Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Giving In To Google

I am not technologically savvy.

That is a gross understatment. I have, however, found a way to co-exist with technology. Or so I thought.

Until now.

Google and I have been involved in an escalation of hostilities that has me reaching for a white flag of surrender. I'm not sure who started it (Google did), but my own hubris (totally Google's fault) may have played a part.

I recently started using Google Docs and Gmail more and I thought we were getting along pretty well-ish. Life was good-ish. We were happy-ish.

My only problem was that I couldn't access my Gmail from my cell phone. I could pull up the Gmail log-in screen on my browser (Google) and type in my password – luring me in with a false sense of progress – only to be crushed by the pulsing blue line of death.

Then I discovered the Gmail app for my android phone.

The clouds parted, the heavens opened, and a chorus of angels sang.

I downloaded and installed the app.

I logged in to one of my Gmail accounts.

Then I switched to another.

Then I tried to log out.

Then Gmail told me I needed a lock screen.

So I added a lock screen.

And I tried to log out.

But I had to log in before I could log out. And I couldn't log in because Gmail told me I needed to upgrade my program. But I couldn't upgrade because I needed to back up my information first but I didn't have room to back up anything because I needed an upgrade which could only happen if I logged out and I couldn't log out until I logged in and . . . .

So I uninstalled Gmail from my phone.

Except that I didn't.

And it kept reminding me that I needed to upgrade.

And back up.

And add a lock screen.

And log out.

So I re-installed, lock screened, logged in, logged out, uninstalled and unlocked.

And then my calendar was wiped clean.

As in, all past, present and future engagements were gone.

All of them.


I can live without accessing Gmail from my phone. But my calendar? Most (all) of the time I can't remember what day of the week it is, let alone what I am supposed to be doing. Having an electronic calendar on my phone has been a life saver – especially since I figured out how to save appointments on it (usually).

I decided to try to access my Google account from my laptop to see if my calendar had been saved there.

Google told me I needed to add a new gmail to my account before I could do anything. But it can't be one of the FIVE gmail account names I already have (between part-time jobs and personal) because those are already taken. By me.

I lost my temper.

“Flock yourself, Google!” I said. Or something that sounded like that.

I'm sorry. I wasn't listening. What would you like me to do?”

The Voice-Activated Google Assistant on my phone – the same VAGA that can't understand me when I am speaking Slow. Ly. And. Clear. Ly. And. Di. Rect. Ly into the microphone – suddenly decided to answer me from across the room.

I nearly wet my pants.

It's the computer-buddy equivalent of “would you like to step outside and settle this?”

Rather than risk having my phone open a can of whoop-ass on me, I've decided to spend the rest of the day trying to sort out my various Google accounts.

It's not like I have anything else to do.

I mean, my calendar is clear.

Monday, May 13, 2019

First Run Move(y)

Day 8 of Fit in 42

As part of my campaign to – as King Julian puts it – “move it, move it” (also sometimes known as “procrastination, nation”), I went for a run Friday. And I lived to tell the story. So far.

I didn't run at all last summer due to a minor but nagging injury. An injury which was not caused by running or lifting (sounds like irony, but it's not). Moral of the story: don't sit on one hip while staining the deck, and don't ignore an injury hoping it will go away.


Yes, my Hokas are larger than the pine tree.
Inspired by the sunshine and joggers I saw in Iowa City, I laced up my new Hoka's and hit the road. After stretching, of course. And swearing. A LOT. I may have set a new personal record for saying “Oh, sh*t” during this hour of exercise.

First I had to find my old, but serviceable Garmin watch and set the run/walk feature (that's at least 10 “oh, sh*ts” right there). Then I had to track down my old, but serviceable ipod, armband (right where I left it), and ear buds (not where I thought they were). On the plus side (!), both the watch and ipod were charged up and ready to go because I've been planning this for … quite a while.

I am terrible at guesstimating how warm I will be while running, so after finding a sweatshirt and deciding it would be too warm, finding a light jacket and deciding it wouldn't be warm enough, I settled on the sweatshirt and headed out the door.

How long has it been since I ran? Long enough for me to forget how to untangle the cord on my ear buds, to forget which bud went in which ear, and to forget how much it hurts when that rubber-y cord tangles in my hair.

I really want to avoid another injury, so in a rare show of sense and sensibility, I decided to follow one of the BAZILLION Couch to 5K programs that can be found online, and set off on a 1 minute run/2 minute walk interval for 10 runs.

I was out of breath by the end of the 5 minute warm up walk. My left foot hurt and my right knee ached. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary.

During the first 1-minute run interval, I ran half a block. But my knee didn't hurt any worse, and my foot felt fine.

Random running thoughts:
From the beginning of the run: “Who knew one minute was such a long time?”
From the middle: “I should learn the difference between wild parsnip and poison ivy.”
From the end: “Who knew two minutes was such a long time? Who needs a two minute recovery time?” (Spoiler alert: Me. That's who needs a two minute recovery time.)

At the end of my 5th run interval, I had completed one mile! WOOT! It had taken me 15 minutes, but I had done it. I remember watching the big, digital clock at the finish line of my second 5K (the first one when I didn't FALL), and putting all my effort into finishing in less than 45 minutes. It took 44 minutes and 55 seconds, but I came in at under 45 minutes. That became my time to beat. Friday's 15 minute mile isn't going to finish a 5k in under 45 minutes, but it's a start.

15 minutes is the time to beat. Don't bet against me.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Weighty Thoughts

Day Five of Fit in 42

Wednesday I came up with a list of goals, which, even before I posted, I realized were incomplete. Still, you gotta start somewhere, amIright?

My successes so far have been mixed:
+ I have made some more healthful choices regarding foods. (I passed on the fries. Once. Trust me, this is an accomplishment.)
- I haven’t fully implemented my Master Meal Planning Plan. (I can never remember, is it “Keep It Simple, Stupid” or “How Freakin’ Complicated Can I Possibly Make This?”)
++ I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support! I’m not in this leaky canoe all by myself, and that helps. Hearing about how others have repaired their leaks gives me hope that I can do the same. And I hope I can give others … um, hope.

In other news, there was this: 

I carried 32 kg! I couldn’t actually lift it into place for the goblet carry by myself (my “bell boy” :) had to do that for me), and I carried it only about 30 yards (3 times), but hey, I did it! And that’s something to celebrate.

I don’t know when I am going to need to carry 70.5 lbs for 30 yards, but by golly I know I can do it.

And that’s the point.

When I saw this on my program I thought it was a typo. Lemme tell you, there’s a BIG difference between 24 kg and 32 kg (like, 17 lbs!), and 24 kg was challenging. The first time I tried, I hoisted that 32 kg kettlebell to my waist … and no further. I thought “Well, that’s that. Uh-uh. Ain’t gonna happen.”

But as soon as I put it down, I got a little mad.

I wasn’t going to let that weight get the better of me. After all, I had lifted it part way up.

With Adam’s help, I got the kettlebell in place, and started walking.

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. (It could have gone horribly wrong at any time, so please use discretion.)

But I did it. Next time I’ll do even better.

Finding out you can do what you didn’t think you could? Wow. What an amazing feeling. I think one of the biggest benefits of lifting weights (and I'm biased towards Grit Gym) is the incredible amount of confidence it gives you.

And that confidence leaks out of the gym and into every facet of your life. If I can carry 32 freakin' kilograms, I can finish Book 2. I can change my eating habits. I can say no to french fries (some of the time).

I can.

(The video is on my facebook page, and at

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Day Three. And welcome to it.

How will you know when you get there, if you don't know where you're going?

How will you know how to get there, if you don't know where you're going?

I have goals. I've always had goals. But I've never been one to write them down. I usually just kept them as abstract and intangible ideas floating around me, loosely tethered. When I sat down to write this I called them “ephemeral,” thinking that meant gauzy, wispy things you couldn't touch. But it doesn't. It means transitory and fleeting, and maybe that's what they became.

So, there's that.

But, if I'm really going to commit to getting control of my health and happiness – taking back my life – I have to make my goals tangible and tactile and measurable. I need to know where I'm going so I have some idea of how to get there.

Or at least have some idea of where I want to go so I know where to start. I see a very fine line between setting goals and creating limitations. I also have problems with affirmations and challenges. What can I say? I'm my own kinda' crazy.

I want to:
  1. Feel better.
    To do this I need to: eat more healthy (health-ily?).
  2. Finish book 2.
    To do this I need to sit down and work. Avoid my favorite forms of procrastination ... like making lists :)
  3. Lose weight.
    See #1.
  4. Get sh*t done.
    See #2.
    To do this I need to take control. Figure out how I let my schedule get so chaotic.
  5. Wear that little black dress with the leopard print shoes.
    See #3.

So, today's goal? Make a schedule.

Tomorrow's goal? Stick to the schedule.

And take over the world.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Time to Begin Again. Again.

Once upon a time, about three or four years ago, I wasn't happy with how I looked or how I felt.

So, I started getting serious about working out and I paid closer attention to what – and how much – I was eating. I started eating less, tried to eat better, and exercised more.

Little by little, like the proverbial frog being boiled alive (which is to say, without noticing it) I started losing weight and changing my life.

When life threw stress in my way, as life always does, I ran more, lifted more and ate less of the crappy foods that made me feel crappy.

Then one day I realized my knees didn't hurt, my hips didn't hurt, I was having fun doing things I never thought I'd do, going places I'd never gone, I had dropped two (sometimes three) clothing sizes, I had written more consistently than I had for a long time, and I had finished writing a novel like I had always dreamed of doing.

It wasn't easy. There had been good days and better days, bad days and badder days. But I was happy with how I looked and felt.

Unfortunately, like that boiling frog, I still wasn't pay attention.

I grew complacent.

And the wheels fell off.

That's not true.

I ripped the wheels off, built a bonfire, roasted marshmallows on the bonfire and made s'mores.

When life threw stress in my way, as life always does, I stumbled. When injuries – unrelated to my workouts – made me change the way I exercised, I grew depressed by the things I couldn't do, instead of focusing on the things I could do. When the pain kept me awake, I fretted over not being able to sleep, ensuring I couldn't sleep. When I was too tired or achy to go places and do things, I sat at home and felt sorry for myself.

Then one day I realized I was depressed.

Because I was depressed, I deserved a cookie instead of an apple. Since it hurt to walk, I deserved to sit and binge watch TV. Since I couldn't sleep, I didn't have get up for that early morning workout.

So what if my clothes didn't fit as well as they used to? So what if I didn't have the energy I used to? That extra slice of pizza made me feel better. That brownie, those chips, that ice cream, that pudding with whipped cream, that candy bar, that doughnut, that soda . . . .

I had good days when I felt like I had almost pulled myself out of the quicksand. I had bad days when I realized I was no closer to the top of the dark well I was trapped in than when I started. All those little set backs and disappointments, all those tiny little insignificant, first-world, non-life threatening problems were boiling me alive.

I don't have the energy I used to. My clothes don't fit the way they used to. I'm not happy with the way I look or the way I feel, or what I've accomplished. (But let's face it, I'm mostly upset about the clothes thing. Damn it. I have a whole closet full of cute clothes I can't wear without looking like an overstuffed in all the wrong places sausage. And I'm too cheap to buy a whole new wardrobe. And cute shoes can only carry me so far.)

It's time to start over.


Let's do this.
Today I'm starting a new program at my gym – – because I realized I need a little extra help when it comes to making good food choices, setting fitness goals, and finding better ways to deal with stress.

Because this frog just realized the water's getting a might hot.

(And those new leopard-print shoes would be totes adorbs with that little black dress.)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Of All The Things I've Lost, I Miss My Shoes Most

While I was sifting through the usual pile of holiday catalogs, I saw a nifty bluetooth fob that is supposed to help you find your lost keys. I'd like to give a better explanation, but I lost my train of thought before I read the entire description. And I can't go back and look it up because I lost the catalog.

My point is, I wished I had some kind of super-duper, bluetooth finder fob this morning when I was looking for my cup of coffee – which I lost somewhere in the house as I went about my normal morning routine. A quick internet search confirms that the fobs can be used to track everything from keys to phones to cars. They don't mention coffee cups, eye glasses and tape measures – my top MIA objects – but I'm sure adjustments can be made. And, judging by the way their ads took over my Facebook feed, I'd say they actually are quite good at tracking.

While it would be wonderful to tag and track all the tangible items I lose on a daily basis, what I really need is some way to track all the intangible things I've lost. Of course, sometimes the two are related. As the search for my coffee cup continued, I lost my sense of humor. And, since this wasn't the first time I lost my coffee cup – not even the first time today – I'm pretty sure I have lost my mind.

There are some things that are probably lost and gone forever. For example, since becoming a parent I have lost not only my cool, but my cool as well. My children don't think that I ever was cool and argue that you can't lose something you never had.

On the other hand, some things I've lost have found their way back without me looking for them. It seems every time I lose weight, all I have to do is turn around and I find it right behind me. And, just when I think I've lost my fashion sense, I find another trend or fad is back in style. This usually happens right after I've cleaned out my closet.

Sometimes the reason for my loss is clear: a good book makes me lose track of time, while driving through downtown Iowa City makes me lose my patience. I know I should avoid the things that cause me to lose my temper, but I haven't lost my sense of optimism. Well, not all of it, anyway.

Sometimes I'm at a loss for words, and sometimes I lose sight of my point. Sometimes I lose the battle and sometimes I lose interest. I've backed lost causes and lost my objectivity.

I sang “You've Lost That Loving Feeling” after Top Gun helped it find popularity again, proving that I've lost my sense of decorum, decency and pride.

I've lost people I love.

I've lost my way, lost my place, and lost my sense of self. I've lost money, lost sleep, lost my nerve, and lost my sense of adventure.

I have occasionally lost hope, lost my will, and lost my faith.

I frequently lose my balance, and once in the late 1980s, I lost a really nice pair of penny loafers. That one still baffles me.

I don't know if these wonder-tags will help me find everything I've lost, but I think it's obvious that I should order the multi-pack.

You know, just in case I lose one.

Have I lost you with my rambling? What have you lost? Please leave me a message.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Fresh Look at Leftovers

Does anyone actually eat leftovers or are they just part of an elaborate plot to sell more plastic storage containers?

My family is – at this very moment – protesting indignantly: “We eat leftovers. What are you talking about?”

To them I say: “Ha.” Or, in the style of leftovers: “Ha. ha.” Eating leftovers once every three months is not the same as eating leftovers at least once every week.

In the interest of transparency, and because my family is – at this very moment – preparing to protest indignantly once again, I will admit that I am lax when it comes to eating leftovers as well. However, since I work from home, there is a much greater chance that I will come in contact with leftovers for lunch. Granted, sometimes that “contact” is limited to sliding the leftovers out of the way so I can reach the mayo and lunch meat. But my point stands.

Leftovers were a staple when I was growing up. In fact, I'm pretty sure we ate leftovers every night, which is pretty impressive given that you would think something would have to be a first-over before it could become a leftover.

Whenever I complained about having leftovers again, Mom would tell me about the bad old days when times were tough and money was tight. Back then, she said, the family would have a big roast or ham with all the fixin's for Sunday dinner (roast one week, ham the next), followed by roast or ham with fixin's leftovers on Monday, roast or ham casserole on Tuesday, leftover roast or ham casserole on Wednesday, roast or ham sandwiches on Thursday, roast or ham soup on Friday, and roast or ham leftover surprise on Saturday (Surprise! We still have leftovers!).

Things had improved by the time I came along, but we frequently experienced the 3-day leftover rotation of roast beef, hot beef sandwich, beef and potato hash; as well as the 4-day leftover rotation of baked ham, fried ham, cold ham sandwiches, and last but certainly the best -- ham and potato soup.

My dad, having spent several years as a bachelor, was a master of the leftovers as well. For lunch on Monday, Dad would combine a can of Chef Boyardee beefaroni, a can of vegetable beef soup, and a can of northern or cannellini beans (sometimes branching out to lima beans). This would serve as the base for his lunch leftovers for the rest of the week. Bits of dinner leftovers or another can of this or that were added as needed. Dad always stored his lunch leftovers in the sauce pan, in the fridge, ready to go the next day. He washed down his leftover stew with a glass of iced coffee – which was leftover from breakfast.

I know that eating leftovers reduces food waste and saves money. While I like to think I inherited some of my parents' sense of frugality – my favorite clothing designer is “sale” – none of that penny pinching practicality is left over when it comes to leftovers.

That doesn't mean I don't try, though. Take today, for example. After having hot pulled pork
Being frugal isn't cheap.
sandwiches Sunday evening, and cold pulled pork sandwiches Monday noon, I decided to make ham salad for lunch today. But before I could do that, I needed to replace my grandma's old, hand-crank grinder. While that grinder is one of my favorite leftovers, I'm not sure rust is the best way to get iron in your diet.

How hard can it be to find a small food grinder? Pretty dang hard, as it turns out. Nevertheless, I persisted. Bright, shiny, stainless steel blade grinder in hand (so to speak) I returned home to capitalize on the “economics” part of “home economics.” As I ate my ham salad sandwich I couldn't help but feel a little smug for having saved money by eating leftovers.

And to think, saving money only cost me forty bucks for a new grinder!