Wednesday, February 27, 2008

my, what a nice stack you have

the phrase "tidy up" has always meant one thing to mean: stack anything that can't be thrown away or filed immediately. if it requires opening an envelope to file: stack it. if it's unstackable for reasons of shape or size, it must be relocated to an out of sight storage area. i wasn't fully aware of how compulsive i am about this until living with coffeeshopgirl who is very much a non-stacker. she is, however, incredibly patient, which means she shakes her head and laughs at me when i get lost in the Zone. she's even gone so far as to pre-stack for me. i say 'pre-stack' because i will inevitably rework the piles in some way. you see, items must be in arranged in a size hierarchy. you can't put a magazine on top of a pile of letter sized envelopes because then the magazine won't actually lay flat. horizontalness is the key to a successful stack.

stacking doesn't have to apply to just coffeetables and countertops. the refrigerator is a stacker's dream (or nightmare as the case may be). things that disrupt stacking harmony:

- round fruit
- casserole dishes
- condiments on the top shelf
- heads of lettuce
- chocolate (because it's distracting and will make you forget what you were trying to stack)
- things that come in bags (this applies more to cabinet/pantry shelves, e.g. beans and rice)

you may be wondering why i keep repeating the word "stack" instead of giving you some relief with alternatives like "pile" or "heap." it's because these words don't convey the same sense of order and symmetry that are inherent in the word "stack."

"pile" implies a jumble of items that may or may not have been arranged with intention and "heap" indicates an even less cohesive mass of objects. these words remind me of the roughed-in bathroom that my brother used as a closet in high school. there could have been an entire marching band trapped under the heap of clothes that comprised his wardrobe and we wouldn't have known it until moving day when the Fight Song drifted down the staircase as he packed.

sadly, merriam webster doesn't fully support my distinction, as the word stack is defined using qualified versions of "pile" and "heap."

would you use the word "stack" to describe this??

Sunday, February 24, 2008

the hillbilly shuffle

the route for last weekend's 10 mile run intimidated me before i'd even clicked "save route" on MapMyRun. i made the mistake of checking the "show elevation" feature, and i think my heart palpitations matched the spikes in the resulting graph. we managed to slog through most of the run, but it was far from uneventful. the route itself involved several turns and streets that change names across intersections. i missed one of the name changes, thus taking a right to follow the current road name instead of heading straight onto a "new" street. i didn't realize my mistake until we came face to face with a golf course. my misdirected diligence cost us 2 miles and several long climbs on top of an already hill ridden course. 2 hours and 2 Gu packets later, we were shuffling through the last mile when i hit an uneven spot in the sidewalk and fell so dramatically that a passerby stopped his car to make sure i was okay. i dusted off the scrapes, which would have been worse had i opted for shorts instead of spandex, and we resumed our snail pace. somehow the semi-bouncing shuffle felt more admirable than just walking. we finally gave up after hitting what was theoretically the 10 mile time mark. given our earlier detour we still had a good 2 mile walk home so we did what any self respecting half-marathoner would do. we sat down on the side of the path, called a friend and got a ride home.

i'd like to report that yesterday's 11 mile run was an improvement (how could it not be?). sadly, it was actually worse, albeit less time consuming. about 3.5 miles into the much flatter run, my IT band revolted, and i had to stop. this left coffeeshopgirl in a bit of a lurch because there were 8 more miles to run and only a post-it note with my scribbled directions to guide the way. in light of sore hips and the possibility of getting lost in downtown atlanta, she decided to walk home with me. it was about 10 degrees colder than we expected, so after a mile of damp clothes and 15 mile an hour winds, we picked up the phone in search of another ride home (thanks to isabel for coming to the rescue both times).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

9 is not my valentine

last saturday we went to REI to prepare for our 9 mile run and stumbled upon a 50% off clearance sale. what great luck! i'm not so secretly in love with REI. it's bursting with things i've coveted for years, and i discover new gadgets i desperately need everytime i walk in the door. what's that you say? this tent will keep me warm in the middle of a canadian blizzard and leave me feeling refreshed in an arizona heat wave? i'll take it! or so it goes in my imagination. the reality is i can barely afford to buy socks there, much less anything that can be classified as "gear". to minimize the heartache, i delete my REI emails without opening them (especially anything with the word "clearance" in the subject), and i never step foot in the store without a very specific purpose.

so the Voice of Reason and i went to the promised land in search of mid-run nutrition and blister preventing socks. the clearance bins were of course less than 30 feet from the entrance so we HAD to walk past them. as luck would have it, we actually found stuff that we needed (1 Liter water backpacks for $7), and i managed to walk out with only one unplanned purchase: fleece-lined spandex (that i'm currently wearing in my arctic living room). i normally don't give the clothing section a second glance because it's always WAY out of my price range, but with the 50% off prices, the spandex were basically free by REI standards ($17). the voice of reason talked me out of buying a bike jersey. it would have been a vanity purchase at best because i won't actually use the pockets on the back of the jersey, and i have plenty of exercise clothes that are just as good as the striped beauty that i tried on. the stripes blinded me, okay.

being surrounded by all that specialty gear left me pumped up for our 9 mile run. sunday morning we donned our new designer running socks and our generic brand CamelBacks, with lemon/lime Gu tucked in the mini-pocket, and set out for what hoped to be a good run. the route we picked was relatively flat and the weather was perfect, minus a strong headwind on the first half. things went well until mile 8 when the knee pain came out to play, making the home stretch a painful one, but overall, it was a successful outing. if you've never had energy gels (e.g. Gu or Cliff Shots), they have the consistency of a racquetball that's been melted and allowed to set until it's a semi-solid. in other words, thick, gooey (ha), and generally disgusting, but they really helped midway through the run.

this weekend it's 10 miles or bust. i'm planning to wear my ITBand strap to prevent the wonderful stabbing/pulling sensation on the outside of my knee that happened last week. if only there was a strap to prevent the never ending hunger caused by all this extra running.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

mr. tea to the rescue

Don't be fooled my friends. this is the face of a junk food junkie. he drools for the likes of ice cream, peanut butter, pringles, cream cheese, cheetos, and popcorn. let's ignore the fact that i know this because i, too, consume this list of mostly ill advised snacks (peanut butter doesn't count). his discerning palate won't accept those fat free or sugar free imposters. no, it's only the good stuff for the cat with the freakish metabolism and the overactive salivary glands.

luckily he also doubles as a lap warmer because it's approximately 60 degrees in my apartment right now. i'd probably be more comfortable if i lived on the street and fueled a bonfire with the $192 spent on heating this place last month. okay, maybe not, but it feels like i may as well have thrown the money into a backyard blaze. so instead of letting the heat run constantly and STILL having to layer up and drink an unending stream of hot tea, we've turned it off. maybe this way we can afford to experiment with new flavors in our tea arsenal.

take that Infinite Energy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

eight is great

this weekend we managed to eek out an 8 mile run through east atlanta, past the zoo and through cabbagetown for the homestretch (read: homecrawl). between blisters and sore knees it was not the best of times. i'm obsessed with smart wool socks, but they apparently aren't going to work for the longer runs. sweaty feet + over 90 minutes of running = swollen and blistered pinky toes. you can bet we'll be visiting REI before this weekend's 9 miler. 2 layer wicking fabric here i come.

speaking of relief, i have finally paid off a credit card that has been my own personal bogeyman for about 3 years now. back in the days of a full time salary from a private research company, i dabbled in the alternative health comforts of chiropractic and acupuncture. the chiropractic office had 2 options for payment: a carefirst credit card (through GEMB) with a 12-month promotional no-interest balance or out of pocket through a monthly checking account withdrawal. i opted for the credit card because, despite the healthy salary, i didn't have the cash to cover the services. i'd like to say that all of my money was being thrust toward student loans or some other socially acceptable form of debt, but i recently took a look at old credit card and bank statements during a shredding project, and my money was definitely going the way of the dodo. those smart wool socks i mentioned? we won't talk about how much money i've wasted on those.

back to that 12-month promotion. the credit card balance was interest free, but only if you paid the balance in full by the 12-month deadline. i don't know why i thought this would be easier than paying out of pocket, but as you can imagine, i did not make the deadline... twice. so for the last 3 years i've had 2 year's worth of chiropractic expenses sitting on a high interest credit card. J.D. over at get rich slowly would cry himself to sleep if he read this entry.

how did i finally pay it off? well it certainly wasn't from high monthly payments because i can barely afford the $150 i've been pitching at it for the last 6 months (before that it was minimum payments only). $45 of that monthly payment was going to interest so it would have taken me forever to break even. every year i get a chunk of change from a wealthy relative, which i usually dump into my savings account and slowly piss away with overspending (or on the money pit known as my car). this year i've decided to take a different approach and give myself "extra" income by reducing my monthly credit card payments.

good riddance, you bloodsucking GEMB bastards.

Friday, February 1, 2008

prolixity at its best

my job interview yesterday was more of a screening appointment than an actual discussion. i woke up early (for me), tried to shake off the bleariness with a few games on lumosity and spent 20 minutes of borrowed time on the gauntlet that is I-85. the culling process consisted of a 125 question vocabulary test (anyone care to take a stab at "mephitic"?) and a timed number recognition or "clerical accuracy" test. i have a weakness for "brain games" (that don't involve math), so i actually enjoyed the clerical test. when the nice man in my headphones said it was over i felt like someone had just told me to stop playing and go clean my room. after the tests, i was directed to a corner office where a professor-type gave me the company spiel and said that they would be doing callbacks on Monday. years of data entry and time wasted on free online IQ tests may have finally paid off, at least for the initial cut. i still have to form coherent sentences when the professor asks me inane questions like "where do you see yourself in five years?"

going back to lumosity for a minute -- i was about to say i came across this website by way of a google search, and then i realized that would be redundant because let's face it, who doesn't use google 42 times a day? anyway, in preparation for my clerical accuracy test, i signed up for the free 14 day trial and i've played at least 30 minutes of games for the past 5 days. i don't know what a paid membership is like, but if you're bored and want to do something besides check blogs all day, try it out. i'm sure there are far more useful ways to spend your time than shooting at birds while memorizing a letter that's flashed on the screen, but at least it's a semi productive way to be unfulfilled. who needs perezhilton when you can hone your spatial skills?

i spent the remainder of yesterday avoiding lumosity (two words for you: addictive personality) and reading douglas coupland's jPod. there's something to be said for familiarity. jPod is everything the Gum Thief was not: rife with computer geeks that muse over the most asinine topics while working for The Man. in terms of originality, jPod gets a 2 because it feels like a mirror image of the idiosyncrasies and tone found in Microserfs, but i can't say that i care. in terms of the subculture i was in the mood for, it scores a 9. the only thing i could do without are the disruptive devices that coupland (or maybe his publishers) included: pages of random words strung together in varying type treatments, sometimes with an obvious theme and other times with no apparent logic, and periodic 2-3 page brain vomits that i imagine would make sense to a heavily drugged schizophrenic ex-microsoft employee.

speaking of schizo, i was roped into watching the first episode of Lost last night. alright fine, i attended voluntarily, but only for the sake of good company because i have no investment in Lost. the reactions of the avid fans in the crowd were just as entertaining as the show itself. i confess to feeling a certain degree of interest in what will happen next week, but i'm attributing it to the pleasure gained from spending time with engaging people, and not the cult-forming power of j.j. abrams. we'll see how long i can keep up this cellophane (noodle) facade.