Friday, July 31, 2009


No fewer than three people have commented to me this week that I must not be eating because it looks like I'm "wasting away". Truth is I haven't lost any weight in about ten months - I've been at 175 ± 3 since last August, which is the same weight I've been at for the past eight years (except for a brief soiree in '06 and '07 into ~200 territory). Since I hit "adulthood" I've been pretty close to the same weight the whole way through. I was a little lighter when I got to college (around 160) and there was a time I pretty much stopped exercising at all and just drank a lot of beer that pushed me up over two hundred, but mostly it's been steady.

It got me to thinking how much of it is genetic predisposition (metabolism) and how much of it is diet and exercise. As soon as I started riding my bike and playing basketball again, my weight returned to normal. The funny thing is that I didn't look much bigger, at least, I don't think I did, I just had less muscle and an extra inch of fat around my midsection. Which doesn't make since since muscle is supposed to weigh more than fat.

Either way, the experience brought me to one very important point: it's about taking small steps. Go slow, one step at a time, baby steps, and any other cliché you can come up. Tasks that seem daunting need to be broken down into smaller parts. It's not about losing twenty pounds and becoming healthy this week or this month, it's about spending twenty minutes on the bike in the morning before work and twenty when you get home. It's about replacing that danish and coffee with an apple and glass of milk. Maybe not even every day, start off by doing it on Fridays, then after a couple weeks, Thursdays and Fridays and go from there, in a couple months it'll be every day and the difference will be noticeable. Apply the same approach for large projects, like say, Master's projects that seem impossibly demanding =\

Anyways, don't worry Mom, I'm eating plenty.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Her eyes flickered open, slowly she shuttled herself to the side of the bed. Judging by the light seeping through the blinds it was obviously daylight, but not the kind one would expect from a midsummer's day in the desert. She peeled back the blinds to reveal an unusually cloudy day. Groggily she slogged into the living room and slid open the door to the balcony. Expecting a blast of hot air to shake her from her daze she was instead overwhelmed with cool, wet air and the smell of rain. Invigorated, she glanced at the clock, 6:49, a normal time during the week and had it been a normal Saturday she might have been more upset at being up so early, but there was rain and cool air that smelled of life and ozone instead of decaying garbage and tar. She looked at her boys. One a German Shepherd curled up in the corner on a massive pillow with the stuffing coming out. The other in bed, propped up against the wall with a body pillow. She was tempted to have them start the day with her. On a run. She debated between having two angry boys the rest of the weekend and having a peaceful run all to herself and, wisely, decided on the latter of the two options.

Quietly, she slipped out of her jams and pulled on her jogging shorts, sports bra, and shoes. It was cool, but still not cool enough to warrant an actual t-shirt, besides, the sports bra had a mesh lining that allowed her body to breath a little easier. Thunder stirred from his pillow, opened an eye, and quickly put his head down before he'd be noticed.

She went to the kitchen, poured herself a glass of orange juice and plucked an apple from the crisper. She turned on the weather channel to apprise herself of the situation while she pulled on her running shoes and drank her juice. The talking head on TV indicated that the hurricane to the south would be pushing wet air up all weekend and advised people "not to leave the house without an umbrella because it's gonna be wet, oh boy". She laughed to herself softly and thought, 'it rains here ten days a year and he's advising people not to leave without an umbrella - seems like a bucket would be more appropriate'. She finished her juice, placed the glass in the sink, stuck the apple in her mouth, and walked to the door.

As she locked the door behind her and took a bite of the apple, she started thinking about the route she would take; she could run downtown around the stadium and back - it would be quiet during the early weekend hours or she could head to the park and run around the "lake" front. The "lake" being a generous word the locals used to describe the man-made puddle in the middle of an otherwise impressive park. She took another bite of the apple as she headed towards the gate of the apartment complex and decided it would be a nice morning to see the lake in action. The rain was sure to bring out the ducks and other wildlife that would make the run there worthwhile.

The park consisted of several basketball courts, two volleyball courts, a playground, softball field, numerous benches, and a sprawling green space in an otherwise desolate, urban landscape. Normally it would take less than 5 minutes to jog here but she had opted to walk to the park and jog around the lake which meant she had long finished the apple by the time she got the entrance. Upon reaching the lake, she tossed the remaining apple in - there were plenty of creatures around to nibble on it and barely had it hit the water than she saw the ripples of fish picking at it's fleshy, submerged core.

The slight drizzle that continued to fall had an oddly muting effect on an otherwise noisy area. It was the middle of a city after all, but now, early morning on a rainy weekend there was only nature. Birds called back and forth to each other. Crickets chirped from their dry havens beneath the ramadas. Even the fish were making noise, breaching in the lake as they took aim at the insects (and apple cores) floating above their watery prison. She found it all to be incredibly peaceful, almost, comforting.

As she began her jog around the lake, thoughts of simpler times crept into her head. Being in this place, seemingly devoid of human activity, transported her - as her feet wandered, so did her mind. It's amazing all the things humans have in common, she thought. We're all born, we all have death on the horizon, and in between we all try to find a space in which to be happy. We all see rain (if we're lucky) and we all depend on the sun for, well, pretty much everything. We all feel attraction and seek out happiness even if some people's happiness is different than others. She chuckled to herself, the Buddha was right, all suffering does come from desire. It's because we can't have what we desire that causes that suffering. She thought of her boys and how happy she was that she had them. She desired them, no doubt, but they desired her as well and that made her happy. Well, that and the fact that she also had them. She tried to imagine what it would be like to desire them and not have them, but it was too disturbing to consider for more than a few seconds. She had been with both of them for almost the same amount of time and loved both equally. In her eyes they were all a family and picking a favorite would be tantamount to picking a favorite offspring, it just wasn't done.

She continued to think of all the things humans have in common which lead to her thinking of other constants. Instead of universal constants, she began thinking of familial constants. All the women in her family were doing amazing things - getting advanced degrees, working in chem labs or law firms, getting married and starting families, or traveling the world and making a difference. And what are you doing? she thought sarcastically. Living in a shitty little apartment and working a monkey's job while you wait for what? For him to pop the question while he works at his state job, making nothing? Maybe you're waiting for Thunder to just offer his back so you can ride off into the sunset? SHUT UP, she thought to herself. Her thoughts had the tendency to get the better of her and she had to remind herself it wasn't necessarily about the here and now that was important, but what things would be like a few years down the road. They'd both have better jobs and degrees by then, and they'd have a house with plenty of room for the dog to have a better half and maybe even some puppies.

As she rounded the lake for the third time she began to think of her own mother's journey. She realized she was following in quite similar footsteps. They both had been adventurous as young women, granted it had taken her a little longer to "branch out" than her Mom, but eventually she moved away from the homestead in search of something both unfamiliar and comfortable. She wasn't sure if she had been lucky or just looking for the right qualifications, but she felt lucky in landing in a place where both what she was looking for and what her boys were looking for existed together. It was funny, she thought, one came from a group of friends highly recommended and another came from a group at the park, also highly recommended. The two were interchangeable and she laughed at the idea. If only there were a pound for boys: she could go and find one that looked right, behaved himself, and treated her right and she could trade in whichever wasn't acting proper. Part of her chastised her mind for thinking such things, the other part laughed and thought what fun it would be to trade them both in for a weekend with a body-builder. She was not one to give in to such flights of fancy. She was happy with what she had; even though should knew things could be better she knew that they didn't have to be better. THAT was the difference, she wasn't settling, she knew what she had, could have, and had had, and was happy in her current situation.

The idea of constants came flooding back to the forefront. Things that her family all seemed to go through and things his family all went through. If there were such things as omens the families' past were sure to be an example. The male side of his family all had problems with recklessness, misogyny, and alcohol, but they had problems in their late teens and early twenties and he was well past that. She saw flashes of it. When he came home from work in a mood or spent a night drinking with his friends he would get more mouthy than usual, but overall he was respectful, unless she decided to have fun and push back, in which case, all bets were off. They'd had their share of fights - early on a couple were even physical - but more and more they had been nothing more than a close couple blowing off steam. She found it as entertaining as she did puzzling. How could someone so calm and balanced become so loud and vitriolic? It was like there was an entire world lurking beneath what she knew.

She rounded the bend of the lake for her fifth and final lap and thought of the paths she'd followed, of the paths her mother followed, of the paths her cousins followed, and of the paths her nieces, nephews, and offspring would follow. Even the difference between herself and her cousins, which was only a few years, amazed her. She had grown up with a library, rotary dial phone, and ceiling fan. They had grown up with the internet, cable TV, and central air conditioning. The expectations of each group were so enormously disparate, she could barely fathom the concept, and the only reason she could was that upon arriving at her college dorm room she had the internet, cable, and AC. Again the idea of constants came to her. What could she reasonably expect other people to have experienced? Obviously the things she had seen and done were exceptional, but not everything she did could be exceptional, could it?

It began to dawn on her that with each generation the gap closes a little bit, and at this point in time, the gap closed a little bit more per generation. The gap for her aunts and uncles and her great-aunts and uncles, for example, was greater than the gap between her and her aunts and uncles. In fact, technology had likely closed that gap for good - except for her "IT Aunt". She was the one everyone in the family went to when they needed help setting up their printer or configuring their new computer to get on the internet. It was amazing, she thought, the internet had completely closed the technology gap. She knew how to setup printers, routers, modems, and servers as well as her technologically capable aunts and uncles did. Her parents were a different story, a special story, a story she didn't expect anything out of, especially when it came to technology. Why should they have to worry about the latest and greatest when they had her to look out for them and their technological needs?

She kept thinking of the gap between cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents. It got her thinking about how excited her Grandma had been when she bought her the digital picture frame for Christmas. Her grandma had been rightfully excited and expressed her gratitude even though they both knew she would never update the pictures or otherwise touch the frame. She felt a slight twinge as she uploaded the pictures she could gather for it. A few of her brother, a couple she had forced from her parents, and a few older pictures that her parents had of the cousins. It would make her Grandma happy, but she wanted current pictures, not something from last May.

It began to dawn on her that she was leaving the park without really coming to any conclusions. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that's how most of her excursions ended. Sure, sometimes she'd have the dog with her and they'd stop at the park and chat with the other dog owners and she'd go home when it got dark, but when she was by herself she left with nothing but her own thoughts - thoughts she'd been having all evening. Now she decided to have specific ideas, to be "strong" and not give in to the other pressures in the park. Surely this would mean she'd run into other ups and downs, but it was better than not being part of it at all. She ran past the gate and towards the complex. She would be there in less than five minutes...unless something stopped her.

Friday, July 17, 2009


"So where do you want to go to dinner?"

"Meh, I could care less."

Your brain freezes for a moment. Is that their subtle, passive-aggressive way of suggesting they have a restaurant preference, but that you have to play twenty questions if you ever want a hope in hell of figuring out what it is? Do they want burgers? Maybe thai food? Do they want to go to IHOP again? Perhaps they're in the mood for Chinese or Indian? It IS Monday, maybe they want the spaghetti special or their taste buds are screaming for-

"Just not IHOP again"

Oh, well that clears that up.

Then there's our second scenario. It's two thirty in the morning and you're watching tv (because what else would you be doing?) An ad comes across your screen pitching something that's "free with subscription". Again, your brain freezes (or maybe not, it IS two-thirty, there's a good chance your brain has been off for awhile). Your neurons struggle with the definition of "subscription" and it occurs to them that anything included in the subscription is thereby covered, in cost, by the subscription. Then the next commercial features a young WASP couple saying, "We used the money we saved to buy Product X!" Later the coroner will declare CoD to be an aneurysm.

While we're talking about semantics, what is up with "sub par"? Someone unfamiliar with golf had to be the originator here. It had to have gone down like this; Bob, in his weekly TPS report (with the proper cover sheet) demonstrates a new shipping model that will save the company millions and Alice, his boss, compliments him on doing a sub par job. Bob, being an idiot and knowing nothing about golf, thinks Alice is going to take credit for his work and continue to climb the corporate ladder and leave Bob behind, so he hatches a scheme. One night when Alice is staying late, Bob locks Alice in her office and burns the building to the ground. The next day the PTBs from corporate meet with Bob and promote him into Alice's old position and mention that Alice had emailed them - the term only recently entered the lexicon... - Bob's idea for saving the company money and credits Bob with doing a "superb" job. Bob then changes his name to Karl Rove.

I try to present my concerns over language to "friends", but every time I start describing the need to use proper semantics I'm met with

"Meh, I could care less"

Friday, July 10, 2009


You've dropped the last couple ice cubes into your glass and now it's time to refill the tray and stick it back in the freezer. No problem, right? Well, no problem as long as you're not me. You see, I have a problem with this process. I'm not sure why or how, but every time I try to put an ice cube tray filled with something besides ice, like water, back into the freezer I end up watering my hardwood floors like I'm growing a garden under the fridge. Sometimes I even manage to spill ice cubes all over. Go figure.

There are other everyday, household issues that most people seem to be able to handle that I just can't manage. Dishes, for example, more closely resemble a three year old bathing than an adult cleaning silverware. By the end of a load of dishes the ceiling, walls, spigot, and my hair are all covered in soap suds and a sinking feeling that this is not the way things should be. Laundry is an animal all its own. I haven't had to separate whites and colors in years because I don't own any clothes from this century (ok, there are a couple t-shirts that I picked up in 2004). Then there's making the bed...actually, I can make the bed as well as the average person considering I have a single blanket and it's folded up and stuffed in the closet when temperatures are above 110° (which is everyday after May 13th). Setting up the home wireless network? Piece of cake.