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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2010
     
    Hello! Hope everyone is doing well. Haven't posted a while and the forum is mostly dead, so I thought I'd give it something to chew on.

    Things are going well. Had a nice Halloween season, and am gearing up for the holidays now. I know not everyone enjoys the holidays so much, but I really do. I'm starting to prepare for the annual family egg nog tasting, which I want to make a bit more rigorous this year - double blind tasting! There seems to be a general consensus that "flavored" varieties of eggnog (like Pumpkin flavor or Vanilla Spice or whatever) should not be entered, though they can make for a nice change of pace, so we might end up with less varieties this year... which is probably a good thing. I find it a little disturbing that Egg Nog is so scary-bad-for-you that even in this day and age, it's only released for a couple of months out of the year.

    Anywho, not a whole lot going on. Work is going ok, I think I might actually have the final two candidates to complete my team, though there are some things that need to be worked out to make it happen. One bit of tragic news has hit a coworker, which is horrible, but I this isn't really the place to talk about that (needless to say, the whole office is banding together to support). I would say we finally got a good handle on what needs to be done going forward, but of course, a curve ball was thrown today, and of course, it makes no sense. You can't give me a list of 25 things and call them all a priority. Making something a priority means that something else has to fall off the list. When you make everything a priority, by definition, nothing is actually a priority. I don't get why this happens so often. But I'm confident it will be worked out in due time (and our Project Manager awesomely has started helping with prioritizing the stuff).

    I did really great about reading earlier in the year, but kinda fell off the wagon during the late summer (perhaps all that horror movie watching did it). Then there's the fact that I keep buying new books to read because they all sound so interesting. I bought a set of Richard Matheson short stories to read during the six weeks of halloween, but at least I had an excuse there. I've also got those two books Spence gave me (which I do want to read soon!) and I also picked up Pynchon's Inherent Vice, which seems like it would be right up my alley. I'm currently reading a book called "Flow", which reminded me of a series of posts I had planned to write but which I kinda stalled on (the one about interrupts and context switching - I wrote about half of the follow up post, but have neglected to finish it off).

    Nothing big happening this weekend, though I suppose I may have to bottle my beer if it finishes fermentation (as of right now, it looks like the fermentation peaked last night. It's still going strong, but the bubbles aren't as fas as they were last night...)

    I've actually been trying to catch up on some 2010 movies on DVD. I realized that I've seen far less this year than I have in the past few years. This is partly because early this year seemed to suck pretty badly, though I also didn't attend the Film Festival this year, which kinda blows (I totally forgot about it and then it was too late as I couldn't carve out any time to make the trek into Philly). Bah. But I'll probably end up seeing enough stuff on DVD and the end of the year awards push always accelerates my movie watching. Interestingly, with this summer's viewings, I think I might even have a pretty good handle on my top 10. I would probably have trouble putting together a full list right now, but there are at least 4 or 5 solid contenders... if not more... which is kinda weird. I don't normally expect that sort of stuff to come out during the summer, but most of my favorite stuff so far this year came out in summer and the dregs of early fall. A few movies to look forward to coming as well. Not sure what to make of True Grit. It's Coen Brothers, so I have to see it, but the trailer gives me pause. Something about Jeff Bridge's voice bothers me. A lot. But it's Coen Brothers, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Let's see. What else? Oh, exercise. I'm kinda surprised, but I'm still exercising pretty regularly. I think 2009 was my worst year ever in terms of exercise, and that carried into the first half of this year too. But I started exercising in June (just before the Boston trip) and haven't really stopped since then, averaging about 5 days a week. The only real lapse was my trip to Toronto in September, which was a solid 7-10 days without exercise (at least, formal exercise - I walked a lot in Toronto). When I got back, I didn't really get started again, but after a week, I was back into the groove. One thing that happened was that I seem to have moved my exercise time later. For most of the summer, I would exercise as soon as I got home from work, but now I find myself exercising after dinner. I think I like the chance to unwind a bit, relax, eat something and maybe watch something before heading into my basement for a workout. In any case, this is probably the longest streak of working out I've had in a long time. Normally I would work out for a couple of months during the summer and that would sorta keep me in shape (sorta) for the rest of the year (I used to play football in the fall, which was a nice informal workout thing, but that never happens anymore). But I'm getting older and that probably won't fly.

    I still eat like a... single guy... I guess... but I occasionally try to eat a little better. Tonight I tried to make a cucumber and radish salad that was a mild success. The recipe I used was a bit too heavy on the parsley and light on the vinaigrette (and I think I chopped the radishes too much), but that can be easily remedied in the next batch, and I kinda like the concept of this dish. Of course, it's not really a meal by itself, but I can see it fitting into my rotation of pizza and wings and tacos and other unhealthy things.

    Ok, so that's enough babbling from me. How's everyone else doing?

    ~tallman
    •  
      CommentAuthorSpencer
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2010
     
    Glad to hear life is good to you Mark. But if you don't read those books, bad things will start to happen. Like death glares from me.

    Pfft, whatever. I've barely read any, so I am not fit to pass judgment.

    I started taking an aquatic cardio class at the YMCA the beginning of this month - 9:30am to 10:30am Tuesdays and Thursdays. That's an early time for me. Ever since my work schedule changed to 1pm-5pm back in January, I've had a hard time going to bed early enough to get up before 10:30am. But because of my volunteer work, I've had to get up "early" most weekends, and I found (or re-learned) it is nice feeling like I have not wasted a good chunk of daylight hours in bed.

    I had been thinking about doing a water fitness class for a while because I need something low-impact that will keep my interest. I decided to just go for it. I really like it. Most of the other participants are old(er) women. Actually they're all women, and 99% of them must be over age 50. I was impressed by everything I saw at the Y, so I decided to join. It's $55/month for me, which is a pretty standard gym membership rate, but this isn't a contract. I just give 30 days written notice to stop monthly charges. Now the aquatic cardio class and many others are free to me. I took a yoga class tonight and loved it. The Y I go to is conveniently less than 5 miles from my house, it's clean, has good gym equipment, and the staff is super nice too.
    There's that whole "To put Christian Principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all" mission statement, and there's a Christian bible on display for all to read when the mood strikes, but that doesn't bother me.

    Lately I've felt great because of the exercise. But my health has been up and down. Most recently my back has been hurting in the mornings, which is super unusual for me. We have a Sleep Number bed, so I'm going to make my side more soft (less air) tonight and see if that helps (I've been on a higher number for many months with no problem).

    I'm not having headaches everyday like I was before June, but I'm still having too many headaches and migraines to be a 100% happy person. I was dizzy everyday for all of October. No idea why - went to the doctor, got blood work again, which was normal, again, but the dizziness went away last week. *shrug* I know I should see a neurologist because of my migraines, but I am so tired of doctors right now. I've had 19 visits to various doctors this year.

    I had been eating junk and not exercising for so long, so I decided that I needed to change those things to make sure I'm not causing my own headaches. I'm not on a diet, but I now make myself drink more water and eat food with nutrients before eating not-so-nutritious things. This means I do eat less "junk", but I don't deprive myself at all. I just figure I shouldn't fill myself up on Kit Kats. I'm about to go have a homemade waffle for dinner, so you can see I've not gone total health nut.

    Ooh, speaking of health nuts, a Natural Grocers just opened up near me. I've been a couple of times and found some really great things, like ready-to-eat pulled pork (just heat), black bean and cheese tamales, and healthy-ish hot dogs (no preservatives, less fat). And fruit juice gummy bears! They are much better than normal gummy bears.


    Still fostering, still doing adoption counseling, though less of both recently. Charles wants to take a short break from fostering, for our sake and our cats'. And, having fosters means having at least one litter box inside the house. We keep our cats' boxes on the screened patio, so we don't have to smell them. But having even one inside means we walk past the smell of urine, feces, or litter dust everyday - even if the boxes are clean. Not fun.
    After this latest litter of five kittens, which have required a lot of work and energy, we're pretty tired. And yet, I might be taking in a new foster soon. It's hard saying no when the animal will be euthanized otherwise. But this particular kitty is a healthy adult, so I can handle that.

    Austin Pets Alive! has been saving more animals since we got our own buildings in August. I think we actually have a good probability of reaching no-kill status in the next couple of years!

    Hmmm...what else? Halloween was fun, but I didn't have as much time and energy to prepare as I'd like. It's probably my favorite holiday now, but it's also just two weeks after my busiest time of year at work. I was so exhausted after this year's fundraising event, I didn't do much to prepare for Halloween. But we dressed up and had a good time with my sister and nieces.

    Landscaping was completed on the front yard last week. It looks great. We love how everything turned out, the quality of work, and our landscaper is great. His primary concern is creating sustainable landscapes that work for the Central Texas environment. He owns his own business and works on every job himself, along with a small crew. He's smart, generous, and honest, which I greatly appreciate.


    Oh, I got an HTC Hero! My first smartphone. How did I live without this? I've lived in Austin for 9 years, in different parts of town, so I know my way around pretty well. But, this city still has some confusing streets, and the GPS on my phone has been a lifesaver twice already. I can now look up information I need while not at home or work, and my phone saved me from boredom while doing adoption counseling for 6 hours this past Saturday (I was playing games when there were no visitors).
    I've downloaded a few cool apps. The one I use the most is Instant Heart Rate. My doctor's been wanting me to keep track of it. I just wish I could save the readings to view later and compare. My favorite game is Amtalee. And I type slower than I'd like, but the Hero is smaller than the newer smartphones, like the Incredible/Evo.

    That's the most interesting stuff going on. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving was hard the past three years because of my mom's death, but I no longer associate this time of year with her passing. I've felt my mom's absence in many ways throughout the years, so Thanksgiving doesn't seem any more sad than other times. It's all evenly spread now. It helps that Charles' family still happily celebrates these holidays.
    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2010
     
    We're smack dab in the middle of moving, so things are a little strained here at the moment. We can't move over furniture until we get a rented van and some helpers on Sunday. But, progress otherwise was going really good until this week. We thought, hey, we both have all of Thursday of for Veteran's Day. We can get so much accomplished. And then my boyfriend slept in today until one. And has to go to martial arts practice at 6:30. So, not so much as I hoped will be accomplished today. We still have tommorrow evening and Saturday. And honestly, we don't technically have to have everything out until the 30th. But, we still have a lot of cleaning and prep work to do so that it's easy for people to walk in and out carrying furniture. I can't wait until it's over.

    Halloween was ok. We did get to spend some time with Nick's family in Cleveland. I was amazed by how many trick-or-treaters that his sister's neighborhood had. Even though they limit it to only two hours, we went through 4 bags of candy. I didn't watch nearly as many horror movies this year as last and didn't put up any decorations. I even was so busy that I forgot to buy or eat any candy corn or sixlets.

    Which is probably for the better, because I have not stuck with an exercise schedule. I was working a ton of overtime in the evenings in the beginning of fall and just exhausted when I got home. More recently, I've been sticking to 1800 calories or less on weekdays. I use a calorie counter app on my phone (also an HTC hero, Spence) and realized in the first week or so that while I wasn't snacking as much out of vending machines and buying complete junk anymore, I was drinking/snacking more calories during the day than I would ever have imagined and eating pretty skimpy meals for breakfast and lunch. Which might have been ok, if I wasn't still having big dinners and dessert more often than not. So, I've moved dessert to the weekends and been trying to up the quality of my meals and lessen the calorie contents of snacks. Rather than cooking big meals, we've been having simple meals like baked sqaush, vegetable soup or baked potatoes on busy weeknights. I've managed to still lose a little weight despite not exercising beyond walking to and from the library or the grocery store and such. The new house is about a block away from a small park though, so I am hoping to do even more walking in the evenings. At least until it starts getting bitterly cold and snowy.

    My reading has been fairly steady still, but I failed miserably at trying to blog about it. I lost track of even counting how many books I've read this year. I think next year I will just stick to maybe making a facebook post when I start and end each book.

    I'm a little stressed about Christmas. I still need to buy plane tickets and reserve boarding for the furry children or convince one of two friends who live in studio apartments and may be in town over the holidays to house sit. We still have several recipes to make gifts from and I don't have the slightest clue what to get my dad or Nick again.
    •  
      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeNov 15th 2010
     
    Spence, I'll read the books... I swears! Just not sure when.

    You're YMCA is way cheaper than anything around here. I'd have to pay at least double that. This is why I stick to the limited free weights and elliptical machine in my basement. But then I also miss out on fancy fitness classes and activities with the word "aquatic" in the title. Water exercise is supposed to be among the best for you though, so that's cool. I would occasionally follow up my workouts this summer with a trip to the condo pool, and if it wasn't overrun by kids, I might swim around for a bit.

    Anyway hope your back pain and headaches get better soon. Chronic pain makes life miserable. I will occasionally mess my knee up and it has this sorta dull pain for a few days. Nothing serious and it does eventually go away, but still.

    I've never had a fruit juice gummy bear, but now I guess I need to. Thanks a lot.

    The HTC Hero seems pretty cool. I had the same reaction when I first bought my iphone - how did I live without this? And when I lost my first iPhone and had to go back to my crappy nokia thing, that was the worst. I've actually been wondering if I should get a new phone. I do like the newer android phones, so I guess I should check them out too... but on the other hand, my phone works fine now, so it's probably not worth upgrading yet.

    Glad to see that you're holidays will be fun this year:)

    Sov, Packing is a huge pain, though I always find it's also a good opportunity to throw stuff out/donate stuff you don't need. Of course, I haven't moved in several years, and I'm a mild packrat, so my place would probably be a huge pain in the arse to pack, even if I did throw half this stuff out. I did recently go through my clothes and donated a bunch. And I've been slowly going through my basement to get rid of old big boxes that I kept for no particular reason (for instance, I still had the box my computer came in... from 2006). But even that is overwhelming. I'm not looking forward to moving again...

    I'm glad to hear you got lots of trick-or-treaters. I was beginning to think the tradition was dying down (and it probably is in a lot of areas, at least compared to how it was when I was a kid).

    What calorie-counter app do you use? Not that it would necessarily be on the iPhone, but I'd still be curious...

    Maybe it's just me, but I've always found that blogging is hard unless you really dedicate yourself or set up a schedule (hence my schedule). I suppose it's also easy if you don't commit to really posting a lot of substance (i.e. my beer blog isn't very substantive, which is why I can update it with no real problems). One thing I've found useful for keeping track of stuff is to find a site like listal.com that lets you make lists of stuff and add notes to it. (see me here: http://mciocco.listal.com/) Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I was looking back at the little notes that I wrote for 2010 movies I've seen so far (here: http://www.listal.com/list/2010-movies-ive-seen) and I found them rather helpful, even if they're ridiculously short notes (i.e. "Surprisingly good." or "Solid, entertaining popcorn fare.") It's pretty easy to keep track of stuff without the pressure of a blog...

    I always forget how frustrating it must be to travel during the holidays for most people. Not to rub it in (again), but I never had much of a problem with that (except for when I was dating someone who had divorced parents, which was a bit of a pain)...

    ~tallman
    •  
      CommentAuthorSpencer
    • CommentTimeNov 16th 2010
     
    I definitely couldn't do many of the things out of the pool that I do in the pool. We do a lot of kicking and bouncing on our feet or just one foot. That's high impact for me and would destroy my lower back and shins. The ab exercises are especially improved in the water because you're not pressing your body against a hard surface; you stay standing and use your abs to bring your legs up so that you're suspended in the water. And, having the instructor tell me what to do keeps me interested and motivated. I'm horribly uncoordinated, have never been able to learn dance steps or keep up with an aerobics class, but none of that matters in the water. Most of the time people can't see what you're doing! Plus, there's no pressure to stick to the exact exercise move if it's not working for you, and being in the water allows for many more modifications.