Thursday, August 27, 2009

Everything old is (mostly) new again!

Back in the spring Troy and I attended a charity fundraiser for the father of one of my neighbors. They held a silent auction and we bought/won 8 hours of work done by a professional handyman. Sweet! In the 8 years that I've lived there, I've torn out carpet, painted walls, laid linoleum tiles (thanks Mom!), made curtains, etc, etc, etc. However, my house is 60 years old and I don't touch anything electrical or plumbing-related. That's when I call in the professionals!

This last weekend the professional came to my rescue. I had 4 hours at my disposal and I intended to use every minute. Kenny (the handyman) had come out to assess the jobs ahead of time and we decided on 3 projects to keep him busy. First, we would replace the less than attractive light fixture hanging over my kitchen table. It had been there since I moved in, I never liked it and now I think the electrical components were starting to go. That's not good! (The white one is the old one and the brown one is new.)

He would then install some security lights on my house and garage to illuminate the backyard. I don't live in a bad neighborhood or anything, but I grew concerned this winter when I saw some (big) man-sized footprints in the snow in my backyard. It's completely fenced in and there's no reason for anyone to be back there unless I know they are there.

His final task would be in the back room of my house. It's basically used as a poker room and holiday gathering space when I have lots of people over now. It was added on when the previous owners of the house came into some money in the late 70s. Its previous life was as a back porch. It's a good sized room, but the remodel was done on the cheap. They didn't insulate (doh!), installed a REALLY crappy gas heater and simply built over the cement entry step. The heater was taken care of about 5 years ago (the gas man who took it out said it was so bad that he wouldn't have installed it when it was brand new!) and my dad dry-walled over the hole left by the old heater, so now it was time to deal with that extra step that LOTS of people have nearly hurt themselves on.

When we ripped up the carpet and laid linoleum tiles back there, we tried to fix the problem by building a wooden box (step) to cover the cement step. Unfortunately, the box has been cracking since then which has also messed up the linoleum on top. Kenny's job was going to be to tackle that old step.

Boy, did I underestimate the work required to complete that task! He spent several hours with a HUGE mallet and chisel trying to dig it out. Finally he gave up and he's supposed to be bringing a jack hammer over tonight to finish the job. I can hardly wait to have a jack hammer used INSIDE of my house! Not!

I'll keep you posted on how everything turns out and I'm make sure to show the before and after pictures.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August Sushi date

A big thank you to C for joining me for my August sushi outting. We went to one of her favorite sushi spots in the city - partly because it's centrally located between where we each live, but mostly because it has EXCELLENT sushi.

On the menu? C had an appetizer of some cheesy stuff. I didn't even realize that Japanese people ate "bad for you" food! I had an appetizer of edamame. Yum! We then shared several rolls including Canadian roll, Bob's roll, Philadelphia roll and soft shell crab. C also had a roll that had some eel in it, but eel's not my favorite, so I passed on that one.

We had a lovely conversation about our experiences at Gen Con, talked about her quickly growing daughter and her adventures and simply enjoyed the lovely sushi. It was a very nice evening.

If you're interested in joining me for September's sushi smorgasboard, drop me a line.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

7000 and holding....

In the hunt for 100,000 pennies, I'm currently at 7,000 and holding. While $70 in pennies is nothing to sneeze at (or carry if you have a bad back!), it's a long way from the goal of $1000 in pennies.

So, while you're all gathering your pennies for me, (you are, right?) how about we think about what charity you all think might be deserving? I've placed a poll on the right side of the page where you can cast your vote. I've placed three charities there that are near and dear to my heart. If you like one of those, feel free to vote for it. If you have other suggestions, just leave me a comment and I'll add it to the poll.

The top 2 vote getters will share the donation and you have until midnight of September 30th to vote. Vote early! Vote often!

Monday, August 24, 2009

They call it poker because.....

Somebody has to get poked!

We (Troy and I) love to play poker and this weekend I certainly got my fill for a while.

The weekend of poker actually started on Thursday night with the monthly low stakes game at my house. I didn't do well, but unfortunately, that never stops me from trying again and again.

With that spirit in my heart, we made our way down to the Indiana Live casino in Shelbyville, IN on Friday night. Troy has done QUITE well there the last few times he's gone. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing. I think there's something that happens to the men mentally when a woman sits down to the table. Until she "proves" she knows how to play, they refuse to fold and often feel like pushing her around with their chip stacks. It's like their egos can't handle actually folding to a woman. That's great when my cards are better than theirs, but unfortunately sometimes they hang around and end up beating me because they got lucky with their cards even though they shouldn't have stayed in in the first place. I kept that in mind and really tightened up my play. My play was so tight and my cards were so crappy that I played just 1 hand in the first 1 1/2 hours that I was there. Ugh. Not very interesting, but it's a great test of discipline. After a while I started getting cards and doing ok. I was never up very much, but I was definitely holding my own. That was until I made a VERY bad call. I had Ace/Queen and there was an Ace and 3 low cards on the board. The guy next to me goes all in and I call because I have a great kicker (the Queen). Unfortunately he had two pair and ended up taking all of my money. Ouch!

A little dazed, I stood up from the table and then walked around the casino for about 30 or 40 minutes (Troy was still playing and doing well). I hemmed and hawwed and eventually decided to lick my wounds and go back in with some more money. This time I was seated at a different table than Troy. Sitting down it was like I had just decided to take a dunk in the shark tank wearing a meat suit. First, all of the people at the table were men and many of them had 2, 3 or 4 times the amount of money that I was going to sit down with. Second, there was a look in their eyes that kind of scared me. Later I would realize that perhaps it was all of the alcohol that they had been consuming.

Once again I played only premium hands. I took down a couple of good sized pots and the guys began to realize that I was a pretty good player. Perhaps their folding also had something to do with the fact that I told them that 1) I don't straddle, 2) I don't play crappy cards and 3) I don't bluff. Seriously. I'm no good at lying.

After a few hours (and LOTS of badgering from one particularly drunk guy), I had made back about 3/4 of what I had lost at the first table. It was 3:40 AM and I was more than ready to go home. I headed to the cashier to cash out while Troy finished up a few last hands. Oh! And were those an AMAZING last few hands. If you want the details, just ask, but I'll sum it up quickly by saying he nearly tripled his money in just 1 hand and walked out with a very heavy wallet!!

Our final night of poker was Saturday evening at a charity event* to raise money for breast cancer research that we played in last year. This is where the poker gods showed that they have a fickle nature. First, the gods were kind to me: There were 18 participants in the tournament and things were going along pretty well for me. I had been much more blessed with good cards than the night before and my chip stack was growing steadily. Justin, the player across from me, had apparently gotten my card luck from the night before and had barely played a hand.

The blinds at this point were 20/40 and one of the short stacks went all in for 100. I called (I had about 4500 in chips) with King Jack in my hand. Justin raised the bet to 600. I paused for a moment and then called his raise. We were down to just the 3 of us in the pot. The flop came Jack/4/7. Justin again bet 600. I now had a pair of Jacks, so I called. The turn was a 3. At this point Justin went all in for another 1950. I had him covered, but if I lost I would have a LOT less left in chips. At this point, I realized he has to have pocket Aces. The smart thing to do at this point is to fold. I know he has to have me beat. Instead, I'm on the fence. I just have no idea what I want to do. It could go either way. I could fold or call. It was 50/50. At this point, I hear Troy, who's at the other table, say "I'm all in." Well, that does it for me. I'm gonna call. I figure the worst that can happen is that we will both be out at the same time. Was it a wise choice to make? No. We flip over our cards and yes, indeed, he shows his two Aces. At this point, the only cards that can help me are a King or a Jack. A king would give me two pair. A jack would give me three of a kind. Either way, those were the only two hands that could beat his pair of Aces. I stood up and prepared to leave. All the while I was begging the board to show me a King. The last card? A KING! The table erupted! Needless to say, Justin was (rightfully) pissed! I had called when I shouldn't have and now he was out of the tournament. I was actually embarrassed at my luck and I didn't want any of the attention I was getting.

Oh, how the winds of fate can turn. About an hour later, we were down to 5 players at our table and the blinds had increased to 200/400. I was the small blind and looked down at Ace/Queen of spades. When you're down to 5 players, that's a really strong hand pre-flop. The first player to act raises the bet to 1000 and I go All In for an additional 3500 or so. The Big Blind folds and now it's back to the player who originally bet 1000. Now it's his turn to hem and haw. He has more chips than me, so if he calls and loses, he's not out. Finally he decides to call. We flip over our cards and he shows a pair of sixes. At this point, we're about even. If nothing comes for me, his sixes will hold, but if an Ace or Queen comes, I win. The flop? Wait for it.......

King 6 6. Yeah! That's right. He flopped quad sixes. OUCH! No need to see the rest of the cards since there was no way I could win. It was painful, but at least I went down in a blaze of glory.

So I will lick my wounds, play a little online poker for free and save up my money for next month's games.

* If you would like to know how to help support Karen Shaffer in her fund raising efforts, please visit her site at Donations are easy, tax deductible and VERY appreciated!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Sometimes I get EXACTLY what I deserve. That is most certainly NOT a good thing sometimes. I think they call that kharma.

Yesterday, because the bowling season started, my poor puppy was stuck in her kennel for most of the day. I hate doing that to her because she isn't quite a year old yet and needs LOTS of exercise. So, in order to compensate, I promised her that I would take her for a REALLY long walk when I got home last night. Ok, admittedly SHE doesn't remember anything for more than 2 minutes, so I actually promised myself.

So, true to my word, when I got home, I hooked her to her leash and we set out. It was night and I couldn't really see the sky, but it didn't seem like it was going to rain or anything. HA! I was SOOOOO wrong. We had been out for about 30 minutes or so and we were a good 4 blocks from the house when the skies let loose. Since it was just me and juggling a dog on a leash and a scooper is about all I can handle, I certainly didn't take an umbrella with me. The result was that in less than a block, I was soaked to the skin. When you're THAT wet, I don't think there's really any point in hurrying, so we eventually made it back home.

It rained so hard that by the time we got home, even Sasha couldn't wait to get inside. And she LOVES to be out in the rain. That's wet!

Riddle me this, Batman....

Why is it that we often feel compelled to jump onto bandwagons that we actually want nothing to do with?

The more I get to know about myself (LOTS of therapy, you know), the more I realize that most of my life I've been HEAVILY influenced by the opinions of society and especially my friends and family around me. There can be good and bad things about that, but for someone who is a "people pleaser" such as I am, it makes discerning what it is that you really want for and in your life very difficult.

For instance, growing up I always felt like if I wasn't married and had at least 2 kids by the time I was 30, then my life was bound to be a failure. Well, here I am in my mid-30s with no husband or kids around and that's ok. In fact, most of the time I feel like it's a really great thing. I get to do things, go places, have experiences on a whim that I wouldn't be able to have if I had the familial responsibilities of a husband and kids. I have a house of my own and don't have to pick up after anyone else. (Which is a good thing too because I have a hard enough time cleaning up after myself, two cats and a dog.) I enjoy my "alone" time and I like that if I want to go to bed at 8 or stay up all night long, there's no one to stop me. The problem with feeling this way and living in the midwest one believes you. I get the feeling they think I must be lying. I couldn't possibly enjoy spending alone and I MUST want to hear the pitter-patter of little feet.

Don't get me wrong. If I felt like it was the right time/place/thing to do for myself, I would certainly take the plunge into matrimonial bliss. If my husband and I then thought that the experience of having children and truly being there for them would enrich our lives (and theirs), I'm open to that as well. But if I should decide that's not the life I want to lead, I don't want to explain that to everyone that I encounter. There should be no looks of pity for those of us that are voluntarily single. We aren't defective despite the fact that this world is set up for couples and families. (If you don't think this is the case, simply try to have a meal alone in a restaurant or go the movies unaccompanied. I guarantee you will get looks.)

Ok, so let's say we've conquered the midwestern pressure to couple up. There's another sort of peer pressure that I think is out there and much more insidious. The struggle to "keep up with the Joneses". I succumbed to it about 8 years ago when I bought my house. I felt like life was passing me by. My (younger) brother was married and he and his wife had just bought a house. What did it say about me if I didn't have a house as well? So, after looking at a LOT of houses, I bought the one I currently live in. Despite the fact that perhaps it was a bit more house than I needed as a single girl (1800 sq ft, 4 bdrms), I fell in love with it the minute I walked in. It just felt like "my" house.

At the time, the mortgage payments seemed like a lot, but I wisely did NOT borrow as much as they were willing to give me and thankfully 8 years (and many raises) later, the payments are quite comfortable. I've been able to furnish it. The utility bills don't cause my heart to race every month when they show up. I'm still able to eat and occasionally splurge on myself in nearly whatever way I see fit. Sure there are lots of things I want to do to continually take care of her and spruce her up, but show me a 60-year-old house where that isn't true.

So, why is it this morning when I overheard someone talking about the offer they made on a house (quite a bit more than I spent), I suddenly felt somehow inadequate? Would a new (bigger, more expensive) house make me happier? Would I feel more loved and more important to those I care about? Would a big house really reflect my values and opinions? No. Do I still somehow feel the societal pressure to keep up? Yes. Why is that?

Is this true for other people or are other people more secure in who they are and what they believe? For them, do these things not even register on their radars? Are they somehow able to not even notice the constant "buy, buy, buy" message that is sent out because they know that if they bought that new car or bigger house, that would be the wrong decision for THEM? If this is the case, how did they get that way?

What about you? What kinds of societal pressures do you have to confront? How are you doing with those confrontations?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What motivates you?

I'm a joiner. I admit it. At the church that I attend, I am a liturgist, a member of the finance committee and currently chairing a committee for the September fish fry. (Excellent fish fry, by the way. Let me know if you're interested and I'll get you the details!) Oh...did I mention I'm not actually a MEMBER of this church?

Doing a charity walk/run/ride? Need a new player at your poker game? Looking for new members for your book club? Well, I'm your gal. Just ask. I'm sure I'll say yes. Do I actually have time to add MORE activities to my schedule? Probably not. Will that stop me from joining? Once again, probably not. But that's a rant for another day.

Why do I bring this up? Tonight starts my bowling league. I've been bowling on this league for about 8 years (WOW! Time sure does fly!) and I thoroughly enjoy it....most of the time. Our team is most definitely in it to have fun. That's certainly not the case for lots of the other teams on the league, but none of the members of our team are going to become pro bowlers anytime soon. Unfortunately fun does not always equal winning and, whether I like it or not, for me, sometimes activities are more fun if I'm winning.

Individually, all the members of our team definitely have our good nights. Unfortunately we can't always get those good nights to happen for more than one of us at a time. So, at the end of the season last spring, we were all grousing about how poorly we had done in the rankings. (If I remember right, we were 19th in a league of 20 teams. Ouch!) We would love to do better this year, but how?

My suggestion was that we put our money where our mouths are. My idea was that for each game that you do not get your average, you have to pay. How much? We decided on 25 cents. Is a possible penalty of 75 cents on the night really going to change things? Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe the mere thought that we each have a goal to reach will be enough to help us do better this year. Maybe the thought of relentless ridicule and fun-making at our expense by the other members of the team will be enough. I guess only time will tell.

As for me, I think I need this kind of thing to push me to do better. But what motivates you to do your best?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gen Con recap

Three days after my stint at Gen Con, I think I am FINALLY recovering. While at the "con", I taught crochet and scrapbooking to the spouses (and mothers) of some of the attendees. It was exhausting, but it really was a great time. I enjoyed getting to know some very interesting women from across the US.

Many of them were there with their husbands or boyfriends who game, but a few of them were mothers who had brought their teenage sons. I think that is evidence of a mother who really loves and supports her children.

Dottie, from the east coast, said she was there with her 17-year-old son. Her other son had gone with her husband to Florida for a yo-yo convention. Very fun!

I think my favorite attendee, by far, was a young woman from Minnesota. Her boyfriend is a big gamer and she is not. She is a very avid knitter. So, how did he convince her to take a 15 hour car ride all the way down to Indiana? He showed her that there was going to be crochet classes at Gen Con. Apparently her friends are crocheters and she's been wanting to learn for quite a while. I told her that was a long way to travel just to learn how to crochet! In addition to the beginning crochet class, she also came to a crochet circle class later that night where I showed her some additional stitches.

In addition, she was interested in learning how to crochet a hat. I told her I would bring her a pattern the next day. Unfortunately, we were never able to reconnect. (If you are her or know her, drop me a line!) I hear she also told the advanced knitting class teacher (a friend of mine) that I was a good teacher. It was very nice to hear that my skills were appreciated.

So, if you're a spouse of a gamer who has been begging you to join them at Gen Con, consider it next year. The Indy Star wrote an excellent article on all of the activities which are becoming available to non-gamers. In 2005, there were 8 events available. This year there were 70. I'm sure it will grow to even more in 2010.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Compare and contrast

Ok, I'm exhausted after spending all day teaching my mad crafting skills to the masses, so I'm gonna make this short and sweet. Well, maybe it won't be sweet.

After an entire (8:30 AM to 10:45 PM!) day at Gen Con, I have observed a couple of things. First, I'll give them this: the Gen Con attendees are quite creative. The number and complexity of the costumes that people were wearing was amazing. There was everything from women in renaissance dresses to men wearing Ghost Busters gear complete with those big chunky ghost catching backpacks. Of course, there were also women dressed in sparkly bikinis with elfen ears. Interesting.

In addition to Gen Con going on in downtown Indy this evening, there was also a pre-season Colts game. Colts football fans and Gen Con attendees in the same 3 block area! If ever there were 2 more vastly different groups, I'm not sure what they would be. On the surface it may not seem like they have much in common, but I think they actually do. First, there is the uniform. For the Colts fans, it's the blue jerseys. For the Gen Con attendees, it's elfen ears, "gaming" t-shirts and kilts. These uniforms let people know who is "in" and who is "outside of" their groups. (Don't ask me about the kilts. I don't get the connection to gaming, but never-the-less, they were there in abundance.)

Both groups also have their own language. For the Colts fans, it's insider football speak and for the Gen Coners, it's gaming speak. I'd give you better examples, but I'm not really a card-carrying member of either group.

So, what's the "uniform" or your people?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Get your geek on!

This weekend my friend, C, and I will be getting our geek on down at Gen Con. No, we won't be mingling with the Dungeons and Dragons gaming geeks unless they happen wander down to our crafting area. Instead, we'll be keeping their spouses and girlfriends occupied teaching them crafts and sharing some "girl time" while the boys (mostly) spend their time drooling over all that is new and shiny and exciting in the world of gaming.

Now before you scoff at their perceived silliness and nerdiness, perhaps we should take a look at ourselves. I think everyone gets "geeked" about their own particular interests. There's a camaraderie that gets formed when you find a group of people who are excited by the same things that excite you. For instance, I love going to the BMW motorcycle rallies. Why? Because I get to be myself. When I dress in my pink motorcycle jacket, pink helmet and (less than attractive) motorcycle boots out in the real world, people stare and perhaps think I look silly. When I'm at the rally, they ask me where I got such cool gear and, in fact, if you AREN'T wearing safety gear, YOU are the outcast. That's my crowd. Those are my peeps. Does everyone fit in there? No. Would I fit in at a Harley-Davidson rally? Most assuredly, no!

So if you happen to be in downtown Indy this weekend and see some slightly awkward looking folks wandering around, don't stare. Don't scoff. Perhaps if you've got a bit of time to spare, come on into the convention center and check things out. You never know what might pique your interest. As they say, don't knock it til you've tried it. Perhaps if you're lucky you'll even witness a bit of larping. That's definitely not something you want to miss!

Get out and get living!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Prying eyes

I mentioned a while back that I had installed Google Analytics. It's really great. It tracks how many people have been to your site, how long they spent there, how many pages they visited, how they got there, where they live (simply city and country, so no worries that your address is being revealed to me), etc. I installed it at a time when I was certain that no one was reading and it's great at giving me feedback since very few people leave comments (hint! hint! hint!).

Recently an anomaly has appeared in the location of the people who visit my blog. I live in Indiana. I expect people in Indiana to read. After all, some of my friends and family members get regular updates every time that I make an entry. However, lately there have been nearly twice as many hits from the city of Seattle as there are from the entire state of Indiana (I have friends and family in MANY parts of the state).

So, here's my question to my Seattle reader(s). Who are you? What has brought you to my blog? What makes you keep coming back? Do I know you?

In fact, I'd like to pose the same questions to other people who visit. I would love to know what you think. I'm open to praise, criticism, etc. Things may not change, but I'd at least love to get the feedback.

Get out and get living!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A word on "Julie & Julia"

Don't you hate it when a movie or person or place gets talked about and hyped and surrounded by a great buzz only to not live up to all that ado? I was sure that was going to happen with "Julie & Julia". I'm so glad it didn't!

I first saw the trailers for this movie in June. I could barely wait to see it! I was certain that opening date of August 7th would never come. It was kind of like waiting for Christmas!

I'm sure many of you have heard about it, but for those of you just being released from under your rock, it's a story based on two true stories. One is the story of Julia Childs' birth into the world of cooking. The second is the story of a blogger (named Julie) who decides to try to put a little spice in her life by cooking all of the recipes in Julia Childs cookbook in one year and writing about it on her blog.

The stories were great. The humor and emotion didn't seem contrived and the characters were made more accessible because they were shown even with their flaws. But for me, it was the relatability of the blogging Julie and the struggles she went through that really made the movie wonderful.

I'm not a writer. I never enjoyed writing as a young girl. Perhaps that's the reason I'm a mathematician. However, I do love telling a good story. I have a passion for documenting my life and thoughts just in case someday some of my mental facilities leave me. Perhaps then I can at least read what I've written and think, "Wow. I don't know this girl, but she sure seems to have had a pretty good life." But perhaps the biggest reason I like blogging is because I actually do like the occasional bit of attention even though I don't like to admit it. I think if you're putting your thoughts /emotions / life out into cyberspace for all the world to read, you must want SOME attention, right?

So, this is the real reason I think I loved "Julie & Julia" so much. The blogging Julie couldn't have been more relatable to me. When she asked the universe that is the internet if someone was actually out there and reading, I felt her pain. When she nearly jumped for joy at the first comment she received on her blog, I too nearly let out a little "YAHOOOO" having remembered the first comment left on my blog. At one point in the movie, she sort of loses her mind a bit when the cooking is not going well at all. She basically falls on the kitchen floor (where a whole chicken has unfortunately also fallen), curls up in a ball and simply starts weeping like a baby. Oh, how I can relate to this one! Sometimes I perhaps jump into things with both feet and then have a bit of meltdown when I feel overwhelmed. Troy likes to refer to these moments as my "freak outs". As in, "Calm down. It will be okay. Don't freak out." For the record, having a freak out is not done as a conscious decision. By the time you're at the freak out stage, there are any number of things which are clearly no longer under your control. I'm sure you know what I mean. I can't be the only one this happens to.

While this movie may be billed as a "chick flick", I think it has a much broader appeal. For those who pour their hearts out to the internet universe; for those who are unhappy with their lives and want to be assured that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; for those who have set themselves seemingly unattainable goals: this is the movie for you.

Grab a bag of popcorn for me. I'll see you at the theater.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Morbid curiosity or simply morbid?

As an Employee Benefits actuary at a large firm with a small pensions department, part of my job is to process the applications sent in by plan participants who want to retire. Additionally, I also receive requests for death benefits to be paid. So, I deal with death "in theory".

I'm fascinated by this paperwork. I love to look at the birth certificates. I think they are a great snapshot of a certain time and place in history. For instance, most of the birth certificates I deal with now are for people who were born in the 40s and 50s. Many of them are from the midwest and south because of the clients that we serve. In addition to having spaces for the mother and father's names, there are numerous other questions. These questions vary from state to state and by the years during which those were the birth certificates in use. For instance, one question I frequently see is "Legitimate?" I'm pretty sure this is not a question that shows up on a birth certificate for a baby born in 2009.

It's not my fascination with the birth certificates that makes me question my own personality quirks. It's the death certificates. Besides the fact that many of these certificates are often for people who are right around my parents' age (I am constantly hounding them about taking better care of themselves), I am always drawn to 2 lines in particular. "Cause of death" and "time from onset or diagnosis to death."

We Hoosiers are not the healthiest bunch. Besides repeatedly being told that the way to stay healthy is to eat right and exercise, we still consume copious amounts of fried foods, sit on our davenports (couches to the rest of the country) and light up our cigarettes. Consequently many of the causes of death I see are heart attacks or heart disease and cancers of all sorts. This makes me sad that we can't get our acts together. What is even worse is when that blank for "time from onset" reads 2 months or even 2 weeks. Apparently we're not getting to the doctor like we should either.

What makes me post this today? I processed a request this morning that started out as a retirement benefit and ended up as a death benefit. A woman, on the cusp of her 64th birthday, filled out retirement paperwork during June so that she could retire on July 1. I'm sure she was looking forward to retirement. Maybe it meant more time with her husband and grandkids. Maybe it meant finally entering that gardening contest. Maybe it meant trying out sky-diving for the first time. Unfortunately, before the paperwork could even make it to me so that she could start receiving her monthly benefit, she died in July just a few days after her 64th birthday. I never met her. I never knew her, but I hope that I can learn from her.

We are so not promised tomorrow. I know it sounds trite, but if you love someone, tell them. If you have a dream, don't let the naysayers keep you from trying to reach it. I know I'm doing my best not to let them keep me from it.

It seems only right....

Last week I complained about witnessing a parent just not "getting it". It seems only right that when I witness the opposite, I should share that as well.

On Saturday, frustrated by the lack of a pantry in my kitchen and bolstered by Rachel's amazing house renovation over at Bungalow Bliss, I decided to make the just-under-2-hour drive to IKEA in West Chester, OH. I love Ikea and usually I go to the one in Schaumberg, IL, but that's DEFINTELY an all day affair. Consequently, I haven't been in a few years. Luckily, in March of 2008, they built a new one just north of Cincinnati, OH. After visiting there, I think that will definitely be my store of choice since they have all the same stuff as the Schaumburg location, they are closer by nearly 1 1/2 hours and I don't have to battle Chicago traffic. Sweet!

I went specifically for a couple of narrow shelves (my breakfast "cubby" has two narrow spaces next to the window), but of course I have to look around, ....right? This always gets me in trouble. I've toned it down quite a bit, but I think you would be hard-pressed to find a room in my house that doesn't have AT LEAST 3 items from Ikea.

While drooling over this amazingly clever table, I saw a couple of kids (brother and sister probably about 12 and 13) stumped by another table. The top of the table to could be folded down to save space, but they were stumped as to how to get the table top to stay up. The dad, who had moved on to look at some other items, heard them ask, "How does this work?" His response? He walked back over to them, said, "It's called a gateleg table...." He then proceeded to explain it to them and to show them how it worked. The result? Peace! The curiosity of the kids was satisfied, they were contented, the father moved on to continue looking at another table, the rest of the shoppers in the area never even knew! There was no commotion. There were no tantrums and ill-feelings. It was amazing.

Yeah! Score one for the good guys!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I'm gonna figure this technology thing out yet.....

I like to think I'm forward thinking and introspective. I like to think I'm ahead of the curve in many respects. Obviously technology is not one of them!

I still have a landline. I just got a laptop with wi-fi last summer. Up until earlier this week, my "newest" TV was at least 11 years old. I do know, to the amazement of my parents, that you CAN google the answers to nearly ANYTHING you want to know. My own latest foray into the world of advanced technology happened this afternoon.

I love Facebook. Seriously. I think it's a great way to kind of keep a pulse on what your friends/cohorts/former classmates are doing and what is important to them. I love being able to read their blogs and I really love being able to share mine with people who I may not interact with on a daily basis. But all of these apps and pages and other things that you can join as a friend are mind-boggling to me.

That being said, it doesn't stop me from wanting to promote my own interests when I get a chance. For instance, a neighbor that lives down the street from me has a very cute bungalow that she's in the process of upgrading and renovating. (Don't even get me started on how it makes my perfectionistic tendencies go into overdrive. She's done an amazing job!) She created a page on Facebook to share her entries with her Facebook friends. Well, that seemed like a fabulous idea to me, so I decided to do the same for my own blog rantings. It seemed easy enough, but ended up being a bit more head-scratching than I thought it would.

In the grand scheme of things, it didn't take that long to do (about 1 hour or so), but in a world where we are used to instant gratification, it seemed like forever.

My thanks to Rachel and her Facebook expertise. If you've gotten here through Facebook, welcome.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A few random thoughts on how we treat the ones we "love"

I witnessed a couple of things recently that have me kind of searching for the meaning behind how we treat one another and especially those we purport to love.

I'm almost certain I'm gonna piss off any number of people with the things I am about to say, so if you're sensitive about the criticisms that we each make about one another's behaviors, you should stop reading now. Really.

Another caveat before I continue. My thoughts and opinions are mine. They are born of my own unique experiences, insights and feelings. I am not and have never been married. I don't have any children. I am an enigma of risk-taking and risk-aversion. I care about things deeply and am often overwhelmed by the feelings that I get from being empathetic towards other. Sometimes I'm not and I just get mad.

Encounter #1
: Last Sunday Sasha and I were taking a long walk through the neighborhood when we crossed paths with a man who was walking a beagle. He politely stepped aside so that we could pass. As we passed him, Sasha and his beagle tried very hard to get close enough to sniff one another. After asking if it was okay, I allowed Sasha to get close enough to sniff the other dog. Meanwhile, I struck up a brief conversation with the man. I simply said, "That's a very pretty dog. I had a beagle mix when I was little." To which he responded. "She is NOT a mix!"

Oooookaaayy. I'm sure I've shared my opinion on dogs/cats/etc before. Sasha is a mutt and that is perfectly fine with me! She is a wonderfully smart, amazing dog. Would she be any better if she was a purebred? Who knows. My guess is no. If you want to spend your money on a purebred dog, that's fine. I'm not going to think any less of you. All I'm asking is that you show me the same courtesy. There are sooo many dogs in shelters that are just as wonderful. Many of them actually purebreds.

Anyway, I digress. The man then goes on to tell me that the beagle is grand champion and that she's about to fly to Canada where she will spend a year competing in obedience/agility (?) courses. Then she'll come back here where she'll be "kenneled" because it will be time for the younger ones to compete. Being a little taken aback by his comment, I asked how old she was. He said she was 6. The average life expectancy for a beagle is between 12 - 15 years, so what you're saying is that since your dog is middle-aged, she no longer measures up? My heart went out to this poor dog. If it's been competing for most of its life, it's used to regular mental and physical stimulation. I can't imagine she's going to continue to get that in the "kennel". Is this really how you treat an animal that has brought accolades to you?

My fury was somewhat squealched when he tried to show what a great champion she was. He said to her, "Sadie! Lay.....lay.....lay......lay". Needless to say, Sadie didn't respond in the least. I just kind of chuckled to myself knowing that my mutt could most definitely obey a simple command even when distracted by another dog.
Encounter #2:
Recently I've been working with Dr. F (my psychologist) about what it means to figure out what I want, how to care about myself and learn that those things (if not destructive) are ok. In the course of doing so, we always talk about my past life experiences and how they might have gotten me to where I am today. Part of that talking recently brought me to the realization that perhaps in addition to eating to deal with emotions (because I was just too sensitive, you know), I also ate because I was bored out of my mind.

When school was in session things were better, but still frustrating because when there are a class of 20 students there are inevitably going to be some kids who learn slower than I did and we had to go at their pace instead of mine. When school was out though, things were mind-numbingly boring. I loved reading as an adolescent and because my mom worked and my dad slept during the day because he worked at night, the one VERY bright spot in my week was Thursday morning when the bookmobile would come. I loved being able to walk down to the end of the street and checking out enough books to keep me busy until the next week. Unfortunately my mom thought I wasn't responsible enough to keep my own library card (I'm not sure how a kid is supposed to learn how to be responsible if they are never given any responsibilities, but that's a whole other topic), so she would have to leave it for me so that I could check out the books. Since she was often working two jobs, she would sometimes forget. Ugh.... I would have to return the books I had and not be able to get any more. Boredom ensued.

I was also very curious about things. Even today, I love going to factories where you can see how something is made or watching TV shows that delve into the inner working of things like why we call a sandwich a sandwich. Often that curiousity was not fed. I understand my parents were VERY busy working multiple jobs and trying to keep a roof over our heads. Unfortunately, I think I needed more one on one attention to the details of the things around us.

Enter my experience in the grocery store the other night. A mother (probably in her late 20s) was there with her 2 sons (I'm guessing about 7 and 10). While they were shopping, the older boy patiently held out a container of cookies and then asked, "may we get these?" The mother's response? A grunt and a scowl, which apparently the boy understood to mean, "No". Then, while in the produce section, the boy spotted some kiwi. Since this is sort of an exotic fruit to those in the midwest, I'm guessing he probably hadn't seem them before. He simply asked his mom, "What are these?" The mom's response? (Without even glancing in the child's direction!) she gruffly said, "I don't know. Get over here!"

Ok, I understand that we all get tired and frustrated and annoyed with those around us, but my heart went out to this kid. He was polite (a trait I think is sometimes lacking in most kids) and he was truly inquisitive. He had encountered something that was foreign to him and he was curious about it. This seemed like a perfect teaching moment. If the mom knows, she could at least tell him. If she doesn't, maybe we say, "I don't know, but remind me when we get home and we can look it up." I know. I know. I'm living in a fantasy world, but why is that? Shouldn't we WANT kids to seek out knowledge and to grow beyond where we are so that they can make the world a better place? Is it easy? No. Is it time-consuming and labor intensive? Yes! Do we have to actually PAY ATTENTION in order for that to happen? Certainly! Is it worth it in the long run? Most definitely!

Agree? Don't agree? You've got lots of choices at this point. Here are just 2 that I offer. 1) Either agree or fume in silence. 2) Start a conversation about what you think. With me. With your spouse. With your children. Heck, with your mailman. Just get involved and pay attention to what is going on around you.

Weeks #2 and #3 Summary

I am really pleased and excited at the prospect that this 101 in 1001 list #2 holds for me and I'm thoroughly enjoying working on the tasks. For the full list look over here ---->

Here's how things look after 3 weeks:

#5 - I completed my sushi dinner during July with Troy after his successful medical check-up. I actually also had another sushi dinner with my brother the next weekend (which also happened to be in July). The committee of Me, Myself and I are currently in negotiations about how to handle this one. Can it be kept in reserve for another month when perhaps I don't make it? Was it simply a second visit for the month of July? I'll keep you posted on the final verdict.

#8 - The penny collecting is going fairly well. I figure that in order to reach my goal of 100,000, I need to collect about 100 a day. At that rate, as of the end of week 3 I should have had 1800 pennies. Thanks to the generosity of my parents, brother, Troy, Troy's family and my friend Patrick, I am comfortably ahead of schedule. However, I don't want this to have me sitting back and resting on my laurels because it would be easy enough to get behind. If you're a spare change collector, I am making a deal that I will roll all of your other change in exchange for your pennies. It took me a several of hours, but I gathered about 2200 pennies from Patrick and in exchange, I rolled over $200 in other coins him. Not bad! I read an article online that it is estimated that Americans have about 10 BILLION dollars in spare change sitting around their homes being unused right now. Are you contributing to that amount? If so, I'd LOVE to take the pennies off of your hands. Just let me know....please.

#13 - I parked on the street near my work building downtown the other day and when I went down to feed my meter, the one right next to mine was expired, so I popped 50 cents into that one and poof! 1 meter down. 2 to go.

#16 - I love it when people read my blog and it motivates them to action. Recently a couple of friends said that they were reading my blog and decided that as they entered their second year of marriage, they would come up with their own "bucket" list of sorts. Oh! And they wanted to give me hugs! Sweet! 17 down. 33 to go!

#20. Rice count = 13,810. Best word? lachrymal

#21. I went to see my parents in Fort Wayne on July 25th. It only seems fair since they've been making the trip to see me for the past 6 months. We had a lovely breakfast and Mom and I got our hair cut together. Fun! Hopefully the next visit will be a bit longer.

#24. There's a really convenient farmers' market nearby on Wednesdays, so I walked down and grabbed a chinese eggplant (I'll let you know how it is). There were several people selling corn, but since I tasted the "Gotta Have It" that Troy's family grows, I'm very picky about my corn on the cob. This is some GREAT corn! I mentioned that to one of the vendors who was touting her very sweet sweet corn and she gave me an ear of hers to try. The only catch was that I had to report back how it compared to the "Gotta Have It." Deal! I have to admit. Her corn was really good. It was sweet and juicy and none of those kernel bits got stuck in my teeth. I hate it when that happens.

#45. I have a new follower!!!!! That's 2/10. Very exciting. You too can be a follower you know. Your loyalty is just a click away. Come on. You know you wanna. All the cool kids are doing it.

#56 and #57. Done and done (3/144). The second is much more difficult that I thought it would be. Hopefully my heart will soften a bit as I age.

#70. Ok, officially I didn't do this one until after the end of July, but it's my list and I say it counts.

#79. Step total as of Sunday, August 2, 2009 = 105,696 or about 1.3% of the 8,008,000. At that point I was about I was about 38,000 steps behind where I should be. I can make that up....right?

#84. My skin, hair, etc. thank me that I've kept up with this one. I'm definitely going to have to contact my Mary Kay lady sooner than I thought I might.

#90. I've taken those daily pictures as well. At first I started taking a picture of myself everyday ala, but sometimes I don't just want a photo of myself. That's a LOT of self-portraits!

#97. Bought a Wii! Sweet. Come on over if you wanna play. I think it's way more fun with other people than by myself. Oh! And I got a really big TV to play it on too. Way cool!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin