Friday, September 28, 2012

New Phone....

"Did your phone come with a camera?"

"They all come with a camera now. Seriously, when was the last time you updated your phone?"

"Okay, it's been awhile. But I know it's time. What about all of the things I have on this phone? Like my contacts and pictures and things, can they transfer them over to a new phone?"

"Maybe. You will have to ask the salesperson. They've always been able to transfer my things, but I didn't wait five years between phones to upgrade, so I'm not sure if that will make a difference."

"Okay. How about phone messages? Will those transfer?'

"I don't think those are actually stored on the phone, I'm pretty sure you are just accessing them from your phone. So as long as you don't change carriers or phone numbers those should be fine, just double check when you make a decision."

"Okay. I think I know what I want to get then. I just want a plain phone but with a camera. I don't need one that does games and web-surfing and all of that stuff. I just need it to make a phone call and to have a camera."

"Okay, come on now, how old are you? You sound like my mother, no wait, my grandmother! Look, get a smart phone, it will honestly change your life. You know how bad you are at directions? You can get one with a map program that will give you turn by turn directions just like a GPS in your car. You know how much you hate waiting in line? You can download a game to play or a book to read and the time will go by before you know it. You can check Facebook, or Twitter or send an email, or a text. Just join the rest of us in the present day. We've missed you while you stubbornly hung on to the 90s. Join us...the water's fine."

"I don't use Twitter, I don't like to text. I haven't been on Facebook in months, I can print a map. I always have a book in my purse. Why would I need a phone to do all of that for me? I wouldn't even be replacing this one except the case is cracking."

"You just hate change. That's all this is. But trust me, just do it. You will be glad that you did. And you haven't been on Facebook in months? Seriously? When was the last time you were on?"

"I went on like 5 months ago. I changed my relationship status and got 4 dozen 'Oh no...I thought you two were meant for each other' messages. I couldn't bear another one so I haven't logged on since."

"Are you still not over it?"

"Oh, no, I'm totally over it now. But once I didn't log on for a few weeks I started to feel guilty that I was ignoring everyone and then the longer I was off the worse I felt about suddenly popping back on and then it just seemed like it was too late to do it now. But I'm totally over the breakup. Moving along in life. Life is good. I am getting a new phone!"

"Oooohhhhkay....not sure that getting a new phone means totally over it  but it's better than shaving your head and joining a monastery, remember when that chick Sandra from college did that? People are so weird."

"Yes, they are.
Excuse me? Sir? I think I'm ready to pick out my new phone. I want one with a camera and I need to transfer all of the contacts and pictures and phone messages from my old phone to my new one."

"I can help you with all of that. Contacts and pictures are easy. Phone messages are automatically stored in our system for six months so those you will have access to just the same as you do now."

"Wait, what do you mean, for six months? If I don't delete them won't they always just be there?"

"Well no. After six months they automatically delete. If they didn't clear out the system on a timely basis the storage needs for all of those voice mail messages would be enormous.
Miss? Miss? Is she okay?"

"Hey, wait up! Where are you going? You were going to get a new phone remember?"

"Oh, yeah, I will.  I just needed some air and to sit down. And get some air and sit. I'll be fine. I think I must have locked my knees while we were standing there talking. Sorry, I'll be fine in a minute, I just need air. And to sit. Just give me a second here okay?"

"Okay, look, I'm going to go back in the shop and pick out a couple phones I think you will like and you can come back in and look at them once you are feeling a little better okay?"

"Yeah, sure...that would be awesome. I will be there soon. Just give me a minute."

"Please enter your password....You have one saved message. Message sent Five months, three weeks and two days ago. To play message press one."

"Hey, um, it's me. We need to talk. Give me a call back, okay?"

"To save message press 1. To delete message press 2..........."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What's your story?

So today while I was dusting the study I noticed a guy sitting in his truck parked out in front of my house. Now this isn't an unusual situation, I live at the end of a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood where people are apparently super confused what their garages are supposed to be used for. But anyway, this guy and this truck I hadn't seen before. Then a little later I came back in to the study and he was still sitting there in his truck. Hadn't gotten out. Nobody had gotten in with him. He was just sitting there. Chewing. Hunh, odd...

So I kept doing my thing and while I was dusting the upstairs windowsills I look down in to the cul-de-sac and he is still sitting there. Half and hour later, still sitting there. And I thought to myself, "what is his story?"

Now, if you have a lot of friends who write, which I do, and you read a lot of different authors, which I also do you end up with a lot of different answers that bounce around inside your head for the answer to that question. And just to amuse myself I started thinking about all of the ways my friends or the books by other people I read would answer that question. Here are a few for you to share:

Obviously this guy is an alien. He is sitting in his truck in the middle of a suburban middle class neighborhood trying to figure out how to act normally. He needs to be able to blend in, you see. He's an advanced scout for his race. He's been given a humanoid body which he learned how to use and he has taken some basic training classes on his own, obviously very advanced, planet but now he wants to hone his craft a little bit. He already made a mistake when buying the vehicle  He thought all Americans would drive trucks but is now realizing that to really fit in he should have gotten a Subaru. He is determined not to make the same mistake twice.

No, no, no.  That's not it. He is a jilted lover who is parked outside his ex-fiance's house hoping to get a glimpse of her as she leaves for work. His heart is breaking in two over the split and he is just positive if she sees that he is willing to sit for hours outside her house just for the quickest sight of her she will realize that he loves her and she will forget all about the restraining order....

Oh wait! He grew up in the neighborhood. Back when it was all farm land. His parents owned the big farm house on the corner and this subdivision was the field he played in as a child. Now that he is a hugely successful businessman he is feeling a little lost and untied from his roots and was hoping that a trip back to the farm would ground him. He is sitting in disbelief that all of the land has been converted in to houses. But if he looks hard enough he almost feels like he can still see the apple orchard where he used to spend every fall....

OH! No! He did grow up here but he's a serial killer and this is where he made his first kill! The police are hot on his trail and he knows it's only a matter of time before they catch him so he came back home to revisit the bones of his first victim. He is trying to decide if he could make one last kill on his old stomping grounds before he is caught....

He's a cop! He is chasing a lead on a serial killer (I have read a lot of serial killer books, I admit it) and he is watching the house of a woman who fits the profile of his victims. He knows that she is home and is debating whether or not to knock on her door and warn her or keep waiting hoping to catch the killer as he comes to get her...not realizing that the killer is already in the house!

So what is this guy's true story? This is what I really think. I think he is probably the foreman from the construction crew working across the street. He didn't want to go too far away for lunch but wanted to leave the job site so he could get a break to eat his sandwich. He thought this would be a nice quiet neighborhood to eat in peace but right about now he is rethinking that...see there is this woman who keeps staring at him from her house and she's kind of freaking him out...he is wondering what her story is....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 6 recap...

Okay, it's a short one.

Workouts went well. I mentioned skipping Wednesday's workout in my ironing blog last week and I actually am planning on doing that again this week. The switch to the Jillian workouts from the Karen Voight daily series were a big step up.  Going from 30-40 minutes of light aerobic and then focused toning to 45 or 55 minutes of intense circuit training kicked my butt.  Today during my toning workout I was doing mat work and my workout towel was just out of reach, I went to use the edge of my shirt to wipe some of the sweat from my face and discovered there wasn't a dry spot on my shirt to use! So I will do myself a favor and skip Wednesday again this week and then pick it up next week after I have had these two weeks to adjust. Still doing Zumba and Yoga daily as well and won't switch those out until the end of this monthly cycle. But I think for this week two days off instead of one is a good idea again.

I finally broke the lose weight one week gain it the next cycle. Didn't gain any this week! Yay! I didn't really lose any either, but I didn't gain so that's good. Not that the lose, gain, lose, gain cycle wasn't amusing me, but it will be nice to not have to lose what I gained plus a little extra this week.

I'm still not overly worried about my food. Once I started tracking the calories sort of took care of themselves. Just needed to watch those portion sizes again and all was well. I'm never going to be happy giving up my goodies so I need to just make sure they are treats instead of  everyday things and watch the rest of what I am eating so that what I do eat is worth the cost to me. And to really enjoy what I do eat, which isn't really an issue for me, I love my food.

So what are my current goals? First off to make it through my Jillian workouts without cussing. Then to make it through them without doing any of the modifications. Then to make it through them with heavier weights. I am pretty sure that's going to take me through this cycle as well as next month's cycle.

The next set of goals is to keep on listening to my body. If it feels like I need to cut back a little then cut back, with no guilt. And then to keep going. Even if I need to take an extra day off for a couple weeks I am still working out a few hours a day for 5 days out of the week. That's a pretty significant increase from when I started and that's something I need to keep in mind and be proud of.

Okay, so that's the end of the first 6 weeks. Ta Da!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ironing out the details...

What household chores do you absolutely hate to do? Which ones do you really enjoy? I hate to dust. Hate it. Growing up in the desert living with a bunch of pack-rats dusting was the worst job ever. Moving everything off of a shelf to dust it only to have a fine layer of dust collect again before you could even finish the room was frustrating in the extreme. It's one of the things I really like about living in Portland. I can normally dust every other week and you can't tell. I say normally because it's been a very dry summer and there is construction across the street so this summer it's back to weekly dusting and still having a layer of grit over everything. Ugh.

Today I ironed. I have been planning on ironing for a few weeks but the heat came on in August and didn't turn off until today. And even if you like to iron the thought of standing in the third floor of the house ironing when it's 90+ outside just isn't appealing. Ironing is not a summer job. But here is the thing, I like to iron. I like the meditative aspect of it. It's very soothing. I like the fact that you have something to show for it at the end of the chore. Like painting, I love to paint. If someone would do the prep work part, which I don't like doing, I would probably change the color of our walls once a year. There is something soothing about the repetitive motion of it, and something satisfying about being able to point to a newly colored wall, or a freshly ironed shirt at the end and know you did that.

I also like how much freedom it gives you just to think. Ironing isn't complicated so your brain can puzzle on problems or issues or just be creative while you work. I also like the memories I have with ironing. I remember ironing Brent's uniforms when we were first married. Even though now I am really just smoothing out the wrinkles instead of pressing and starching things I still have an urge every once in awhile to starch in some military creases, just to see if I still remember how. I always felt a sense of pride when he would pass inspection in a sharp uniform I had ironed. I was good at that, not so good at haircuts, but really good at pressing a uniform.

I also remember all of the hotel rooms I have ironed in over the years. I ironed more when travelling than I ever did at home. I can remember feeling horribly for Erin Andrews when the pictures of her ironing in her underwear were released. I can't tell you how many times I have done the same thing, pressing a suit or blouse before heading out for an event. The invasion of her privacy, and how I knew I had done the same thing and never once worried about someone looking in the peep hole at me, just made me angry for her. 

What did I accomplish today while ironing? Well aside from a closet full of shirts that now look a little less wrinkly, I worked out a piece in the Practical Magic series that has been bugging me. I have two separate pieces that I want to weave together for the next chapter and I think I have finally figured out how to do it. Look here tomorrow to see if I did. I thought about working out. Or not working out as the case may be. See today was the first day in 6 weeks where I just didn't work out. Not because I was hurt or sick or it was an off day but because I couldn't find my give a damn.

I had it, but I lost it and couldn't find it again. See I was headed downstairs for the first workout of the day and the power went out. Well when you work out to a DVD in the basement no power sort of puts that on hold. So I read for awhile until my book ran out of juice, then I talked to some people on Facebook until I realized that if the power company had not clue when the power would be back on I should probably not use up all the charge in my phone. So then I washed dishes and pulled the birdseed weeds. Then I read a little of yesterday's mail. Then the power finally came back on. Well by then I was hungry, it was the time that I normally have my between workouts snack. So I decided that working out while I was hungry would suck so I would have the snack then workout like normal and push the second workout to this afternoon. When it came time again to workout I still couldn't muster up the oomph to do it. Now I will say that part of it is because I switched things up this week and I am sore like nobody's business today. But still, I just didn't want to. So I didn't. 

And while I was ironing I thought about all of that again. And I decided that it was okay. That this is part of the learning curve for what I am doing. That some days I am not going to have it in me to do it. And that if I let myself off the hook today doesn't mean I will let myself off the hook tomorrow. I figure if I am treating it like a job this is just one of those less productive days at work that we all have every once in awhile. 

I also though about the book on the brain I have been reading and how to apply some of the learnings to my life. Which I've already started. See the more regular workouts as one, though I was doing that BEFORE I read the book and realized how incredibly important it is, I am still counting it. I also thought about what lousy multitaskers we are and why that is. Even if we think we are good at it we aren't. See that's why I can think while ironing, because it's not something new that I am trying to process. Ironing is a habit (another great brain book I just read, The Power of Habit), I do it the same way each time I do it, I don't think about it. Which leaves my brain free to wander. But if I am doing something like say, writing this blog, and I try to do something else, say check Facebook, my brain has to switch off of one task on to the other and it's not able to do them both at the same time. So I am better off not dealing with FB while writing at all. Which led me to the next conclusion which is that I see an even steeper drop off of my FB time in the future than I already have done. I get so much more done during the day if I don't log on to FB. It doesn't take a genius to figure out where the time suck happens.

And yes, because it's Fall and you all know my big changes always seem to happen in the late Summer and Fall I started thinking about what I want to do next.  August, September, October those are my resolution and changes months. Forget New Years and Spring, the Fall that's where it's at! So my brain was churning away at thinking about next steps in writing and publishing. I didn't hear anything back from the publishers I sent my children's story to this summer. Which sucks. Brent keeps trying to get me to e-publish but for whatever reason I can't seem to get too excited about that. Though I did just by a book on Kindle publishing so that might change. 

So today while I was ironing I thought of those things. I thought about my day. I thought about a couple of different fiction pieces I had in my head. I thought about the book I am reading on the brain. I thought about a lot of things. I had plenty of time. See if you don't iron all summer you end up with a couple hours worth to catch up on. So one of the other things I thought about was that I will be taking a day a week and ironing. Not only to stay caught up but to have the time to let my mind wander.

Because not all that wander are lost...but some of us are...

Monday, September 17, 2012

One month down 5 to go

This weekend marked the end of the first month of the 6 months of "what can I do?" fit program. So what did I do? I did a few things.

Weight was down 4.4 pounds. Not a lot but since it isn't the goal of this little endeavor that's okay. It dropped my BMI by a half a percent so that's good.

Overall I lost 4 3/4" off of me. That was pretty sweet. The toning and tightening is what I am really after so I will take the shrinkage.

I also added 4 sit-ups to the minute count and 3 inches to my stretch reach. Sit-ups are still in the average zone but barely. And the reach is still poor but I am pretty thrilled about an added 3 inches of flexibility. The best thing? I increased the number of push ups I can do by 50%. Moved from average to good in that little category as well. The end goal is to be doing full on plank push-ups instead of girly ones for the fitness test, but for the first month that's pretty fabulous in my book.

So what next? Well I'm changing up the routine. Don't want to get complacent. So I switched out Karen Voight for Jillian Michaels this month. Oh my goodness...I forgot how hard her stuff is. I have a feeling I will spend the first few weeks fairly miserable. I keep telling myself it's a good sore...we will see how long I can keep believing that. I have things on her first DVD (No More Trouble Zones) that I cannot do. Literally at all. Not modified, not adapted, not at all. But I remember at the beginning of last month saying how thrilled I would be when I could do the Karen Voight Yoga Strength workout all the way through and I made it to that goal (and was appropriately thrilled) so I am optimistic that I will make it to this one.  Worst case scenario I do these videos for two months instead of one. Tomorrow I do her 6 week Six Pack ab routine. I am pre-ouching...

So goals for the next 5 weeks (remember they count a month as five instead of four). Keep doing what I am doing and keep an eye out for over working myself. Yes, I need to remember to be realistic. I missed 4 work out days last month due to illness/injury and I would rather not miss more, but I need to make sure to take the time off if I need it. Brent and I were talking this weekend about the changes from when we were younger. Things you could suck up and work through in your 20s and even 30s just don't work through any more. They compound. Oh, you have a tweaky knee and you kept working? Here, have a wonky hip and a thrown back to go with it then....

I will remeasure and rephotograph (oh yes, there are pictures, I'm just not brave enough to show them) and re do the fitness tests then and let you all know how fabulous it went.

Have you lost your marbles?

You know those times when you read a book and you start to think it might have been written just for you, and just for you right in that moment? I read one of those this past weekend.  Daring Greatly by BrenĂ© Brown. This is one of those books that just to go back and read the things I highlighted as I was reading the book the first time would take another hour.

I had picked it up from the recommendation of The Bloggess but not read it yet. Then because she (Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess) was going to be on Katie Couric's show last week I Tivo'd and watched and it ended up that BrenĂ© Brown was on that episode as well. I was blown away listening to her speak about vulnerability as a strength. So I sent a quick message to a friend of mine that I KNEW would dig it as well and made plans to read the book as soon as I finished the book I was in the middle of. And I was not disappointed.

There is a lot of good stuff in this book but one of the images stuck with me so strongly I actually dreamed about it last night.  Ms. Brown tells a story about teaching her daughter about trust. She related it the marble jar her daughter's teacher kept in the class room. When the class was collectively practicing good behavior marbles went in the jar, when they weren't marbles came out. And when the jar was full they would get a party. So Ms. Brown teaches her daughter that friendships and trust are like the marble jar. That as people earn your trust you put marbles in the jar and as they do things that lose it you take marbles out. She went on the talk about how a trust can be broken so severely that you seem to pick up the jar and dump all the marbles out or most likely you throw the jar on the ground and break it completely.

She also talked about our armor. And that most of us learn to put it on and take in off in middle school and that by the time we are adults we are all masters at our own armor. I had to laugh at this. I am double armed usually. Humor is the first level. As you are all shocked by right now. I will tell a joke if things are uncomfortable or if the focus on me is too intense. When the uncomfortable starts the jokes start as well. Sometimes it's just enough to give me time and space to think and sometimes it's complete misdirection out of a conversation or situation I don't like.

Then I have my real armor. The layer that is closest to my skin. Anyone who knew me in middle school or high school can tell you that back in those days it was more apparent than it is now. The visualization I have for this layer is spikes like on a porcupine. When I was younger the spikes were normally out. I didn't let anyone get close enough to me to see who I was. As I aged and mellowed and worked through the anger it was like I brushed them down. Added some conditioner to them. Smoothed them out. But they are still there. And if I get my back up the spikes can come right back out. And if you are standing too close when they do you will get cut. I can almost feel them raise when I am in a bad situation. Like the ridge along a dog's back. Because I have spent so much time trying to work past this when I feel myself starting to shut down and pull my spikes up and retreat I generally take some time and try to figure out what is going on and either calm back down and realize that everything is fine, or shut down the person causing my spikiness to react.

So I got to thinking about those times in our lives where the jar breaks. Where all the trust is gone and the marbles are scattered. What happens next? What if you try to fix the jar? I pictured super gluing the jar back together. But the problem is that you know the jar isn't as strong as it was. You know that it could break again at any moment. So you end up holding tightly to the jar to hold it together. But here is the thing with trust. To trust someone (put more marbles in that jar) you have to let go of the jar to grab them (show vulnerability) but to show vulnerability (be willing to let go of the jar) you have to trust someone. So you never put any more marbles in the jar. You just sit there holding a jar. And if you are like me you do it wearing a suit of spikes and spouting jokes.

Because no matter how many times someone says that you can trust them until you actually let go, show that vulnerability and give it a try you won't. And we are back to the cycle. To earn trust someone has to be vulnerable enough with you to trust them. And to trust them you have to be vulnerable enough to let them. And once the jar is broken how do you start to earn that trust back? And should you?

I think the bravest people of them all are the ones who let go of the broken jar and trust that it will hold the marbles. Or better yet just replace it with a new jar and start the path over.

I'm not there. I'm still practicing this whole vulnerability thing. Too many years of not trusting anyone enough to put marbles in any jars let alone a broken one.

I have a few broken jars in the recycle bin. I have some jars with marbles in them just starting to fill. I have empty jars sitting next to boxes of marbles waiting for the next chance. But most importantly I have two full jars on my windowsill right now that the sunshine can play through casting rainbows on my soul. And the owners of both of those jars have seen my joking side, my prickly side and my vulnerable side and still sit with me adding more marbles to the jars and enjoying the class party when I cook for Thanksgiving.

Seriously, you all, read the book. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The chapter on parenting had me in tears. And made me want to double check just one more time with C that I was a decent mom. But then I looked at that full jar again...and I knew.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's a Multifaceted Ranty Type Thing....

Okay so you all know that there are times when a subject has been sort of half formed in my brain for awhile and then the stars line up and I.MUST.GET.IT.OUT.  Today is one of those days.

On my Facebook feed over the past two days I have had the normal variety of this is what I/my kid/my pet did and isn't it funny/sad/disgusting status updates. But along with those I have had an abundance of preachy posts. There have been preachy posts about politics ('tis the season). Preachy posts about eating meat. And preachy posts about religion. And for the most part I have refrained from commenting on them as I usually do. Because I don't care who you pray to or what you eat. I do care who you vote for because it can end up affecting me, but I also know that me pointing out how very very wrong you are isn't likely to make a difference.

So for the most part I don't post when I see something I don't agree with. Or I limit it down to only pointing out when something is actually factually wrong (though I know it doesn't matter and they will ignore it or decide my source is too biased for them to pay attention to) or when I am feeling feisty. For instance, today....well I posted on a link a vegan friend of mine, Chris, posted. Because though her facts were accurate they were misleading. And I hadn't poked at her in a long time about her posts so I went ahead and did it. And I ended up asking her a question I had been meaning to for awhile about her lifestyle choice, actually not just hers but all vegans. But then I left the conversation because I know that we can't discuss her choices for long without me getting offended.

See, I have a lot of vegetarian friends. I live in Portland after all and I think we probably have more and more variety than most places. So I've been friends with vegetarians, pescitarians, octo-lavo vegetarians, vegans and meatless Monday wannabes. And people who are doing it for a variety of reasons. Some who are vegangelical about it and some who are militant vegans. Now my friend who posted today is newly vegan. And as I say about any new conversion, there is no converted like the newly converted. So she is posting a lot about her new lifestyle choice and that includes the vast array of "isn't this awful!" films that are out there. It's part of the conversion process. And I've seen them all before over the years. Even prompted me to warn people what I would do if they sent me another one.

So why would I be the one to get offended if we kept up the discussion? If I've seen it all before, and I've had these discussion over and over again why would I end up mad about it? Good questions. And we will come back to them in a second.

Last year another friend of mine made a really thought provoking post about how much she didn't like the word tolerate, or being tolerant of people you disagreed with. I would link it to you but she made it as a status update and I am so not searching through a year or so of updates to find this one. But the reason why it stuck with me was because Kat made the point in her post that to tolerate something you must believe that you are right and they are wrong. That just by saying you are being tolerant of someone who doesn't believe as you do you are being condescending. You are implying that you have the moral high ground. Ever since I read that post I have been really conscious of the times I have used tolerant or tolerate. It always makes me think now. (Sometimes I hate having really brilliant friends who can write a status update that is deep and thought provoking like that. It means I have to work too hard to keep up!)

So taking that tolerant thought line and going in to the posts from my friends about their politics, religion and eating preferences. When you end up in a discussion with someone who you don't agree with where are you standing? Are you standing on the other side of an issue and making your point or are you on a soap box full of righteous indignation preaching down to the unenlightened? And do you even know where you are? I will tell you that on the issue of gay rights I am on a soap box. I know it. I am fully aware of it. Yes, what you believe on this issue colors my opinion of you. I understand what you are telling me about your religious beliefs and it makes no difference to me. I can know that we are never going to agree and accept that. And be tolerant of your belief. Your ignorant not as good as mine belief.

So one of the political posts from a friend came with the tag line, "Even someone on the left could understand this." Even someone on the left. Let that sink in for a second. The implication being that people on the left are somehow mentally deficient. It happened to be a post about economics so I watched it. And he was wrong. I don't get it. It was all about trickle down economics and how it's good sound policy. Nope, sorry, it's not. It's good sound theory. But when we've put it into practice what we discovered is that people don't act like the model. Instead of trickling down they find bigger buckets to store the wealth in, like say, bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. And when another friend of his who leans left pointed that out he was met with the condescending, "you just don't get it" head pat. Don't get it? We lived it. Twice. And now the candidate you wants us all to vote for would like to give it a go again. Third time's the charm? But you see the basic stance there? It's the "I know better." There is no room for debate there. It's strictly a place of feeling superior talking to those they find inferior. And you get it from both sides (see my stance on gay rights).

Religion. Oh gosh. Here is the basic standard bearer of all "tolerant" things right? What's the most famous line you hear when in a discussion with someone about gay rights? Hate the sin, not the sinner. Is there a more condescending stance to take? Oh, honey, I don't hate you I just hate what you do. And because I hate what you do I am going to deny you the rights I have. But I'm very tolerant of you. So when I see the religious posts spring up I just walk away. Though I am always very tempted to say something I know that no good will come of it. We don't believe what the other believes, or doesn't believe as the case may be. There is no middle ground except of tolerance. Though I don't tolerate your religious beliefs. I just don't believe them. I don't care about your beliefs until they infringe on other people's rights.

So back to why I knew that I would get insulted if I kept up the discussion on my friend Chris' post. Because I know what she believes. And to believe what she believes (that meat is murder) that means that she believes I am a murderer. Now, I don't believe this. I think there is a huge and vast difference between animals and people. I know that the meat on my table comes from an animal, I know it had to die for me to eat it. But I also don't equate that to murder. I can have that argument in a lot of different ways depending on the person I am having it with. But I don't want to have it with my friend Chris, because I like her. She's funny and smart and a good mother and has a huge heart and is passionate about her choice to become vegan. And I like all of those parts of her. So I didn't want to get farther along in the discussion where she has to take the stance where she will tolerate my meat eating. I know that she does. I know that all of my vegan friends do. But it's human nature for that to hurt your feelings. When you really know that someone thinks less of you. So I don't pursue that line of discussion.

And I also know that my religious friends are waiting for my conversion and my right wing friends are waiting for my lean to shift. And I know they are doing it because they feel like they are right and I am wrong. And not only wrong but profoundly wrong. And less than. I've actually had people tell me that they knew what I believed they were just waiting for me to figure it out. Oh my....

So as we are hitting the full force of political season and as we talk about what we believe in passionately something to keep in mind is where you are coming from. Are you really listening to the other side or are you just being tolerant?

My stances:

Food. I don't care what you eat or what you don't. I'm an omnivore. I would be a cakevore but I'm trying to have more self control than that.

Religion. I'm agnostic. So both atheists and the religious get to be tolerant of me and I am accepting of both of you because I don't know which one of you is right. I just know that I don't know.

Politics. I lean left. Strongly. But I'm also pretty fiscally conservative. But in a left way. I think we should have the money to pay for new things which means we get rid of old things that aren't working and we look at our completely out of whack tax code and let those adjust as they need to. And as long as your politics don't veer off in to the crazy birther type areas then we can have discussions where I will listen to what you have to say and offer up my point of view. If they match great, if they don't, that's okay as well.

Gay rights. I will tolerate your point of view if you disagree with me.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 4 wrap up....

Okay, here we go, Monday check in time.

Last week was a rough one, not going to lie. I woke up Tuesday morning with my back tweaked. Nothing like going to sleep fine and waking up hurt to make you feel old! So I powered through Tuesday's workouts with a few adjustments. Not better on Wednesday so I did it again. Made a few adjustments as things would hurt but kept up my pace. Then Thursday hit. As I was getting dressed Brent turns from the bathroom where he is getting ready for work with the look of concern over the noise he just big deal, it was just my hip sliding back into the socket. Yeah, the back issues were causing me to walk funny which made my already wonky hips wonkier so they joined the party on Thursday. And even then I was getting ready to go workout and hip slid again and I took that as the sign from the universe that powering through when you are my age means hitting a wall instead of being able to just tough it out and move over the speed bump.  So I rested.

Then the cold hit. So I didn't work out Thursday or Friday or Saturday. And what I learned is that it really really bugged me on Thursday not to be working out. I was in a good rhythm with my new more intense program, I had figured out a way to make it work for me and still leave me time in the day to do all of the other things I wanted to do and I was feeling a little antsy without the energy spend of the workouts. Then the fever from the cold hit and I got over that feeling and decided that the couch was good place to be. Then Friday still being sick and sore it was easier to forgo the workout from the start. Didn't even plan on working out. Then Saturday I probably could have worked out again. I do a lighter routine on Saturdays and I was feeling mostly better but I thought, better safe than sorry so I didn't. Sunday is a day off anyway so that made four days in a row with no workout.

And let me tell you getting back to it today took a giant push of motivation. I bought new shoes over the weekend so that I wouldn't keep pounding my back and hips on concrete in bare-feet so hopefully that will take care of the back issue soon. It's still a little sore but the self care I'm doing is helping that right along. And with the extra cushion of the new shoes I am hopeful it won't recur. Because I don't want to take another 4 days off. I'm not sure if I have it in me to start again if I do. It's very hard to get into the flow of working out, at least for me, but I was there and I was actually enjoying it and it was getting to be a pretty solid part of my day, but it was super easy to fall out. And to be fine with falling out.

I gained half a pound last week, which was expected. No workouts, no energy, sick food and advil (makes me gain weight for some reason) all together I'm actually shocked it wasn't more. But still this morning there was that voice in my head that said...this is an awful lot of work for no real results just yet. If you are going to pop right back up with your weight every time you get sick or tale a few days off for whatever reason what is the point?

So what was the point? The point was to see what I can do in six months. And I'm four weeks in. I haven't lost a ton of weight, but that wasn't the point. The point was to get fit. To see what muscles I could make come back out to play. And really the point was just to do it. And part of doing it is working around the times when for whatever reason, I can't. So I strapped on my new shoes and did my workouts. And I will do this series for another week and then next week starts month two and a change up of routine to keep going, to keep working on seeing what I can do.

So what I learned this week is that I can keep going even when I don't feel like it. I can get back on the program when I have stopped. And I have learned that I really don't want to take four days off again so I need to wear my shoes.

I'll check in next week with the stats from the first month.  Should be interesting!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Practical Magic....3

It wasn't too long after Deidre started at Martindale's that the Keeper sisters earned their nicknames. No one is sure if it started with the professors or the students but once it started it spread like wild fire and they were known as Joy and Pain through the rest of their time in school. When Joycelynn had first overheard the nicknames she had done everything she could to keep them from her sister, only to hear Deidre tell their parents about them with pride the first holiday weekend they were home. Their father roared with laughter while their mother sighed and shook her head.

Both sisters had come in to Martindale's with the highest marks possible from their time in elementary and middle school. They had both done exceptionally well in their general studies classes. But though Joycelynn still loved her general classes Deidre was more excited about her focused track. Though her grades remained high in Prophecy, Spell-casting and Basic Healing as well as the more standard classes like math and history she was obviously restless in class and just biding her time until she could get to one of her Basic Fighting Techniques or Weapons Management courses.

Keeping her grades high in all of her classes was due more to the well developed sense of competition that most warriors had as part of their basic make-up. Hyper vigilance, speed, strength, mental and physical toughness, competitiveness, these were all parts of the gift. Just as with all of the gifts you could receive all or part of the gift and you could receive the different parts in different strengths. For instance you could have the calling to be a warrior and only have developed hyper-vigilance. There were many warriors working in security fields among the Gifted and the Others that only focused on being aware of where every one was at any point in time. The Keeper sisters had both realized the full complement of gifts when they received their callings. It was not always the case in fact there was only one other warrior in Deidre's year that had the full complement of gifts. That was Calvin Springwater.

Cal came in to Martindale's expecting to be the top of his class, as he always had been. Instead he spent his time there fighting with Deidre Keeper for top spot. They would alternate #1 and #2 so consistently that the other students in their grade started counting the #3 place as their own #1. Cal was fearless in his fight training. His mother was a world class healer and he had spent his days fighting with the reckless abandon that came from knowing there were very few injuries his mother couldn't heal within hours. So while his style was more aggressive Deidre's was more cunning. She had trained with her father, a high ranking watch commander and leader of the guard and learned quickly that she was never going to overpower her much larger father so she would have to find other ways to try and gain an advantage.

They were evenly matched in weapons and though Deidre was better at spell-casting Cal consistently got better marks in their healing arts classes. When the end of their sophomore year came and they were finally allowed to start sparring against each other instead of just their instructors and work out dummies everyone was ready to see who would best whom in their first match. After two years of stalking each other, of competing against each other to try and be the best they were finally going to get their shot.

The match was set for the last round of the week. Deidre had noticed the gym filling up with other students as the time drew closer and closer. It seemed like everyone wanted to be there to witness them face off. Deidre caught her sister's eye in the crowd and smiled as Joycelynn gave her a thumbs up.  The time for the match finally came and they squared off, slowly circling each other, each one waiting for the other to make a mistake. To get off balance in any way. The tension in the gym got to be so high Deidre thought that everyone there was holding their breath waiting for one of them to make a move. Finally Cal's best friend Jake yelled from the bleachers, "Are you going to fight her or kiss her?" The crowd laughed, the tension broken. Deidre caught Cal's eye and saw the blush starting to spread across his cheeks. Oh, well this was interesting. She smiled at him and walked slowly towards him with her hands held out, palms up. As she reached him she asked, "Well?" and then leaned in towards him. Cal blinked twice and leaned towards Deidre to receive the offered kiss. This was the opportunity she had been looking for. With a quick leg sweep she took Cal down to the mat pinning him.

As they lay on the mat the look of shock on Cal's face was replaced with a wide grin. "You're a tricky one. I won't forget that next time." Deidre smiled and told him, "Yes you will." and with that she gave him the kiss he had been expecting when she walked toward him a few seconds before. From that point on they were not only the top two students in their class but they were the class couple as well. Inseparable. A perfect couple in everyone's eyes. Or at least everyone at school.

Calvin's family was not as happy about the match at first. They had a long history of not exactly arranged marriages, but highly suggested marriages. The wife they had hoped Cal would choose was the daughter of a local politician who was a very gifted spell-caster. Marriages among the Springwater's and their friends were always between two different class of called. They felt this was the best way to keep a good blend of gifts in the family. Some of the older families had practiced this for generations. Other families like the Keepers had a blending of gifts through natural pairings. And sometimes that meant that instead of a married couple having different strengths they shared their gift.

Eventually though the Springwaters realized that Cal had made up his mind and met his match. Once they had a chance to see Cal and Deidre, or Deeds as he called her together they understood that their son would not be happy with anyone else. And once Aska joined the family they could not have been happier if they had chosen Deeds for Cal themselves.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Political the left...

Here we go.  Last week I gave you my top line take away from the RNC this week it was on to the DNC.  

There are a few overall things I want to touch on before I go on to the individual speeches. First off I was amused as what I have always felt is a difference in the parties was on display from the start. The main speeches of each convention were held between 7-8 Pacific time. This was to capture them during as much prime time coast to coast coverage as possible. And with the exception of Condoleezza Rice's speech starting early one night and the final night going a little long the Republicans held to this time slot. So I tune in on Tuesday and it's 7, then 7:10, then 7:20 and finally the first prime time speaker starts. Democrats have never ever seemed as organized as Republicans. It's part of why I have never considered registering as one even though my social values line up with them. I've always felt like they were too busy trying to make sure every voice was being heard to actually get shit done. 

The second thing is that I believe there is an advantage to going second. Between the fact that President Obama is running a re-election instead of an election and going after the RNC I think the DNC was able to tailor their message a little more. We spent a lot less time being introduced to President Obama than we did Governor Romney. There were some over arching themes of who he was through the eyes of people closest to him. But this seemed more in response to the RNC painting a picture of him that the democrats didn't feel was accurate. But there wasn't as much of the "He's a nice guy" theme that we saw the week before.  And by going after the RNC was over they were able to see what seemed to work for the RNC and what didn't and adjust on the fly.  Which takes me to the speeches.

The first night we got the Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro. He was a very dynamic speaker and didn't fall in to the same pattern that we saw with Governor Christie the week before. Instead of it seeming like a 2016 bid for Mayor Castro it really was a speech for President Obama. He gave his story. Which we hear variations of all the time. Immigrant parents, hard work, better life for their children. For a country that gets awfully freaked out about the number of immigrants who want to come here we still love a good moved here for a better life story don't we? Mayor Castro also started laying out the groundwork for the themes of the week. Strong middle class. We were going to see this hit time and time again. That we need a strong middle class. That people need to be able to see the possibility of reaching the middle class and the ability to stay there or move beyond.  And he talked about specific differences between the candidates. And here again was a difference we would see all week. He talked about specific programs instead of general themes. I think the democrats read a lot about how unimpressed people were about the talk of "hard choices, tough times" with no specifics that came out of the RNC and decided to get more specific. No numbers as of yet, but at least we were hearing about actual differences. I liked him, though I could just see future Glenn Beck shows featuring the Obama/Castro signs from the audience and his unique take on them.....

The next speaker was Michelle Obama. Again, she has an advantage over Ann Romney in that we didn't need her to tell us who her husband is, we already know. So instead she could talk about what she and Dr. Biden have been doing as First and Second Lady. She could talk about what the past four years have been like. She also gave one hell of a speech. Now you all know I wasn't as impressed with Mrs. Romney as I had expected to be and part of that was the hype surrounding her. I've heard Mrs. Obama speak before and I was expecting a good speech and she delivered. Now here is where I have to give the wry look and the commentary about after the speech. She spoke about her life, her children's lives and about the President. She talked about what it was like when they met, (yes the just folks angle that we all must hear about) and the choices that were made. She also stressed the strong middle class and the healthcare debate. It was a smart, strong, energizing speech and when she finished the crowd went wild. The week before when Ann Romney spoke they cut back to the NBC commentators who gushed all over themselves how wonderful she was, how great the speech was, how much of an asset she was to Mitt Romney and when Michelle Obama finished? The same group thanked us for watching and signed off. Typical Left Wing Biased Media.... (insert wry look here)

Okay on to the next night. Again with the Left Wing Biased Media on NBC which chose to show the opening night of the NFL instead of the DNC. Anyway...after a channel switch and the wait time for the start of the speeches we got Elizabeth Warren. I like Elizabeth Warren. I've been listening to her speak for years on the financial crisis and I think she was done wrong by the Obama administration. But she isn't a dynamic speaker. She's the college professor that you hang on every word she says and then you crack your books and want to learn more. She's the smart friend that we all wish we had. But she's not super energizing. She's the red meat we all say we want then find out it's harder to eat than the cotton candy we are used to. All that being said I really enjoyed her talk but it wasn't what the crowd was there for and I think they were all relieved that she only made them think about hard things for about 10 minutes. I would have liked to listen to her for longer but it wasn't the right venue for what she delivers. However....

Bill Clinton. Now here is what the crowd had been waiting for. Not only the type of speaker he is but for the man himself. And he went out and did a tight 20 minutes sticking completely to his notes...okay you know he didn't. I actually made a note in my phone when he was done so I wouldn't get the time wrong. He was scheduled to talk for 28 minutes and instead went on for 48. But the crowd wasn't complaining. They ate up everything he dished out. Myself included. And here, for the first time, we actually got hard numbers. I started to take notes to check up on them but stopped when I realized that there were lots of people who were doing it already and I could just double check their work in the morning. So I just sat back and listened. I loved when he said that we just needed to do the math. I use this line all of the time. Math is math is math. It's one of the things I liked about being an accountant. I love cross footing. It's when all of your columns come up with the same answer. It's when the math is right and it works.  And, folks, the math is not working right now.

He then touched on Ryan's speech from the week before and used what is one of my favorite lines of their convention when discussing the $716 billion in Medicare changes, "It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did."  He also went on to speak about needing a strong middle class and bandied about more numbers on job creation and growth. The thing that amazed me was even though he went off script his facts checked out. Now this doesn't mean that they weren't spun and polished and cherry picked and all of the things that made them a little iffy in my book but the difference was I think they were spun and polished and cherry picked but they weren't flat out lies like the week before when I was yelling at Ryan. Yes, by all means make your party look good, but when you have to go on to say that your campaign isn't going to be dictated by fact checkers? Basically admitting that spin to win is fine even if you are lying? It's just not right. Well after speaking the crowd went nuts. Cheering for him like crazy and then they went over the top when President Obama took the stage as well and they hugged it out. These two have a complicated history and Clinton touched on it during his speech and the newscasters talked about it ad nauseam before he took the stage but right then, during that hug? While the crowd was screaming? You wouldn't have known. 

On to the next night. Since Clinton took Biden's spot on Wednesday we were going to get both the VP and the P on the final night. Due to some weather issues their big showy outdoor packed stadium/firecracker finale wasn't going to happen and we heard a lot about that. Which again, makes me a little sad. Shouldn't we care more about the context of the speeches? About the character of the person making them than if there will be fireworks? But on to the speeches. I have to admit I love when Joe Biden takes the stage. I've always liked the man but I always like that element of ...what will he say? that he brings to the table. Because you never know. Brent commented that reading about him he is one of those guys that is always on. I said if he weren't a politician he would have made a good Ad Man. He just wants you to like him and like what he is telling you.  

I thought his speech was very good. It was free of any overt Bidenisms. And when he spoke of the military? Well I'm sorry but you just had to tear up. Four years ago Biden brought the foreign policy experience to the ticket that Obama was lacking and the democrats made a point to stress this during this convention. And not just with Biden but with the entire ticket. Much was made over Romney leaving out mention of Afghanistan during his speech the week before. But I thought it was just as interesting to watch the Democrats mention the troops and war and foreign policy over and over again. It was interesting to see the shift between the two parties, traditionally the Republicans are heavy hitters in this area and the Democrats are not, so to watch the shift this year was interesting. But back to Biden. When he speaks and gets emotional you believe he is feeling it. Or at least I do. It doesn't seem planned, it doesn't seem like he is putting on a face he wants you to see, he is just who he is. His speech wasn't a barn burner but it was emotionally satisfying. I think a concentrated effort was made to reign himself in a little after the shackle speech a few weeks ago. It was solid. 

Then on to the man of the hour. I've read a lot of mixed reviews over this speech. But isn't that the way of Obama? When I hear him speak I think, strong and intelligent while other people I know think condescending and arrogant. I think smart they think snob. I see reserved they see aloof. Where you finish is all about where you are starting. I think part of the issue for the people that were disappointed is that he isn't as dynamic a speaker as former President Clinton is, and he wasn't as energetic as he was four years ago. Personally I liked the tonal shift he came out with this time. Four years ago he was all about Hope and Change and the optimism that was overflowing from him in to the crowd and then well...reality set in. 

I know the Republicans hate HATE to hear this and think it's a cop out but the economy he inherited as president was bad. BAD. And it was about to get worse. And you can say all you want that it wasn't Bush's fault because he wasn't president anymore and I will roll my eyes at you all I want. Because that's not fair. I think Bush the elder was a decent president. I think when you look back at the economic crash that pushed him out of office you will see that it wasn't his fault. It was the patron saint of the Republican party Reagan's fault. It was his wonky economic policies that caused the issues that Bush had to try and fix. And he got a really good start on it when he was pushed out of office by Clinton who then got a lot of credit for the recovery. See how that works? It's all tied together. You don't walk in to office with a clean slate on day one. You walk in with the mess or the benefit that the guy before you left. 

And Obama was left with a mess. And I think the President we saw speak on Thursday was a reflection of what that does to a person. I think he came across as more solid, as more realistic, as flat out more presidential than he did four years earlier. So though he didn't light up the room with the momentum to DO SOMETHING BIG! He cast the glow of we can still do this. We have it in us to be strong, to make changes, to do the hard work that needs done and here is what it will entail. He spoke in more generalities that I would have liked but in more specifics than we usually get so that was nice. Again, I think the going second part helped here, he was able to address some of what was said at the RNC and to speak to his own points. He cast the clear division between what the theme of the DNC had been, either going forward with the plans he has been setting in place or going back to what we had four years ago. The same policies that put us here. It was a solid speech. It was calm and strong and as I said, presidential.

Now it could be my own bias is too strong, Obama wasn't the guy for me in 2008. I watched him skeptically. I didn't think it was his time, so maybe I just liked this speech more than that one because I like the man better this time around. But I think it was more that it played to what I want from a candidate. I don't want to hear how nice you are, I want to hear about what you are going to do as president. And I completely understand that the sitting president has a huge advantage over the challenger because only one of those men really knows what being president means. 

So what did I think overall? I think the main difference that I saw in the speeches is that the democrats they chose to speak really believe Obama is going to win while the republicans were split between wanting me to know that Romney is a really nice guy and jump starting their campaigns for the next cycle. I think that was as telling as anything else that came out of the conventions. It was a different feeling. The speeches on the RNC side were "I did" while on the the DNC it was more "the President did." I thought that the RNC did an excellent job in getting their, "Mitt is a really good guy" message out there and not as good of a job at getting concrete idea on what they will do out there. I also, as I've mentioned, hated the Ryan speech and the blow back that facts are for liberals message they seem to be hitting. Facts are facts. Math is math. Lies are lies. Now give me something real and true or hush. I will give you the spin, up to a point, meaning I will say that even if it's true it's still spun but if you flat out lie to me? I have nothing for you there.

And now we have two more months. Two months of hard campaigning (thank goodness I don't live in a swing state) we have the debates and we have the hard push. It should be an interesting ride to the finish and at this point the race is too close to call. 


Friday, September 7, 2012

Why you gotta hate?

So Tuesday I was watching The Chew while I ate lunch. It's been in re-runs for awhile and I just noticed it was all new episodes this week. Well as I watched I noticed they were doing the tricky camera shots with Daphne Oz, kind of hiding her behind things and she was dressed in an odd fitting top. So on Wednesday I noticed it again and thought, "I wonder if she's pregnant" so off to Google I went. I wasn't the only one to wonder if she was pregnant, there was a LOT of discussion out there about it, and it turns out she's not pregnant she just gained weight. Which is pretty understandable, if you watch the show. They eat and drink a LOT over the course of an hour. And for her, especially, coming on as a vegetarian who didn't even drink to the end where she was game to sample a little of everything you can see how the pounds could have added up.

And then I thought to myself how happy I am that I'm not famous. Because I watch her on a TV show I was able to Google her and see the most personal details of her life. Is she pregnant? No. So then the discussion turned to her being fat. And there was a huge amount of chatter on that. And then the next few linked articles were about how Mario Batali supposedly hates her (I watch the show and never thought that), and then other people talking about how they hated her. And then there was the next link from someone who watches The Chew and wanted to rail about a guest they had on.

I clicked through to his blog because the name caught my eye. He calls himself the MarlboroWoman and writes a blog dedicated entirely to how much he hates the Pioneer Woman.  (She calls her husband the Marlboro Man so see how he was being "clever" in his name) I'm not talking about a one off blog about her, I'm talking about his entire online persona in that area dedicated to how much he hates her. What is his problem with her? Well from what I could tell (and I didn't read all of his stuff because I couldn't stomach it for long) he used to be a fan of hers and then discovered that she does not, in fact, live in a covered wagon but is a very well off rancher's wife. *gasp* I know right? How dare she be rich? And not only that but the recipes she uses, she didn't make them up. They are old recipes that she has picked up from other places. Again, shocking stuff. AND...she tells bad jokes. Which coming from someone who obviously thought calling himself the Marlboro Woman and taking a picture in a blond wig and dress was hilarious I am not so sure he should be judging....

Anyway, this got me thinking. What has happened to all of us? I've talked about this before, that I think the anonymity of the internet lends itself to people being ruder on discussion boards and the like than they would in a face to face discussion. But this is just beyond that for me. This man spends a lot of time dedicating himself to how much he hates someone he doesn't even know. He does a detailed analysis of why her TV show sucks, why her books are awful, why her cooking is no good, why the shirt she wore during an interview was unflattering and on and on. I just don't get it. And he has a lot of people who read his blog and comment on it. The comments were all in line with his opinion with their own spin on it. A few were upset because she describes herself in broad terms, wife, mother, blogger, photographer and accidental country girl. There was a lot of anger towards her making them feel badly about what they were able to accomplish.  How dare she do so much! And then the trashing would begin again.

But here is my question. If you hate someone why spend that much time letting them take up space in your head? Watching the DNC this past week (I will write about my impressions over the weekend) former President Clinton said something that so resounded with me. There used to be a time in politics where you could disagree with the other party (passionately, completely) but you didn't have to hate them. It seems like now you have to hate the opposition, not just disagree with their policies. I don't get it. And I really don't get then turning your life's mission in to spending time focusing on things you hate.

I see it on some of the blogs I read. I "like" Slate on facebook. Now Slate is not bipartisan and doesn't pretend to be. It's extraordinarily liberal leaning. I pick and choose what I read because I think their spin can get to be too much. And I'm pretty liberal. I just don't feel like everything needs spun. So if I am picking and choosing what I read I always have to wonder about the people that read it just to piss themselves off and then comment about how much they hate everything Slate stands for. Why did you just read it? Why did you waste the time in your day to seek out and read something that you knew was going to make you mad?

I cannot stand Ann Coulter. Anytime she ends up on a show I am watching or someone sends me a link that I just "have to" read that she wrote or is mentioned in I can feel my face scrunching into that I smell something nasty look. So here's the thing...I don't seek her out. I don't devote a lot of time or brain space to her. When she shows up on my radar I read what ever I have been sent or watch the segment she is in and think, "Yup, still a nasty sac of venom" and then I move on.

What is the point in dwelling on the hatred all of the time? And really what is the point of the hate in the first place? Can't we say we disagree with something without hating it? Or can't we just not watch The Pioneer Woman if you can't get past the fact that she isn't the first person to ever make chocolate cake? It truly puzzles me. And it leaves me feeling that the Marlboro Woman must lead a sad sad life indeed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Practical Magic.....2

As she finished dressing for work Deidre turned and caught Aska's eyes. Aska favored Deidre in many ways but her hazel eyes were all her father. From the shape, to the color, to the intelligence behind the gaze. The only difference was Cal's eyes were the eyes of a warrior, there was a wariness and a hardness to his gaze that never really fully softened. Aska's eyes were her own, she had the watchfulness of a child born of warrior parents but not the hard edge of one always ready for a fight. Deidre knew that as she aged and her gift became more pronounced her eyes would hold that touch of sorrow that Deidre's sister Joycelynn's always did. The cost of knowing too much.

Deidre walked over and kissed Aska on the top of the head, taking in the smell of her child. Deidre knew that she needed to enjoy every minute she had with Aska. Not only because the life of a warrior was sometimes shorter than it should be but because next year when Aska took her 12 year exams she would most likely place high enough to leave for Martindale's Academy the following school year. She was the top of her class in grades and with her gift manifesting itself as such a young age she should be a lock. Prophets often didn't receive their gift until their late teens or even in to their 20s. Joycelynn had said that it was nature's way of protecting the minds of those called. That the things you saw could be overwhelming to a young child so it made sense that the gift came later than most.

They had been watchful for an early development. Joycelynn's first vision came when she was 2 and she told her mother that her sister would be coming in the summer. They remained infrequent until she was 10 but there was no doubt when Joycelynn told you something was going to happen you should pay attention. Early development was normal in their family. Their mother had said she knew Deidre was a warrior while she was still in the womb. After an easy pregnancy with both Joycelynn and their older brother Aric, Deidre had made her presence known early and often. She was never still, always stretching and turning. Their mother had said she had her first fights with her bladder and lungs. And that Deidre always won.

Deidre and Joycelynn had both attended Martindale's as teens and had loved their time there. Aric had gone to school at the local high school with the Others. His test scores were high enough that he could have gone to the academy but as a teen he was fascinated with the Others and as this was life before the time of joining he felt that the only way to really understand them was to live with them. There were many among the Gifted who felt that allowing one of their children to live among the Others was a bad idea. That the risks of discovery were too high. But after The Joining it was people like Aric who made living together possible. Aunt Dot had assured her sister and brother-in-law that Aric was making a wise choice and would be safe at the high school.

But for Joycelynn and Deidre it had been Martindale's Academy. Joycelynn settling in first followed by Deidre two years later. Though the instructors that smiled seeing another Keeper on their attendance sheet soon learned that while having Joycelynn in class was one thing having Deidre was something else entirely.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Week Three Check In...

I bet you all thought I forgot, hunh? Nope, just with it being the holiday and then wanting to capture that little fiction start earlier this got pushed to later in the day. But here I am! I are all terribly relieved and very excited to hear how the past week sweating with the oldy went.

Okay, here are last week's goals!

1. Keep on keeping on! Two work outs a day M-F with the stepped up time on the Zumba portion. One on Saturday.

2. Track the food again. No major changes to the diet just yet. Minor tweaking (breakfast mainly)

3. Keep the skinny bitch in check.

4. Positive thoughts.

And how did I do?

Pretty darn good. I did the same work out schedule as week two and will stick with that for two more weeks before I switch it up again. I did figure out that though the original statement for working out twice a day I was thinking once in the morning and then once in the afternoon that really doesn't work for me. Chunking up the day like that makes it really difficult to get other things done and as I have a house to maintain and writing that needs to get done as well this had to be switched. So now I am getting my first workout done taking a break, eating some yogurt or almonds, something with a little protein boost, waiting about an hour and then doing my second workout. This is much better for the rest of my schedule. Now all of that being said some days that's not going to work. Take today for instance. It's a holiday so Brent and I slept in then went out for breakfast. By the time I got the first workout of the day done it was noon. Then I wrote and we ran errands. So the second workout didn't happen until he left to go do a fantasy draft tonight.
Which is fine. Flexibility! The next holiday snare I will hit will be Thanksgiving so that should be interesting.

Tracking food worked out well. I don't think I really need to make big diet changes. Just watching those portion levels again has kept me right on track where I think I should be calorie wise. If I find my weight not shifting the way I want it to I will take another look but for now I am happy.

How did the skinny bitch and I do? Well she was happy because I lost two pounds this week and I was happy because I shut her down on Wednesday when she discovered a new tool on my tracking program. See if I eat too few calories the program I have actually warns you in BOLD RED LETTERS that you have to eat more. But it does this while at the same time showing you how little you would weigh in 5 weeks if you kept up that pace. Now on Wednesday I accidentally hit the "finish the day" button after lunch so of course I was way under calorie recommendations. If I kept up at that pace in 5 weeks I would be about 18 pounds lighter than I am today. Now this pleased the skinny bitch who then started to make plans on how few calories could be consumed for the balance of the day. I patted her on the head, reminded her that 18 fewer pounds on my frame wasn't good, grabbed a handful of grapes and planned the dinner menu around having PLENTY of calories left. She still checks at random times during the day to see the BOLD RED LETTERS, but so far we have reached the compromise that she can indulge in the fantasy but fit at 44 and I will take care of the reality.

Positive thoughts? Yep. Right on track. And don't tell anyone but I am pretty sure I saw my triceps today....

Goals for next week? Exactly same as this week. I have two more weeks for the first month of the program and then I will make some changes to the exercise. Yes, I know that makes 5 weeks for a month instead of 4 but that's how the journal I am using lays it out so 5 week months it is!

Practical Magic....

Aska watched her mother getting ready for work. She always loved to watch the care her mother took with each and every article of her uniform. First were the shirt and pants so tightly woven with the latest technologically advanced fabric that it would stop not only a bullet or a knife but also any acid that might be thrown or spit. It was also blessed by four different Shamans and Clerics to stop any magic attacks. The amazing part of this fabric was how light weight and soft it was to the touch. If you didn't know it was there for protection you would think it was just the latest fashion. She would follow this with her vest adorned with hooks and clips to place the various magical amulets and good luck charms she had been given over the years.

When Aska had been younger she had asked her mother why she bothered putting on charms from religions that she herself did not believe in. Aska's mother had smiled at her and told her that just because she did not believe they had magical powers didn't mean the person she was fighting didn't. And the more she won, the more her reputation grew, the more magic those amulets would seem to possess. After lacing on her boots and strapping her weapons to her side, she would put on her last amulet. Her last good luck piece. And the only one that Aska knew she believed in.

There was a ritual for Aska's mother for putting on this amulet. First her mother would take it off of the hook on the wall then she would open the locket and look at the picture. Then she would close the locket, kiss it, then place it around her neck and tuck it under her shirt. The final step before she turned to leave she would place a hand over the locket and close her eyes for a few seconds. Aska had never asked her mother what she was thinking during those minutes but she knew what the locket contained. It was a picture of Aska and her father. Eleven years ago when she was born.  Eight years before he died.

Aska's father had been a warrior as well. Once Aska was born they didn't fight together which is why only he was lost the night his team was ambushed and not Aska's mother as well. For almost two years after his death Aska's mother did not go in to the field, she trained squad members who had just graduated from the academy. Teaching them real world lessons that their instructors in primary and secondary would have never thought them ready for. Giving them the skills they would need to survive. To protect those that needed help from those that would use their power to take advantage.

For those two years Aska's mother worked only during the week. She was there for every teacher's meeting at school. She even volunteered for a bake sale once and watching the young children from the primary school trying to get up the nerve to buy a cupcake from Aska's mother was fun. But for those two years she did everything she could to give Aska a normal safe life where she never had to worry about losing another parent. And they were both miserable.

Aska's mother was a warrior. It was her gift. Her calling. And Aska knew that teaching the other students was not fulfilling to her. All warriors who lived long enough eventually became teachers but to be a warrior in your prime teaching instead of patrolling? It was unheard of. Aska also felt guilty every time she would hear about a bad magic that got away. When someone would get hurt or worse die in her area. Because she knew in her bones if her mother had been there it would not have happened. That nothing got past her mother.  So one day she sat her down and told her she thought she needed to go back to work. Real work. Leave the teaching for those with nothing else they could do.

And so for the past year she had done just that. Leading her squad on patrol and in to battle when necessary. Aska's aunt had come to live with them during this time. Not only to help around the house and to make sure that someone was there to take care of Aska when her mother had to work odd hours but also to help guide Aska with her own gift. Aska's calling was not to be a warrior as her parents had both been, she was to be a prophet. Her gift coming into fruition the night her father died. She had witnessed the ambush and the attack. Watched the life being sucked out of her father by the Sorcerer Shakel  She had such a clear vision of the incident that she helped find her father's body and in the arrest of Shakel and his followers.

The problem was she had witnessed it only a few minutes before it happened. And as it was her first vision she wasn't even sure it was a vision and not just a nightmare until the next day when she learned her father had not come home from patrol. Aska learned on that night why the gift of prophecy was the only one of the four gifts that they also called a curse.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Political the right....

Okay, even though I am still feeling a little less than inspired right now (figured out part of the blahs were the beginning of a cold) I want to get this blog out of my head before the DNC starts next week and crowds out my impressions of the RNC.

Yes, I watched the RNC on television. Mostly just the prime-time keynote speeches. A few of the rest (thank you PBS for showing all of the speeches instead of just two a day) but mostly those were on while I was cooking dinner so I didn't absorb as much from them as I did the main event speeches of the evening. So those are the ones I am going to talk about and give my impression of how they went.

Now, as you all know I lean left in my politics though I am registered as unaffiliated I admit I am so socially left that I have a hard time with the Republican party as it stands today. Brent and I were discussing it this week, after I shared with him an NPR story where they interviewed formerly prominent Republican politicians that had been forced out of their positions by more hard line Tea Party candidates. These guys are the moderate Republicans, the ones I am more likely to vote for. The true socially liberal, fiscally conservative people, not the ones that bandy about terms like compassionate conservative just because they think it makes them sound better. As the two parties move more towards the edges they are leaving this wide berth in the center that just seems ripe for a third party to settle in. One that cares more about financing things in the ways that make the most sense than in a pledge that a man named after a muppet forces you to take before you ever even step foot in office and actually SEE what needs done. One that believes freedom means freedom and not just in the areas we say so, but in marriage equality, pregnancy choices and the like. But, alas, we aren't there, we are stuck with the two parties and watching them drift farther and farther apart.

So on to the RNC last week. I will take it night by night and give my top-line impressions. Governor Christie came out and started it off with a bang. Started what off? Why his candidacy for 2016 of course! What else could it have been? I think he might have mentioned Romney twice in his speech? Most of it was all about what he had accomplished in New Jersey. And that we were in for some hard choices and tough times. But he never really got in to what those might entail so I have to think he is waiting a few years to let us in on the details. It was a good speech, a solid speech but it didn't really move me any closer to what THIS candidate for president had to offer me.  Though he did mention that he trusts and likes Mitt Romney. Which was to be a recurring them over the next few nights.

Next up was Ann Romney who as expected just ripped her husband to shreds, he snatched her up at a high school dance and forced her to live in a basement,  he was never home, he was always at work leaving her to raise 5 undisciplined boys on her own, but that's okay because women, we are made to do more work for less appreciation, am I right, girls? Okay, that's not exactly how it went, but I have to admit I wasn't impressed with her speech, though I know a lot of people were. Including every anchor on NBC. I think my biggest problem was that she had been built up so much, eloquent, secret weapon, wonderful speaker, that I was expecting an Elizabeth Dole level speech and I didn't get that. What I got was a woman who is clearly in love with her husband who thinks we should be too. She trusts him. He is a good man. He is such a nice guy. And you know what? I am sure he is. This is my own bias showing through here, but every Mormon I've ever met has been Canadian levels of polite and nice so I have no doubt in my mind that he is as well. And she also said something that was repeated throughout the week, not only in speeches but in interviews with other prominent Republicans, you might not agree with Mitt's policies but you have to admit he's a nice guy.

Okay, swell. He's a nice guy. But if I don't agree with his policies why in the hell would I vote for him? Didn't we all fall for this once before? "He just seems like a guy you'd want to grab a beer with." I heard that over and over when Bush the younger and Gore were running against each other. And it drove me nuts. Then go grab a fucking beer with him, but don't make him president! Okay, Mitt seems like a nice guy, then like him all you want but if you don't agree with his policies then don't put him in office. That's just silly.

Anyway, she also finally hit the success thing on the head. This has been driving me nuts all election season. Why did he want to downplay the fact that he has money? Now, during the convention they spent a lot of time trying to say that the Democrats demonized his success, and there might be some of that (though I think it's more how he got his money and the amount of taxes he has paid) but be honest here, you know he has been running from it as well. Finally Ann Romney was owning it! He's a success and this is a good thing...but then she had to go back to the "we are just folks" well.  I am really tired of hearing about that basement apartment. About eating ramen and tuna. Because there is nothing behind it. In an earlier interview (earlier in his career) she mentioned that they once got so broke they had to sell stock. Let that sink in. Because for most of us "just folks" there was no stock to sell. Once Brent and I got so broke that we...well...we scraped by with what we had until payday. And that once was really once a month. Sometimes twice. That's the difference. Safety nets are great things. Don't try and pretend you didn't have one. Be grateful and talk about how we all can get one as well.

She also mentioned that they didn't have a fairy tale marriage, they had a real one. Because she had cancer and MS. So they have suffered which makes them real. All that shows is that disease doesn't play politics. Republicans get sick as well as Democrats. And I am glad she is doing well. And I am glad she had the healthcare and the money to get sufficient treatment. I just wish they could see that it does make a difference. Yes, everyone gets sick, but the options you have for treatment are different depending on how much you make. Tell me how you are going to make it okay for everyone in this country. How you are going to make sure that everyone who gets one of these terrible diseases has a chance to get the best treatment without it bankrupting them. I am glad you are healthy, but what about everyone else? This is what I want to know. But that's not Ann's place to tell me, she's just here as a character witness for her husband, who is a nice guy that we should all trust.

So the next night I missed the beginning of Condoleezza Rice's speech because I wasn't watching PBS and she went on a few minutes early. But I got the main thrust of it. Again, not a whole lot about Romney there. And even less about the president she served under, which is sort of amazing to me. Maybe in 2016 they will allow his name to be mentioned more than just once in a convention and only then if he is seen in the company of his father. But again this was a great speech. Rice seems to have something about her that let the whole Bush mess slide right off her. I like her, and you all know how I felt about him. I think she might have been throwing her hat for 2016 right next to Governor Christie's. Her speech was just as you would think it would be. Calm, eloquent, firm. She spoke of the problems in the world and that to help fix them America needs to lead. Which is great, but the Romney/Ryan ticket is a little light on foreign policy experience, maybe a Rice/Powell ticket in 2016 would be stronger.  (yes, I know I am back there again, but seriously, that would be a TICKET folks!) At the end of her speech, though I disagree with a few things in there I was ready to vote. The problem is I was ready to vote for her, not Mitt.

And then the big ticket speech of the night. Paul Ryan took the stage. The policy budget wonk was going to come out and dazzle us with actual plans and numbers. Right? This is why he is on the ticket. Because he understands what needs to be done. Here was going to be the red meat of the "hard choices" we had heard about. And then....well...then. This is where I started talking back to the television. I'm sorry, folks, but when you play so fast and loose with the facts that Fox News feels the need to post about it on their front page you have a problem. Just repeating false statements over and over doesn't make them true. Pretending that it was all Obama's fault and listing out things to "prove" your point that you had a hand in defeating or passing? It was just silly. And it made me mad. Because you know and I know that there are those out there that believe what they hear and never take another second to actually do the research themselves. So the lies become their truth. And we are stuck with people trying to argue from a point of fantasy instead of fact. Yes, he was dynamic. Yes, he fired up the crowd. But if I am supposed to trust Mitt Romney so much why is his running mate standing on stage lying to me? Though who ever his speech writer* was that came up with the line "trying to sail a ship on yesterday's wind" needs a raise. I had to stop mid rant and tell Brent how much I liked that line. It's pure poetry.  Not enough to stop me from coming away from Ryan's speech with a bad taste in my mouth but a great line nonetheless.

On to the final night! First off the worst kept "secret" guest of the night. Clint Eastwood took the stage and...I still have no real words for this. Just a head shake. Okay, wait, that's a lie, I have the words I used when I told Brent about it since he missed the whole debacle. Mean. Crazy. Rambling. Disrespectful of not only the sitting president but also of the candidate he was there to endorse. And I have to say that if it were done on the left the right would be having a field day with the "Hollywood elite" angle. Watching Ann Romney the next morning on news shows as she was asked her impression of it I was reminded once again how polite and nice most of the Mormon people I have met are, "We appreciate his support" smile pause....subject change....

Then Marco Rubio took the stage and gave another good speech. This one with three moments that stuck out for me. First off he hit that "disagree with his policies but nice guy" angle again. He also quoted the Bible and was met with a resounding silence in the room. He was describing all of the good things that Mitt Romney has done and relating it to his success and his ability to do more because of that. "To whom much is given, much is required." Oops. Overstepped there, Marco. This is not a room that wants a reminder that the Bible tells them that they need to help out other people. That if you have a lot you should give a lot. You know, like pay your share of taxes instead of using every loophole you can find and making more if you are in a position to do so. I am always puzzled at how the party can blend their Ayn Rand beliefs and their biblical ones, her principles of looking out for #1 work fine for an atheist (like herself) but not so much for a Christian who is told in the Bible to take care of people who need it. And I think the silence he was met with showed this. Then he also misspoke and hoped that our children would know that we chose a path of more government and less freedom. I felt badly for him at that point. But as anyone who has given speeches knows it's very easy to drop a word or switch a sentence and end up saying something you didn't mean to. But nobody seemed to notice that so on to the man of the hour....

And Mitt Romney gave me exactly what I had expected him to. Not a whole lot. No plan. No numbers. No indication of what hard choices I was going to be expected to make under him. Just a lot of how Obama had failed. How the proudest moment we all had was in voting for him (Ummm, Mitt, I'm pretty sure the people in that room didn't) and that now we should just move along. Well, I need more than that. Because actually President Obama repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell which was a pretty proud moment for me. He also gave the order to kill Bin Laden which as much as it feels wrong to celebrate the death of someone else was a pretty good moment for me as well, if you can call staring at the television listening the president with tears streaming down your face and a sense of "finally" coming over you as you hear your neighborhood start to come alive with people whooping and cheering a good moment. No wait, it was an excellent moment.

There was talk about becoming energy independent. Okay, great, how? And how are you going to achieve that while still protecting the environment? Because that's important to a lot of us. There was talk about forcing China to change it's money policies. Oh really? You can do that as president? That's new. Standing by Israel. Have you ever wondered how many Israelis vote in our elections? Because they seem to be a pretty sought after demographic. And a threat to Iran. So we are getting out of the two wars we are in right now and starting another? Fabulous. And doing that while cutting more taxes? Amazing. A mention about making abortion and gay marriage both unconstitutional, because the rights of the fetus are more important than the rights of the adult. And, of course, repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act. Because, god forbid, anyone but the wealthy get a chance to live out the rest of their real marriage when one of them gets sick. The rest of you are on your own. Good luck with that.

So what I got over all was that Mitt Romney is a nice guy and I should trust him. His policy choices might not be what I would want (and it seems as though they aren't) but I should go ahead and vote for him anyway. Umm...yeah, no. Unless and until you give me a strong numbers driven plan that shows me exactly how you are going to lead this country out of the mess we are in you don't have my vote. I understand that the RNC is really a rally point for the faithful but I would have liked a little effort in there for showing me why I should vote for you. More than that your wife loves you.

Next week the DNC. What do you think the odds are that I will get anything concrete out of that one? Yeah, that's my thought as well....but if the RNC was any indication at least I will get to see who is planning a run in 2016.

*Edit 9/8/12 After posting this blog I Googled the line and found that it actually came from a Louis L'Amour book.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Trying to figure out what I should write about. I was super slack last month on blog posting. And right now I have two posts sort of warring half formed in my head. One on how the start (I say start so you know how it's actually gone) of Facebook phase out went. And the other on my impressions on the Republican National Convention. Then there is a feeling that I really want to write some short fiction for the blog but I am tapped, tapped I say. No ideas, no dialog, no funny situation...nothing is there. This is worse than writer's block, this is writer's... umm...yeah, see? I have no pithy phrase for it, that's how bad it is!

So I guess for today this is all you get. I would say it's a post about ennui...but I'm not really uninterested. I'm just stuck...

I will keep thinking about what I want to write and hopefully have a flurry of posts for you over the next day or two.

And I will totally count this as a September post at the end of the month.