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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Just An Ordinary Day...

We got up.

We ate breakfast.

I heard the rain beating outside and I knew it was supposed to be pretty chilly today. I asked Tim if he wanted to run in this and he looked outside and said "not really", so I canceled the babysitter.

I checked the temperature and it said 56 degrees. The rain was not that heavy so I thought I would go ahead and get my run done, since it was only five to six miles. I told Tim he should get his done too, because this was probably going to be the best it was going to be this weekend.

The forecast for tomorrow was rain and another chilly day and quite possibly, snow. And I knew I didn't want to run Sunday, as I have Monday and Tuesday runs and three days in a row? I can do it but my body feels it.

So we got our run done and it was a good one for me, running with Tim at a fast pace. Tim had another loop around the lake so I headed home, back to my girls.

We then headed out to Brier Creek to shoe shop for little Mi-Mi. Picked up some good buys for her and CJ and then we headed to Jason's Deli for lunch.

A few more errands ran after that: picked up dinner ingredients, gassed the car up, and Tim got his lottery tickets. When we got home, I wanted to take a nap which ended up being awesome. Anytime one drools during a snooze, man, that's got to be a nice sleep.

Then Mi-Mi gave me a massage and some of her temporary tattoos. BTW, you know how hard it is to find space on my back for little tattoos? :-) I really need to finish this one up...but that's for another post.

Tim cleaned up and set up Mi-Mi's computer downstairs. I got dinner prepped and cooked and we dined like the Spartans.

Afterwords, Tim and I enjoyed, frightfully so, watching Quarantine. This flick made me scream out loud, so it was that good for us.

So a very ordinary day in the life of the Huffman's.

The only difference with today? Tim's father passed away last evening. We didn't find out until this morning, about the time I asked Tim if he wanted to run in this weather.

Tim's dad had Parkinson's disease for several years. And for the last few, he has been in a nursing home. We see him every time we are down in Florida, visiting the family. And it's sad, heartbreaking.

But he wasn't always debilitated. He has visited Tim and I when we were newlyweds in Arkansas. He came to see us when we lived at Seymour Johnson AFB and also in our first purchased home in Greenville.

He had been mobile for most of the time that I've known him. But it's the last few years, when Parkinson's really took its toll on his body. His mind, for our quick visits, was strong and he delighted in seeing Mi-Mi and CJ.

I know it must have been a very scary sight, to see this man, barely able to talk, lying in a bed, and all the adults trying to get the girls to speak to him. Mi-Mi is young but CJ, my beautiful angel, always hugged her grandfather and never showed any "yuck" or "i'm creeped out!" attitude. She seemed to have an innate ability to know that it was the right thing to do, to give him affection, for him, for us, for whoever.

We have our own dysfunctional family issues but I told Tim to remember the good memories of his dad. I know that they are there. I doubt Tim will ever express that to me, to anyone, maybe not even himself, but it is a sad, sad time to our ordinary day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Book Review: The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

I don't know how I added this book to my list. I would have read the summary about this book and would have thought "hmmm, this sounds like a book I'll want to read" and then CLICK, I would add it to my wish list with the local library system.

This book has been on my wish list for a good year or so, so I thought it was time to read it. When I read the first few lines:
Don't call me a fairy. We don't like to be called fairies anymore.
If you must give me a name, call me hobgoblin.

Or better yet, I am a changeling...We kidnap a human child and replace him or her with one of our own.

And this is a good summary of what this book is all about.

And I am not a fan of fantasy, especially the idea of reading about fairies, elves, hobgoblins.

Henry Day, the human child of seven years old, is taken by a clan of hobgoblins. The real Henry Day then "dies" and is reborn as Aniday the newest member of the hobgoblin clan.

The hobgoblin who becomes Henry Day is taken into Henry Day's home and his life.

And the story is narrated by both Aniday and Henry Day. Every other chapter is spoken by either one. We learn about how Aniday adjusts to being with other elves, living off the forest, missing his family -- and eventually, forgetting much of his family life -- and never growing old, past his forever age of seven years old.

Henry Day, on the other hand, becomes 'human'. He has to stretch parts of his bones and flesh to "grow". But because Henry Day - the changeling - was once a little boy himself (stolen by changelings), he is getting fleeting memories of his original human life as Gustav Ungerland. Gustav was a promising piano player when the changelings took him in 1851.

How does this story line sound to you? For me, I would NEVER have picked this one up to read. In fact, after only those first three paragraphs, I almost shut it for good, But it's only 319 pages and all books can't be "the bomb", and I thought it would expand my repertoire.

I can't say that I didn't enjoy it but it certainly wasn't a great book. It is actually very sorrowful: children being stuck as wild animals of the forest. And a human family who senses that their child is different but never knowing that their child is NOT their child.

The author tries to throw in a few of the myths surrounding what cultures think about "real" changelings, elves and hobgoblins, but the story is so dreary that anything lighthearted just doesn't come out that way.

I am glad to get passed this one. Do I feel a sense of accomplishment for taking this one on? Not really. I don't know about this OCD behavior that I have about finishing a novel I start.

Now, it's on to finishing the Twilight series. YAY! I've missed you Edward Cullen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dude, That Is Just Not Cool

My blog posts get posted on Facebook so sometimes, comments get posted after the status update with my blog posting.

This morning, I noticed that I had two comments on yesterday's Spell This post. The first comment mentioned the content of the actual post, but subsequently, my buddy wrote that my blog was hard to read and mentioned that white text on black was hard on his eyes.

On top of that, my other buddy added a comment agreeing to the first comment!

Um...I have had this layout for over two freaking years. It's a template -- which I am not too happy about because I would rather create my own, but I just haven't made the time to do that yet. As a template, other blogs can appear EXACTLY like mine, down to the different font colors on headings.

But that's neither here nor there. I was offended. Personally offended. It's just uncouth to point out your personal dislikes on a PERSONAL BLOG.

For one: what if *I* did create it? My blood, sweat and tears spent on creating a layout that I wanted to define me? What if I had gaudy animated faces, a comic sans font (btw, my least favorite font), and a pink background with blue text? And someone feels like they can point out your personal preferences to it?

So you know I haven't, but it is still a personal choice of a scheme that I feel defines what I am putting out there on my blog, which happens to be very personal -- the scheme *and* the writing. So to dis the blog is dissing me.

I don't know if this is written somewhere as a DO NOT DO protocol for personal web sites or blogs, but it should be. It's like someone telling you that your hair looks bad today. Or that yellow top on you looks hideous. Or your shoes don't match your socks.

It's just NOT COOL.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spell This

As I mentioned in my 25 Random Things about me, I am a logophile...a lover of words.

This, in no way, means I use fancy words, or that I am a word snob. I simply like to learn new words, hear unique words, or see these unusual words.

I love dictionaries. I always have. In fact, when my dad comes to visit in April, he will be bringing me a very disheveled dictionary that I used throughout my years at home. I have found only one awesome replacement in the technological world: my mac's version of the dictionary. It also includes a thesaurus, another passion I choose to look at for words.

I don't do it as often, but I "collect" cool words. I also collect quotes, but that's for another posting.

Although one would think that I would be word savvy and would be an excellent speller, I'm really not. I think I'm about average, maybe one iota above, but nowhere near the level of being in an amateur spelling bee.

I probably wouldn't even try. When I was in elementary school, I was pretty cocky about how good I was at spelling. But more often than not, I was eliminated in the first or second round of a CLASSROOM spelling bee. I was so disappointed by my showings that I don't have the nerve to "compete".

But I still have a fascination for words. And with my Page-A-Day calendar for teachers (it was on sale *and* there's a lot of cool trivia information I get to read about), I was able to learn a few more new words.

The calendar page for today shared the words that won the Scripps National Spelling Bee for each year ending with a "9" since 1929.

The definitions were not included. Just the words. But because I only recognized three words, I decided to look up the definitions and include them here.

1929: asceticism - suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons

1939: canonical - three varied definitions: 1. ordered by canon law; 2. accepted as being accurate and authoritative; 3. relating to a cathedral chapter of a member of it

1949: dulcimer - a musical instrument with a long rounded body and a fretted fingerboard, played by bowing, plucking, and strumming

1959: catamaran - a yacht or other boat with twin hulls in parallel

1969: interlocutory - 1. law given provisionally during the course of a legal action; 2. rare of or relating to dialogue or conversation

1979: maculature - blotting paper

1989: spoliator - the action of ruining or destroying something

1999: logorrhea - a tendency to extreme loquacity

This year's competition will be May 26th-28th.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Chimpanzees Go Crazy!

No, not Travis the Chimp who, sadly, went berserk and viciously attacked a woman. [I don't know why, but this news story really bothered me all week.]

But Christian Bale and Bill O'Reilly.

What? You may these two guys have in common with a chimp?

Nothing other than freaking out and making complete asses of themselves.

This is pretty old news, well, especially the Bill O'Reilly thing. But it all came up for me while I was listening to February's podcasts of Keith and the Girl (KATG).

A few weeks ago, there was audio leaked to the media of Christian Bale throwing a temper tantrum on the set of Terminator Salvation (aka Terminator 4). I didn't bother listening. I don't care. But when KATG went off on it, I was hooked.

And it did remind me of a KATG segment played a year before, in which Fox News Bill O'Reilly throws his own temper tantrum.

What idiots. I don't know why people feel they have the right to talk to other people that way. The problem is that they CAN. They are rich. They are famous. They have the power. And they abuse it. Fucking nimrods, that's what they are. And they'll get away with it. And they have.

Here is the "great" Christian Bale with his outburst. From what I understand, he was in a very dramatic, pivotal moment of a scene (in TERMINATOR, after all, that must be one of the most dramatic films to be made ever, right?)...when someone gets in his line of sight. Not on the set. Not in the movie. Just in the greater than thou actor, Christian Bale's LINE OF SIGHT.

His fit reminded me (and KATG) of Bill O'Reilly's fit. So, here is Bill O'Reilly, way back when, throwing his own little hissy-fit over some dumbshit thing he can't figure out.

I don't steal movies. I don't. But goddammit, I wish I could take away their paycheck (so Bill O'Reilly is not an actor, but you get my point...) and let the others on the set get that part of their ridiculous paycheck.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Coach Bubba's 20K Race Report

I was worried and nervous about this race.

I ran it last year at 2:08:25. This was the first race of last year that I disappointed myself (the second one would be Run for the Oaks almost a month later). The year before I had finished in 1:59:30.

My goal early last year was not to push myself in any training; do a maintenance kind of thing and run what I could run. And even though that was my intention, which included not worrying about my pace and times, in the end, it did bother me.

So I truly wanted to beat not just last year's time, but the time from the year before. But the idea of keeping 9:30s pace scared the shit out of me, especially after a sluggish week of runs.

Before I was able to jump out of bed with excitement this morning, I dreamt that I camped (in a camper trailer) near the start of the race and *still* couldn't make the start on time. In one part of the dream, I couldn't find my bib number and cried inconsolably, while my dad tried to console me while I tore his heart to pieces in my grief (over my bib number).

Later, I couldn't find socks -- after hearing the countdown to the start of the race -- so I was already running late and now, where are my socks? And I thought back to real life, how I had arranged everything last night -- with my socks -- and why, back in the dream, I couldn't find them. I tried to put on a pair of Tim's but they were way too big (still in the dream) so I considered running sockless, but knew that would not work for 12.4 miles. Eventually, I think I started at 8:36, for an 8AM start.

So that was the dream...and when the alarm woke me at 6AM, I didn't want to get out of bed.

We make it -- well before start time (which was actually at 8:30 in real life). I got my chip, hit the port-a-potty, then went for my warm-up run.

It was another cold morning. But I didn't get pissed, as I have the past few days. I was decked out in my usual below-50 degree attire: tights, then running tights, two pairs of socks, tank, long shirt, fleece jacket, fleece beanie cap, big ass cotton gloves, and sunglasses. NO ONE WOULD EVER KNOW IT WAS ME, I'm so covered up.

I ran about eight minutes of my intended 12 minute warm-up. I was just running around, sort of in circles, when I saw $Bill and decided to stop short...especially knowing he had ran two miles to the start.

We chatted. Bill took a picture of some dude (dude's camera) who wanted a pic of himself with the Start in the background. We got to the back of the start and then suddenly, we hear the gun. So we're off!

I wasn't sure what I intended to do. I just knew what I *wanted* to do but whether I wanted to do that _after_ I started running would be another question. So I stuck with the intial crowd for a bit and then thought I would just go a little faster...not much!

I noticed, during the splits, that my GPS would go off about 30 seconds before the actual mile marker. Well, that meant each second would be precious with my official time, since it's gun time that would be recorded. For the first few miles, when I could do the math in my head, I noticed that I was doing around 9:20s. I tried not to think (as Tim instructed me to the car, as I talked about my dream, he said "for one year, can you just run and not think?!?") and just run. Let the pace come to me.

And for the first six or so miles, that wasn't too hard to do. I could handle the hills and, if you can believe it, I liked them. Not so much the ups, but I loved the downs. And since there were so many, I gained great appreciation for the pattern of going up and being rewarded with going back down.

For one small midgen of a mile, I found a runner's high. But it either went away, or I got scared, or got a hill, but whatever happened, it didn't last long.

It seemed to take forever to get to the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) but once I got there, I felt like I reached Phase 2 of the run.

Phase 1: Getting through the hills of the neighborhoods.

Phase 2: Getting on the ATT

Phase 3: The route to the finish after the turn-around on the ATT.

This part wasn't too bad. I saw the first guy running back @ his 10 mile mark, my 6-7ish mile mark. I still thought: he's running hard and I am too, but not as hard as he is. That didn't make me go faster. :)

Closing in on the turn-around, which is not quite nine miles, I started feeling like I didn't want to do this anymore.

At around 10 miles, I thought: I'm so done with these long races. Why do I do this? It sucks. I want to walk but I'm not going to. Why do I do this? I am not doing the 10 miler in April. And I am not doing Coach Bubba again. And forget anymore halfs. They are too long. I'm done. I'M DONE! Where is the GD mile marker for 11? Why the hell are these miles so far apart? This is ridiculous!

I finally get to mile 11 and I am just sick and tired of how long these miles are so far apart. I still have 1.4 miles to go! Which is NOTHING if it weren't for the fact that THESE PARTICULAR MILES are longer than regular miles.

Finally, I see the balloons but the finish is further from the balloons. Why the hell did they put balloons up to make me think THAT was the finish? The finish is too far away! UGH. When will I be done??? I cannot wait until I am done!!!

And so, all of that went away when I heard Marian yell "THERE'S CINDY!" and down the line, I saw Tim and Mi-Mi cheering me on. All the pain, the agony, frustration, anger, etc. all came to my final runner's high. I saw the race clock at 1:55:05 and I knew that I would beat my PR.

I was so thrilled. I beat my time. I ran steady-eddie. I "just kept swimming". And I actually enjoyed (the first half of) it. :-)

My final time: 1:55:14. I was able to memorize two major splits (I practiced memorizing it as part of my 'not thinking' and just running the race):

5K: 28:52
10K: 57:21

My next race is Run for the Oaks next month. Yes, the other race I was not happy with last year. Which means another race for me, in which my goal needs to be "don't think, just run".

Friday, February 20, 2009

Movie Review: The Wrestler

Finally, another Oscar movie I have under my belt. And one I wanted to watch.

The movie was great. We watched it after our Valentine's outing this past Saturday. I wasn't sure how good it would be but it's right up my alley in the kind of movie I like to watch.

Somber. Brooding. Depressing. Callous. Violent. Gritty.

I am not a Mickey Rourke fan. I saw 9 1/2 weeks and for a moment -- way back then -- I had a mild crush on him (that's one raunchy movie...who wouldn't like a sadist for date? ;-)). But as with most actors, fame hit his ego and then I found him to be a real dick and a shitty actor.

But he was freaking amazing in The Wrestler. I can't believe it's the same guy. He was actually GOOD, EXTREMELY GOOD in this role. I can't imagine anyone else doing it as much justice as he did.

Marisa Tomei was great too. Not sure if it is worthy of an Oscar for her only because her character is not showcased as's not the focus of the movie...Mickey is (who, BTW, deserves an Oscar for this).

The odd part of Marisa's role is that she is amazingly gorgeous and sexy for her 40-something years. In my 20s I would have wanted her body. And we are introduced to her as an aging stripper, where young men make fun of how old she is. Um, they should have picked an actress that looked washed out because no amount of make-up could make her look bad. So that was a bit silly on the director/producer's part because she is no where near looking washed out.

And if anyone cares, she shows boobies. And they look real. And really nice.

And Evan Rachel Wood makes a showing as Mickey's daughter. I love her. She is an amazing actress. I've loved her since the TV show Once and Again and I try to keep up with her movies. Of course, she may be better known for once being hooked up with Marilyn Manson...which was quite shocking to me, but I am a HUGE Manson fan...

The story is very somber: a worn out, once famous, wrestler (Mickey Rourke), does smaller venues to make ends meet. His other job is working at a grocery store (ala Kroger). This big bulky man working at the deli counter? Yes, very funny.

But he's old. And he's hurt. And he's alone. He takes all kinds of painkillers to numb the pain so that he can do the "show" for the audience. He's well-respected by his younger wrestling peers -- and usually the plan is that he comes out to win.

The matches, even though they are fake and planned (and faked even more because it's a movie!), were hard for me to watch. I had to shut my eyes. It is pretty brutal. There is a battle with props that I could not watch: staple guns being used to thrown staples into the body. YUCK.

And he's in love with the stripper. But the stripper, we never know, if she really likes him or is he just another customer (he meets her at her stripper bar).

And then there's the daughter that he left behind. She's grown. A college student. Still living with the pain of a father who left her and her mother behind and never came back. But he returns to renew something in their relationship, only to end up ruining it again, most likely forever.

The movie isn't nominated. That's sad. It was a great movie. So far, the best of the year for me -- but I haven't watched very many.

I won't make my Oscar goal of watching all of the nominated movies. Just couldn't make the time. But from what little that I have seen, I think Mickey Rourke has earned his Oscar for this fine flick.

The Three Miles Before The Race...

I ran three miles yesterday, with strides at the end. And damn, my legs STILL felt sluggish. I had a slight sense of panic: how the heck am I going to do 9:30s during my race if I can't get through three miles?

Afterwards, I saw my coach's husband and told him my legs were tired. He said that this is a good thing. I'm tapering and my legs should be breaking down and rebuilding themselves.

But Tim tells me all the time: stop thinking and just run as fast as you can. :-) So I'm not as worried now. I know the route -- ran it two years in a row. And I'll just have to see what I got on Saturday.

I'm pretty excited. And we plan to have breakfast at a local place that I haven't been to there is a carrot dangling at the end of my race.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reverse That Feeling

Yesterday, I felt great during my four mile run and averaged 10 mn/miles. Today I felt like I gained 50 pounds, or had a weighted outfit on, and sludged through my four miles, to end up also averaging 10 mn/miles? WTF?

I did not want to run. I mean, I did, but I didn't. The weather was still pissing me off. Breezy and COLD. I am so done with the fucking cold. So I contemplated dreadmilling it. Or waiting until the weather would reach 55 degrees, the forecasted high.

But Tim had another plan: he was going to get me to get my run in.

I was home with my sick Mi-Mi. And after I got home from my annual physical, he was going to get his run in. Then I was to do mine after his. I told him I wasn't interested.

But he told me to get out there because if I didn't, I would be pissed. And I knew he was right.

So getting out there was the hardest part and I am thankful that I did do it. The harder part was getting the four miles in BUT I DID IT!

Those Annual Physicals

Wow. I just realized I had two annual physicals back-to-back: my GYN appointment was Friday and my regular physical was today.

And both were good except for the scale, which I think is the cause of my overall mood swing over the past few days. It's just easier to get mad at the cold weather, which hasn't really bothered me until yesterday. And today. And I am just ANGRY about it. Abnormally angry.

I love my GYN doctor. She delivered both my girls and consoled me through my miscarriage. I remember, after finding out that the baby I was carrying was not growing, she grabbed me and hugged me. I said, instinctively, "that's okay" and she admonished me with "NO. IT'S. NOT." And she was right.

For both my deliveries, she was there the entire time. With CJ, she actually slept by my bedside. And she was the one motivating me to push. With Mi-Mi, it was just her and Tim - she directed Tim to hold my leg a certain way (I think I was sideways, or something...very odd position for delivery), and there she was, just yelling at me to push, or rest, or whatever.

I remember a nurse telling me, with CJ, that when she met Dr. Battle, she thought she was a doula and not the actual doctor.

When I see her for my annuals, she hugs me. She always asks about "her babies". And for the life of me, I know that she cannot possibly remember me specifically, nor my children. She's been delivering babies for a long time. And her office, especially the examining rooms, are filled to the hilt with pictures of all the babies she has delivered. She has been a one-woman practice the entire time, well, except for a short time of another doctor helping, but she's always been *my* doctor.

She no longer delivers babies. Just a GYN doctor now. I have no idea how long she has been doing this, but it has to be extremely long. CJ is now 10 years old and when I was pregnant with her, her office was already filled with pictures of past deliveries. And LOTS and LOTS of pregnanat women.

It's kind of sad, for me, that those are just memories. The office is now virtually empty. This was my home-away-from-home for two+ pregnancies.

But it doesn't take away from the fact that getting weighed last week was a major put off for me.

Today was my physical with my primary doctor. The first thing that happens is the weigh-in. And since I didn't happen to lose 10 pounds since my last weigh-in (which was yesterday), I wasn't any happier that the result had not changed.

But I love his nurse, so she picked up my mood a bit. She can remember me and remembers that we love watching The Biggest Loser. So we chatted awhile about that, playing armchair psychologist and/or BFFs of the people on the show.

Blood pressure was excellent. Pulse was excellent. Temperature was normal. But in my mind, I am seething over my weight.

Doc comes in and asks me questions. I don't feel like revealing anything new.

Shin splints? Nope. They're just tender.

Tummy problems? Nope. Just lactose intolerant. NOTE: tummy problems are still there. But so many tests have been ran on me with nothing but lactose intolerant. I don't have to drink any milk, or have any dairy product, to get tummy problems. So I don't think that's it. But I'm not a doctor.

Any sudden weight gain? ............Nope............

Any other issues? Nope. I am thinking: I just want to get out of here!

So I'm pretty healthy by his account too. Just some blood work and the dreaded urine sample, to check all those other things out. But before I head out, my doc brings up 'so do you know anyone who's done an ironman?'

He asked me this before. He is completely fascinated with the Ironman and wants to do one. Forget trying to run a 5K, or bike a small event, or even try a Sprint Triathlon. Let's jump right into the ultimate endurance event that one can ever challenge themselves to!

He even gave me his private number for me to refer him to someone who has done an Ironman.

Any volunteers?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Clockwise or Counter-clockwise?

This was the decision I faced today, which is: do I run this [a common] route going clockwise or counter-clockwise.

If I go clockwise, then I go downhill, run into a wooded trail, go up one BIG ASS hill, then continue downwards for a bit before I go up another BIG ASS hill, only to continue in an upward slant for awhile until it flattens out and then, a downward finish.

If I go counter-clockwise, then I run up, flatten out, then continue to run down for bit, go DOWN the BIG ASS hill, go up for a good bit, then go down the second BIG ASS hill and finish UP.

I ran the clockwise route last week so I decided to go counter-clockwise.

As soon as I walked outside to head over to the gym, I yelled out, silently, FUCK.

It was cold. And the freaking wind was blowing all over me. WTF? What is it with this freaking weather?

So. I was not happy. I became instantly moody and decided I did not want to run. But that doesn't mean I won't.

I just like to whine and complain. :-)

So I got to the locker room and one of my locker mates asked if I was going to run outside. I said I was and wasn't one bit happy about it. And continued to complain outloud to them.

But I got my whiney ass outside and despite my initial fury at the weather, it didn't feel *as* cold as I anticipated. And then I'm off.

I tucked my hands and fingers into my sleeves as much as I could, but I was pretty surprised at how great I felt. My legs didn't feel tired and very energized. And it helped to run downwards, so I took advantage of all of that and kept a nice, brisk pace.

I borrowed Tim's old, old iPod and listened to Keith and the Girl, so I was really really a happy camper.

But I discovered that what I thought would be a four mile route would fall short. I was so confused because the week before, I ran the same route in reverse (clockwise) and hit over four miles. I later discovered that it was not four miles but, in fact, three miles. I didn't know this until logging my miles because I was so perplexed by the mile shortage between the two.

No matter. I got my four miles in and when I looked at my time and splits, I was shocked. I was in 10s the entire run! What? How can that be? I felt great! I was booking! How did I end up not going faster than 10 mn miles?

So despite the great run, I fell back into a grumpy mood. What happened to my pace? And then the worst thing I could do, while feeling down? I decided to weigh myself. The first time all year. And it wasn't pretty.

So I'm inching more into that downward spiral: too cold to run, a slow run that felt fast, and now, I'm fat. What good is all the running if I just eat like a cow?

And no. I'm not even CLOSE to having my period...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

February is classics month for my book club, thus this one was the chosen one.

I have always wanted to read it. Yet another classic that I never laid eyes on.

I have, however, seen the movie - and own it. It's good but not great, IMO.

And I would say the same for the book. While I enjoyed it and the moral overtones of the novel are moving, it stilll did not keep me intensely in tuned.

Quite honestly, I believe seeing the movie beforehand impacted the story. I was continually comparing what I was reading to the movie.

And as I mentioned before, the movie is not one of my favorites. But the morality of the book in dealing with racism in the 1930s was redeeming to me. To know, that Harper Lee created these characters: Atticus, Jem and Scout especially, to follow their given instincts NOT TO HATE anyone for the color of their skin.

It was a pretty decent follow up to The Last Lecture, as it was still the subject of being a good person, and being good to people, in your life.

I doubt that I need to recap the story but just a quick review: Atticus Finch is a small town, respected lawyer, who defends a black man (Tom Robinson) who was falsely accused of rape. Scout and Jem are his children (daughter and son, respectively). Scout does not understand why the town thinks of them as, um, NEGRO lovers -- and why the connotation is negative. And Jem knows why and hates that the townsfolk feel that way.

The novel continues to account the trial and then the years in the aftermath of the trial.

I think what I found hard was that nothing really GOOD came out of it. I mean, yes, these people defended the low man on the totem pole, but it was discouraging to read nothing really changed. It's all baby steps in reality but I could have used a Rocky Balboa moment of redemption, perhaps vengeance even...:-)

But there are some significant lines that I folded to refer to here...words that mean the world to me.

When Scout questions Atticus about how he must be wrong to defend Tom Robinson, because everyone else in the town disagreed with him, Atticus says to her:

"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions...but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

Later, when Jem, who had a very difficult time dealing with Tom Robinson's guilty sentence, asks Atticus why he was convicted without witnesses; how is it that men have been hanged from just circumstantial evidence, Atticus tells him:

"I know, and lots of 'em probably desrved it, too -- but in the abscence of eyewitnesses there's always a doubt, sometimes only the shadow of a doubt. The law says 'reasonable doubt,' but I think a defendant's entitled to the shadow of a doubt. There's always the possibility, no matter how improbable, that he's innocent."

Do I have to repeat how much I believe in that above paragraph? I tell you: the people of Maycomb are not much different than people in THIS day and age, who allow media and emotion to get the best of their better conscience, and convict people without evidence...even before there is a trial!

And lastly, when Jem doesn't like Atticus' statement that no matter what, the white man will win -- 'they're ugly, but those are the facts of life'. Jem says it's not fair, it's not right. To which the brilliant Atticus says, among other things:

"...The one place where a man outght to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it -- whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash."

For me, this doesn't apply only to race or religion, but just being a good person. And the douche bags of this world: this applies to them. The assholes who think they are better than another, because of his arrogance, his wealth, his position in society, TRASH be it white trash, black trash, mexican trash, male-trash, etc.

I'm glad I read this one and maybe one day, I'll read it again. I just hope that my daughters, when they find they want to read it, will be moved by the ideals of the Finch family.

Saturday's Long Run

Tim and a 'piddly' five miles (his words, not mine) and I had a 'taper' run of eight miles. Next Saturday is my 20K.

I was wondering how my legs would feel after a day of not running. I did "swim" Friday but swims the day before my long run seem to make my legs stronger rather than more tired. I just have to make it to the poll. :-)

Tim and I started out together into Umstead, from Old Reedy Creek (ORC). It's pretty much an immediate uphill, then a slight up to a place we call Overlook, then it gets hilly. But the end is the bomb, because you then go down the slight up and downhill. This is where most runners get their runner's high -- at least I do...almost every time I run it, so it's a great way to end the run.

BUT, in order to end there, one has to go through all the crappy hills. And I was trying hard not to think about what I had to look forward to, which was even more difficult since my iPod is still out of service. It was just me and mother nature...and my OCD brain counting.

Weather was excellent and when Tim ran ahead of me, I enjoyed my surroundings. It was so beautiful that I stopped for a second to take a picture of the trail. This is approaching Overlook from ORC:

My run at umstead today... on TwitPic

I had a brisk pace - in the 9s - during the run. But it felt strenuous and I started thinking about next week's race. Doubt sets in.

I start thinking about the route. It's very hilly in the beginning and the very idea of those hills burning my legs, as I was feeling throughout my run at Umstead, was daunting. How can I fare those hills again?

When the trail leveled out, I thought about the American Tobacco Trail portion of the race. It's pretty flat...I thought: okay, I think I can keep pace during the flat part. But again, the negative thoughts seep into my brain: but by that time, my legs will be burned out from the hills of the first half! I'm doing eight now and my legs are working way too hard for my comfort. How can I add four-plus more and hit sub-2?

Stop thinking. Stop thinking. I'm just going to do what I can do.

Back to my long run. My route was four miles out, then turn around and run back. Four miles out ended up being on the tail end of the "S" hill. As you can imagine, it's a winding hill, and from the direction I started, it would be on the decline. Thus, I had to turn around and run UP the "S" hill.

And I did it. I kept my head straight down to the ground, the bill of my cap blocking what was ahead, and just concentrated on running up while repeating "suck it up. suck it up. suck it up." with each step.

I got through that and then, more hills. I got close to passing one dude when I noticed cemetary hill in the future. I wanted to take a pic of this too, but I didn't want to move anything except my feet. I did it again: head down, just start running.

But before this, I had been toying with the idea of walking up the hill, as I would still have three miles to go afterwards. And then the debate in my head happens: don't wuss out. You will love knowing you ran up the hill after you finish. But my legs are tired. Don't be an ego-maniac. Just walk and make this run enjoyable.

So I decided to be an ego-maniac and run up the hill. Head down and just count my way up to the hill. It seemed like minutes when I finally looked up and noticed I was only half way up cemetary hill. I took about six more trots when I said "screw it" and just walked the remainder of the hill.

That mile ended up being in the 10s and with a few more lumpy hills, I reach Overlook and I know it's home free. So I booked, with two miles to go. And it wasn't _that_ easy, it was great. I was booking and I thought: I am running fast, with two miles to go. I have to remember this for my race. For any race. I have enough in me to run fast my last two miles.

This would have been the time I needed more runners going in the same direction. I remember similar runs, where I take this route and find my fast pace, and end up passing people. I love it. But I was solo, although I passed many runners going the other way, who seemed to be surprised to see someone going fast. I even said hello in between my pants. I was so happy. And I was close to done.

Tim had rock blaring from the minivan as I approached the end. I was thankful that he had parked right at the end of the I40 overpass. I finished strong, as my coach often asks me to do.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Runs in Review

This is day five of running for me.

This is what happens when I end up doing my long runs on Sunday. But sometimes this happens and I just have to push through and quit complaining (yeah, right :-)).

Sunday was a run with $Bill: 13 miles. We hit 12-something, but it felt like a sluggish run to me.

Monday was supposed to be an easy three mile run. This was not easy for me.

My legs felt great all day, despite the almost-13 miles the day before. Just when I got cocky about being a born athlete, I went for my three mile run and found out that my legs are not as recovered from the day before.

Three miles felt like forever and I walked the two big hills that I encounter in my route. I ended up running almost 3 1/2 miles. My shins and my right ankle ache.

Tuesday was my track workout. I had a bunch of 400s to run. I still remember when Frank and I ran a bunch of 400s and they ended up being really hard.

Before I could even start my workout, I discovered that I left my running shoes at home. Great. I drove home and came back to start my workout a good half hour later than usual.

My two mile warm-up was not easy. My shins and ankle still ached; my quads and hams were tight.

Once I got to the track, I saw a few runners running their workouts, and the students of the school were out in the middle. Great. This is what happens when I run the workout later than normal.

The first four 400s were to be done in 2:00. This is do-able for me. Fast, but do-able. However, the next four 400s were going to be 1:50 *and* #7 was to be done in 1:45. Between those 400s was a 200 jog (a 400 walk between the two sets of fours).

One of the runners that I saw as I got to the track was an older gentleman who acknowledged me. As I got prepared to start my workout, he trotted near me and said something about me joining him for one more lap.

Uhm. No. I said it a little nicer, but not much better since I wasn't expecting him to ask me out. I had my iPod on too, so I thought "why are you asking me to join you? I think I look like I am ready to run alone."

It wasn't my intent to come across aloof. I said "i can't keep up with you", hoping a boost to his ego would be an easy "no". But he replied with "i don't have to go that fast."

Okay. A blow to my ego is not going to win you over. I think I was polite enough to say "maybe next time" and he went off on his own.

I had a hard time trying to meet the 2:00 mn mark for my 400s: 2:01, 2:01, 2:02 and 1:59. I could pump up a little knowing I had a recovery walk due.

But how the hell was I going to go 10 seconds faster? I was in full concentration mode to make the 2s. And it hurt physically.

And that dude was still talking to me! At one lap, he was off to the side, and he said something again to me. I think it was something like "push hard", but since I had my iPod on, I had no clue. I was just annoyed that he was still chatting with me. Did I mention I was in full concentration mode?

I gave him a thumbs up for acknowledgement. He did a few other statements to me but I decided I was done giving him any attention (like I could, since all I could do was run).

The next four: 1:51, 1:52, 1:47, 2:02. Yeah, the last one blew, but at least I picked up the pace on the seventh. Those were not easy and I continued to jog between each of them. I was pretty happy with my results :-).

Wednesday was a walk-run thing that I do with CJ and her BFF. This was not bad. Sure, it was a slow pace, but legs felt better than I thought they would.

Thursday (today) was an easy four mile run. I took the day off to ease the stress of juggling work with half day of school, getting a run in, and all the other stuff...which was a smart thing to do.

I ran iPod-less. Relevant tangent to the story: my iPod has the white screen of death. It stopped working for me after my Tuesday track workout. I loaded my KATG podcasts onto Mi-Mi's shuffle, only to find that it wouldn't play a thing once I got to the park to run.

I decided to count people - unique ones - while I ran. I usually do this while listening to my iPod, so it doesn't matter that I was iPodless. I just wanted to mention that I ran WITHOUT HELP FOR DISTRACTION.

I felt great during the run, although my shins are still achey. I hope it's not shin splints again. Especially after reading about some dude who ended up with a broken leg after running with shin splints!

I have an eight mile run Saturday and then its RACE week, as I prepare for Coach Bubba's 20k on the 21st. I'm excited but as usual, doubt has settled in my head about whether my goal of under two hours is worth it...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Last Restaurant Standing

This is a reality TV show on BBC America. It is now in its second season.

I love this show. The premise is that there are eight couples (father-daughter, husband-wife, gay couple, etc.) who compete to win their own restaurant.

This is not Hell's Kitchen. This is not Top Chef.

This is almost documentary like in just the way it is shot.

There is no fighting between couples, only within the couples does one see any agitation or emotion.

It's a show about couples who have a dream of owning and running their own restaurant. And most of the 'contestants' are home cooks, caterers, or something else that has little or nothing to do with a professional career in the culinary arts.

The main "character" is Raymond Blanc, a world-renowned chef (that I had never heard of until I watched the first season). He is amazing because he is not cruel. He is not mean. He does not yell. But he is head strong in the fact that when he offers a restaurant to the winner, it is a business deal. So he means business: the food must be good, the food must look good, the ingredients must be fresh, and most importantly, your food will need to make money for your restaurant.

Raymond Blanc is so French that they have to, sometimes, add subtitles to his English because his accent is *so* strong. This is one reason why I love this show. It's *so* opposite of America's version of reality TV. The guy can barely be understood! He's not yelling (and don't be mislead, I am a Gordon Ramsey fan -- but more on his BBC America shows and not the American ones). He is not angry. He is not especially good-looking *for typical television*.

His sidekicks, Sarah Willingham and David Moore, are industry experts. They, too, are not typical images for American TV. Sarah is beautiful but, larger, than any American counterpart; and well, David Moore is not an amazing looker either.

And that is what works for me. REAL people.

And if this season is like last season, these people are all about making their restaurant concept work.

Raymond Blanc gives the eight couples eight keys to various locations throughout England to create their own restaurant. They have to design the interior and their menu. They are tasked to market their restaurant and bring enough people in to make money. Sarah and David come around to each restaurant, checking up on them as they prepare for their week's opening night. And they also try the food out and then report back to Raymond Blanc with results of profits for the night, quality of food, and how the front of house handled any problems.

There is usually a task of the week that Raymond has them focus on for their opening night. The three restaurants that fare poorly are then given a challenge, whether it be provide their spin on a TV dinner, or create a meal for fast food that is tasty. One couple who fails to meet Raymond Blanc's requirements will be sent home and their restaurant will close.

The great thing about the challenge? The three couples will get the help from the remaining "safe" couples to win the challenge.

And those "safe" couples? They actually help. They actually help with passion and fervor, as though is it their own butts that are on the line.

There is no drama of back-stabbing and gossiping. There is no sabotaging of another team's challenge. It is truly team work and when couples do end up losing their restaurant, most of the safe couples end up in tears.

BBC has it right. I love most of their line-up of shows. Kitchen Nightmares ON BBC is an amazing show. On American TV? Not so much. Actually, it's pretty lame.

Last Restaurant Standing airs on BBC America on Tuesdays @ 9PM. If you want to catch the rerun from the previous week, it airs @ 8PM, an hour before the new episode.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It Looks Like a Train Wreck

This is what I thought as I pulled into my driveway today.

I saw Christina, our babysitter, standing by her car. And strewn across the sidewalk were CJ's bike, Mi-Mi's bike, and a helmet.

But no Mi-Mi and no CJ.

I got out of the car and Christina gave me the play-by-play:

You just missed it all. I was five minutes late picking the girls up and CJ was immediately looking like she was in a bad mood. I asked her what was wrong. She said nothing. She brooded all the way home and when we got home, I asked her again if she wanted to talk about it and she said nothing. She did her homework and then she said she wanted to go outside to play. But we had to wait for Mi-Mi to finish her rhymes, which took awhile. We went outside and they got their bikes and things were fine. Mi-Mi wanted CJ to follow some rules she made up and CJ was okay with it. But something happened and CJ didn't follow Mi-Mi's rules right, so Mi-Mi got mad and stormed into the house. CJ wanted to continue to ride her bike but I didn't want to leave Mi-Mi alone in the house. CJ said 'you can just leave me out here alone' and I didn't think that was right so I told her I couldn't do that. CJ said 'IT'S ALRIGHT!' but I told her that it's not until I ask your mom and if it is okay, then you can stay out alone the next time I come over. But I am not going to get into trouble with your mom and dad for leaving you alone and by the way, I don't want anyone to STEAL YOU!' So she got mad and dropped her bike and helmet and stormed into the house. I was just about to follow her back in and then I saw you pulling up into the driveway. So you are going to have some fun with them.

Oh the drama that a five and ten year old can bring into so many lives.

One of the Greatest Moments of My Life...

...happens nearly every day as I wait for my youngest daughter at the door of her school, when her school day ends.

On the days that I pick up my girls from school, I saunter through the crowd of PTA snobs and/or other mommy cliques. Most are sipping their Starbucks (ugh!) and some are dressed to the nines or NOT. There are few that I mingle with...but if Tim was with me, he would be "hello"ing out the ying-yang. He's Mr. Socialite.

But I walk right up to a post that faces the double-doors that lead out to the buses. Walkers are released first and this is where my little punkins end up coming out.

Mi-Mi is first. Her class is on the first floor, in the same aisle as the double-doors: her class is on the very opposite of the hall as the doors that I wait for her.


And I can almost see her immediately, among the hordes of kids running to the double-doors. And there she is, running with them.

And she is all alone. She has been running solo from the moment that I had started picking her up. And she is so fine about it. She runs, confidently to the door. But before she gets there, if she sees me? Her face lights up. Her speed increases. And she runs to me with purpose.

As soon as she's out of the doors, she runs to me with a big hug.

And then we wait for CJ, who comes out of the door within seconds of Mi-Mi.

But CJ does not run.

She does not look at me.

She walks ahead with her friend.

And only until she has to cross the road does she look back at me and Mi-Mi, and not with purpose or adoration, but with tired boredom, as if "hurry up already. i have had a hard day."

But it's all good.

Monday, February 09, 2009

If Chick-Fil-A Is Closed, Where Will We Eat?

Ahhh...hypocrites and religious elitists: where can they eat on Sundays? On the Lord's day? Certainly, at home is a good choice. But if not -- and since Chick-Fil-A is not open -- where can they eat??

Well for some cities, Sunday is almost like any other day of the week...and plenty of restaurants are open. But if you, as a religious elitist, happen to think that it's not a good idea to work on Sundays, then keep your hypocritical fat-ass at home.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ten (Revisited) Random Things About Me...

Yes, I have already posted the fast-moving 'spam' mail that has swept Facebook "25 Random Things About Me".

And BTW, I like reading these. They are fun. If you don't participate, so be it. But if you don't because you think they're stupid, then you're just lame and lacking a fun bone in your body. If you read and enjoy others' postings and still think it is stupid, then you are a hypocrite. Keep your opinion to yourself and let everyone else have their fun.

I started thinking: you know, I really blog about random things. The difference is that I was LESS WORDY with the 25 random things than the wordy posts I put into my blog.

Anyway, I thought I would outline ten random things about me that I have already posted. It's like a summary of shit I have posted over the course of my blog.

1. I once received a birthday cake from a total stranger. It was HER birthday cake.

2. My favorite restaurant in Raleigh is Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertry. It has the best filet mignon I have ever had. Period. All of the other food on the menu (that I have tried) is amazing too.

3. I find High School Musical to contain some of the worst songs ever recorded. I cannot stand it.

4. I love the sport of wallyball.

5. I have an almost finished all back tattoo of a dragon. I had been going for close to a year, nearly every two weeks, with three hour sessions. I have been posting about nearly every session. I stopped going at the start of the summer last year. I needed a break and jump into the pool with my kids (can't get chlorine on fresh tattoos). I haven't been back since. And I only have a little more to go. I'll go back. Soon. I just can't stop thinking of how painful it is.

6. I am scared of flying kites.

7. I was once a victim of a container of sour cream being thrown on my head. In public.

8. I find mattresses being delivered by 'civilians' (non-professional mattress movers) hilarious.

9. My favorite book of all time is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

10. I am mildly obsessed with crimes and especially, convictions of innocent people.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Incredible Stories

CJ and I have discovered another great show: "I Survived" airs Mondays on the Biography channel.

We have only seen one episode but the stories we watched were incredible. As you can imagine, the show is about people in near death situations that survived.

The episode we watched had account of three different stories: a woman is abducted, raped, and stabbed multiple times and left to die; a woman out for a run falls 60 feet into a Utah canyon, shattering her pelvis and bleeding to death internally; a man and woman are confronted with an intruder in their home, holding a shotgun to them.

The show slowly has the survivors retell their story. It is chilling. And scary. Tim and I have often told our children that the real monsters out there are not "things" we see in the story books; they are real people. CJ is beginning to understand this and this show sure didn't dispel our theory.

While all the stories are incredible, I am going to point out the athlete who fell 60 feet. It was an amazing story because she was extremely cognizant of her situation and was using her knowledge of the great outdoors to survive. That she could be so concious of what she needed to do was incredible, but even more amazing is that her dog ended up guiding rescuers to her.

Danelle Ballengee is a champion adventure racing, who, in December 2006, went for a run with her dog Taz in the canyons of Moab, Utah. During her run, she slipped and fell off a 60 foot ledge, crippled by her shattered pelvis. Amazingly, she endured 52 hours in the canyon, with her loyal dog trying to keep her warm in 20 degree nights.

At her lowest point of day three, she looked her dog in the eyes and asked him to help her. She had no idea if that dog could comprehend what she was asking. But amazingly, the dog ran five miles back to where she left her truck, where rescuers were already trying to assess her situation. They saw the dog, who then ran BACK into the canyon, leading them right to her.

In May of the following year, Danelle was back to competing and entered -- and completed -- the Adventure Xstreme 12-hour challenge. She was in a wheel chair just four months earlier.

I have a new show to watch now -- and I love my TV. And even better, I have a new hero to look up to. Hope she has a twitter account!

For more on her accident: Miracle in Moab: The Stunning Rescue of Danelle Ballengee

For more on her first race after the accident: Ballengee: How's This For Rehab

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Those Surprisingly Tender Moments You Don't Expect...

Today I was supposed to take CJ and her BFF for our "cool chicks on the run" day.

As you may or may not recall, the girls and I do a run-walk program, to get them more involved with running and setting a goal for running a 5K at the "end". Last year, it was the Reindeer Romp and this year, we will pick a 5K that interests them for some time in the Spring.

Today would have been the first day back to our program but as soon as I was out in this weather, I found it FREEZING COLD.

The cold does not intimidate me. Buddha knows that I have ran in this kind of weather before but today, I just didn't want to. YUCK-OH. I have had ENOUGH! (and besides, it appears that I will have to run in even colder weather tomorrow.)

So instead, I let CJ and her BFF do homework (yay. thanks. mom.) and then do what tweens love to do.

Lots of giggles. Lots of whispers. And can you believe it? _They_ went for a walk. In this buddha-forsaken weather! I thought "if that's the case, I should've just taken them for a run!" But my senses said "brrrrr..." and I moved on to my next thoughts...

It was time to get BFF home, so I packed them into the car and headed to BFF's house.

More giggles in the back seat. More hushed talking. I tried to listen to my iPod (which is almost near perfect in having all the songs I don't mind listening to on shuffle mode) as low, but entertaining as possible for my old-ass ears.

I walked her into her house, so that I could explain that I wimped out and didn't want to take them in the cold. BFF's mom was fine with it and we chatted a bit. When CJ and I got ready to leave, BFF's mom said "Wait. I don't know if you'll want this but..."

...and she presented us with cat stuff: cat pillow, cat comb, cat mat with catnip in it, and a cat stocking.

I was surprised and moved! They had just put down their beloved, but old, cat last year. In fact, BFF was staying with us the night the cat was put to sleep (he was very sick and very old).

And BFF's mom was relaying the stuff she was giving us. I was filled with gratitude and went to look at BFF with my thankful face, when I noticed she was in tears. She hugged her mom's side, just distraught over the loss of her kitty. Almost two months later, and her pain was still so strong that she brought me to tears too.

I went over and hugged her (which ends up hugging her mom, since she is clutched to her mom) and continued to thank her for her thoughtfulness.

But tears welled up inside of me. It's so difficult to see children in true emotional pain. The loss of a much-loved pet? To a 10 year old? It's tragic for an adult! I can imagine what it must felt for her (and well, I can sympathize as I still have vivid memories of my own pain, at the loss of my dog Ranger, the summer before my sixth grade year).

I told her that she was doing a wonderful thing, presenting us with such cherish items from her own cat. This would bring our home goodwill, good luck, and much love for our own cat, because it came from her own home, with her own love for her kitty.

Same time, same place next week? I ask, as she puts a smile on her face. Which lit me up inside, to see her genuinely get out of her funk and appreciate the goodwill she was doing for us.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Disturbing the Priest

This is, by far, one of my favorite songs of all-time...and definitely, my favorite of all time from Black Sabbath.

This is not a song that I often hear others mention. I first heard this song while skipping school with a few, um, stoners and love of the song was instant.

The song comes from Born Again, with Ian Gillian as Sabbath's frontman. I love Ian so much better than Dio. Perfect Strangers, from Deep Purple, is another album with a couple of my VERY FAVORITE songs on it with Gillian.

I am not a big fan of old Black Sabbath. I don't hate it but it's not the sound that I prefer. I like Sweet Leaf but mainly because I heard it at aforementioned day of skipping. Also Mob Rules, which I enjoy better than Sweet Leaf -- the lyrics and the speed of the song are amazing. But while Dio is fine, I much prefer Ian Gillian over any other frontman from Sabbath.

It is one of the most evil, wicked, scary songs I've heard of ever. Marilyn Manson comes close with their rendition of Sweet Dreams (another one of my top faves).

But the guitar sounds of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler are all Black Sabbath. The lyrics - about evil vs. good, religious connotations -- I LOVE IT!

...Sweet child with an innocent smile watches closely all the while
Don't be fooled when he cries, keep looking at the eyes

Good life is contradiction because of crucifixion
If you're ready and have the need, I will take your soul and plant my seed

...You just gotta listen to the night as you're going up the stairs
You just gotta listen to the night and don't forget to say your prayers

...We're disturbing the priest, won't you please come to our feast
Do we mind disturbing the priest, not at all, not at all, not in the least
ahhhh, Do we mind disturbing the priest
aahhhh, not at all, not at all, not in the least

And of course, the title is the best of all.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Seoul Food

In January, I saw a tweet pass through my twitter account of this: I wrote "man that looks good" and got a reply that it was from Seoul Garden in Raleigh.

So I mentioned to $Bill that I wanted to try that place one day. I love going out for lunch but because my lunch hours are usually filled with something, I don't get to do it very often.

And not just going out anywhere: I want to try new and different and LOCAL places. And this one fit the bill PLUS it was Korean food, which I love (except for Kimchi).

So I asked Bill if he was up for lunch this past Friday and included a few of our friends. Well, it ended up being all of the IBMers that worked together...and Samantha. :-)

I had a bit of time finding the place, which was strange, as I had passed this place a couple of weeks ago and told Tim "I want to try that place!"

The decor was quite nice. I had been in this place (the location) before and it has looked pretty sad but the owners made this look like it should, a Korean eatery.

The menu was extensive but I was focused on the lunch box deals, like the twitpic. And I had my mind set on bulgolgi, which is one of my favorite dishes. But as I walked in, I noticed some kind of pancake looking thing that sizzled and smelled out of this world. Sam asked what it was and the server said "seafood pancake".

Instead, I stuck to my guns and ordered the bulgolgi lunch box.

Our server, maybe even owner?, was amazingly patient with us. One in our party had trouble finding something to eat and our server was helping her select something. She came back to make sure we all enjoyed the food and later, asked how we came upon this place.

This is the kind of stuff that I love about these little places. Service is more personable, even if it can be, um, curt (Breakfast nazi).

My bulgolgi was good but I have had it better. But everything else within my lunch box was amazing:

I would attempt to try the place out again one day. Unfortunately, it is not a quick trip from work *and* is in our "old" part of town (where we used to live), which is not a frequented route for us. But I would like to see this place stick around and thrive...

BTW, the empty square between the rice and bulgolgi was where the two pieces of california sushi roll were placed...I ate them before I thought "hey! i want to take a picture of this too!"

Seoul Garden
4701 Atlantic Avenue

Book Review: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Kerry wasn't kidding about these big-ass books: they are quick reads! But that is because they are _fun_ reads.

New Moon is the second book in Meyer's Twilight series. This was a tough book to read, not because it was uninteresting, but because two of the four of us were reading this at the same time. I had to actually request a copy from the library to read it, while Tim finished the copy I borrowed from Samantha.

The new dilemma was almost having three of us reading Eclipse at the same time, but CJ just finished it and now Tim will start. I'll start on the next book club choice and hope Tim will finish it so that I can read it after this one. But just in case, I am on the waiting list for the library copy.

Back to the book.

As with CJ, and millions of girls and women who have read Twilight, I am madly in love with Edward Cullen. So I could not wait to sink my teeth (pun intended) into this one. I wanted Edward back in my life.

And he was. But only momentarily.

And then New Moon became Twilight Part Two: the same story with a werewolf instead of a vampire; and friendship instead of undeniable love.

Then toss in a brooding teenaged girl and, well, it gets a bit annoying.

I continued to read, knowing that Edward would return at some point. But this one was just not as heartstopping, palpitating, making my tummy turn butterflies, as Twilight was.

And unfortunately, the story regarding Bella was just making me want to slap her silly. Probably because this is exactly how a teenager would act, but I prefer to think that Bella is more special than a typical teenaged girl. After all, she captured the heart of Edward!!

When Edward finally appears in the storyline, it is under such absurd circumstances that I thought: what happenied Stephenie? This is just plain silly!

And it didn't get much better. Can you say Harlequin Romance?

For the men who have not been exposed to a Harlequin Romance, here's how it goes:
Rugged, muscular, adonis-like man, who is wealthy and powerful beyond means, falls in love with naive, "i-don't-think-i-am-very-pretty"-but-is-really-the-most-gorgeous-woman-in-the-world, vulnerable virgin. Said vulnerable virgin hates to love this man (or loves to hate him) and no matter how OBVIOUS it is the man loves her, continues to believe he does not and yearns for his love.

And this is the exact plot of the end of New Moon. Edward loves Bella and touches her face, kisses her head, nose, lips, etc. Stares adoringly at her and Bella continues to think "aw shucks, he's just being nice to me."


This will not stop me from reading the next two books in the series. Edward is much too strong for me to resist. But Bella is going to need to grow up soon or I'm going to end up hating her. And become disappointed in Stephenie, after all the wonderful characters I've read from The Host and Twilight...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

It's Those Little Things That Count...

I had a great day yesterday.

Not because I had a pretty good run. But that was one part of it.

Not because I got to meet one of the cutest babies in the world. But that helped.

Not because I got to meet up with some BFFs for run and brunch. But it did contribute.

What made my day so great?

Well, let me explain...

My running route was to meet my friends during their 20 mile run. Tim would not be running as he ended up having a sinus infection.

I asked Tim to help me with my route -- where I was going to meet my BFFs. I asked him to tell me how I needed to get out of Umstead, if I never ran into my running pals.

So he got out his Umstead map (which I ended up washing in my laundry...sorry honey :-)) and outlined where I would go, where they would be, and how I would find them. If I didn't, he told me the many ways I could get back out.

He dropped me off at my starting point. I would see him at The Cary Cafe, where my route would end. We gave each other a kiss and he said "Have fun. I have my phone and I have gear in the back in case I need to come get you."

Awwwww...he managed to make my heart skip a beat. My hero.

And fortunately, I didn't get lost. I found my friends. And enjoyed my run to The Cary Cafe.

As I ran to the cafe, I needed just a little more to hit 10 miles on my GPS. I ran along the street that is in front of the cafe, circled around, passed the cafe, and went around a Food Lion, circled back to end up in front of the cafe.

And who was coming out of the cafe to greet me?


He came out and said "right on time! I was expecting you around 1:48 (I was a minute and some second early, for the record)." He pointed out the car so I could try to help my disheveled self a little more presentable.

During our brunch, he mentioned how he noticed me running across the road and he figured I was trying to get my miles in.

Awwww...he's really looking out for me.

And then during brunch, I was cold. I don't know about you other runners, but I start getting cold within my own sweat as I cool down. I usually change my clothes but Saturday, I brought a change of clothes but no towel...

And what did my honey bunch do? He gave me his jacket.

It was as if we were newlyweds, his attentiveness to me that day.

And although he is usually very attentive, it just came at those perfect moments that make me remember how much I love him.

The best part? He took CJ to the mall to go shopping (she's 10 years old) so that I could take a nap...:-)

And I did.

This Week's Runs

Monday was a recovery run of 4 miles. I ran with $Bill on my manic Monday schedule.

Bill had suggested doing our recovery run on Black Creek Trail, which is one of the flattest stretches in our area. He had run 18 miles that Saturday and for me, I had no problem working in flat into my run...considering the alternatives we had.

It was a nice run albeit cold. I still braved the elements by wearing only a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Bill had five and I had four, so we compromised for 4.5 @ 46:02.

Tuesday was crap. I had a pretty tough track workout: two mile warm-up; 2000m @ 10:30 then 800s @ 3:50 each. On top of that, I would be alone in my quest to meet this workout. And on top of the top of that: it was a cold 41 degrees with rain. But I had to do it or it wouldn't get done if I thought I would wait for the rain to go away.

From the get-go, I felt sluggish. That's not unusual with the warm-up run. My usual route is not friendly so I attributed it to the route. I had to add a couple laps once I got to the track to get to my two miles. There were a handful of faithful runners out there -- not many -- but enough to keep me company. I got a couple of "good jobs" from a couple of runners who lapped me quite often. Nothing beats that kind of comraderie.

The 2000m was fine. I felt like I was really pushing myself to make my 2:06 per 400 average time to come up with 10:30. 2:06 per lap is usually do-able for me -- not with ease, mind you -- but not an intimidating pace either. Today, it was not that do-able but again, I didn't think too much into it.

Perhaps one of my mistakes was not taking my 400 walk between the 2000m and the first 800. Instead, I just took a break at my start for perhaps, a minute. Starting that 800? My legs had that tired, tickly feeling of weakness.

All I could do was concentrate my effort on just making 200m, then 400m, then 600m, and try not to get overly-excited that I would soon finish the 800. I managed to eke the 3:50 goal time.

During the first 800, I thought: there is no way I can do any more of these. I debated about just stopping after this one. Then I paid attention to my fellow runners out there on the track, on these dreary, cold, rainy day. They were out there pushing hard too. So during my walk break, I decided that three more I could do. If I couldn't make my 3:50 time, at least I would do a time and allow Brennan to evaluate it.

Once I began the second 800 I felt relief because my legs felt good. I could do this. Until I rounded the curve, which is barely a few yards away from where I started. Once I rounded the curve, that same tickly, weak feeling in my thighs came back. I struggled again to just vision making each 200m to get to 800. By then, I knew I was done. I had nothing left and if I was just giving up, then so be it. I was beaten.

And being beaten, I still managed a 3:57 800m. But I decided I had enough and jogged my half mile back to the gym. Despite my disappointment, I was thankful that I was able to do what I did.

Thursday was a recovery run of five miles. Again, $Bill and I met for a run that, again, I had to struggle to fit in my crazy schedule. Bill had six and there was no compromise for me this time: I was doing my five.

I don't know what the temperature was but it was COLD. I was bundled this time. Run felt decent to me, despite the fact that my shoes kept untying. I wondered if I was subconciously tying my shoes so that they would untie :-). I got my five in 50:30.

Saturday was a long run of 10 miles. Bill suggested joining him and another friend, Erin, for their last 9 miles of their 20 mile run. Instead, I hooked up with them when they had about five miles left. They were beat...they had run a route we call Turkey Creek and it is not easy, no matter what direction you go in.

For me, I had a pretty good route so I was making amazing splits (in the 9:30s). Anything that happened Tuesday to my legs was the very opposite today. Hills were not easy but my legs felt strong and up-to-the challenge.

I managed to run my 10 in 1:47:17 which was the total time that included a good 10 minutes of lollygagging and a walk up half mile hill. So technically, it was a bit faster pace (and I did notice I had done 9:40s for my last two miles).

Now, if only I could replicate this feeling for Coach Bubba and NOT choke...

Save The Library!

The economy has affected me in so many ways. I am feeling it in the way I use my money and most especially, in the way I *sympathize* with so many people who are feeling it worse than I am. I am only >>this close<< to being in their shoes.

I don't think "whew - I'm so glad I'm luckier than they are". I think "how can I help them because it could be me".

So when I read that Wake County was considering closing library branches as part of their budget cuts, those same thoughts came to my head. One: this affects ME because I use the library CONSTANTLY.

I have always, always, been a library hound. It was my favorite place to be as a kid, including the few exciting moments that I was able to get on a Bookmobile and look at books.

And now, I pass on my excitement about libraries to my children. They love it. And I love it. We walk out several times a month with a buttload of books.

And the library I go to is almost always full. There are about half a dozen computers there and I see young and old, sitting there, surfing away.

And the best part of all of this? It's free.

It's always been free.

And now, when our economy is all to shit, government deems it necessary to eliminate a need for what has always been free.

Granted, I am being a little melodramatic. There are only a few branches that risk being on the chopping block. And one of them happens to be the one that's two miles away from my house. The same one that gave me a flashback to my 'i-need-anger-management' days.

But I like this place. It's convenient. It's small. And I can get any book I want thanks to the Wake County Library's nod to a great user experience and providing an online way to reserve books.

And it will be disappointing to travel a little further to another branch *but*, for now, I will be able to do that. Will my library companions be able to as well?

Not everyone has a computer at home. And if they do, not everyone has the luxury to spend money on internet access. More than that, not everyone enjoys spending money on books. And with gas prices, it's not feasible to travel across town to access these things. If anything, I have been thinking all along how we could use more small branches throughout the area, to make their services _more_ accessible.

I don't know where to make my plea to save the library branches but it will be done. I hope if any of you live in Wake County, or if something similar happens in your neck of the woods, that you consider doing the same. Whether it directly affects you or not -- and I think it will -- think about those of us who want and NEED this service.

Budget cuts could eliminate library branches

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