Note:

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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Don't Bother Reading This If You Are Pro-Life

From CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/05/31/kansas.doctor.killed/index.html

The fucking a"moral" of the story is: save the babies and wait until they grow up, then shoot them when they don't follow your order.

8 Count

A musical theme for my run today: counting to 8 while listening to music (vs. my favorite KATG podcasts).

My six mile run was supposed to be yesterday. I didn't go early because I didn't want to get up _that_ early to run before my 9AM judging dive clinic. I had planned to do it afterward but got caught up in a Chef Ramsey moment and cleaned my kitchen...not just cleaned, but DETAILED it. And now I love walking in it because it's so shiny :-).

So when the late afternoon came, I was exhausted. A week of trying out P90X daily added double workouts to my days and well, I'm old so I'm not used to that. I decided I would nap instead and worry about getting the run in on Sunday.

Which leads me to today. I didn't really _want_ to do it but the great thing about keeping a schedule is that the habit of DOING the workout outweighs NOT doing it...for the most part. It's not always a guarantee that I give in to just taking another day off.

But I didn't today and I had a 9:30 goal pace for my six miles. In the back of my head, maybe the middle of it, I didn't necessarily feel up to running a 9:30 pace.

So I started off easy, and to a new downloaded song by Helmet, Unsung. This was a great way to start.

I noticed I was running about a 10:20 pace when I swore I wasn't going to be looking at my watch and judging myself. By the first mile, I had a 10:15 pace and I decided I was just going to let the pace come to me.

I started this run about 11 AM, a little late for my normal weekend runs but I did one last week at 4PM, so I guess I'm changing it up a bit. The weather was really great! No humidity and a nice breeze. I loved it.

In noticed I was counting to eight in my head so I decided I would keep the beat and pretty much did that for the entire run. I paid little attention to my surroundings, so I was not a 'hi-and-bye' kind of runner today...in other words, a snob. But I wanted to get the run down and to hell with all the pedestrians around me!

I also ran with my visor that I received for winning the age group at the work 5K a few weeks ago. I am not a visor kind of gal but I recently read a blog post about a runner who cannot live without his visors and has usually received them in goody bags.

One thing I want to make a note of is this: every time I go out for a run from the hacienda, I think 'maybe I don't need to carry water with me today'. I almost did that again today so I want to remind myself, if I ever read this again, BRING YOUR WATER. I can go awhile without water but once I need it, I NEED IT. And I am so thankful to the person (me) who decided to bring it along.

My playlist today was random with a few regular artists that seemed to shuffle more than others. Coincidentally, I ended my six miles with Desperado, which seemed fitting as I was so wanting the end of the run by the end. I started slow, then primped into a peacock by mile one and was showing off my feathers, to end to
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin you
Can hurt you somehow


You would think he wasn't singing about love but about ending a six mile run...

Unsung by Helment
Time is Running Out by Muse
Scene of a Perfect Crime by Concrete Blonde
Raspberry Beret by Prince
Dirty Mind by Prince
The Last Mile by Cinderella
I know Somethin (Bout You) by Alice in Chains
Love's Got Me Doin' Time by Cinderella
It Ain't Like That by Alice in Chains
Purple Rain by Prince
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
My Sexual Live by Everclear
Desperado by The Eagles

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dive Right In

I saw a blurb about my neighborhood pool needing volunteers to judge the pool's dive team. This piqued my interest since I remember last year, they had issues with not having enough judges and potentially needing to forfeit. This, I think, is TERRIBLE! No competition should be won (or loss) via a forfeit...at least, not in this type of competition -- neighborhood pools and all.

I thought it sounded fun too. So I inquired and was told that today at 9AM there would be a judging clinic at a neighborhood pool that is less that four miles away from my house.

I show up and there is a large crowd. It seems that most of the judges are parents of divers. I sign in and there is a field that asks "Parent or Coach". Well, technically, I'm not a parent and when I mention that I am just a volunteer...the lady looks at me all cockeyed and says "really? you don't have a child in the program?!" And I said no but did I have to? And she said no...i guess just a desire to judge.

Seriously. am I the only one that thinks judging dive competitions is fun? Really? I mean, it's not like I sat around thinking "i want to judge dive competitions. it's been a long life dream." *but* when I heard about it, it sounded like fun!

I sit down with my coffee and a bagel they provided (how nice) and realized how much of an outcast I was (and usually am...is that grammatically correct?). No problem. I tend to come off snobbish anyway, as I'm not a mingler. Really. I'm serious. I'm not.

We are handed sheets of paper with information. One is Judging Guidelines with a lot of good information about areas to focus on, areas for potential deductions, etc.

The other sheet has silhouettes of various dives.

It all looks very technical on paper. This I can do.

The statement that I see that is a good baseline, I think, is the second bullet, which states:

Remember to always start at a score of 10 and then deduct for problems within the dive.


And then there are things to look for, for deductions:
* more than 4 feet away from the board
* vertical entry into the water, with as little splash as possible
* an approach without a hurdle
* stretch of the body including toe point
* a forward approach with less than three steps prior to the hurdle
* a dive clearly done in the wrong positions
* etc.

Once the 'instruction' and demo dives started, however, this is what I heard from one of the existing judges:

I usually start at a four and go from there. The younger ones will generally be around four because they are just so young that they _can't_ do some of these things [like tightness, etc.]. They just can't really get above a four.


And then I hear other fellow judges agreeing with her.

Hmmmm...what happened to start off with a 10 and go from there?

Another judge states "there will be no 10s".

Really? Wow. It's tougher than the Olympics!

So I'm a little confused but figure that even though they handed me something in writing that says start with 10, the 'protocol' was to start somewhere else.

But then, from the back, a coach speaks up. She disagrees and it's pretty clear she does NOT like this approach. She continues to state that this is not how it is taught (judging dives)...no matter the age, no matter the difficulty, you judge the dive starting at 10 and go from there.

And this makes sense. To me: the technical aspects of a dive can be judged whether they are 5 or 15.

So I decide to bring it up -- it says on bullet #2 blah blah blah! And then I was told "you don't have time to figure it out; it's very fast". Well, that still doesn't make sense to me since I have to figure it out if I start at 4.

There were a couple of other parents who agreed with the starting at 10, so I then decided that is what I would do.

But it isn't easy. I got to practice judging volunteer divers and it is very fast. And it is really kind of like an instinct. And there are degrees of difficulty that are outside of our judging scores, so we have to judge the dive and now the wow! factor.

Or in the case of young children, the cute factor.

I was so impressed with the kids that were there showing us dive examples. It's truly amazing, even the bad ones! I love seeing athletes and at one point, my neighborhood pool's dive coach 'called out' to a diver (which is a deduction, BTW, during the competition). It made me want to be a coach even more.

So despite the controversies of judging dives too high, too low, etc. I am really excited about this opportunity. I plan to hang out at dive practices and work with the coach to get a better understanding of what I should look for in good dives. That part is the learning part for me since I don't generally _watch_ dive competitions on a regular basis.

But I will now!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Broken

One would think that my workout regiment was coming down.

I don't have a race that I am training for, so my run days will go from four days to three. And I won't be suffering 8-10 mile runs over the summer (thus far).

I'm not swimming since I need to get this tattoo done.

But, I am upping my strength training, since I can concentrate on that more since I am not training for a run. And coach says it's a good time to build my strength up before my Fall season.

But after Tuesday's "chase" run, my left hip flexor started aching. Aching so much that I had to shorten my stride *while walking*. It hurt.

Wednesday's strength training workout introduced me to a sore left shoulder and left bicep...so sore that I had to lighten my weight.

And the hip flexor continued to hurt...walking is not easy. I feel like a cripple, not a runner.

And today? Yoga reminded me that my biceps still hurt (more on the left) so that my vinyasas were limited. I went from plank to upward dogs (no knees, baby) to plank to child poses.

Although I had some good hip stretches during the yoga workout, walking is still difficult. It's worse when I start 'fresh', meaning, at every moment I get up to start walking.

But I put in a four mile run at a brisk pace *in the dead heat of NOONISH*...and it felt fine. But walking since? Ouchy.

Let's see what tomorrow brings when I attempt yet another workout, this one new...and my first leg workout in a really, really, really long time...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Catch Me If You Can

That was the theme of today's run, according to Elite Rob.

This was after the 1.5 mile run with 5 and 6 minute milers. Oh. There was "slow" Felipe, but he was booking during the warm-up too. I managed only because it was downhill...and I got to chat. But my eyes lit up when I saw $Bill, who was near the start of the actual run.

It all started at 5 AM. I don't get up this early. But I did for the first "Chase" run. When I got to the meeting spot, only one car was in the parking lot. Uh oh. Perhaps I am at the wrong place?

So as I think about calling Bill, who was going to do the run too, he calls.

"Are we supposed to meet at Cary Academy?"
Yes.

"Tell Brennan I'll meet you all at Dynasty."
Why?

"Because I don't want to run 8 miles."
8 miles!?

"Yes, 1.5 warm-up; 4.75 mile run; 1.5 mile cool down."
Uh oh. I didn't do the math. I don't want to do 8 miles either!

"If you want, I'll give you a ride back."
I want.

A "chase" run is where there is a staggered start, depending on your estimated pace. Slowest starts first, then a time gap, then the next slowest, another time gap...this one longer...so the elite runners can attempt to catch us turtles.

Bill and I were going second. Somehow, Bill got hooked to do an 8:45 pace...I almost turned to run with the first turtle for the 9 mn pace.

We started out good and fast. I thought Bill was humping it but apparently I was a footstep ahead so he thought I was setting the pace. We started sub 8s...EEK! We have a long way to go!!

We managed to pull it back to a somewhat even pace around 8:38. It's an out and back and the turn-around point was my coach's dad.

Isn't that the coolest? Her day (and mom) hung out that early in the morning to just be the turn-around point? I ain't got the words...it's amazing.

Now, the way back to the finish was very difficult. My legs were tingling from the run. My head was thinking about how long the way back is. This particular part of the greenway is not a pleasant one for me because it's usually the end of my long runs and mentally, it just seems to take forever. I have the last 2+ miles memorized and until I can see the end, the whole thing sucks for me.

So that's what I had to contend with. I wanted to stop. I wanted to walk. But the pressure of knowing those elite runners would catch me was stroking my ego. I think, seriously, if most had passed me, I would have gone slower and not kept the tempo pace.

Bill stuck it out too. He seemed to have more energy than me and was pumping me up. I needed that. Because all I could think of was "F***k".

One guy passed us but we made it to the end before they started shooting to through the last gate like flies. Had I walked, stopped, or slowed down one little bit, they would have caught me.

That was one of the hardest runs I've had OFF the track. And looking around? It was hard for the fast ones too. We were all suffering together. :-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Proud Pop or Give Me the Check?

This is my coach's dad, walking away with Brennan's prize from the Capital City Classic 10K, where she placed FIRST in the female group:



My coach rocks. I am in the best running condition I have ever been in, in my life. She makes running hard for me, challenging, and she pushes me beyond what I think I am capable of...and I love her for it.

Her dad is supportive. Her husband is supportive. She has friends who support her, who support her runners. You know, the running community is already one of the greatest supporters of one another and then you have these people, who are humble but confident and tremendously excited about helping me do well (and her other runners, including my hubby and BFF $Bill).

But this picture of her dad? I loved it. And BTW, her dad is no slow poke.

My New Tattoo: Session 17

This session took place this past Tuesday, the day before my 5K race. I thought of this as I drove to Dogstar: man, that's not going to feel good while I run tomorrow. Fortunately, it wasn't that bad or noticeable.

Tuesday's session was all about giving me scales...well, giving my dragon's tail scales.

These don't feel good. It feels like someone takes a small nail and 'scribbles' small circles into your skin...deep into your skin. And this goes on and on and on.

For the most part, no problem. Felt good, even. :-) But the bad parts, as few as they were, are on the verge of panic when Kat takes the needle off my skin to 'color' in another scale.

The amazing part of this is that Kat does this by freehand. The artistry comes out and she fills in the blanks with her take on what scales are supposed to look like. And it looks amazing.

You can see the new parts by the glossier looking area. This is the A&D ointment that protects the ink...

One for the Books

Wednesday was my work place's annual 5K for National Health and Fitness Day. If you read Sunday's posting, then you'll know that the course for the 5K is not easy.

But I wanted to run it strong. For me, that's doing better than 30 minutes. My goal? I was hoping to get around an 8:30 minute mile average. That would be *very* good for this course and most certainly, a PR, although I don't keep tabs of my times on this course...and it is usually for a similar course that is about three miles.

My friend Audrey and I headed over together, both of us knowing how hard this was going to be, but how we wanted to do good for us. Audrey was coming off a 15K over the weekend; I was getting over a recurrence of neck pain that, not only fucks me up physically, but mentally too.

But I tried not to think about it too much. I was excited. And the atmosphere felt exciting. A lot of friends and co-workers all ready to run. It was really neat. I eyed the 'competition' and it looked strong. A lot of strong female runners were there...but disappointingly, Audrey and I noticed that the list of female participants was really small, compared to the list of male participants. Ahs well...

I warn Audrey that at last year's race, EVERYONE passed me...so don't let that bother her, to be left all alone. Most likely, you'll pass them in the end.

And that is almost what happened Wednesday: I started in the front and everyone went WHOOSH! I was all alone, looking like I was trudging when, by my watch (after the race), I was doing a sub-8 mn mile. But I kept myself in check, even though I was going faster than I would have liked.

I found my groove after a bit and counted my 1-2-3-4s, like Tim advised earlier that day...and listened to Keith and the Girl. It was pretty amazing, to me, that I could count *and* listen to a podcast (and I mean really listen).

At the first set of hills, I passed several people. I was surprised. I thought it would be around the second set of hills that I would be passing more people.

After that, however, I only passed a handful of people. Not anything like the year before, or what I expected. I was feeling pretty cocky that I could take people on the hills...and that's how I ran strongly.

I knew I was going faster than my usual run on this route. I could feel it in my breathing. And when the hills came? I ran hard and an even pace up them. It was actually the declines and the flats that I eased my pace to catch my breath. I knew I should quicken the pace, but I also knew the course enough to know when to save up for the hills.

And I did that with each set of hills. I passed another guy who walked one of the hills that is reached at mile 3. He later came up to me to explain why I saw him walking :-).

The finish ends up too. But I kept staring at the ground and just kept running as strong as I could. I was soooo happy when I crossed the finish and I heard Pam yell out "26:56". 26 anything sounded soooo good to me. I was number 31 overall. I would have liked to have a lower number -- that's what I was thinking. I thought I could be in front of more people...

A couple of days later I learn that I win my age group: 40-49. A large gap! And there were 10 of us, so I'll take it.

FIRST in my age group? And I had just placed third at the Capital City Classic a couple weeks ago -- another surprise.

If I'm not careful, I'm going to get a big head. :-)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Convenient Course from Hell

This would be a route that mi amigos and I take frequently at work.

I used to argue that the clockwise route was better. $Bill disagreed and thought the counter-clockwise route was better.

The answer? Both routes suck. You have to pick your poison.

So I've run this route recently a couple of times, in preparation for the work 5K in celebration of National Employee Health & Fitness Day.

For a couple years, I wouldn't run this 'race'. Why? Because it's fricking hard. I run this for recreation and it sucks; why on earth would I attempt to run it competitively?

Because I am sick. It's like cracking your knuckles...it hurts but it feels good afterward?

The route starts off pretty easy. Then there's a few rolling hills that used to suck for me but aren't too bad now; not compared to the rest of the route. The treat for the initial rolling hills is a nice long downhill.

Then, it's a little flat until there's a slow up...then an even smaller recovery before the second slope that knocks the wind out of you. In my case, my head thinks about how hot my feet are and that there is a third UP. And the third one? That's the one that breaks your spirit.

But I've run it enough that I know, if I can convince myself not to give up, that once this is over, I have another big nice downhill to take and a pretty good while of down run to recover for the end, which is where you have to dig down and ignore the fact that it is an uphill battle all the way.

This is the major drive into my workplace. You run up; a small, very short dip, and then you run up again. You turn left and as you turn left, you are running up. And it evens out for just a little bit, but you end up running up again towards a softball field, then UP TO THE FINISH.

Here's a screenshot of the elevation map of the course:


Last week, I ran the entire route. To do this in less than 30 minutes (and this would be a three mile version, not the 3.22 I ran last week) is GREAT and rare for me.

I felt great when I finished and noticed that I ran it in under 30 minutes. I was like: oh yeah! I am a runner! I rule! I rock!! That was good! I was feeling good!

Then I noticed my minute per mile average was 8:59. What? I swear I was doing 8:30s!!!

That's how hard that course is. And I am going to drive myself batty on Wednesday when I try to challenge myself to do well. What is well? I don't know yet.

It's not going to be a PR but I'd like to make a pretty good pace for this course. Kind of like when $Bill and I ran half mile hill in 4:55 -- a challenge that $Bill brought up that became my challenge too. We did it in November of last year and it was like "Oh yeah. I did it. I don't need to do it again."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Splinterectomy

Our Friday ended up being a little more dramatic than we anticipated.

I was on my way to pick up my beautiful girls from school. I had a great plan: take them swimsuit shopping, pick up lobster tail (if they were cheap), broccoli and shrooms for a great pasta dish, and watch Project Runway while sipping on wine, with happy people in the house.

I was about five minutes away from the school when I received a call from Tim.
The school called and said CJ fell down. She's OK but strained her leg so she doesn't want to walk home.

Hmmm...I think. Will she still want to go swimsuit shopping? Of course she will!

I notice Mi-Mi standing outside of the school, waiting for CJ as I pass by looking for a parking space. Man, she is sooooo cute, I think to myself.

As I park and get out to meet them, I quickly text CJ (after trying to call first) to let her know I am there. I see Mi-Mi standing next to a sitting CJ, who is tending to her leg.

When I get to them, CJ gets up and Mi-Mi grabs my hand. I ask how her leg is and she says it feels better. Great, I think and I quickly blurt out "Do you want to go swimsuit shopping?!" And when I look over to CJ, she is in tears.

Oh no! What is wrong with my beautiful baby? She explains that no one really paid any attention to her, with regard to her leg. She still has a splinter in there.

A splinter? What do you mean? I know nothing about a splinter! They didn't take it out?!

She says they are not allowed to (huh?). They gave her ice and made her go back up the stairs to her room. And her leg really hurts.

I give her a hug and tell her that I am going to fix it. I'll get that splinter out. Then I'm calling the school about the way they handled this. She smiles. She likes when mommy sticks up for her.

When we get home, I tell CJ to lie in my bed, get comfy, and I'll clean up her leg -- the shin, specifically -- and grab her a snack. She gets the queen treatment.

I grab my supplies: alcohol, bandaids, children's tylenol, spoon, the neosporin-like-stuff, tweezers, cotton balls and q-tips.

As I start cleaning her leg, it becomes clear that the splinter is wedged in there pretty good. I am processing how I am going to get this thing out without causing too much pain. I am playing it cool because CJ, even though she was calm, was pretty tender about the whole thing.

I can feel the splinter, which is noticeable close to the skin, but about 1/4 of it was unseen but felt under the skin. This tells me it is really deep.

The shin is not like our foot or hand...I can't cut a bit of the skin away from the splinter without causing pain. To get the tweezers around the initial piece of the splinter would mean dipping a piece of the tweezer INTO the skin to get a grip. In other words, the splinter was wedged in that it was flushed with the opening of the skin. Nothing was sticking out on it's own...

I pushed a little bit to see if I could get it to pop up a little bit out of the whole to grip with the tweezers. No go. Because the end piece was beneath the skin (where you couldn't see it from the outside), there was no way to push from that end. Think of ~30 degree angle of impact. Not a great pic but the blueish part is the splinter that you can see beneath the skin and then below that, where it is just skin colored? There is more...

So I made the mommy call: time to go to a doc-in-the-box. I called Tim to let him know and he was going to meet me at a place we had been to before...

CJ had a minor panic attack at the mention of this. I explained that the docs would have better tools than I have *and* it won't take them 30 minutes to do this...

It took a bit of investigation but doc figured out what I knew: the 'stake' was in pretty good. Even with his tiny tweezer tips, there was no way to pull it out without cutting the skin a bit. With a few shots of lidocaine, a little snip snip and voila! The little booger was out:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Girly Math

CJ will be starting sixth grade in the Fall.

I took a tour of her new middle school and it is NIGHT and DAY to her current elementary environment.

The middle school looks like a high school. A huge auditorium. A full sized gym. Three stories tall with a full-sized cafeteria on the third floor. Full sized lockers (she has no lockers now). An on-site school store. And this is all I saw on the inside.

The curriculum, naturally, will be different: she has electives now. We've chosen those although I don't recall what we picked other than she wanted to learn French, so she has French all year long.

CJ has twice been tested to enroll in the Academically Gifted program at her elementary school. The first time was during her third grade year and then this school year. Both times she didn't make it.

Her grades are well, especially in reading. Math has been good but we have spent some time with her, once, trying to figure out geometry issues...specifically, triangles.

I have always been good at math. I can't add or subtract worth shit, unless my fingers are involved, but give me formulas, or specifically trigonometry theorems to prove, and I was in heaven. It would take me a little time to figure it out now, but back when I was being regularly educated via school, I loved it.

I was in the more advanced math classes in high school. It wasn't easy for me. I had to work at it. I am not naturally smart, but I have a knack for working hard at tasks.

College? I tutored Algebra and LOVED IT. I would love to be a math teacher in another life. I majored as a Computer Science major with a minor in math. I almost double majored in it until I took a Number Theory class and realized that proving trig theorems is not the same as proving number theories. I begged my test scores from single digits to some kind of score that could get me as close to a D as possible.

But I pulled through and graduated with a pretty decent GPA.

How does this relate to CJ?

Tim received a call from CJ's future middle school. They told him, that although CJ's elementary school has recommended CJ move into the normal math course at middle school level, they found her EOG math score to be high enough for her to enter an advanced math course. They really would like to see her enroll in this math course, vs. the default.

We told her about it and asked her to mull it over. Tonight, I asked her if she thought about it. She said she thinks she would rather NOT do the advanced math class.

What do you think I thought?

It wasn't the same as CJ's thoughts. And I kind of got on my high horse about girls typically not being 'advanced' math species (no offense, but really, math girls are not as frequently available as math boys), that fear shouldn't hold you back on your potential, that hard work is hard work but what an accomplishment...something I am sooo proud of at 40 years of age: I did math all on my own. Most of my friends were not advanced math folks (girls and boys). I worked hard. I cried over it. But I did it. And I feel good about it, even now.

But should I put this kind of attitude on her? My instinct says no. But my head/heart says push her a bit because it's too easy for her to let it go.

What would you say, especially my gal pals who are math chicks? I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many strong, math-logical, girlfriends...but is CJ? And do you know at sixth grade if you are a girly math girl or not? Do I pressure/push her or do I let her be...?

Subway

My daughters have become Subway fans. And yes, this is Subway, the sandwich shop.

This is fine since they are eating turkey and lettuce vs. fried something-made-of-chicken-parts nuggets and french fries. Don't get me wrong: I don't mind this but I am thrilled that they enjoy something _other_ than the bad stuff.

So it has been ages since I have ever stepped foot in a Subway. Tim and I used to go there a lot while we dated. I always always always got the steak and cheese, which apparently is not on the menu any more.

Now that I frequent these places for my kids...and there is no driveway...I begin to see a pattern...

First, all of these stores have very gruff, non-touchy-feely folks working. It's like a "hurry up, place your order, I have better things to do" attitude. I have been to two different Subways in Raleigh and one in Cary. The attitude is the same at these three stores.

Grrrrrrr...

Second, my order seems to end up being complicated.

The kids can get a mini-sub, with apples and a drink. *My* kids always want chips instead of apples, so we get those.

This immediately 'cancels' out the kid's meal price, even though we never get the apples. I find this to be a racket. You are CHEATING ME out of a few cents because you are greedy bastards.

I've blown it off. I could give you many reasons why but I end up not saying anything or doing anything.

But I'm getting tired of it.

Today I stopped at Subway for the girls. I picked up sandwiches for Tim and I at Roly Poly, but stopped at a Raleigh subway for my girls.

I told the dude I wanted two kids' turkey subs.

He says "mini subs?" I say 'whatever the kid's menu offers'. So I think he is trying to throw me off and 'mistakenly' order something else. I'm onto you...

I saw one sandwich so I told him I needed another because they are going to be the same. Stoic movements. No reaction, bad or good.

I get the fixins put on as requested by the girls. Then as we check out, I pick out six cookies (3 for 1.59). So six cookies, two chips, and two sandwiches.

He bagged these up and asked if I wanted drinks with it. I thought they came with drinks so I asked about that 'don't they come with it?"

And here comes the spiel...well, the kids menu comes with apples and you got chips and it has a drink but we can switch it out and blah blah blah blah blah. Lots of words thrown out there to confuse me. Finally, I just said "forget the drinks".

And then what? A pause. Confusion. Then he takes everything out of the bags and puts it into a different bag, thus, avoiding the toy that comes with the kids meal. My kids now have 'adult' mini subs priced food.

I shook my head. I said nothing. I should have. I didn't. I just couldn't believe how stupid he would be over a few pennies. Not surprised. I just cannot go to these places any more. Tim is going to have to order or I am going to have to find a way to get my girls to eat sandwiches from other places...preferably local!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

EOGs

If you are not familiar with this acronym, it stands for End-of-Grade tests. These are administered to grades 3-12 around this time, here in North Carolina.

I remember my pediatrician talking to CJ about these when she was approaching third grade...she mentioned how teachers and school administrators would make a big deal out of these but that it really isn't a test of *her* abilities...it's a test that represents the teachers/school.

Whether that is true or not, one thing is for sure: it *is* a big deal from the teachers and school. They make a very big deal out of it and really try to make the students feel 'at ease', as they make a big deal out of it.

Last week, CJ's 5th grade teacher requested that the parents pull together to provide snack and drink for the kids during the EOG week. No problem.

Then we are sent home a whole page of stuff about EOG week...including the following items aimed at the students"
* Get plenty of rest each night prior to the test
* Eat a well-balanced breakfast. Free breakfast will be provided for students in grades 3-5 on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
* Read each question carefully and more than once if necessary.
* Prove your answers by showing your work in math and underlining clue words.
* Prove your work in reading by underlining information in the text to support your answer choices.
* Use all materials that are provided as necessary (example: calculator).
* Do not spend too much time on one question. Mark it in the answer book & go back to it later.
* Make sure that you keep up with the time and use it wisely.
* WORK HARD, BUT DO NOT STRESS!

Um, I don't know about you...but reading that gave me heart palpitations...and *I* am not taking the tests! I didn't go through any of this during PSATS!!

On top of that, the Kindergartners, first and second graders go to each class in 3-5th and write 'good luck' messages to all the students.

It's soooo sweet -- MiMi talked about how they 'snuck' into a 3rd grade classroom and wrote and left secret good luck messages to all the students in that class.

I found CJ's card this morning. The front has a pencil drawn on it and in big letters "Good luck!" then "Do swell!" and 'sample' questions, like: "Who was Christoper Columbus?", 92-84+82=, 583x488=?

Inside the card, it has "Do well on your EOG! Remember Slow and Study wins the race!", "#1 thats you!", "get an A+"...

...and signed "From Mrs. Weaver's class".

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You Have Me Confused...

That's what I thought when I got an e-mail from a friend of mine that said "Congrats on placing third at the CCC on Saturday."

Excuse me?

You _should_ know my name. We are friends. How could you mix me up with someone else?

So I called him on it and sure enough, he replied with the standings in my age group and my name showed up in the third position.

WOW.

How the hell did that happen? I nearly bonked at mile four!!!

But I got the luck of the draw and placed third in my age group, despite the fact that my age group was one of two slower age groups in the whole bunch.

But no matter. I placed and I'm pretty stoked about it.

My prize? It was essentially picking something out of a box. Mizuno shirt, hat, or shoe bag? Well a hat would be nice, but there weren't any left. A shirt? Well, it was cotton and no size smalls. I picked one up for Tim instead.

But a prize wasn't necessary. The prize was seeing my name next to number 3. :-)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Capital City Classic 10K Report

This 10K was the last race I had on my plan for the Winter and Spring. I will do other that seem interesting, but this was the last one I had on my race calendar for the first half of the year.

The girls were going to run too. I signed them up for a 400m dash (CJ) and a 200m dash (Mi-Mi). After the disorganization of getting our race packets, the girls made it in the nick of time to the start of their respective races.

I told CJ to "run fast". I know she can, she did a 7:58 mile at the mile run at Second Empire this past September.

She did. Well, she said it was easy. She finished first. Well ahead of the other five or so children (ages 7-10)... I was *so* happy for her. And what did she get for her great run (and $5 entry fee)?

Nothing.

Nada.

Even at Second Empire, all the kids got medals. She got NO-THING. No t-shirt. Zero. Zilch.

Same for Mi-Mi, although she wasn't first and had a minor meltdown due to having to run anything all by herself. No biggie. I still have meltdowns before, during, and after my races...

Anyway, now I am up to bat. I see my coach, Brennan, at the very front. I am secretly repeating a mantra for her to win.

You heard right. WIN. First place.

Why?

Because *she* can. And has. She is completely awesome and humble about it but she is _that_ good. And she has two young boys...to show that mom's can be fast.

And her hubby was there *and* her dad, who was rooting for her (of course). Just too cool. Tim and I are gonna follow in those footsteps with our girls.

Back to me...

The weather at the time felt pretty decent. There was a nice cool breeze. I wasn't overly excited but hopeful for a good run.

And we're off. The route is very familiar. The first couple of miles is similar to the 4th of July race, as well as others, so I was familiar with the route. I felt really great and tried hard to not let the "faster" runners mess with my ego as they passed me. I had a good rhythm and felt strong.

My first three miles was 24:58 and I believe I was at 25:1x at the 5K, breaking my race time -- although I don't count that in my PRs...just an observation.

And then approaching mile four...I fell apart. My feet were hot. And when they are hot, I can't concentrate on anything else other than how hot my f'ing feet are. Hot feet make me EXTREMELY CRANKY.

I tried counting in my head...a rhythm in tuned with my breathing...to tune out my hot feet. It would work for a few minutes but then the burning feeling in my soles would remind me about how hot it was.

And it was hot. From mile three to four, it was straight out in the bright sun with the wind no where in "sight". I wanted to walk *so* bad but once I saw the water stop at mile four, I thought "I can make it to that and I'll walk while I drink water." And the best part was that the mile four water stop was at the bottom of a small hill, so I could walk up.

I wanted to grab three cups of water: one to drink and one for each of my feet. But the water thingamajig looked almost empty and I decided to grab only one. I walked slowly and for 1:48 of my time.

I did NOT want to start again. But I did. And I then at some point, I stopped again and walked. I wanted to cry. Truly. I wanted to end this madness. I wanted to get in a car and go home. I did not want to run anymore. And I didn't want to walk nearly 2.2 miles to the finish.

And then I thought of my girls. That I couldn't quit, even if I ended up jogging an 18 mn mile :-). So I started running again. It was slower than my first three miles but surprisingly, looking at my pace on my GPS watch, I was in the low 9s. It felt like I was doing 11 mn miles. I never looked at my watch again. OK. That's a lie. I looked at how much more I had left to finish the cruelty and my heart would drop every time I knew I was that much further from the finish...

I saw a girl who would pass me, walk (I pass her), then run and pass me again. This went over and over and over. At the last point that I said "fuck it, I am running all the way to the finish because walking will take too long", she started walking and I felt a minor compulsion to tell her to just keep jogging, no matter how slow it was. But I didn't. I couldn't find enough in me to care that much; just enough to be sympathetic.

I saw Tim, the girls and $Bill. What a great sight to see. I needed that and I said nothing as I passed them. I didn't want to relay any negativity even though I wanted to just ask Tim to take me home. At that point, I still had a good mile plus to go...

How I made it to the finish, I'll never know. But I did. I heard Tim, $Bill and Brennan rooting me on. I was thrilled. But I wasn't going to pick up the pace. And then I think I heard Douglas, Brennan's hubby, yell "Finish strong! Run hard Cindy!" and I did. It may not have looked like it but I did.

I noticed the finish clock and it was 55:08, or something close to that. My goal was to beat my Neuse River 10K and hit 53:00. Oh well. I was glad to finish it period.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I liked this book. I really did.

It was freaky. Creepy. Eerie. And yes, scary. Scary in a way you wouldn't think.

A little girl crosses an empty hallway/doorway into an exact replica of her own home that she just left. And there is an "other" mother and "other" father. With buttons for eyes. And they eat bugs.

It's really bizarre but there is an underlying theme of: the "other" parents are (supposedly) more caring, provide her exactly the kind of meals she would enjoy, and provide her all the games and entertainment she thrives...but that's not "enough" for her. Despite all these good points, she wants to go back home to her real, boring parents.

I almost thought this book was written in response to children who say "I wish I had better parents!" Be careful what you wish for?

Because the "other" mother ended up not wanting Coraline to ever leave. And apparently, she has done this to other children. Children that appeared in a dark closet that Coraline's "other" dad threw her in. Children that are dead.

I really want to see the movie now. Mi-Mi wants to go, after I described the story to her, but I wonder if this will be too scary for her (I'll be taking her anyway :-)).

CJ read it and said that she didn't think it was a good idea to watch it in 3D...

My New Tattoo: Session 16

I made it through my first tattoo session since July of last year.

I wasn't looking forward to it.

I mean, I was looking forward to going back to Dogstar.

I was looking forward to hanging out with Kat and Rachael.

And I was looking forward to the session being over.

But I was soooooooooooooooo reluctant to sit through pain again.

And all this time has passed, I have made it seem so bad.

Have you ever smoked cigarettes before? Well I have. And for many years after I quit, I thought about smoking again: how soothing it felt, that long deep inhale of smoke into my lungs. I remembered the "good" things about smoking. In reality, I forgot that it burned. I stank. I coughed. If I had too many, my lungs felt like they burned 24/7. But the fantasy was remembering all the good parts.

This was not the case with the tattoo session. I remembered only the bad parts. There are many more good parts but I focused on how. much. pain. I. will. be. enduring.

I tried to relax and start thinking of things to keep my mind off the pain. I felt like I was in a race: thinking about all the time I had to do this before I made it to the end.

But guess what? It wasn't that bad!

Sure, it's still painful but let's not forget that I can actually like it. It's just that in the large doses I was having, well, it's hard to keep liking it.

But this one was nice. There were a few moments of sheer and utter, cutting, fiery pain but the rest of the time, not bad at all. I am hoping that this section - the part around the top left of my shoulder/back, will be less tender than the rest of my back.

I still need to head down to Fayt-nam for laser removal of the old tattoo, which is the only thing you can see on my back that has color. The "cover up" is gray wash only. NO COLOR. I get a lot of "oooo, the color's coming on!" when people look at my back...no, it's coming OFF.

The new part is the tail of the dragon - starting from the mid part of the back, going toward the upper left side. It will trail across my shoulder and end at the upper part of my left arm.

And no. I do not know how many sessions are left. This is an art in progress. There is no calculation of how much is left until we truly get close to the end.


If you can't tell what's new, then see my last session's picture for a reminder.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Billy Bob Thornton: You Ain't No Hillbilly; You're An Elitist Jackass

On my run today, I heard this (vs. seeing the youtube video) on KATG. You would do much more justice listening to the KATG podcast (episode 936 Extra Gravy) because it comes with commentary that is hilarious.

But instead, I'll include the youtube video for your viewing pleasure.

I _was_ a Billy Bob Thornton fan. I loved him in movies before Slingblade. I still like him but, man, what a fucking douchebag. And why should I be surprised? These elitist actors are just big fucking babies and try to play "I am just a normal dude and a rebel against Hollywood types." Bullshit.

CHILL THE FUCK OUT you hollywood elitists. You just fit right back into the stereotypes you supposedly are trying to avoid.

Let the Right One In

This was the first movie we watched via Netflix streaming on Tim's XBox360.

First: this streaming thing is THE BOMB. OK. So it's only been one movie, but the experience of adding it on-line (the service *and* the movie) and seeing it show up on our TV in split seconds was amazing.

Second: the movie was awesome.

I found this movie on the recent release list on rottentomatoes.com. It sounded cool and then Mi-Mi and I watched the preview and I was hooked. Of course, this meant that Mi-Mi had to go somewhere else to watch. I do KNOW how my children react so I don't *make* them watch these movies.

This one looked really scary though and there was no way I was going to let her have nightmares watching this.

It turns out, however, that it isn't quite the scary movie, the way I think a scary movie should be.

Let the Right One In is a Swedish movie about the blossoming friendship between two 12 year olds, Oskar and Eli.

It is an ethereal story, although not quite heavenly.

The movie opens with a fatherly figure and a young girl (Eli) in a taxi cab, pulling up to an apartment building. They move in to the flat next door to Oskar.

Oskar is a bullied child. He lives alone with his mom and the bullies of his school constantly pick on him. He does nothing but mimic revenge when he's at home, alone in his room.

We then see Eli's father preparing equipment: washing and drying an oxygen-like mask, a jug, a funnel and a sharp knife. And we are then shown why: he awaits an innocent victim on a desolate path: a jogger passes, then a young man who then becomes his victim.

The young man is strung up high on a tree, as a hunter would do to his prize-winning stag, then ripped and drained of his blood. This ritual is interrupted by a wayward dog, who happens upon the father and his victim, with the dog's owner not far behind trying to call for her dog.

Father runs away and leaves his equipment, a jug of blood, behind. We then see Eli screaming at her dad. The tone is very authoritative. The dad is very subdued. It is an unusual interaction between daughter and dad. This becomes very meaningful at the end of the film.

So Oskar and Eli eventually meet in their courtyard and strike up an eerie friendship. Eli gets to know Oskar more and instructs him to fight back against the bullies. He does, causing a brutal wound to one of the bullies who will seek revenge, crying to his big brother, toward the end.

We know that Eli is a vampire. We never see her vampire teeth, but we do see her in action. She ends up having to do things herself after dad ends up getting caught again and then, falling to his death (after she drinks his blood). The scenes are not especially graphic in gore which I appreciate.

Showing graphic violence without the gore is an art that I think Hollywood could learn from... In one scene, Eli feigns helplessness to lure a grown, husky man to his death. She attacks, drinks, and then snaps his neck to kill him completely. All from a far-off camera, where we can see what is happening without any detail. BRAVO.

And Eli...Eli has a cute, 12 year old face. Well, after she has eaten. Otherwise, she has dark circles under her eyes, cracked lips, and a hallowed look that I think is amazing for the young actress who plays her. But the irony of this angelic face with blood smeared on her mouth is creepy.

But all good things must come to an end and Eli leaves a note with Oskar that she must leave or she will die.

But that is the end for Oskar and his love for Eli...until an amazing ending that I shall not reveal here. I spoiled enough of it, even trying to be vague. But this is one poetic, eerie, creepy, mesmerizing movie that, even after it was over, Tim said something explaining another bit, which made my heart skip two beats.