Tuesday, February 28, 2006

When bad things happen to good television

Sunday: ran 3 miles in the park with Dan. It's 1.5 miles around and up/down hills the whole way. We saw lots of doggies and one frogfaced newborn in a stroller.

Monday: 10 minutes bike, 45 minutes hard elliptical.

We don't watch a lot of current TV except to have it on as background noise while cooking dinner or knitting or drawing or what have you. Most of our entertainment comes from our Netflix account, and lately we've watched a lot of television on DVD.

The saddest thing in the world sometimes is watching an amazingly good show on DVD (like Freaks & Geeks or Firefly) and knowing that when you get to the last DVD, that's it. Neither of those shows was allowed to run an entire season, let alone run the natural lifespan of the show. When we were watching Arrested Development and Lost on DVD at least I knew there was/would be more to come (Since then, AD has left FOX and I don't know what network will be picking it up, if any. I do hope someone does), but when watching the last disc of Freaks and Geeks the other night I got a little choked up thinking about all the ways in which this show was kickass and all the ways in which the networks seem to do their best to kill any show with good writing, good character development, and a more interesting premise than 'fat schlub with hott wife', "science"/cop or science cop shows, or copies of other reality TV shows.

I mean, c'mon. How many "Mary Poppins saves the day because these people don't know how to raise their children" or "let's swap a super religious wife and a crunchy granola wife and see how their families handle it" clones do we need? And how many iterations of Extreme Makeover: Heartwarming Sob Story Editions? How many Law & Orders/copycats and fauxCSIs? And the latest game show, that was on for about two minutes during fruitless channel flipping last night, has about the most idiotic premise ever. I'm sorry, but if there's no skill or talent or psychology or ANYTHING interesting going on, I'm not going to watch. No Deal.

Firefly was an incredible show that got a little bit more life in a movie that didn't make enough money for there ever to be any more. Freaks & Geeks was an awesome show and many of the actors and the creators of the show have gone on to more lucrative engagements. The only TV show we've watched on DVD recently that's still on and doing well is Battlestar Galactica. Now THAT's a kickass show. And it's on the SciFi network (we don't have cable, so we've had to wait for DVD) and seems to be doing well with a good fan base at this point, so it's unlikely that some bigwig executive will decide that it's too cerebral, intelligent, or funny and try to kill it anytime soon. Plus, there's SUPER HOTT chicks on that show. I just wish there were more Man Candy.

RIP, Freaks & Geeks. RIP, Firefly. I hope you get resurrected, Arrested Development. Hold on as long as you can, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Scrubs, and Everybody Hates Chris. May more shows join you in fighting the good fight against mundane, pointless, and nonentertaining television.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Stepford Springs, Colorado

Last week I had to spend several days in Colorado Springs for work.

Let me tell you about Colorado Springs. It's one of the creepiest places I've ever been and spending actual time there (as in, 3.5 days) makes me realize just how weird it is. Colorado Springs is 60 miles south of Denver, a bit closer to the front range (mountains). That means the altitude is a little bit higher. The most well-known mountain in the area is Pike's Peak. In the Springs, you can find the Air Force Academy (there's a great big sign that says "Give me men" at the Air Force Academy, though I've heard they took it down recently because of all the sex scandals), a military base (Fort Carson), about 68798769451687 churches, the headquarters for the "save the children" outfit, and (my personal favorite) the home base for Focus on the Family.

People in the Springs use the Focus on the Family compound to navigate around the northern part of the city. It's that big and visible. You could fit many thousands of people at once into its buildings. The rooftops are bright green. Oh, and there's this thing on the outside that kind of looks like a long, curvy slide; I speculated that perhaps it's used as an escape chute for people who just can't take the brainwashing anymore.

The Springs is full of Stepford people. When I've been there conducting trainings for my actual job, I've noticed that the people don't really talk, ask questions, or even look you in the eye. For this particular work-related thing I was part of a team conducting focus groups in a school district, and it was obvious that not everyone who is in education is liberal, progressive, or anti-NCLB. Even my religious, conservative coworker who I spent a considerable amount of time with gets creeped out by just how over-the-top reactionary some of the culture is in the Springs.

We stayed in the northern part of the city and I noticed that everything was stripmalls and chain restaurants. I got to eat at an Elephant Bar, which was actually pretty good (for a chain)(I had the fish tacos)(hee hee, fish tacos), but in all the northern part of the city where I spent that time I didn't see any independent stores or restaurants. Granted, I've never been downtown or spent much time in the southern part of the city, so maybe I'm being a little unfair. It just seemed like there wasn't anything there to make it unique or identifiable as a city (other than the Focus compound, of course. Only once city in the US gets to house that gem).

There are some good things about the Springs - it's close to the mountains, there's a really cool place called Garden of the Gods, it houses a small liberal arts college (that's actually liberal, from what I understand), and the school district where we were is 1/3 of the way through building the coolest preschool-12th grade campus I've ever seen or heard of. It made me really excited to get to tour it and see what kinds of things they're planning to do.

I'm sure the Springs has non-pod people - they're just camoflaged, because they don't want to be captured and brainwashed in James Dobson's House of Fun. That curvy slide looks like it only holds one person at a time.

The Stripey Shirt Makes My Boobs Look Good

Wednesday: 35 minutes of easier elliptical, 10 minutes of crunches/leg lifts
Thursday: full weight circuit, 30 minutes bike, 10 minutes free weights, 10 minutes leg lifts/crunches = 85 minutes exercise, started getting shaky when I was changing after my workout and had some trail mix right when I got home to stave off Unfed MLE.

I'm totally exhausted and need a rest day. I didn't get nearly enough sleep last night and had to drag myself out of bed this morning. Luckily, it's 1. Friday (woot!) and 2. nobody is around to care that I'm not actually doing anything. To make myself feel better, I'm wearing my favorite pants (I wore them all through China) and my stripey green shirt that makes my boobs look really good.

I need to meet more people. It's really hard to meet people when you work with almost all menopausal women, you don't have a car, and you are trying not to spend money to save up to move into a bigger apartment/buy a car/go to grad school. How do I meet more people? Any ideas? People at my gym are very intent on working out and everyone does his/her own thing. I wish the gym had classes that I wanted to take at times that were more convenient.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Getting Skinny Update 1

It was really really really cold in Denver this past weekend (I believe Saturday's high was 9F) so, except for a few errands, we didn't really leave the house. So on Sunday I did an ancient Pilates videotape (need to buy one on DVD, have checked out Amazon but not made any decisions). I had Monday off because a long time ago some presidents were born, and I spent about two hours cleaning and then went to the gym and worked out for a solid 90 minutes (full weight circuit, 35 minutes on the elliptical, and 20 minutes of free weights and crunches/leg lifts). Yesterday I did 35 minutes on one of the harder ellipticals and 25 minutes on the bike.

When I got home I felt OK and had a little snack. Within an hour I was shaky, nauseated, and in fullblown super low blood sugar mode. It took a long time to go away and took me nearly an hour to only eat half my dinner. I haven't had a blood sugar episode like that since we were doing our marathon training two years ago. It was kind of scary.

It's hard to lose weight when you have blood sugar issues. I have to balance out what I eat and when and how much I exercise to make sure those really low dips don't happen - but I'm also trying to lose weight. I wish I had the kind of job where I did a lot more walking around. Trying to fit my daily exercise into 35 or 60 or 90 minutes and working out as hard as I can to get the most out of it isn't ideal; I'd rather be doing lower impact activity for most of the day. The 40 minutes of walking I do (to work, home for lunch, back to work, home from the gym) isn't nearly enough to counteract Office Butt. I know that I lost weight in China because we were walking 5 or 6 hours a day.

A Proposal of Marriage

Last night, as I was walking home from the gym, I was waiting at one of the major intersections to cross the street. A guy who was probably around 21 or 22, in obviously a very good mood and also wearing a funny hat, came traipsing down the street and as he passed me, he said "Hey, miss. Will you marry me?" with a great big grin on his face.

I thought for a second, and replied, "Sorry, no." but gave him a big smile.

It was my very first live and in-person marriage proposal. I've had two online but both, like this one, were jokes. Perhaps someday I'll get one that isn't.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Adult beverages I have made

We mostly drink at home, because we're cheap and Denver still allows smoking in bars. I know of only two bars that are nonsmoking within walking distance, and they are both trendy and spendy.

Because we mostly drink at home I've had the opportunity to concoct some interesting tasty adult beverages. I don't think any of my favorites have a name, though probably desparate college students somewhere have mixed and consumed them before.

Drink 1 (Richer rum/coke)

Put 3 ice cubes in an old fashioned glass(I think that's the short beverage glass). Pour in about a finger of dark rum and an ounce of kaluha. Add your favorite cola (I like RC Cola best) to fill the remainder of the glass. Stir. Consume.

Drink 2 (Because I'm trying to get skinny)

Put 3 ice cubes in an old fashioned glass. Pour in a finger of citrus vodka, and fill up the glass halfway with strong iced tea. Fill the remainder of the glass with cranberry juice cocktail (I use the kind made with spenda because I am trying to avoid calories). Add some triple sec if you want a bit more booze, or squeeze a couple of lime wedges or lemon wedges into the glass and stir. I used to make this with Ocean Spray Juice & Tea, but I can't find it anymore so I have to do it ghetto style. I like this drink because it's not two sweet or too tart and doesn't have as many calories as just a cran/vodka drink has.

Drink 3 (Ghetto-style mojito)

Muddle some mint leaves and a lime wedge in the bottom of a highball glass (the tall kind? I think). Add 4 ice cubes. Add 1 1/2 oz light (or dark) rum and fill the remainder of the glass with ginger ale. Add another lime wedge if you're feeling crazy.

This weekend I went out for "girls' night" with my Oldest Friend and two of her other friends that live in the Denver area, and we went to both of the nonsmoking bars. Oldest Friend is from California and when we got to the last bar, which wasn't nonsmoking, she finally understood why I don't go out that much.

Also, though girls' night was fun, it was cool to have someone's boyfriend show up and buy us 3 rounds of drinks.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Getting skinny

So I lost approximately 10 pounds/one pants size in the three weeks we were in China, without even trying - just walking for hours every day and eating a non-western diet. I was actually shocked, because I ate way more processed white flour/sugar, peanuts, and oil than I do at home, and hardly any whole grains or fresh veggies - I just ate smaller portions. When I came back and looked appreciatively at the body I hadn't seen since before the Evil Fat Birth Control Pill Saga of 2003-04, I thought to myself: "Self, perhaps it will be possible to keep this bonus 10 pounds from returning." Gee, wouldn't that be nice.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. Living in Colorado in the winter, even in this freakishly mild winter we've had, my body wants to pack on the protective layer. The good news is that I haven't gained any MORE than that bonus China weight. The bad news is that I have 6 months until I have to look super fabulously fantastic for my 10-year high school reunion - and my metabolism has always been such that it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to lose weight in the winter.

I have a desk job, a sit-on-yer-ass-in-front-of-computer-for-eight-hours desk job. Despite my copious amounts of muscle, my walk home for lunch and back to work, and my fidgetyness, there ain't no way I'm burning as many calories as I should be if I want to look Super Fantastic (tm Manolo the Shoe Blogger). And my base level of activity already includes gymratting at least 4 times a week for at least an hour a pop. Solution: eat even less than I do now.

I'm not sure if I'm going to actively starve myself or severely restrict the calories again until perhaps March, because it always seems to backfire in the winter: my energy is sluggish, my motivation is super low, and I don't really lose any weight because it's too damn cold out. I hope that for now I can be satisfied with just maintaining my current weight/size and not gaining any more.

I don't want this to be a weight-loss blog, because I don't actually have all that much weight to lose. But I DO want to be super fantastic for August. Ideally, I'd lose 20 pounds to get back to what I weighed immediately post-college. Realistically, I've put on too much muscle since then, so I don't think I could lose more than 15 without losing my boobs. And really, I think I'll look OK just losing that bonus China 10 again.

The most depressing part is that I now weigh 27 pounds more than I did when I graduated high school. But when I look back at that girl who was somewhat emaciated, had no boobs, and no upper body strength or muscle - I realize that it wasn't healthy for me. But in this culture, it's hard to come to terms with the fact that I'll never be a size 4, EVER.