Yesterday I went geocaching for the first times in AGES….it felt great to get back out there! At one point during the day — to the head-shaking amusement of my geo-bud — my Nikon and I were drawn to a field of kudzu. At certain angles, the sunlight played with the texture of the leaves quite beautifully. Above is one of my favorite shots. It looks like a warm, airy, comfortable nature-pillow. Couldn’t you just sink lazily into the softness and take the best nap of your life? And, as you slept, magical leaf fairies would whisper ancient blessings to bestow you with blue-sky happiness until the end of time.
For some reason I’ve conditioned myself to go to the last stall when using a public restroom. In the women’s bathroom at work, I follow this habit without thinking. I close the door, turn around, and sit. My eyes wander a bit, and it never fails — I catch sight of this snot-colored, sticky-looking glob of mucouslike mess about half the size of an M&M. And if that’s not enough, attached to it is a curly strand of dark hair that loops around a couple times and hangs off each end about 2 inches.
It’s been stuck to the backside of the stall door for at least two years.
A few times I’ve considered sucking up my squeamishness and scrubbing it off — I mean, it would be better than looking at it for another two years, right? But it’s quite strange. By the time I walk five feet to the sink, which would be an ideal moment to dampen a paper towel and turn around to remove the offensive substance, I’ve completely forgotten about it. And it stays forgotten until the next time I enter that stall, close the door, turn around, and sit.
Only today did the temporary memory loss fail to happen. Because this time, I thought…..blog entry.
How could it have gotten there? Do the glob and the hair have the same DNA? If I worked in a crime lab, I’d stay late one evening to test them. Maybe someone came to work one day with a really severe phlegm-laden cold, and had a deep, gutwrenching sneeze. Maybe her hand didn’t make it to her mouth in time. Maybe she conscientiously cleaned most of it off the back of the door, but missed one small spot, which — while she leaned over to wipe a particularly large bit of unpleasantness from the floor — pulled a strand of loose hair from the top of her head.
Or…..maybe someone actually planted it there. It might be a sociological experiment to test how much nastiness women will put up with in the workplace. There could be a camera hidden in a ceiling vent to record people’s reactions.
Hmmmm, never mind. Those appear to be the only two scenarios I can imagine.
A couple weeks ago, I shared with my personal trainer that I was surprising myself with the progress I’d made on the Couch-to-5K run/walk program.
I’d been using the program as a guide for treadmill workouts there in the gym…..and had recently met a friend — who was also following the program on a treadmill in her gym — to do Week 2 in the real, honest-to-goodness outdoors. It took a little trial and error for us to get going at the same pace, and I discovered that I was running faster than she was. We compared notes, and it turned out that she’d advanced to Week 4 or 5 going at a jogging speed (4.5 mph), and I had stayed in Week 1 for many weeks, gradually increasing my running speed (5.8 – 6.8 mph).
That made me curious. So that afternoon, I went to the gym to experiment. Turns out I could do a slow jog for 5-10 minutes at a time. I went for 45 minutes on the treadmill that day, mostly jogging, slowing to a walk now and then when I felt like I needed to calm my heart rate. Cool.
Now…….back to the part where I was telling my trainer about it.
She peered at me. Asked a question or two. Then she announced that, in my next weekly session, I would run a mile around the indoor track while she timed me. A test.
Damn it to freakin’ hell. You know, my mouth doesn’t get me in trouble all THAT much, but when it does, I tend to pay dearly.
Of course I couldn’t refuse to do it — that would be admitting that I didn’t think I was capable — so I resigned myself to prepare for the ordeal as best I could. During the following week, I worked in two 1-mile treadmill jogs. At a pace that I found excruciatingly slow, I could actually do it. Wow! I could NOT believe it.
So. Last night was my test. I did the mile in 10 minutes, 33 seconds. I had to walk a few times since I went too fast in the beginning, but my trainer seemed to be pleased anyway. For the rest of the hour-long session, she put me through some familiar strength training stuff, but she also made me do some new things. I could tell when the new exercises were coming up, too, because I could hear her brain churning as an ever-so-slightly sadistic grin played on her lips.
Sadism, I’ve decided, is a characteristic shared by most trainers.
The most eyebrow-raising thing she made me do involved an 8-feet-tall structure of a device, from the top of which hung two heavy-duty black straps. Geesh, I’ll bet it would be comfortably at home in any space designed for extreme S&M activities. (Not that I would know for sure. I’m just guessing. You believe me…..don’t you?)
It was the last exercise, and the words that came out of her mouth chilled me to the deepest part of my largest bone: “You are no longer a weenie. You are a strong, capable woman….the chubby girl you used to be is gone. From now on, no more excuses.”
Gulp. How did I manage to fool her like that? I was only pretending. No excuses? I love excuses. I cherish excuses. I AM a weenie.
Will someone please hold me? I’m scared.
Whoa! Today I snubbed errands, cleaning-the-house duties, and friends I’d planned to call. I forgot to eat. I ignored my cats. I spent my ENTIRE Saturday absorbed in one obsession-trance after another — Web surfing, cool Mac software, music, my iPod Shuffle, and working out.
OK, that last one’s a slight stretch, but it is involved, I promise.
It started with random Internet surfing while enjoying my morning coffee. Have you guys heard of StumbleUpon.com? It’s a browser plug-in that helps you find sites you might like. Well, I’m here to tell you…..it works. Since installing it on my laptop a couple weeks ago, I’ve wasted countless hours of blue-couch time. I’ve played fun little Flash games, watched hilarious videos, gotten inspired by artists of many types, been entertained by weird-freaky-crazy ideas and products, cruised some awesome shopping sites, and ran across some of the best reference collections I’ve ever seen. Good God, there’s not enough time in the universe to read it all! What am I going to do? How will I assimilate it all??
This morning, StumbleUpon took me to a page describing Tangerine, a commercial Mac app that analyzes your iTunes library and assigns beats per minute (BPM) to each of your songs. This caught my attention. It helps my motivation in the gym to walk, cycle, and run in time to music. I’d found the free Podrunner mixes months ago — which I love — but I also kept trying to categorize my own songs by BPM. Trial and error was wearing on my patience. I figured there were probably software options to help, but I just never got around to looking for them.
Well, StumbleUpon dropped one of those options in my lap. I almost forked out the $25 immediately, but my inner cheapskate compelled me to search for a freeware equivalent. I found iTunes BPM Inspector and downloaded that puppy.
It’s not automatic like Tangerine, but it is very easy. You open iTunes and start playing your songs. For each song, you tap your mouse in time to the music, with your cursor poised above BPM Inspector’s little floating window. After 10 seconds or so, it recognizes the BPM, you click “set,” and it assigns the song a BPM value within iTunes.
I now have a PERFECT iTunes playlist for my hip little Shuffle. I’ve listed the songs in order of BPM — from about 98 to over 200. The slower songs I’ll use for warmups and cool-downs, the mid-speed songs I’ll use for treadmill walking and running, and the fast ones are for my alone-time with the spinning-class bikes.
The problem is that I’m only a fraction of the way through my iTunes library. But….. if I stay up all night…….
Not really in the mood to write this weekend, so I thought I’d play with the slideshow feature at photobucket.com. Here are some abstract shots I took at Freedom Weekend Aloft, held in May this year at Simpsonville’s Heritage Park.