Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Asking for a friend

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The vast majority of tv viewers have their own quirky little preferences, right? That is to say, everyone who watches tv with regularity has at least one thing he or she watches that’s maybe not entirely proud and illustrious. So if a person happened to have alerts set up on her iPhone to remind her to watch professional and NCAA bowling, that person wouldn’t need to be ashamed, because, to co-opt a phrase, everybody’s got one?

I. am. Ironwoman.*

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(*On  a very, very small scale.)

So, as you may or may not know, I need to get into good enough shape to be able hike 2-3 miles a day, for ten days, at 8000 feet elevation, and I need to do it by the end of May. I decided the solution to this problem was to begin a Couch-to-5k program. I have never had an interest in running; I think it’s bad for your knees and other joints and I think there are other ways to keep yourself in shape. However, I am looking for a set program that will raise my endurance level in a relatively short amount of time, and which also requires no extra equipment and fits into my schedule. It seemed like this program would yield the results I was looking for.

The program involves a walk/run routine. On Day 1 you do a 5-minute warmup walk, followed by alternating running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds, for a total of thirty minutes. I knew, going in, that I was way out of shape and that I likely wouldn’t be able to finish the Day 1 program right away. I made some deals with myself before I even started. Firstly, I told myself I would do as much as I could and then stop, and not beat myself up about it.  Then I would just keep repeating Day 1 until I was able to finish it all – even if it took weeks. Secondly, I decided that my goal each week would be merely to show some improvement – even if it was only running 15 seconds of a leg I hadn’t reached before. As long as I added just a little more each week, I decided, I’d consider it a victory and be pleased with myself.

I’m now happy to report that the program and the mindset are working well for me. On the very first day, I only ran on three legs and didn’t finish any of them. I pulled up 5-10 seconds short on all three. This morning? I ran six legs – ALL of six legs. And when I looked at the app after I’d gotten back to the car, I realized – there are only eight running legs on Day 1! Having never sat and done the math, I had it in my head that there would be ten or twelve or something. But I am almost able to finish it!

I am amazed and pretty proud of myself. Yes, I know people who run miles and miles just about every day. Compared to that, this is peanuts. Maybe less than peanuts. Maybe only peanut shells. But I have, number one, stuck with the program for several weeks now; number two, continued to improve my endurance every single week; and, number three, gone from being a complete couch potato to now almost enjoying exercising. I say “almost” because I actually still hate it while I’m doing it, and have to keep up a constant litany of pep talk to prevent myself from wussing out. But as soon as I am done, I quickly forget how much it sucked and kind of start looking forward to doing it again. And, just as importantly, I feel proud of myself when I’m done. Today I may have actually fist pumped when I finished that sixth leg (I had started the routine telling myself I’d just do five). I am accomplishing something, and I’m seeing positive results from it. It’s pretty awesome. I never thought I could get into good shape. Now I know I can.

Ghosts of the Queen Mary

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As you may or may not know my family and I spent two nights on the Queen Mary earlier this month. As you also may or may not know the Queen Mary is renowned for (among other things) being extremely haunted. As my intention here is not to write about the specifics of those hauntings allow me to direct you to this article that enumerates many of the reported incidences.

My older children (10 and newly-8, for those new to this blog) are currently very much into ghost hunting. With this in mind we booked one of the paranormal tours offered by the Queen Mary, which embraces its “Most Haunted Ship in the World” designation. My children weren’t even supposed to be allowed on the tour, as they normally only allow ages 16 and up. But with a little finesse and finagling we got the powers that be to allow it and off we went on a two-hour nighttime tour to the most haunted areas of the ship, many of which are off limits to the general public.

For the most part our tour was uneventful, contact-wise. Our tour guide was excellent and possibly the most informed human being on the face of the Earth when it comes to the Queen Mary. A lot of the problem may have been due to the fact that the QM was playing hostess to a tattoo and motorcycle convention. Just about everywhere we went there was bleed-through noise from public areas of the ship where people were carousing. I can see how this might have a negative impact on the spirits.

There was, however, one set of events that I want to chronicle because, taken as a whole, they seem like too much to be coincidence. They concern the ghost named “John”, mentioned in the article above, and the area of the engine room near Door 13.

We arrived in “John’s” area as approximately the third stop on our tour. I was standing with my back to Door 13 as the guide began telling us about how “John” died, and then indicated that it was the very door I was nearly leaning against. I yelped and shot over about six feet, away from the door. In my new position I leaned against the railing that ran the length of the metal walkway we were on. Immediately upon doing so I began to experience a pronounced pitching and rolling. It felt very much like having sea legs (something I experienced for days last year after having taken an hours-long cruise around SF Bay). There were several points at which I hastily grabbed the railing because I felt as though I was in danger of falling over. At a break in his spiel I asked the tour guide if we were moving. He explained that, no, there was a very slight movement from the tidal change in water level but that the ship was moored so firmly that it shouldn’t be noticeable. He mentioned that people will have physical reactions to spirits being nearby, including things like chills, goosebumps, temperature change, etc. For my part, I kept thinking surely it was all in my mind. Several times I tried to convince myself I wasn’t feeling the pitching and rolling and I physically tried to center and steady myself, but it continued.

While we were standing there the tour guide pulled out a pair of dousing rods and asked for someone to hold them. Johnny (the then-7-year-old) volunteered. The rods were metal but had plastic sort of grips on one end. The plastic grips fit loosely and moved independently of the rods; in other words, it would be impossible to subtly twist the grips and turn the rods. And I can assure you that my darling son is many things, but subtle is not one of them. He is very bright and very curious but also very sincere and true-hearted and it would never even occur to him to try to skew the results for something like that to make it more interesting.

That said, there was Johnny with the dousing rods. Once he was gripping them correctly (these had a tendency to turn outward, away from each other, by the way) the tour guide began speaking to “John”, asking him to cross the rods. And the rods crossed. Johnny got excited and jiggled them and they uncrossed, so the tour guide asked “John” to cross them again. They crossed. I really have no explanation for this as I was staring at Johnny’s fingers the entire time, making sure he didn’t subconsciously move the rods somehow.

The tour guide took the rods back, talked some more about the various things people have seen or heard, and then asked “John” if he’d give us one more sign – anything – that he was there. As soon as the guide made the request a large piece of machinery on the wall kicked on (and every last one of us, to a man, jumped at least three feet in the air). In the interest of accuracy it should be noted that this was a functioning piece of machinery that is supposed to run. However, it does not operate on any particular schedule and our guide stated that he has been in the engine room for as much as ninety minutes at a time and has not had the thing turn on.

The guide then asked, “John, will you turn it off?” He paused, but nothing happened. He then said, “Okay, John, we need to move on. You are welcome to follow us but it’s time for us to go,” and he turned around to leave. He had not gotten two feet outside the door and I’ll be damned if that machine didn’t shut off, God as my witness.

The tour continued after that with nothing to report, at least on my part. Am I completely sold that we experienced spirit contact? No. Nothing definitive happened. I take the dousing rods with a grain of salt, and the machinery could be chalked up to weird coincidence. The pitching and rolling I felt is my most inexplicable experience. It was so pronounced and so real as to make me feel like I was losing my balance. To be fair, I should disclose that I do have some issues with water, especially deep ocean water. At the time we entered the engine room the tour guide informed us that we were, indeed, underwater. So it’s possible that the pitching and rolling I experienced were psychosomatic symptoms of my phobia. But I should also disclose the the pitching and rolling stopped – dead, cold stopped – the minute we walked out of “John’s” area – despite the fact that we remained far under the water line for at least the next hour.

I’ll call this one “Road to Nowhere”

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Every once in a while there comes a post in which I fulfill the worst expectations of the so-called “mommy blogger.” Now I, personally, don’t consider myself a mommy blogger, at least not in the technical sense. I don’t have a wide readership to whom I write and I wouldn’t say the majority of my posts concern parenting directly. I do try to steer clear of the more unpleasant aspects – combing through the archives you’ll find very few mention of bodily functions, for example. However, to the child-free among us, a little kid talk goes a long way and has a rapid cumulative effect, and even a single post like the one that follows is likely to make the uninitiated reel in horror – and cement their opinion that all parents suffer massive loss of intellect and ability to have meaningful dialogue.

For those of you who fit that description, I give you the following pictures of adorable baby animals to distract you from the fact that I’m about to spend the next 600 words or so talking about vomit.

Oh, hai!

A couple hours after dinner tonight Eliza complained of a tummy ache. I hoped she’d just eaten too much but…..no. The yakking commenced soon after (two words, to help you feel my pain: hot dogs) and continued periodically even after she went to bed early at 7:30.

I can has barf bucket?


After the first few upchucks it became clear that this was going to put a slight wrinkle in our plans for tomorrow. Then, as I considered it further I realized the ripples from this barf fest could extend through the rest of the week.

Mr. Quackers wants to talk about global warming or the origins of the ancient Indian caste system or some shit.


You see, I had promised the kids a special treat tomorrow. Last week I rediscovered a local coffee shop I hadn’t patronized in years. The two older kids have been there but it’s been so long ago they don’t remember it. I told them that, for fun, we should get up one weekday morning, a little early, dash through our getting ready routine and then go eat breakfast there before school. They were excited at the idea and we settled on tomorrow as the day. Clearly this is no longer an option, because even if this is a brief visit to Chunderland and Eliza’s made a miraculous recovery by morning she probably needs a little extra sleep, not being shaken awake earlier than usual and dragged out in the cold to get pancakes.

Oh, I don't know....how good are the pancakes?


This leaves us now looking at Tuesday, but that’s not going to work. I have already promised Madalyn I will eat lunch with her at her school. And when I say “lunch” what I actually mean is “brunch”, as the cafeteria ladies start spooning slop onto trays at the ungodly hour of 10:50 a.m. there. This is not conducive to having a large breakfast because, contrary to my outward appearance, I don’t eat that much and there’s no way I’ll be hungry for Lunchables at 10:50 if I’ve eaten pancakes at 7:30.

Wait....there are times you ARE hungry for Lunchables?


There’s more to tell about how this sudden malady affects our entire week but I suddenly realize the story is dragging on way too long and that it’s about 90 minutes later than when I had originally planned o go to bed. A quick wrap-up: Wednesday’s out because I have an appointment in the city for which I have to get ready while the kids eat breakfast here at home so I can leave as soon as I drop them off. There’s some damned problem with Thursday, as well, which means Friday is the earliest we can now do our special breakfast. Not only this but also consider: if Eliza is still feeling punk in the morning we will have to skip going to see Johnny be honored for being Outstanding Student at his school this week. If she continues to throw up into tomorrow morning that means she will miss school Tuesday as she’s not supposed to go until it’s been 24 hours she last hurled.

Disapproving Rabbit disapproves of a grown-ass woman utilizing this many slang terms for vomit.


If I really stretch I can also theorize that she could really be sick and this could continue for days, causing her to miss dance on Tuesday, my having to cancel my Wed. appointment to stay home with her, and then my thought processes really start to veer off into Loonland and I begin envisioning hospital stays, the Ebola virus, etc.

Did you ever stop to think and forget to start again? Yeah, we're pretty sure she did that four paragraphs ago.


Now, after all that, I’m sitting here staring at the screen at 11:58 p.m. wondering how on earth to wrap this up and tie it with a nice little bow – and failing miserably. I think all my bows are in the washing machine along with my good plush blanket and the clothes I was wearing when Eliza turned my living room into a vomitorium. All that’s left is to admit defeat and hit “publish”

Why I hate snow days

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“What’s that?” you say. “With how neglectful you’ve been of this blog over the past couple of years, you are taking the time NOW to sit down and write about snow days? Weeks after the last flake was seen in Oklahoma, on a 70+ degree day with the sun shining?”

“Yes.” I reply. “Now shut the hell up.”

If you’ve known me, either in person or online, for any amount of time, you might find it incongruous that I hate snow days. After all, I have been very vocal in the past about liking “cold” temps and being pleased at the advent of winter. So using some fairly standard logic one might assume that I also like snow, and snow days. One would be wrong. First, you must realize that I am from California. To me “cold” is anything below 55. When I say I enjoy colder temps I am not talking Antarctica. What I mean is that I can pleasantly tolerate anything above 30 degrees, and that my preferred high temperature is no more than 75. I hate being hot and sweating; however that does not translate to enjoying the opposite extreme.

Why I hate snow days can be broken down into two categories:

A) Being stuck in my house. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a loner. I like to do things by myself and spend time by myself….when I choose to do so. I do not like forced isolation. I don’t like feeling like I can’t just get up and walk out the front door and go where I need to go. This is what happens when there’s a snow day, especially like the one we had at the beginning of last month. I don’t have the chops to drive safely on snow or ice and, a lot of the time, even if I did most of our town is shut down for the weather. I don’t like having no options. I like sitting in my house knowing that things are available to me if I need them. Doesn’t mean I’m going to use them but at least I know they’re there. I guess it’s due to my Boy Scout complex (“Always be prepared!”)

and

B) School cancellations. Oklahoma public schools are required to be in session a certain number of days per year. Every April the school builds in three Fridays off into the calendar. If there is no school to be made up we get three 3-day weekends in a row. If there have been cancellations those Fridays are the first to go. One year they had to tack an additional 2.5 days on the end of the school year to make up for the rest of the missing days. This year they’ve found a way around that, at least for the younger kids. The state has the power to allow the school district to count minutes in session, instead of days, which is what the district will do. Since the elementary schools here are already in session for longer than the required minutes, they will have no days to make up past the three in April. So, barring catastrophe, our school year won’t be extended, which is a relief. We sure were looking forward to those four-day weeks in April, though. And that is why I hate to see snow storms coming – because I know school cancellations are soon to follow and those days have to be made up somewhere. I already feel like my kids are at school too much and I am loathe to have to part with them any more than I do!

I guess I could also go on and talk about how I hate having to scramble to find clothing for my kids to wear outside (we never can seem to get a full set of snow gear for anyone….it snows so little here we don’t think of it) and how I hate worrying that the clothing I’ve found isn’t sufficient to prevent frostbite or hypothermia – oh, and also how I hate the mess tracked in when they’ve been outside for hours in a snow bank. But those, really, are only secondary issues. The above listed items are the real meat and potatoes of why I shudder whenever Mike Morgan gets that wild-eyed look anytime from December through March.

Thus concludes possibly the more boring blog post ever. Fin.

Ah, America.

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Your ability to plumb the depths and discover all-new lows never ceases to amaze and delight. If by “delight” you mean “make me want to kill myself, or move to Canada. Maybe both.”

Nonetheless, I am simultaneously repulsed, horrified and filled with an inexplicable longing to know, intimately, the high-fructose corn syrup-laden textures and sensations of this fantastical beast.

Also, I grew another chin just reading the article. And I already had a few spares.

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