Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lessons from crossfit: the way to prevent a zombie invasion is to properly stretch your shoulders

Today I took my first full-length real crossfit class at a real crossfit gym, CrossFit 858. (When I was in Hawaii, I noticed that there were all sorts of places called things like Bikes 808 or Burgers 808. Apparently no one could get more creative than their area code. And apparently the owners of my crossfit gym think that's very original. It actually seems like the kind of name you'd come up with when you couldn't think of a name, and you were all, well, we have to call it something, we can always change it later, and then everyone started calling it your silly fake name and that's what stuck.)


We did a lot of shoulder work today. The instructor was walking us through how to properly stretch our shoulders and he commented to the girl who was clearly a chemist (I say clearly because she had a chemical tattooed on her rib cage. I'm pretty sure this is the sort of thing only a chemist would want permanently etched on their body). The instructor, who's name, I think, was Reggie, said we needed to properly stretch our shoulders. He said he didn't want Ashley, the chemist, to be reaching for something and accidentally knock over a bottle of chemicals and create some bizarre new disease.

"Zombies" said Ashley.

"Zombies," said Reggie, "we do NOT want that. Folks, the way to prevent a zombie invasion is to properly stretch your shoulders."

I think I'm going to fit right in.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The book in which absolutely nothing happens

The Secret Life of Bees
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay, maybe absolutely nothing is a bit of an exaggeration, but very little happens, and it takes a while to do so. I saw the movie years ago and thought it was okay. I looked up who played T. Ray, and it turns out it's Paul Bettany, whom I love, and somehow, he was totally unmemorable in the movie. Yup, that pretty much sums things up.

This is one of those books with a lesson to impart, but your hand is held during the imparting, which drives me bananas! I want to shout: just tell me what you'd like me to take away! Stop leading me in one direction or another and JUST.GET.THERE!

Furthermore, there's almost no reconciliation at the end of the book. T. Ray just leaves Lily at August's house. Um, what? He's supposed to be the bad guy, and he hardly makes an appearance at all. He's mean and battling a lot of his own demons, but in terms of fictional bad guys, he's really not so much.

Also, each chapter begins with a quote about bee keeping from a (presumably) expert source on the subject. It gets a little tedious.

However, that being said, Monk Kidd's actual writing is quite lovely. She is clearly a skilled writer in terms of language usage. Unfortunately, this book did so little for me that I'm unlikely to pick up anything else of hers.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

The Elements of StyleThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was both enormously entertaining and enormously useful in terms of improving the craft of writing. Strunk has a dry, crisp sense of humor. One of my very favorite parts of the book is the list of misused words and expressions. I loved his comments on -wise...There is not a noun in the language to which -wise cannot be added if the spirit moves one to add it. The sober writer will abstain from the use of this wild additive. And his examples of wild additives? Taxwise, pricewise, marriagewise, prosewise, and wait for it...saltwater taffywise. I love it!

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Lovely BonesThe Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A long time ago when I was in a bookclub, someone recommended this book, but somehow we decided against it. My friend's description of this book made it sound creepy and weird, and like the girl's sister also gets raped by the neighbor, which, unless I totally missed about 100 pages did not happen.

This book was so much better than I expected, and I really want to give it 4.5 stars. It was just short of amazing, in that I was able to put it down.

This book is poignant and well written. I found the characters and the family dynamics to be believable within the realm of this story. And the grandmother rocks.

You should read this book.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Resolution follow-up

While I seriously doubt that anyone is actually keeping tabs on whether or not I'm accomplishing any of the goals I set for myself this year, having a giant chart of them in the office is (I think) helping me keep on task.

I had nearly complete success in reading The Hunger Games trilogy and books 3-5 of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, more commonly called Game of Thrones, which is actually the title of the first book, and not the name of the series (unlike The Hunger Games, which is both the name of the first book and the name of the series). And while I'm being weird, I can't remember if grammatically, I'm supposed to remove the "a" in A Song of Ice and Fire, since I have to use the article, the, with the noun, series. And I don't feel like looking up the answer.

Anyway, I'm part of the way through A Dance with Dragons. The problem is that Clash of Kings is a doozy to get through and took me a really long time to read.

In terms of my exercise/losing weight resolutions, I burnt more than 700 calories in a day 17 times in March and April, and ran at least one mile 26 times. And, I have been managing to lose weight, although I may have undone all of that progress this week, but sometimes life smacks you upside the head and hands  you a 19.5-hour workday. What can you do?

I also managed to watch all of the Dirty Jobs and 30 Rock recordings I had, and am ahead of schedule with about 40% of the DVR space available.

I'm thinking of moving my "run a sub 4-hour marathon" goal to next year, mostly because I haven't found a marathon this year that I want to train for.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Oh, the joys of home ownership

I recently started reading Happier at Home, and the first chapter deals with possessions. (Gretchen Rubin is always dealing with her possessions ) For a while now, I've been trying to figure out why I dread using the laptop in the office, and I had the suspicion that it had more to do with me than the machine (the laptop works just fine). There's something about our office that just doesn't feel homey to me (I realize it's the office), but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Then, two weeks ago, Captain America and I moved the expensive, gorgeous chair we keep in the office into the living room, and the significantly cheaper Ikea loveseat into the office. (I had read somewhere that there was value in rearranging your belongings...something about being cheaper than redecorating, and that just moving them around stimulates that "something new" part of your brain. Or something along those lines.)

Anyway, we finally concluded that part of the problem with the office is that it feels cluttered, at least to me. (I'm sure most people would walk in and think it was uncluttered. This is my house, after all.) We decided that what we had was really the wrong furniture for the room. For instance, the drawer-unit on which we store the printer? I NEVER open it, if I can avoid it. As far as I'm concerned it is a cluttered mess and contains nothing useful. Ironically, this is also my husband's set of drawers. Apparently his organizational nemesis is office supplies.

Also, we have a bookshelf in this room that can only store large books because it has open sides. I bought this bookshelf because I liked how easily it folded up, which was a useful characteristic in my twenties when I lived in apartments with roommates, but it's really no longer useful, or at least not as useful as it should be (case in point, we have a much larger bookshelf in the guest room that looks a lot more chaotic, but doesn't feel more chaotic, mostly because everything fits in it just fine, and we can adjust the shelf heights).

So today, we went looking for a more useful bookshelf/storage option for the office. Which was a total bust. I've discovered that what I thought I wanted is called barrister bookshelves (my mother has some in her house, and I like how they close up), but they are ridiculously expensive, and work in my mother's house because she lives in a Victorian confection, but we live in a cookie-cutter 1950's era I-don't-even-know-what you'd call it.

What I'm somehow hoping to find is a low-ish, long-ish bookshelf that has some doors on it, so I can hide the unsightly office crap I'll have to put in it, but will still let me display the books. But everything we've found that is practically priced is way too tall for the space we have in mind.

And we now have six green chairs in the dining room and living room. That's a little bizarre, but we're going to work through that some time in the future.