Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Want My Gym TV

Beware:  The next few paragraphs contain some grumbling.  Be warned.

I joined the gym this winter to exercise despite wind, rain, snow, cold, sleet or otherwise.  At my gym, and any other gym anywhere, there are televisions bolted to the ceiling and turned on.  I would guess there are about seven or more where I go.  There is some magic to getting the individual sound from each one to your ears, but I haven't figured that out yet.

I have not had television for almost 8 years. I don't watch sports, talk shows, reality TV, commercials, documentaries, promos, or news.  I do watch 30 Rock and Battlestar Galactica, streaming on my computer.  Television is not something that will keep my attention for the 4th or 5th mile on the treadmill (music will).  I do, however watch/observe it.  Here are my observations about television:

  • There are cloning devices or CGI used on 24 hour news networks.  Men, mostly, all look the same: 45-65 years old, white, greying hair, square black glasses, 15+ pounds overweight, blazer, and rosy cheeks(they look worked-up about something important).  This is particularly spooky when at church, you see several men in the same uniform.  This maybe because there are only dark, square glasses available from the optometrist, and if you are that age, you need specs.
  • There are only four or five 'newsworthy' stories everyday, run by all the news channels, concurrently.
  • If you are trying to watch a match of the Australian Open while running and zoning out to music, the television to the right and left are probably playing a recap of that same match.  You can not watch the match usually because you don't have a television, and Australia is already well into tomorrow, so you can't watch it live, giving away the ending of the match you are watching blow-by-blow, simultaneously.
  • There is always an older man, who will change the seventh and final television to a 24 hour cable news channel, so that all of them are cable news.

I'll admit that my avoidance of mass media is purposeful.  At the gym, I am like a child watching TV for the first time, I can not look away.  I can't hear what the TV is saying, and I believe my ignorance about television may skew my observations.

Monday, January 24, 2011

29 Hours to Minnesota

Last week I drove from Northern California to St. Paul, Minnesota with a friend who is moving.  I now am somewhat of an aficionado of Minnesota in January compared to most of the people in my neighborhood.  After nearly 48 hours in the state, and the coldest weather they have had in several years, I feel accomplished.

When I left my house, it was 60 degrees, and forgot my husband's coat in the closet.  Why would I think of grabbing it on the way out?  I'm not much of a detail person, and also not much of a coat person.  Coats make me feel like someone is choking me, which is why I suffer while skiing.

Fortunately, while traveling along I-80, there are several (~27) discount shops for outdoor supplies.  Also, all winter clothes are on sale.  If you do not yet have a coat in Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa or Minnesota this year, you are probably a popsicle, and someone will find you during the spring thaw.

In the end, we drove for three days and made it to the 'Land of a Thousand Lakes', where the state drink is milk, and the state muffin is blueberry.  Here is my trip log in bad cell phone photos:
It starts to snow in, Evanston, WY for 20 minutes! No coat.

It is sunny and COLD in Nebraska.  Still no coat.
I purchase a coat in Cheyenne, deeply discounted, of course.

Minnesota is essentially tundra.  -22 without windchill.
Inga scrapes ice from the INSIDE of the windows.  
I am happy to live where there are 4 seasons which are moderately moderate!  I'm also happy to be home!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Facebook Vacillation

I vacillate between hot and cold on Facebook.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it, sometimes I am addicted to it, and sometimes I'm ambivalent.

Here are some of the reasons I'm cold:

Photos of food.  There are some great sites out there to look at photos of food, really yummy looking food. I am sure that your food is yummy, but it looks kinda bad unless you are a bang-up photographer.

357 photos of your trip to the beach.  You are only in 2, and those are fuzzy.  I love photos and photos of people doing fun things, but I can't really look at the virtual 7 rolls of bad photos you took.

Being someone who you are not, on FB.

Being who you are on FB.  Be a better person than you really are, on FB.  I don't mean fudge, I mean put your best foot forward.  Don't be mean or even sarcastic, it doesn't translate.

Folks who over share angry opinions.  If you are angry about your opinion, it isn't valid for me.

The mundane. Some people share EVERYTHING on FB. Enough said!

Letting everyone know where you are and how long you will be there, or posting, "looks like you are at 123 Main St all week!! LOL".  We are not totally in control of who sees our posts. I'm not "checking in".

The reasons I'm hot (besides my appearance):

I can connect to media that I might not find on my own because I only look a the stuff I look at online.  If someone posts something interesting, I can learn something new, or at least smile!

I can continue community with people I don't live near or see often.

I can play Scrabble on FB.

I can celebrate life events that folks share on FB.

I can mourn life events that folks share on FB.

I can play Scrabble on FB.

I can remember/celebrate important events with family and friends.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January Summer Read: An Update

I gave up.  I had aspired to reading a long book during the winter months.  I just gave up.  I blogged about already here if you are tracking what a failure I am.

There are several reasons, the main one: It was too hard.  I am a smart-ish-type person, or I think of myself that way.  This book was not too hard to read, though it was rather wordy, and there was jargon in it that made it slow going.  It's a drag if you are already fighting dyslexic reading. Slow becomes tedious.

This winter has also been very cold for these parts.  I know you live where it is colder, and yet, I am cold.  This book took place 400 years ago, in England, in the winter.  Not only the dark ages, but a cold season.  Page after page was about the dank, dark, frigid conditions of the setting.

I got 50 pages into 700 and took a pause.  My grandmother told me that I had to give every book at least 50 pages before I decided to put it down.  In her honor, I think about every book I read at about page fifty.  Is this book a good book?  Do I want to read this?  Has the story even started yet?  Catch 22, I've tried it twice, but can't do it!   I decided, I'm too cold to read the book I'm reading now, which is another way of saying, I don't feel like reading it.

I went to the library and got a 200 page book that said, "A great summer read.-People Magazine" splashed on the cover.  The book is white, and has bright colors on it.  The language is about fourth grade reading level, the subject is light, modern, and takes place in the summer.  My toes are warmer already, though it may be the slippers, socks, blankets, sweats and hoodie I'm wearing.

I'll try the other again in July.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Let the Mall Fall Down

I feel like an alien at the mall.  I have been to a mall only a few dozen times in my life.  Every time I am there I don't know what to do.   It is like the first day at a new school, or in a new country, when you are not exactly sure where to put your bag, where the restroom is, or what to say to seem like you are supposed to be there.

This is how I find myself at the mall.  Do I talk to the overly friendly ladies at the kiosks in the middle of each hall?  Are those kiosks like mall-telemarketers?  Do I look people passing in the eye?  Do I keep to the right of the isles?

I'm not good at buying things that are fashionable or being in public with strangers.  It really doesn't matter as I don't live near a mall but still  I am riddled with insecurities when I rarely find myself there.  It is these very things that drove me to the customer restroom at the back of the Gap, in the mall several towns away.  It wasn't even the real mall restroom, it was the one for ladies who have been trying on the Gap jeans, behind the changing rooms.  The restroom is my trick.  If you are at a party or crowd with me, I will dash for the restroom just to get a grip (the life of a true introvert).

I'll back up.  I wouldn't have been at the mall, except that some people i like asked me to come with them for a flash mob singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.  I had received a few emails, and figured that type of thing wasn't for me.  It turns out, that if your friends call you, it is your type of thing.  We even had sushi, which means I was, for the most part, totally in!  I guess everyone else in Norther California also got the invite to the mall to 'secretly' sing the Hallelujah Chorus.  I love music, I love my friends, I love sushi, but I hate the mall.

It came as no surprise to me that we were all evacuated from the mall that night, as several thousand folks intending to sing, compromised the structural integrity of the mega-building.

As a person who is unfamiliar with malls, nothing happening there is a novelty.  The whole place is a novelty.  While I was in the bathroom, hiding from the "mob" portion of the flash mob, there was a  loud speaker announcement that we needed to evacuate.

I'm not a fool.  If someone tells me to evacuate, I do.  I wanna be the first person to evacuate.  I even knew where the exits were, as the crowd grew, so did my anxiety.  The voice over the speakers didn't say why we were participating in a mass exodus, rather than singing a Christmas song, but I left.  I left out a different door than the other 6 thousand folks there.  I left before all the trendies could finish purchasing their fancy jeans.  I left before a fire could burn the whole joint down (which was a problem, as the mall nearly burned all down 6 weeks prior, still not strange to the alien-who-is-me).

I participated in pandemonium.  There were folks in their cars for hours waiting to leave the mall exits.  A mall should be able to hold a person (or two) for every parking space.  My dad, who was a county planner, explained the parking lot is extra-too-big, so that when you drive by, you think the mall is not crowed, and pull in.  It turns out if every space is full, all those people will break the mall.

The Hallelujah part of the evening was who I was with, my friends, which didn't change because things didn't go as planned, and I survived a flash mob.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Van Gogh & Vivian Maier

This is simply beautiful. Even with the attention span of a kid raised on Sesame Street, I couldn't stop myself from watching this.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Drunk Oven

My oven in our rental didn't work until our landlord bought a new one a few days before Christmas. Before this, I would stand at the oven, while it was hot, reading the portable thermometer I bought at the grocery. When the temperature was too high, I would open the door until it cooled slightly, then shut the door until it was again too hot, repeating step one.

 Baking cookies this is a reasonable thing to do, standing in the kitchen opening and shutting the oven door for 15 minutes. Imagine this if I was baking a pie, a roast, or bread. I took the pressure off myself to cook from scratch this holiday season. I didn't want to feel neurotic with the oven door in my hand for 1 hour and 15 minutes, while the temperature hovered around 425 degrees: open, close, open, close, abierto, cerado, abierto, cerado....

I am grateful to such a landlord who would fix the problem. I'm used to problems being mine, and it was refreshing not to have to shoulder the responsibly for something that was not mine!

One aspect of the experience that was not refreshing was the odor of the installers who came to my door. They called because they were late. I was fine with their tardiness at that point, it was snowy out, it was lunchtime.   When they came to the door I realized I have been too understanding. Their smell told me they were not eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a juice box for lunch, or that they were late because it is hard to drive in the snow. Their stink was unmistakably alcohol.

I pause at the door before letting in the older worker. Do I let this man into my house to work with electrical outlets and wiring? Does this smell necessarily mean he is currently inebriated, or is it the stench from last night? I decided it was the former, and let them in anyway. I then went for a walk, while my husband stayed home to 'supervise'.

When I arrived home, the new oven was working, and I imagined all the pizza I could bake, cookies I could bring to parties, and fresh bread smells wafting through the house. I didn't feel sorry for two grown men who drink enough to smell like it by lunchtime, I didn't worry if they installed the oven wrong. I simply was glad the oven worked, and if it didn't, it wasn't my problem.  This maybe foolhardy, but after 2 weeks, nothing has exploded.