Monday, September 30, 2013

On food and body image and stuff

Internal dialog is so odd. I spent over an hour today researching this Solyent food substitute, because even while I'm a huge proponent of real food, I'm also broken when it comes to diet and losing weight. I've said in the past if I could just take a pill for my nutrition, I would. Then I could turn down all manner of yummy-but-horrible-for-me foods just by saying "No thanks. I don't eat."

And yes, I'm aware of Solyent Green. The creator of this Solyent formula insists the "made from people" aspect of the movie was a Hollywood invention, that the original books had a soy-based recipe.

Solyent kind of sort of looked like that magic pill, at first glance. All the nutrition you need, without the sugars in Ensure and other over the counter meal replacements. Supposedly kind of sweet and not disgusting tasting. It was only when I dug further I started hearing "completely processed" in the back of my mind. I started reading the articles for and against, and had to agree with the ones who said:
"This guy is a computer programmer, not a nutritionist or scientist."
"He's only spent a few months working this out."
"It's still in beta form."
"It's baby formula for adults, but bottle fed babies are not as healthy as breastfed."
"We don't yet know the full range of necessary human nutrition."
I was excited about the idea for a minute. Excited enough to come one click away from a $230/month supply, before I came to my senses.

This is not the direction I'm trying to go. I'm trying to eat real food. Healthy food.

The direction I'm going, as of earlier today (before I saw the Solyent article) is to treat my weight loss as a project. There are things I need to remember to do, goals I want to achieve. I've created a Trello board to track these things. I'm on Trello every day anyway, sorting out my personal and work tasks. I'm hoping just having these things in front of me regularly will help in achieving them.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I'll sleep when I'm dead

Turns out I don't write well when I'm fatigued. I don't do much of anything well, when I'm fatigued.

I've been fatigued all week. Sunday's long run took a lot out of me, as it has the past few weeks. I'm not certain why, since the distance hasn't changed. Maybe it has to do with the increased mileage during the week. My mid-week runs are now both 6 miles, in the very hilly Solon park. I'm not really timing any of my runs and I'm spending at least some time walking every time out, so I don't think it's that I'm pushing harder that way. I started to write a post about the shin issues that have plagued this running season. The TLDR (too long didn't read) version is I need to stretch and roll my calves more. At least that seemed  to help on my last run. It wasn't perfect, but definitely better. I did add a very short sprint run Saturday. Ninja and I raced light pole to light pole for about a mile, then walked back. Good times, and not likely to have emptied my tank the way it has been lately.

My fatigue might also have to do with the push-ups I've been doing daily. I was up to 100 push-ups a day for a minute, though the last few days I've slacked off a bit. I even had 2 days where I was doing them in sets of 20. Now my upper body is fatigued enough a set of 10 is a challenge again.

I'm having allergy issues too, which isn't helping. I'm not certain how much the allergies are related to autumn, and how much to my crappy diet of late. I got completely off track while on vacation. I've had moments here and there since, but haven't really gotten my diet back together. I'm certain I'd be better off completely without sugar and grains, but I can't seem to convince that whiny little kid inside that ice cream, chips, and candy are off limits. What happened over vacation and since is proof enough I can't have "just one."

None of this is helped by the fact I'm not sleeping well again. I haven't figured out the cause of that either. It could be my poor diet, though I think part of the diet issue is in direct result of the poor sleep. I eat crap because I'm tired and looking for energy. It starts with sugar-laced coffee about mid-day. Turns out sugar is something of a gateway drug to grain-based foods, at least in my world.

The poor sleep might have something to do with my hydration levels, which have dropped by half since I stopped drinking soda. I've still not had any soda, and I'm finding I enjoy teas I thought I'd ruled out without sweetener. My tastes must be changing. Unfortunately, it appears I don't like the unsweetened teas as much as I did the teas laced with Monster. I have to seriously think about drinking them, which has not been happening.

Ultimately what all this means is, workout-wise, this is a down week. I actually did not run my 2nd 6-miler yesterday as planned. I will not run it today, as back-up planned. Hopefully by Sunday's long run time I'll have gotten enough sleep to catch up on the week's worth of 4 and 5 hour nights.

At least it's been a good week, work-wise. I was able to work on a card in the Bacon Patrol product. I didn't get it done completely solo, but I am content with the progress I made on my own, and the card passed the first time through QA. That is an accomplishment. I finished the book I was reading, wrote my reaction paper, and am on to the next book. I also created a Trello board for books I want to read in the future, so I can prioritize and keep track. Goddess, your book is on the list as my current non-work read. I will hopefully have edits on the first chapter for you by the end of the weekend.

What I have to do now is figure out how to schedule in my learning. I need to spend probably an hour a day learning C# coding. Starting at 8 or 9pm is not working for me, which means after work does not work for me since that's when I get home from my runs. I could maybe make it work 2 days a week, which would be better than I'm getting right now. I just need to find a way to make it happen, instead of sitting down to my computer and looking up from YouTube several hours later, wondering where the evening went. Fatigued + Learning do not go well together.

I'm also secretly amused that this is happening directly after I decided to move my bedtime up an hour. Never fails, as soon as I make a decision regarding sleep, diet, or training, I sabotage myself and the decision goes out the window. I'm not letting up on this one though. Not getting enough sleep is likely a direct contributor to my poor late night eating habits. I am determined to figure out how to feed this body, without overfeeding it. I believe sleep is a key factor. It can't hurt other areas of my life, either!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Notes to Self - the bullet point edition

  • Sunglasses on a cloudy day can cause delusions of vision, where you believe you see everything fine while out running until a dog bark distracts you and you trip over a rock you didn't even know was there because you didn't see it through your tunnel vision and the hazy lens.  
  • Congratulations! You've proven once again that sugar is a gateway drug and having just a little will ultimately lead to having a lot more than a little and most likely a lot of grain-based foods as well before you reign it back and start to eat sensibly again. 
  • 100 push-ups a day is awesome! Keep it up!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Real Talk

Yesterday's post was full of frustration, which is not surprising considering I was supposed to start the Primal Challenge and made it one day. As I drifted off to sleep however, I realized the day was not a complete failure.
I now know 1500 calories is not enough for me. Thursday wasn't even a workout day, meaning all I did was the sets of push-ups I've been doing periodically throughout the day. I didn't hit 10K steps. I did not do much of anything physical, beyond my normal day-to-day. Yesterday was the same, activity-wise. A few more steps for walking to the restaurant, and maybe an extra trip up and down stairs.
I did 80 pushups yesterday, which is a new record. One I now have to strive to beat today.
It's been 3 weeks since I've had any soda. That in itself is a success, considering soda has been a mainstay for 3/4 my lifetime.
While I binged on corn chips and ice cream, I did not add rice and beans and tortillas, and the ice cream was actually sorbet. "It could have been worse" is not the best approach to weight loss, but it is, in fact, fact.
Today is, as always, a brand new, fresh clean day. It also happens to be the start of my menu week, when I make my plans, get my shopping done, and set myself up for the week ahead.

My goal is currently somewhere around .7g protein per pound of body weight, healthy fats as defined by Mark's Daily Apple, and a carb count under 75 if possible. The closer to 50g carbs, the happier I am with that. I'm trying not to obsess, which means I fuss over my menu today, then leave be for the rest of the week. If I stick to the menu I know approximately how many calories and micronutrients I'm consuming.

The thing is to stick to the menu, which means I need to be prepared for surprise hunger on workout days, or if this plan is not enough to sustain.

Life. It's an adventure.



Friday, September 20, 2013

Why?

Today answers the question WHY. Why do I never lose weight? Why do I find it so difficult to stay grain and sugar free?

Because I go out to eat on a regular basis, and I allow myself one bite. One bite always leads to many, many more bites.


Mexican. Every Friday we go out to Mexican. I've tried changing the restaurant. I've tried not going. It's Friend's Night Out though, so not going week after week is not an option. I did pretty well for a while, resisting the chips, getting meals without the rice and bean sides. I ordered a meal without the rice and bean side today. I also ate far too many chips, then had fudge, then an ice cream when I got home. These were my choices, and nobody's fault but my own.

I think the real problem is I don't really know how much food I need on a daily basis. I started a Primal challenge yesterday. With it, I'm not so much counting calories, but I did start tracking my protein and carbs again. I couldn't help but notice I came in right about 1500 calories. Protein and carbs were both under the percentages I'd set. Of course, this is all relative and estimated. None of these numbers are hard and 100% accurate.

I went to bed last night a little hungry. Not starving, and I didn't wake up starving either. I did however wake up after only 5 hours, and couldn't get back to sleep. I wasn't thirsty. Just a little hungry. Just a small, niggling little hunger. Not enough to make me get out of bed, but apparently enough to keep me awake.

I finally got up around 6:30 and puttered around with my morning routine. Did some pushups. Got some laundry and dishes done. Got ready and left for work. I didn't eat until almost 10. Intermittent fasting is supposed to be good, according to the site I'm doing the challenge for. I agree with their reasoning, and even more with the "you're only supposed to eat when hungry" thought process. I wasn't trying to fast. I just wasn't really hungry.

Another problems is, I don't really know what hunger is. I think I do, but how can I be only slightly hungry overnight, into the morning, and not really hungry until 10am? Does really hungry feel like you need to eat now or you're going to be sick? Or your stomach is going to eat it's way out of you? Does it affect your head and sinuses? Does it go away when you drink water? Does it go away at all, if you ignore it? I sometimes feel something that might be hunger, but it might be something else entirely. I don't know what it is. It happens sometimes when I've recently eaten, so shouldn't be hunger. I interpret it as hunger though, which is why I'm so confused. I do know what REALLY hungry feels like. I don't know what just plain hunger is.

Unfortunately, letting myself get REALLY hungry creates a whole different set of problems. Today's problem didn't start when I let myself have a bite of chips. It started when I went through all the food I'd brought to work, about 2/3 the protein and carbs I'd allotted for the day, and I still wasn't satisfied. I never caught up from waiting until 10am to eat, or from not eating enough yesterday. I didn't necessarily feel hungry. I didn't necessarily feel full. I just wanted more... something. I'd avoided the donuts my manager brought in, but it only took a moment after noticing the candy bars in the coffee room to decide a dark chocolate candy bar was primal. Yeah, right. I suppose I should be happy I stopped at one candy bar.

I went through about 3/4 gallon of tea today, where normally I drink a full gallon or more. I was REALLY hungry and thirsty on the way home. I had a couple macadamias, then Superman and I walked the mile to the restaurant. I didn't even balk a little at the chips. I didn't think about it. I just dove in as soon as they were in front of me. Then I ate probably a full basket by myself. Then everything on my plate. The a piece of fudge. Then more chips. Then I bought ice cream on the way home, and ate all of that too.

So where did this slippery slope begin, and how do I catch the warning flags to prevent it from happening again? Should I have gone to the cafeteria for a burger or salad? Should I have drank more tea? I did not have any salad or veggies today, until dinner. That definitely would have been the better choice, over chocolate, chips, and ice cream. I don't know if it would have stopped the binge. Maybe. It probably would have resulted in a different type of binge, since I tend to eat everything on my plate. I've taken food home in the past though. I don't know where my right mindset left me.

I firmly believe primal is the answer for me. I've been overweight now for 20 years, and I know sugar free and grain free are the key. I just have to figure out how to convince the part of me that so often just doesn't care. The spoiled child in me that wants what I want, when I want it, damn the consequences and full speed ahead.
I don't know, Jillian. I don't yet have the answer to that why.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Alcoholic, much?

While I am certainly no teetotaler, I like to think I'm not a big drinker either. I only go out once a month or so, if that. Granted, when I do go out I've been known to get completely smashed. I will stop drinking at a certain point, before I actually get sick, but it's only because I know the next drink will make me sick. Also, having a few beers on a Saturday night has somehow become a thing most weekends. Also, the occasional drink at Friend's Night Out (FNO) on Friday night has become a thing.

When my boys were younger, I refused to drink in front of them (except for that one birthday party... and that one New Year's Eve...) I didn't keep alcohol in the house. Now they are of age, I will occasionally have a beer (or 5) with them. I keep alcohol in the house, which has caused a problem or two when I thought someone else was drinking my stash.

I should probably explain that I'm a freak when it comes to alcohol. My dad insisted he was not an alcoholic, but his drinking affected quite a few events in my childhood. My first love was in AA. That relationship did not turn out well. The father of my children was a raging alcoholic. These have made me quite gun-shy, and I fear my children will exhibit alcoholic tendencies. They are rolling their eyes at me while reading this, but the fear remains.

I never claimed to be consistent. In this instance, my inconsistencies might be because I occasionally see traces of those alcoholic tendencies in myself. Put a drink in front of me, I'll probably drink it. I am protective of my stash, even if I'm not drinking it or planning to drink it any time soon. I don't drink on weeknights, but periodically think about having a beer (beer = gluten free cider) when I get home. Lately I've found myself with a new, alcohol related dilemma:

Right now I do my long run on Saturdays. Long runs are very important to me, because I have marathon and ultra marathon goals. If I miss my long runs I'll never get to those distances. If I try to run the longer distances without gradually increasing my long runs, I'll end up hurting myself and be out of commission for weeks or even months at a time. Since running is the only exercise I've ever continued doing long term, taking that away portends a rather large and unhappy future me.

Superman and I have also enjoyed going to yoga together. We actually paid quite a bit to continue classes, just before summer changed our scheduled and we stopped going. We are trying to schedule that back in, and the Saturday morning class is really the best option. Our yoga studio is heated, and an hour class wipes me for the rest of the day. This means yoga and long run are not happening on the same day. Long run gets pushed to Sunday, and now I'm scheduled for intense physical activity both Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Yay, right? This is good for me, doing things that are important to me, right?

Apparently, drinking is important to me too. Neither activity, yoga or running, are in any way improved with alcohol. In fact, the results of a binge drinking night invariably prevent yoga and running from happening. If they do happen, I end up hating life, performing miserably, and otherwise paying dearly for my fun the night before.

In my head, I'm scrambling to find a loophole, a way to drink AND yoga/run. Superman and I have gone over multiple scheduling options. The best way to get both yoga and long run in is yoga Saturday, long run Sunday. 

I'm not necessarily looking to tie one on every weekend, so theoretically I could do my long run on a different day some weeks. Friday night means missing FNO, so that's not happening. To keep the rest of my schedule as close to normal as possible, that leaves Monday. Monday is a normal run day anyway, so I would replace 6 miles with double or triple that distance.

The long run takes approximately 3 hours, and will take longer yet as the distances increase. Running for 3 or more hours on a work day would involve a distinct lack of daylight hours, even on the best of days. I could carry a flashlight and run on even pavement. I plan to do this for my weekday runs, which happen after work, since evening daylight disappears in the winter months. Eventually those runs will likely happen on my treadmill, though. Running after dark makes me nervous. I've face planted in the past, creeps come out at night, and it makes for a long day after a full day of work. Also, I refuse to run on ice and any real depth of snow. 

I'm really not thrilled with the idea of trying to stay motivated running in place for 3 or more hours. There will be long runs on the treadmill, due to the ice/snow issue. I'm just not fond of the idea and prefer that be my absolute last resort.

So it looks like any weekend I want to drink, I have a limited options. I'd need to get up at 4am on a Monday morning to get 3 hours in before getting ready for work, even earlier as the distances increase. Alternatively, I can run until 10 or 11 at night, depending what time I get home from work. The third option is less than ideal, but I can run half in the morning and half after work. The danger there is being too tired or distracted or disinterested to complete the run after work.

Or, I can control myself and not get roaring drunk, then suffer through yet another sucky run, because even one or two beers is enough to affect my performance. Somehow, not drinking at all is simply not an option. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Down the rabbit hole

I mentioned in my last post that I'm a list maker. Family will tell you as a child I was a "make lists of lists" person. I'm not quite as bad now. At least I thought I wasn't quite that bad, until I was introduced to the kanban system this past week. Or rather, my introduction to kanban was reinforced. We use a kanban system at work, to keep track of work in progress.

For those who don't know, kanban is basically a glorified To Do list. You make a list of everything you want to accomplish, maybe breaking larger tasks down into smaller, bite-sized chunks. For work, the bite-sized chunks are written out on index cards and stuck on a white board with magnets. This is the backlog, and can have as many items as needed. The backlog is ordered with the highest priority item on top. 

The board is separated by multiple columns in a "What To Do," "Doing," "Done" format. You can define whatever columns you decide you need. Bacon Patrol has Backlog, Hootenanny, Work in Progress, Waiting For Build, On Hold, QA, QA Fail, and PO Accept columns. When a dev finishes a task, they move their card into the Waiting For Build spot and take another card from the top of the backlog. QA picks it up after the build for testing. The object is to move the cards, column by column, to the PO Accept (= Done) column on the right of the board.

Last Friday I took a class on personal kanban systems. This led me to explore Trello.com, which is a free online version of a work in progress board. Bacon Patrol uses Trello.com to keep track of mid-year and year-end goal progress. I wanted to know if this would be useful for me to adopt for personal goals. Helpfully, though not as fully functional as the website, there's an app for Trello.com.

Keep in mind, I already manage a current calendar, with tasks I want to remember penciled in when I expect to have time to do them. I set up a personal Trello board, listed out all the things I currently want to get done, moved a few things over to the Doing Today column, and promptly updated my calender with what I wanted to get done that day. This seemed inefficient, but it allowed me to timebox the tasks, schedule them and set reminders for them. 

I realized the kanban backlog held items not on my calendar, because I hadn't yet determined when I would handle them. Also, I wasn't sure how to handle reoccurring tasks in kanban. I did find it nice being able to comment on cards if I've completed bits and pieces of the task (ie: get the phone number you need to call your health insurance company), and the comments sometimes evolve into new cards (ie Download PowerPoint Stacks from Cornerstone Training, and Study/Take Notes on PowerPoint stacks from Cornerstone Training ).

To address items not yet scheduled, I looked at To Do List apps. A To Do list would allow me to document all the items I want to accomplish, without having to know when they will be done. I found one that synchs with Google Tasks, meaning I can enter things on either the phone or computer, which I find useful. The To Do list app allows me to prioritize items, and also to date things with notification times so I get reminders on my phone when they are scheduled to be done.

Do you see where this is going? I now have my calender, my To Do list, and my Trello board. I start with the To Do list, creating backlog items which I put in the Trello backlog. Items then go on my calendar. This is where I determine how many items I have time to handle on any given day, interspersed among classes and meetings and my workout schedule. Actually, my workout schedule is included in my To Dos, along with things like dishes and laundry, etc. I then go back to Trello and pull items from the backlog into my Doing Today column. 

I move items around on my Trello board throughout the day, as I get bits and pieces of things done. One of the best practices for kanban is to limit the number of items you work on at any given time. I currently have 5 items in my Doing Today column, with notes on where I am with that item, what I've done, and maybe what else needs to be done. Remember I've already broken tasks down into bite-sized chunks, so there shouldn't be too many steps per item.

I've set up a work Trello board as well, to track the things I need to complete relating to training.  The To Do app holds all tasks, and items cross between work and personal Trello boards depending on when I plan to complete the tasks. Essentially, I'm now making lists of lists of lists.

I'm not yet certain if this is more effective and efficient than my previous approach, using only the calendar. I run the risk of spending more time playing with all the different programs than I do actually getting things done. I'm in my glory though, like a kid in a candy store (or myself in an office supply store), having fun with the process. It's nice to see what I've actually completed at the end of a day. For someone who tends to focus on the bad and immediately forgets the good, this is very nice positive reinforcement that I'm actually accomplishing things. 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I am my fathers daughter

My father was something of a pack rat when it came to building supplies. The family joke is he would decide on a project, then go out and purchase everything he needed for said project. This included nails, wood, tape, hinges, paintbrushes, paint sticks... You get the idea.

My mother inherited a substantial inventory of nails, wood, tape, hinges, paintbrushes, paint sticks, etc.

I'm usually more of a list maker myself, primarily because I've rarely had enough money to just go shopping and get what I need on the fly.  However there appears to be an exception to this rule.

I found a a pumpkin spice coffee creamer recipe, made with Almond milk and honey instead of cream and sugar. This prompted a trip down the spice aisle of my local grocery, recipe in hand. I knew I had some of the spices I needed, but did not know if I had them all. I had them all, and then some!
This is my pumpkin spice stash. That is one full cup of premixed pumpkin spice, and at least another cup's worth of fixin's in the background.

I will have pumpkin spice coffee all year long!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

So...Yeah... About that...


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Why is it every time I say something about continuing to post, I stop posting?

Why is it, whenever I go off my "diet," it takes me weeks to get back on?

Why is it, although I love spending time with my loved ones, it takes me weeks to decompress when I do?
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So yeah. Posting. First, it seems when I'm not running I'm not posting. I come up with most post ideas in the hours alone in my head. I've hardly run since the Monday before Superman and I went on vacation over Labor Day week. Even that run was not stellar, but at least it was a considerable distance.

I did have a post started for Suicide Prevention week last week, but decided it was too uncomfortable to share and full of triggers besides. Suffice it to say I've been there, I did not know of resources to help me out of there, and had I access to a gun during that time I don't know if I or my children would be here today. Luckily I am no longer in that place, and have not been for decades. If I ever find myself there again, I'm now aware of resources and places to call for help.

Better late than never: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. Use it if you need it or know someone who does. If you or someone you know is thinking or talking about suicide, please call. Suicide is preventable, and they CAN help.
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So yeah. Diet. The good news is I'm now over a week completely soda/Monster free. I finally found a combination of teas I can drink without sweetener, that does not upset my stomach, and which I enjoy the taste of enough to consume a gallon a day (my daily hydration goal). I even found a tea I can purchase out in the wild if I need something stronger than water to get by, until I can make my own again. Unsweetened Pure Leaf Tea has tea and citric acid. Period. No preservatives or garbage added.
So I have that going for me.

The rest of my diet has been a mess since going on vacation. I eat what I want, when I want, regardless of hunger or what it does to my system. Not good. I don't know if it's gluten or grain or sugar, but my ankles have been swollen since I started eating this way again (a symptom of my auto-immune disease) and there are other effects I won't go into here. My system is definitely not happy, and hasn't been for 2 weeks now.

I had my final birthday dinner last night, am finishing up the leftovers from that today, then it's back on the bandwagon. I want to know if it's grains or sugar that's causing the reactions I'm having, so am modifying my current plan a little. I will be grain-free, but will allow a small amount of sugar for no more than one coffee a day. Sugar, not artificial sweetener. We had a dietitian from Cleveland Clinic in at work last week, and I was surprised to learn artificial sweeteners (including Stevia) are completely not helpful. I kind of knew this already, but the dietitian spelled it out clearly. Studies show artificial sweeteners stimulate appetite, fat storage, and weight gain. This is of course the exact opposite of what I want. If it turns out I actually am addicted and cannot handle small amounts of sugar, or the swelling in my ankles does not go away after being grain free for a few weeks, I will eliminate sugar completely and have to be satisfied with fruits, honey, and syrup as my sweets.

I'm not concerned with the caffeine addiction, since my current tea recipe provides enough to keep away the worst symptoms. I might crash earlier in the evening, but that's not a bad thing. The coffee actually may not even be every day. I just like to have it in reserve for days I'm really dragging.
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So yeah. People. I owe my mother and a friend apologies. They called right after I got home from vacation, and I haven't called either of them back yet. I was supposed to go out and play with a third friend the weekend we came back, and that didn't happen either. I'm still trying to decompress from spending several days non-stop in the car and out-and-about with Superman. It doesn't help I now have one or both of my boys around the house frequently. Nor does it help to always have to be "on" at work, where I can no longer hide behind cubicle walls. I'm an introvert, and this much human interaction is exhausting. I've been able to escape a bit at work this past week, scheduling conference rooms to go through on-line courses. My children have not been home EVERY day. Still, reaching out to people is not easy in this state.
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Vacation was, as Monkey Boy pointed out, an old people's trip. We originally planned to ride the motorcycle, but the forecast was cold and raining for most the time we would be gone, so chose the car instead. I'm good with either, since Superman and I travel well together. Car trips offer an intimacy we don't normally experience, considering our normal schedule. It's enough of an anomaly that Energizer Bunny asked "Is it even LEGAL for the two of you to spend that much time alone together in such a small space?!?"

We drove out to Stuebenville Monday to stay at a bed and breakfast, stopping at a favorite diner in Lisben on the way. The bed and breakfast house was renovated from basically a condemned state. $350K later, it looks like this:
Super narrow hallways and stairs. Super cluttered with antique knick knacks, but beautiful and historic. The rest of the neighborhood kind of looked like this:
Very historic, though quite dilapidated, with I think they advertise 20 murals. Most of those are religious. They literally painted the town for the bicentennial. The only "major" attraction (and you'll notice the quotes on "major") was the recreation of Fort Stueben. We arrived too late to actually tour the fort, but you could walk around the outside in about 5 minutes.

The best part was having the house to ourselves. I'd never stayed at a bed and breakfast before, and did not know what to expect. It would have been more challenging for me to share the house with strangers, but being off season and mid-week it turned out perfect. We hung out amid the antiques in the evening, explored the bookshelves and knick knacks, and went through the renovation photo album. The owner came and made breakfast for us in the morning. Superman chatted with him while I did a round of weights upstairs, then we cleaned up, packed up, and left.

(Yes, I brought weights with me. Yes, this was the only time I used them. I planned to run as well, but that didn't happen. Go figure.)

The reason we stayed in Stuebenville was because it's less than an hour from Oglebay's blown glass museum and exhibit. Superman and I have both been somewhat fascinated with blown glass since catching an exhibit at the Geneva County Fair a few years ago. Unfortunately, the glass blowing exhibit was cancelled because one of the glass blowers was on vacation, and the other was picking up more than just exhibit slack. However, we spent a good bit of time exploring the museums and shops at the Oglebay mansion.
The grounds and views were amazing. The history was fun, though after several hours I tend to get saturated with facts in places like this. We didn't get any photos of the glass museum, and probably spent as much time in the glass gift shop as we did the museum.

As I said, the trip was planned around a motorcycle ride. After we saw everything we wanted at Oglebay we hopped back into the car for a 4 hour trip to Dayton, where we bedded down and rested up. Next stop on the itinerary was the Dayton Air Force Museum.
The Air Force Museum covers pretty much the entire history of flight, from the Wright brothers to the most recent space flight. We planned to spend the entire day, and saturated or not both agree we could have spent at least another full day without getting bored. There was not enough time to read all the information, and barely enough time to walk around gawking at the evolution of airplanes and atomics and helicopters and war. We texted back and forth with Monkey Boy, trying to figure out which plane he worked on. It turns out his was too new to be in the museum yet. We don't even have images of the rockets and satellites section, where I was stunned at the size of it all. I expected rockets to be larger and satellites to be smaller. There's a holocaust section and a Bob Hope section. There's a hall of fame, and a wall of all the Air Force leading men. I can guarantee Superman and I will be back again.

After soaking in the history of war and flight, we headed north toward Toledo. Here we found probably the best Indian restaurant I've ever been to. The food was cooked to perfection, moist and flavorful without being overwhelmingly spiced. Since it was my birthday, I ordered one of every desert on the menu, and was not disappointed in any of them. There were no brownies or cakes. Mango pudding with fruit. Rice puddings. Condensed milk ice cream. Superman helped, of course, and it was a marvelous birthday celebration.

The next morning we headed a bit further north, to a fossil park in Sylvania.
This image is from their website. It's part of a local park system, is not manned and there is no fee for entry. They simply supply the rocks and a place to break them. There was literally no one around when Superman and I were there, though we did see a runner and a bicyclist on the local paths surrounding the area. You're not allowed to bring tools in, so I had fun for an hour or more raising large rocks above my head and smashing them down onto other rocks or concrete, then sifting through the crumbling remains to see what I could find. We found probably 10 or 12 fossils of varying sizes and shapes, which was pretty neat.

This was the last stop on our vacation, and we headed back toward Cleveland when we got tired of smashing rocks. I hung out with Superman Thursday night, then ran home Friday.
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So yeah. To clarify, running didn't happen on vacation, but it has happened. Sporadically, and mostly my long runs. I ran again the following Monday, but after sitting in the car so long all week and eating crap, it's not surprising my run was less than stellar. I bailed on most exercise the rest of the week, and even then yesterday's run home from Superman's was better. I'm ahead of the curve for mileage right now, so can afford to be a little lax. That's not to say it's a good idea, but I'm not worried about it. I'm already planning how to add in the extras when my schedule calls for 14, 15 and even higher mileage runs.
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Now you know where I've been and where I am. Work is good, too. It took me a minute to remember what the heck I was supposed to be doing, but I had more than one person tell me this past week that I'm doing good, that they've heard nothing but good things about me. I'm also almost done with my training, and may actually finish most of it within the 90 days like I'm supposed to. I meet with my manager and the training coordinator on Monday to get a better idea what else needs to be done. I'm very excited to finally get into actually doing my job and learning the program I'll be supporting. We will see what happens and if I can really do this, then. So much of this training will be unused and forgotten, and it's been somewhat frustrating to fight my way through, knowing that.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Everything changes. Everything stays the same.


I'm changing email address again. Basically I'm tired of the constant push to pay for premium service, I'm tired of the blinking ads in the sidebar, and I can't simply forward mail from the mail.com address to my new one. Or rather, I can't forward mail from the mail.com address without paying for that service.

All of the Shebajc email addresses will automatically forward to my new email, but the mail.com address will only forward for the next 30 days. Send me a note or message me on Facebook with your preferred email address, and I'll shoot you a note from the new inbox so you can update your contacts.
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In case you hadn't noticed, I've been MIA for a while again. I really like the idea of posting here daily. However, I've noticed my writing suffers when I have nothing to say. Things become disjointed when I'm tired and pressed for time. Apparently I'm not as good as Rick up there, and I'm uncomfortable submitting sub-par posts. At the same time, I enjoy blogging. I enjoy the creativity of putting words together "just so." I enjoy the (albeit infrequent) comments from my "public." I enjoy the (also infrequent) real life conversations my posts spark. I've also been told by family it's how they know what's going on in my world. For a semi-professional recluse, this is not a bad thing.

I know you'll be thrilled to learn this means I will continue as I have, posting when I want with no promises of continuity. If no one reads, my words will still be here for me to look back on, as I have from time to time (both here, and now here.) I've even gone back to MySpace for the blog posts there, though they are no longer online. (side note: MySpace made me laugh by their message "within a few short months you will receive an email indicating your blogs are ready for download." I wonder how long they've been telling people that. Interesting to see what MySpace has become. I'm thinking about spending some time at some point exploring both MySpace and Google+, but those endeavors are for a time without quite so much homework, and are just a little off topic for this post.)

Coming soon: news (and hopefully pics) from the road trip Superman and I took to celebrate our birthdays;