Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Flu

As Robert Burns said, “The best laid plans of mice and men…”

I fully intended to start my weight loss program this week. I bought some SlimQuick pills to help jump-start the process – my thinking is that since medications put the weight on me, medications can help take it off – and even hired a personal trainer to get me going at the gym.

Three days later, I find myself barely able to walk from the bedroom to the computer room. This flu bug has got me down, but good.

It all started Friday morning, although I didn’t realize it at the time. That’s when my joints started aching. I thought it was either “that time of the month” or the fact that my new little girl insists on sleeping directly on top of my hips at night.

By Monday, I knew I was in trouble – but still didn’t recognize it as the flue. That night I called mother, because, as everybody knows, when you don’t feel good you want your mother on hand to take care of you! Well, she’s the one that told me I had the flu. By then I was freezing cold – I had on my polartec socks, sweatpants, a sweatshirt, a Pia’s sweater (those of you from around here will know exactly what that is!) and a wool blanket wrapped around me.

I had to call in sick Tuesday, even though I’ve got a big deadline on the job and there’s no one else to get the work done. I just could not get up. The body aches had gotten much worse, the chills alternated with a burning fever, and the coughing had turned my throat raw to where I could no longer talk.

Some advice: when you’re down with the flu, you might not want to read about the big flu pandemic of 1918… I was really starting to freak out a little bit there, picturing my dead body being found weeks later, lying in bed with my 3 cats feeding off me for lack of anything else to eat.

Today, the symptoms have moved along rather quickly. I no longer ache nearly as much, my nose is now running non-stop, the coughing has subsided a little bit (which is a good thing, since I don’t know if I have a throat left) and I’m actually starting to get a little bored.

I don’t know if I’m up to going to work tomorrow – but I know I really should, if only for half a day.

We’ll see.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I have been so busy lately, I haven’t had time to post anything on my blog! I’ll try to get caught up here, and do better in the future – if at all possible.

Nature Writing Class: the class is going well. I like the people in it, and the stories submitted have all been interesting. I’m still not comfortable picking things apart, but in the long run I think it is helpful to listen to everybody’s comments. Twelve weeks sure is a long time, though. We’re just over half way thru! I really should work on a re-write…

Work: my job is going well. We’re busy as ever trying to get this clinic out to permitting. I worked about 20 hours overtime last week, and will likely do the same again this week. That’s good for my pocket book – not so good for my health. I am coming down with something: my joints ache, my nose is running, and my lungs are coughing.

Winter Trails Day: I volunteered at the BLM a few weeks ago for their winter trails day celebration. The table where I worked for 3 hours had information on the BLM as well as some actual snow flakes that had been preserved onto black paper that people could look at under a microscope. It was so cool; apparently, if you catch the snowflake and immediately spray it with a light coating of acrylic, it actually does preserve it in tact!

Earthwatch: I gave a presentation to The Forum, a group of about 52 people. I had put together a slide-show of photographs sent to me by the headquarters, put verbiage taken from the website on top, and ended up with a pretty neat presentation. I even added two of my own photos at the end, to represent my two expeditions. I had all my brochures and catalogs displayed on a table so that afterwards people could come and talk to me some more, and take whatever they wanted. Hopefully, this will generate some actual volunteers!

Family Movie Night: we had our third movie night a few weekends ago. The movies are spectacular, and are perfectly suited to my brother’s big screen TV. Our family does love get-togethers, and are thinking ahead to what we can watch once The Planet Earth is finished. We’ve discovered a new series that I am particularly interested in, called The Body Atlas. If I can figure out how to afford it (it costs $150 for the 6 DVD set) I will definitely get it.

USGBC: I have been nominated as Secretary for the local USGBC group. That’s the United States Green Building Council, and technically we just merged with another group so what I should be calling our group is the CRGBC, or the Cascadia Regional Green Building Council. Anyway, I attend the meetings, take notes, and then later – in my spare time (yeah, right) type up and distribute the minutes.

Cats: I adopted a new cat! I’m very excited about her, even though I really though I only wanted two cats. She’s another Devon, just like my first two, and she’s 5 years old. Her name is Djuna, but I call her Junie. She’s such a tiny little one with black curly hair, a short tail, and surprisingly big feet. She’s also quite bossy, and has no manners as of yet. I just love her.

Zoo Volunteer Work: I’ve been doing quite a bit at the zoo. We had two girl scouts camps just this weekend, focusing on Dog Mushing and the Iditarod race. I’ve helped out with planning for this summer’s Tuesday Night lecture program = I’m excited to announce that Dr. Richard Reading, from the Denver Zoo, is coming this year to talk about the Bactrian Camel. He’s the scientist I worked with in Mongolia last year. I’ve also helped out with the zoo’s quarterly newsletter a bit, collaborating with the education director on some ideas to incorporate some Green issued into the final product.

Creek Monitoring: this past Sunday was my creek monitoring day, and my creek was actually flowing so I was able to do it this time. Last month it had been frozen solid. My partner and I are getting along very well, and I am enjoying my duties. We’ll see how it goes over the summer months, when I have to do it twice a month. Hopefully, it wont interfere with my zoo duties too much.

INCPA: I had let my paperwork slide on this goal (Interpretive Naturalist Certification Program for Alaska) so I set aside a few hours yesterday to attempt to catch up. I got a lot done, and am motivated now to finish it up. I just don’t know when I’ll be able to do that!

Working out at the Gym: speaking of motivation, I’ve also gone ahead and hired a personal trainer to try and get me going on my weight-loss goals. I meet with her tonight to begin the program, and will hopefully go at least twice a week for the next few months.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Progress So Far

So - how am I doing so far this year on my New Year's Resolutions?

Not too bad if you take in to account that I have a whole year to accomplish these things. Not so good if you take in to account that there are several things I should be doing already but aren't.

Resolution #1: Ride the Bus to work at least once a week during the summer months---possibly extend into the winter months, too

= Nope, I'm not doing that one yet. Realistically I did say "during the summer months" and it most definitely is NOT summer around here. But there really is no reason why I should wait till then.

Resolution #2: Work out at the gym at least 3 times a week---loose a pound a week---improve my lower back

= Nope, I'm not doing that one yet either. I really do need to loose about 30 pounds, and I'm giving myself till next year to do it. What I'm thinking now is that I will hire a personal trainer to work with me at the gym.

Resolution #3: Organize my recycling efforts better---get bins set up in garage---set a regularly scheduled recycling day, perhaps quarterly

= I've had some progress on this one, but I still have a long way to go. I need to borrow somebody with a truck to take the load of cardboard I have waiting for me in the garage out to the recycling center. Then I will have them come with me to the store to buy some actual bins to put in the garage to organize things better.

Resolution #4: Be more aware of where my food comes from and the actual cost to our environment---buy from local Farmer's Markets---buy Organic

= this one isn't really quantifiable, but I am reading up on the topic, and as they say "education is the first step" so...

Resolution #5: Take a load of unnecessary "stuff" to Goodwill

= Now, this one I've done. I went thru the house and gathered up several large bags full of unnecessary stuff and hauled it all out to Goodwill. I feel pretty good about that!

Resolution #6: Vote

= I definitely put the ball in motion for this one. I registered, and located my polling station. I am trying to keep up on the presidential campaigns to be sure I pick the right one. When the time actually comes to vote, I will be right there waiting in line with the rest of the world!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Red Headed Blonde Moment

I was at the office the other day, working away at my computer. I had a spare moment while the computer crunched some numbers I had just fed it, so I thought that would be a good time to check on my bank account.

I called the bank and got one of those messages saying “For checking information, press 1; for savings information, press 2” and so on. I pressed the number 1, since I wanted to deal with some check-book issues.

I was perplexed, however, when the voice on the line just kept going, “for escrow information, press 3; for the loan department, press 4” and so on. I kept pressing number 1, but the voice just kept going.

It actually took me several minutes to realize that I’d been pressing the number 1 key – on my computer!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Universal Laws

Law of Mechanical Repair:

After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch or you'll have to pee.

Law of the Workshop:

Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

Law of probability:

The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

Law of the Telephone:

When you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal.

Law of the Alibi:

If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

Variation Law:

If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now.

Bath Theorem:

When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

Law of Close Encounters:

The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

Law of the Result:

When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

Law of Biomechanics:

The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

Theatre Rule:

At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.

Law of Coffee:

As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Murphy's Law of Lockers:

If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

Law of Dirty Rugs/Carpets:

The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering...are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.

Law of Location:

No matter where you go, there you are.

Law of Logical Argument:

Anything is possible... if you don't know what you are talking about.

Brown's Law:

If the shoe fits, it's ugly.

Oliver's Law:

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

Wilson's Law:

As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Professional Writing

I’m half way thru my Nature Writing Workshop now, and I have discovered something about myself: I am not cut out to be a professional writer.

Let me clarify that statement a little bit.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing; I do. It’s not that I think I’m bad at it; I believe I’m just as good as the next guy at getting my thoughts down onto paper. And it’s not that I “can’t take the criticism” that comes with putting yourself out there for everybody to read; as long as it is constructive criticism, it helps me to grow and expand – and that’s a good thing, even if it’s not always a comfortable thing.

I just find that I am not as driven as it seems necessary to be for a writer. I don’t seem to “feel” things as strongly as the others in the group.

The class has been an eye-opener for me. We take home the essays handed in by the other members of the class, read thru them and edit them for grammar, spelling, and content. We write comments along the sidelines, stating what we felt while reading the piece, or what we thought we should have felt but didn’t. We make suggestions as to how we thing the piece could be made better. We highlight the parts that really stood out for us. Things of that nature.

During class, we openly discuss our findings – sometimes finding that other people had the same comments and at other times finding that nobody else had a problem with that particular part.

The person who’s piece is being discussed does not to have a say in the discussion, but is given time afterwards to make comments, answer particular questions, and agree/disagree with the final consensus.

This has been a very interesting learning experience for me. I have found that I am not given to being quite that analytical: if I like a piece, I like it. I don’t pare it down to the infinitesimal bits and pieces to try to determine exactly WHY I like it. I simply like it. The same goes for if I do not like a piece.

Others in the group, however, seem to enjoy the process. They imagine that they know exactly what the author was trying to convey and believe that if you simply followed their suggestions, the piece would be absolutely perfect. They strongly argue their points (all the while being as polite as possible) and fell quite pleased with themselves for having converted the author over to their side.

I think that’s what I have the most objections to: the part where they all seem to know what I was trying to say. They all want “tension and action” and feel that I should play those parts up more in order to be “more interesting”.

I don’t feel that way at all. I get enough tension and action in my life, and use my writing to get away from those stressful feelings.

I guess I’m just whining. I will continue my class (I did pay for it, after all), and will garner as much useful information out of it as I can – but will leave behind my burgeoning aspirations towards journalism. I’m just not made for that life.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dinner with a Friend

I got to have dinner with my friend Alison last night. Her fiancé was even able to join us! We met after work at her favorite Thai place, called Siam Cuisine. It was a very tasty meal: fresh spring rolls and corn cakes for appetizers, followed by the main course of glass noodles stir-fried with veggies and tofu.

Well, that’s what I had at least – the other two had their own main courses, which I’m sure were just as good as mine was. No one had any leftovers, at least: that’s always a good indication.

I haven’t seen Alison in a while so it was good to catch up on events. She and Ken are planning their wedding, which is coming up really soon. Stress levels are a little high, as you might expect. They have the added hurdle of planning for a wedding out of state – everything has to be done by phone and/or email.

It sounds like its going to be quite beautiful, with good food to follow at the reception. His family is from San Francisco, where the wedding is to be held, but her's is from New York. Added to which are all their friends from various other states. I haven’t heard any final numbers yet, but it sounds like it will be well attended.

I will not be able to attend, unfortunately. My last vacation ate up all my leave time, and I am now trying to save up for my next big vacation (to Africa: more about that later). I’m hopeful that they will have some sort of gathering her in Anchorage once they return from their honeymoon.

All in all, our dinner was a very pleasant 2 hours. It was good to laugh with a friend - sometimes work just gets so all-consuming, you know?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Another Great Book

A Sense of the World
by Jason Roberts

Here's what it says on the back:

He was known simply as the Blind Traveler. A solitary, sightless adventurer, James Holman (1786-1857) fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, helped chart the Australian outback – and, astonishingly, circumnavigated the globe, becoming one of the greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored.

A Sense of the World is a spellbinding and moving rediscovery of one of history’s most epic lives – a story to awaken our own sense of awe and wonder.