Thursday, August 31, 2006

Warning Signs Needed

For the last few months, my husband has been complaining about his job. He doesn't enjoy it anymore and he hates his boss and he has no freedom to do his work, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. This attitude has also affected his work, and people in his office have said things that sound like they know he's not going to last much longer, either. Just to go with that, though, about every other day for a while there he kept coming home saying he almost quit.

In these past few weeks, the project they've been working on all year is coming to completion. Please don't ask me to explain the project. It's something necessary in astronomy-land, and that will just have to be enough information. He and a handful of other folks on the project have been working increasing numbers of hours to try and make last Monday's deadline, which they didn't. He's been going to work between 9 and 10am, and coming home between 2 and 4am. Every day. Trying to get this thing done. And things are not going well.

So after a week of this, and an increasingly tired husband and an increasingly tired Heather (it's hard to sleep when you don't know when your husband is coming home), he calls me at work yesterday afternoon.

Hubby> What are your plans tonight?
Heather> I thought I'd help a friend unpack some stuff after moving. Why? What's up?
Hubby> Well...I don't have to work tonight. Or tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. Can I cook you dinner or something?
Heather> Really? Um...sure...dinner would be nice. What's going on?
Hubby> I gotta go pack up my things and go home. See you tonight!

I don't know how you interpret a call like that, but I will tell you he sounded forcibly cheery, and he never calls me at work. I was sure he no longer had a job. But I had to know whether he quit or whether his employer decided he was done. It took me an hour to get back in touch with him. Apparently, the project was scrapped, not his job. Ack! Where was my Crazy Husband Warning Sign?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Odd Sounds

I woke up this morning to a very odd sound -- thunder. I got up to watch a bit of lightning before the rain started. Lightning is so pretty, and it's such an awe-inspiring force. After the light and sound show lasted for a few minutes, the rain started. And not that annoying kind of rain that's really too hard and can't get into the dirt before it drains away and then stops after 5 minutes. No, this was the kind of drenching rain that makes yard-owners everywhere smile. The kind of slow rain that could last an hour or more, and keep you from having to water the yard for at least a week.

I can't remember the last time we had a really good thunderstorm, but I love it when it does. It smells like heat all stirred up, and just seems cathartic and cleansing. Mmmmmm.... summer rains.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Retrospective of a Retrospective

Last weekend we celebrated my dad's 25 years as an ordained pastor. His current church had a big dinner with stories and presents and a song their music director wrote that was pretty funny. People from some of his old churches came, too, which was nice. I found that I've been disconnected from my parents' regular church life for so long that I only knew maybe ten people in the room. And five of them were people to whom I'm related.

So for me, the bulk of the evening was me watching the looping slideshow of pictures from my dad's life, basically since my parents were married (since those are the pictures my mom had for them to use). As the first child, there are lots of pictures with me in them, quite a few less for my sister, and then it picks back up a bit for pictures of the baby sister. It must be one of those phenomena that when you have more people in the family that are capable of using a camera, it cancels out birth order in the standard decline in the number of pictures for each subsequent child. Regardless, I really enjoyed watching pictures of my family's life progressing from the mid-seventies when my parents were these cute little hippies. My dad had long curly hair, and he was slim back then. My mom also had long hair, and I'm sure there were pictures where she wasn't wearing a bra, despite the number of times she says she didn't participate in that particular social protest. Then there's pictures of me, and I was an awfully cute baby. And then my parents began to turn into the roly-poly folks they are now. I did this to them, you see.

Anyway, that was the part that was fun for me. Reminiscing about when times were good and when times were really not so good, but looking at how life progresses through pictures, and what kinds of things those pictures cause a person to remember. Oh, and laughter at my dad's expense. That's always fun.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Marathon Training: Week 5

This was a tough week for me for running. There were two days when I just didn't want to get up and run. I'm glad I did, and feel better for it, but it became apparent how much harder this week was than last week's easy set of runs. I ended up skipping one of the two optional runs, and that made me a bit sad. Regardless, I did run seventeen miles this week, which is certainly a Heather-record. Never ran that much in so few days. Maybe 17 days, but not 7.

The thing I noticed most during my runs this week was that trash day is a really yucky day to run. Previously, I hadn't been running in neighborhoods as much as I am now, and the morning I had to run by 100s of trash cans made me want to puke more than any of my runs come anywhere close to doing. Ick.

Note to self: Run at the gym or around the track on trash day. Or drive somewhere that has a different trash day than my neighborhood.

Also, it's amazing how big everyone's trash cans really are. We have the smallest bin you can get from the city, and I can safely say it is not a popular size in our area. There were probably fifteen to twenty of the big gray ones for every one little green one. In other areas, they might even use the gigantic brown ones, but I didn't see any of those during this week's Run With the Trash.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I love numbers. It's geeky and silly, but I love to think about numbers and patterns and do math in my head.

When my car reached mileage of 123456, I stopped on the side of the road and admired it. If I'd had a camera I'd've taken a picture. I notice odometer readings of 141414 and 112358 and ... you get the picture.

I had long decided that 27 was the best birthday, it being the most recent cubic birthday. It'll be a while till I get to the next one (64), and virtually impossible to get to the one after that (125). Of course, 30 is 3 cubed plus 3.

I stand in my bathroom and multiply lengths and widths to figure out how many tiles there are. I estimate my grocery bill as I put things in the basket, calculating the appropriate tax as I go along. When I go on a road trip, I figure out my MPG in my head and my average speed. I also like to calculate how many minutes to the next town based on my estimated speed, and see how close I get.

It started in highschool, when I was on the Texaco Challenge team, and had to learn lots of number sense types of tricks in order to do math in my head quickly. Things like 23 x 27 = 621 because 25 squared is 625 (tens digit (2) times one bigger (3) with 25 stuck on the end) minus 2 squared, since each the multiplier and the multiplicand are 2 away from 25. I like multiplying things by 11, too. As an extra measurement of my mathematical geekiness, I lettered in UIL calculator (I lettered in band, too, but we digress into other kinds of geekiness), but rather than get a letter jacket, I convinced my school to purchase my first HP calculator: a 32SII with reverse polish notation which I still have and use.

As school starts back into session this fall, I wonder what student out there is just starting into a love of numbers or words or something else that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Good luck to all those students and their teachers this year!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Marathon Training: Week 4

This week was a rest week. It's apparently important to rest every fourth week to prevent injury. As part of the plan, I only ran on Monday, Wednesday and today -- nine miles this week. The most interesting thing about that was that on Thursday I woke up and really wanted to run, but I wasn't allowed to. I didn't expect that to happen, and it surprised me. My long run this week was four miles -- the same as last week's. But I ran it three minutes faster this week, basically without trying. My run today felt good, and I was happy to be out on the streets. At the end of the run, I had gotten so into a rhythm that I really didn't want to stop, and walking felt foreign to my legs. If this is how they feel now, how much more will it be like that when I'm running real distances?

I've talked about how you see different things when you're on foot insted of in a car or on a bike. Today I noticed the house with the gutter cleaning advertisement sign in their yard, but no gutters. It was a funny little juxtaposition.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Latest New Toy

My latest new toy is like a heartrate monitor with a GPS in it. I've taken it out running the last couple times I've run, and I love it.

I love it because I can run anywhere and know how far I've gone without driving it in my car afterwards. It's all the information that the treadmill gives you that I really like to have (pace, distance, heartrate), with the flexibility of running on the road. And the road is a much more interesting place to run.

As I've been running on the road, I've found that it's surprising how much detail I see in my surroundings. And, more surprising, there is a ton of detail that is different depending on the direction and side of the street that I'm running on. I just wouldn't have expected it. I sort of thought that since I'm moving so much slower that that would determine how much I'd see, but that perspective thingy does a lot to that.

Anyway, better get out to my morning run.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Birthday Recap

This past week was pretty much consumed with birthday celebrating. Lots of it. Here's the recap.

Monday: Went out to dinner with my best friend here in Austin. We went out for fondue and girly drinks. So we ate and imbibed, and laughed excessively to the probable annoyance of those around us.

Tuesday: My husband and I went for really good steaks, and nice conversation just the two of us. It was very pleasant and relaxing.

Friday: Having nothing to do with my birthday, but adding to the celebratory nature of the week, my department at work went out to the lake for the afternoon and enjoyed barbecue and watersports. I hadn't skied in years, but I had a blast. I left a little early to take Shiner to his new home. Yep, he got adopted, and doesn't live at our humble abode any longer. Afterwards, my family arrived from Dallas, including my crazy sister from North Carolina. She had lined up this giant bogus story about going to a wedding in Bulgaria for the week, and how that was preventing her from coming here, but that's what her plan was all along. We went for Thai food at Titaya's, and even got one of our friends to lose his Thai food virginity (he approves).

Saturday: For brunch, the family all went for dim sum, which is a requirement for my birthday celebrating, since I have history in Hong Kong. Afterwards, my parents went home, leaving my sisters here for the afternoon's party. The inflatable cross between a moon-jump-thingy and a slip-n-slide arrived just after two, so we had some time to test it out before folks showed up. My other half went and picked up the fajitas and was generally awesome about setting up all the food. About 30 people came, and we had a blast. My best friend from college came up from Houston to celebrate, and it was great to see her. There ended up being more kids than I expected, so that was good, because the old people tired out after a few rounds. No serious injuries, which I think means people didn't consume an over-abundance of alcohol. By 9 I was completely wiped out, and we were down to less than ten people at that point. Someone suggested sixth street, and I just groaned. I guess that's me, getting older and not having the stamina I used to have.

Anyway, it was a great week of fun with lots of good company and food. Maybe I just enjoyed it because it was all about me, but regardless, it was good times.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Marathon Training: Week 3

This week was tough to keep up with all the runs with friends buying a house, family coming in town, and way too many days of birthday celebrating. I heard someone say that they always celebrate a birthday week, and I came pretty close for this year's entry.

Regardless, I completed 11 miles, including my 4 mile long run on Saturday. In two of the runs this week I had knee and shin pain, so I think I will need to strengthen the fronts of my shins in the coming weeks. No actual injury -- just crankiness of the legs. My right knee continues to pop periodically, so it's a good thing that the rest week is coming up.

There were two runs this week that were optional that I opted out of, and I'm disappointed as a result. But, I was encouraged that the 4-mile run was straightforward and uneventful, even if I did start out a little too fast.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Thirty is Where It's At

Today I turned 30. This is, apparently, supposed to be a very traumatic day for me, but it has not been that way. I haven't really worried about birthdays and getting older since the 25th, or so. They're just not that big a deal anymore. But, expectations are that these decadal celebrations are monumental, so I'm having the prerequisite week-long celebration, culminating in a party this weekend. And it's a lot of fun, but I don't really feel old. Or wise. Just thought I'd let you know.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Marathon Training: Week 2

Week 1 was pretty non-anything, so I didn't bother to write about it. I walked a lot, since I hadn't run in quite some time. Now, I've just finished Week 2 of the training program, and I feel pretty good about it. Galloway's method suggests short runs through the week, and one long run on the weekend. The long run increases over the weeks, until you have completed marathon distance two weeks before the actual race. He also stresses the need for rest, whether through days off, or through shorter distances when you've done longer ones. He tries to teach you about good running form, and about how to avoid injury. I haven't finished reading it, but I am seeing that this book would make a really good reference book or would be a beneficial re-read every year, or so, of running. You just learn more about yourself as you run, and different parts of the book would resonate during later parts of your running career.

I am learning to run aerobically, but it seems really slow most of the time. It seems that most of my previous running experience was way too fast, leading to why I've never much liked running, and always thought it was significantly harder than any other kind of exercise. As a result, my current running speed is about the same speed as walking. Seems kinda pathetic, but I have to build up the capillary systems to support the blood flow that is necessary for long-distance running, and that's not going to happen if I'm forcing my body to run without enough oxygen.

I just came back from my "long" run for week 2 -- 3 miles in a whopping 44 minutes. Overall for the week, I ran just over 11 miles, but the big thing was the form workout on Wednesday. Did you know there is a specific technique to running properly? I jest a bit, but I think I always assumed each person would settle into what was comfortable and correct for them and their body. Not sure why I thought that, since it's never been true for gymnastics or swimming or anything else I've ever done physically. But running seems so natural, and people have been doing it for so long, that it just seemed innate. Apparently, not for me. I was running leaning way too far back, putting an inordinate amount of strain on my quadriceps to carry me through. Instead, I am working on improving the amount of bounce off my ankles, which makes running feel almost uplifting and fun. It will take some time, because my calves aren't strong enough yet, but this could be a big boon to my overall running enjoyment.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Trying Out New Products

When my sister came to vist in June (the crazy one, not the one that's still in high school), she brought an enormous suitcase for two nights, and we made fun of her. Only slightly kidding, she pointed out that it was lighter when she went back home. See, she's that girl who expects to leave things behind when she visits someone.

This visit, among the things she left were a razor and 4 unused blades. When I called her to get her address to send them back, she assured me she had four others, because she tends to leave them places, and I didn't need to mail it to her. So I didn't. And, being the frugal girl that I am, I decided to use them. I didn't use the blade she had been using -- I used a fresh one. But I figured there was no need for those four brand new blades to go into the trash can, when they'd never done anything to anybody.

So, I present to you, my findings on the Gillette Fusion -- it rocks. I've never had a razor that I could use on a regular basis without cutting myself at least every other time I shaved. I have no idea whether that's the extra blades, or whether there is any benefit of the battery-powered massage action (it feels good, so I've never tried shaving without turning it on). It's just shocking to me that I now haven't cut myself shaving in nearly two months -- and not because I stopped shaving for those two months.

I very seldom am impressed with a product, so I just wanted to share my findings. Take them with a grain of salt, but don't plan to cut yourself on them.