Sunday, December 29, 2013

The awkwardness of guilt

Several years ago, my partner's brother did something that caused my partner to act in a way that I found abhorrent and still have trouble thinking about. That's about as specific as I'll get here, okay? During the ensuing fight between me and partner...I said some things about his brother that while justified at the time...I feel really bad about now.

I was right to be angry. It was pretty bad, all this stuff. I look back on it as objectively as I can and feel that any reasonable person would have experienced similar emotional responses to my own - anger, fear, disgust, mistrust, unhappiness, woe. It depends on previous experiences in life and world-view and all that. But in general, I still believe I was not wrong.

That said, the degree to which I was angry, not at my partner, but at his brother, was...inappropriate and ugly.

Partner does not remember the fight thanks to the special foibles of his memory. I remember everything right down to where I rested my hands on the counter-top of his apartment kitchen. Such is my memory.

His brother has no idea about any of this, except that partner did not repeat the set of behaviors involved because...I don't know...because he knew intrinsically that he might lose me otherwise. Makes me sound like a bitch, but trust me, we're all better off here.

So awkward guilt. His brother isn't the guy I thought he was back then. Or if he is, he's also someone else quite different too. Is anyone really only one person?

All through the holidays the things I said keep coming back to me and I feel so weirdly guilty about them, not because I shouldn't have been angry, not exactly because I should have focused on the more immediate problem - partner, not his brother - but because I can't reconcile the good feelings I have toward him now with the anger that I probably unwittingly carried with me from that incident forward. Plus I'm the only one who knows.

And the more I try not to think about it, the more I actually do, which is so unnecessary.

It's kind of a nice lesson regarding not letting myself get angry beyond a certain point or at least about keeping my damn mouth shut when I'm mad.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Post-Christmas Post

So partner and I spent yesterday with my family, his family, and the dog. That sounds great, right?

Actually, for the most part, it was fun. We ate some good food, listened to stories, played with the dog, went for a walk, opened presents, ate even more food, listened to music, etc. All of that was terrific stuff. It's a very different Christmas than what I've always had before.

This year, sadly, my partner and his siblings lost their mother to a short battle with pancreatic cancer. This is the first holiday season that partner and his younger brother have spent without her. In fact, they usually go to Florida while I stay here with a complicated work schedule and a stress-free, drama-free Christmas with my very low-key and quiet family.

These season was different. For the record, as much as their politics frighten me, I really like partner's friends and his brother, who is actually a lot different than my first impressions of him. That said, it's tough making the drive and partner is not a nice man when he drinks. No, not at all.

We had a great time, but when we got home, our neighbor, who once called the police on partner for asking them to keep the noise down on a Sunday night, was just pulling into his driveway. In our haste to get us and Gracie into the house, partner bashed his head on the rear door of the Jeep. He was angry, belligerent, and vile to me for the next four to five hours.

Happy Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dog meet horse

So we took Gracie down to Lake Horton this afternoon, so she could burn off some energy and basically get out of the house.

There's place along the park fence where two horses are occasionally feed carrots or apples by passersby. It's cute, but usually the horses aren't up for a treat when we visit. The cold weather and holidays have been keeping people away, though, so the horses trotted out of the barn to meet us at the fence.

I haven't touched a horse since I was eleven or twelve. Gracie was well-behaved around them, although she briefly entertained the idea of taking one of the carrots for herself. They were really sweet critters.

I wish I had a picture of Gracie sniffing the bigger one nose-to-nose through the chain-link. Alas, too busy squeeing my little heart out for that.

What can I say? I love animals.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friends

Yes, I'm being eaten alive by the holidays. And you?

Tonight, my partner and I ventured northward-ho to see his friends again. I like these people. They treat me with respect and friendliness. I'm really introverted (duh, right?) so I have trouble with social gatherings and stuff like that.

Plus partner's brother was there. I always wanted a brother. You know, how it is. I was an only child, but never lonely. I just wanted someone on my side when I had horrific school issues. I always imagined that a brother, preferably older, would have done the trick.

Also...his friends have dogs. What beats that?

Well...watching two grown men shoot craps in the rain.

Maybe.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Freedom!

Today begins my holiday use-it-or-lose-it days off. I'm not back at work until the day after Christmas, mid-afternoon. What can I say? I take very little time off. I have school stuff that I occasionally take a day for, but otherwise, not so much. No where to go, nothing to do.

This week, I'm having a cavity filled and getting my retinas checked.

And doing Christmas shopping...if the money doesn't run out.

I also want to take the dog walking a couple days and do some cooking, probably slow-cooker chili.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Family

My family got a lot bigger this year - a stepmother, two stepsisters, three (step) uncles complete with aunts, etc.

My own mother does not seem to be speaking to me, possibly because my partner and I did not see her for Thanksgiving. Mileage may vary.

My stepmother is actually quite cool. I could list some of her best traits, but...hey, what the heck, I might as well: she treats my dad as her equal, I can make her laugh, she is a dog-person, and she's nice to me.

My stepsisters are a bit...like...supermodels, but with good brains. Seriously, they tower over everyone in my family. Gorgeous stepsisters. Intimidating stepsisters. Twin stepsisters. Um...they're nice? You know? They're going to be successful in life. I just...don't have any frame of reference for relating to them. They're only ten years my junior.

Christmas should be very exciting this year. Certainly bigger.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Slackeritis

School ended Friday. I made my first B as an MLIS student. Kind of depressing.

I'm mostly not answering emails, on Facebook, or tweeting right now, not so much because of that, but just these holiday doldrums infused with a vague sense of failure, ennui, and fight-or-flight. Not a pretty mix.

I remember loving the holidays. Now, I'm like my partner - the boy who hates Christmas - almost.

What to do about it. Hmm...don't know.

I think once Christmas shopping and cards are done, I'll feel better. Definitely will after I get my next semester registration out of the way.

And who knows what next year could bring? Right?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Textbroker

Several years ago, desperate for grocery money and possessing few skills unrelated to my full time job, I signed up as an author with textbroker.com. After completing the necessary set up stuff, I was able to bring in about $250 for a couple consecutive months, until things got better. The site saved my bacon. Or at least my ramen.

Off and on since then, I've written a few things for them, but with school being so writing intensive, it was never very much.

This weekend I had a lot of indoor time due to inclement weather and the partner having the flu - yes, seriously, the flu - so I decided to take up writing for them again.

I love it so much.

Mostly, it's about that impossible dream - being paid for my writing - but I also dig learning about really weird, off-the-wall topics people put in requests for, like how to choose ski goggles or conduct surveillance unruly teens.

I know I won't be able to continue once school starts again, but that's weeks from now. Carpe diem, right?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Signs of the season

The weather was cold and dreary today, but Gracie and I walked a lap around the local park nevertheless. Just over a mile, but the wind was pretty wicked out there. The leaves are really coming down right now, and last night's rain only helped them fall. 

Same with the pine straw. The path was barely visible in some places. No idea when it was last blown or swept or whatever they do to maintain it.

Could certainly use a brushing off. The damp leaves were pretty treacherous. I was sure the dog was going to send me sliding a few times, but we managed.

We also got some looks from the few park joggers, as always.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oh...automotive mayhem, for the loss

My partner's van just lost its transmission. Happy Christmas!

Seriously, though, he knew it was going to go soon, and at least I'm off most of today to try and help him sort out a rental minivan (a yummy black Dodge) to get him through the week. All things considered, it could have been much worse. He was actually pretty calm about the whole thing.

Also, just so this doesn't sound to silver-lining-y, it is drizzling outside...and the transmission will cost somewhere just over $2k. Ouch.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wildlife

I don't know when crane season in Georgia is, but I saw a very nice one on my walk yesterday - 3.75 miles with dog, in case anyone wants to know. The crane was perched in the water just to the south of the Highway 54 bridge over the lake. I couldn't get a great picture because of the light and bridge traffic, but an armada of quacking ducks was approaching the crane, which seemed to ignore them. I did not stick around to see how that played out. They're all fish-eating omnivores, right? So I doubt anything exciting happened. Part of me wonders if this is the same crane that is occasionally spotted at Luther Glass Park, about two and a half miles to the south.

This is a shot from the north side of the bridge, or rather, under the bridge, of the swampier part of the lake. I thought it was very pretty, especially the rocks and lake grasses. I would imagine that if it rains more, the rocks would almost entirely disappear from view, but the little islands look pretty stable. I had Gracie with me, so we did not try to cross the rocks. That would not doubt have ended in an unhappy splash.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Library Annie out in the world














These things really do happen...especially around the holidays.

Friday, November 29, 2013

What to do with days off

We all get too few of them. I admit to getting more than most. But seriously, do the majority of people prefer using days off for couch-sitting rather than doing things they enjoy or even just getting out of the house?

My dog Gracie and I prefer getting out and doing things together. At the top of her list: going to the dog park. At the top of my list: long walks through unfamiliar trails with her and my cell phone camera. We have some overlap there. Truthfully, she gets more out of the long walks, but the dog park is good for her dog-dog social skills. She needs that. Her dog-human social skills get honed best at Petsmart or through serendipitous encounters, like at Thanksgiving yesterday.

So number one on my list is probably number two on hers, but she's pretty gracious about letting me take the lead in choosing our activities. Heck, she doesn't even mind just going for car rides with me to run errands. She likes doing that, although not as much as the park or walking.

Sitting around the house...that wears on both of us, although I don't know who gets stir-crazy worse. I think, her, but I have more ways of expressing it.

Now, other people in our family view going out to the park, walking, and errand running as no different from going to work.

Did the world just go pear-shaped and weird for you too? Did it? DID IT?

Because that's how I feel when it is suggested to me that a day off is only a real day off if it's spent on the couch from dawn until dusk, without only interruptions for pee-breaks and to acquire food. That's right. It's a dichotomy. Either couch or work. No other states exist. No, not even sleep, because you need sleep in order work (not to live or feel good ... FYI).

I understand not wanting to rush from one activity to another. Frantic pace, not so much me. Full life? Most def! But I cannot understand believing that the only activity suitable for a day off is couch sitting. Especially not in nice terrific weather. Especially not when other activities are handily available, cheap, and ... just there. You know?

I would rather grocery shop or go to the post office than couch-sit during daylight hours. At night? Sure, the couch is a great place to end the day, not spend the day.

To each their own, right? But still, can't we at least agree that going for a long walk through nice scenery with a beloved pet is not the same as being on the job? That doing something with her (and me...ahem) is better than that?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Whew...made it!

So Thanksgiving Eve was a little hairy and miserable, but Thanksgiving Day shaped up pretty darn nicely.

My partner and I took the dog with us to both gatherings. She was a huge hit. Stellar manners and sweet to everyone. Poster child for German Shepherds as familial companions. For the win!

The peeps were very welcoming. No politics, no religion, no drug use, no fighting, no drama, just...cool. I would most definitely do this again. Even the drive to Cobb was pleasant. The sunset coming back...magnificent!

Partner is dead on the couch listening to football now.

Tomorrow, the question is: to shop or not to shop? My family draws names for gifts. It's supposed to be secret, who got whose name, but I already know three. I got one of my gorgeous twin step-sisters. helpme

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Follow-up to previous

Okay. The neighbor left after about an hour and a half, during most of which my partner was telling him to leave. Not a smart one. I was still mad, but trying not to give off that vibe. I don't think I was entirely successful.

So...about ten minutes later, partner informs me that after going to my grandmother's for a larger-than-average Thanksgiving, we will be driving up to Cobb County to see his brother, nephew, and friends for a couple hours.

Here's the thing with that. The last time he visited these friends they revved him up with ring-wing politics and evangelical christianity and sent him back to me in such a way as to inspire this post. At least, I think that was the one. I may have not posted the one I wrote first off because it was too personal. He came back angry. He came back with me scoped in as the appropriate target. Now, I am butt-fuck terrified that he's taking me there for a verbal-emotional gang-bang.

I do not want.

But he's going to my family Thanksgiving, so not only can I not refuse to go, I can't even have the conversation.

Hey, are you going to turn me over to your friends to learn how to be a subservient christian woman who'll never challenge your sacred manhood again with her highfalutin notions of honor, courage, and integrity?

That wouldn't go over so well.

The fact that he sprang this on me last-minute is actually a sort of blessing. I could not have functioned at work with this hanging over my head.

Let's all sing Sword of Damocles from Rocky Horror now. I'll be Rocky.

I wish I knew how this will turn out. I don't often wish for the gift of foresight. I wish I had a scosche right now.

Prediction: this will not end well.

ETA: It is after 2:15 AM and the fight just ended. I did not expect that. Tomorrow, I hope we don't go for a repeat.

Twas the night before Thanksgiving

I'll be venting here, thanks.

I am essentially trapped in my office space right now, after a full day at work (understaffed), unable to change clothes, have some dinner, play with my dog, or do anything but type and listen to music on my phone via a pair of ghetto ear-buds. That's right, ear-buds I dug out of my bookshelf. Who knows where they actually came from?

Why?

My partner, despite being repulsed by the idea of befriending any of the regular folks I've introduced him to, has taken up with a mentally addled moron who lives in our neighborhood. Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe these people? Well...I'll fill you in some other time, but let's just say, not my peeps here, except for one older lady whom I know from work.

The moron is downstairs drinking beer and speaking unintelligibly to my partner and dog. She is only just tolerating him and may snap at any moment. If not for the legal complications, I'd welcome that. Maybe dipshit wouldn't come back. So...angry right now.

I'm trying to listen to happy upbeat music to keep myself from having a freaking aneurysm here. Arghhh...

BTW...Boney M's By the Rivers of Babylon is still hilarious, twelve - thirteen years after my German teacher first played it for the class, but even Boney M cannot fix this. I used it in grad school to drown out the sounds of sex from upstairs. Big place in my heart.

I put in a full day! That guy's a moron! Can no one see the farking injustice here???

I want to take off my shoes and my itchy sweater!

I think I'm running out of high-speed data too.

My partner will be joining me on a walk for this one, for sure. -_-

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I meant to update sooner

This is going to be a kluge update of pretty much everything that I feel needs updating:

Noom

They refunded my payment, cheerfully, and genuinely wanted to know why their weight loss app didn't work for me. I haven't responded yet - too busy - but I appreciate that they reached out. That was very good customer service.

Library Annie

I couldn't get the site I use to make the comic to work. I'll try it again next time I have a minute.

Sweepstakes

I'm still waiting to hear back from Nat Geo Books Most Devoted Dog Contest. No idea what's up with that. I'm almost positive that Gracie won (thank you all!), but ... nothing from them yet, and the Facebook app went away. Am I right to be concerned? Hmm...

School

Almost over. So glad. I can't wait to do feedback for this course.

Holidays

I love the holidays. My partner hates every holiday but Veteran's Day. More will be forthcoming there.

Random

It may snow on Thanksgiving in Georgia. Really.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Another long walk

Today, Gracie and I conquered another 4.6 miles of cart path, enjoying the cool, although sadly cloudy weather. I love overcast days myself, but they make for lackluster photographs, particularly of the autumn, which needs direct sunlight to sell its superiority over summer and spring to misguided lovers of those seasons.
Would be even prettier with a blue sky, preferably dotted
with fluffy clouds.

Rockspray Park is actually not one of the best. It needs some lovin' from somebody. I don't know who...but it's still nice after walking for an hour on trails behind people's houses.

The best part is the bridge (not pictured), but even that needs a spit-polish. I wish I had had more time to walk around the pond, but that's something for another day. Right?

Gracie had a very nice time today, but instead of still having energy at the end of the day, she was completely exhausted. I wonder what makes the difference? We walked over six miles last time. Today, not even five. She carried less weight today too.

Oh, I also encountered my first lost person in the path system today. I use my phone for path maps, so I'm forever checking it in new territory. I actually gave the person decent enough directions for them to reach the Kroger - spotted them there when we got back to the car. Hee!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You too can go walking

I know I post a lot about the treks I take through woodsy suburbia with and without my dog. For one thing, I like posting the pictures and bragging about how far I went on my various excursions. Not cool, I know, but I get some satisfaction there.

Anyway, the area I live in or near is pretty special to me, but it isn't special in the sense of being singular or unique.

If you live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, you actually have a good area for walking, even if it isn't as nature-filled or dog-safe (hullo, cars!).

If not, I encourage you to visit your county parks and recs website to check out places you can walk intended for that purpose. You might be surprised. If you live near a neighboring, non-hostile county, I recommend checking their resources too. My county has no parks to speak of. No safe parks period. But the county where I was born and where I work has some serious acreage designated as recreational space, including well-maintained trails with restrooms.

Also, you might want to try Google Earth and http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ to find less official walking trails and pathways to enjoy. Just zoom down and start looking for things that are not roads. Or for roads with sidewalks. I use Gmap to plan some of my outings, especially those going into unfamiliar territory.

You never know what you might find in terms of scenery and special places.

If you're willing to drive, try looking into your local or semi-local state parks. I'm too faraway from mine, but if I could get to one in 30 minutes or less, I would be there once a month, at least, weather-permitting.


And if at all possible, remember to take only photographs and leave only paw prints.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

10k course with dog

Gracie and I walked the PTC Running Club 10k course this afternoon. Our time was 2 hours, 3 minutes, including a couple breaks for water, photography, and phone calls. We also ran together for a bit to make up lost time. I think we did pretty good overall.

The weather today was really excellent for long-distance walking. The wasn't much over 60, and the sun was out most of the time - no sweating and no shivering. Hey, who doesn't like to be comfortable, right?

The foliage was still good, especially at Luther Glass Park. Glance at the picture. That's some pretty vivid yellow for mid-November. Totally raw, not at all 'shopped.

The lakeshore pictures were too dark to bother posting. I hate the early loss of light in winter. We should save us some daylight year round, in my opinion.


BTW, I opted against the control collar for Gracie this afternoon because she's been good lately and because I didn't wanted to carry her water. That's right. I put my dog in a doggy backpack, and she carried two bottles of water, her control collar (just in case), and my glucose tablets. Probably about 3lbs of weight or less. Convention says that a dog can easily carry 10% of her/his weight. She didn't seem to mind at all.

The backpack is a Kurgo that I got from Amazon in hopes of bringing out her working-dog genes - she's descended from police dogs and cadaver dogs - and honestly, I think the pack did give her extra focus. The fit was very good, although it took a couple tries to get everything tight and even. Well worth the effort. I think passersby got some amusement from it too.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Really, refs? Really?

I actually wanted Carolina to win tonight. I'm a Jets fan and therefore am morally obliged to hate the Patriots, and Cam Newton is really cool. But pass interference IS pass interference, even at the end of the game.

That totally spoiled a really watchable football game.

Just saying.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Just a quickie post

After a long Saturday at work, I came home to this:


That's right. Homemade meatloaf in a heart-shaped pan. My partner made this for us. Awww....

Friday, November 15, 2013

Even though I'm working tomorrow, it's still FRIDAY today


Sometimes, I think people forget that workers have homes and families too. You know?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More on Noom App

Quick refresher: Noom is a weight loss app with both free and premium versions. I tried the premium, because I had a spark of hope that this might be the thing that helped me conquer my plateau. Let's start with the positive:

Cost. I paid $24.99 for a lifetime Noom subscription. Supposedly, it is refundable. I just put in my request this morning. Considering how expensive some of the monthly subscription apps are, this is a pretty good deal, if you're willing to buy apps for your phone. I tend not to do so. I've been playing the free version of Triple Town for over a year now. Just FYI.

Functionality. Noom will not let you down or give you up. No, seriously now, the app itself is well-designed, functional, reliable, and unobtrusive. It does not crash, hang-up, or drain my phone battery. These are all good things, ne? Overall, it is enjoyable to use and in the beginning, even kind of fun, although that wears off a little bit.

Now more the negative:

Philosophy. Noom bases its dieting philosophy on Volumetrics, a fairly ancient and hoopty method of weight loss that may not be suitable for many people. To be fair, a person over 300 lbs who is just beginning to try to eat differently would almost certainly benefit from this (and all other) means of weight loss that's based on calories restriction. It just makes sense. But for other groups it is likely to be needlessly frustrating and harmful. If a person basically has their dieting ducks in a row, but still can't lose that last 10 to 20 lbs, I seriously doubt this would help them in any way.

Additionally, Noom is likely to cause severe harm to anyone with a slew of preexisting conditions who uses their diet, which is extremely carbohydrate heavy and allergy-unfriendly. I'm a Type I diabetic. If I ate as they recommend, I would either gain weight or die from complications from high blood sugar. I would also die fuzzy-headed, cranky, and emotionally detached because of the excessive amount of grains (gluten) touted by this diet. People with celiac's...I think it could cause them severe harm too, but I'll let them speak to that one.

Noom goes through a lot of trouble to try and smear people who use low-carb or low-glycemic diets. It is actually pretty damn disgusting the amount of misinformation they are willing to spread on this topic. I lost all respect for their system once I started reading their anti-Atkins articles.

Partnerships. If you knew that your dieting app was in bed with a homophobic organization, would you keep the app? I have a pretty unflinching moral compass when it comes to groups that participate in anti-gay hate-speech. I marched in college. I gave in my twenties. I will again someday. So help me.

That's why I find Noom's partnership with Curves so utterly unbearable. I naively used the gym in my area...no, tell you what we're naming names here. I used the Curves in Fayetteville, Georgia. They routinely played homophobic music, mostly about murdering gay people - yes, I'm serious here. I mentioned that I thought it wasn't cool. OMG...snide. I quit going. Also, no, it didn't help me get into shape.

Not cool, Noom, not cool.

So that's it in a nutshell right there. I just requested my refund a little while ago. I will let you know if they don't cough up, like they advertise they will.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

That was farther than I thought

I had the day off on use-it-or-lose-it leave today, so I decided to take my puppy on a nice long walk on the cart paths. We decided to hit the path system at its eastern-most point, because I had other errands to run, few of which got done. Unfortunately, construction blocked the intended route and instead of walking about 1.5 miles, maybe closer to 2 miles, Gracie and I walked 4.58 miles according to my Fitbit, including 33 stories in upward elevation change.

Needless to say, she's asleep right now, twitching in front of the roaring fireplace. I'm reaching for the Aleeve myself.

I just couldn't double-back. I guess it's a form of navigational stubbornness, similar to men not asking directions, but I can't retrace my steps on a walk. I have to make a circle. And what a circle that was!

I wish I had pictures, but the scenery was mostly horrible, except for the enormous houses, and it would have been creepy to photograph those.

Next time, I think I'll plan my route more carefully, to avoid construction, and to avoid constantly using my phone to navigate. I'm sure I looked like a tool checking it every half-mile or so.

Tomorrow, we may go to the park and walk the trail, which is a one-mile loop. :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Another post about dog rescuing

You may remember this post from when I first started blogging and people belittled me and gave me a hard time about owning a non-rescue dog.

I ran into someone last week, maybe last Saturday, who had a very similar experience to mine while dealing with the same local humane society. It's the one for Clayton County, Georgia. I don't mind saying that now that I know they dump on other people too and not just me. I'd link, but I doubt they have a website.

Anyway, the rescuer experienced the same excoriating grilling that I also endured, but since she was an experienced dog owner, they didn't kick her to the curb or offer her only geriatric or sick animals for adoption. In fact, she found the dog she wanted there! That's actually awesome for the dog, regardless of how I feel about the group. However, in order to get the dog, she had to tear down her fence and built one more to their liking, despite the fact that the small dog in question could no more have gotten out, from what she described, than it could have sprouted wings!

You heard that right. To rescue a dog, someone actually had to do an unnecessary major construction/renovation project. That's quite simply fucked up.

I'm adding this to the list of reasons why I hate rescues. I am clearly not as nice as the rescuer in this scenario. If I already had a fenced yard that I felt could safely contain a dog, I would have walked before letting some evil-ass hairdo at an animal rescue bully me into tearing it down and building another, probably more expensive, one.

My dog has grown up without the advantages of a fence, unfortunately, but she goes out on leash or tether, but of course, my girl is a purebred.

This is the look that Gracie gives me when I tell her how rescue groups treat people who want to give homes to less fortunate dogs.


Actually...just in case anyone gets the wrong idea, she is in middle of sneezing. We're both keenly allergic to ragweed and I just happened to be taking a picture.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Before it gets too cold outside

We decided to go back to Line Creek Nature Area. The weather was warm this afternoon - hovering around sixty degrees - so we decided to give the dog a last romp at the park, which is pretty tolerant of off-leash pups.

While Gracie was not interested in getting totally wet today, she did enjoy drinking long drafts of river water and splashing in the shallows, as well as scaring people and running around like a half-crazed dingo.

The day was beautiful, in spite of a lack of sunshine, and the changing leaves, while not spectacular this year (or in this area in general) were quite unexpectedly nice to look at, especially along the lake shore. The water was as clear and still as glass today, like a reflecting pond.

I want to visit the park at Lake McIntosh sometime soon, but I'm not sure if they've finished with construction yet. A lot of maps still have not been updated properly to show the lake's existence. I assure you - it is very much there. I have the pictures to prove it.

I actually took about fifty pictures of the area, Gracie, and my partner this afternoon. A lot of them turned out very nice, especially for pictures made from a cell phone. It's a Samsung Galaxy something-or-other.

Anyway, the trail was relatively short. All told, we walked 3.1 miles with a lot of up-and-down, including some scrambling over rock piles, tree roots, and other rugged terrain.

This is just an example from the shoals area of the creek, not too far from the entrance. We were moving too fast to get any decent trail shots. Maybe next time, which will likely be in the spring, unless we have an unexpected warm spell during one of the weekends I'm not working.

I'm not betting on it.

Still, fun times today. I may post more pic-spam with dog later on.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Gracie's Day

I have alternating Fridays off, thanks to a pretty sweet work schedule, so instead of doing my errands alone today, I took the dog with me for about four hours of riding around. It was under 70 today, so I promise it was not inhumane. She had water and stuff to keep her attention- mainly passersby from whom she guarded the car. Good girl.

Starting out, she thought we were going to the distant dog park, but when I began making unfamiliar turns, she only howled with anxiety for maybe five minutes (straight) before accepting her lot in life and settling down.

When I came back from the pharmacy, I found that she had taken over the passenger seat, normally reserved for my purse and phone. I let her ride there until we got to the next pharmacy. Try being a diabetic who still uses syringes and likes a particular gauge, needle-length, capacity, and brand, then tell me how many pharmacies you visit. That's what I thought.

Unfortunately, Gracie blocked my view too much to ride up front, so she was banished to the backseat again.

We stopped for a potty break, during which I heard a youngish girl ask her mother my favorite Gracie-related question, Mommy, is that a WOLF?

Gracie does not have the traditional black-saddle of the German Shepherd Dog, owing that she is from three-quarters working lines, which valued a straight back and killer brain over mere coat coloration. She is not a) part wolf or b) unfit for the show ring. I'm unfit for the show ring. She's awesome.

After that, we went to the grocery stores and met up with her daddy at Petsmart. She was pretty tired just from being awake so long in the middle of the day, so she was very sociable and if not calm, not bad enough to draw commentary.

She ended the day with an upfront ride with daddy, who lets the window down way too far.

Every so often, she'd look back at me, following them, and grin.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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Bipartisan relationships

I am a Clinton democrat; my partner is a Reagan republican. I think that pretty much paints the picture. I'm a democrat based on hopes of social progress; he is a republican based on hopes of economic prosperity. We fight about politics on a fairly regular basis. Not argue. Fight. I am confrontation-averse, so I try to go through life without mentioning or showing interest in anything political around my partner. Not easy, but I think I do pretty well.

I wish I could compare my methods and our limited success rate with other couples in the same ideological boat, but I'm not sure enough of us exist for any meaning comparison. It's a hard row to hoe. I'm not sure many people would want to or be able to do it, even with the extravagant blow-outs we sometimes have taken into account.

Do other people draw lines in the sand? I can't because there is literally nothing he hasn't said to me over politics.

I cannot conceive of a workable way to handle this source of conflict, except to give up every belief I hold dear, which to me, is actually a fate worse than physical death, because what are we without our ideals? Is someone who holds no convictions, political or otherwise, fully human? Aren't the intangible things the components of our innermost self (souls)? If I did not love justice, for example, would I still be the same person I am now? If I did not believe in equality, would my daily walk through this world look or be different? I think we're made of our deeply held beliefs. We are that feeling of right-or-wrong that defies religion, social structure, class, etc.

And, yes, I try every time we fight to explain why I won't just do/think/believe as he wants me to do. He can't grasp it. Nothing I say or even write for him penetrates, and that well and truly baffles me. I can understand why he has his beliefs. He wants to make more money and pay less taxes and for the world to be as it was in his youth. Easy-peasy. Why keeps him from doing the same? Ever?

Well...I guess that's more personality than political persuasion, in either sense.

For the record, I have never tried to change his mind about anything. I respect his life experiences and what brought him to his conclusions about politics. I totes understand wanting more money. Really, I do. I just don't get why he can't agree to disagree or put some limits on how far the arguing goes.

Other people have found away through this. I know we will too eventually. I'm just hoping ... sooner rather than later, you know?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Food for thought - Library Annie










A chicken sandwich under the table is worth two in the backpack, says Confucius.

Or not.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Noom update

Here's what I've learned so far: it's the opposite of Paleo/Primal, except that it eschews processed foods. Everything I consider healthy is a red food. Everything they consider healthy does bad things to me. Example: grits. They're basically ground, usually GMO corn, processed and super-fast-burning carbohydrate. Noom thinks they're healthy! I add butter and cheese to slow down the carbohydrate digestion. Noom thinks those are bad.

I think part of the basic problem here is that it refuses to think about macro-nutrients, by its own admission, even though a lot of people have metabolic issues (diabetes, celiac, mood disorders, etc.) that really mean that they should.

Noom is not diabetic friendly, in other words.

That said, the pedometer function is nice for anyone lucky enough to be able to carry their phone all day.

The leveling-up system really boosts the motivation of my inner-gamer. I am already to Level Four, almost to Level Five. I enjoy reading the articles, although I do not agree with some of them.

Most of the challenges are pretty freaking weak. I have a hard time taking any of their recommended steps seriously. I eat a good diet. I exercise frequently. I keep moving. I hydrate. I get almost enough sleep. So everything that Noom tells me is so faraway non-applicable, it almost makes me laugh sometimes. I have already done all this!

Noom also recommends keeping a detailed mood journal to help with emotional eating. This is a really good idea. HOWEVER, Noom does not provide this as a feature. Users have to go fetch their own pen and pad. OMG! You stupid, app! Why can't I track my mood with you? Keep all this in one place? Very disappointing.

Another feature is Groups, where Noom assigns people to semi-random groups to help each other with their goals. I just got mine today. I am really uncomfortable with it so far, because unlike with Fitbit, you aren't choosing your peers, so random algorithm is. My groups looks like Cell Block D. Creepy! But I'm going to try to give them some time.

Supposedly, if this doesn't work out, Noom will issue a refund for the cost of the Pro app. I may end up testing that, but like I said, I am going to give this some more time. So far, not terribly impressed.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Posting lag

I realize that I haven't posted this weekend, and that's primarily because I worked yesterday and spent four hours last night arguing with my partner over politics. Arguing for an hour takes more out of me than walking five miles...in the summer...in uncomfortable shoes. Seriously. I may need a couple days to bounce back.

In the meantime, I'll just remind everyone that I have a Twitter account that is by no means over-active to the point of annoyance and that I follow some pretty nifty folks there.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Do you Noom?

I'm trying out a new weight-loss app for my phone - Noom. It's available in a free version from the Google Play Store, as well as premium - $24.99 lifetime, on sale now. I tested the free version for a few days and enjoy the interface, although I'm not sure how well this style of ... coaching (?) will work to meet my needs.

The app is actually pretty sophisticated in terms of tracking food and steps (pedometer), but not as wonderful as the Fitbit, which I've probably mentioned before. The app mechanics are nice - extremely intuitive and interactive. In some ways, it's like Spark People and Fitbit had a baby, because Noom provides reading material and other perks too.

The calorie goals are more realistic, and unlike FB, Noom totally judges what I consume, although not necessarily by a criteria that meshes (at all) well with my South Beach (lost 30) and Primal Blueprint (lost 34) background. FB gives me a daily max of about 1600 calories. Noom holds me to 1200, which in modern thinking is much more realistic for moderate weight loss.

Noom doesn't focus on hardcore exercise, but more on moving around more. Given the news articles I've read lately supporting this view, I am not calling this a bad thing at all.

I'm still exploring the app and will update with periodic progress reports. If it doesn't help me break on through (read: get under 150 lbs), I plan to get a refund and try something else.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

I dressed up as Jane Roland from Naomi Novik's brilliant and altogether wonderful His Majesty's Dragon books. Obviously, obscure literary characters go with my job. Anyway, I was too old and brown of hair to be any other female in the series except perhaps Laurence's mother. Um...no?

So here's a list of guesses regarding my costume:

  • Pirate
  • Paul Revere
  • Rush Revere
  • George Washington
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Napoleon
  • Colonial Soldier
The more one must explain a costume (or a joke) the less successful it is. Obviously, I expected questions and odd looks; however, I never expected people to be so certain that their guesses were right! OMG...it was pretty mind-bending. It was also pretty much awesome fun.

I already had the hat and pants and got the rest of the outfit from eBay and Goodwill, except the boots, which were on sale at TJ Maxx and will be worn again (and again...love). I walked over 11,000 steps in them with minimal pain, first time wear. Nice...neh? The jacket was a tight fit, but who knows? Maybe better next year?

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

But they can't even drive!

I wanted to wait until after World Stroke Day to post this, otherwise I would have released the steam sooner.

So basically, one of my friends who likes to rib me about the geritocracy thing expressed doubt that people who couldn't even drive a car in many states, because of age restrictions, could lead a country.

As much as I hate the term ableist, that's kind of it in a nutshell right there. What abilities are absolutely necessary to be a good leader? I believe common sense, natural intelligence, compassion, a deep well of life-experience, and a calm demeanor are among the most important qualities. I see no reason why matters of body or health should interfere with matters of mind or soul.

Do any of our sitting presidents drive themselves anyway???

I would much rather have a president that can't stand up than one who won't stand up, if you know what I mean.

That's all academic, I know, but it really bothered me how inane of a qualification that is. And not because I didn't learn to drive until I was almost eighteen.

Monday, October 28, 2013

World Stroke Day - October 29th

Yes, I know that's tomorrow, but what's the point of blogging on the day, if you really want people to do or think about something? Isn't that a little late?

So here's the thing, someone I love very much, a friend, had a stroke about ten years ago, long before I met him. Having a stroke cost him a lot, including his profession, but from what I understand and can see for myself, he made a pretty terrific recovery. He was pretty young when it happened - think early fifties here. Nevertheless, unless someone knows what to look for or asks the right questions, they would never guess what had happened. I think it would be disrespectful to the long process he's gone through to achieve this level of recovery to call him lucky, but in some ways, yes, he is one of the lucky ones.

Some statistics:

1 in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime. (http://www.worldstrokecampaign.org)

Number of adults who ever had a stroke: 6.2 million (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/stroke.htm)

Cause of death rank: 4 (multiple sources)

Stroke was the second most frequent cause of death worldwide in 2008. (World Health Organization)

In the United States stroke is a leading cause of disability. (Wikipedia; article)

Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every four minutes, someone dies of stroke. (http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_stroke.htm)


So in the time I've spent writing this post, at least 30 people have had a stroke and 5 have died.

If I see my friend this week, I fully intend to hug him, which will no doubt be the most awkward thing I do for quite some time, and tell him how grateful I am for his recovery and his life.

I seldom make recommendations regarding individual action, although I have no problem trying to rewrite society in general to suit my fancy, but in this instance, I urge all of you to learn the warning signs of a stroke and to educate yourself about prevention.

Thank you.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Psycholinguistics redefined

Psycholinguistics is actually the study of language from the psychological perspective. But I think a secondary definition should exist. It should read as follows:

Psycholinguistics [noun] speech or language that when used is guaranteed to make the listener go psychotic. See also fighting-words.

For me, several phrases pop into mind:

Who told you that you could _________?
Well, don't you think that ...
Who let you (do) ____________?
A reasonable person could only believe/think...

These push my buttons. I am an adult by many standard definitions. The idea that I require permission for any of the mundane activities of life or am required to think as the speaker (any speaker) dictates is repugnant to me in the extreme. The notion that I can be manipulated to change word, thought, or deed by use of these petty, brow-beating phrases is as insulting as it is absurd.

For example, from this evening, no one told me that I could tuck my jeans into my boots. I chose to tuck my jeans into my boots because I felt the jeans were slightly short and because tucking-in showed the good-looking boots to better effect.

For less recent example, a few years ago a baby-doc (that is, a doctor under the age of 35) expressed the following sentiment upon learning that my ob/gyn had provided me with my first Mirena IUD:

He let you get an IUD?

Strong emphasis on the let, moderate emphasis on the you.

So basically what I heard: I can't believe a doctor actually gave a dumb slut like you such a valuable medical device.

I wish my comeback had been more authoritative, but I was unaccustomed to that kind of tone from a medical professional. I think I feebly informed her that I had asked her for it and he had taken my request under consideration. Like I said, quite feeble.

For a more pervasive example, I have a work-related acquaintance who begins perhaps one-third of every sentence she speaks with a passive-aggressive variation on don't-you-think... I absolutely loathe that. The haughty tone is just the bonus plan. Like she cannot even conceive that this world may in some dark and shabby corner contain a thought that disagrees with the one she is about to suddenly and shrilly vomit into the room. I have terrific blood pressure. And yet, I literally feel the blood in my arms SMASH against the artery walls every time she does this.

So that's psycholinguistics for me. Tongue-in-cheek, you know. I bet a word already exists to describe the phenomenon. Shoot me a comment if you know it.

Another food experiment

Although I hesitate to use the word food to describe this stuff.

Back in the day, I used to have dinner once a week with my dad and afterward, I would have these mega-carb cravings of absolute epic proportions. I cannot describe how bad they were, and they always started about fifteen minutes after the meal, which was generally healthy stuff in responsible portions.

So on the way home, I would bolt into the gas station and spent all my change on snack cakes of various composition. Then I would speed home, drag the black bag up to my office, and gorge myself on the snacks...always wanting more after I finished. Scary.

So I guess we know what I did yesterday.

And, yes, the pattern holds. Even with gas station Little Debbie snacks, there is a definite limit. For me, it was three chocolate cupcake packs, one Swiss roll pack, and two Zebra cakes. I would have vomited if I had eaten another single bite. So that's about 1350 calories of really low-qualities 'baked' goods.

Unlike with the donuts and cake experiments, I felt like crap the rest of the day. Fuzzy, slow, bloated, unwell. My appetite still hasn't really come back. I am not a scientist, but I think those things have much higher levels of toxic elements than fresh-made donuts or grocery store freezer-cake.

To try and make it up to my body, I had fish and vegetables for dinner last night. Today, I hope to move around a bit more and eat some more veggies and no-sugar vitamin water-type drinks, in addition to my usual healthy eating.

But, yeah, my desire for the desserts ran out long before they did. Again. I think it's pretty safe to say at this point that I am most def not the bottomless pit I always feared I was.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Grocery adventures

I don't do the majority of the grocery shopping for my household. My partner a) has more time, b) does most of the cooking, c) is extremely picky, but not very cost conscious, and d) can more easily pay money for food to his liking.

But every second Friday, I have the day off, thanks to working every other weekend. Nice schedule. I use these Fridays to run errands, including buying groceries. Most of what I buy are essentials, things I like, and bargains that my partner would eschew on principle.

I shop a lot of stores to balance quality with cost-effectiveness. I optimize my route. Don't worry, environment people, don't worry.

So today's adventure involved a small, eclectic grocery store. Okay...an Aldi's, if you must know.

I noticed a crowd or badly organized queue at one of the cold cases and decided to see what the fuss was about. After a few moments waiting, I discovered the answer. Duck! Yes, they had frozen duck at Aldi's. And people were going nuts over it. I got the second to last one!

Cost-wise, I think I got a very good deal, as long as the thing turns out to be edible. All right...I paid $13.27 for a whole frozen bird. I've looked at other stores and have never been able to justify the cost, but that seemed manageable. I hope it will be thawed and ready to go in the oven for dinner Sunday night.

If all goes well...maybe pictures.

Still, I have never seen that kind of frenzy at a store, except at Walmarts on Black Friday.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

World music

Most people are comfortable with music in their own language, regardless of where the musician(s) come from. That's understandable. We like that we can...understand, especially without too much/any effort on our part. Thinking about music? Not really within the realm of most (American) people's experience. It's different in polyglot societies, I think, where more than one language can be heard on the radio waves or found in local mp3 downloads.

Do music stores still exist? Or would I be dating myself again?

Anyway, my problem is that I love languages and maybe two-thirds of the music I listen to comes from languages I've been exposed to in the classroom or elsewhere, but not typically in everyday life. I like German and Japanese music and music from Africa. Not the silly-ass ogling of other cultures prepackaged world music. Popular music from those languages/regions.

Can I understand it? The German, yeah, for the most part. The Japanese, only a few words. The multilingual slurry from Africa...uh, no, but I still like it, and I have looked up some of the lyrics to get the gist. It's wonderful to live in the age of Internet. When I understand a word or phrase from the latter two music source languages, I actually get a thrill, like what I imagine (and only imagine, I promise) a cocaine user gets from taking a line. It's powerful.

Why don't other people experience that? Or would they if they ever gave world music a chance?

I guess part of it is that this isn't what music is for. It's for entertainment, not ... what? Education? Enlightenment? Music was for mind-expansion at one time (hullo, 1960s), but I don't think this is what they meant.

Even people learning (of their own free will) another language don't seem, in my experience, to derive enjoyment from their second-language's music. That really stymies me. How can someone enjoy learning Spanish, but eschew listening to any Spanish music? For example.

To be fair, they don't seem to enjoy poetry either. Conversational language learners...may not have the sensibilities necessary for music or reading? I don't know. I learned German because it was required. I loved it because of a lot of weird little things that when pieced together make something. Not crazy about the poetry. The music does something for me that's between healing/soothing and awakening. Love that. To everyone else, German music is comprised of dead composers, beer hall songs, and one-hit wonders.

If you find yourself puzzling over whether or not you could ever love world music, as described above, I suggest going to Amazon and perusing their mp3 selection. You don't have to buy; just listen to snippets of songs and see how you feel. If you need some recommendations for artists to start with, recall that German is my primary love, and start with these guys: Peter Maffay, Matthias Reim, and Falco. If you can find a copy of Falco's Der Egoist, it's worth a listen.

Peter Maffay himself is a lover of world music and has collaborated with artists from many other countries. Search for his Begegnung albums. Many of these are very good.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Start the morning with Library Annie


Again, yes, it is a little true to life, although I'm hoping for something more Dilbertesque. I wish I could draw my own, but I just don't have that skill or the time to take a drawing class. Maybe once I'm out of school?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Riding in cars with dogs

Or at least with my dog.

Gracie started out in life with pervasive carsickness during trips lasting more than twenty minutes. She could go to the park, Petsmart, and a few other places. She could go to the vet's office (I was a good mommy), but she always tossed her doggy biscuits on the way back.

Fast forward to adolescence...the carsickness ended, giving way to car-excitement.

When my partner and I take her to (or just toward) the dog park, she whines and carries on like she's going to Disney and we're driving too slow!

This past weekend, or rather yesterday, if you will, we were taking a family trip to the dog park, about half an hour away with church traffic.

This is new, by the way - what I'm about to describe is a first time thing that I hope to curtail for the safety of us and others.

Once we got close...she flung herself into the front seat of the Jeep with my partner (driving) and me. She ... please believe me ... let down my window and proceeded to attempt to jump out of the car. I had both arms wrapped around all 82 lbs. of her. The driver got the window back up. I tried to settle her in the floor board.

She lunged for the controls again, this time lowering his window, but only slightly, and scrambled like mad from my feet/lap to his! He pushed, I pulled, she barked and whined and chortled like a mad thing at the top of her doggy lungs!

My window started going down again! I held her almost in a head lock until he could park the car.

Clearly, we must address this behavior, but my partner does not want to crate her in the car. I would do anything short of duck taping her at this point, because that was hilarious, but...also kind of scary.

If you want to see her, go here and look for Gracie.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another Nature Sunday

Today, I took a walk (3.47 miles) near the lake-shore. The weather was perfect - cool, clear, a hint of autumn breeze in the air. Purely by chance, I took a dirt trail down to the water's edge just in time to stumble upon a flock of ducks, about ten of them, in the shady shallows.



I got a new Samsung Galaxy phone to replace my broken one, and the camera is far superior, not to mention the awesomeness of the Dropbox app, from which I retrieved these pictures without any fuss or cabling. And, yes, the colors you're seeing here are not enhanced with filters or anything weird, although I did some judicious cropping. No, don't thank me.



The third picture is from the cart path, about .75 miles south of the duck pictures, on a rise overlooking part of the lake near the city park and conservation area. I hope to get more foliage shots next weekend, but right now is pretty darn gorgeous too.

I had the greatest time on my walk. You can probably tell from the images. It's a beautiful area. The piedmont of Georgia isn't exactly world renown for its beauty, but that doesn't mean it isn't here. Trust me, it very much is here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ticket prices

I haven't gone to a concert or to the theater in years and years, so when I started browsing tickets this afternoon, I sort of got a wake up call. Tickets that would have been $75 back in the day were going for between $200 - $300. Um...wow?

I'm not sure when this happened, but it is mucho depressing. I like to think that the higher prices reflect market demand, but somehow, I don't think that's the case, except with sporting event tickets. BTW, I cannot imagine spending well over $1,000 to watch the SEC championship from the semi-nosebleed section, nor would I want to. Geez...are all rednecks rich???

Actually, I'm not at all sure why event tickets cost so much. Inflation? Increased overhead? Supply-and-demand dysfunction? Or maybe I'm cheap. I mean...I don't have a lot of money. The only reason I'm even looking at tickets like this is because I won a gift card to stubhub.com and wanted to see what I could do with what initially felt like fabulous riches.

(Thank you, Coors, for the gift card! I'm totally not ungrateful! Just shocked!)

What to do, though, now that I know. Less cool event, better seats? Cooler event, cheap seats?

I seriously want to take my partner to see The Book of Mormon at The Fox in Atlanta since it's in town right before his birthday, but tickets for the orchestra level start at $115. Dress circle is a little less pricey, but he's from New York and is accustomed to better seats than that.

I sound a little awful, don't I?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Media post - books

These are books that I am reading/have read in the last year that I believe are good enough to blanket recommend to pretty much anyone:

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (in-progress)

It's literary. It's better than the movie. It informs the reader about human nature and themselves. And unlike the movie, IMHO, it isn't just about slavery. If you like short-stories, but find they leave you wanting more...ding-ding-ding.

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

Of course, read the other books first, but that's sort of the point. The Temeraire novels are terrific almost all the way through. Well researched, wonderful characters. Basically, it's Horatio Hornblower with dragons. And actually, yes, it is mostly about slavery.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Another human condition-type book, but the prose is wonderful, the suspense is palpable, and it will make you (the reader) think hard about what's important in life. Uncomfortably funny, very British, but worth the read.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Best thing in modern, dark fantasy for the younger crowd. Seriously dark for my tastes, but utterly inspired from beginning to end, incredibly daring. If Gaiman, Pullman, and Nix had a literary love-child, I think it would look something like this. Bonus: the sequel is just as good, but even darker.

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley

This is from the Flavia de Luce series of mystery novels. Start at the beginning. Please? Again, seriously anglophilic, but charming. The series takes place in post-WWII England in a quaint village with even quainter people. Flavia is...twelve, I think? She solves mysteries and thinks about poisoning people.

Defending Jacob by William Landay

A little too popular, but still worth the time. Readers of John Grisham might especially enjoy this one. I am not such a person myself. The book provides an interesting look into the justice system and into family curses.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Again, dragons, but this time in a more high-fantasy style, although definitely with modern twists. The book asks interesting questions about love, kinship, and family secrets. I am eagerly awaiting more from the author. I usually don't say that.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Second book in the All Souls Trilogy. I feel the urge to defend this as not being paranormal romance. The author did some terrific research into history, science, and literature. She also wrote a vampire novel I actually read...and loved. But, yes, tons of romance novel here. Aching for the final volume.


So that's a year of the best books from my reading life, brought to you with memory-jogging help from Good Reads. If you read, you need a Good Reads account.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Library Annie #02


It's a little too much like real-life, I'm afraid.

Monday, October 14, 2013

More almond butter

This is an addition to this post, comparing brands of almond butter.

MaraNatha Almond Butter (No Stir)

As I mentioned before, I cannot eat natural, oily nut butters. Not happening. MaraNatha's no-stir butter is...perilously close to having an oily sheen. It is just barely no-stir, in other words. However, the product has a terrific dark and inviting color as well as a rich texture very similar to my fave (Berry Hill from Aldi's). In fact, I kind of wonder if they might be the same product. But I couldn't compare them side-by-side, so that's mere speculation. The taste was a lot more wholesome and buttery than Jif or Barney butter, even though the sugar content was rather low (3g/serving). It's a good product. Sadly, this one is also quite a bit more expensive - I believe my partner paid $9.99 for a really small jar of the stuff. Not something we could/should have all the time!


I'm not receiving any inducement to post this.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Stay classy, Houston

I enjoy professional football and am actually an NY Jets fan (please feel free to e-mail any condolences); however, I feel compelled tonight to talk smack about the Houston Texans. No, not about the team - about the people in Texas from Houston who thought it was at all civil, appropriate, humane, or generally okay to award their injured quarterback, Matt Schaub, with a standing ovation for leaving the game.

If you feel the need for video or additional commentary, Yahoo! has it, as always.

These are the same fans that possibly went to his house. And not in a nice way. Whaaa?

Schaub is actually a good quarterback - perhaps not Hall of Fame quality, but better than any QB my team has fielded since Joe Namath. Not luckier, obviously, but certainly stats-wise, much better than recent...but I digress.

What I'm saying here is that far worse quarterbacks have been given far less shit for far worse early season performances. So that fault must lie with the fans, in that they are boors without the least shred of decency.

And for the record, I had Houston to win today, but was far more upset by the fans than by my points lost in the football pool.

For whatever its worth, football is an ugly game, and that's part of the attraction, but cheering over injuries is too much real-life and not enough American-pastime for my taste, ESPECIALLY when people are celebrating the injury of one of their own team's players.

Note: you may have noticed that I didn't mention salary here or wealth or perceptions thereof. I don't care. That simple.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

An interesting, if unhealthy, experiment

I have always had this fear that if I let myself eat an unlimited amount of anything I wanted, that I would literally not be able or even want to stop eating. Like one of those people who can win eating contests. Only worse.

Two weeks ago, I decided I would face my fear and see if that would actually happen.

My biggest fear-food is donuts. Or doughnuts. Your choice. So I bought...okay, let's just say I bought a creepily lot of donuts and leave it there, from Krispy Kreme, which sells the best ones in my area and is pitiably close to my house. I love their chocolate glazed and their iced cake donuts, as well as their traditional cake ones. So that's what I brought home...

And I began eating them.

And after seven and a half, I could not force down another single bite.

It was one of the happiest moments I've experienced in a while, because while that may be A LOT of donuts, it was not as bad as I imagined. I figured I would sail through the first dozen and just keep going. But not even close!

Better yet, it has at least temporarily cured my constant nagging doughnut craving.

Because in science, reliability is everything. I tried the same thing with cake (yesterday) and found that while a single slice of cake leaves me craving more, a third of the thing makes me wish cakes didn't exist at all. Score!

So I'm on my way to thinking that maddening, pervasive cravings can be treated, if not cured, by periodic over-overindulgence in the craved food. I'll see if my craving for either donuts or cake returns.

FYI: At all other times, I have eaten a healthy, normal, low-carb diet, so my weight hasn't fluctuated significantly during these two weeks. Okay...about two pounds up and down, like normal, but it didn't screw up my whole diet or anything.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Blogging it forward

I am not really one of those people who support charitable causes. Mostly because I am always broke, but I digress.

In Russia, a young blogger named Anton Buslov has cancer for which he cannot afford treatment. From the Yahoo! News article I read and his Give Forward site, I feel like he's a good guy and, if he lives, will continue to contribute to society in above-average ways - he's smart, for one thing.

Another reason I want to support his campaign, if only by blogging about it, is his stance that it's better to fight his disease with good instead of using the method lionized by the TV series Breaking Bad, which uses cancer to justify criminal enterprise and violence. The show disgusts me on a visceral level, because it is entirely possible that people will use it to excuse bad behavior...and I'm not talking about parking in the handicapped zone without a sticker here, okay? But real, violent, anti-social behavior because they're ill.

Well, you can't fight Hollywood, but Buslov is doing a great thing by getting it out there that a grim cancer diagnosis does not need to make someone a monster.

If you have a mind to, please at least read his story. With a lot of luck and less bad in the world, he may get the treatment he needs to live.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tom Hanks...diabetic?

I wish I had actually seen the Letterman interview instead of just reading about it, but I only catch the late night shows once or twice a month and who knew, right?

He handled it really cool, from what I've read, especially since he really doesn't fit the stereotype (I'm looking at you Meatloaf and Paula Deen) for Type II diabetics. Hanks is getting older, which is a factor, but it isn't as though his weight draws attention. He has one of those faces: ordinary-handsome, not cinema star - that doesn't really betray body issues the way some more stunning lookers' might (Alec Baldwin, for example).

Anyway, one thing he said made me feel really good, and this was from another interview, I think: "Type 1 diabetes is very bad. Type 2 diabetes is controllable".

I'm Type I (for 28 years now...woot!) and most of the time, I tell Type IIs the opposite - they have it bad; worse comes to worst, I can just inject more insulin. Quick fix. What can they do? Okay...I don't say it like that. I say it nice. But still...for a Type II with very high BSL to feel better, they need an IV, medication, and some time. I need 3 to 5 units of Novolog. They might need hospitalization. Yikes!

So, yeah, I kind of feel good that Hanks recognized us skin-poppers, and right back at him!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Almond butter

I really didn't want to blog product reviews, but this isn't so much about that. No one will ever ask me to review their product. I'm too mean and basically, I hate everything.

I'm semi-Paleo in my dietary habits - meat & veg, little processed foods, low-carbohydrate. The recommendation is to forgo legumes, likes beans and peanuts, which I find ridiculously different, even more so than giving up pasta, rice, and bread. I still eat peanut butter and can definitely see where that sabotages me. But it's so good.

Anyway, one common suggestion in this area of weakness is to replace peanut butter with the healthier (and mucho more expensive) almond butter. When I first started this diet in May 2012, almond butter was impossible to find in my area, even at higher-end grocers. Amazon had it, of course, but um...cost prohibitive.

Lately, this has changed, in that all the big grocery stores now carry a couple varieties of almond butter. I won't eat the natural (stir in oil) kind because it make me queasy just opening the jar. Seriously, no can do! I never buy crunchy, because my partner has recurring diverticulitis and I don't want to kill him. So far, here's what I've learned.

Jif Almond Butter (creamy):

Tiny jar, but the cheapest butter I can get from the big grocers. The taste is bland, but certainly edible, and the texture is slightly oil, not rich. For people looking for a peanut replacement, this probably works okay. The best price I've seen is $5.99 on sale.

Barney Butter Smooth Almond Butter:

Again, smallish jar, very pricey, but ounce-for-ounce very close to the regular, non-sale price of Jif. The taste and texture are decent - richer and fuller, less oily. This one also feels thicker. Not terrific, but a step up. I also feel better about the quality. Best price: $7.99 on sale.

Berryhill (Aldi) Almond Butter (creamy):

The jar is mid-sized between the other two brands. I have to admit it: the texture of this one is far superior. It has a grainy texture, but in a good way, like with fudge. Probably because it has so much sugar (6g) in it? The taste is very nice, but not to-die-for good. That said, if you can find it, the price is very reasonable, considering. Price: $4.99.

Just added:

MaraNatha Almond Butter (No Stir)

This particular no-stir butter is...perilously close to having an oily sheen. It is just barely no-stir, in other words. However, the product has a terrific dark and inviting color as well as a rich texture very similar to my fave (Berry Hill from Aldi's). In fact, I kind of wonder if they might be the same product. But I couldn't compare them side-by-side, so that's mere speculation. The taste was a lot more wholesome and buttery than Jif or Barney butter, even though the sugar content was rather low (3g/serving). It's a good product. Sadly, this one is also quite a bit more expensive. Price: $9.99.


Note: when I eat peanut butter, I only eat Jif. Just FYI.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Zombie-ville south central

I live about eight miles or so, depending on the location, from where the show The Walking Dead films.

If you're not familiar, real quick: zombie apocalypse set just south of Atlanta, fairly grim and gory, with characters that are characters. It's based on a series of even grimmer graphic novels, many of which have won awards.

The thing is this...people are coming to the area now to see Walking Dead stuff - the towns and landmarks, mostly - and some places, being in dire economic need, are catering to this zombie-tourism with tours and things. Actually, this is quite cool. My issue is this...I live here and my family five generations (no, really), so is it okay to do Walking Dead tours? I mean, go on them for fun? Or is that weird?

The weather is starting to get nice. It would be something entertaining to do...but then again, it's almost like rubbernecking an accident where you might know the victim. You know?

I just saw an article about the tours...