Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Complete

I believe I can call Thanksgiving over...and a success. My family didn't kill each other. Ten people were fed the classic meal. The Aggies beat the Longhorns.

And I still didn't run. I really have got to do something about that. But not until after that new James Bond movie.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Getting to the Same Page

My husband and I may actually be approaching the same page as far as family plans go. Shocking, I know. "Approaching," you ask? Let me explain.

We got married young, so neither of us were ready for a family then. And then I was, but he wasn't. And then I decided he was neurotic and I didn't want kids with him. And that made him want kids (have I ever mentioned that he can be a bit of a contrarian sometimes?). Then I still thought he'd be neurotic, but likely to be the kind of neurotic that leads to fun parents. You know, the dad that all the kids down the street think is cool because he knows lots of projects to blow up ... I mean ... *try* out in the back yard. Yep, that's him. The Bill Nye, the Science Guy type. Of course, this made him decide he's not parent material.

So back and forth we go. One week I might want kids and he doesn't, and the next week we've flip-flopped. It's like two wave functions slowly converging. One of these weeks, I predict we will both want kids at the same time or both not want kids at the same time. I can't tell which side of the debate our wave function will end up on, but it's nice that we're approaching some kind of agreement.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Unpopular Sentiment

I have been trying to figure out lately why I am so disturbed by all the initiatives surrounding convicted sexual offenders.

For a while now, we've had Megan's Law requiring registration and community notification of all convicted adult sexual offenders with victims under 17. In recent local news, there are now cries for some way of notifying the "people who need to know" if a juvenile sexual offender is out of jail. Even more recently, punishment was handed down to include wearing a shirt in public places to declare the convicted man's status as a sexual predator.

To me, this seems to be getting a bit overboard.

Now, this doesn't mean I'm a supporter of sex crimes, or that I don't want to protect our nation's children, or that I think criminals' rights are more important than victims' right. But expressing any opposition to any of these proposals or laws is viewed exactly that way. Thus, no useful debate can be done on these topics. And so, our politicians have to continue to support every stupid piece of legislation that comes along on this topic. Really, which congressperson wants to go back to their constituency and try to get re-elected when they voted against Megan's Law? The public outcry would be uncontrollable.

Anytime that people are afraid to speak up against the majority, the majority oversteps reasonable bounds. So, here I am, speaking up against the absurdity of this line of policy-making. Please try not to skin me alive for my opinion. At least beat me to death before you skin me. I think that would hurt less.

I guess my biggest concern is about the notification that occurs for sexual offenders when they move into a new area. It's as if we're saying it's more important to know that a previous sexual offender that has been released from prison has moved in than a murderer or a person convicted of DUI or drug dealers or anything else. Why can't a sexual offender give out candy (and there is major public outcry trying to make sure everyone knows and makes sure they keep their porch light off), but we apparently don't worry about any other criminals coming into contact with our kids.

It sends the message, in my mind, that sexual offenders are the only criminals that aren't rehabilitatable (I hope that's a word). If that's not true, then let them reassimilate into society without the shameful sign hanging around their neck. If we don't make other criminals list their rap sheet on their sleeve, don't make these folks do so either. However, it's possible that we don't think they'll ever turn from their sex crime ways, but if that's the sentiment, then why are the punishments for these crimes so small compared to other crimes? If we really think we can't make these criminals safe for reentry into mainstream society, then why can't we sentence them to life in prison or to death? I'm not talking about death penalty as a legitimate punishment here, but if we use it for other crimes, why not these? As I was doing "research" (it's hard to think of internet searching as research -- no library, no card catalog, you know) for this piece, I came across someone who apparently questions this, as well. I'll be interested to see what happens with some of those pieces of legislation here in Texas.

The other concern I have on this is that general movement by this country to offload the raising of our children to public officials. Teachers, police, and others are expected to carry more of this load than parents. I'm not wholesale blaming parents for their child's molestation -- of course there are unavoidable situations. I'm just saying that parents shouldn't let their kids stay the weekend at Neverland. Beyond the highly publicized stranger encounters, though, most sexually oriented crimes occur in the family. And family incidents tend not to be prosecuted but hidden as part of that family's "skeletons in the closet." If they're not prosecuted, you can't be warned unless the family talks about it (unlikely).

I just don't want parents to get a false sense of security that with all these regulations that their children become "safe." Continue to be vigilant, and good luck!

Fast-Tracked Life

This was originally an entry better suited for HIAH Jealousy.

I have some friends that, apparently, have decided that having as many milestones as possible in as short a time as possible is a good thing. Just eighteen months ago, we were the three musketeers -- we worked together, went out together, watched sporting events together, and teased each other. We had dubbed the male group member an honorary woman, and we enjoyed talking with each other about just about everything.

Then, last August they started dating each other. I guess I should have seen it coming, but I was suprised. And apparently, I was the only one. Most people realize that when two single people spend so much time together that an attraction is nearly inevitable. I was so convinced they acted like brother and sister. Note to self: don't try to read relationships -- you're not good at it.

In February, they got engaged. This I did see coming, so I wasn't surprised. They decided not to wait a long time to get married, so last April, they tied the knot. Many people assume a two-month engagement means a shotgun wedding, but that was not the case here. They just saw no reason to drag it out -- just get started living their marriage as soon as possible.

In June, he left his stable, but not advanceable, job to go work for a company in New York. In August, they bought a house. At this point, many of us started pointing out that of the most stressful things that one can do in their life, they had just done the top three in four months (getting married, moving, and changing jobs). They agreed that things were crazy and they were looking forward to things settling down and getting some work done on their house.

Then the morning sickness started, and all was confirmed -- they're pregnant, and expecting the week after their first anniversary. They joke that they're glad they did things in the "right" order, but you can tell they're a little overwhelmed with the speed of change in their lives. Are they excited though? No, they're ecstatic.

I only have two questions -- what milestone comes next? And what are they waiting for?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Supporting Veterans

Yesterday was Veteran's day, and I thought briefly about the veterans I'm related to, to see if there was anyone I needed to call and thank for their service. One grandfather was in the Army in the Pacific theatre of WWII, but he died in 2000. The other grandfather was in the Air Corps in mostly Africa in WWII, but he died in 1986. Both of my husband's grandfathers also served in WWII, and are both also dead. I have no aunts or uncles that were veterans, and my dad found ways to avoid the draft (including going to seminary), so no dice there. So, I quietly thanked all the folks that serve/have served in the military, national guard, police force, firefighting lines, and the like. But I didn't worry about calling any relatives to thank them personally.

And then today, I remembered my sister is in the Navy. What kind of a terrible person does that make me?

In my defense, she's in school on the east coast pursuing a degree so they can make her an officer faster than the 20 years it would have taken her as an enlisted person. So, I think of my sister in college working on a nuclear engineering degree (which she insists on calling nuk-u-lur, since her "commander-in-chief pronounces it that way"), rather than as a member of the active military. Of course, she is an active military member, and has been so for five years, this month. She is a talented person, though, and has managed to not have ever been stationed on a ship, or anywhere outside of the continental US in her years in the Navy.

Also in my defense, she'd likely be offended if I called her to thank her for her service to her country. This has actually been a point of contention between her and our dad in the past years. He is so proud to have a member of the military in the family that he asks her to bring her dress uniform home with her so she can wear it to church. And she doesn't want to be paraded around as some sort of statement. She also feels really bad being viewed as a military member when she hasn't experienced the kinds of things that her colleagues from boot camp have endured. She feels that degrades their contributions to recognize her for hers.

So, while she's in the Navy, I'll continue to be thankful for all the other folks that are serving currently in scary places in the world. And I won't worry too much that I didn't call her yesterday. But if I had, I would have asked her how that Fluids class was going, rather than talking about Veteran's day.

Marathon Training: Week 16

Technically, week 16 finished yesterday with me completing a grand total of zero miles. There are a lot of things that led to this less-than-stellar week in my marathon training. I had a lot of things go wrong at work, and found myself working a lot of extra hours. I did, however, have every intention of running the easy-week-seven-miler yesterday morning, but my Saturday got away from me. I got up and found that RC had commented on a previous post, so I went over to take a look. And then I got sucked in. See, I thought I'd like to add a link to his blog, but I can't add a link to my sidebar unless I've read the full contents of said site, so I got to reading. I'll stop short of blaming him for my not doing my run, but I'm sure that you can see that if it hadn't been there, I wouldn't have had the distraction. After I finished reading there, it was time to meet friends to see Stranger Than Fiction, and after that we had to watch the second end-of-the-game one point loss for the Aggies in as many weeks. By then, there wasn't enough Saturday left to do the run.

But I did it this afternoon. And it went great. Of course, now that I did Saturday's run on Sunday, I have a decision to make. Do I skip the regularly scheduled Sunday run, and do it on Monday or skip the Sunday run altogether? My general plan on these questions is just to pick back up on the regularly scheduled run for the day. The only reason I shifted the run today was to get that long run in there.

I'm really not sure why I'm finding myself so unmotivated to continue to run my runs these last few weeks. Maybe I'm realizing just how slow I am and getting depressed. My guess is that I'm getting bored with not enough variety in my workouts. As a result, this week I will be modifying my workout schedule to really mix some other stuff in there.

Now, can I kickstart my training if I know I'm trying to kickstart my training? Is that one of those things where because I know what I'm doing, I can't outsmart myself?

Problems with Drafting

I promise that this is not a post about bicyle racing.

Instead, I am starting to notice an issue with writing a first draft of a post, and then planning to go back and review it to finalize it and post it, but I never do. And after a month or two, the content is no longer relevant or I have no desire to finish the post, or whatever, and that post falls into the blogbog, never to be heard from again.

Why don't I finish posts when I start them? Sometimes I don't have time to finish it all the way. Sometimes I'm worried that I've posted too much at one time and then that will lead to weeks of nothing to post about. Sometimes I'm still trying to think through some of the thoughts before I post something rambling and without a coherent argument. Other times I'm concerned I've written a post that's too revealing or belongs on a blog entitled HIAHSelfishness or HIAHMeanness or HIAHCynicism. Regardless, the result is the same: the post never sees the light of the blog.

I hadn't really been able to understand why this phenomenon was occurring, until I read this post from an author whose blog I stumbled onto. As Ms. Cabot points out from her experiences (she actually hates outlining, not drafting):

But the truth is, story ideas don't come along often, and when they do, you have to treat them with care. Outlining them too thoroughly—even TALKING about them too much over coffee with a friend--can actually ruin them, because it can make you feel as if the story is already told.

I kinda feel this way about some of my posts. Maybe it's just because blog posts are generally so short that it seems silly to go through an editing/review phase. It could also be because I don't possess the discipline to draft and edit. I don't really know, since I haven't done much writing beyond college papers, technical documentation, and custom work estimates.

I'm now going to save this as a draft so I can go get ready and get to church on time. :)

- - -

I'm back now. I edited a few things above, but mostly I'm done now. I just want to let you know that I will no longer be saving my posts as drafts to be reviewed and finished later. I will also be working through my current backlog of posts that are in various stages of completeness, and getting those out there. I hope you'll enjoy a little more raw posting, and a little less cleaned up versions of the random crap in my brain.

Thoughts on Blogging

I've decided I must not be committed enough to the blogging concept. It appears that most of the interesting blogs I read (rather than the ones that aren't interesting) do a whole lot more stuff than I do here at HIAHS.

Pictures: Other bloggers seem to use pictures. We have a digital camera, but it is always in my husband's possession, so I never have access to it. Taking film pictures and scanning them is just silly. I could search for associated pictures on the internet, but am (apparently) too lazy to figure out how to add that to my blog. I'm just words with nothing pretty to look at.

Tags: Other bloggers categorize their posts to allow for better searching of their content. There are custom categories, and technorati categories, and del.i.cious categories, and other bloggers use these nifty little tools. This has just always seemed like too much effort to get started (do I have to recategorize all my old posts, etc.), and so I haven't done it.

Counters: Other bloggers know how many people come to read their blogs. It seems they also know what domain those folks came from (allowing extrapolation to country of origina, etc.). I went looking for one of those nifty programs once before, but the first one I found cost money, so I quit looking.

Searches: Other bloggers know what searches are used to allow people to find their blogs. This seems to be linked to the previous part about counters -- maybe it's the same software? Regardless, I don't really think people find my blog randomly, so I don't imagine there are too many interesting search criteria used to get here.

Then, there is the fact that a lot of other folks just seem to post way more often than I do. They either have way more interesting lives, or they find topics or regular themes or something else to motivate additional post-fodder. I know we're all supposed to live our own lives and not worry about keeping up with the Joneses, but I just keep asking myself why I go to other people's blogs, and whether there are some things I could do to make my blog more appealing to the masses.

And then I realize that would take a lot of time and effort. Time and effort that I'm not really willing to commit to blogging. And so my few readers will continue to be stuck with no pictures, no categorization of posts, no counters, and no recaps of what searches brought readers here. And I will continue to be content that my posts don't garner 50 comments apiece. And I'll keep enjoying reading the blogs of people who do choose to spend that much time on their blogs. And I'll stop starting sentences with "And."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hour Long Commute

This past week, there was a day where it took me an hour to get to work. Generally my commute is more like 15-20 minutes, and when traffic gets really bad it might take 30 minutes, instead. But this particular day, it wasn't a traffic problem that delayed me. However, I was a traffic problem delaying some other folks in their commutes.

I was waiting at a stoplight in the right-hand lane, but a ways back in the line. As I sat there, my car sputtered and died. I tried to start it again, but it wouldn't go. And then the light turned green, and I was blocking traffic. Had I been moving, I could have coasted into a parking lot, but there's not much coasting to be done from a standstill. So, what does a person do next in this situation? Turn on the flashers, put the car in neutral, and try to push it. Now, I don't have a small car, but a massively heavy car. I didn't make much progress -- maybe a centimeter or so. A man got out of his car and helped push. We made more progress that way, but still not enough. Then another man emerged to help, and then another, and then another. With four folks pushing and me just steering at that point, we got the car into a parking space in just a few minutes. One of the guys offered to call a tow truck and a woman pulled over and asked if I needed a ride. I politely declined both offers, and gushingly thanked everyone for their help as they were all running off to get to their own jobs, no doubt. I have to say that I was completely overwhelmed by the number of people who stopped to help a stupid girl who ran out of gas a block and a half from the gas station. I just would never have expected that to happen. Certainly was a nice surprise. Thanks, Austin!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Marathon Training: Week 15

This was a good week for running. There were a couple of days that were colder than I like, but my husband even joined me for one of the four-miles runs during the week, so it was fun. Lots of firsts this week:

  • First time I ran a marathon in a single week. Actually 28 miles.
  • During my long run, I matched my previous long run of 11 miles,
  • And then I completed the 12 miles I was supposed to do two weeks ago,
  • And then I completed my first half-marathon,
  • On my way to completing a 14-mile long run.

    I did cheat a little, employing that staple of the endurance athlete, GU. But considering how badly I cratered in my last long run, I decided that wimping out was less bad than sitting on the side of the road trying to have enough energy to continue.