learn about each boxer and they're background. We know thier current records, or if they've been on hiatus for a bit.

The only showmanship come from the coaches, or the shit talk they have before a match. Everything else is training, perspective and then, boxing.

America does not vote for the winner. The winner is who beats the opponets they need to beat to get to the final round. I end up rooting for one and then feeling bad for the other, because these men both have a lot of heart.

Give it a try. you can find past episodes on ESPN, but the new episodes come on Tuesdays at 10 PM.

One Semester of Spanish - Love Song

Just too funny...I heard it on the radio, so I just had to share this with you all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dual Birthdays

The week was way too busy for me to have a nice birthday celebration on Tuesday (my birthday). I decided that I wanted to celebrate my birthday with one of my favorite restaurants birthday, Dos Taquitos, on Saturday.

Dos Taquitos celebrated its 16th birthday this past Saturday. I have lived in Raleigh for nearly 12 years and to think that they've been here for as long as I've been here, is truly incredible, for restaurants. And not just any restaurant, but a local place that I think, has been a hidden gem in our quaint part of town.

Don't be misled...this place gets a packed house every time I've gone. It's just not one of those places that gets advertised, or talked about, that often. No matter, I know they'll stay in business because they have a strong following. And I just can't cheat other folks out of this place -- if you haven't tried it, please give it a try! Don't order anything off the Tex-Mex menu -- PLEASE. Get you one taco and one enchilada from the other "local" Mexican chains. At Dos Taquitos, you must order whatever the special is of the day. If not, then order off their Specialates menu.

This place has a lot of memories for me. I walked out on Tim when we had a fight here. It's also the place where Tim decided that having kids wouldn't be such a bad idea. And now, with our kids, we are creating new memories. Sure, we had to drag them there for awhile. It was too "scary" for them. But over time, the food, and our persistence, has won them over.

These are pictures from this past weekend's 16th birthday event. It was a great sight to see in our little hub of Raleigh.



Hydrate Me

Mother Nature really needs to hydrate Raleigh. I ran around Lake Lynn Sunday afternoon and at first, noticed the water level was low. But as I ran further into the park, there was no water level because there was no water. The ducks were just walking around dry, cracked earth.

Anyone know how to conduct an Indian Rain dance? Or any other ritual to get us some rain???

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Where's My Phone?

This was left on my MINIVAN's window, in the parking lot of a grocery store. "This" being a single page of personal ads. One in particular was circled with a yellow highlighter - fresh yellow highlighter.

When I left the parking lot, no other car had one of these on its window. Tim thought the van was targeted -- trying to offend a minivan mom.

This is pretty graphic for those who are easily offended. I'm not but this one surprised me too.

CHAPEL HILL, NC M89391
Single black male, 40- looking for single or married ladies with a furry bush, the hairier the better. Would like to correspond with you with hopes of meeting, for friendship and fun. Love oral. Clean, discreet, disease free, you be too. Send pictures and phone for quick response. Ages 21-60. Race doesn't matter. Ladies under 200 lb.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My New Tattoo: Session 1

Friday was the first day of the initiation to my new tattoo. This means: it is permanently sketched onto my body.

I have met with my artist on two other occasion. Once to meet with her and discuss the work. The second to view the work and "fit" it on me.

My artist is Kathryn, who epitomizes - on the surface - everything that is NOT a tattoo artist. She has no visible tattoos or piercings, she has long, curly hair, and has this wholesome "I shop at Whole Foods" demeanor and appearance. But she is incredible and her work is her passion. It is a privilege, thus far, to work with her.

I had spent the summer trying to figure out what I really wanted, for real. I mean, I have been thinking about my next tattoo for years and have design ideas but nothing ever looked or felt right. I even attempted several times to just "do it" -- going into parlors, describing what I want, and hoping to get it put on -- only to be shot down by snotty tattoo artists. They are - stereotype #1 - pretty snotty. I went to two places in Raleigh and two in Austin, TX and they are all pretty cocky with this attitude that you, the customer, are not worthy of them, the tattoo shop. Whatever. I just go to the next place. These places are a dime a dozen. And if I'm getting permanent ink on my body, by golly-gee-whiz, I am going to have someone that doesn't treat me that way.

My friend that came with me to Austin, TX told me about Dogstar in Durham. Well, she didn't know what it was called and knows very little about tattoos. After all, our trip in Austin was her first time she had been into a tattoo parlor. So it was something like 'there's a tattoo place in Durham on 9th street". I looked them up when I got back to Raleigh and I loved what Kathryn had to say, regarding her philosophy. And the fact that she's female, which is so, so rare in the tattoo community (that I know of).

So back at Dogstar, Kathryn shows me a finished portion of the tattoo. It is awesome. This is the part we will start with today (Friday). We spend a good amount of time fitting it on me properly. This part sits partly on the front of my ribcage and then wraps to the side, around my hip. Which means, I have to take a few things off and roll things down.

Although I'm not typically shy about stripping down to nothing -- after all, I've had two kids and breastfed them both in many public places -- I am still pretty meek about showing my things off. I am pretty lackadaisical at the doctor's office, or getting a massage/acupuncture, but those are private offices. Kathryn's room has a flimsy curtain to shade it, so not really private.

But I know people get tattoos in undiscovered places many times, and she's female, so I should feel comfortable. She even says, 'it's not anything we haven't already seen'...but I think, sure, but you haven't seen ME! Still unnerving, I throw out my modesty.

So Kathryn wanted the tattoo positioned perfectly. She had put the stencil on, then removed it, put it on again moving a few inches, removing it, etc. Once she felt comfortable, she asked if Nathan could see it. Nathan? That sounds like a guy's name. He's going to see me half-nekkid. Out loud it came out as "Sure!"

So Nathan looks in and he is extremely professional and appears to only be looking at her work.

Let me say this: I am not thinking someone will be gawking at me and tantalizing over me. I don't have that much egotism. But it is still odd to be standing in front of strangers...a bit vulnerable...but that's the price I pay for getting this tattoo.

So finally, the tattoo is on where Kathryn feels comfortable. I am too because I see the stencil and it is AWESOME. I set myself on the chair, sideways and I hear her last words "Are you ready?" and I'm like YES!

Once the needle penetrates my skin I think, Um, on second thought, I'm not ready. But I lie still. Kathryn asks if I'm okay and I give her a big YUP answer. But oh god how it hurts.

And the sick part of me (as if you haven't seen this already) likes the pain of getting a tattoo. I have two others on me -- one is being covered by this one -- and have enjoyed the tattoo sessions. Enjoy is probably too strong a verb, but the pain was tolerable and yes, pleasant to feel.

On this day, I was trying to figure out why that wasn't happening. There was no pleasure, just excrutiating pain. Well, there would be a moment of pleasure and I'd think "yes, this is what I was waiting for" and then the next second my brain was screaming "Owie! Owie! Owie!" I endured 1 1/2 hours of non-stop needlework, which then gave me pleasure...that I managed to sit still and not go bonkers over the pain. Mind control? Or just plain insanity?

Regardless, the finished work-of-this-day is amazing. She is truly gifted and I am extremely happy to have gotten started.

But there's more work ahead. This is a doozy of a tattoo. I return in two weeks -- actually, every two weeks until early November -- for this tattoo.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's My Birthday! It's My Birthday!

Recite that to "In Da Club" by 50 cent.

Today is my birthday. I woke up with a huge cramp in my calf. I mean, so bad that when I got up, I was limping. I guess this was a reminder to how old I am...and getting.

Other than that, it's been a pleasant birthday. My oldest daughter made me a card (I prefer handmade over store-bought) -- a pop-up card -- and later whispered an apology for forgetting to money in it. Awwww...

She even made a pinata, which she and I had a chance to hit but Tim did not, since us women are strong.

The other daughter passed on the celebration to play on disney.com. But she later apologized for not making a card. She said playing on the computer was much funner.

I had a great birthday cake -- chocolate, which is my favorite. And the best part was that CJ had written "Happy Birthday" on it with BLACK icing. The significance is that BLACK is my favorite color...which annoys her because she doesn't think it's, well, very colorful.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Can You Read This?

Just wanted to pass along that my left eye is healing well. Apparently there is a scratch on it from the surgery, which is, I guess, "normal" since they scraped the heck out of it.

The analogy the doctor gave was like scraping your knee. The first layer of the skin is scraped off and thus, a healing process takes place...and the skin re-grows (or whatever the medical term should be). That is very much what they did to my eye. They scraped something off and now it needs to re-grow.

She took the band-aid off of it today. Recall from the previous post on this surgery that the band-aid was a contact lens. It was another torture session that lasted about a second. She took teeny forceps -- that's what she called them; I would've called them tweezers -- and tugged on the lens IN MY EYE AND PULLED IT OUT!! Yes, I thought it was pretty freaky and it felt kind of odd, but I guess if you get queasy easy over this stuff, then you probably shouldn't read this post.

Oops. Too late.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cover Me

Last weekend, hubby and I decided to give this Tribute Band thing being held at Lincoln Theater a try.

First off, I am a real music snob. When someone asks 'what kind of music do you like?' my answer is NEVER THE STANDARD that everyone seems to say, which is, 'um, I love all kinds of music. I am pretty open to anything.' I write that with my dingy Paris Hilton voice in my head reciting those words.

But it really annoys me when people give that kind of answer. I don't know why. It's silly, but it also seems like everyone likes to give this same lame answer.

I don't like just any kind of music. I may like something that is rap and generally, I do not like rap. I may like something played on G105 and I only like G105 for the morning show. The music is typically lame.

I could go on about me and my music likes and dislikes, but in regard to the Lincoln Theater event, I tend not to like "classic" rock music. I don't dislike all of it -- and I probably would appreciate it more, if it weren't for the mere fact that "classic" rock stations like to play the shit out of it. Over and Over and Over again. They really are no different than G105, playing the same song at least once an hour, except they can't get out of the classic rock era and play some newer music.

So when we entered the vicinity of the Lincoln Theater -- the block was 'blocked' off for bands to play outside of the theater -- I wasn't expecting to be blown away BUT I do love live music and I've always enjoyed, to a degree, bands covering other bands' songs.

And booze always helps the enjoyment process. I was looking for booze.

We enter Lincoln Theater and I fear that I will not be able to drink.

Not only am I a music snob, but I am a beer snob. Why anyone would want to drink Bud and Miller and its like when we have so many micro-brews, imports, etc to choose from...I'll never know.

So I see some Coronas in a fridge and I am thrilled. Hubby goes to get a couple of them and the "beertender" says "Sorry, we're only selling Miller products." I see Tim pointing to the fridge at the few beers outside of Miller and I see the beertender shake her head and later find she said the venue is Miller sponsored.

So? Why do I care if it's Miller sponsored? That's not my problem. It's my money, give me the freaking Corona.

It ain't happening, so not only do I have to endure Lynyrd Skynard (which is playing in the theater), I can't drink. I am NOT drinking Miller swill, especially after that.

And BTW, Miller Brewing Company, if you're reading this, and I know you're not, I am banning all Miller products because your so-called sponsored venue tried to bully me to drink your piss-water.

So now me and hubby watch the cover band. Tim actually was ready to just leave he was so pissed, but we just paid $30 bucks to see these bands.

Oh god. How I found this to be the cheesiest thing I've ever seen. Sure, they sang fine but I don't like Skynard music. And hearing the audience go nuts with every Skynard song they played was just driving me batty. The band really played it to a tee. The dude singing would hang the microphone out in the audience for folks to sing along and they did. It was a redneck drunkfest.

The dude singer just played it so cool, holding a cigarette in one hand, the mike in the other, swaying as though he is the most awesome singer ever.

So it was this that I realized what the difference is between a tribute band and a band that plays covers. There is a BIG BIG difference and I now know, I'm not a big fan of the tribute bands.

I wanted to yell to everyone IT'S NOT REALLY LYNYRD SKYNARD. DO YOU KNOW THIS? I wanted to tell the band the same thing. You are NOT the real deal. You are unoriginal. You are playing dress-up barbie.

We went outside to hear the Led Zepplin cover band. I heard a guy in front of me, just going nuts and smiling his ass off at the band that the lead singer looked and moved just like Robert Plant. Just excited about this observation. TRUE, TRUE - BUT IT'S NOT HIM. Why is he acting like he is him?

I know, that's what a tribute band is but I don't get it. I just don't get it and it's not just these bands. I don't think I can handle seeing tribute bands for music that I like. I'd rather enjoy a band and listen to their sounds and if they decide to cover another band's song, so be it. That I can handle...

I remember seeing Ani DiFranco years ago at, what is now Disco Rodeo. I didn't know her music that well - I came with friends. She was awesome. And at some point, she covered Prince's "When Doves Cry". It gave me chills and one of those great magical music moments. THAT'S what I'd like to see, hear, and feel...

KISS Shares their Connected Life Contest Idea

I don't know why, but this makes me laugh. I originally heard it without seeing the actual video. But then to see the video...it's freaking hilarious. Innovation from Gene and Paul...


Brenna at the Beach

I finally uploaded the video of Brenna at the beach. It may not mean anything to the majority of blog readers, but I love it.

First time our dog Brenna plays at the beach, let alone jump into water.

My Endorsement

I read where Wes Clark, a great man who entered the presidential race in 2004 for the democratic nomination, endorsed Hilary Clinton for president. So I thought I would to.

I ENDORSE JOHN EDWARDS FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Maybe that's too simple.

I PROUDLY endorse the great John Edwards for the President of the United States of America.

Anyway, one may think, who the fudge are you to make such an endorsement?

Um, it's my blog and I can do what I want.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Bionic Eye

Finally, I had 'lasek' done to my left eye. It wasn't really lasek, but it's the more common way to relay what my eye went through.

It was really PRK, which stands for photorefractive keratectomy. The procedure is similar to LASEK. The gory details are, well gory, but in the end, LASEK cuts a flap then laser is 'applied' where PRK does not cut, but instead, does something else that I don't know how to describe.

The cutting part is something to avoid. In fact, I had LASEK done to both eyes two years ago. The right eye went perfectly well, but the left eye's cut did not go too well. Laser was not applied to the left eye and thus, two years went by before I decided to get it done.

My vision, thus far, is still a bit blurry. I have a contact lens over it which acts as a band-aid over the 'stuff' that the doctor did to it.

I haven't had too much pain after the fact, but during the procedure, it was not so much fun. This is similar to what I went through two years ago.

It's almost like a torture session.

After trying to relax the patient (that would be ME) with a valium, the patient is taken to the 'operating room'. A pretty stark, cold room with a big machine. The doctor then puts something around my left eye to keep it open...wide open...and thus, no way to blink. Oh, the right eye is covered and thus, is not traumatized by what is about to transpire.

Numbing drops are placed in my eye. Soon after, the horror begins.

A number of instruments are used that scrape over the top of my eye. Things are moved, scraping occurs, movements of all kinds happen and the eye is forced to endure. I can't close my eye for god's sake -- I have to watch this! Does it matter that I can barely feel it? Not really -- I see it and I know something is happening.

I have no idea how long it takes to go through this but it feels like forever. I dig my nails straight into the 'comfort ball' they give me to 'squeeze' while I go through this. There is no way I could squeeze anything -- I am trying to strangle it.

And don't forget, I'm already on valium!!

The laser part takes ~45 seconds. I hear them counting. And I hear my doctor, who, BTW, is the most amazing doctor ever, cheering me on "You're doing great! You're doing great!" I don't know how she can say that when I can't do anything! But truly, the laser part is the easiest to go through, if you don't mind the smell. Something is burning once that laser hits. I don't want to ask what...and I don't.

The LASEK procedure two years ago was just as bad, maybe more so?

First, there's something they put on the eye ball that has something to do with its pressure. THAT HURTS. A LOT. I was so relieved to hear that this round would not have that done. I was not looking forward to that.

After the pressure thing, the blade cuts the flap and I don't know if the doc flips the flap or what, but there is sudden darkness. FREAKY FREAKY FREAKY.

But I pulled through the first time and almost instantly I could see perfectly. That time was the last of wearing any glasses. I had to wear a contact in my left eye until two weeks ago, when I took it out in preperation for this surgery.

It's still considered cosmetic, which is amazing. For those of us who have had horrible vision for years, the very idea that you are able to see anything without help is amazing and honestly, life-changing. To wake up in the morning and actually see things clearly is indescribable. And for two years, that was with one good eye and it was still 100 times better than what I could see with my glasses and contacts.

Already, after Thursday's procedure, I can see much better. As I said, not so much pain, which is supposed to happen. Mainly, I have more irritation than anything and I'm sure a lot of that comes from the contact lens/band-aid. That gets taken out on Monday and then I'll see how much pain I'll have with the eye now being exposed to the elements.

Come Underground

Underground Restaurant & Bar is located in the basement of Charlie Goodnight's.

I never really liked the restaurant that was there prior to this one. Sure, Fajita Margarita night on Wednesdays was a great deal but the food was just mediocre, at best. I felt like I was always selling myself out epicureanly (is that even a word?) by eating here just to get a good deal on tickets.

My husband and I started eating there a few months after it opened. I read a review of it somewhere, probably Greg Cox, and decided to give it a try. It has since scored as a big favorite for my husband. It's almost a favorite for me but I'll explain later why it hasn't hit that range yet.

First off, the setting is awesome. The Old Bar, now Underground, just has a cool ambience. Dark and somewhat romantic. At least it has been for me and hubby, since we tend not to take our kids with us to this place.

The service is outstanding. We have met Dawn, one of the owners (which I heard from someone that it has since been sold but I have no idea if that is true or not) and she is truly passionate about the food and the wine. She has a vibrant personality and her knowledge of wines is truly amazing. I trust her instinct when I ask for a recommendation. And she doesn't laugh when she presents the wine to me and I go through a very amateur process of swirling, sniffing and tasting it.

The food is absolutely amazing as well. I remember reading a review (of a different restaurant) from one of the local newsgroups, where the author described the wonderful food as "foot-stomping". This describes the food at Underground.

Which brings me to the reason why it doesn't make my favorites list...yet. I mean, it's up there, but the place is a tapas place, which means each dish is just a small plate. The dishes are small and pricey, IMO. Hence, my reasoning for not putting it way up there. Great food comes at a great price, I guess.

We were there this past Saturday. We took advantage of their September couples special, which was something like two appetizers, two entrees, one side, a dessert and a bottle of wine for $55.

We had the cheese plate and some French-type potted meat. I missed the description because when I asked what it was again, after indulging in it, I realized it had rabbit and pork. I enjoyed it, but I can honestly state that I would never order anything made of rabbit -- and probably won't in the near future. I prefer to remain ignorant of the taste of foods outside of the cow, the pig and the chicken.

Our entrees consisted of their hanger steak and a pasta mixed with crabmeat. Ooh-la-la.

The side...this will sound odd to those who have yet to venture to this place, but it was their hand cut french fries. They're just good. Awesome. And hard to resist. We had to have them.

Dessert ended with something chocolate with booze.

Definitely a great buy with their September couples special. We loved every bit of it and plan to go back again and again.

Their website is: comeunderground.com

The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence

What kind of people have we become that one of the biggest dilemmas we are concerned with is: how do I keep my grass green?

I am inundated with reports about neighbors ratting out other neighbors because of watering their grass on the no-no days. How our very own governor's mansion was watering its grass on the very day the first set of restrictions were in place. I pass by new housing developments watering their newly installed sod. Then there's the reports of how 'it's okay to have brown grass'.

Really? Who gives a shit what color the grass is?

I mean really?!? We are concerned about GRASS? So much so that apparently, many HOAs include covenants specifying how grass must be the color green?

I never really considered this an issue until, well, I started thinking about all the attention we have put into this particular issue of watering our lawns to keep it green and healthy.

Sure, green grass is beautiful. And there's an aesthetic quality to keeping our lawns green, among other things, that's pleasing to the eye. I'm a designer, for god's sake, I know that.

But I guess the developer inside of me says, who gives a shit? It's just grass. And I don't even need to bring up the bigger issues in our world, our lives, that make this issue even more insignificant.

But do I have to? Really, do I have to mention the war? Okay, that's too obvious. What about the fact that we have no benches or shelters at our bus stops? Really, do we need to even go there on the grass issue?

It just seems ridiculously, obscenely, DECADENT to even worry ourselves over grass. Not just during this time where we need to address it but even during our heydey of not being in a drought (which I hope happens soon).

BTW, any indication that "we" included me was not intended. Long live more important issues, like: what color shall I paint my nails? rather than what my freaking lawn looks like.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What's His Name?

The other day we (the familia) were driving home from gymnastics. CJ was describing some stuff that was kind of scary, but ended up being kind of funny.

For instance, my mother spent some time with me and the familia to help out during my mysterious illness. She is pretty superstitious and follows many superstitious methods for cleansing malevolent spirits. My mysterious illness would be one of those instances that these type of methods would come into place.

So at some point last year, we -- mainly me, my mom, and the girls - spent a good hour following a ritual to rid the bad spirits in our home. These things, according to her and her family, were responsible for my illness.

My girls had no idea what was going on but followed through. I later learned from CJ -- on the way home from gymnastics -- that she had to stop from laughing because she didn't know what was going on.

So CJ continues and talks about the time she went to vacation bible school with our babysitter.

Let me first say: I'm not religious and in fact, we are not a religious family. We don't go to church. I have my own ideas of faith, but I am very cynical when it comes to organized religion. Tim is agnostic-going-on-atheist.

So as she recounts a tale about going to vacation bible school with her babysitter (her babysitter had asked if she could take her and we had no problem with it; she was around 4 years old). I don't recall the entire story she was telling, but she mentioned 'the guy that got chopped down'. Tim and I were like 'what guy that got chopped down?' To what she replied, quite frustrated, "I don't know his name! The guy that's on the cross!"

We never figured out the point of her story, but we certainly realized that the lack of religious teaching in our household had reached an extreme level.

Friday, September 07, 2007

To Run or Not To Run

I got up Thursday morning, all rarin' to go for a five mile run. I was adrenalized, looking forward to a nice run with Keith and the Girl on my iPod (I'm catching up slowly...I think I'm in mid-August now).

So I'm in the kitchen, with my running gear on. I see Tim, all dressed up too. He casually asks what I'm doing and I say that I'm getting ready for a run. As I say this, my brain clicks...Thursday...Thursday...oh, he has a bid to make at 7:30. I look at the time: 7 AM. Hmmm...if I'm running, and he's out meeting a customer, then who's going to watch the rugrats?

I know! I know!

So, I go back upstairs and get ready for work.

And it felt SO GOOD outside.

Instead, I ran about 10:30. Still feeling pretty good that I'll be solo and listening to KATG. I LOVE that podcast and it has replaced any music flavors I'm feeling.

The weather still feels pretty good. I'm feeling pretty confident.

I map out a plan that I'll take a familiar route that is approximately three miles and add on to the front and back of it. When I'm done, I'll walk to a friend's office and pick-up a sign up form for the Second Empire 5K coming up at the end of the month. It's a 'fun' race. I say 'fun' because it is a nice route and pretty fast with a downhill finish. A few years ago I made my PR there that stayed my PR until my Run for the Oaks race this year, which, BTW, was my first post to this blog.

Anyhoo, it was a PR that was soooooo hard to do. I may have mentioned this in this first post to the blog, but I'm too lazy to re-read it so I'll just repeat it (if it is mentioned). $Bill, Tim and I started out so fast on this race. At the first mile, our time was called somewere well below our normal mile. My recollection is that we all looked at one another like, WTF? Really? But I think we were really like stone-faced, trying to stay erect instead of collapsing against our rapidly rotating feet (ala Roadrunner).

But at some point, I knew I was kicking it more than I was ever used to doing. People I knew were trying to talk to me and I was like -- please help me. I don't know how to slow down or stop!!! But no one could recognize what came outloud as "Ow Ow Ow" or maybe it was "oooshhhiiiiitttt". It's hard to remember this many years later.

I do remember feeling like I didn't like how hard and hurtful it felt. But when I crossed the finish I was done and elated at my new PR. But I have felt extremely intimidated by that PR -- and I think that course -- since then.

So back to Thursday...

I go out on my run and I am feeling GOOD. My legs were feeling the hardcore Back to Core class from the day before. But they seemed to be telling me "hey, we're not in pain...we can do this" so I just went.

And it felt great. There are just those days where running along is so nice. No worries about making or breaking pace and of course, just listening to the iPod and going into a zone. Don't get me wrong -- I prefer running with others but I was fine with being solo today.

I go and go and run up every hill until the first big hill. It's a little hill with a longer slant upwards than others. The cool thing is that after running up, it levels off a bit and then kind of slopes downward the rest of the way...well, until the next really long, steeper hill.

So as I run I'm thinking that I'll be running up that hill. Once I get to the hill, well, barely making the turn to go UP the hill, I had already decided that I would be walking that hill.

I'll walk this hill and save my energy for the other big hill. That's what I say to myself.

I continue running after the short walk up the hill and realize that my feeling good feeling was no longer around. Now I'm thinking about how hard the rest of my run will be after this piece is over -- this piece being the nice route until the big hill. Once I hit the big hill I have two choices: cut the run short and go through an up-and-down-course that takes me up a big upward slope that I HATE. Or go longer and go on a path that takes me upward on a very slight, hard-to-tell-you're-going-up slope (which kills your legs) but end up running flat then towards a downward finish. I was sad that those were my two choices, but I also knew I wanted at least three miles and the short route would not give me that.

So I opt for the longer one. It's not much longer, but it would've have given me an opportunity to push myself even further to get close to five miles. But at this point, I'm just hoping for three. I have already given up on the five miles.

I get to the second big hill and walk it. My legs and ego are now shot. I can't even be sure I can run the rest of the way back. I walk even a bit further past the top of the hill -- nothing good in this route until I make a right...before I can make a right, I have to run a long straight upward ways.

It was at that point that I had decided I was not going to do the Second Empire 5K and I didn't care if I was a wussy. This running stuff is too hard now and in race mode, it's worse. And I can't run Second Empire and have a slower time than the original time. And there's no way I can beat my PR, or even _meet_ my PR, in this condition!!!

So it was a crappy run even though it started out so wonderful. I hate that. And it's back to beating myself up. And now I have a 13 mile run this weekend that I'm already thinking won't happen. I mean, I'll run a portion of it, but I can't imagine being in a better condition Saturday than I was Thursday...

And despite all of this, I still love running...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tattoo You

Finally, I was able to see an image of my new tattoo-to-be. It's still a rough sketch but it gives me the overall view of what it will be.

IT IS HUGE. Well, these things almost always look much bigger on 'paper' than when they are inked in. Actually, that's not true. They are huge once they've established their home on my skin. But it looks like it would never fit when it's on paper.

The tattooing will take a few sessions. It's going to be a work in progress, potentially throughout the rest of the year. I'm excited. The first drop of ink will hit my skin in about three weeks.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

No Parking Any Time

These are the signs that populate a portion of Reedy Creek Road.

In case you don't know where Reedy Creek Road is, it's off of Edwards Mill Road (the part headed towards Wade Avenue from Duraleigh). It used to be a dirt and gravel road that a car had to carefully maneuver over to get to Schenck Forest (I've never been here, but I've seen the sign) or to get to an entrance into Umstead.

On any given day, especially weekends, there would be cars lined up for folks to ride bikes, hike, walk or run into Umstead. It's a great place to start a journey into Umstead and actually appears as a viable entrance into the park, with a board containing a map outside of it for potential patrons to study.

Some time ago, a greenway trail was paved alongside the dirt road. It is a really nice trail that starts from Edwards Mill Road all the way to the entrance of Umstead.

This year, a road was paved over the dirt and gravel, alongside the nice greenway.

I drive this road often. It has an unusual layout, but the scenery is BEAUTIFUL, to say the least. It really is a sort of meandering path into a quiet, countryside lane. I love driving it and I ignore the assholes who follow close behind me as I follow the 35 mph speed limit. They're going to miss the view glaring at the back of my minivan.

Anyway, as I drive and enjoy the view, there comes a point where there is an obstruction to the view. This would be the McMansions that have been built alongside this country lane. What is across the way from these Big Ass Homes (BAH)? "No Parking Any Time" signs.

At first, I played devil's advocate and defended the signs. They were placed right around an extreme curve in the road -- almost a 90 degree turn. Well, the people that like to tailgate me also like to take that turn at the same speed. This is right around the hub of the entryway into the park. So people, dogs, children, bikes are in danger around this curve when the asshole drivers are on it.

But last week, I noticed more signs erected further away from the curve and from the entry to the park...where I recall cars being parked along the road.

And then I read this article from the Raleigh Chronicle. It doesn't specifically state that these signs were put up because of these McMansions, but it does seem a bit coincidental.

Raleigh Saves Trails For Rich Homeowners
http://raleighchronicle.com/2007082001.html

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Al-ice Bundy?

This would be a reference to Al Bundy, from that old sitcom "Married with Children".

It's describing me...sitting on my couch, with my dog snoring soundly beside me -- I mean literally -- her head is smushed up against me.

I have a glass of wine and I joked with hubby about "where's my cheese and olive plate?!?" vs. having a bag of doritos and a budweiser.

And I'm watching the US Open. Hoping to see Serena Williams pull off a win against Justine Henin (so far it's not looking good).

I'm really no different than Al Bundy, holding his jewels, drinking his beer and watching football. I just happen to enjoy a different sport (because I like doritos and beer...well, Corona Lights preferably...I am admittedly, a beer snob).

I'm not holding my jewels though. I'm sure hubby would prefer me hold his jewels...or vice-versa...

Tapering

Not me -- my race does not happen until November 4th. But my running buddy, $Bill has a race in two weeks. Not just any race, but the Duke Center Liver Half Ironman. As it may be known, that would be a triathlon consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run.

$Bill and I ran on a relay team for this particular race two years ago. We were the running portion of the relay. It was hard. The course is hard. I've ran a handful of half marathons and have had a hard time running everyone of them BUT this course is hard. My take on this course was this: I would be running up a hill, knowing that the course would have me turn back around and I would think "I'm running up now, but I'll soon be running down this damn hill" but honestly, I never felt it. It felt like no matter what direction I was facing, I was running UPHILL.

Anyway, $Bill knows what he's getting himself into. And he's tough, so I know that he can do it but I can say that I was surprised that he signed up for this extreme half.

So he is supposed to be tapering these last two weeks. I ran with him Saturday, during his brick workout -- which consisted of a 46 mile bike ride followed up with an 8 mile run. I don't bike, so I met him for the run. This was his last hard workout.

Tuesdays are track days. Today is Tuesday. Today is three days after his last hard workout. Today he was scheduled to run 6x800 at 4:10 mn pace. This may not mean anything to someone who doesn't run -- or if you do, you may consider it slow but IT'S NOT ;-).

Technically, this means a 1:05 mn for each 200 m. As we past each 200, I would call out the time -- since he forgot his watch thinking today was Monday.

Instead, we were right at 1 mn each 200. Five seconds faster. This may not mean a lot to a non-runner, but it is a difference. Not a wide difference, but enough to move those legs faster and have the runner feel it.

Except for the first 800 m, which was more of a warm-up, each of our 800s were seconds below his target. The last one - the most brutal -- ended up under 4 minutes. I don't know about him, but I sure felt the pain in mylegs and them yelling "What the heck ar you doing???? I'm TIRED!"

But I needed this. It was hot today, less humid than some of the hotter ones we've run, but I endured and I still felt great. Not great like - oh boy this is easy -- but great like my legs can move and my confidence is there.

So I enjoyed it, despite the hard workout. But *I'm* no the one that's supposed to be tapering for this monstrous half in two weeks...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Book Review: The Face of Death by Cody McFadyen

This was a really fun book to read. A great thriller, in the same vein as James Patterson...something I haven't really read in awhile.

The premise is the usual of this genre: the crime fighting character. In this case, that would be the FBI agent Smoky Barrett. And then there's the serial killer -- again, in this novel, "The Stranger". I don't think I need to go into any other detail about the story. If you've read one serial killer book, then you know how the ball bounces.

Now for the critique.

I could not stand the author's introduction of the characters. Smoky Barrett -- even the name is just too much for me..."Smoky"? Anyway, the reader is told how amazing Smoky is. The only person who can really hunt down serial killers. She is so good that she has garnered the respect of everyone...and I mean EVERYONE. The local cops love her; the team she works with respects her; and the FBI does not want to lose her.

Okay, I can overlook that cheesy attempt to let me know that this is the best serial sleuth ever. But it goes on. Every member of her team (there's four, I think) is the best ever. They all have a unique ability but they are like no other person ever in the enitre world.

And then there are the local cops that she has dealt with in the past. They are the best too. My god, I get it. It is the best team since CSI Las Vegas - alrighty. Let's get to the killing already!!!

Despite that -- which was, I have to just say again, VERY ANNOYING -- the story was every bit of a thriller to read. Extremely titillating, intriguing, can't-wait-to-turn-the-page fun. Smoky had enough darkness in her that made me like her, despite the cheesy first name.

I had no idea how it would end -- who The Stranger was -- until they did. Sure, I could be extremely dense, but whatever, this worked for me in the name of pure entertainment.

Unionization

That's what is needed for John Edwards. He got two big shots today: backing from the United Steelworkers and United Mine Workers of America. He needed this and I hope it gives his presidential campaign a big boost.

The union workers, throughout the country, were having a hard time (and some still are) putting their support into Edwards. Not because they did not like him but because overall, they do. He's been campaigning amongst labor unions and winning them over with his 'work within the trenches' attitude. But there is a fear of supporting someone like him -- the one they want to win -- when they feel like he really has no chance of winning.

I feel the same way and am just hoping that America listens really close to what everyone has to say.

Edwards by and large is the only one speaking to me and the blue collars of America. He wants the poor to make more money, the middle class to make more money, and screw the tax breaks the rich have been receiving.

Universal healthcare, for god's sake! Skeptical? Sure! So am I! But what the hell? Give this man a shot. Better than what we've had for the past seven years. I'm not sure if our next elected official can clean up the mess that our current administration has put us in, but I am willing to give Edwards a try.