Thursday, May 05, 2011

I make myself sick -- literally!

I am always thinking about diet and exercise. I don't always make good decisions, obviously, but it is always in my mind. What that really means is that I should plan ahead, because when I don't know what to do I get stupid with indecision. Seriously, sometimes I have gone to lunch an hour later than planned because I just could not decide. I realize it's ridiculous, but it keeps happening.

The Wednesday before the Fanconi Anemia 5K (February 9th, to be precise), I had not packed a lunch, and it was important to me to get in a walk, because I was getting ready for a big walk. When I am buying lunch, my two favorite places are August Moon and Mandarin Cove. August Moon has really good food, with good prices on their lunch specials, but you need to allow a little bit of time to wait. Mandarin Cove is faster, because they have the food ready to go, only having one lunch special per day. However, on Wednesdays it is Mandarin Chicken, which they use wings for, and eating it is quite messy. I did not want to bother with that eating at my desk.

When I head out for a walk on lunch, going North is easy, East hits the river really quickly, and South and West give me a lot of uphill for a more vigorous workout. It occurred to me to walk uphill to Safeway. I think I had a forty-five minute lunch that day, so I was going to walk for thirty minutes, grab something there, then rush back and eat at my desk.

It was one of those plans that sounds reasonable but then doesn't work, because the lunchtime crowd was building up, and there were lines at the deli, and nothing ready to grab appealed to me, and then when I finally did just pick something the regular register lines were bad too.
I did not want to be late. I did not have cash for the machines. I did have to eat something.

Suddenly I had a brilliant idea. I would go back to work, but then on my last break I would run across to the buffet, fill a carton there, and eat that at my desk. That worked for timing and money, and I had eaten there before. If it was not great, it had not been terrible, and at least one coworker thought it looked good.

I ate at about 2:30, and worked until 6. For that last half hour, I was not feeling great. I was meeting my sisters and a friend for dinner, but Outback Steakhouse was not sounding so good when I felt like there were shards of broken glass churning in my stomach. I thought I could tough it out, by just not eating very much and drinking a Sprite to help things settle.

This is not going to be too graphic, but some people may want to check out now. Anyway, suddenly I really needed to go to the bathroom. I did, and I thought, okay, maybe that will be enough. I returned to the table, and in less than five minutes I needed to go back, and this time there was no sitting down.

My group was fine with leaving, so we took care of that, and I guess the most amazing thing of all is that I was able to remain quiet while we paid, left, during the car ride, and through my sisters' stop at, oh, I think it was Rite-Aid. That part is fuzzy. However, as soon as I walked in the door, I needed to dash to the bathroom again, and I have to say, this is the first time I have really understood what is meant by projectile vomiting. I mean, what I thought it meant seemed like an exaggeration, but now I understood why you would call it that, and it works.

I was quiet through the night, and had every intention of working the next day. I got up, showered, and was about to walk the dogs, but as you can imagine, my mouth was not feeling that fresh. I just wanted a small drink of water to rinse out a bit. That was a mistake. I didn't really think I had anything left to throw up, but I was wrong.

Well, I was still committed to walking the dogs, but after doing that I called in, got undressed, and went back to bed for several hours.

Around 2:30 or 3 (I guess that's why food poisoning is commonly called 24 hour flu), I was able to get up, and when my sisters brought home Little Caesar's for dinner (I know it's junk, but I was not cooking) I ate it without a qualm.

So, basically I was well again, and I worked Friday (and withdrew any recommendations for Cookie Cabana, which turned out to be unnecessary because I was not the only one who made that connection), but at the same time I was still feeling a little weakened. Jettisoning all nutrition along with copious fluids from your body will do that.

I still wanted to do the walk, and I prepared my supply kit (rain poncho, supplies for low blood sugar, etc.), but I did not make it down to pick up my packet Saturday, which meant an especially early departure time Sunday. I set my alarm, and I was really determined to go. I had said I would, and I am stubborn, but I especially did not want to miss this thing that I paid for just because I couldn't find time to make a lunch, or find the mental clarity to make a decision, four days earlier. But then when I woke up it was raining, and I was exhausted, and I surrendered on the spot. Maybe I have gotten a little less stubborn.

But I still say it was all very preventable.

Matthew 21 – 25
No real workout as I am trying to walk off a leg cramp from last night.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Walking with Gina

I just signed up for the Grand Floral Walk. This is the third organized walk I have signed up for, despite my continually changing my mind about whether to do them or not.

It started with a thought to do the Turkey Trot back in October. We can earn gift cards by participating in wellness activities, and that was one option. It sort of got into my mind that my sisters and I could do that. We are trying to be more fit, and we go on walks together. At the time we did not sign up, because it looked like Mom might be either in the hospital or recovering from surgery, but we did go for a walk that day.

Fast-forward a few months, and a coworker was looking for some kind of 5K before the Shamrock Run. I knew I had seen something, and found a run/walk for Fanconi Anemia on February 13th. I could find it because after realizing that the Turkey Trot was not going to work out, I was a little disappointed. However, I also walk by Foot Traffic on my way to the train, and I had started realizing that there are always different events going on.

Anyway, as I was passing on the information, I started thinking that I could do that. I had walked a 5K route before (the day after the actual event) so I knew I was physically capable. Why not try it?

So I signed up.

Almost immediately after that, someone started getting a group together for the Shamrock Run. I had just signed up for a 5K, and paid good money for it, so I did not originally intend to do it, but I gave in to peer pressure and suddenly, I was doing two walks exactly a month apart. I still kept seeing more events coming up, and I was thinking, I could do this all the time. Well, that was before I did one.

For reasons we will cover later, I did not do the February 13th event, so my first official 5K was the Shamrock Stride. Fortunately, as part of a group we got our numbers and shirts early, so I did not need to go down for check in, but could just show up at race time. This only eliminated some waiting around.

There were just so many people! One concern with the various events was that they all take place on Sunday, and since we are on the late schedule now I was sure I could get back in time for church, but we started forty-five minutes late because it took so long for all the 5K runners to get started. There were thousands of people in every event. It was 32000 total.

It was somewhat cool hanging out with my coworkers before the event (by the end of my walk, I had no idea where any of them were), and seeing the different costumes and things, and there was definitely a sense of solidarity and participation, and I definitely walked faster than usual, even if I was still slow compared to a normal person. Still, I came away thinking that it was silly to pay deal with a crowd. I didn’t regret doing it—I just wasn’t hungry for more.

However, the Grand Floral Walk is on a Saturday, and Regence sponsors it, and my coworker is telling me how fun it is, and then you get good seats for the parade, which normally I would not feel a need to watch downtown, but maybe one time would be okay. It doesn’t mean I will do it next year. I will say that it makes me nervous that there is only a half hour lead-time between the walk and the parade. I know parades don’t move quickly, but neither do I. I’ll need to make sure to start out near the front so maybe I won’t be the last person to finish. That’s how I did it for the Shamrock.

That being said, I do look forward to taking many other walks throughout the course of the year. I can’t usually see a path without wanting to go down it, and then there have been articles about different trails, so I have a lot that I want to try. These include a tour of Portland’s oldest buildings, the Waterfront/Esplanade loop, and Laurelhurst.
The first one will be one that was not featured in any article, but with the frequent knee-surgery related trips to OHSU, I found myself drawn to the path that runs alongside Terwilliger. I want to put it first because if you keep going down Sam Jackson Road you end up at Duniway Lilac Garden. It seems logical to do it while lilacs are in bloom, and that is coming fast. I have not picked a day yet, but technically I guess I am in training now for the Grand Floral Walk, so I should be trying new exertions. As near as I can tell, it’s a bit more than 2.5 miles, but with a fair amount of downhill. After that, we will see.

If you want to join me for a walk, let me know. I move slowly, but am otherwise good company.

24 minutes walking outside
Matthew 13-20

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Book Slut

I've already mentioned how it took a long time to get through my progressive books. Well, I am currently in the middle of my last November book (Native American heritage month), meaning I have not even started my February list yet (Black History month). This is partly due to being overly ambitious. I am generally reading about two and a half books a month, so if I assign myself four or five for one month, I am setting myself up for failure.

However, this would not be enough to get me as far behind as I am. That is more a matter of literary promiscuity.

I am not saying I have no standards at all. Every now and then I get a crack at a book that I turn down. (The last two were The Time Travelers Wife and Requiem for a Dream, based on flipping through pages and seeing that I would not enjoy them), but usually, I'm not really a "no" kind of girl.

Let's examine the start of my "months" going awry. I finished Perfectly Legal on August 27th, indicating that I started late. I was supposed to get to What's the Matter with Kansas next, but Julie had checked out Last Words, by George Carlin, and I had to read that. We love George. I got back on track, finishing Kansas and Free Lunch in September, at which point I figured I would be bleeding into October, but still done before November started and it was time for Native American heritage.

Well, then a dear friend loaned us two books, The Big Year by Mark Obmascik and The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Obviously you have to get loaners read, and then my sisters also checked out Who Killed my Daughter, by Lois Duncan, because it was true crime, and recommended by Ann Rule, and set in New Mexico, which they had visited. I enjoyed all of them, but I did not get through The Wrecking Crew until November 4th.

That was still not that awful, and since I finished Wealth and Our Commonwealth on the 12th, there was no reason not to start on Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee right away, except that The Unthinkable (Amanda Ripley), had just come through after being on hold. Around then, I also found out a certain friend was in jail, and I really needed to read Losing My Cool (Thomas Chatterton Williams) to see if it would be good for him (and it was--he's been loaning it to the other prisoners), plus I needed to read Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow (which I cannot send to him because it would be too depressing). Oh, and there was this one book that I thought would be good for a newsletter I needed to write, and then my sisters checked out this Rob Sheffield book, and then his other book, and seeing Ann Rule speak led to both reading me one we already owned and us putting her new one on hold, which came through again. Add to that three other books that one or both of my sisters wanted to read, and one that a friend loaned, and you see how it goes.

It's just very hard for me to say "no" to a book (unless it's awful), and I do go looking for distractions everywhere. One of the most annoying things about those e-readers is that you can't even see what other people are reading. I mean, the last two times I chatted up guys on public transportation it was about books (speeches of Malcolm X and Qigong). I mean, how am I supposed to get my flirt on?

So yes, I do get sidetracked along my reading path, but that's okay. For one thing, in most of these cases it is because of my sisters or friends, so that just gives us more connection, and more things to talk about.

Also, no matter how many books I have not gotten to yet, each book adds to the whole--and they do relate. So Katherine of Aragon was Ferdinand and Isabella's daughter! Of course! Or, oh, that tradition goes back to 18th century maritime trade. How interesting.

The destination keeps jumping farther out, but it's a good journey.

20 minutes walking inside
Matthew 7 - 12

Monday, May 02, 2011

Task: Goodreads

I really love I was suspicious of another social networking site, because Facebook should really be enough, but I love books and I thought I would try it out. I'm so glad I did.

The social part of it is fun. Sometimes I will add a book, or a review of a book, and see other friends add it to their lists, and I like that. I will add on the recommendation of others as well, so it's very mutual. It is fun seeing who is reading what, and what they thought about it. To some extent it fills the void left by the dissolution of my book club. So really, that part is great, but it came later, and would probably have not been enough of a draw on its own.

What really pulled me in was the ability to sort my reading lists, and that's where the task came in. You see, I always want to read more books than I can immediately get to. Frequent inspiration came from the Oregonian book review section, Smithsonian magazine bibliographies (which they don't really do anymore), and one memorable summer reading column by Georgie Ann Geyer.

Tracking was hard. I printed out the column, and scrawled things in a notebook, and as I became more digital I created a Word document where I would write book information. I later added an Amazon wish list to track new books, but I didn't really want the books as gifts--I just wanted to remember to read them.

Suddenly, Goodreads created a great way of putting them all in one place, and the task was to get that done. It was a bit tedious, but this is one of the goals that I actually accomplished fairly quickly.

This is one area where I became impressed with Goodreads, because they had almost everything. I think the only things I could not find were a Lao-language history book, and another book that was really old, and may not have been published normally. It was a huge step up.

It also became very clear how far in over my head I was with my book desires, because as I finished I was at about a 3:1 ratio of book to read versus books read, and I have not been able to shake that. I'm sure I have not entered every book I have read yet, but I have not entered every book I want to read either, so clearly that's just how it's going to be.
Still, I am reading more, and this is another way that the site really helps. It is so easy to find ideas for what to read next. It's true there are other factors there. I have time to read on my evening commute, which I did not before, and by the grace of Maria's frequent trips to the Cedar Mill library, and their extensive collection, I have means and opportunity added to my motive. It is a beautiful thing.

So my reading is more prolific and more organized, and I have to credit Goodreads for that. If I want to enter Steve Duin’s reading contest for this year, I can easily see what was read and check the page count. I do still have one little problem though. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, come friend me on Goodreads. I have awesome shelves!

39 minutes walking outside
Matthew 1-6 and James

Sunday, May 01, 2011

My Progressive Reading Month

In honor of May Day—which honors the eight-hour workday, the Haymarket Incident, and attracts all manner of socialists, communists, and anarchists—it seemed like a good time to go over the contents of my progressive reading month.

Why a progressive reading month? Well, having this renewed library access has been great, and combined with being able to keep my reading list organized via GoodReads (more on that later), I have been making more of a point of getting to books that I have always intended to read. There were a handful that I tended to associate together, which related to modern politics and money, I guess. Since I had my Black History month in February, and was going to do my Native America Heritage month in November, I decided that I would put my progressive books together in August. It would be my progressive reading month, which at times I called my socialist reading month, my liberal reading month, and I might have even called it my communist reading month.

The first thing I should say is that I can’t really just decide to read four or five books in a single month and expect it to happen with no distractions (again, more on that later). I did not actually finish the last book until November 12th. Anyway, let’s go over what they were.

One potential advantage to procrastinating is that you can then read the original book and its follow-up close together. Therefore, I read two books each by David Cay Johnston and Thomas Frank. Here is the total list in the order read:

Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich – and Cheat Everybody Else, by David Cay Johnston

What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, by Thomas Frank

Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense, by David Cay Johnston

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, by Thomas Frank

Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes, by William H Gates and Chuck Collins

How do they stack up?

Most fluid/interesting reads: What’s the Matter with Kansas and Free Lunch
Driest reads: Wealth and our Commonwealth, followed by Perfectly Legal—that’s what happens when you write about tax code.
Most important to read: The Wrecking Crew and Free Lunch (they are also the most appalling)
I can’t say they really changed my political philosophy at all, so that’s not why you would read them, but a lot of what they did was provide context on things that I already see are happening, but this is how it got there, and why. I have to say they were all pretty well written, and very educational, and I wish everyone who complains about government spending would read Free Lunch. To be fair, a lot of that is more state and local spending than federal, but if you consider that all of the money comes from somewhere, and that there is a finite amount to cover needs, then those spending issues are really very important.

One point that Johnston repeatedly made in Perfectly Legal was that for all those who evade paying taxes, there is more that the rest of us need to pay. I had looked at it more as just there being less funds available in general, but since we are spending over budget, and accumulating interest, which we do need to pay, well, he may be on to something.

One of the most interesting unexpected lessons was from Wealth and Our Commonwealth, regarding the push by the right to get people to refer to the estate tax as the “death tax”. They had something like swear jars where interns would have to put in money any time someone used a term other than “death tax”, which would fund pizza parties. Words are powerful, because they are how we form thoughts, and the words that get used are not random.

The most discouraging part of all the reading is that there did not really seem to be much in the way of solutions. Johnston focuses primarily on getting people better informed, which seems pretty hopeless. Even if you had a knowledgeable general population, you still need to overcome apathy and systemic roadblocks, but getting people in the age of willful ignorance to pay attention to facts? To read? I just don’t know if I have that much optimism handy.

That leads to a very sad quote, which came from Wealth and Our Commonwealth:
“In 1879, Henry George published Progress and Poverty, a book chronicling the dangers of consolidated land ownership. This remarkable book, which would today be considered too dense to enjoy a wide readership, sold over 1 million copies, and excerpts were serialized in several popular magazines." (Pp 32-33, emphasis mine)

I’m sure they’re right, but it makes me sad.

Mosiah 26-29 (as part of family scripture study)
Walked outside for 36 minutes